There is an old saying in the movie business that goes something along the lines of, ‘if you are bored, so is your audience’. This is something that you should always keep in mind when shooting your videos. Never stop thinking about what would entertain you in this particular shot and then strive to achieve that. No matter what, your audience is always smarter than you are!
They will see things that you don’t. This is largely because you are concentrating on shooting the event, while they are focused only on the event itself. They are going to notice if you are not 100% into your video yourself and they will switch off. That is why you must always playback your video – if it bores you then don’t expect the audience to like it! Do not settle for ‘good enough’, but rather demand ‘great’ from yourself.
Practising Random Acts Of Change
If you feel yourself getting bored during a video shoot, then try this little exercise in mixing things up a little! Stop shooting at eye level and get down on your knees for no other reason than to see what happens to your shot. Switch your long shots to short ones and vice versa. If you are conducting an interview then try throwing in an unexpected or controversial question to see how the subject will react. More often than not you will find inspiration in a new perspective.
Banishing Bad Shots
Every videographer experiences times when they look at the screen on their camera and hate what they see. It could be that the camera is focused on something other than your subject, or maybe the angle is wrong, or it is just not how you envisioned it was going to be. Whatever the problem is you need to stop and fix it now! Never ‘make do’ with the shot you have as a poor shot could spoil the entire video.
In life outside of the lens, our brain reacts when something is blurry and adjusts our eyes to improve the picture, but when watching a video as much as we try our brain can’t improve the picture for us. That means we will disengage from the video and stop paying attention. Including bad shots shows a lack of respect for your audience and no professional would consider leaving them in the final cut.
As a practical example, load any video you have shot lately into your preferred editing program and go through the video frame by frame and delete any that are not perfect. Do not think about the cuts or worry about the end result, just cut out the imperfections. Once you are done, re-watch the footage and see if you prefer the end result!
Shooting The Details
The same item shot in 2 different ways can produce two totally different meanings. Take a simple thing like a woman on the phone to her husband telling him she won’t be home tonight. Is she calm and relaxed as she explains why, or is she fidgeting with the phone wire because she is lying about where she is going? We are pre-programmed to absorb tiny little details in order to learn all we can about what we are seeing. Little details like a bead of sweat on a man’s forehead or graffiti on a street sign help us to set the mood and give us a gut instinct about what is going on. In real life we see these details for ourselves, but on film we must rely on the videographer showing them to us.
These details are often unfairly referred to as ‘B roll footage‘, but that name suggests inferior shots. In fact it is these additional shots which really make the video pop by adding a richer, more lifelike quality. When you are shooting, allow your eyes to roam the room looking for the detail. A good example is the wedding video, we all know that the bride and groom are the main focus, but adding an additional shot during the vows of the father of the bride wiping a tear away will add depth and emotion to the shot.