“Most world events these days—be it a government overthrow, a baby’s first steps, or a trip to Varanasi—are being captured on video,” says filmmaker Roger Sherman. “Wouldn’t it be great if the people shooting these moments knew what they were doing?”
In an era almost defined by do-it-yourself content creation, it’s a logical sentiment, and one that inspired the Emmy-winning documentarian to write Ready, Steady, Shoot, a step-by-step manual on how to create quality home and travel video.
“I’d seen people making home videos on the street, and so many times I’ve been tempted to run over and tell them things like: ‘No, no, hold it steady! No one will want to watch that when you get home!’ ” he says.
At the heart of Ready, Steady, Shoot is the concept of in-camera editing, a simple process that allows you to share your video memories the second you get home rather than spend hours editing them on a computer. All it takes is planning.
“When you’re editing within the camera, the trick is to think about the previous shot when you’re about to film a new one,” he explains. “You also want to vary between close and distant shots. If you just did a wide shot of a café in Paris, make your next of a waiter carrying a tray, then the next can be a close-up of a croque-monsieur.”
“So in three shots, you’ve told a whole story.”
While writing the book, Sherman also created “The 10 Shot Video” exercise, a series of practice shots that teaches home videographers how to create compelling video and tell stories efficiently.
“A lot of the books with similar titles tend to be too complicated, focusing on the details like sound and lighting. They’re manuals for professionals. People just want to be able to capture their kids’ dance recital or their trip to Tibet.”
Sherman shared a selection of his tips for the AFAR community:
- “Hold steady. The biggest mistake people make is that they jiggle the camera. Hold it with two hands, keep a solid posture, and bend your knees so that movements don’t feel so stiff.”
- “Don’t pan back and forth. Decide what your shot is. If you are panning, then pan towards the energy of the scene.”
- “Zooming is death. Even after 20 years using a professional camera, I can only hold steady on close zooms for a couple of seconds. If you like what’s over there, walk over to it”
- “Keep your shots short, six seconds or less. These are short travel films, not a real-time opus of your vacation.”
Sherman is currently planning a trip to uncover the burgeoning culinary scene in Israel for PBS. Read more about the filmmaker on the Florentine Films website. Get Ready, Steady, Shoot on iTunes or Amazon.