Shooting for the Edit Part 1
So you guys know a five-act play, right? Okay, and, I'm not saying that the videos we watched were five-act plays. I'm saying they had elements of a five-act play. Especially that last one, because you go, "Okay, well, we have the exposition," which is kind of like, you know, character development, and you have conflict, rising action, and a climax, and then falling action, resolution. If you guys watch any good movie, any movie that's really worth its weight in salt, it's gonna have elements of this. Because there's always gonna be a conflict, there's always gonna be a climax, and there's always gonna be a resolution. Okay? And sometimes that resolution drags on and on and on, like Michael Bay movies, you know? But, if you really start to really watch movies, and watch them not just for your entertainment and enjoyment, but watch them to glean and learn something from, you're gonna find out that the really good movies do this well, and the really poor movies don't. And it has to do a ...
little with the writing, a little bit with the acting, but at the root of it all, if it doesn't have a good story, then it's not worth it, right? So when you guys start to look at your film, and you start to do stuff, think about the concept. It's gotta have a beginning, a middle, an end. It's gotta have a character, or two. It's gotta have a conflict, there always has to be something that, that the character needs or wants. Okay, so, um, in theater, I always refer back to my degree because that's what I got, um, we call it "raising the stakes." Okay, so, that last video we watched, I needed to really pee, didn't I? Why did I need to pee so bad? It wasn't 'cause I drank one bottle of water, it's 'cause I drank like 50. So when you raise the stakes, it almost makes it hyperreal which can engage your audience, which makes things a little bit more fun. Now I'm not saying that you're gonna make your brides, or your portraits, or your clients drink lots of water and film them peeing. No, that's not what I'm saying. What I'm saying is, when you practice, if you continually raise the stakes for yourself, you will understand in real life when the stakes are already high. You will understand in real life when you've got that moment, and you know you've got that moment, what to do with that moment, because you've practiced it over and over again. I really believe in practicing your craft, practicing your craft to the point where, when it matters, you just react off of reflex and not off of thought. So when you do it that way, when you really, really focus in, you're just gonna be an instinctual filmmaker, which is great, okay? Now. Of course, I can't just say, Oh, yeah, here, start off and shoot something simple. Right? Yeah, right, let's do that, guys! You're awesome, okay, we're done. I don't need 90 minutes, I'm done! We're done. No, I want you to shoot for the edit. Okay, when we shoot for the edit, we mean we're shoot for the specific shots in that story that you want. So if you take a look at this video, this is what most people who think video, like who aren't used to doing video, think that video is. It's just one shot, it's really boring. Long, dude's going to the cabinet, he's going to the counter, he's gonna make himself a PB&J sandwich. A real filmmaker, and someone who actually does motions gonna go, "Okay, that one, that shot's way too long. It's way too long." So they're gonna add something else. They're gonna go, "Okay. Dude's gonna go to the cabinet, maybe after he goes to the cabinet and he goes back to the counter, I'm gonna change my perspective." He's gonna go there, he's gonna add an angle, and automatically when he adds an angle, your perspective changes. You go, "Oh, hey! Now I'm starting to feel something!" You know? It's not just one angle anymore. Or as like the first shot was like dad at the graduation, one angle, like, shoot his kid from like 70,000 feet away and the kid gets up onstage, and he comes off and it's gone, you're like, "Whoa, I'm never gonna watch that video. I love you, I love your kid, but I'm never gonna watch that video." (laughter) Okay, that's the thing. You've gotta think like that. Would you sit there and watch that video? Absolutely not, that's awful. Okay, look at the next shot. Okay, he goes in. Oh, hey, that's a different beginning. Different angle. Changing the perspective. Changing your lens. Okay, so to go back. Oh, hey, there's that first shot! Oh, wait, he's at the counter, oh, hey wait, now he's making the sandwich. Do you notice something about the edits as they get further and further? They get shorter and shorter. They get shorter and shorter. Because our brains are really, really smart, guys. They