How many words is your video worth?
A good picture is worth a thousand words, right? So it follows that in the very best videos, each shot is worth a thousand words. You might have sixty shots in a fast-paced :30 commercial. Pull out the calculator.
60 shots x 1,000 words = 60,000 words in :30 seconds.
That’s a heckuva lot of words in just half a minute!
That’s the power of video.
No narrator can come anywhere close to reading 60,000 words in :30 seconds, but amazingly, viewers can assimilate that many pictures. Visual communication is one of the most instantaneous and complete form of communication there is.
Visuals for video come in a wide array of different forms. No doubt you’ve heard the terms:
These are common descriptions for video shots that make up the basic language of video production. As a video maker, you use wide shots, medium shots or close-ups as storytelling elements. A close-up says something entirely different than a wide shot of the same object.
On a practical level, wide shots, medium shots and close-ups are terms that help crew members communicate with each other about how they will go about telling their story. If the director tells the camera operator to get a close-up of the insect, that will probably be all the direction needed to get the necessary shot.
HOW ARE THEY USED?
Wide-shots– Wide-shots establish your setting and are generally the first shot in a sequence. Wide-shots are important, but beginners overuse them. lots of beginners use nothing BUT wide shots. Wide-shots are usually kept to a minimum because they really don’t say much to your viewer other than:
- “we are here in the airplane,”
- “the house is located in the mountains,”
- “the interstate is suffering a traffic jam.”
This is important information but your story should be told with details and details need close-ups. With a wide shot, your viewer has a lot to look at. Don’t ever make a viewer hunt through a wide shot to see the details; only use wide shots when you want you viewer to consider the big picture.
Universal Newbie Mistake
Here’s my theory on why beginners overuse wide-shots so much. (And this is definitely a universal newbie mistake.) When you look around with your eyes, everything is a wide shot. So inexperienced video producers assume their job is to capture on video what they see with their eyes.
Their job is to convey information to the viewer. Remember, your brain and your eyes work together to “zoom in” on details when you go through life seeing wide-shots. As I stare out my window at the house across the street, I can focus in on the doorknob if I want to. The street, the trees and the rest of the house can be easily ignored. Not so with video; the doorknob would be completely lost in a wide shot. As a video producer, it’s up to you to show the doorknob in a close-up if that’s what you want the viewer to think about.
Wide-shot is commonly abbreviated as WS. You might also see EWS which stands for extreme wide-shot. You will also see MWS, which stands for medium wide-shot. TV alphabet soup!
A medium shot is probably the most commonly used shot. A medium shot might show two people talking from the waist up, whereas a wide shot of the same scene would show the entire room and each person would be seen from head to toe. Medium shots are useful, but they can get boring. Medium shot is abbreviated MS.
Close-ups are your single most important shot. Close-ups say the most to the viewer. If you have a storytelling detail you want the viewer to know, use a close-up. A close-up of a whiskey bottle means whiskey is important to the story whereas a whiskey bottle seen in a wide shot doesn’t mean much and will probably go unnoticed by most viewers.
Close-ups are also valuable because they make up for the small size of the viewing screen. Especially in online video, viewers are watching a tiny little screen. If you want people to really see those earrings you are trying to sell them, it is essential you take a close-up. Close-up is abbreviated CU. You will also see modifications of the term with ECU being for extreme close-up and MCU meaning medium close-up.
Thanks for reading Video Production Tips.