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How to Video a School Production

Like most video work, the key to a successful school production video is planning. You should also understand the basics of camera work, and ideally you should understand how video editing works.

This tutorial is five pages long and includes tips for various levels of production.

Planning the Shoot

Get a copy of the program in advance. You can use this as a guide, as well as the source of credit and title information. If anything in the program looks like it could be a typo, question it!

If possible, attend a dressed rehearsal or earlier performance to get a feel for the show. You might like to take notes which you can tape to your tripod and refer to while shooting. It helps a lot to know what's happening and where the next action is coming from, otherwise you may get caught out by unexpected events. If you can't attend a rehearsal, ask someone to run through the program with you and talk about how the action unfolds.

If the production runs for more than one show, it makes sense to shoot an earlier performance and allow for the possibility of coming back and shooting another show if something goes wrong. On the other hand, the final performance often has the most energy and/or includes a nice presentation at the end. If you're really dedicated you could shoot several shows and choose the best.

Find out the approximate length of the show and make sure you have enough tape or hard drive space. You may need to change tapes during a break. Remember that MiniDV tapes are only 60 minutes (on SP) so make sure this is going to work.

It will be important to get a good mix of shots from wide to tight (close). Wide shots show the whole stage, tight shots show individuals and groups of performers. If your video consists mostly of wide shots the audience will become frustrated at not seeing any detail. Therefore you must decide how you will capture these different shots. This will depend on whether you use a single camera or multiple cameras (see next page).

Next Page: Cameras