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Shooting Documentary Short Films

Lesson 6 of 16

Setting Up Complex Framing

Griffin Hammond

Shooting Documentary Short Films

Griffin Hammond

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Lesson Info

6. Setting Up Complex Framing

Lesson Info

Setting Up Complex Framing

In the video, I'm gonna show you we'll talk more about getting the focus right? Getting the exposure, right? Alex has gotten all of it perfect, so thank you. But what I want to do right now is now I want to bring a second volunteer on stage, you what's your name? Courtney, courtney and erik. All right. And eric, we're gonna take this chair away right now. I'll have you both stand, um, because sometimes I do sitting interviews, sometimes I do standing interviews. It kind of depends a lot times is the background that I'm worried about and sometimes it's the length like, if we're going to talk for forty five minutes, I better get you some chairs, right? But sometimes standing actually brings up more energy and people, I don't know. Do you feel more energetic right now? You feel more powerful? Eso sometimes if I have a quiet interview like george here is, it was kind of quiet, it probably helped to get him up out of the seat and just get his blood flowing. So one of things, I don't like it...

, sometimes I go into space and I want to interview someone, and they're like, oh, yeah, me and my sister were, we'll talk to you. It's like I just want to talk to one of you because now I know that I have to like move a microphone back and forth and I know like rule of thirds is going to be all messed up so let's try to frame the two of them up face the camera there you are um and this is I mean that's kind of how it looks when you first frame it up and he was like, well that's not that visually interesting and now I want you to go in for a close up on them or as close as you can still fit both women now in reality they're standing like nine inches apart from each other pretty close but on camera it doesn't look that close when you zoom in so I often end up being like okay just stand really close sure like awkwardly clothes it's like the only way to get them both into the frame actually looks really nice but it's hard it's hard to fit two people and now it's like rule of thirds I don't know what I'm well to do like there there's two of them so I usually try to break out of this format if I can if I can I'd say like actually talk to you and then talk to you it's just gonna be easier for me with a microphone but if I have to do this kind of shot let's figure out a better way to do it like if you guys are gonna look at me maybe maybe you take a step forward and then fixed up that way and zoom out a little bit and taking another step forward okay? Promise right now the camera's below us so we're getting kind of suss actually let's switch it up you guys just trade places and according you just take a step forward and that could and uh eric could just take a step that way I could get them to kind of like it's like being the same space a little bit now we have a little bit I'm not sure I still love it it's weird shooting in here without a background like that that actually point me in the right direction a lot of times but now at least there's like some visual interest I'll actually have you angle a little bit this way like now there's some depth to the shot it's not like all squared up and weird it just looks more natural to me it looks less like hey stand in front of camera and more like I just showed up with a camera and you guys are here and it makes them more intimate to like now their faces air close together even though in reality they don't have to be so I'm looking for ways to just like break out of that weird squared up thing and sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't I should show you let me pull up in example of a shot that I liked in my in my suraj documentary um okay, yeah, I'm okay we're going to show a video in a minute that kind of shows this in the field and reinforces what we're talking about um but here's a here's a two shot I did you know it's like I don't always want a two shot, but if the energy is right, if courtney and eric are best friends and they're gonna be a lot more fun in a two shot than they would on their own and that could be right and these girls were like that on the campus of of illinois state university and just by coming a little bit to the side putting her and focus our friends even a little bit out of focus she's actually bigger she's distorted by the lens I think it's just it's more visually interesting and of course I've kind of broken down rule of thirds a little bit except that maybe she on the left is kind of correctly framed according to rule of thirds and our president is just background but it makes it works for them uh trying to do too many of those those two shots but but it can work so that's one way to do it just kind of move him around until he look interesting so eric have you sit down and courtney right? Okay, I'm so bad with names I'm worried that I'm getting um we're actually going to stand here um like you're at a podium and let's turn on the rule of thirds one more time sometimes we're in settings where were at a press conference and we're shooting someone while they're at a podium are actually my friends would kill me for calling it a podium because it's not it's a lectern putting this thing you stand on right? We're gonna put you in a lectern um um and again, if we pull it rule of thirds we really want to you know, put it on that top line now if she's looking at the camera or close to the camera so actually alex let's bring the camera round this way a little bit kinda look straight on at her you know, maybe we don't need to put her on one of the axes but we just couldn't keep her on the top spot in the center um yeah yeah like that and just go down a little bit for rule of thirds sorry uh the other way go up and down like there you go there's they're shooting someone at a podium uh electric but you know, same you know it's not an interview, so maybe we're not concerned about look room you know which put him in the center whatever whatever looks right but I often still rely on the rule of thirds but your eyes they're finally there is something you could help me with this is also very similar to a standup shot like if we zoom in on courtney again uh maybe she's doing the reporter stand up right now the problem in news yes good job is that chances are because of convergence because we're all now reporters and filmmakers courtney year now the camera person and the reporter and alex is not even here and uh and you have to do this all by yourself so one of things I do because I find myself in the situation where I'm filming myself of course you need a tripod, right? Uh and you probably need a flip out all city that's why I like the gh three just don't have that you have a little you know, we could flip this around and but and maybe you would just barely see it. So with some of the tricks I use are sometimes I'm far away like you might not be able to see the lcd right now so maybe I start rolling and I walk over and I do a test shot and when I run on turned off on a go okay, yeah, that worked, but the biggest challenge I'm going to have here is focus how'm I supposed to focus on myself? You could use auto focus and I've tried the continuous auto focus on my camera has face detection, so surely it'll detect face, but it goes wrong I can never get it quite right, so I want complete control I want manual focus what I'll do is sometimes it's like a chair, something I'll just like put something in the chair, maybe I have a second tripod prop it up, try to get it where my face is going to be and then I run back there and I focus on one thing I've actually done a bunch of homos I just have like a piece of string with a police piece of gaffer tape it's black tape and then if he's a white tape on top of it just so I have someone contrast because that's you could focus on it if there's two different colors, you can see the difference between the line and I'll just like hang it up right here, right where my eyes are gonna be its eyes that I want to focus on because it's, not your shoulder your shoulders a little bit farther back from your eyes so it depending on your lens if it's a really wide open lens, if I focus here, I might be completely out of focus for the face I'm trying to get something in the frame and friend of you're not familiar with focus, it's just an issue of distance. So if I can also just find something it's the same distance, it doesn't matter if it's in the same place if it's over here. But I know that, like the radius is the same, then I'm good a lot times I'll focus on like a point on the ground if I could just imagine, like that sphere from her eyes, hitting the ground from the camera. If I focus right here, tio let's, get that in focus. Yeah, and now let's, go up to the face. I don't know if I've got that distance, right? I'm a little bit off, but closer than focusing back there, you know, try to find something point of reference that I could get it right and it was a camera will be a little bit more forgiving. The farther out you zoom in like you noticed when alex doomed all the way and was like, yep, that's out of focus when he's assumed out, it probably looks pretty good. All right, thank you very much. Corny.

