Seven Deadly Camera Sins
Transcript Seven Deadly Camera Sins
by Jim Stinson
Seven Deadly Camera Sins
O Good programs start with good camera
work. No matter how carefully you plan a
show or edit your material, you can’t make a
good video out of lousy footage. Garbage in,
O Quality video recording is surprisingly easy to
do, as long as you avoid the seven deadly
sins of camera operation!
Seven Deadly Camera Sins
O 1.) Firehosing
O 2.) Snapshooting
O 3.) Headhunting
O 4.) Backlighting
O 5.) Motorzooming
O 6.) Upstanding
O 7.) Jogging
O Firehosing means turning the camera on and
then aiming it vaguely at one thing for a moment
and jumping from subject to subject.
O In short, firehosing is the sin of not knowing
what you want to shoot.
O You wave the camera around in the hope of
capturing something, and because you never
land on anything for more than an instant you
irritate viewers and make them potentially
How to avoid Firehosing
O To avoid this most common of all camera sins,
simply frame each shot before you roll tape.
O Shoot long enough so that viewers can make
sense of the image, and stop the camcorder
before framing the next shot.
O When you edit your footage, it’s o.k. to keep
rolling while your waggling your way from shot
A to shot B because you will delete the
firehosing between the two when you edit.
O What if you really want to pan, tilt, or zoom
between compositions to show the relationship
O Start by framing, but not shooting, a rehearsal
composition of shot B.
O Then set up shot A, lay down the footage, and
move smoothly and decisively to frame shot B.
O Your viewers will accept and enjoy the move
because it looks planned and well excecuted.
O Snapshooting means making shots too short
to view comfortably- shots suitable for a
machine-gun car commercial or a hyper
O Snapshooting results from two bad habits:
O 1.) Unconsciously treating the camcorder
like a still camera.
O 2.) Failing to shoot head and tail footage.
O It is essential that you roll tape at least three
or four seconds before the action you want
and another three or four after it apparently
O There are two important reasons for
shooting this “bookend” material
1.) Leading footage starts recording a control
track before the essential action begins. In
editing, that track will display timecode
numbers so that you can cue the shot to hit a
precise edit point.
2.) Bookend footage offers you options in
adjusting start and end points for the edited
shot. Without head and tail footage, you’re
stuck with the edit choices you made on the
O Headhunting is framing subjects so that
their eyes are in the exact center of the
image: half way up and halfway down
O Centering people is natural because that’s
the way we look at them in real life, eye to
O Our human vision however does not have an
unforgiving border around it and in this
composition where it centers the eye looks
How to Avoid Headhunting
O Use your Rule of Thirds!!
O Keep the subjects eyes on or above and
imaginary horizontal line one-third of the
way down from the top
O Backlighting is the sin of posing subject
(usually one or more people) in front of a lit
source so that the important foreground and
subject darker than the unimportant
O There is too much light exposure for the
camera and the subjects become dark
How to avoid Backlighting
O Notice your surroundings and study the image in
your viewfinder. If it does not clearly show detail
in people’s faces or other important foreground
elements, you’ve got backlighting
O Move the camcorder and subjects until the
foreground of your shot is at least as bright as
O To eliminate sky start with a higher camera
O At the beach turn away from the glare off the
O Motorzooming is the sin of…zooming! No matter
how nifty your camera features may be, onscreen zooms are a dull waste of viewer time
and professionals don’t use them except in two
O 1.) Real-time coverage like news and sports,
when the need to keep an image on the screen
mandates zooming between compositions.
O 2.) Situations that require a progressive
revelation of the image: The dark figure at the
door pulls a sinister tool from her pocket to
reveal that it is (zoom in)…her door key!
O If you have a zoom lens, zooming is
inescapable because it’s the only way to
change image size without physically moving
forward or back.
O So….plan your shots to eliminate these
O If not able to eliminate while shooting you
can edit them out later.
O A sin of shooting everything from standing
O Much of the world is better viewed from
higher or lower angles
How to avoid Upstanding
O Shoot children, pets, flowers, and other
critters from their own levels.
O Lower the tripod and tilt the view finder
O Raise the camcorder for dramatic
O Even if the subject doesn’t require it, a new
angle makes a welcome change from the
endless progression of eye-level shots.
O Jogging is the sin of walking while shooting.
O Moving shots are dramatic and exciting, so
go for them but to ensure that most of the
movement is forward rather than up and
down, observe these simple rules for hand
O Zoom the lens to its wide-angle setting to
minimize shake. The telephoto position
magnifies the jitters along with everything
O Don’t touch the viewfinder with your forhead
(a snap if you have an LCD screen finder).
O Walk with both knees and elbows bent so
that your arms and legs act as natural shock
O Move much more slowly than normal, so
that the scene passing your lens has a
chance to register with viewers.
O Pretend the camcorder you’re carrying is a
very full, very hot cup of cocoa—and you’d
better not spill a drop!