Shot-by-Shot: Human vs. Horse Race – My Shooting and Editing Process

Posted by ryanjackson on Jan 19, 2011 in Shot-by-Shot Explanation, training, video |

Okay here is an example of what I call a spectacle video. In the media we do a lot of these. Someone is performing a stunt or doing something strange to get attention to promote something.

In this case they are racing a horse against people at Northlands racetrack to promote Northlands and a marathon.

These events make great standalone pictures but video is always harder because the stunt only last a few seconds.

You can’t just put a 10-second clip on your website and expect people to watch a 15-second pre-roll add then walk away happy. You need more than that. You need a story.

So how do I get a one-minute video from an event that only last a few seconds?

The same as anything you see on Mythbusters.

Teasing, anticipation, prediction, action, reaction.

Shows like Mythbusters are really good at taking something that only lasts a second like an explosion and dragging it out over a long period of time. Multiple cameras and slow motion help. But you can’t fill an hour of television with just that. You need anticipation, prediction and reaction to the event to really tell a story and make it interesting.

Here’s how I approach this video.

#1. I need A-Roll. A person of authority explaining what is happening today.
#2. I need B-roll to go with each thing that the interviewee mentions
Keywords: Horses, Humans, Media, Race
#3. I need to talk to the people who will be in the race. What are their predictions?
#4. The spectacle will only last a few seconds so I know I need more than one camera.

Camera 1: My Canon XH-A1 – This cameras has 20X zoom so I will put it at the end of the track.
Camera 2: Canon HV30 – I’ll put this camera at the beginning of the track and frame it on the starting gates. It can record 63 minutes to a tape so I just set it up and push record. Just leave it running.
Camera 3: Canon SD960 IS point-and-shoot camera that shoots 720p video. I set it up on a mini-tripod half way down the track and push record. Just leave it going.

Viewers decide if they want to keep watching a video in the first 10-seconds so I show the first 3-seconds of the race first to tease the viewer and hint that there is something cool coming. You better stay and watch!

I immediately go to by A-roll explaining what is happening today.

He's talking about horses so I show the only two horses that are on the track. Lame shot but it was all I had.

He talks about runners so I show the two runners that I see walking up.

I interview one runner and ask him for his predictions for the race.

This is a media spectacle so I show the other media there. Remember "say it and then show it". The media is mentioned in the interview so I show the media.

I interview the other runner and ask him for his predictions for the race.

Now I show the race. I have three cameras. One at the gates.

A second camera (a Canon Point-and-shoot on a mini-tripod) midway down the track to show the horse....

...followed by the runners....

Then my third camera is at the finish line. With my three cameras I was able to get a tight shot of the gates, a side view and an overall view.

Reaction. Emotion. High-Fives!

Followup reaction interview #1.

Followup reaction interview #2.

Ask the Jockey what he thinks. The end!

I get back to my car and ingest all the video footage into my laptop.

In Final Cut Pro:
I choose the A-roll “what is happening today”
I choose predictions “what do you think will happen?”
I choose the 3-second clip from Camera 2 and 3.
I choose the 12-second clip of the entire race from Camera 1. (yes the race only lasted 12-seconds!)
I choose the reaction clips “how was that for you?”

Plopped it together. Bam!



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