can complete actions without seeing them. So as long as I give you the cue, and give you the intention of what the character's gonna do, your brain's gonna finish it. Okay, so, yeah. So now this is okay, kind of, kind of boring again. It's too long, right? All right, so now we're gonna go to the next video. Okay, so he's gonna come in. Open the cabinet, oh, whoa, whoa, what the heck just happened there? (laughter) See, when you start to think about different shots and different perspectives, you give yourself an opportunity to really mix things up. Video is about telling a story, but it's about showing your viewers something they don't typically see. Okay. We sit in an audience, and we look at a graduation ceremony. And we all know what that graduation ceremony looks like. We all know what that wedding looks like. Right, we all know that. If you give the viewer the exact same view that they've already seen, it's not interesting to them. So, when you make your little deals, and write out your little topics, and you make your little stories, take a step back and think about, okay, where can I put some shots in here, that change the perspective and give my viewer something different? Something unique that they're not used to seeing every day. And that's where it gets fun. That's where it really gets fun. Because now you go, "All right, well, here's my first round of, like, ideas, all right, I'm gonna filter down to the next round, and filter down to the next round, and then when you start to go to production, you start to actually film stuff, it becomes, like, "Oh, that's a great shot." And then you start to understand the meaning of capturing great footage. It's not that it's in focus, it's not that it's good exposure, it's that it actually feels a certain way. And that's the mark of good footage. Okay, so. Here's the final video. I won't talk over it. (happy electronic music) Okay, so, how'd that feel? What do you think? Look all right to you?
I think, I think what's fascinating about it, is that it's an example of the fact that you can take something that you've seen 50 billion times, we've all made sandwiches, almost every day of our life, for the past, however long we've been alive, and make it look interesting.
And it's not gotta be an amazingly exotic, crazy thing, it's just, you can make things interesting even if you've seen them 50 billion times. [Instructor] And that's kind of really what I'm going for, guys, is that, when you look at shooting for the edit, Okay, you're looking at a very simple, mundane thing. Okay, so I'm gonna ask you guys for an idea, we're gonna walk through a simple idea. We're gonna walk through kind of like a process. Okay, and we're just gonna think about it conceptually. So that you guys can start to think, "Okay, we've watched a good number of video, we've thought about a good number of things here." I wanna make sure that we all leave today understanding that when we're shooting for an edit, and we're shooting for something simple, we're gonna make it work. Okay, so, let's think of an idea as a group. Anyone, come on, I'm relying on you guys here.
[Guy In Audience) Getting ready for work.
Getting ready for work. Okay?
Making popcorn? [Instructor] Making popcorn.
Taking a dog for a walk.
Yeah. [Instructor] Okay, there's three really great ideas, let's dissect them down, okay, so, getting ready for work, making popcorn, taking a dog for a walk. Now, a good film is a succession of simple actions. All right, think of a good wedding film, okay? It's the bride getting ready, groom getting ready, they're all a collection of very simple actions, and so, what I'm trying to train you guys into thinking, and try to train you into believing, is that if you can learn to capture a simple action, you can do anything because that's all a movie is. That's all a film is, it's all capturing motion is. Is thinking in simple actions. Okay, so we're gonna take that first idea, getting ready for work. Okay, so getting ready for work is a very large idea, so we're gonna circle out, we're gonna pinpoint one thing and pull it out. Okay, getting ready for work, what do you do? You can like, uh, shave, right? You can iron your clothes. You can brush your teeth.
[Woman In Audience] Tie a tie.
Tie a tie. Those are four simple actions.
(whispering) Turn off the alarm.
Turn off the alarm. That's five. So when you're thinking about an action, it can be broken up into smaller actions, and then it's not so scary, is it? All right, so you think about it, okay, well, I have this fear of capturing a wedding. From beginning to end it's eight hours of stuff. It's eight hours of stuff, eight hours of content, and it freaks people out. Start off, what do you do?
