Shooting for Video Graphics

The first step in preparing for any shoot is to know how the footage you are shooting will fit into the final production. That includes knowing which shots will need room for video graphics. Start by determining what types of video graphics you will use and the placement of those graphics. Will you be keying in nameplates or statistics? Will you shoot a news-type shot of an anchor who needs space over his shoulder to allow for a piece of video or graphic? Are there any graphics that will frame the image? Knowing where you will place your graphics before you shoot your footage will help you record video that will work well when it’s time to edit.

With the tips in this article you can shoot well-composed shots that won’t force you to put video graphics on your talent’s face or over important action.


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Video Graphic Name Identifiers

Name identifiers, no matter how intricate, should be positioned in the lower third of the picture. With this in mind, shoot interviews at a medium closeup (head to chest), to allow space for the video graphic without covering the face of your subject. This is especially important at the beginning of the interview. If the interview requires you to zoom-in for a closeup to emphasize emotion, make sure it is not during a time when you might want to key in an identifier.

Video Graphics for News-Style Stories

News-style video graphics are typically set in a box over an anchor’s shoulder. One way to plan for an over-the-shoulder box is to cable your camcorder’s output to an external monitor or television, use a dry-erase marker to draw the box on the screen and use it as a guide to frame your shots. Shoot your anchor straight on, then, at the appropriate time, pan the camera to frame the box over the anchor’s shoulder. This tip is especially helpful if you produce a daily or weekly program and want your graphics to always be the same size from program to program.

Video Graphics for Sports

Television sports spectators expect to see lots of video graphics on the screen. If you shoot sporting events, you might consider spicing things up with a few graphics. You can use text to identify players, highlight team or player statistics or even keep a running scoreboard. After you determine the content of your graphics, decide where to place them. Tape off the bottom part of your LCD screen with opaque gaffer’s tape so that you will not be tempted to have anything of importance down there.

Other Situations for Video Graphics

I recently did a shoot for one of the national home shopping channels. If you have watched any of those shows, you probably noticed that they are very video graphics intensive, with product descriptions on the left side of the screen as well as a constantly changing array of graphics along the bottom.

Using the dry-erase marker technique, I was able to quickly compose the shots (which were being broadcast live to millions of homes) with little problem. Because the show switches between video graphic filled shots and full-size shots, I had to listen to the director closely to determine which composition to make. With the dry-erase marked positions, it is easy to smoothly zoom from a graphics-filled page to a full shot and back. By knowing how your program will edit together, you can use the same techniques quite effectively.

Final Video Graphics Composition

Shooting can be a lot of fun, and even more so if you know in advance how your footage will be used. If you go in with a plan and the tools to implement it, you will have a great time and a successful final product.

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