204CR / 346CS Block Two
Telling Stories: The basics of narrative Video.
Weeks 4 – 7
1. Early Cinema and the development of film language - The Institutional Mode of
Representation and Hollywood
2. Constructing space / Managing time 1 – Long shots and close-ups, movement and
angles. (Semiotics, meaning and narrative impact)
3. Constructing space / Managing time 2 – Cuts, fades and transitions. Montage, Editing
for ellipsis, constructing sequences from individual takes.
Video formats. Delivery mechanisms (DVD, streaming)
Possible tutorial / homework exercises:
Group: Tableaux: ‘Old Movie’
Group: Shot Choice, cutting: Throwing a ball
Group: 180 degree rule: Open the door
Group: Ellipsis: Climb the stairs
Group: Creating meaning - Low Angle / High Angle
Group: Creating meaning - ‘Suspense’
Group: Putting it together: One camera interview technique
Everyone: Connecting to the Helix Streaming Server
Documentary Film & Video
• “Creative treatment of actuality”- John Grierson
• Every Documentary falls somewhere between
the most pure form of “telling a found story”
and the less pure “contrived fiction”
• Vox Pops: – Series of talking heads all
responding to the same question
• Discussion: – Wide two shot of both
participants (no close-ups or reaction
• ‘Soundtrack interview’: (i.e. interviewee
visually absent) – sound only interview
illustrated by rostrum camera and
illustrative moving visuals.
• Classic shot-reverse-shot interview:
– Multicamera: vision mixing in studio
– One camera: Needs to be ‘pieced together’ in
• What we have learned so far:
• Keep the camera still – use a tripod or, failing
this, let the camera operator ‘lean’ on something
• Record extra video for editing. Start recording at
least 5 seconds before the action or talking
begins, then continue recording at least 5
seconds after the action or talking ends. Editing
will be a lot easier if you have a little extra
footage before and after the event you are trying
• Choose your angles wisely and stick with them
Preparing for a Formal Interview:
• Generate an initial list of questions for the
guest. It’s always a good idea to provide the
guest with these questions prior to the interview
so they can be ready with their answers.
• Your questions should focus on what interests
you (and your audience) about the thoughts and
ideas of the person you are interviewing?
• Focus on questions that elicit an opportunity to
share their thoughts, understanding and
knowledge, experiences, predictions etc.
• Do not ask questions that can be answered with a
simple yes or no.
• Find a quiet space FIRST (fountains / traffic /
crowds = BAD)
• Use an external lapel microphone (lavalier) or
shotgun microphone for the interview if available.
• If you have to use the camera’s built-in
microphone, you MUST have the camera within 5
or 6 feet of the person being interviewed to record
decent audio…. closer if there’s a lot of background
noise (so go inside!)
• Try to position the camera about 30 degrees to the
left or right of the subject (not straight on).
Shot Composition for a Formal Interview:
• ESTABLISHING SHOT: Wide shot showing both interviewer and
interviewee (Cam Pos 1) – audio is not used from this shot.
• MAIN SHOT: Set up the shot of the Guest with the camera slightly
behind and to the side of the Interviewer. (Cam Pos 2) audio of
• Frame the shot with the Guest's “eyes on the upper third line” (rule
of thirds – explained later) and allow a little more space in front of
the face in the direction they are turned.
• Have the interviewer sit and face the guest so they have someone
to connect with and talk to. The interviewer should ask the
questions and tell the guest to ignore the camera and just “talk to
• Start the first answer shot with a medium or medium-wide
shot: From just above waist to top of head… with eyes on the
upper third line! This will allow room to put in a title key over the
video when editing.
• You can zoom-in to a closer shot later in the interview, but do it
while a new question is being asked. It will make editing easier if
you're not zooming during an answer.
