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Tips for Shooting for the Web

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Watching Net cinema is a different experience than seeing a movie in a theater. For this reason, you need to consider several shooting techniques that can improve the Web movie experience. Here Scott Smith, author of Making iMovies, gets you started.

Adapted from Chapter 2 of Making iMovies, by Scott Smith

This article is provided courtesy of Peachpit Press.

skaterWHEN MAKING MOVIES for the Internet, you should begin with the end in mind: Watching Net cinema is a radically different experience than seeing a movie in a theater. The width of the screen—the monitor window of most multimedia players—is three inches wide, not thirty feet long. The typical Web surfer huddles only 15 inches away from the image, not 150 feet away.

The factors that determine how your movie will appear over the Web are governed by the video-compression software used to squeeze your raw DV signal into a QuickTime file. The old adage “garbage in, garbage out” is acutely relevant to DV footage. For this reason, you need to consider several shooting techniques that can dramatically improve the Web movie experience.

Some Shots Are Not Web-Friendly

Reduce the amount of fast and extended motion in your movie, and it will appear at an improved rate. That may sound oxymoronic (if you take out the fast stuff, your movie will speed up), but it’s true. High-speed action sequences mean sluggish playback.

Sudden horizontal movement, like fast panning, is a nightmare for video-compression software (mysteriously, vertical panning doesn’t affect compression to the same degree, but it’s a less popular shooting device). If you must include a fast sweep of camera movement, try to restrict it to a short burst—then settle the frame on its destination and hold for a few seconds.

Luminance, or the lack of it, also plays an important role in the quality of your final product. Dark scenes are difficult to compress, so you should avoid videotaping in low-light conditions. Even though a situation may be lit well enough to look good on television, the scene may not compress enough to display accurately over the Web.

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