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TIPS ON SHOOTING SEQUENCES

by Christina Fox

These tips are from my 5 day course

To shoot a simple sequence you need at least three shots -

  • A master shot showing the person engaged in their activity
  • A shot of the person's face
  • A close up of the activity
MASTER SHOT - SHOWING THE COMPLETE ACTION
FACE - GREAT TO GET YOU OVER CONTINUITY ERRORS
CLOSE UP ON THE ACTIVITY
MASTER SHOT
FACE
CLOSE UP ON ACTIVITY
  1. If you are covering an activity that can be repeated, I'd suggest your first shot is the "Master Shot". This is a good insurance shot. Then, if all else fails, you can just use the master!
  2. The master shot should be wide enough to show the whole action which (if repeatable) should be recorded from beginning to end.
  3. As you get better at sequences you won't need to record the action from beginning to end. You'll know where you want to cut and therefore know when to: stop the action; change shot; and restart the action with some overlap.
  4. Keep a close eye on what the subject is doing which hand did they use to pick up the phone continuity errors can spoil a good sequence.
  5. You must offer the editor a variety of shots (at least three remember) this entails changing either:
    » the camera lens angle e.g. wide shot, mid shot,close up
    » camera position e.g. over the shoulder, profile, head on
    » camera height e.g. high angle, eye height, low angle
  6. The average shot is about 4 seconds long. BUT, you must shoot enough to leave the editor some flexibility- as a general rule record shots that are at least 10 seconds long.
  7. Ensure that you record the complete action e.g. Frame up on a telephone, start recording and keep recording as the hand comes in to pick up the receiver - then put the receiver back - the hand goes out of shot - hold - then stop recording. Now your editor has flexibility to start (or end) the shot at any given point in the action.
  8. You must try not to cross the line. Be clear in your mind where the line of action runs and stay one side of the line.
  9. Don't forget to shoot the cutaways, e.g. if someone is using the photocopier, appropriate cutaways might be:
    » the buttons being pressed

  10. »
    the copy coming out of the machine
  11. Of your three sequence shots, the shot of your subject's face concentrating on what they are doing is very important. This can be edited in almost anywhere and may get you over a continuity problem.
  12. If your subject is concentrating hard, then get in close. For simpler activities, an MCU will probably be sufficient.
  13. It doesn't look good to edit into or out of moving shots. Keep zooming, panning and tilting to a minimum. Hold the camera steady and let the subject provide the movement and visual interest.
  14. Letting your subject enter shot or exit, acts as a reason to edit. A kind of visual full stop.
  15. If you let your subject leave shot, then you can change location and see them enter shot for the next sequence.
  16. If the sequence is being used to introduce an interviewee - make sure they leave the last shot (eg their hands leaving shot after putting down the phone). It will look strange if you go from a shot of a person on the phone straight to a shot of them being interviewed.

Back to the top.

CROSSING THE LINE

When I ask people who come on my course whether they understand crossing the line - most look back with an expression that says I think so - but don't expect me to explain it. One person summed it up brilliantly. It's like the off side rule in soccer, we under stand it is important but couldn't really explain it.

To do crossing the line justice I'm going have to take some pictures and make sure I get the words right. Please be patient. The answer will be here soon - it is so important I really want to make the effort to explain it well.

 

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Christina Fox