How to Shoot for the Edit

How to Shoot for the Edit

Learning how to shoot for the editing is a technique that will help even a beginning cinematographer to create shots and scenes that can truly amaze an audience one they’ve made their way through post production. As a professional cinematographer, you’re going to have many instances in which it makes most sense to learn how to shoot for the editing rather than just shooting footage without any end and final purpose in mind. This is all about preparing in pre-production and planning principal photography so that you can deliver amazing footage that not only makes editing in post easier, it makes it more valuable for the audience in the end, too.

It’s All About Continuity

bbp video creator editing

Think about continuity. The more you can shoot for the edit, the more continuous and seamless your film is going to appear in the long run. You already know that your film is going to pass through editing in post-production and that it’s going to be a major part of what brings your story from basic footage to amazing motion picture that your audience can enjoy. By shooting for the edit, you’re going to provide your post production team with the additional shots, scenes, and elements that will help them to create something absolutely amazing out of if all.

While shooting, think about where you can make adjustments to prevent the need for substantial editing in post. If you notice a shot is unsteady and you believe it would be better if you were to stabilize, then do it! Don’t wait for post-production to come around and your editor to tell you that a reshoot is required. Handle the heavy lifting during principal photography with continuity and the overall goal of delivering a seamless, flawless production, in mind.

Try to Prevent Roadblocks to Editing

You know that it’s always going to be more costly, and time consuming, to come back and reshoot. Therefore, you should do anything you can to prevent the need for a reshoot if possible. This means that while you’re filming you should be thinking about the aesthetic details involved and you should be taking time to ensure that you’re filming with post-production editing in mind. To do this, make sure that you:

  • End each clip with a 3-second, silent buffer. 
  • Mark your best takes for the editor.
  • Get your best take, and then film it one more time for good measure.

Obtain Adequate Coverage

Camera Crew with Camera

When you’re learning how to shoot for the edit, it’s important to focus on coverage. You want to be sure that you’re getting adequate coverage. The more the better, particularly when it comes to capturing shots from different angles or directions. If you can capture a scene with multiple cameras that can get your footage from different viewpoints, this is ideal.  

For example, you’ll shoot a scene with your main camera, we’ll call it camera A. This will be your master footage, and represents the primary footage for the desired shots. However, you can also have camera B and C filming too. These cameras should be positioned in different areas of the scene, capturing slightly different angles and viewpoints to provide supplemental footage that can be used along with your master footage.

Together, the footage that you capture from cameras A, B and C or as many cameras as you utilize in the production process will make up your coverage. Having coverage from multiple options, with multiple viewpoints will help your post production editing team when it comes to splicing the film together.

Shoot Plenty of B-Roll

Much of the B-roll should be planned in pre-production during the planning of your shot list and other pertinent details, but know that it’s perfectly acceptable to shoot b-roll in addition to what was planned. In fact, coverage should include appropriate b-roll in order to provide plenty of visual context and essential coverage of the space, characters, and environment in which the scenes and overall story take place.

While you might consider the shots from cameras B & C to be B-roll, you’ll want to shoot additional b-roll coverage above and beyond that of the individual scenes. B-roll should capture supplemental footage that will support the story. This might include things like up close images of actors or characters, angled images of the scene, and images that are captured off-scene from other areas in support of the overall narrative.  

When planning b-roll, make sure that you’re thinking about visually telling the story. B-roll is going to be used throughout the post-production process in order to transition between primary coverage shots. By planning your b-roll in advance, and learning how to shoot for the edit, you can maximize your coverage providing your post production crew with more to work with.

Incorporate Camera Movements & Motion

When learning how to shoot for the edit, another serious area of focus should be in capturing movement. This includes not only filming movement, but also utilizing camera movement in order to tell the story. Incorporating camera movements and motion into the story you tell will provide an excellent opportunity for you to further provide your post production team with footage that they’ll find most useful.

Various camera movements, including tilt, pan, or other styles of camera motion can be used to set up the shots required for your edit. Likewise, if you know that you want to create a shot in which you cut on action, you can plan the actions that are going to take place accordingly and film those. This is yet another way that learning how to shoot for the edit can help you to create a seamless, flawless, and engaging film in post-production.

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