One of my favorite ways to teach video production is to have people watch TV with the sound turned down. This way, you can concentrate on how the visuals tell a story.
In my opinion, TV is actually better with the sound off but I am a bit extreme. I can usually tell exactly what is going on in the show just by watching the visuals. Dialogue and other audio is often superfluous and in my opinion, rather irritating.
Normally, when someone watches TV, they are absorbed in the storyline. The visuals whiz by as part of the overall effect. If all you want to do is entertain yourself, that’s fine. But if you want to learn more about video production, you can learn a lot by watching TV with a critical, curious eye. Watch what they do on real TV and then imitate that. You do not have to reinvent the wheel. This is best accomplished by watching TV with no audio.
There are only so many ways to structure a video program and it has all been done before. As a beginner to video production, you definitely want to copy what the pros have already done. This is not plagiarism. Your show will be unique because of what you say, not how the video is structured.
Turning the sound off releases you from having to concentrate on the overall story. With the sound off, you can better concentrate on things like:
- How often the shot changes
- What type of shot (wide shot, medium shot or close up) is used
- How often the camera moves within a shot
- What visual clues are included in the shot
- What the lighting is like
- How graphics (words on the screen) interact with the rest of the visuals
Pay particular attention to the edges of the TV frame. It is here on the edges of the shot that you can most easily notice any camera movement or other camera changes.
Pacing becomes obvious when you have the sound turned off. Pacing is a critical storytelling element and evaluating the pacing of shows you watch is a great way to not only become more aware of pacing in general but to also develop an intuitive sense of what will work in your own productions.
When you are sitting down to edit your video, it helps to be able to think back onto other videos you have seen. If a technique worked or didn’t work in someone else’s video, chances are the results will be the same in your video.
What I try to get beginners to realize is that video production is a process. No one cranks out a completed video in one swoop. The best way to make a video is to break the task down into stages and tackle it one step at a time. Turning the sound off when you watch TV helps you to separate and differentiate the individual steps that go into producing video. The better able you are to see a finished video as a compilation of individual pieces, then the better you will produce your own videos.