Planning -- Shooting to Edit
Before planning any shoot, you must know how the footage is to be edited. This will make a radical difference to how you approach the shoot. Primarily, you need to know if there will be post-production, or if you will be editing in-camera.
If the footage is to be edited in post, it's helpful to know things such as who will be editing, what equipment will be used, how much post time is available, etc.
If the editing is going to be "fast and dirty", then you shouldn't get too carried away with the number of shots you provide. For example, if you record five versions of each shot, then you may well find that the first version of each shot is the one that gets used. The other four shots have only served to slow down the editor.
On the other hand, if this is an important production with emphasis on getting details right, you'll want to provide more options for post-production. In this case, it might be prudent to get a few different versions of the important shots, as well as a few extra cutaways, etc.
If the footage is to be edited in-camera, you'll need to plan your sequence of shooting very carefully.
Planning a Sequence
Here are a few guidelines for planning a sequence of shots. Like all rules in this game, learn them and use them before you start flaunting them.
- Begin each new scene with an establishing shot (usually a WS or EWS)
- Use combinations of the basic shot types. A typical shot sequence could be EWS, MS, CA, MS, WS, etc.
- Plan transitions. How any two shots fit together is very important, and will determine how
well the video flows.
Avoid having similar shots follow each other. For example, don't have two WS's of the same person back-to-back. This is called a "jump-cut", which is uncomfortable to watch - it looks as if the person has magically jumped to a different position. If you need to get two shots of the same person in a row, vary them between a WS, MS, CU etc. Other options are to use different camera angles, and of course the CA (see below).
Also think about the audio transition. How does the sound from one shot flow into the sound from the next?
- Don't linger. Once you've shown a shot long enough for the audience to take it in, move on to the next. Most shots in television are less than 6 seconds long.
- Don't forget to use CA's (cutaways). They are very handy to avoid jump-cuts, but use them even if you don't need to. CA's can add interest and new information.
There's an argument that says you shouldn't edit your own camera work. This is because you're too "close" to it, and you won't see it as objectively as another editor. For example, if a particular shot was difficult or time-consuming to get, you may be biased toward using it, whereas another editor will treat it with the same ruthless disregard as all the other shots.