Video Project: The One Shot Portrait

Tell us something about yourself in a one shot video portrait. Each One Shot Video Portrait should be 15 seconds or less. You will be working in a group, and each member’s One Shot Portrait should use a different subject to camera distance, camera angle and composition. Although each person will make a one shot portrait, eventually the portraits will be assembled together so you will also need to select the order in which the portraits are presented.

Video exercise to get your creative juices going and comfortable with Visual Storytelling. This exercise will focus on creative visual framing, composition, subject to camera distance, angles and movement as well as and also use creative script writing.

Flip Camera
Paper/White Board/Computer for Brainstorm
Computer with basic edit software

Exercise (80 minutes total):
Note: You will do this activity in the following steps:

  1. Individual Brainstorming: Developing the Script (10 minutes)
  2. Pre Production Groups review and revise shot logistics and order (10 minutes)
  3. Production: Filming(30 minutes)
  4. Post Production: Editing (15 minutes)
  5. Screening (15 minutes)

1. Individual Brainstorming Writing Exercise (10 minutes)
We want to know about you. You have one image and one sentence/word with which to describe yourself. This brainstorm exercise will you lead you to your script.

With one Sentence (5 minutes)
Reveal something about yourself with one sentence. This does not have to be the sentence that describes everything about you, just something about you. Try and select something personal, something particular to you, about you… give us details while being succinct. Remember you can describe yourself by telling us how you feel, how you see the world, what is important to you or share a personal mantra or a line of poetry that inspires you or you made up!

Be creative and have fun with this description!

Here are some examples:
-I feel shy sometimes
-Patience, Presence, Process
-Be the cause that creates the effect
-When playing board games, I am kind of competitive, it is true!
-I know there is a lot going on Egypt right now, but I’m not sure what it means
(singing) I just called to say I love you…
-Orange. Peeling. Squirting. Juice. In my hands, on my face, in my mouth.   Orange.
-I like the smell of fresh water on sidewalks
-Although I am vegetarian, I like the smell of fried chicken

»»»TASK: Write 5 different sentences to reveal yourself. You will chose one of the sentences for your one shot portrait.

With one Image (5 minutes)
Consider the sentences you wrote. Chose ONE to work with.

What kind of image goes with this?
Is the image an illustration of compliment to this sentence or adds dimensionality by being seemingly different?

For example: Using the sentence Orange. Peeling. Squirting. Juice. In my hands, on my face, in my mouth. Orange

The image could be any of the following:
-Close up of hands peeling an orange
-Close up of hands peeling an orange
-Close up of a face smiling (like the facial expression of the delight of eating the orange)
-Close up from above of two hands together with palms open (like a receiving gesture, implying the experience of eating an orange is like receiving a gift)
-Person in medium long shot dancing and twirling (how eating an orange makes you feel)
-Close up of water flowing (could use close up of a drinking fountain) (metaphorical extension of juices from orange squirting, the flow of water expressing a freeing feeling of delight eating an orange gives)

»»»TASK: Describe the framing and composition/What is the content of your shot and what is in the Frame (ex. You surrounded by plants, just your wrist along a white wall)

»»»TASK: What is your Subject to Camera Distance?
(Long Shot/Medium Shot/Medium Close Up/ Close Up/Extreme Close Up)

»»»TASK:What is the Camera Angle?
(Straight on, From Above, From Below)

»»»TASK: What is the Camera Movement?
(Static, Pan: Moving horizontal left <->right, Tilt: Moving vertical up <-> down, Dolly: Moving with or to/from the Main Action/Focal Point, Truck:Trucking is like dollying, but it involves motion left or right, Handheld: Moving with the action)

»»»TASK: Describe where is the Camera Positioned?
(In front of the action, At the Top, Middle, Bottom, In the Middle of the Action, behind the Action)

2. Pre Production (10 minutes)
-Get into your group
-Assign a leader to take notes and help organize the group logisitcs
-Share your one sentence and visuals (content, framing, subject to camera distance etc).
-Now the tricky part is to make sure that within your group you have a variety of camera variables and trying out all the camera angles, movements, distances etc.
-Revise the camera logistics if need be and re script as necessary.
-Determine the order the Portraits will be assembled. This will also be the order in which you shoot the portraits.
-Determine if you can use the sound from the flip camera, or if you need to record additional or alternative audio with the audio digital recorder
-Determine shooting logistics such as location and who will operate the equipment
-If you have the option to film the next class, see if there are any props required for the shoot

3. Production (30 minutes)
Film your one shot portraits!

Some considerations when working with flip cams:
-Keep the camera as steady as possible and if possible use a surface as a make shift surface
-Make sure your subject has adequate lighting
-Avoid using the zoom if possible, it tends to look novice unless used appropriately. Consider walking towards or away from the subject in a steady manner instead

4. Post Production (15 minutes)
-Transfer your footage to imovie
-Assemble the portraits as planned
-Make any trims at the head or tail of the cut if necessary

5. Screening! (15 minutes)

Note: This video exercise is ©Kirthi Nath. You are welcome to adopt the curriculum, please leave a comment or email me with comment on how you used the lesson. Thanks.


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