Roll with it

February 24, 2010


Moments of sight and sound are what make videos strong, powerful, memorable. But one of the first things shooters forget to do is ROLL.

I know it sounds crazy but you have to roll to capture moments. You get caught up in the moment and forget to push the button. If you see it thru the viewfinder and you weren’t rolling did it actually happen? Sometimes I think not.

On occasion, over the past 30 years, I have not been rolling when key events happened and I kick myself every time. Anyone who says they haven’t done this is lying. Or worse, roll backwards – you think you are rolling when you aren’t, and you do when you mean to pause. The editor (or you) ends up having great footage of you moving to position, framing, then nothing. You are talking the entire time and end up on some “blooper reel”. Again, a mistake all of us have made.

Pay attention to the viewfinder and the recording indicator light. Train your eye to watch the action and all the details of the viewfinder. Notice that red light. Roll when focusing so when you are sharp and steady you are already capturing.

And when you roll, think about the editor, be it you or someone else. How long does the shot need to be to be a usable shot? 3 seconds? No way. We are talking video not stills here. 10 seconds? Maybe, but 15 would have been better. Nothing is worse than getting back and having great shots that are too short. Life is not always fast edits on quick shots.

Think about the moment and the pacing that will be needed to tell the story. Count in your head if it helps. I do. I count to 30, 45, one minute if need be… rock solid, well framed, sharp…ROLLING.

Capturing moments that are not usable is not your goal. Your goal is great moments, editable moments, moments that create sequences that tell stories. The editor and the producer will love you for it.

The only way to do that is to roll.

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This post was written by:

- who has written 7 posts on The Digital Photo Experience.

For 30 years, two time Emmy award winning photographer and producer Art Howard has helped viewers experience life through images from both poles, 49 states and 30 countries. Taking the viewer to places like the Gulf war in Kuwait, -30 degree conditions in the Arctic, or the ocean floor 3000 feet below the surface he pushes constantly for new ways to tell the story.

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