Examples From The Book

College and Job Application Videos: Singing Math (p. 171)

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From How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck, Page 171: Application videos need to cover interesting topics, presented in unique ways. Doing a bad video is like misspelling the company name on your cover letter.  First, Do no harm. Don’t duplicate what’s already on your resume.  The woman who applied to Tufts by videotaping dances she choreographed for her favorite math functions was both odd and funny.  I hear she got in: Check out these posts for more: How to Do a Zoom Meeting that Doesn’t Suck While there are plenty of posts on Video Meeting Etiquette out there, much of that…

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The static camera: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene (p. 111)

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From How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck, Page 111: You gotta walk before you run, and in video, you gotta learn how to compose a shot before you start waving the camera around. Film is motion, but motion doesn’t always mean a moving camera. Moving objects in the frame, a static camera and film cuts convey enough motion and emotion to be authoritatively exciting in ways that a vaguely meandering camera won’t. Until you’re a pro, you’ll shoot better video if you don’t move the camera.  But don’t worry—a static camera doesn’t mean a boring video. Want proof? There are…

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What in the Hell is Unity? (p. 114)

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From How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck, Page 114: Aristotle was the first to note that great drama has three unities—of time, of place, or of action. “Unity” is another way to suggest a pure focus on one thing. A play might take place over one day (unity of time), or in single house (unity of place), or around a single event (unity of action). Unities keep the audience (and the writer/director) clear on what story they’re telling, making those stories more focused and powerful. You may think we’re getting a little highbrow in our analysis here, quoting Aristotle and…

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Shoot Video that You Love (p. 26)

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From How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck, Page 26: Brandon Hardesty (www.brandonhardesty.com) has made a YouTube career reenacting scenes from movies in his basement, with Brandon playing all the parts.  He’s not joking– he performs with passion, giving it everything he’s got—and he’s a good actor. As odd an idea as it is, it works.   Brandon started as an anonymous guy in a small town, and now draws millions of viewers, has an agent and lives in LA.  Why it works is worth thinking about. The videos are obviously well rehearsed.  The shots are planned carefully to match the movie….

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How to Promote Your Product Using Video (p. 192)

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From How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck, Page 192: To promote your product using video, you’ll want to intrigue a potential customer into learning more. Which means you’ll need a big idea and plenty of entertainment value. A great video grabs your attention even when you have no interest in buying the product. Someone sent me a link to Blendtec’s “Will It Blend?” videos, which have millions of hits each. I don’t watch them because I’m endlessly fascinated by blenders.  I watch because I’m endlessly fascinated by Blendtech’s slo-mo video of blenders pulverizing things they shouldn’t, like golf balls, iPads ,and…

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What’s Your Intent? (p. 25)

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From How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck, Page 25: Before you shoot your next video, brainstorm a long list of why you’re doing it and how you want to treat the audience. Select the most useful thoughts from your list and keep that in mind as your intent, or purpose. Let your intent live in your mind, and your video will instantly take on a life it may not have had before. Here’s a video I co-directed for Summer Stars Camp for the Performing Arts. Summer Stars teaches disadvantaged kids ages 11 to 14 how to succeed through the performing…

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Shooting in Limbo (p. 127)

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From How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck, Page 127: Some videos take place in an ethereal neverland called “limbo”—a seamless, glowing, solid color wash. Frequently black or white, limbo backgrounds are cheap to shoot and they totally focus your attention on the people in front of them. In this great looking trailer  for a film/book package called “The Wisdom Book” by photographer Andrew Zuckerman, the limbo was created in-camera: Zuckerman hung a seamless white background behind his subjects to stay beautifully focused on their faces and words. You can do the same by hanging a nine-foot roll of white paper…

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50 Ways to Shoot One Thing (p. 140)

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From How To Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck, Page 140 Imagine this video:  At a retail in-store appearance in Hollywood, the costumed movie superhero steps out of the limo and walks through the store. Shot from adult height, we see the character shake hands with the store manager and the tops of heads of children as we pass by. But if we kneel down to child level, suddenly we’re in another world. We see kids’ faces light up as this cartoon-come-to-life walks past, their anguish as they decide whether to approach, and their joy when they finally get a hug…

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Shot List: The Opera Spot (p. 77)

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From  How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck, Page 77: The easiest way to plan a video that’s more complicated than “point at party guests” is by using a shot list. A shot list is exactly what it sounds like: a list of all the shots you might want in your video. I brainstorm shot lists for every project.  I bring them to the set and literally check off they things I want to shoot as they happen. When I get tired, or time runs out (and time always runs out), I go back to my shot list to make…

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Shoot Short Shots? There are No Rules (p. 106)

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An example from  How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck (p. 106) I tell people to shoot short shots because (a) our brains process information so fast that long shots are likely to be boring and (b) most new videographers don’t know how to do it. Then I get email that refers to “the rule of shooting short shots.” So let’s be real clear: This is creativity, baby.  There ain’t no rules. But you do need to learn how to shoot short shots.  Instead of focusing on “rules” that there are penalties for breaking, think in terms of skills that there are benefits…

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