Shot Sequencing


The Art of Filmmaking and Editing


Lesson Info

Shot Sequencing

Shot sequencing is really the building blocks of storytelling. This is something you really have to understand and basically what the concept of shot sequencing is is when you look at a moment happening whether you be at a wedding film, a Bar Mitzvah, an event, a birth announcement, some thing you're in control of, a commercial, a short film, whatever it is you're doing, there's always moments that are gonna happen. And you have two choices, you can put the camera on a tripod, press record and capture that moment as it happens, or you can do what I did, shoot 10 second clips, move around, keep your feet moving, different vantage points. How do I capture from here? How do I capture from there? And that shot sequencing, taking a moment that could be one shot and breaking it down into as many shots as possible, is sort of the basic concept. And we're gonna get into what those shots mean and how they work. So we saw this trailer, okay, but let's pretend we didn't see the trailer for a seco...

nd. What's happening on the screen here? What do we know? What do you see from photos? Just answer whatever you see. Someone sitting and reading a magazine. Someone reading a magazine. What else? Surprised by the phone call. Surprised by the phone call. What does the surprise by the phone call do? Makes him fall. Makes him fall. Is he sleeping or is he dead? Who knows? Who knows? He's alive, I have confirmation he's alive. What else do we know? You've got a great storyboard going obviously, with the different clips and to put something together inside your video editing. Yes. And the guy's a photographer or wannabe photographer. You don't know. Right okay. Let's keep going, what else? Let's get obvious. He has a dog. He has a dog. Another character. He's relaxing. He's relaxing. He's reading a book. What kinda book? Photography book. Photography book. Who called her? Mrs. Conners. What color is his shirt? Red. And what's the weather outside? It's nice. Sunny. So you know what this is? This is an album. Photographers make albums, they tell stories. And just by pointing the camera in certain directions you are telling the story. Nothing has to move, no one has to talk, no one has to say anything. I deliver the information by choosing what to shoot. And if I just have the camera on a tripod capturing the moment, you're never gonna know who calls him. You're not gonna draw attention to his feet. You're not gonna see the page in the book he's on. It's overwhelming. So that's the idea, as the filmmaker and the storyteller, the reason why you move around in the shot sequence is so you draw the attention to certain details of the moment so that you almost GPS your viewer as to where to go and what to pay attention to. This is important, this important, this is not as important. So that's the idea of shot sequencing and storytelling. And every shot you take in a shot sequence is gonna fall into a category, wide shot, medium shot, close-up, and B-Roll. These are the four shots and these all have purpose. What do we use them for? Let's start with the wide shot, because this is sort of a lost art in indie filmmaking, because it's very difficult to make really pretty wide angle shots. A, because if you're in control of the lighting, it's a lot harder to light, which we'll get to later, and B, there's so much happening. So what are we using the wide shot for? Establish, establish everything. Everything we just said about the character, the weather, what color his shirt is, the magazine, you see the camera strap, you see the phone, all of it's there in the shot on the left here. So basically what we've done is as we're establishing the scene is, hey viewer, we're here, the weather's nice, here's the character, this is what he's into, this is what he's doing, and he's hanging out on a nice day. You know all this information, but as the viewer, you don't know what's important yet. You just basically have all the details of the moment. Now I come out to establish again on another wide shot when the context of the moment has changed. So the dog has entered the shot on the image on the right. So the dog has entered the shot, there's a new character and he's falling back. So I have an action that I wanna draw attention to. I wanna remind the viewer of the context of the moment. So that's what we use wide shots for. Medium shots are basically when we start to single out what's important. So one thing you need to notice about this, is this first shot on the left, it's the same thing as the wide shot, except all I've done is draw into the subject. Okay, I've eliminated the camera strap, I've eliminated the phone, which is a big part of this. I've eliminated all the stuff and now I'm saying this guy is the main character, this is what my story's about. The phone, obviously, is a big, it's the phone that causes him to fall, the phone call causes him to fall. Cause and effect right, so that's really important. So I wanna give the phone it's own medium