Getting ready. Okay then?
First look. Then the groom's getting ready. Parents. Right, ceremony. Formals, portraits. These are all really easy manageable chunks, right? And then once you start to look at that and start to break that down. Okay now lets start thinking about shots. Okay, just start thinking about different angles, different lenses, and different stuff, so let's go back a couple slides here. So, I'm gonna play this clip, and we're gonna start to look at different angles that we can pull out, all right? [Instructor] So we can pull out that perspective of the cabinet, which we did, but now, doing it again, you know, we could have put a camera up there and gotten that bird's eye of him opening, right? Him coming across, maybe the camera could have been on the counter and gotten that perspective of him coming across. So, as you're looking at a scene, so what we typically like to do, is we like to scout a location. All right, so I'm gonna sit here and stand with you guys, and we're gonna look at that scene. And we're gonna think of every single position that we could put a camera. And theoretically when you're thinking about that you'd write it down, and you'd made a short list of what you think is really good. Okay? So, when you're shooting for an edit, it's not just spraying and praying. I don't believe in that. It's not just throwing caution to the wind and hoping it works out. No, it's being planned, it's being deliberate, it's being the professional, it's being good at what you do. Okay, so, I'm gonna give a couple camera angles, and I'm gonna rely on you guys to give me a couple, okay? I'm very interactive, and by the end of this class, you're gonna love me or hate me. All right? Okay, so. Knowing that I've already done a video like this, I'm not gonna use the same angles, right? So, if I'm looking at, this is my first frame. Maybe what I would do is, you know, suspend the camera up top. Okay, so he's walking up, and what, you can envision that, right? He's walking up, and it's his head going to the cabinets, and there's that shot, there's that first shot. Or, uh, second shot. Okay, and my next frame, um, I said it'll be here, I'd probably put a camera on the counter, and get him as he's coming. Okay? Uh, who wants to volunteer one?
[Man In Gray Shirt] So maybe a camera on the floor, getting his feet walking to the camera. [Instructor] Oh that's a great one.
[Man In Gray Shirt] Fish eye lens.
That's a great one. Okay, so he just said, on the floor, fish eye lens, so we just upped our game, didn't we? We just changed our lenses. So let's think about it, we all know fish eyes. Okay, now, fish eyes tend to give you the feeling that something is wet or something is got a round perspective from the ground. So if I throw a fish eye lens on my camera and toss it on the ground, I'm insinuating that an animal or something weird or a fishbowl is on the ground, or stuff like that. That give me that perspective. So that could be confusing. So you just want to pay attention to that. Like, um, we have different tolerances for different lenses. Like if I'm watching a skate video, I don't mind the fish eye look. If I'm watching a narrative film, there has to be a reason to use that fish eye. We can't just use a fish eye 'cause it looks cool, right? We gotta use the fish eye because it says something. But I do love the shot on the ground. The shot on the ground is great, I do that a lot. So we'll take a look in the next few days on tools that'll help like you get stable footage while you're low on the ground, because oddly enough, when we're shooting a picture, it's really easy to get low, right? Pop pop pop. But when you're trying to capture stable footage, it's a little bit more difficult. Okay, so, another angle?
Through the glass I would do a shot, maybe.
Through this glass?
Through the door, yeah.
Okay, cool, so we can fake that really well. We don't have to have him shoot through the glass. Because it's frosted? We can shoot through that door, open up the door and shoot through that door, okay, what lens would you pick?
Depends on the framing, meaning if I was gonna use, well, if the door's open then I wouldn't, I was thinking about using the, uh, windows as a frame?
