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WITNESS Guide to Video Advocacy Part 2: Filming

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WITNESS, See it, Film it, Change it. You’re watching the first part of the filming section of the WITNESS guide to video advocacy. It explains the basics on how to film, how to light, and how to get good sound in a range of situations. Filming is telling a story. Show where you are, what is happening, who is involved, and find a way for your viewer to understand why. Build a meaningful sequence with your shots. Before you even switch on your camera, think of why your using each shot. Think of the impact of zooms, tilts, pans, and different shot sizes. Wide shots and zooms to show the context of where you are, and what is happening; and to make linkages in complicated settings. Use medium shots to show what is happening and who is involved and close-ups to show the powerful details that may give drama to your video sequence. Get "telling" details. Think of someone’s face at the moment of surprise or fear, or a pile of discarded shoes from a group of protesters who ran in panic, or the moment of silence that hangs in the air after an interviewee says something powerful. Move closer to capture the action. If its safe to do so get in close. Your image will probably be better, your audio will definitely improve, and the viewer will feel like they are in the mix of the action. Shoot stable ten-second shots and make purposeful camera movements. Stable still shots are good shots. Keep your elbows close to your body and your knees bent for stability. Its easy to underestimate how long you need to hold a shot for. Hold it for 10 seconds. This will feel like much longer until you get used to it. Never "hosepipe". Be patient and purposeful. Don't wave your camera or cell phone around to get all the points of interest as if your watering flowers with a hose. Instead, pick a shot and hold it so that the viewer can see what’s happening. If you need to change emphasis quickly, try using a "swish pan". Where you move your camera rapidly and deliberately sideways from one point of interest to the next. Get good sound. If you can, plug in headphones to your camera since the camera microphone picks up sounds differently then our ears do. The sound is as important as your image. Try to eliminate background sounds particularly buzzing electrical noise. Lighting matters. Don’t film people with the sun behind them unless you need to back light them to conceal identity. The best light for filming is a cloudy day outside. Avoid direct midday sun. Filming with your cellphone. Move in close to film. Remember that a cellphone camera is less stable than a larger video camera, so take care to hold your shots and not to "hosepipe". Be aware of background noise since you may not have headphones to tell if there is distortion that could make your audio unusable. Move in particularly close for interviews. Filming when you least expect it. Sometimes unexpectedly you are an eye witness perhaps to a sudden attack or to a crowd protesting. Ask someone to watch your back so that you can focus on filming. Make sure you have footage of key protagonists and get the context through a wide shot, or a pan, or a shot from above. Ask witnesses to explain what is happening in the moment, you may not have the opportunity later. Filming secretly. Always assess the added risk of filming secretly. If people find out, you risk a violent reaction and you will definitely loose their trust. Always make it a deliberate decision and then practice so you can do it well. Sometimes, it makes sense to hide a camera in a bag, or in your clothes, and film through a hole. Go to The Hub to see video, to share video, and to take action. The Hub.

Video Details

Duration: 5 minutes and 18 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: WITNESS
Director: WITNESS
Views: 760
Posted by: ryanschlief on Feb 20, 2009

WITNESS Guide to Video Advocacy Part 2: Filming

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