shot so the viewer knows, the phone is also equally as important as the main character. And then a shot, another medium shot of him reaching for it. I connect the two shots together. So now you can already see, I'm taking shots and I'm making the parts of the story connect just by placing the camera in certain spots. So I'm drawing your attention to those specific moments. And then the close-up is the most powerful shot in film, because this is when you make your point. This is when yo say to your viewer, feel it here. Okay, so when he gets knocked out and goes into the whole dream sequence sorta deal, we want the viewer to know that this is really important. So a lotta movies you'll watch you'll see, they'll have a really long conversation, the intensity will build, and then after the most important or key line of something, they'll go to a close-up and it's just an expression to just sort of exclamation point the emotion of the moment. And then Mrs. Conners calling him is also very important, because we wanna know who's on the other end of that phone. So we draw the attention to that. And notice how there's only two close-ups in that sequence, because if there as six, these shots would lose their impact and if you overuse something, you abuse it, it loses it's impact, and then the emotions are all over the place and people sort of start to think for themselves and as storyteller, you don't want them to do that. Then we go onto B-Roll. Now B-Roll has two purposes. Sometimes, especially on an event, you'll wanna navigate between wide shots, medium shots, close-ups, and the continuity, so things will feel seamless. So B-Roll aids in that process. And B-Roll also is gonna help enhance the moment, but it doesn't move the story forward. So those original nine shots, if I pulled these two shot out of it, you're still gonna get all the same information. All I've done, especially with the feet shot, is draw your attention to certain moments. I don't need to, but I want to and B-Roll just elevates that. Okay, so that's how we use that. And really shot sequencing here, sort of the bullet points of what you need to know. It establishes the scene, we do that with the wide shot. Establish what's important, we do that with the medium shot. We start to single out what's important. Controlling the pace. Now pace, is a big, it's a religion of mine. So we're gonna get in a whole pace discussion in a second, but the pace and time are completely unrelated. Just because something is shorter, doesn't mean it's paced better. Something can be longer and paced better. So pace is all about how long something feels it is. Time in film is irrelevant. Cutting out air and unwanted parts of the scene. Especially in a live event, you're gonna see a great example of this. There's always parts that you don't want and when you shot sequence you get rid of the reality mistakes. All right, people sniff their nose, they burp, they make mistakes. You as the filmmaker are supposed to get rid of that. And controlling the message. This is what story telling is about. It's not about what happens, it's about what you, the story you wanna tell. It's about the message you wanna send. So as a story teller you interpret a moment. You say here's what's happening and it comes out the other end as the story you wanted to tell and it can be completely different that what you captured in reality. And really shot sequencing is like a chess match. Who plays chess, anybody? We can play after today. How many moves ahead do you play? Three. Three. Not bad, right, not bad. Chess master, seven, beginners, one, about three to five is intermediate, I would say I'm about three maybe four. And what that means for all of you who don't play chess and don't know what I'm talking about, basically when you're playing chess and you're making a move you're making a move with the idea that I'm going to make these three moves after it to sort of corner my opponent. Shot sequencing is the exact same thought process. When I'm at an event an I'm shooting something, and I have the camera and I'm making a shot and I'm making a wide shot, I'm not really thinking about the wide shot I'm making. I'm thinking about, there's a medium shot, there's a medium shot, there's a medium shot, there's a close-up, there's a close-up. And the difference is, is if you're just walking around, that looks cool, let me shoot that. That looks cool, let me shoot that. That looks cool, let me shoot that. You're sprayin' and prayin' as my good friend Clay Blackmore would say. All right, you're not gonna have a high success rate, and you're just gonna have a bunch of random footage. And then you really got problems in editing. But if you shoot shots and cluster them together. All right, I have a wide shot, I can pick out five medium shots from this, two close-ups, and a bunch of B-Roll, now you have a bunch of categories. You know 10 files, 10 clips are gonna go together in sequence and then you create mini moments which eliminates the sort of time it takes in editing to organize and helps you