To frame him, but um, if that was the case, then it depends, it depends on what it looked like when I was standing there, either a 7200, meaning a depth of field thing, foreground and depth of field, and I wanted to show what the weather was outside, I dunno, there's a lot of things going on. [Instructor] Okay, okay, all right, well, I'm gonna tell you my thought process. Okay, my thought process is that I was wide. I was wide. Therefore the next frame should be medium wide. Or a close up. Okay? Think like that. Think, "Hey, my first shot was kinda wide. You know what? My next shot, I'm gonna punch in a little bit. That way, you get in the habit of just not shooting everything wide, right? My first problem, when I started doing video, was everything was wide, everything was just 17 millimeters, one, because it's easy to focus 17 millimeter, but two, because I didn't know any better. I thought, "Okay, I can edit this together when you get in the editing room, you can't cut. You can't jump to anything. Okay, you had a shot.
[Man With Lavender Shirt] Um, I was thinking maybe an angle where it looks like the camera is in the peanut butter jar, so the guy's putting his knife into it. [Instructor] That's a great, okay, that's a great one, that's a creative production idea that we'll talk about later, and there's some cameras that we can use to kind of get that type of perspective, there's um, a bunch of different ways you can actually get that shot and actually fake it. That's a great idea. It's fun because you think of ideas for shots like this, and then the hard work comes when you start to dissect it, how to do the shot. Okay, and like I said before, when you roll back and you start to really think about, okay, when you start to really think about what it is that makes a great shot and makes great content, it's the work that goes into developing that shot. And then once you kind of learn that, it becomes your technique, and you start to use it, better and better, more more more, over and over and over in different kind of scenarios. Like there was this one time, where I needed to get someone pouring water and I wanted that shot up, and, we just, we needed the shot. And so we moved the person to a sink and had plexiglass tilted down and shot through the plex, and had her pour the water, so it just would run right into the sink, and we got the shot that way. Okay, I mean, it took a lot of brain power to kind of figure it out, had to light it properly to make it look matched and all that kinda stuff. But, the fact that we stopped for a hot second, thought outside the box, and really started to focus on it, it made it so much better. Okay, it gave us that perspective that our client isn't used to seeing. And here's the funny thing, we used three seconds of it. Used three seconds of it, you take 30 minutes to set up the shot, and used three seconds. Okay, so I'm gonna stop really quickly, 'cause I'm blowing through this content, and I wanna roll back, and I wanna ask you guys if there's anything that I've said that is confusing? Is there anything in the chat room that's confusing? Are there any questions? 'Cause I really wanna make sure, because this is our foundation, guys. This is what really sets the tone for the rest of the three days.
I have a question, um, how long, 'cause you said you did this with students, like, for example, the bathroom one, how long did that take to shoot?
Ah, that's a great question. Okay, so that bathroom, so it was a two-day workshop, first day was all classroom work, lecture work, and the second day was entirely all production. We spent a little bit of time in the morning talking about some stuff, and the rest of the day was production. So here's how we did it. We worked together as a class, thought of the concept, broke down the concept into five sequence, mini sequences, and then each group kind of went off and used me as their talent, planned their sequence, shot the sequence, so it was a whole day. Um, if I were to do it myself, kinda in the same vein, it would be anywhere from a two-hour to a four-hour shoot. The more creative you get, obviously the more time you end up putting into it. We'll go back and watch one of them one more time. I really want you guys to pay attention, um, how much time passes between each cut. Very quick. But you don't record two seconds, you record 20, 30, 10. And you cut it. So a lot of the times when you, when photographers start to do video, they hit record once, hit record twice, and they're, "Yeah, yeah, we're done," and they get into the editing room and there's no, there's no wiggle room, right? Because there's always a sweet spot, you're gonna find this out, you hit record, and you get, you get all squirelly for a second, and then you sit. Then you stabilize. And it's stable for like, you know, 10 seconds, and then you get all squirelly again, and you hit stop. Right, that's, that's what you're supposed to do. So you're not doing it wrong. You just gotta give yourself some editing space. Okay, now, um, any other questions?
