These are notes I made for myself, based on experience shooting “NIGHTLINE” specials with small format video cameras. They are mostly about how to get tape that is later useful in working with an editor assembling a scene…. and to remind myself that it’s ok to fool around and be open-eyed. Remember, I come from radio, so I’m an imposter here.
Shoot stuff with white background for dissolving in and out of, e.g. piece of paper, Marie’s birthday card. Or simple image like water, etc.
Get details so you don’t know where you are or who is who, e.g. I forgot to get really tight shots of E-House softball. Should have gotten mitts, ball in air going different directions. Feet running.
Rack focus, e.g.useful in dissolving into/out of lights or a sunset, etc. Or try an out of focus face, coming into focus and vice versa.
Get room tone.
Shoot passive listeners, e.g. snowman, stuffed animals, dolls.
Get extraneous stuff when you’re doing a portrait, to take the focus off the principal, e.g. in courhouse…others coming and going, hands and feet, newspapers, court seal.
Natural wipes…Bob leaving courtroom and his whole body blocks the frame as he passes, the garbage bag snapping out and filling the frame.
For large crowd scene, go wide, then get groups of 2 and 3 looking various ways, also shots looking down a line of people, and close shots, and ECU’s of details. Get listening shots. All these things allow you to use various angles, and switch the apparent “left and right”.
HOLD SHOTS, at least to a count of five.
Get non-moving mouth shots
Shoot over the shoulder shots at talkers and listeners. Hold over the shoulder shots, hold so that both people talk. Watch lip and arm movement, etc.
Pan at different speeds on the same subject if you find something good.
Watch out for big white overexposed spots
Get offbeat angles. Don’t be a slave to the horizon.
Watch out for eyeglass reflections
Watch hand position, careful of mismatches. Shoot hands, but shoot bodies without hands, esp. if hands are busy.
Watch out for clothing changes.
Hold on ends of shots.
Shoot at night.
Spinning shots, e.g. Evan and Best Western sign.
Change camera position, go high, low, wide. Don’t stay static at head height and zoom.
Get people walking in, walking out.
For still shots, don’t breathe.
If covering a place, get lots of angles, different times of day, different weather.
If someone is doing something, shoot people looking at them.
Let camera roll if the audio (e.g. a whole song) is important, even if the picture is stupid. Don’t stop and start the camera during the scene.
Gather wild ambient sound
DETAIL. CU on action.
Percussive stuff is useful.
Use a foreground. Try splitting the image vertically with foreground filling right or left of frame, e.g. Off-center framing to draw eye in, down a hallway, with wall up close in foreground
Hole on image, pan, hold on image–get three for one.
Shoot half a face.
Shoot interesting details.
Climb up high, shoot down. Lie on the ground.
Hold on close foreground and pan off to deeper subject. Reveal.
Zoom and pan together
Let the subject move out of frame and hold on what’s left.
Check settings constantly.
Check pans on standby first, go slow.
Keep both eyes open looking around. Look for the unexpected, e.g. Cut to cat sharpening its nails in a tense domestic situation.
Know where you’re going with your pan. Pick the end.
Try nonparallel framing, change horizon line.
tech tip: fast forward and rewind (pack) all tape once before shooting. It removes any loose particles before you record.
Be adventurous in your movement.