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Sequences – the best approach

A common mistake is to limit your shooting to only one or two, often most convenient, camera angles.
This will limit your potential to create sequences of great visual impact. Video shooters who use limited camera angles find it much harder to edit sequences.

Shoot from various camera angles

A strong video sequence is cut together from shots recorded from varied angles using a range of lens sizes. Many films are about ordinary people doing ordinary things. It is your skill with the video camera that will add interest to an otherwise uneventful scene. It may seem obvious, but think about what it is that you want your audience to actually see.

You are there, immersed in the scene and there is often a lot going on. You should be sure that your audience too, is also left with this sense of place. Make the time to walk around before you start shooting.

Position yourself where you can include things that add depth to the frame, seeing right through to the background.

Distracting backgrounds
Be wary of distracting backgrounds. Higher or lower camera angles will help here. Your eyes can ignore distracting background clutter, but your video camera will show it in all its distracting detail.

Look for telephone poles, street signs and the trunks and branches of trees. While these are all a part of locations, HD video will show them in sharp focus making it hard to keep you audience interested in the more important parts of the composition. A small relocation of the camera to the right or left is often just enough to fix this because cannot easily fix the problem of distractions in the background in the edit room. 

Finding the best angles

There is really no such thing as the correct camera angle, but there is a best camera angle for any situation. If you are in a position where you want to record something or someone, a good place to start is at a position of about forty five degrees to one side of your subject. 

Use 45 degree angles

Positioning your camera at approximately forty-five degrees balances the frame and at the same time, puts you in the best position to cover further action. There is real dimension when you can see two sides of the subject. The perspective diminishes, giving an interesting and dynamic feel.

You can also see past this foreground subject to the background, giving your audience an idea of it’s location relative to the overall scene.
In sunshine, a shadow side is revealed and this unlit side increases contrast in the picture.
It is the same when you are working with people. Turn the person 45 degrees or move around to the right or left, so you see the front and side of the body.

An alternative is to shoot from front-on. However shooting front-on means you see only one plane and the result is a perfect passport photo – nothing more.

At a back yard garden party for example, this could include shooting from the back fence looking back to show everyone, with the house as the background instead of shooting in the opposite direction with just a fence as a background. Thinking in layers allows each camera position to reveal a little more about where you are. You could for example, pan slowly from the garden to reveal this scene – pans can be considered a kind of layer.

© 2013 Pieter de Vries ACS