Good video is built on strong narrative, not just interesting visuals, says director, editor and video instructor Bob Sacha. “People say, ‘How do you shoot great video?’ That’s easy. The question is: How do you tell a great video story?” His first advice to those learning to shoot video is to forget about shooting B-roll. “I call it bullshit roll: It’s just random shit,” he says. And looking for B-roll, he claims, “can make you a lazy shooter.” Good directors look instead for shots that make interesting sequences, he explains. Those sequences comprise tight, medium and wide shots from different angles, of a particular action as it progresses. “What you’re looking for is the completed action,” such as a person walking into a room and sitting down in a chair, Sacha says. “A series of sequences becomes a scene,” and a series of scenes make up a film’s overall narrative.
To help his students remember to break down a single action into multiple shots at different angles, Sacha often quotes production studio Still Motion’s 3-over-1 rule: Every time you think you have a shot of a particular action, you have to get at least two more shots from different angles and distances. Or start by shooting closeups on faces, hands and other details, then go for wider shots and then look for something creative or interesting, Sacha says.
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