Posted on January 18, 2008
Day 1: Shooting video
Yesterday my students went out with their HV20 cameras to shoot for the first time. Their (ungraded) assignment was to get the five shots described in Michael Rosenblum’s “Five Step Method,” which is much like the sequence you’ll find described in a lot of beginner video books. Basically, you are shooting five specific close angles of one person who is performing an activity. (Not “performing” as in acting; you tell them to pretend you’re not there and go about whatever it is they are doing.)
I sent the students out in pairs to two different food courts near our classroom building. They didn’t need to get any audio or tell a story — just get the shots. One student shot someone eating lunch and got the five prescribed shots. Then the other student shot someone else who was also eating.
Afterward we plugged the cameras into a widescreen TV and watched the tape. Everybody’s tape. We had a few very good close-up face shots. We saw some very nice two-person shots. We found it was most difficult to get good close shots of people’s hands. We also saw that instead of getting only hands or only the face, some students stood too far away, and their shots looked too much alike.
We laughed our heads off at a couple of wild swinging shots where the student forgot to turn off the camera. I am teaching them to frame the shot, hold the shot steady for 10 seconds, then turn the camera off. We also saw some cases where the shooter succumbed to the temptation to follow the action — the hamburger moving up to the mouth. Hey, that’s a perfectly nice shot, but we’re not learning that yet.
Discipline. That’s what Rosenblum pounds on in his Travel Channel Academy sessions. Our first task is to train ourselves to shoot with self-discipline. (If you’re curious, read my posts about attending the TCA. My course syllabus is open source, but I’m not giving away Rosenblum’s material there.)
Watching all the tape together afterward is the best possible learning experience. All the students tried to do the same thing, and all the results were very different. It’s absolute proof that video is an expressive medium, and what goes into the camera depends on who is holding it.