When the minimalistic approach yields big results

We talk a lot about gear on this blog: tripods, rigs, lens, follow focus, etc… We take for granted that you need all of these to create anything that looks remotely professional. After all, if you dont have a super stable and sharp image, your end product can’t be good.

Well, Greg Watermann proves us wrong. Look at his coverage of the band Scars on Broadway.

Q: How many cameras do you think he used?

A: A single one and only two lenses: a Zeiss 1.4 prime and a venerable 24-105L4IS. Even better: he captured everything in a single night!

Last time Greg talked to me, the clip was in the YouTube top 50 music video, quite an achievement! His minimalistic approach gave great results and I am sure he will get more gigs in the future.

So what makes the clip so good?

First we have to give credits to the editor, Guzmanian, who did a great job keeping the intensity high during the whole clip. But he could only do this because Greg got such a broad variety of shots to pick from. And that is what I want to talk about…

What can you learn from this?

As I said in my last user submitted clip review, I only post clips shot by others when I think there is something to learn from it. In this case, Greg showed us how important it is to get A LOT of coverage (dont forget, he was the only shooter!). The more you have, the happier you will be when sitting in front of FCP.

The List

What ever you are shooting, would it be a concert, a conference or a wedding, capture as much as you can of everything! And dont stick with macro or close up shots. Use your wide angle to give a sense of space and dont be afraid to pan the camera too. This is something I personally have to work on, my clips tend to be too static (I blame my photography background for this)

Here is my quick mental list of must have shots, what ever the gig I am shooting:

  • People at the venue (dancing, drinking, talking to the camera,..)
  • Outside the venue (people in lineups, venue signs, shots of people inside from the window)
  • Props (glasses, microphone, console, napkins, anything that can be linked to the event)
  • Food (plates but also in the kitchen, plates getting prepared,etc)
  • Close up of actions (paying for tickets, drinks, people drinking, etc)
  • People putting their coats on/off
  • People moving in / out of the venue

All of these short clips can be used to put a sense of time/chronology to your film or can be used as transitions when you dont have anything else.

I never took the time to formalize, maybe I should. Do you guys use such a list?

About Tommy

Photography allows me to be what I want to be, to be where I want to be, and to do what I want to do ... I'm not professional photographer and I don't need a title, I love to take photographs and that is what I do, I love to learn and I always try to do it better ...
  • http://www.coefficientmedia.com dave

    I don’t have a formal list of shots but have been meaning to make one for a long time. I have seen a few specific ones for stuff like wedding photography but it would be great to build a more general list of shot ideas for event videography!

  • http://www.apertureland.com Mike

    The editing in this clip is amazing.

  • Steve

    “The more you have, the happier you will be when sitting in front of FCP.”

    I’m not sure about this, boss. This works best when you’re a photographer. You can’t have too many photographs. The challenge there is to select the one that best tells the story. For video, it’s a bit different. I would subscribe to the idea of having a storyboard in your head: having the shots you know you need to have to make the necessary edits and being flexible enough to stray from that when you are in the field and confront awesome visuals. Believe me when I say: the more video you have, the more hours you’ll need to log in, frustrated at all the hours of shots you have. let’s rephrase the rule:

    The better shots you have, the more happier you’ll be sitting in front of FCP”

    • admin

      Steve, in theory, I agree with you. But in situations where you have little control over the event (weddings, shows, parties…) it is quite hard to have a storyboard of more than a few key shots. If you can, go for it! But so far, every time I tried to over plan something, it failed miserably which is why I now simply go with the flow, fill my list and make sure I dont miss any key events.

      And I, of course, agree with your motto ;-)

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