On Tuesday, I am running a two-day in-house training on video fundamentals and Final Cut Express for my newspaper’s MoJos, photojournalists, and web producers. I only have three hours each day to get to the point. Trying to use the time wisely and not overwhelm people is paramount for me.
Yesterday, Liz Kishimoto, an assistant photo editor, came up to me holding a shinny new Canon HV-20 HDV video camera. She has never shot video before. Liz is taking my mini workshop to learn how video is produced. I think it is hugely important for department editors to understand the time commitments and challenges of video production. Doing so will help them better manage these new workflows that are now affecting every department.
I gave her a quick tutorial on the camera. We got into a discussion about how still photography and video storytelling are alike and different. When talk turned to sequencing of video, she had a perplexed look on her face. I had just completed a video on how people in wheelchairs have a difficult time getting around in the snow. I showed her the edited video sequences I had assembled for the story. One sequence of a para-transit driver loading and unloading a client in a wheelchair, featured the proverbial wide, medium and tight shots. I tried to explain the concept of compressing time to her. That a video sequence takes something shot in real-time and compresses it, using a variety of shots, into something much shorter. I impressed the importance of how the viewer understands and accepts this time compression, because it has been ingrained in them through years of watching TV and movies.
Liz still had trouble understanding how I got the shots for the wheelchair sequence. Are you turning the camera on and off for each shot?” she asked. Then she asked me to see my raw unedited video.
What she saw in my raw take, finally made sense to her. I had shot the entire sequence without turning the camera off. She saw swishy video of me running to get a shot of the van driving up to the pickup spot. Me, running again, to get a shot of the woman in her wheelchair arriving. She saw me raise the camera and hold that shot for ten seconds, before seeing me run again to get a quick shot of the woman wheeling up to the bus from behind. On it went– run, stop, compose, hold the shot, and then move on to the next. I told Liz, as I am running, I’m thinking about shooting a variety of shots. I showed her how my detail shots helped me later on in the editing. I reinforced how tight detail shots can help you transition from one scene to another. When we were done, Liz had I big smile on her face “I get it now!” she said.
I now get it too. What a great way to show people how to sequence video. I will be showing my raw video on Tuesday.