Shooting Video for an Editor


Use Your Photography Skills to Master Videography


Lesson Info

Shooting Video for an Editor

This is, perhaps, or for sure my favorite part of the class which is that it's about shooting for an editor and it's, even though we've been talking all morning and all day about shooting, it's at this point, where I feel like, if we're thinking about the class and what's really going on, this is the part where we're really actually, we've got our gear on, we've got all of the ideas about how to plot out and think about this stuff but this is the part where we're actually shooting. And what shooting for an editor really means, that you're not just out there collecting material that you think is strong and beautiful. Of course, you're the one in the field and you're the one that's doing that but you're really starting to think about, okay, how is this gonna be used. Can my editor use this stuff or am I just out collecting things that I think are relevant but there's no way to get in and out of it. Or just stuff that's pretty but it doesn't apply to anything. When you start to think abou...

t how am I going to hand this over, what is my editor going to be able to do with this material, what kinds of scenes can they make, what kind of stories can they craft out of those scenes, that's where it starts to get kind of exciting. So, shooting for an editor, for me, I think one of the biggest obstacles, there are a lot of things that go into shooting for an editor but, like, first and foremost and one of the most important is about coverage. And coverage is really thinking about how to, when you shoot something, not just shoot it from one standpoint, one perspective, one place in the room, kind of one shot, but really floating around the space. So, if it was this room and I was going to shoot it and I was going to try to tell the scene of what is happening in this room, I might start from outside and open the door a crack and peek in through here. Obviously, I'd be shooting me because a lot of attention is on me and I'm sitting here and presenting. But if I only did that, I wouldn't be able to understand that also, there's an audience here, so I might, like, get behind me and shoot over my shoulders so that the audience has a sense of my perspective, what's it like to be sitting in a chair and talking to you guys. I might have some details. I might shoot the way that I have been nervously fussing with my pen all morning to show that, like, alright, she's doing an okay job but she's also a little bit nervous. These little details that can add elements to the story. I would make sure that there was part where, like, I have these people that are in the background so that you get a sense of what is going on. I hone in on some of your faces, get in close. Maybe get behind you, shoot from over your, like, from behind your head, looking towards me so that I can see you in the frame and see that you're looking right at me. I might get in very close to a couple of you and watch your eyes as you watch some material that's being presented. Shoot some of your doodling, get over your shoulders, shoot people writing things down. All of this stuff, instead of putting my camera over here, shooting it and just being like, well, I'm done. There are so many elements in this class. I would probably want to shoot the screen for a while so that, if I were to remake the scene of this room, I could show a bunch of things. I could show the instructor up there. I could show her nervously twiddling with her pen. I can show the behind-the-scenes stuff that's going on. I have enough coverage of the actual screen to, if I want to show what this person is presenting, to actually have it on camera so that we can see it, I would want to be able to look at the notes you guys are taking. I'd want a shot where it shows all of you. I'd want a shot where it's just some of you. I'd want a shot where it's some of this technical stuff. There's a lot that goes into that. What that means is that when you're shooting, in some ways, like photography, but in photography, while I shoot a lot and float around, when I find my thing in a photograph where I'm like, this is the shot. Then I'm there and I work it and work to death and then I might move on. In this, it's like working to death the whole time. Just like constantly doing it. Lots of details, lots of cut-aways, lots of characters but also lots of moments that, like, if the shot of you guys doesn't work, there's something to cut to. If you're shooting me and I'm talking the whole time and then, as you're shooting me, that camera gets wobbly, but you really need to keep going, little details and cut-aways are also great opportunities for your editor to cover some of your mistakes. So, that's the basics of it. Then, I want us to think about shooting as one camera, which is kind of what I'm talking about. Me, as the shooter, bouncing all over the space. So we're going to watch part of that introduction that I showed you before, just the scene with Amy. And I want us to think about it just this time in terms of coverage. In this situation, there was one shooter, that shooter was me and I want you to see how many times I'm changing my position. Sometimes I'm outside of the room looking in. Sometimes I'm right up close to her. Sometimes I'm looking at details. Sometimes I'm showing the broader room. I want you to kind of see how it's not just shot this one actor packing up her suitcase and getting out the door, wasn't just shot from one perspective or from one angle. (slow contemplative music) My wife, Edith, died here just three and a half years ago. (slow contemplative music) I was dressing as much as I could at home just to sort of try to remain somewhat sane. She put up with it and we stayed together for 46 years. But she wouldn't want me going out. (slow contemplative music) (door closes) (slow contemplative music) The thing is, you need to reinvent yourself for a world that's coming. So that was shot in kind of one go. That was really just her packing up, in that case, probably a couple of suitcases as opposed to just one. But it's a one suitcase, two suitcases, maybe three getting packed, we know that that doesn't take hours and hours but I was moving around the room a lot. Sometimes I was on one side of her, sometimes I was on the other. Sometimes that's about clearing space because it's a small, little room and I've got to float around her. But it's also about, rather than your