Keep Them on the Edge of Their Seats

Project 2012: Day 38

We’re back onto shooting great video today, and like camera angles, we’re continuing on the them of effective shooting.

Remember that every video you shoot is telling a story. Every video. From the corporate interview, to the birthday party. You are telling your audience a story. That means you need to know your audience of course.

Stories have common elements, and any good story uses a couple of techniques to keep the audience engaged. The most powerful of these is…

…curiosity. (see what I did there? Smile)

This is what keeps us turning pages, starting the next chapter in our books, and tuning in to the next episode of our favourite TV show. We just have to know what is going to happen next.

So how can you create curiosity with your shooting. Here’s one technique that I use:

Don’t show everything.

This sounds so simple (and it is) yet how many (amateur) videos do you see where everything is in focus, or is just laid out for the world to see? The reason the video is boring, is because the audience don’t have to ask any questions.

Clearly you’ll need to put a little thought into your shot before you shoot. But if you do, this subtle effect will radically improve your videos.

Think of things like:

  • Focusing on the face of your son, when he opens his present, and not ever showing the present (until much later perhaps when he runs out of the house with his new toy and friends) – raise the question “what did he get to bring so much joy/surprise?”
  • Shoot from behind your daughter’s half-closed door and catch just her arm brushing her hair as she prepares for her formal (prom)
  • Shoot the reactions of the guests when the best man get’s up to toast the parents of the bride.

You get the idea, use focus, occluding objects, and alternate subjects to not show the obvious, and keep your audience at the edge of their seats.

Putting the Sizzle into Home Movies

Project 2012: Day 24 

What’s happened to the water? I know at least 3 people having babies in the next 6 months. And you can guarantee that when those children grace us with their presence, an evil will visit us, the like of which we haven’t seen since Uncle Ernie got his VHS Camcorder in 1985…

…Home movies.

Of course today we get to endure this indignity to our sanity far more than ever before. Camcorders are on our phones, and instead of being invited over for “Fondue and Movies of our Holiday in Wollongong (Ibeza, Florida)” we get to view them on YouTube, Facebook, and Vimeo.

With all of the high tech cameras at our disposal, why are home movies so dreadful?

Well, a couple of reasons:

  • No story – the movie was just shot and thrown together chronologically
  • Crap editing – you really don’t have to put in every transition known to man – but mostly –
  • Poor shooting.

Equally a couple of things signify the home videographer’s shooting style:

  • Interminable panning and zooming
  • Rocky, handheld camera work – I know this is the favoured shooting mode of the Bourne Movies, but seriously, tripod!!
  • Shoulder height shots of everyone

It’s this last point I want to address. The one thing that will change your home movies from snore, to “show me more!”

Take the camera off of shoulder height (or adult eye height) and change up the angles.

Get down to your subjects’ (usually kids) eye level. Get in close. Pop the camera on the floor and shoot up. Even give your camera to one of the kids and ask them to shoot.

You really don’t need an expensive camera, or fancy editing software. Neither will help you if you’re shooting from standing up anyway. Just a little creativity with camera angles. Try it, I promise your home movies will never be the same.