Editors are happy when they have plenty of footage to work with in post-production. Shooting multiple angles of a particular scene is called coverage, and whether you are producing your own film, or shooting a long-format marketing video, getting good coverage has many benefits:
- Flexibility - Ample amounts of raw footage gives your editor many options for structuring the story.
- Variety - Staring at the same shot for too long can bore some viewers. You want your video or film project to engage and entertain and the right amount of coverage will offer fresh perspectives to your audience.
- Control – In your narrative film project, your main character picks up the newspaper and stares in horror at the headline. The information in the article is a vital part of your plot. So, did you remember to get a cutaway shot of the headline? Shooting the right amount of coverage gives you control over the story. It allows you to direct your audience’s attention to what you want them to see or to understand.
Here are some things to keep in mind about shooting coverage:
- Scout – Go to the location where you will be filming. Look around. Start blocking the scene. Figure out where you would like to place your camera. How many set-ups will you need? Once you have done your initial scout, make some time closer to the shooting date when you can conduct a tech scout. This is when you and your production team do a final walk-through of the location to discuss each set-up.
- Utilize Set-Ups – Consider how you can combine multiple coverage shots with one camera set up. For example, if the camera has been set up for a wide dolly shot, can you keep the camera where it is and shoot a lock-down close up as well? How about a pick-up shot of that file folder in your actor’s hand? Can you raise the camera up more on the tripod and get a high-angle establishing shot? Combining coverage shots into one set up will save a lot of time.
- Start Wide & Work In – It’s always a good idea to get the establishing shots first. Then you can push in and reset the camera for your close-ups and cutaways. That way, if your day runs too long and you lose the location, you will at least have establishing shots in the can. Imagine losing the location and all you have are extreme close-ups and cutaways. The viewer will be disoriented and won’t know the location, the characters in the scene, the time of day, etc.
Taking the time to prepare by scouting and creating a detailed shot list will ensure that you get the coverage you need for each scene. That will make you editor very happy. And it will give you a much better product.