audience feeling like here's a window into a world and they're just kind of looking at it like this, it's about dropping them into an experience where almost it's going all around them. It's a little bit more of a 360 approach to shooting, even though we're working in a two dimensional space. So, I would come in, I would focus on hands, I'd get in there, I'd look for interesting opportunities like shooting through a mirror instead of just shooting straight on. Go outside of the room, peeking through the window. And then there's also this moment, I'm gonna show it to you again, there's also this moment where I really shift my perspective when she's walking out of the house. And that happened because this was someone who had, I think she had three suitcases and she was going to run them out to the car. So it's also an opportunity where I can say, oh, well, I know what's about to happen. She's gonna run a suitcase out to the car, then she's gonna go back up and then she's gonna get another one. Why don't I use this as an opportunity instead of shooting it the same way each time, shoot it slightly differently so that, in the edit, we can do things. So in one moment, she's leaving the hallway with that suitcase and then the next shot, all of a sudden, we're outside. And we see her from almost across the street walking down that stairs. I do that 'cause it just makes it more fun to watch. It makes you, as an audience, want to watch it more and you're going to like it more. I couldn't have, I don't do the thing where I say, hold on, hold on, hold on, let me get in front of you, although that's kind of fair game and people will do that. In this case, I just saw how many suitcases she had and I thought, alright, I'll shoot it one way this time but then I know she's gonna go in and do it again. When she goes back in the house, why don't I back up, shoot it broader and then, you know, have this other perspective. So I want you to watch just for the things I just said in mind but also for that. (slow contemplative music) My wife, Edith, died here just three and a half years ago. (slow contemplative music) I was dressing as much as I could at home just sort of try to remain somewhat sane. She put up with it and we stayed together for 46 years. (slow contemplative music) But she wouldn't want me going out. (slow contemplative music) The thing is, you need to reinvent yourself for the world that's coming. Okay, yeah, please. So is, essentially, your method of working to tell your subject, just live your life and I'll just do my thing? Absolutely. Okay. And that's very much a style that I like, that is not the only way to work. Some people have a much more direct hand in how they want the people that they work with to be and where to be able to plot it out and to ask them to hold off on something or wait until they're ready. I am just much better at naturally observing. I'm better at letting people do their thing and trying to kind of disappear and work around them. So in that case, I very much say, oh, you're gonna pack for your thing, I'm just gonna be in the room. I'm gonna, as much as I can, in this tiny little room with a bed that basically fills all of it, try to stay out of your way but otherwise, go about your business and I'll just float around you. And watching, and being able to anticipate, okay, at some point, there are suitcases, those suitcases have to go to the car. At some point, there are three of them, okay, she's 75 years old, she's probably not going to carry them all at once. Just kind of thinking a little bit ahead and being a little bit ahead of the movement and the actions that are about to happen can really help you not even need to interrupt anyone. Yeah. And similarly, I think people at home are having some of the same sentiments, like, how do you do that as one person and just observing and getting, especially when you went around and you saw the car pulling away but then you're also in the car. So from Luke Foresight: How did you get, in that particular instance, so the car going away, inside without instruction or is it just taking the opportunities each time she does it? Or how does that work? So, in something like that, basically, I don't exactly remember how I did this situation but I could've done was, let's say there are three suitcases I know that I want them from two different perspectives and I know by the time suitcase three is in the car, it's kind of time to go. I can ask her to wait, I can say, hey Amy, wait a second, I've gotta go grab something. That's not, I mean, even in photography, like, sometimes you forgot a phone inside and you say, wait. Gotta wait until we leave but I could've done that. But I also could've been saying to myself, alright, by the time suitcase three is in the car, it's time to go, and so you just are trying to think one or two steps ahead of the people that you're working with. Sometimes you can get way ahead of yourself and you're like, I've got the shot where they're going to come back into their home and they're gonna walk up the stairs and you're like, I'm at the wrong house. It can, sometimes, you get so ahead of yourself that you're not necessarily watching where someone is going and like, your subject has already walked into someplace and you're in position elsewhere waiting for something to happen that's not going to happen. But, for the most part, I try to anticipate. As one person, it's harder. You have to do, when you're shooting for an editor and you're shooting for coverage, you need all of that coverage and when it's one person, it's a challenge. You've got to move a lot, you've got to constantly be shifting, your proximity to the subject, you've gotta go wide, you've gotta be in tight, you've gotta go wide again. There's a way to do this with two people which is what I'm gonna talk about next that can make that a lot easier. Before I do that, are there any other questions maybe pertaining, okay. So, the other way that you can do this that a lot of people do, this is how Chris Lamarka and I shot our film together is that we always co-shot. And we co-shot, basically, everything. So... We would descend on a scene and have a good sense of what each of us would be covering. Alright, you're going to, he just kind of knows the types of things I focus in on. I tend to be rather intimate, kind of hone in on people, like to get very close. Chris, therefore, might have a tendency to go a little wider or really cover the environment and cover that landscape