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Video Techniques

To help you enhance your video reporting skills, the following are tips on Camera Shots, Angles, Movements, Composition and Sound.

Camera Shots

  1. Wide shot or Long Shot shows the whole scene and helps to set the stage letting the viewer knows where he/she is. These shots are also used when a scene involves a lot of movement.

  2. In a Medium Shot the camera seems closer to the subject. You use this shot when you want a closer look at your subject, or when you need to transition between wide shots and close up shots.

  3. A Close Up Shot shows an even smaller part of the subject or scene. If you were interviewing someone, this shot would show the person from the top of the chest or shoulders up.

  4. Over the Shoulder or Cutaway Shot is generally a shot of the interviewer. This is used a lot in interviews to show the person who's asking the questions. It's called "over the shoulder" because the photographer is literally shooting video of the interviewer over the shoulder of the person being interviewed. These shots are helpful in the editing process as a way to transition.

  5. Two Shot/Three Shot. A two shot has two people in the frame. A three shot has three people in the frame. Because you have to be some distance from the people to get them all in the frame, this is usually a medium or wide shot.

  6. Sequence is a term used in gathering video and editing. It refers to a series of related shots. For example, a sequence could be a wide shot of the entire room, followed by a medium shot of a group of students, followed by a single shot of the guest speaker at a presentation.

Shot Angles

Your shot angle is the level from which you look at your subject.

  1. Eye-level angle is one of the most commonly used shots. If you're shooting a person, make sure you shoot at their eye-level, not yours.

  2. A Low Angle shot has the camera looking up at the subject, making it seem important or larger than it is to the viewer. An example of this would be you might be sitting on the ground looking up at someone who is standing.

  3. High Angle has the camera looking down on the subject, decreasing its importance. The subject looks smaller giving the audience a sense of power. In this case, you'd be higher than the other person (maybe they're sitting, or maybe you're standing on a desk) looking down on that person.

Shot Movement

  1. Pan - A shot taken moving the camera from left to right, right to left. If you want to show a soccer ball thrown across a field in a game, you might use this shot to follow the ball from one person to another.

  2. A Tilt means moving the camera up or down. If you want to show a tall building such as the CN Tower but you can't get it all in your shot, you might start at the bottom of the building and go up to the top.

  3. Zoom means bringing your your subject closer. For example, from a Wide Shot to a Medium Shot or Close Shot. If you are looking a Bridge, and you want to see individual people walking across it, you might zoom in.

  4. Reverse Zoom moves you farther away from the subject. For example, from a Close Shot to Medium Shot or a Wide Shot. If you have a Close Up shot of a flower, and want to see the entire field that the flower is in, you can reverse zoom.

Shot Composition

There are many ways to compose a shot, depending on your story and what you want to achieve. You want to be aware of what is in the shot and what isn't. Can you clearly see what you intend for the viewer to see? Here are some things to remember:

  • Rule of Thirds - this classic rule suggests that the center of the camera's attention is one-third of the way down from the top of the shot.

  • Headroom - A term used with shots of people. This refers to the space above the subject's head. In general, if you are standing right in front of someone, you willl see that they have space all around them - they aren't cut off by a frame. By leaving headroom, or space beside them, you are imitating what you see in real life.

  • Talking/Walking Room - Generally you want the person to be looking off to the left or right of the camera a bit. When you do this, frame your shot so that there is some talking room. If you are interviewing someone or have video of someone talking, you generally do not want them looking directly at the camera (again, it depends on your goals - certain situations may call for that). That is, you want to leave some extra space in front of their face as if you were going to draw a dialogue box in for them. This space is "talking room." If the person is talking to another person, this shows space between them. Walking room, if the person in motion, gives them space to walk to. Talking/Walking Room leaves space in the shot for the action, whether it be words or movement.


Audio can be just as important as the picture in doing a video story. The following are some suggestions for capturing good sound.

  1. Pay special attention to the distance from the source audio to your mic and the background noise. These will be the most important variables in getting good audio.

  2. Use a clip-on mic or a hand held microphone if possible. The closer the microphone is to the source of sound, the better. During an interview a microphone should be held or placed 4 - 6 inches away from a person's mouth in order to capture clear audio. If you use the on-camera microphone, the ideal distance is about 3 feet - just far enough away to focus on good head and shoulders shot. If you use a clip-on mic, be aware of things around the mic that may rub against it and interfer with the audio you are trying to record.

  3. Natural Sounds are any sounds that occurs naturally during your video production. For example, the roar of a crowd of protestors, the general noise in a room. This is in contrast to something like an interview where the only sounds you want to hear are when you ask a person a question.

  4. Music. Choose music carefully to reflect the feeling and pace of your shot.


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