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Casablanca in the Classroom
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The action is out of the frame; heads and bodies are "cut off;" the panoramic view makes you dizzy; the close up is out of focus and shaky. We've all experienced these frustrating production problems as viewers or as producers of video. To help prevent that from happening, we'll introduce and reinforce some very basic skills of camera movement and shot composition that will give your video productions a more professional look.

Tripod Operation
For the most stable shooting, your camera must be on a tripod. Make sure that you understand how to operate the tripod's controls before using them. Adjusting the tripod without loosening the appropriate controls can result in permanent damage!

Camera Tilt Adjustment Control (up/down movement) The lever should move smoothly, but not be too loose. Experiment to get the feel, as each tripod is different.

Camera Panning Adjustment Control (right/left movement) As above, lever should operate smoothly, but not to loose.

Camera Pedestal Height Control (raise/lower height) Must be loosened before raising/lowering pedestal, then tightened once at correct height.

Camera Movement
The following commands tell the camera operator how and where to move the video camera. Make sure you know each movement well enough to demonstrate it.

Move the camera away from (dolly out) or closer to (dolly in) the subject. Note: A dolly is a set of wheels on which the tripod stands. To "dolly in" or "dolly out," you roll the tripod forward or back.

Pivot the camera to the right (pan right) or to the left (pan left).

Raise (pedestal up) or lower (pedestal down) the camera on the tripod.

Pivot the camera up (tilt up) or pivot down (tilt down).

Move the camera to the left (truck left) or to the right (truck right) of the subject.

• Generally, dollying, trucking and changing the pedestal height should only be done between shots, not during recording.

Basic Camera Shots:
The following basic shots should be considered as you build the foundation for planning a video production - Establishing or Wide Shot (EST or WS), Medium Shot (MS), Close Up (CU) and Extreme Close Up (XCU). Examples of these shots are shown on the right:

Video composition can be defined as the arrangement of visual elements in the video space. Like still photography, video involves a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional scene. Attention must be directed not only at a main subject, but at the background and foreground elements as well.
Simplicity forms the first compositional guideline for the beginning videographer. Less is usually more in video composition-limiting the number of visual elements in a shot is generally preferable.

The Rule-of-Thirds provides another useful guideline for video composition. To follow the rule-of-thirds divide the video space into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. The top horizontal line serves as an "eyeline" for most people shots, particularly one-person shots. Both the top and bottom horizontal lines provide placement points for the horizon on outdoor scenes. Subjects placed along any of the four lines are more dynamic; the four intersections provide the strongest subject placement points.

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