connect things and it makes it really, really, seamless. So you wanna be ahead of the game. Not reacting, you wanna act prior to what's gonna happen. So almost wanna be a step ahead of whatever it is you're filming. And what we did here to sort of make this point and we're gonna come back to this film a lot in this entire three days, because it really, it has the principles of filmmaking in it. We're gonna show you a chess match in real time, okay, and then we're gonna show it to you shot sequenced. And we're gonna see that the same thing happens, but it's just where the camera's placed that changes how you feel about. So let's watch a real time chess match. (dramatic music) Who was entertained? I was stressed out. You were stress out? (participants laugh) I was stressed out too, waiting for it to end. Certainly not entertaining though right? I mean, about what, five seconds into you were all like okay, so? [Female Participant] Who are these people? Why are they-- How long are they going to subject us to this torture. But the thing is, is that that's, those are the situations you're gonna find yourself in, especially in live filmmaking. It's reality, and how are you gonna change it? So let me show you the exact same thing, but with shot sequencing and see how it changes. (dramatic music) Check mate. Okay, so how many of you felt like that went by a lot faster? Was it the exact same time? It wasn't. It was 10 seconds longer. It felt shorter. But it felt shorter right? Why did it feel shorter? Because we cared? Because why? We cared more about what was happening. There was suspense. You had the close-up, you had different close-ups, you had B-Roll, you know the different angles of the camera just kept us wanting to see more. [Female Participant] And the eye contact, the emotion in the eyes. My thought was interesting about they weren't really doing anything different with their faces, it was just shot differently. And so the shots conveyed the emotion without the individuals nescessarily having to act it. Exactly, and this is where we want to introduce kind of the difference between filming reality and then shot sequencing to build a story from its individual pieces and then arranging them in a compelling way. Yes. Yeah so I just wanna read out what some of the folks online are saying about that second one, saying, like you guys, the shot sequence took the viewer into the storyline. That was from Dreamsicle Studios. And ACM83 said, the pausing and the moments, that kind of helped out along as well. Absolutely and yeah go ahead. Amad Khan says there's more emotion with each shot. And Pico said that it was more engaging, so just drawing people in. And then also comments about the pace, so just the pace. Pace, yes. Feels a lot faster. And I wanna talk about this. I wanna make the difference between, make this point, there's videography and there's filmmaking. Now, for any of you videographers out there, this is not meant to offend you. But this is the way I think about it. Think about your brother's wedding video or your mom's wedding video or somebody who had a wedding video made a few years ago. Anything that's on a video tape. What is that and why is it that nobody ever sits down and watches it? Now why is that you just gonna like bring friends over for the night, hey let's watch my wedding video. Because it's a camera on a tripod, recording reality and giving reality back to you. And there's something really interesting about humans. We don't like reality that much. We like fantasy. We like something better than reality. Now we have two photographers in the audience. You make money selling photos right? Do you sell reality to your clients? I try not to. They won't pay you for it. They don't wanna see their messy house. They don't wanna see their messy house, they don't wanna see, oh have I really gained that much weight? Am I really losing this much hair? You are. Am I really getting older? Well that's true, I know. They don't wanna see that. And they can turn their Costco bought camera on themselves and can take those photos. The reason why they're paying you as a photographer is because you have the training, you have the education to go out there and give them fantasy lighting, that makes them look more dramatic or maybe hide some of their flaws. Fantasy posing makes them look slimmer by turning their body from the camera right? And the all important fantasy liquefy. That's what they're paying for. They're paying for a fantasy version of themselves. Or maybe they see the kids laughing and having fun and everything right? Well, that's not gonna remind them of the messy house and the craziness that goes on. They're going to get this fantasy and they're gonna connect with it. And that's the value added as a photographer. It's making people look better and giving them a version of their lives or themselves that's more than what they can see in the mirror. The value added as a filmmaker is to tell a story through shot sequencing that heightens the awareness, that gives a fantasy version, a more intense