HOW TO FRAME AND COMPOSE A SHOT & 10 TIPS ABOUT VOX POPS
Among the first things every aspiring self-shooter has to understand is how to frame and compose a shot. It’s at the heart of making engaging television and video, including vox pops, one of the first things a self-shooter will be asked to produce in a TV newsroom. This tutorial offers advice on skills that have to be mastered early on by broadcast journalists.
Framing a Shot
There are three basic shot sizes for framing (wideshot, midshot and close-up) and then variations on these three. The video below demonstrates how to frame a shot.
Below is a link to a second video with useful advice about framing.
Have the camera at eye level with the subject being filmed unless there’s a conscious decision to create an upwards or downwards angle. When framing a shot, don’t cut the subject on their limbs – like knee, ankle or elbow – because it looks odd. It gives the impression that part of their body has been, quite literally, cut off.
At risk of stating the obvious, when a self-shooter pans or tilts a shot, they should ensure that the end frame is more interesting than the original one.
Don’t zoom unless absolutely necessary, because the content within the frame should be interesting enough already. Zooming is, in effect, manufacturing interest in a shot.
Below is a video about shot composition that explains the following:
- Leading Lines
- Rack Focusing
- Lead Room
- Natural Framing
- Shot Balance
10 Tips for Vox Pops
When joining a TV newsroom, the first thing a young self-shooter works on could be vox pops. This will involve interviewing members of the public about a topic of interest.
Here are 10 tips on how to record successful vox pops:
1) A big smile and a clear explanation what you’re doing
This is a good way to convince members of the public to be interviewed. Be warm and welcoming, and people will be more willing to stop and contribute to your programme. It’s never pleasant when you are constantly refused an interview as you stand on a high street in the cold…
2) Rule of Thirds
Frame the shot using the Rule of Thirds (see Tutorial 3).
3) Location in background of shot
Take time to consider the background of your shot. Does it look interesting? Is it relevant to your story? Is it too distracting? Also, beware of members of the public acting the fool behind your interviewee. We all know what that looks like, don’t we…
4) Too much background noise?
Always wear headphones because they will help you decide if the background noise is too loud. If you’re filming in the street, there will obviously be some natural sound which will make the audio more interesting. But you don’t want the background sound to distract from the interview which is more important. To get around this problem, you may have to move to a quieter location.
5) Max of 5 clear, simple questions
Keep your questions clear and succinct. It’s likely that you will ask the same questions to all the people you interview and create a narrative from their answers.
6) Open not closed questions
Your questions probably won’t be included in the final edit, so you are ideally looking for expansive, self-contained answers. You don’t want answers starting with “Yes…” or “No…” because they mean nothing without the context of the question. So avoid closed questions that invite these types of answers. Instead, ask open questions like “Tell me about…” or “What do you think about…” which receive more rounded replies.
7) Don’t interrupt the answer
To get these rounded, self-contained answers, avoid interrupting the interviewee before they have finished their answer. Remember, your question won’t be included, so we don’t want to hear your voice mid answer either.
8) Don’t want microphone in shot
Always be careful to ensure that your microphone is safely out of shot.
9) Check audio before press record and always wear headphones
Don’t forget to check audio levels before you press record and monitor sound closely throughout.
10) Flip the angles of interview
When you interview people, flip their position. Have your first interviewee standing on the left of frame as you look, then have the second person standing on the right. This means that in the edit, you can cut between both people without it looking visually uncomfortable. If they are both standing on the same side of the frame, they will not cut so naturally. It will feel awkward on the eye.