Tips for Getting Great Video Coverage when 'Shooting for the Edit' [Reel Rebel #30]

Tips for Getting Great Video Coverage when Shooting for the Edit [Reel Rebel #30]

On this week's Reel Rebel, Stephen talks about the importance "shooting for the edit" and gives some advice on how to ensure that when you're shooting video, you capture enough footage of a scene to provide the editors with full coverage and plenty of shots to work with.  Obtaining proper coverage will definitely improve the end video product and can save loads of time and headaches from having to go back to re-shoot something which is usually not an option, or have the editor try to fix it in post to and attempt to rescue poor footage.

Shooting for the Edit

Shooting for the edit involves understanding the production plan such that the videographer is cognizant of what scene elements may be needed in post-production and is able to capture the right shots.  IE - it's about NOT going out shooting and hoping for the best. If you’ve done proper pre-production on your script and storyboard, you should have a pretty good idea of how it’s going to edit together.

In a way, you can also think of it as "shooting with a safety net."  It not only will please your editor, but it also offers advantages to the production crew.  One advantage of shooting this way is that you can more efficiently shoot scenes out of order.  The Hollywood crews produce motion pictures this way and while a scene might begin and end in New York, if the middle takes place in LA, the camera crew will often shoot all of the LA scenes at the same time.

Tips for Camera Coverage

The post-production editor will often want as much footage as he/she can get.  So, shooting for the edit will mean shooting each scene multiple times from various angles and distances so as to obtain proper coverage.   The more footage that you have, the more options you're editor will have.  You'd be amazed at how a few seconds of seemingly useless footage can be used to fill a hole in the program.

The Master Shoot

Generally, you start with what would be called a Master Shot (or establishing shot), or a wide-angle long shot that covers everything in the scene from start to finish.  That doesn’t mean you need to have your amateur actors memorize the entire script word for word and be able to do it in one amazing take.  Just make sure you get decent sized chunks of the script covered in each take that can be used in conjunction with your other shots to complete the edit.

The OTS Shot

One of the most common shots you’ll see during dialog scenes in film is the OTS, or over the shoulder.  If OTS shots will be essential for the edit, don’t film just each of their sets of lines. Just let the film roll even while the person off camera is talking.  This is a huge factor in shooting for the edit, because it gives the editor the opportunity to cut away to a reaction shot of the off-camera listener, giving him the opportunity to stitch two different takes of the speaker’s lines together allowing for the best edit possible. Be honest, you’re not going to get Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise to act for you, so your actors will probably need all the help they can get.

You’ve got a master shot, and two complete OTS shots of your actors, but shooting for the edit doesn’t stop there. Ask yourself what else is important in the scene. Do the actors reference something that can be seen in the shots? Remember eyeline-matching and match cuts. Utilize all the time you have on set.  Sure, you may over shoot but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

More Shooting Tips:

It’s best to roll tape a few seconds before and after the action.  This way, you can adjust your in and out points in the edit bay.

You’ll want to proportion your time.  For example, if you shot fifty minutes of tape to produce a five-minute video, your shooting ratio would be 50:5, or 10:1.  That means that you shot 10 minutes of raw footage for each minute of edited tape.  For efficiency, try to achieve shooting ratios closer to 2:1 or even 3:1.

Even a small shooting ratio will give you a lot of tape to edit.  Make sure you’re organized.  You should keep a log as you shoot.  This requires that you keep a written record of which shots are on which tape and where the best shots are located.  This way, when you edit you will be able to find shots more quickly.  This can be as simple as identifying the shots on a tape by their order and approximate length, or, for the ultimate in precision, by noting time code numbers.

If you slate your shots, logging is even more effective.  The slate is that little clapboard that filmmakers use—the one they clap down and shout "Take 10." It is used to quickly identify the start of a shot.  A make-shift slate, such as a dry erase board, can be used to flag each scene you shoot.  You can also try using a digital clapboard like the Movie slate iPad app that we reviewed here.

What tips do you have to capture proper coverage when "shooting for the edit?"


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View The Full Video Transcript:

Hey I’m Stephen Schweickart back with another episode of Reel Rebel and today we’re going to start dropping all kinds of knowledge on you about how to shoot for the edit, starting with getting good coverage.

When I say the word coverage, I absolutely do not mean your cell reception. Put your phone away and pay attention to the star here for a minute. Coverage here refers to the amount of footage you shoot of your scene, and trust me, if you don’t get enough coverage during production you’re going to be throwing clumps of your hair around your editing bay when you get into post.

If you’ve done proper preproduction on your script (we have a vlog about that too), you should have a pretty good idea of how it’s going to edit together. If not, don’t go out shooting and hope for the best. Prepro prepro prepro! But if you’re ready, go start shooting. Coverage means having multiple angles of the same action in a scene. For example, let’s look at a really simple scene of two people sitting at a table having a conversation.

Generally, you start with what would be called a Master Shot, or a wide angle shot that covers everything in the scene from start to finish. No, that doesn’t mean you need to have your amateur actors memorize the entire script word for word and spout it off in one amazing take. (Only I can do that) Just make sure you get decent sized chunks of the script covered in each take that can be used in conjunction with your other shots to complete the edit.

One of the most common shots you’ll see during dialog scenes in film is the OTS, or over the shoulder. In our example, two OTS shots will be essential for the edit, but don’t film just each of their sets of lines. Just let the film roll even while the person off camera is talking. This is a huge factor in shooting for the edit because it gives the editor the opportunity to cut away to a reaction shot of the off-camera listener, giving him the opportunity to stitch two different takes of the speaker’s lines together allowing for the best edit possible. Because let’s be honest, you’re not going to get Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise to act for you, so your actors will probably need all the help they can get (Again, I’ll reiterate, only I can do it in one take).

So you’ve got a master shot, and two complete OTS shots of your actors, but shooting for the edit doesn’t stop there. Ask yourself what else is important in the scene. Do the actors reference something that can be seen in the shots? Remember line of sight. Utilize all the time you have on set. Sure, you may over shoot but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself. I personally guarantee that you will overdose on coffee and cigarettes by the time you cobble something together worth watching.

Any editors out there who have been plagued by directors who get BAD coverage leave a comment below, and everyone else be warned. Like this video and subscribe or the army of evil editors will be coming for you!

About the Author -
Mark Robertson is the Founder and Publisher of ReelSEO, an online information resource dedicated to the fusion of video, technology, social media, search, and internet marketing. He is a YouTube Certified, video marketing consultant and video marketing expert, popular speaker, and considered to be a passionate leader within the online video and search marketing industries. View All Posts By -

What do you think? ▼
  • http://www.cmhproperties.com Charles Mackenzie-Hill

    Good advise. I should have learned by now that one cant always necessarily re shoot ,as you mentioned above.