so that we're not just in this internal little world but we can actually see where we are which is hugely important. And what happens is that you can do this type of shot to another shot that keep your visual language varied and dynamic and interesting and you can do these things in real time. That's the thing that I say that you so often see in narrative which is someone is one room making eggs, let's say, and they're like, hey Sammy, it's breakfast time and then, you cut to Sammy in his room saying, okay, Mom, I'll be down in two seconds. In a narrative situation, first, the kitchen shot is lit and set up and all this stuff and then shot and then, everything's broken down, you bring it over to Sammy's room and you do it again. With two cameras, you can actually do that type of thing in real time. One of you can be with the mother as she's scrambling eggs and the other one can be with the son as he's playing Legos in the room. And what it means is you can cut back and forth between these things. Oh, I'm so hungry. Mom, when is breakfast gonna be ready? And as he shouts it, you have the footage in the other room to say, oh, I'm here. Breakfast is almost served and you can be doing these things that we love to see in visual language and you can just do them in a documentary if there's two of you. So, I'm gonna show you another sample that you've already seen from the introduction. This was shot with two of us and I want you to just start to see the amount of times that we're kind of in the same situation but slightly different perspective and realize, you don't necessarily always have to know this was this person, this was that person but start to kind of realize, oh, that must have been two of them kind of being in the same situation but shooting slightly different things within that same scene. What are you doing? Lifting it up to watch it. Lifting what up? That ex... Exhaust feedback line. That shouldn't be blowing exhaust. Push the button on the thing, am I getting any propane up? Not yet, but I'm hearing it. (engine stutters) (car beeps) Watch fingers. Alright. (engine starts) (engine stutters) (engine revs) (water pours) As brothers, we learned to live together in our own little private world. Don't forget that fuel pump, we'll burn that fuel pump up if we don't get it unplugged. A few months ago, we had one of the biggest blowup fights we've ever had. Finally, the stress just erupted between the two of us. And so, I spilled it all out. I told him there's still something you don't know and here's what it is. Part of me is female, always has been. And he replied, dear Jodie, you're my family, my only family and let me tell you about Crystal. (bag zips) It turns out that my own brother had been keeping the same secret hidden from me all those years in the same way. (slow contemplative music) Okay, does that make sense to you where you can see slight variations? There's a couple of moments, specifically. One is that we're kind of right there, on top of them and then, all of a sudden, we're pulled back and one of them is the smaller silhouette on the side, that's because we were working together. Chris saw an opportunity where I was probably on the other side of the truck shooting something, so he knew he could back up without having me in the shot. And so, all of a sudden, we go from this small little world where, oh, you get to see that they're in this kind of like shop yard and you kind of get a sense of where they're living and it's not really a house, it's more of a mechanic studio. There are these little changes that are happening where we're on one of them and then the other as they're at the hood of the car. It's like we see the tank and then we see the one behind the wheel. And we're seeing them kind of happening in real time, it's 'cause we're basically, almost standing back-to-back just shooting slightly different things. There's this moment where the door creaks shut, you see a little figure in there, it creaks shut and all of a sudden, you're inside, that's a two camera thing. One of us is shooting, oh you know, you want to see the sense of a larger perspective in this tiny little person in there but also you want to be right in there and that all happens because we're co-shooting these things. Great. It's very fun to shoot that way. It's also really fun for your editor. Your editor, in this whole segment, is about shooting for your editor. Your editor can do these things with these cuts from subject to subject or scene to scene or moment to moment all happening in real time if you give them the footage to do this with. If you don't give them the footage to do this, they can't make it up. But if you give them the tools where you're like, here are basically, two tracks of video in your timeline in Final Cut or whatever editing software and they're like, I mean, our editor did a lot of watching things where she would like put them together in exactly the same time and she would watch them at almost medium opacity, so she could see both scenes or both cameras at the same time. So she'd be like, oh, someone just walked out of this room and into the other and she could see it happening in both cameras, she was like this is an amazing opportunity to make a cut from one camera to another. So that's a really, you know, and this when you start getting really excited when you're like, oh, I can do all these fun, cool things and it doesn't have to be just boring. Question. Yes. Question from Iraje Kumarav who says: Were both the Amy scene and the Jodi Crystal scenes shot using shoulder rigs? Yes, they were. Although, my co-director, Chris, shoots from the hip. And by shooting from the him, that means that he has also a C-100 or a C-300 kind of in a little bit more of a cage with a handle. He's a Hassleblad shooter in his photography life, so he really likes shooting from a lower level and looking up and he likes to be able to talk to people as he's shooting. So he shoots from a slightly lower perspective and shoots up and I shoot on the shoulder rig, but they seem to mix very well. Also, in part, because you don't always want to be shooting all from one angle. When I'm shooting, the reason I showed you on my Pelican case, I used it as a chair, I used it as a stool, you want to be shifting that perspective a lot because it's just keeps things interesting and dynamic. And so, the fact that both of our stuff wasn't exactly eye-to-eye in terms of the level, just helped keep the visual dialogue interesting.