Over the Shoulder (OS) Shot
• This shot is wide enough to
include part of the head and
shoulders of the person doing
the interview. It helps
establish the relative position
of the interviewer and guest
• This shot isn't always
necessary but is useful if you
are going to have "reverse"
angle shots (Cam pos 3) of
the interviewer asking
questions or reacting to
something the guest is saying,
like nodding in agreement as
the guest talks. (audio can
be used from this take)
• You could also pan just a bit
right to eliminate the
interviewer from this shot
leaving you with just a
medium shot of the guest.
Medium close-up Shot of Guest with title
• This shot positions the
eyes of the guest on an
approximately 1/3 of the
way down from the top
of the screen. In
addition, the shot is
wide enough to allow
space to add the Name
and Title of the guest
Notice that the guest is
not looking at the
camera but at the
interviewer and there is
slightly more room in
http://www.library.kent.edu/page/11061 "front" of the face in the
direction the guest is
looking. Use this shot at
the beginning of the
The rule of thirds
Shooting “Cover” Video
• 2 types: Cutaways & Noddies
• Cover video can be used during the editing process to
“cover” edits needed in the interview or to provide visual
support for narration.
• While the interviewer and guest are sitting and talking
(before starting the formal interview) try to get some shots
of the guest's hands or just the guest sitting and listening
to the interviewer. You can use these shots in editing.
• Ask permission to stay in the location (office or wherever)
that you shot the interview for a few minutes more to tape
cover video for the program.
• If you can, move the camera around to a position next to
where the guest was seated and get a medium shot of the
interviewer from the guest's perspective. Record the
interviewer asking questions and just sitting and nodding as
if listening to the guest (only need to have them do this for
about 5 seconds, then ask the next question. These shots
can be used later when editing the interview.
Shooting “Cover” Video
• Get shots of other things at the interview location. Any
signs, objects on desks, anything that might be associated
with the content of the interview.
• When possible, get interior shots of anything you can. If
you can get shots of people working, great! But be sure to
get permission first.
• Limit panning and zooming. Don’t pan over here to
something interesting, then pan over there to something
else. Similarly, don’t zoom in and out. Think instead of a
series of still shots.
• HOLD EVERY SHOT STILL FOR AT LEAST 15 SECONDS
OR MORE! Count to at least 15 after starting to record a
shot before stopping, changing shots, starting a pan or
zoom, etc. Some shots, like an exterior of a building or an
interior of a working space with workers should be recorded
for at least 30 (or more) seconds without moving the
camera. Hint: The wider the shot, the longer it should be
on to allow the viewer to “see” everything in the shot.
• Camera person: Don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer and
interviewee to wait a second when adjusting the framing of
a shot or changing shots. Let them know when you’re
ready to record and when you are recording…. Wait about 5
seconds AFTER you start recording to “cue” the interviewer
that it’s ok to start.
• Avoid Group Interviews. Interviews are best when you are
one-on-one with the interviewee. In most situations it is a
bad idea to interview a group of people all at once, they
may tend to answer for one-another rather than the
audience and they may play off one-another in a manner
that is distracting (e.g., interviewing a band).
• Group interviews are extremely hard to shoot with one
camera and get close-ups of the person talking without lots
of distracting panning and zooming.
Editing the interview
• Introductory Shot (GV of location / venue)
with voice-over introducing the interview
3 main shots + additional cutaways:
• Shot 1 – Wide 2 shot as first question is
• Shot 2 – Mid shot (o/s shot) of
• Shot 3 – reverse shot (noddie) if the
editor needs to ‘shorten’ the answer
Advanced editing technique
• Split edit
• Use audio from one shot to ‘go under’
visuals from another (see handout for
Guest listening Guests
Interviewers to question Answer
Question finishes here
Optional / Supplementary portfolio task
(for the more theoretically inclined…..)
• Analyse one or more computer game cut-scenes
in the light of the lectures / readings on classical
Hollywood film language (mise-en-scene,
continuity editing, narrative conventions).
• To what extent do the cut-scenes conform to
• How might computer game cut-scenes develop in
the future (Hints A.I. behaviours / Machinima….)
• About 1000 words – with images.