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3.2 Framing

In this lesson, you’ll learn about the standard shot types used in film and video, and how to start taking control of the story.

3.2 Framing

Welcome back, I'm Cindy Burgess for Tuts+. Now that we have an understanding of what bad video looks like and why it happens, let's learn how to create good video. In this lesson, we're going to cover the basics of framing, and you'll learn a simple technique to help you avoid fire hosing and start taking control of the story. First, let's start with some basic terminology so we're all on the same page. I'm going to be referring again and again to shots. A shot is essentially what you get from the moment you hit the record button to the moment you hit it again to stop. Shots can be as long or as short as you want them to be. All video is made up of individual shots. These shots are then arranged in a sequence to tell a story. Think of it like creating a photo slide show. If you've ever made one of those, you know that you take individual photos, or shots, and you put them in a particular order or sequence to tell a larger story. The same idea applies with video. The only difference is that video shots vary in length and contain movement. You're also going to hear me referring to the frame and framing. The frame refers to the four edges surrounding your shot, kind of like a picture frame or a window frame. Composition refers to the layout of everything within that frame, things like the subject, background, foreground, camera angle, and lighting. When you frame a shot, you move and adjust the camera's position until you achieve the desired composition. The beauty of modern day video cameras is that they're equipped with little LCD screens. Makes it much easier to visualize how your shot will look on a computer or a television screen. Now let's take a look at some of the standard shot types used in film and video. The exact terminology can vary, but the basic principles are the same. First off, we have what's known as the wide shot or long shot. A wide shot is often used to establish a scene or setting. It helps put people and objects in the proper context and allows room for action. We can see a person's entire body from head to toe. Next is the medium shot. It usually shows a person from about the waist up. This shot allows us a closer look at the subject, but still leaves room for movement or hand gestures. A medium shot is commonly used when someone is gesturing or demonstrating something with their hands. Then we have the close up. Pretty much everyone is familiar with this one. A close up shows a person from about the armpits up. Close ups are used to reveal detail and emotion. Another commonly used shot is the over the shoulder shot. You see these a lot in dialogue scenes. They're also a great way to add perspective or interest to the foreground of your shot. In this case, the over the shoulder shot gives us an idea of what the girl is looking at. Finally, we have what's known as the point of view shot. This is especially relevant for travel videos because we're telling stories about what we experienced. A point of view shot is just that, what the scene looks like from a character's perspective or point of view. This shot shows what the girl might be seeing through those binoculars. Action cameras like GoPros are great for capturing point of view shots and really make viewers feel like they're part of the action. So just to recap, we've got wide shot, medium shot, close up, over the shoulder, and point of view. These are the main building blocks of video. Now there are variations of each. For example, you can have an extreme close up where you're focused just on a subject's eyes, or an extreme wide shot where the subjects are very far away. But let's just concentrate on these basics for now. Now let's go back to our first sure sign of amateur video, fire hosing. Remember, this refers to shooting everything, aimlessly and continuously, either because you don't really know what you wanna shoot or because you're afraid of missing some part of the action. By the way, there is absolutely no way you, with your one camera, are going to be able to capture every single thing that's going on. It's impossible. So focus instead on capturing the highlights and capturing them well. Here's how to do that. Let's say you're out ice climbing and you wanna shoot some video of your adventure. Rather than hitting record as soon as you get there and then waving the camera around for the next hour, try this technique. First, take a moment to look around the scene that you want to record, then decide what your first shot will be. There's no right or wrong, what you shoot is up to you. But get into the habit of thinking in terms of those standard shot types that we just covered. How about a nice wide shot of the group gathered at the bottom of the cliff to establish our location? Great, notice I haven't said anything about recording yet. Find the shot first. Move around and position yourself so that the shot is framed exactly the way you want it. Wait until it is absolutely perfect. Then and only then should you hit that record button. Now here's the important part. I want you to treat your video camera like a still camera, the kind you use to take photographs. Do not move it. Hold the shot for ten seconds and then hit the record button again to stop. Congratulations, you've captured your first shot, your first building block in your video. Now look around again and find something else you wanna shoot. Let's say your friend is starting to climb, she's kicking her toe picks into the cliff. Okay, how about a nice close up of those toe picks digging into the ice? Again, frame your shot first. Once you have it exactly the way you want it, then hit the record button. Don't move the camera, hold the shot for ten seconds, then hit that record button again to stop. You want an over the shoulder shot as she uses her ice pick, why not? A close up of your other friend's face as she cheers her on? Sure, it's your story. What you shoot and the order you arrange those shots in later is entirely up to you. Just remember the following steps. Look around, decide what you want to shoot, move yourself and the camera until the shot is framed perfectly. Hit the record button. Do not move the camera. Hold the shot for ten seconds, then hit the record button again to stop. By following these simple steps, you're no longer waving the camera around aimlessly in an attempt to shoot anything and everything as it happens. Let's face it, no one wants to sit through an hour of ice climbing video or any other raw video. Instead, you're consciously capturing the highlights through a variety of shot types, wide shot, medium shot, close up, over the shoulder, point of view. There are a couple of advantages to using this technique. One, it will teach you to be disciplined when you're recording. Video files are huge and they're going to take up a lot of space on your computer or hard drive. Don't waste that space with stuff you're never gonna use anyways, like recording while you're trying to focus or frame up a shot, or while you're waiting for something to happen. This technique will also make it easier to edit your story. You'll have a series of little building blocks that then you can put into a timeline and drag and drop in whatever order you'd like. Holding each shot for ten seconds gives you some choice as to which part of the shot you want to use. One final word on framing, how to avoid vertical video. Now I mentioned earlier that the best way is to hold your smartphone horizontally whenever you're recording video. But what if the object you wanna record is really tall and skinny, like a tower or building, and it doesn't fit into the frame? If that's the case, you've got a couple of options. The first, move further back. This isn't a great option because A, you may not be able to move further back, and B, by the time you do, the object that you're shooting may be so small on the screen that you can't see any detail. Another option is to get low to the ground and shoot on an upwards angle. Beware though, this is not very flattering when you're shooting people. And finally, you can do a slow tilt with the camera from top to bottom or vice versa to show the entire object. In the next lesson you'll learn the basics of composition, including the rule of thirds and how to frame yourself or someone else on camera. See you soon.

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