Yeah really quick, I just a, something that Jeffer had said, and this is awesome, I love that during this workshop, if you guys are in the chatroom, and sharing your ideas and thoughts as well, uh, Jeffer points out that you can actually rearrange these exact same clips in a different order, to tell a completely different story. Like, show his face in profile, him grabbing something, then the close up of the peanut butter, so it keeps the viewer wondering what kind of sandwich he's making. So it's a totally different story. But it's the same shot, it's just how they're edited together.
And it goes back to that first concept I had that's just the, the idea of taking five shots, and editing them together in different ways, so that you can get a real experience of understanding what your shots, and what your shots are, and how, what story they're telling. 'Cause it's, I'm really really kind of, just, tired of hearing story-telling, story-telling, story-telling, but not giving you guys the faculties to be able to do it. And the way you learn how to be a story-teller is you take your shots, you edit it linear, and then you mess it up. Start moving things around. Start moving things around. Okay, watch a lot of movies that are non-linear. Um, Reservoir Dogs. Okay, that's a great one. Quentin Tarantino's really good at non-linear. Okay, Pulp Fiction, one of my favorites. Those are all great movies, and they're all great because on one level they tell a great story, but on another level they keep you engaged because you're continually referring back to what happened when you saw what happened before, which really happened after. There's a great scene in Space Balls. You know, where they put the movie into the thing, it's like, "What's happening then is happening now. So when will then be now? Soon." Right? (laughter) It's, it's a great line, it's so funny, but it's real. That's what editing does for us. It allows us to kind of mess around with time. Okay, so we're gonna change the frame again, so. Pardon me. Okay, so this was our first frame coming in. Outside of putting the camera in the cabinet, which is awesome, by the way, because dio solarus can do that. If I was using a cine camera, like a real big cine camera, I'd have to mock up a cabinet, drill a hole through it, rig it up, light it, have some person lift it for me, okay, so I mean, here's the thing, is let's go back. Okay. Outside of putting the camera in the cabinet, what else can we do?
Like from the side.
Okay. So this is a, a medium wide shot, okay, I'm not giving you millimeters for a reason. I want you to think in wide, medium wide, close punch in, okay, close up. Then there's extreme close up. Wide, medium wide, close up, extreme close up. Because when you start thinking of it like that, you're no longer thinking in numbers, and I'm a real believer in right side, left side brain, so when you're thinking numbers, you're using the left side of the brain. When you're thinking in words, like medium, and long, and close up, you're thinking right side. And you're not, you don't need to jump between the halves of your brain anymore, you're staying on one side, and you're staying creative. Okay? So think like that, think like, "Okay, I'm in a medium wide shot right now. So, you know, maybe, I like that perspective shot, okay, maybe like there could be a great like a, low angle shot of him walking up to the cabinet, you know, like as, as if it's the perspective of the coffee maker. And if it's the perspective of a coffee maker, it's round, maybe you could use a fish eye there. Okay, or if there was a fish bowl here. So now we start to think about how we can dress our set. So, I'm gonna fast forward to the end, because I know there are some people who are thinking, "Well, you know what, this is really narrative. This is really like narrative type stuff, but I don't do narrative. I don't do this sort of stuff on a day-to-day. I have portrait clients that need films, and I have wedding clients that want their weddings captured, and I've got these corporate clients that want their interviews done. How does this help me?" Roll it back, guys. Start simple, think of a story, break it down, it's all the same shots. Um, we're really good friends with a production company, and they're really great, their name is Still Motion. And they said something really, really good. 'Cause they won an Emmy for a movie they did called Game of Honor. Um, and in the Game of Honor, it's a story, it's basically a film about the, I think, the West Point Academy, and the Army Academy, and like, the game that they play every year for football. And they followed one of the teams, and there's this really great scene, where, um, they kinda go back and forth between the cadet changing into his football uniform, and then changing into his dress uniform, it's a great juxtaposition. When they were talking about the movie, they're like, "We were really nervous at first, doing this, because we hadn't done something like this, but then the guy started getting dressed in his formals, and we thought, "Oh, this is like a wedding!" And they started treating it like a wedding, and they got wonderfully, beautiful shots. And that's what I'm saying. This may not apply to what you're doing today, but the sheer fact that you're going through the process of, one, filming something really silly, that has no pressure, that has no expectations, that has nothing to do with what you do on a day-to-day, gets you to think outside the box, and really starts to get you looking at video and motion as a craft. Not just, "All right, I'm shooting stills! You know, I'll just put a Go Pro on top of my camera, hit record, and shoot stills, and then I'll edit," that's not motion, guys. That's spraying and praying. Okay, we're not here to do that, we're here to really dissect and think about it. Okay, um, let's see here. Let's see. What's the shot? Medium wide. Okay? So we have two options, we can go wide, or close up. See how that works now? (audience agreeing) See how it works? Okay, so, if we were to go wide, what would the shot be?
