What’s Shot, Doc?

       Picking up on the “camera as character” line from the last post and preparing for the “Lights, Camera, Education!” webinar on January 24th, I thought I’d share some thoughts and video clips a friend and I made for my former school district a few years ago. Students seemed to take to their fiction stories and still picture histories naturally, but interview type videos were in need of guidance, so these clips are aimed in that direction.
Framing_1     Framing. Looking straight into the camera is fine for a reporter type clip. For an interview situation, set the camera fifteen or more degrees off the line of sight between the two people talking to get a more natural and conversational feel.
     Shot Composition. Wide shots establish the scene. A medium or “two shot” closes in on both speakers, emphasizing their relationship. And the close up focuses all our attention on the speaker.Videotipslighting_1

     Lighting. Video and still cameras still aren’t as good as our eyes and brain when it comes to adjusting to light. Barring a crash course in lighting or lugging your own light sources around, students should simply keep the strongest light source behind the camera. An easy way to check for that is to hold your hand in front of you and slowly do a royal wave. Your palm will show you where the brightest light is coming from.
     Sound. Light waves and sound waves have a lot in common (teachable moment here, science teachers). So the strategies are similar. Shoot away from unwanted sound sources, especially the wind. The further you are away from the subject, both the subject and the sound (with built-in microphone) get smaller.
      The “Lights, Camera, Education!” program goes into much greater detail in all of these areas. Without much effort, students can learn a few more camera angles for dramatic effects. Three inexpensive work lights can give you a professionally lit set. And a modest investment in microphones can greatly improve your sound. Take a peek at the program on unitedstreaming and download the teacher’s handbook there.


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