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Need Recommendations on Books that Teach the Art of Storytelling through Videographer's Lens

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Milton Hockman
Need Recommendations on Books that Teach the Art of Storytelling through Videographer's Lens
on Jun 9, 2012 at 5:00:53 pm

I have been an editor for years and now I am taking the role of the videographer for my company.

Can anyone point me to some good books that teach the art of storytelling from the videographer's point of view? Yes, I know about all the different types of shots there are to use but i want to learn HOW to shoot and WHAT makes a good shot.

For example, why does a videographer choose to shoot a really wide angle shot in a scene from below eye level versus above eye level. Or, why is the shot a shallow depth of field with only the person in focus and not the background. and Why does the videographer use a slow tracking shot of the front of a building using a slider instead of a stack shot.

I know how to use a camera but I find myself wondering when and why to use certain shots. I shoot mostly interview style videos with BRoll over top. Not films.

can someone help me learn how to shoot better shots to help tell my stories better? I can only find books that talk about the technical details and not the art of storytelling through the videographer's eye.

I hope i make sense.


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Rick Wise
Re: Need Recommendations on Books that Teach the Art of Storytelling through Videographer's Lens
on Jun 9, 2012 at 5:49:38 pm

Considering all your experience, I'd suggest that better than reading books, do it. You might look at my post on focal lengths, http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/54/861120, but after that start experimenting yourself.

You ask, "For example, why does a videographer choose to shoot a really wide angle shot in a scene from below eye level versus above eye level. Or, why is the shot a shallow depth of field with only the person in focus and not the background. and Why does the videographer use a slow tracking shot of the front of a building using a slider instead of a stack shot."

The post on focal lengths partly answers your question. Add to the effect of wide angles, what happens when you do lower the camera below eye level. (Look at the keystone effect on verticals. Look at how figures are ?more imposing as they loon over (or up to) the camera.) As for isolating the subject, what does that do to the viewer's eye? (It makes us focus on the subject vs. the background.)

Everything we do with lenses and movement is around: where do we want to direct the viewers' eyes? Some directors, like Michael Mann, like very deep focus shots, so that everything is sharp -- for him the surround is a key part of the story and he wants you to look at it. Others, such as Polanski, prefer isolating figures. There is no one way to shoot anything. That may be frustrating you right now, but it's also a license to go for broke in which ever direction you wish. Over time, you will probably too develop a style that works for you, and, hopefully, for your audiences as well.

So write or find a very short story and start experimenting.

Break a leg!

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Milton Hockman
Re: Need Recommendations on Books that Teach the Art of Storytelling through Videographer's Lens
on Jun 11, 2012 at 12:56:58 pm

i don't produce films. i produce corporate style videos.
i work for a college now and produce videos that have a student talking and then add Broll over top. I want to capture better looking Broll shots.

Right now I just wing it. For example, I am creating an orientation video for new employees. A manager is talking about the recreation center. I shot Broll of the areas he talk about. All of the are mostly wideshots of the areas so I could get it all into frame. Is that a good choice or bad choice? That is my question. I am not sure how a videographer decides on which shot take and from what angle and what depth of field.

All of the shots are from normal height. Should I have gone from above eye level instead? or below?

Those are the questions I am asking myself and wondering the answers to. Instead of winging it taking 4 variations of the same shot I'd like to know instinctually what is the best shot to get which would save me time.

Does this help?

Freelancer Designer Virginia - StephenHockman.com
Find out more about me, see my portfolio, and read my blog

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Diane Reid
Re: Need Recommendations on Books that Teach the Art of Storytelling through Videographer's Lens
on Jun 11, 2012 at 2:49:37 pm

Milton,

If you are able to record the interviews with the subjects before you gather your B-roll, this will help you in deciding what to shoot and why. The most basic shots to cover the message are the wide shot (establishing), the medium shot (smaller, related areas of the larger group) and the close-ups. Your wide shot could be the rec center sign with the building in the background. Your medium shots could be the different departments of the rec center. Having people using the equipment or walking through the shot can add life to the sequence. You will want lots of related cutaway shots or a different angle of the same room to link up sequences. It's in the close-ups and the cutaways where you can experiment more freely with angles and focal lengths. If the interviewee mentions the wide variety of activities available, try to capture that in one shot by framing one activity close up, with something else off to the side. You can make that either a rack focus shot or a softer focus view. And remember your rule of thirds. Good luck!


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Milton Hockman
Re: Need Recommendations on Books that Teach the Art of Storytelling through Videographer's Lens
on Jun 11, 2012 at 7:59:20 pm

that makes sense but i see a lot of videos out there now that use a slider system. tons of shots are sliding all over the place. left to right, up to down, etc.

when and why do videographers choose to use that type of shot?

also, if you are videotaping someone using a computer. do you use a wide angle with the person and computer and background in focus or do you move back and zoom in to compress the shot so only computer screen is in focusing.

those are the things i am struggling understanding. which shot to choose and why.

i see lots of videos that are mostly shallow depth of field. only the person is in focus everything else out of focus. it is a great shot but the whole video looks like that. is that a good thing or bad thing? i don't know that is why i am asking this stuff.

Freelancer Designer Virginia - StephenHockman.com
Find out more about me, see my portfolio, and read my blog

Graphic Design Info, Web Page Tips, Video Production Guide BLOG
My blog updated weekly with industry tips, tricks, and news


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Rick Wise
Re: Need Recommendations on Books that Teach the Art of Storytelling through Videographer's Lens
on Jun 11, 2012 at 8:32:05 pm

Those are the questions I am asking myself and wondering the answers to. Instead of winging it taking 4 variations of the same shot I'd like to know instinctually what is the best shot to get which would save me time.


Milton, I think you are overworking the logical side of your brain. Your gut feeling can tell you a lot about choice of camera angles, wide vs. long lenses, slider/dolly vs. static, etc. etc. It sounds like you have lots of leeway to experiment. So experiment! So what if right now it takes you more time? Shoot the variations and then decide in post. Or, just go for the gusto and pick strong, dramatic angles/focus/movements and live with the results. See how they play. That way you will slowly develop your ability to make an instinctive choice quickly. There are no shortcuts....

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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