version of life that what we experienced from just looking at it and watching it. Does that make sense to everybody? [Female Participant] Yes. So this is such an important topic that we have a pledge that goes along with this. And everybody has to stand up. Everybody has to stand up. Everybody on the internet, you must stand up, 'cause if you don't take this pledge, like it's not gonna stick. So yes, you right there sir, yes, stand up. Thank you, okay. Let's do this. Everybody raise your right arm to the square and repeat after me. I, state your full name. (multiple people talking at once) Oh normally they say state your full name. That's good, we got names. Do solemnly swear. Do solemnly swear. To never record reality. To never record reality. And try to sell it back to my client. And try to sell it back to my clients. Sit down. (people applauding) You are all filmmakers. Round of applause. (people applauding) Okay, this is a very, very important pledge that you've just made. You've changed your lives forever. Have any of you been to a concert in recent time, anybody? What concert? Chanel. About how much did you pay to go to that? About 45 bucks. Sorry for asking personal. No it's fine. $45, so let me ask you a question, would you pay $45 to watch it on TV? No. No. Why did you pay $45 to go live? 'Cause it was an experience. But why wouldn't you pay the same thing to watch it on the TV, it's the same thing. Eh, it's boring. It's boring, right? I can listen to it. You know why? It's because when you're there you're there. When you're on TV it's flat. It's two dimensional, it's on a screen. So as a filmmaker, when you're, especially live events, which I'm gonna show you, what it means to do a live event correctly and how to capture the emotion. You have to think about it like it's concert. People pay obscene amounts of money to go to a concert and be there live. To feel the sound, to watch it live in the flesh. But on television, it's the exact same thing, it happened. And in a lotta situations, it could be better, because you have a better viewpoint, but it doesn't feel the same. As a filmmaker at a live event, you have to be thinking about, how can I make this feel like the person is there. And the reason why the chess thing works so well, is because the camera gets up close and personal and it leads you in how to think and how to feel. And when we get into things later, you'll see that the camera positions are no coincidence. And like where the angles are, there are no coincidences. The shot selection, there's no coincidence. They're all done for a specific purpose. So audience. Yeah I just have a comment. There's a conversation going on about, documentary and how you would say, let's see, Pico said, Looking at documentaries, saying everything is about telling and showing the story, but other people were saying, well isn't documentary about showing reality? Well yes, but you also have to understand that documentary filmmaking is heightening reality. Some people make non-biased documentaries, but you're still filmmaking. You're still editing that's involved. There's still music that's involved. Rip those moments away and the documentaries aren't entertaining, and if they're not entertaining, they lose their value because you wouldn't sit there and watch it. So documentaries are constructed in a way that they capture the very essence of reality, but they seam it together in a storytelling way. And there is a lotta storytelling going on in a documentary. More important though because, it is reality. So you do have to be sort of careful with that and when you assemble it, it has to have some sort of story structure and arc to it. And documentary filmmaking or event filmmaking, documenting what is happening and then turning it into something, it's a great segue into our-- Yes I was just gonna say. Into our next thing, how we're going to show you something that's documentary. It's a wedding, it's something that really happened, it wasn't scripted. We couldn't go there and rearrange things. We didn't have time to do camera angles. But what we ended up doing was creating a story, from a live event. So yeah, when you go to a live event, here's first thing you have to get over. You can't be afraid to move. Okay, especially in a wedding. In all the weddings I've done, I've missed the kiss, like the final kiss at least half the times I've done it. I've missed the ring exchange a bunch of times. It doesn't matter, because especially in a wedding, here's the two things that are gonna happen in a wedding every single time, they're gonna exchange ring, and they're gonna get married, right. So there's no anticipation, there's no story there really. Yeah it's the story, it helps the sort of central idea of a wedding, but you have to get personal. You have to get into the character's minds. You have to make people, you don't make wedding films for you clients, make 'em for the population. See if you can get random strangers to like it. If you can get random strangers to like, trust me, your client's gonna