Teaching Video, Part 3 -- Shot Composition and Sequencing

Above, a fun reminder of some of the shots you should go for while filming your video story. Below my brief intro tutorial on how to make sure each of these shots is as good as possible.

Shot Composition

When starting out, you want to make sure you are using your tripod for almost all your shots, have clean audio coming in, and hold each of your shots for 12-15 seconds. Think of each shot as a picture when you frame it, and make each one worthwhile. If anything weird is going on in your video shot, make sure it's on purpose and for a good reason, otherwise go normal with the composition, and try to beautify your shot with the lighting, depth of field, etc ....

This video below tells you about leading lines in your shot (lines which lead into or point toward your focal point), rack focus (putting something in foreground in and out of focus), giving a subject lead room (so your subject has room in case they move around while you are still on tripod and not panning), using natural frames for a subject (trees, doors, walls), and also when to use balance/imbalance in your shots. S curves are often the most pleasant to the human eye if you can have these in your shot.

Foregrounds and Backgrounds

Also, be aware of backgrounds and foregrounds. Make sure nothing is distracting in the background, and if you do have an interesting background make sure it also helps tell the story you are telling. The same goes for background audio. In terms of foregrounds, you can have details which also help you tell the story but make sure they aren't distracting either. Look around the edges of your frame and make sure nothing weird is going, like foam from your mic, or a pole going through someone's head.

Framing and Composition from Videopia on Vimeo.

Rule of Thirds

Here is a video on the rule of thirds. Apply the rule in terms of subject matter as well, not just for the sake of pretty visuals. For example if you shoot the horizon, and you are talking about dreams or weather, you might want two-thirds sky and one-third below, if you are talking about farming, you might want two-thirds land and one-third sky. Below are photo examples of successful execution of the rule of thirds.

Of course, if stars align, rules are always meant to be broken like in this case below, where subject in middle works just fine.


You want to make sure your subject is always well lit, and that you don't make your subject backlit or look creepy-looking. This should only be intentional. Always think of where the sun in vis a vis your subject. You also want to make their eyes are visible. Don't make people stare directly into the sun, but you also need to get them out of the shade. Below is not a good look.

Video Sequencing

Once you start filming a variety of well-composed shots, you can start having very effective sequencing in your storytelling, cutting up action which can be drawn out quickly. This video below explains this well. As it says by sequencing, you are compressing time, and turning boring and dreadful into delightful. You can also sequence simply by having different perspectives on a same object shot in quick succession, to add variety to your video piece.

If you enjoyed this tutorial, make sure to check out the other chapters in my video series.

Teaching Video, Part 1 -- Your Equipment and How to Use It

Teaching Video, Part 2 -- A Lexicon of Shots

Teaching Video, Part 3 -- Shot Composition and Sequencing

Teaching Video, Part 4 -- Nat Sounds and Action Shots

Teaching Video, Part 5 -- Interviews

Teaching Video, Part 6 -- Standups

Teaching Video, Part 7 -- Choosing Your Video Stories and Shooting Them Wisely

Teaching Video, Part 8 -- Ingesting Into Premiere

Teaching Video, Part 9 -- Writing Your Script

Teaching Video, Part 10 -- Editing

Teaching Video, Part 11 -- Raising Your Game

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