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How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck

Breaking the “Rules” of Video

While I liked the direct approach of your book, I have questions about the rules.

1) You say: Don’t ever use digital zoom.  But there are situations where you can’t walk closer to your subject.  Filming wildlife, concerts, Being at the crevice of the Grand Canyon, etc. This seems like a harsh rule.  Are there exceptions?

2) You tell people to keep their shots under 10 seconds long. Filming a music performance, I often find myself on a subject for 11 or 12 seconds.  Is this an absolute rule for you?

Seems like there should be some area for adjustment with these rules.

–Richie Vitale

Thanks for writing, Richie.  Let me answer backwards:

2)  I’m giving you guidelines to practice, not rules.  It’s like keeping your hands at 10 and 2 while you’re learning to drive.  Once you’re experienced, you can text, shave, drink coffee and carry on a phone conversation, all one handed, while driving the freeway to work.  Okay, perhaps it’s not like that.

But in art you should always play with the “rules”– even intentionally break them. I merely suggest learning them first.  That way you’re breaking them on purpose instead of out of ignorance.

For a more detailed answer re: short shots in particular, read here:  Shoot Short Shots? There are No Rules.

1)  On the digital zoom, though, that’s a rule.  Zooming optically (with the lens) brings a more detailed picture to the video sensor, so it can record more detail.  Digital “zoom” takes the picture that’s there and makes it bigger.  The blurry parts get bigger.  The dark parts get bigger.  You can’t see any more detail, but you can’t see it BIGGER.  It’s exactly the same as if you blew up the picture in your computer, and it looks exactly as bad.

If you want to do a “digital zoom” do it later, when you edit.  You’ll have more control, and you can change your mind.  If you do it in the camera, you’re stuck with it.

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