like it, 'cause everyone loves themselves, right? It's not hard to impress your client, you gotta impress your neighbor right? Jeff was saying about the two hour wedding film, like no one watches it. Like I am confident that some of my wedding films I could show to strangers, and they'll, they might not be emotionally moved like it's an Academy Award film like Gladiator or something. But they'll watch it and be like, I didn't wanna shoot myself while I was watching it, because wedding films can be that boring. So what I wanna show you is, we went to New Orleans and with not a lotta gear, we shot a wedding. It's a bride and a bride, okay, that right there. And I wanna show you what the raw footage put together, even the raw footage has storytelling to it. I selected certain sound bytes, but I left a lot of the camera mistakes in there and I wanna show you what raw wedding footage looks like sort of assembled in some kind of order and then I wanna show you the exact same thing, but with all the emotional added parts to it, the music, the storytelling, the shot sequencing, wide, medium, close and how we do that. So let's take a look at what reality-- And the point here is controlling the pace, showing what happened as it happened versus building a story using shot sequencing. Amy and Shannon have asked a few of their friends and members of their family to speak about the values that are most important to them. Love is a universal truth. I love you are the three most powerful words heard around the world. Love is family. Love is having a best friend in life who is there for you always. Love is not something that we give or get, it's something that we feel in our hearts and souls. Kindness. Kindness is defined as doing good to others from the heart. It means to do good in thought, word, and deed. You can see real examples of their kindness in their photos, Facebook pages, activities and in Shannon and Amy's friends. A mother of the bride is a very special person and position and we're so lucky to have two them here today. Anybody bored yet? Anybody wanna throw some bad fruit at us. You can do that, just try to aim for Jeff's head, 'cause there's no hair to mess up there, so we're good. Sorry, last one, last one. That's not the last one. Unless I need a reflector. There's still two more days. It's the last one. Okay, but really what you saw there, let's talk about one thing. Guess what, here's the truth about that. That's what happened. That's what you have to work with, when you go into a live event. Things are not entertaining just as they are. You can't, even a documentary, because that is a great question from the internet about the documentaries. If that was a documentary and I'm making it, that's what that is. It's reality in front of me. Me as the storyteller, I have to capture it in such a way that's gonna move an audience, especially my clients right? Which they probably would be moved by that, and be honest with you, 'cause that's not hard to please your clients. But you saw the camera mistakes. You saw me adjusting the focus. You saw me framing shots and you saw uncomfortable pauses in the people who were speaking. You saw a lot of mistakes. You saw what really transpired in that room. Now me as the filmmaker, I know I just capture all those elements and then once I get it on the editing board, I put the puzzle together and I know I get something. So I wanna show you what all that footage really does assemble into and that you can always find a story that can move people off their seats in that raw footage. Let's take a look at that. (church bells ringing) Amy and Shannon have asked a few of their friends and members of their family to speak about the values that are most important to them. I love you are the three most powerful words heard around the world. Expressions of love are unforgettable, leaving memories that last a lifetime. Never underestimate the power of saying I love you. Love is family. Webster defines family as a group of people united by common ancestry. A group of persons living under one roof. A clan or a tribe. Whatever you call it, you need it. With our wedding, we see our two families uniting. Love is having a best friend in life. Okay so here's the deal, it's open 24, seven. Really. Every day of the week. And every day of the year except Christmas night. That's it, it's the only-- Otherwise, 24, seven. When Amy first told me about Shannon they were getting ready to watch a Saint's game, and Amy told me Shannon was a big fan. It wasn't until I first met Shannon a few months later that I realized that was a huge understatement. (guests laugh) Unless a commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes, but no plans. In all ages, among all peoples, this ring has been a symbol which is measureless. Over time I've had the pleasure of witnessing the level of commitment that Shannon and Amy have devoted to one another. The happiest moments in a family's life, is sharing the blessings that come from each other. They began by building a relationship as friends. Love is