In my last post, “Sequencing Video” I was taken to task from TV photojournalists for letting my camera run instead of starting and stopping when I was shooting a sequence for a story. Oreo writes:
“I encourage you to work however is most comfortable for you, but when I shoot, I (usually) start and stop recording when changing shots. This leads to less wasted media, and less time in editing looking for the shot you want. It is also referred to as “editing in the camera.” I can’t give you any hard and fast rules that I have on when I roll constantly, but it’s usually when the action is happening rapidly or the record button is not easy to reach due to the way I’m holding the camera.”
And from Lisa Parisot:
“I think your technique might work however I teach students in my classes to turn the camera off between shots unless they are recording for sound, or if it is a breaking news event where every second counts. I learned to shoot news when the amount of film stock was limited so we had to sequence in the camera. I teach this method to my journalism students for two reasons – so they learn to edit in the camera which saves time in the edit room and so they learn to anticipate what shots they will need to tell their story.”
I defended myself by saying I don’t do that very often, which is true to my style. I got to thinking though—What do TV news shooters really do when they say they edit in camera? I realize that many of you still edit tape-to-tape instead of the modern method of non-linear–ala Final Cut Pro. Does that change how you shoot?
My interpretation of editing in camera is to shoot sequences that include a variety of wide, medium and tight. I usually try to shoot more than I think I will need and I tend to work off the tri-pod for anything other than long shots. I can hear our TV lenslinging brothers and sisters cringing at that. I just find that I can move, compose, move, and compose, faster that way. I get more visual variety by getting the camera on the ground or above eye-level quickly and I can react to a great moment faster. I see a lot of newspaper video shooters using this method. It’s probably because we come from photojournalist backgrounds, which has little use for the pod.
When I’m on a story where there are TV news shooters, I see them lugging those massive beta-cams and lead-pods around and I think, “man they’re missing shots.”
Case-in-point. I shot this video and other than the interview, the rest was shot off the pod. When a TV photojournalist showed up at the event, he shot everything on pod and didn’t move around much. Because I was mobile I got close enough and was able to sequence the emotional scene at the end quickly. On the local news that night, all the viewers got was a quick interview with pod level b-roll and not much emotion. I’m not saying that’s what you always get if you’re tri-podding, but I wonder if, again, there is a difference in the way newspaper shooters, with their five pound, optically stabilized cameras might have some advantage over the larger ENG cameras.
I’ve learned to hold my breath a lot when I’m shooting. Plus, my display for my work is a 480-pixel window versus a 50 in high-def monitor for broadcast. Could some of you who shoot TV news share your thoughts on how you edit in camera? Also, how do you balance the need for steady video versus getting a great shot on the fly?