Not one, but five-shot sequence

Leave a comment

April 10, 2014 by aderenczau

Have you ever heard of a five-shot sequence? Not sure what it means? Not to worry, because I am here to help.

When you are filming a story, there are chances that you may be shooting some things that do not have much action. An example of this could be someone reaching on a shelf for something, or someone writing a letter.

How do we solve this problem?

We use the five-shot sequence.

According Mark Briggs’ book, Journalism Next, the five-shot sequence consists of:

Close-up of hands- This shot gets the subject’s hands doing the action, whether it be writing a letter or reaching on the shelf.

Close-up of face- This shot focuses in on their face and details any emotions that can be conveyed.

Wide-shot- This shot shows where the event is taking place so the viewer can get an accurate sense of the surroundings.

Over-the-shoulder shot- This shot is used to demonstrate how the action being done is completed.

Lastly we have the Creative shot. This should come into the videographer’s mind when they are filming, but Briggs says that there is a line that they can’t cross when filming.

When you put all of the sequences together, you create action, and action will drive the video.

For my five-shot sequence above, I decided to film the legendary Eagle Eye tricaster that is on its last legs.

Since I focused on natural sound to drive the piece, I must explain how the tricaster works.

Clips are preloaded into it, and the person controlling it listens for cues from the director of when to click them so they appear on the screen.

You know the over-the-shoulders you see above the anchor’s shoulder, they come from the tricaster.

The operator must be quick to click, and follow along with the script.

With any video, I encountered some challenges while trying to piece this together.

It is only natural to run into problems, because you aren’t going to be handed the ideal situations when covering a story.

For me, my challenges came in the form of the space I had to shoot in. The studio where this was filmed in is not the biggest place.

It is about the size of a dorm room. It was tough to maneuver the tripod and camera in the room and get it into a position where I wasn’t breaking the line of action.

But, after some work, I managed to get the camera just right.

The other challenge I ran into was determining how I wanted to make a creative shot in the piece.

I tried numerous things to get a creative shot.

The shot I really wanted to do was place the camera in front of the subject on the desk as he worked the tricaster, but according to Briggs that would be breaking the line of action.

An article that I read by Casey Frechette on Poynter titled, “How journalists can improve video stories with shot sequences” helped me come up with a creative idea.

In the article, Frechette talks about shooting from the other side of the room.

So I decided to shoot down the line so I could get faces of all those present in the studio helping with the show.

This shot allowed me to encompass multiple emotions in one shot.

Another article that I read was very beneficial to me on this shoot.

A University of Florida journalism professor named Mindy McAdams wrote an article titled, “Five shots, 10 seconds.”

She talks about the basic idea of limiting each shot in editing to 10 seconds, but her thought of not shooting 10 seconds and letting the video breathe worked wonders for me.

When I was filming, I was at the 13 second mark, and was about to stop. But, I kept filming and I got some really good natural sound that is featured in the piece. Had I stopped, I wouldn’t have gotten that. Had I not read that article, I wouldn’t have known to keep going.

These tips on five-shot sequences will be beneficial to me as I continue my career in journalism.

I can see myself employing these techniques into a piece down the road in my career.

If I use this technique, it can help me capture visuals that I wouldn’t get if I shot the story straight on. Anyway to set your story apart is much appreciated. A five-shot sequence can set your story apart.

Moving on, this process can help me create action out of something that has little action. Say that I get a story of someone who works in a post office sorting letters.

To the naked ear, that sounds like a story with no potential. I hear that and I think potential.

Why do you ask? Five-shot sequences can help.

I can get the worker’s face and capture the emotion of their job. I can get their hands getting up close with the letters. I can look over their shoulder to show someone how this process is done.

In other words, this process can help me put different spins and angles on a story that wouldn’t exist without five-shot sequences.

There are many things that I can say about five-shot sequences, but the first thing that comes to mind is “thank you.”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Recent Comments

UMass Journalism Professor's Blog

Steve Fox's musings on journalism


Conversation about online journalism, new technologies, and media in our society by a UW-Madison Prof (Sue Robinson)

Adam Westbrook // ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

ideas on digital storytelling and publishing

Michael Fuhlhage, Ph.D.

A blog about journalism's analog past and digital future


Finding trends in the noise - Science, Journalism, and Science Journalism

Redefining Journalism's Blog

A research site exploring the evolution of journalism -- see the "About" section for more information

Online Journalism Blog

Comment, analysis and links covering online journalism and online news, citizen journalism, blogging, vlogging, photoblogging, podcasts, vodcasts, interactive storytelling, publishing, Computer Assisted Reporting, User Generated Content, searching and all things internet.


Breaking news and updates from News pictures, video, Twitter trends.

Derencz's Corner

A glimpse inside the mind of a college journalist

%d bloggers like this: