Step by Step : Shooting Video with the DSLR

The Magic is in the Edit

One of a series of posts aimed to help still photographers produce better videos with their DSLRs.

I love editing video. I find it’s in the edit where the creativity shines through, more so than in the shooting.

I find the process of shooting video more a task than a creative endeavor. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy being out shooting video. Shooting video still requires thinking and creativity, however, I look at the shooting as more of a gathering process. Trying to get as many angles and viewpoints of each scene as possible. Unlike still photographs where I’m ready with finger over the shutter button actively pursuing that peak moment; with video, its more of a waiting process, setting the camera up in anticipation of something happening within the frame. If you’re lucky or if you planned your shot well, you’ll get that peak moment, and the moment leading up to it and away from it. But you need to catch all of those moments from many different angles to help you in the editing process.

And that is one of the most important things to remember. Shoot a lot, and shoot some more – it will make your edit easier.

And when you start your edit, avoid at all costs opening with a talking head. That is the kiss of death. You have to grab the viewer before you bring in narrative. Best way to do that is with strong visuals. Lead with your strongest, or second strongest clip first.

One of my favorite things to start my video with is a series of quick sound bites interspersed with natural sound. A quick hit of sound like a ball hitting a bat, the sound of a shovel digging into a sand pile, the closing of a car door.

Try using the classic literary technique of opening your video by teasing with the middle or end of your story.

It’s important to define your story in the opening 15-20 seconds. You want to grab the viewer’s attention or they’ll be gone.

Or you can make your opening vague and mysterious. But be careful with this. Don’t try the viewer’s patience or they’ll bolt.

Open with great natural sound. I sometimes open my video with black and just play sound. It’s mysterious and hopefully makes the viewer want to follow the sound into your story.

Finally, look at picking up the pace to capture the viewer’s attention. Too many long clips will chase the viewer away.

If you shot and edited your story well, you can create a magical video, one to be proud of.

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