Learning Art

I think one of the things that has most stood out to me through this past week of 8-hour-a-day coursework is the level of complexity and art involved in videography. It’s easy to narrow the process of capturing video as simply pointing and shooting footage, but so much more time, effort, and thought goes into each individual scene. This is something that has become more and more clear to me the more videos I watch this week. I appreciate scenes so much more and am constantly trying to imagine how videographers get some of their more artistic or well-angled shots. While I’m fascinated by the artistic freedom video allows, I’m also intimidated by the level of detail and attention it takes to make a good scene.

We’ve learned how to capture a variety of angles, how to work with color and light, and how to work with audio. We’ve also learned a variety of rules that should always be applied when doing video: the rule of thirds, holding the shot, making sure everything is focused, etc. One element of documentary making that is a lot more complicated than I thought it would be is shooting interviews versus shooting b-roll (all the footage that isn’t an interview). Setting up an interview involves just the right lighting, just the right angles, just the right background, and a lot of sound checks. The whole process ends up taking the 12 of us around 45 minutes before we even start the actual interview.

Interviewing itself is an intimidating aspect of the documentary making process. While I have some experience interviewing people for print, no interview I’ve ever done deals with an issue as complicated as immigration. There is a lot of pressure to interview these individuals in such a way that I am able to help them tell their story effectively. There is also a different art to documentary filming versus print interviewing: you have to encourage your subject to include the question in the answer, you have to be dead silent while interviewing (no encouraging laughs or “mhm”s which will be tough for me). Other than that, it’s just important to always be thinking of follow up based on their responses, to have a number of questions previously prepared, to note what kind of b-roll you might gather based on their answers, and to leave space after their answers for them to add additional thoughts.

I’ve learned so much in this short week and am completely overwhelmed and deliriously excited to begin to apply what I’ve learned so far. I can’t wait to see what else I learn as we begin the real journey!

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Analyzing effective and ineffective footage, as well as learning about various kinds of shots. 

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