not something we give or get, it's something that we feel in our hearts and souls. Sharing a home together, embarking on the journey of motherhood. Family is kindness. A family should be kind to each other. Kindness is defined as doing good to others from the heart. It means to do good in thought, word, and deed. Family is forever, it's like the branches of tree, growing in different directions, yet your roots remain as one. Shannon and Amy you can travel the world in search of what you need, only to return home to find it. Faith at it's most simple roots, is the complete confidence or trust in another person or entity. There's nothing greater than to feel that you are joined for life. You may seal this covenant with a kiss. Once again, let's hear it for what a beautiful couple. (guest cheer) Faith must even come before love, because to love is to give someone your whole heart. To be with each other in silent, unspeakable memories, Shannon and Amy, your dedication to this lifelong commitment is celebrated by all who love you. (multiple people talking at once) (Guests cheer and applaud) (piano music) Okay, so. (audience applauds) Did you notice the difference between reality and the mistakes and things that are out of focus and then piecing things together to tell a story. What happened here is that we knew ahead of time that the family of the brides, were gonna have five of their friends come up and give a talk on each one. So Ross knew going in, even without reading any of their text, that he was going to be able to build a story by interweaving comments on the five different topics. And so that was gonna give us a chance to take something that happened and then make it better than reality. And this is what we apply to all of our documentary filmmaking. A little aside here, as photographers, a lot of us are like, how do we actually start adding filmmaking services to our business, getting our clients involved? I'll tell you how we did it, and we did it in very much the same way what you're seeing here. I got a call from Skype, who hired me to shoot the photos for their annual conference where they bring every employee in, 1,000 from all over the world, 17 countries, in Amsterdam. So I got the contract to do the photos. I'm like, you know what, we also do video too. She's like, oh we have no budget for video, we can't do that. And I said, well you know what, we're just gonna throw it in for free. Because I knew with Ross's ability to capture a moment and then rearrange that and heighten reality, that we would impress them when we did that. So what we did is we emptied the frequent flyer account and got tickets for Ross and I and Ross called his best friend up and had said hey do you wanna buy your own ticket, come and work for free for us in Amsterdam for five days? And he said sure, why not, it's Amsterdam. So we did that. We went over there. I did the photos and Ross and Scott made a film for Skype on the conference. And when they saw it, they were so impressed, because they're used to getting like the AV teams versions of a conference right, which looks a lot like what we saw at the beginning of the wedding, where it's just speech after speech after speech. And he rearranged it to tell a story, story of the whole event. Brought drama into it, brought music into it. Well they showed it to some people that they knew at Expedia and then Expedia hired us on a $10,000 contract just for the filmmaking to do the same thing a few months later. So you have the clients. For a lotta people, what's tough is finding clients, right? If you're gonna start a business, how do I get people to give me? You already have people giving you money as photographers. You just have to understand shot sequencing and storytelling and then you can add the service to it. And there's whole bunch of people out there who are graduating from film school who are never gonna be able to work in Hollywood, there's not enough jobs, and they're going to need income. So what they're gonna do is they're gonna start contacting photography clients, you know families and couples directly and say, hey I can make these kinds of films for you. But you should be owning that relationship. Don't let somebody else come in and take that relationship away. Add these services to your studios and use these techniques.

Class Description

Have you ever thought about using your talents, training and equipment to design moving images to tell a story? This film workshop is your opportunity to learn how to become a visual storyteller with Jeff Medford and Ross Hockrow. Whether you're a photographer or an aspiring filmmaker, you will come out of this class with all of the skills to produce web commercials, wedding, birth, family and event films.

Discover what you'll need for your camera bag, lighting, how to shoot a conversation - all during a live shoot! You'll learn how to create a story throughout the editing process. This film workshop is 3 days of non-stop information, all of which will allow you to expand your business and increase your profits.