Week 10: Simple video stories Part 1

BY MICHAEL SARROFF

First up, let’s play with simple video-making apps to make a short, sweet video. 

TASK 1
  1. Download InShot (free) for Android or iOS. (If you prefer, you can use VN video editor: Android or iOS or another app of your choice)
  2. Think about a really simple story you can make in just a few shots. An example is a how-to video – e.g. how to make a soft-boiled egg. You could also introduce us to yourself, a pet, or family member. 
  3. Remember: keep it simple. We’re just trying out the app 😘

Formal video planning and production

When you want to plan for a professional shoot you generally start with a number of pre-production elements:

  • Film Treatment: the narrative, or prose-based telling of your story
  • Screenplay: aka the shooting script
  • Shot list: a list of every shot
  • Storyboard: a graphical representation of your shots
  • Call sheet: for film production – who to call and when
  • Edit decision list: edits that have been decided

Today we will look at the following in greater detail:

  • Script
  • Shot list
  • Storyboard

and we’ll create our own for a short, simple video story.

Script

After you decide on the purpose of the shoot, for example an interview, you can then write a script.

e.g. script for video broadcast interview

Location: A room set out with two chairs, one for the presenter on the right and one for the interviewee on the left. It’s a typical lounge room, with some natural light filtering in through an open window.

Presenter: Hi this is [insert your name here] for Literally Off Campus. Today I’m interviewing [insert name] to find out what it’s like to be on radio.

Interviewee: Hi. Well, it’s exciting! I didn’t know what to expect, but I was live on air less than five weeks after starting the course.

Presenter: How does it feel to be presenting live?

(etc.)

Hierarchy: Scenes, shots, elements

A film or video can be broken down into scenes, shots, and elements.

Scene – the interview video above is set in one scene: the lounge room.

Shot – A shot is a single continuous recording made by a camera. There will be a number of shots in the interview video.

2. Shot List

After you are happy with your narrative sequence from the script you can then transfer this information to a shot list.

A shot list is just a table or list that identifies the series of shots in a sequence, including info on the camera angles and locations to help you organise the shoot. This is easy to read (and can be given to the crew if you have one).

Example of a shot list compiled from the above storyboard and script:

The shot list can be later used to create an Edit Decision List (EDL) to give the video editor as a guide to compile the final package.The director can view the various shots and pick out exact durations to be considered when making the final edit.

Edit Decision Lists (EDLs) are lists that indicate the in and out points of various shots and how they are to be combined into the final cut. Many digital video editing programs (like Adobe Premiere) can export all the edits that you have created into an EDL.

ACMI has a list of shot types, which are determined by how close the camera is to the subject of the film or video.

Elements – there are six elements that are considered in any given shot. They are:

  1. Motivation – why is this shot being included? Is it a logical next step in the sequence for this scene?
  2. Information – what information is being imparted by this shot? How will it influence the viewer?
  3. Composition – how is the frame composed?
  4. Sound – what sound will be heard during this shot? Is it on-screen or off-screen sound?
  5. New camera angle – by definition a new shot will often involve a new camera angle
  6. Continuity – how does this shot fit with those around it?

Some of the information in these elements will be included in your storyboard.

The Five Shot technique

Developed as an approach for creating a ‘design pattern’ for video journalism, the five shot technique aims for a set of shots that can be edited in various ways. The example below explains the five:

  1. Close-up on subject’s hands – shows WHAT is happening;
  2. Close-up of the face – shows WHO is involved;
  3. A wide shot – shows WHERE it is happening;
  4. An over the shoulder shot – links together the previous three concepts;
  5. An unusual or side/low shot – provides more context unique to location or story.
5-shot sequence CC via Robert Rosenblum of New York Video School and the BBC
3. Storyboard

After you have written your script and shot list you can create your storyboard and start to think about how you will film the interview. This will involve working out a sequence of shots to plan how you will physically shoot the interview, and which camera angles and shot types you will use.

What is a storyboard?

“A storyboard is a shot-by-shot visual plan that shows what a film will look like before the film is shot. The storyboard acts as a visual guide to the team shooting the film.” – via the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)

e.g. storyboard for video broadcast interview

For the interview script above, to make a storyboard you need to include rough illustrations, text information for each shot, and camera angles. This will help you visualise and plan how you will shoot the sequences. If you hand draw the images you can quickly change the shots without spending too much time, but if you want to spend time and get fancy there is this free software.

Storyboard of interview script
TASK 2 (and homework if we run out of time!)
  1. Read this – it breaks some of the rules, but will reassure you as far as your own storyboarding is concerned.
  2. Write a simple script or narrative that tells the story of a journey or activity
  3. Create a shot list from your script. The shot list should include approximate durations as if you were shooting video. You can use this excellent shot list template (courtesy Brett Lamb at Lesson Bucket).
  4. If you are illustrating an activity, you may want to use some of the ideas from the 5-shot technique. If it is a journey, think about the narrative in images – how will you create the passage of space and time?
  5. Create a storyboard from your script and shot list. The storyboard should consist of at least 6 and no more than 15 shots, and should use a variety of shot compositions (eg LS, MS, CU, etc.). Here is a great template to use for a vertical video storyboard, created by POV Mobile Stories.
  6. Create stills of the shots using your phone camera – please shoot VERTICAL stills for a vertical video suitable for mobile viewing.
  7. Post your script, storyboard, shot list and stills on WordPress.

Here’s an example, courtesy student Hannah Wilson at St Leonards TAFE film and TV school (thanks, Hannah!)

  1. Hannah’s Script:

Making a cup of tea in the morning

INT: Hannah’s Kitchen:

  • Going over to the sink and turning on the tap
  • Filling the kettle up with water
  • Boiling the water
  • Grabbing a cup from the drawer
  • Putting a teabag into the cup
  • Pouring hot water into the cup
  • Finally drinking the tea

2. Hannah’s shot list:

3. Hannah’s storyboard:

4. Her shots illustrated with stills:

But vertical video is horrible!

Is it though? We ask you to shoot vertical because it’s the way most people hold their phones. And it can be amazing! Don’t believe me? Watch this on your phone:

TIPS:
  • Keep your story really simple – this exercise is about learning these techniques, not winning an Oscar 🙂
  • Shoot everything VERTICAL, please!
  • Don’t include sound in your video – we will overlay CC-licensed music and or SFX if you want to do so later. Today is primarily about learning the visual side of video-making 🎞

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