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23 June, 2014

Improve your iPhone videos with this shot pattern

This short video sequence of a street scene in the Turkish district of Berlin is made up of several shot sizes that were filmed using a common shot pattern.

Sequences are a powerful technique that video journalists and filmmakers use to convey a story using visual grammar.

Editing sequences together is difficult if you don't have the basic building blocks that are made from specific types of shots.

Watch the short video below and see if you you can spot the shot pattern used to film it.

This video lesson is from Robb Montgomery’s popular Quick Start Video Course

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The 6-shot pattern
Each shot in a shooting pattern is filmed as a separate clip, with the camera turned on after the framing is ready and off after the action is captured. Typically 10 seconds of each shot is needed to get the material for the pattern.

Because this film captures a music passage the first shot in our pattern was filmed for about 50 seconds so that the audio track could be detached and made to play continuously. The audio from all other shots in the pattern is then muted.

1) Establishing Shot

The establishing shot locates the main subjects of the film in their environment. In this case a trio playing outside a Shisha cafe in Kreuzberg. The shot size is a medium shot because we don't see (or need to see) the players feet.
This establishing shot answers the story question of what is happening.

2) Reaction Shot

At eight seconds into the film we see a reaction shot. This type of 'cutaway' shot is a neutral shot that allows the filmmaker to show who else is at the scene and how the action is affecting them.

This medium close-up shot size is intentionally framed to avoid showing the musicians in the background. This allows the editor to use it almost anywhere in the film and maintain continuity.

Neutral shots (cutaways) are very important to making sequences easy to edit together.

3) Face Shot

A shot of the faces of our subjects allows the viewer to study more closely who the people are in the story. This medium close-up shot with the soloist in the extreme foreground takes the viewer into a more intimate space in the location. They are now essentially sitting in with the band.

4) Hands Shot

A closeup of the main subject's hands invites the viewer even closer and answers the question of how this man plays his instrument. This is also known as a 'cut-in' shot because it focuses on details of the subject.

In our editing we adjusted the timing to half-speed at the same moment in time that the musical performance made a distinct shift in tempo and rhythm.

5) Over The Shoulder Shot

This over the shoulder shot lets the viewer see the scene from the perspective of the subject. This over the shoulder shot is framed to also show an audience member smoking a shisha tobacco pipe. These details are essential to the location and cultural traits of the filming location.

6) Creative Shot

A creative shot allows the filmmaker to exploit an unusual angle, perspective or other activity that will complete the story and add visual interest.

In this film the creative shot was taken at an iconic landmark in Berlin a few minutes after the filming at the cafe was completed.

The shot includes visual information about what kind of day it is as well as a reminder that this film takes place in Berlin and not in the Middle East.

In technical terms this shot is referred to as a Re-Establishing shot. It is used to refresh the sense of the overall geography of the filming location. 

This information is conveyed with a subtle animation of a still photo combined with title and graphic elements to create a postcard effect.

For example, this type of treatment could easily be repeated to create a series of short films about the types of street music you can find in Berlin.

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