If we were to go wide.
Think, you can move the camera anywhere. Just move it somewhere.
Gosh, I don't know.
You wanna call a life line in?
I'll call a life line, for a friend, or.
So, maybe a camera right, full body, on the floor again, showing the entire cupboard.
Awesome. Do you see what he just did there? Do you see what he just did? He said, "Okay, camera to the right, full body, coverage, maybe high, maybe low," doesn't matter, but what he did was he gave you the shot. Whereas before, I think we would've started and been, "Oh, move the camera to the right." But the minute you go, okay, it's gonna be a medium, a wide shot, we're gonna move it off, you can all picture it now, can't you? (audience agrees) That's what you have to start doing. That's how you start shooting for the edit. That's how you start shooting for something that is gonna be pieced together as a continuous piece.
Yeah, what would you call it, let's say you, um, zoomed in onto the peanut butter jar, but you zoom, you compose the shot, that it's, or looks like a zoomed in shot or, because you're moving compositionally, you're moving the peanut butter jar off to the side, let's say, you know, but it's all zoomed in, a wide angle shot, I mean to say is, even though you're zooming in and making, just a peanut butter thing, but in the composition of the screen, it's wide. Know what I'm saying?
In relation to the screen, the peanut butter's still small and to the side, so it looks like a wide angle in relation, relationally wide, meaning as opposed to the entire scene wide.
Does that also work as wide?
Yeah, okay, so, let's.
Or that's zoomed?
Okay, so, so, this is a medium wide shot. And medium wide in perspe--okay so, I understand your question now. So the question, I'm gonna rephrase it, is, what constitutes as punch in, wide, medium wide, you know? So we have to think about it in relation to our entire film. Who's the subject? The subject is that guy.
That guy. Okay.
So if that guy is framed in this way, he's medium wide. Now let's think of it another way. If the subject was the peanut butter.
If the subject was the peanut butter, that shot would be extremely wide. Okay? If the subject was the peanut butter, and I framed it just um, medium wide, that would insinuate that that, that peanut butter is the subject. But we know that the peanut butter's not the subject, right? The guy's the subject. So all the framing is in relation to your subject. To your subject matter, to who you are actually filming. Like I would never, unless it, I would not say never, 'cause you should never say never, but I would rarely use a lot of close ups of the peanut butter unless I wanted to accent that the peanut butter is being used at that moment. Or that it was a part of the story. Because if you, if you punch in to the peanut butter too often, what ends up happening is it becomes a character. And unless that character starts to say something, you don't have a story. Okay? So punch ins, close ups, extreme close ups, insinuate that they're important. And if you continually do it, it raises the stakes, remember that phrase? Raises the stakes. And makes that viewer understand, "Okay, I need to pay attention here." And if you continually punch in to a subject, and don't give them reason as to why they're watching that, then they're gonna be really, really mad at the payoff. The payoff is very low.