Class Description

Today’s media landscape is largely made up of regular folks who know how to spot a good story and use basic gear to document the world around them. Find out how you can join their ranks and make compelling, marketable shorts in Shooting Documentary Short Films with Griffin Hammond. 

Griffin made a name for himself with the ode to an iconic hot sauce, Sriracha. In this class, he’ll teach you how to identify, shoot, and share documentary-style video. 

You’ll learn how to:

  • Recognize and tell a good story
  • Capture high-caliber footage with low-budget gear 
  • Incorporate all the essentials for online and TV news
  • Produce corporate work clients love
  • Find your audience and monetize your work

Griffin will share tips on lighting, framing, and interviewing subjects so you walk away with lots of usable footage. You’ll watch as Griffin shares clips from a one-day shoot and you’ll learn exactly what it takes to turnaround a complete documentary-style short on a deadline.

You’ll also learn a handful of helpful editing techniques and get insights on the ethical and legal responsibilities of documentary filmmaking.

If you want to learn how to tell meaningful stories that look great and sell, while working on a shoestring budget, don’t miss Shooting Documentary Short Films with Griffin Hammond. 


Bruce Gruenbaum

First off, if you have not watched Sriracha, go and do that. The techniques that Griffin used in it are pretty incredible. This course expands on those techniques and what really surprised me about this course is how simple the setup is that he uses to make some absolutely amazing documentaries. The quality of what you can produce with the most basic of equipment is really mind-boggling. Some of the most interesting stuff was about B-Roll and how to use it to create a visually interesting presentation. The idea of a lot of small clips that show specific information is invaluable. The techniques he uses to create shots like the one where the camera was placed on top of a cart and pushed down an aisle was amazing. More than anything else, the ideas and tips I came away with have helped me find ways of making my own videos much more interesting.

a Creativelive Student

Griffin is a great storyteller and I was hoping to learn a LOT from this class. But I didn't. I'm an experienced corporate video editor/shooter who's always dreamed of doing a documentary. About half of the class is the very basics of video production (b-roll, rule of thirds, good audio) and the other half is interesting content that seems to cut off just as it becomes engaging. I'm not sure why Creative Live edited it that way other than to extend the number of segments? Although the next segment doesn't seem to pick up where the previous left off. I've never felt that way before about CL, but it seems like every segment is cut right as it gets to things I'm interested in. It did have some great information about revenue streams for a short form documentary, but I was left wanting to learn more. If you're just starting out... this is a great resource to learn the basics of non-fiction filming. If you already work professionally in the field I would pass.

Tim Greig

This is brilliant. Griffin is such a generous, self-deprecating filmmaker you just can't help but love him. He goes into great detail on just how he makes his documentaries and other work and is so inspiring, mostly because he is a one-man band and produces such interesting and wonderful videos. Thank you Griffin and CreativeLive for offering this.