Class Description

Just because you’re a photographer doesn’t mean you can’t shoot compelling video. If you have a digital SLR, you have the equipment. If you’re a photographer who loves to tell captivating visual stories, you have the passion and the necessary skills. It doesn’t matter whether you want to create powerful short films about global issues or take videos of your friends on vacation: all it takes to start being a successful videographer is strong photography skills.

Join VII Agency photojournalist Jessica Dimmock for this class, and you’ll learn:

  • How to storyboard to create a strong narrative
  • How to properly capture sound and voiceover while on a shoot
  • How to shoot for an editor and to think with the edit in mind
Jessica has traveled the world in the pursuit of powerful stories. Her work has been published in publications like the New Yorker and Time, and has been exhibited in galleries around the globe. Her skill with a camera allowed her to pivot into videography, where she created music videos, short projects and feature films. Becoming a filmmaker as well as a photographer opened up a new form of media for her stories - and doubled her day rate. Draw in new clientele and start expressing your creativity in new ways!  


a Creativelive Student

I have been waiting for a course like this. Purchasing it was a no-brainer. Taught by an accomplished professional in the field, with a strong track record of high level work, Jessica Dimmock, I feel, is exactly the type of instructor Creative Live should be giving air time to. I have watched other Videography classes on Creative Live, and this was the first one that I felt was worth purchasing due to how much info was being shared, in a very methodical, easy to follow (but not dumb downed) fashion.

a Creativelive Student

This class has left me feeling very encouraged and inspired about getting into videography. Jessica has made some great work, in her short career with video, and was able to share what she learned through those experiences. She started out as a photographer and has now incorporated video into her skill set and it seems to have expanded the diversity her opportunities and has enriched what she produces and shares with the world. I look forward to doing the same thing in my own way. Thanks CL for another wonderful class.


Simultaneously broad and deep, the information Jessica covers and the way she delivers it really give you the feeling you can jump into video right away. Professionalism in every area, from prep steps to workflow in the field to clean organization and processing, inspires confidence in the value of her methods. She clearly learned most of this in the field over years of work, which means the rest of us now have a huge leg up on our first projects. Thank you so much!