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Why shooting video is like compiling a dictionary

Martin Johnson - Sunday, December 08, 2013
Every time you write something, an e-mail, a blog post, a script or something longer you use words. Those words usually come from your memory and experience. You think about what you want to say and then you select the right words and put them in the right order to communicate your thoughts.

Another way of looking at it is to think of having a dictionary in your head. Whilst you might not actually visualise looking at the index and then turning the pages to find the right word, that's what your brain is doing.

Shooting is like collecting the words

Whenever you shoot a video, imagine it's like collecting the words you'll need to write a story. You may not know what order they'll go in or whether you'll use all the ones you collect, but you can only use the ones you collect. (Although there is stock footage of course)

That's why it's important to plan your shoots and make sure you cover whatever story you're planning to tell from more one angle. If you're looking for one of the best books in this subject, I'd recommend Mascelli's The 5C's of Cinematography.

This is one of the most respected books on film making ever published and whilst it is over 50 years old, it's well worth a read. (Click here for link to Amazon) It covers everything you need to know about shooting an event in editable sequences.

Once you have collected your 'words', you've got your 'dictionary' to draw on when you start editing. Thinking about shooting as collecting the words you'll need to use when you start to put your e-mail, blog post or script together is a good way of making sure you've 'got it covered'.


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