What is "sequence shooting?"
- Whenever we shoot videos, we should be thinking of how the images will be used in the finished edit. To that end, we must always shoot in sequences and not just consider individual shots. No matter how pretty or interesting an individual shot maybe, it must be linked to the pictures around it if it's to be part of the story and not just a "postcard".
- See a YouTube example that shows how to take 13 video clips of the same subject, a French flower merchant,shot at the same time and edit them into a sequence that can be used for a larger documentary.
The building blocks: individual camera shots
- Sequence shooting and editing make use of a mixture of different camera shots. In film and video production, people assign names and guidelines to common ways of framing a subject. Below is a list of three basic shots, which also spawn some variations.
Wide Shots (WS) show the entire person or area. They’re great for establishing the scene and allow for good action of the characters. Sometimes this is known as the long shot.
Medium Shots (MS) frame the subject from the waste up. This is the most common shot and allows for hand gestures and motion.
Close Ups (CU) show a particular part of your subject. For people this usually means the shot frames just the head!
A good video needs visual variety - it doesn't look good with several similar shots in a row.The pros always shoot a variety of shots at the scene, and edit different shots together as a sequence, such as wide-medium-tight-tight.
See how sequence/variety shooting works in video storytelling
- Let's look at a video story shot by a Time magazine video journalist. Pay attention as you watch: (a) rarely do you see any adjacent wide or medium shots that are shot at the same distance/angle or with the same framing; (b) a medium shot is usually followed by multiple close-up shots; (c) multiple close-up shots can be edited as a sequence, but multiple medium shots or multiple wide shots cannot; (d) pay attention to some sequences of wide-medium-closeups.
How to shoot variety shots
- The idea is to shoot a variety of shot from different locations, different angles,different distances, etc.For everything that you see and want to record, remember that you need to shoot (at least) four shots. A wide shot, medium shot, and at least two close-ups—face and hands. You should not be editing two wide shots or two medium shots in a row.
How much to film? A common rule of thumb is 25:25:50 - the number of shots for a single shooting session should be 25% wide shots, 25% medium shots, and 50% closeup shots.
Check out the following two short videos for how sequence or variety shooting works in telling a video story.
Shoot in Sequences: The Five-Shot Rule
- Five-shot rule is a useful technique in filming someone working on something. When filming, remember to get a minimum of five different shots, which will make for a video sequence with visual variety.
There are various tutorials and guidelines on the web about five-shot rule; I found the one by Andrew Lih and Lam Vo to be very intuitive and useful.
- A closeup on the hands of a subject – showing WHAT is happening
A closeup on the face – WHO is doing it
A wide shot – WHERE its happening
An over the shoulder shot (OTS) – linking together the previous three concepts
An unusual, or side/low shot – providing story-specific context
- A short tutorial illustrating covering an action using five different shots