Video is becoming an integral part of content marketing campaigns. The power of video combined with the ease of producing video has allowed many businesses to enter the video marketing world. For some businesses, the most efficient way for them to utilize video marketing is by using the camera in their pocket. And guess what? My biggest video creation secret requires just your phone's camera and steady hands.
One of the problems that many people face when starting with video creation is the lack of coverage when shooting a particular scene. To combat this, I use a rule called the 5 Shot Rule. This rule helps get the extra video shots that you need to tell a compelling story.
5 Shot Rule
The 5 shot rule is exacly what it sounds. When filming any scene, you should get 5 shots at different angles. This is important when you go back to edit your video. Each of these shots should be held as still as possible (at first) for 10-12 seconds. Let's break down each shot.
Imagine you are filming a scene of a man chopping wood with an axe. A man chopping wood is a simple, yet visually interesting scene. You could just stand in front of him with the camera and get his whole body in the shot as he chops wood and call it good. But let's think about how your eyes follow along with this individual as he swings the axe. Where are your eyes drawn to first? Your natural instincts tell your eyes to watch as the axe makes contact with the wood. This should be your first shot - a closeup of the axe as it chops into the wood.
Now that you have this beautiful close up of the axe hitting a piece of wood, where do your eyes go next? Your brain sees this action and it asks "who is swinging this axe?" To answer this question, your eyes look at the man's face. This is your second shot - a closeup of the man's face.
Once you have a closeup of the axe splitting the wood and you have answered the question "who is swinging the axe" with a closeup of the man's face, your next shot should put these two shots together. Your third shot is a wide shot of the whole scene - the man as he swings the axe down on the wood. With this shot, you want to continue to hold the camera as still as possible, but you can get a little creative here. Find something that you can put in the foreground of this shot. Maybe it is a tree or maybe it's a fence post. Put this object in the left or right side of your shot to help frame the man chopping wood. If you feel comfortable enough, you can even slowly slide the camera to reveal the man behind your foreground.
Once you have the first three shots, you already have a pretty strong sequence. These last two shots are to help you continue to tell the story that you are filming. Filming these last two shots also gives you an opportunity to be more creative. For my 4th shot, I almost always do an over the shoulder or point of view shot. Over the shoulder means you reverse your shot and shoot over your subjects shoulder, pointing the camera at what they are doing. This can be a closeup or a medium shot. With the man chopping wood, you can shoot over his shoulder as his arms with the axe come into frame and once again make contact with the wood.
For your 5th shot, you can once again get creative, but I tend to lean towards one type of shot. The shot I typically get last in a sequence in a shot from the side. This shot can be a closeup from the side or a medium or wide shot from the side. For instance, with the man chopping wood, I would shoot from the side as a medium to wide shot that is looking down the long piece of wood as the man chops down.
Why the 5 Shot Rule Works
I have used this 5 shot rule for almost every scene that I have filmed. It allows me to get a variety of different angles which helps me tighten up my edit when I go back to put all the footage together. Of course, I did not invent the 5 Shot Rule. For many who have studied advanced video production, they have learned of the tight, wide, medium approach to a 3 shot rule. Getting tight, then wide, then medium works well when you are in a time crunch, but when you think about where your eyes go and perform the 5 Shot Rule, you are going to have different angles that truly flow well together. Anytime I'm teaching a colleague that might not have any background in professional video to shoot some video with their phones, I tell them about the 5 Shot Rule. It is truly my biggest video creation secret and now you can use it to start creating awesome video content for your marketing needs.
Again, I did not invent the 5 Shot Rule. And the above explanation was inspired by a book that has a pretty silly title, but I promise, it's worth the read. The book is called
iPhone Millionaire: How to Create and Sell Cutting-Edge Video. It goes more into depth on how each of us is an expert in video due to the amount of TV and movies we consume and discusses more detail about the 5 Shot Rule with extra examples.
If you liked this article and want to purchase the above book, please feel free to click on this affiliate link. Full disclosure, it'll give me some commission from your purchase of this book.