Creativity is important when running camera. A video production can seem less exciting for the viewing audience (and for the camera crew) if the same, uninteresting shots are repeated over and over. Try to move past the creative boundaries in your head. Have fun! It’s reasonable to presume that if you’re having fun shooting your shots, the audience is enjoying it along with you.
Handheld Example – Handhelds have the benefit of being mobile. But just that factor by itself doesn’t guarantee a creative shot. For instance, while shooting a guitarist, instead of just standing up and shooting down on the guitar right in front of the musician, imagine how much more fulfilling the shot would be if we crouched down to the level of the guitar, moved to a side angle, started the shot zoomed in on the fretboard, and then slowly zoomed out to reveal the entire instrument and musician. We could even take it a step further and do a “human jib” around the musician, and end up on a low angle reverse shot, shooting up between the guitar and the musician’s arm toward a glistening light in the catwalk, and then zoom in to the light, creating a lens flare. That’s giving the director something to work with!
Jib Example – Jibs can give the audience a unique perspective, but the jib isn’t creative on its own; we have to put our own creative effort into the shot. For instance, instead of just booming over the audience straight to the stage, we started down in the crowd, below people’s heads, and boomed up through someone’s raised arms as they’re jumping to the music, and then started tilting down as we boomed up and towards the stage while zooming into the main singer’s face, and then continued on a tight shot of his face while booming around the microphone? You can’t say that shot wouldn’t excite you!
Hard Camera Example – Hard cameras may be more limited with their movement than jibs or handhelds, but they are more effective with their zoom and focus, and we can take advantage of that through creativity. For instance, instead of keeping a static head-to-toe on a singer, imagine if we started full-wide with the camera tilted down into the audience, then started tilting up, and at just the right time, began zooming into the stage while we keep tilting up toward the musicians… as the band begins to fill the frame, we slow down on the zoom a little and continue into the eyes of the lead singer, and then slowly roll or focus towards us, making the entire frame completely soft. Oh, the greatness of art!
The Right Shot at the Right Time – Creativity doesn’t just stop at creating art. It’s also using your skills and imagination to get the right shot at the right time. If the Director asks you to make the crowd look fuller, would you be able to find a creative way to make it happen? Could you truck left or right to find a different angle… or boom up or down? What about asking the crowd to fill in certain areas? Keeping a creative attitude can open your mind to ways of getting shots that would otherwise not be obvious.
Teamwork – You can also use creativity through teamwork with the other camera operators you’re working with. You don’t even need to talk on the intercom to work together. As you shoot, use the return button on your camera to coordinate a creative move with another camera. The more creative the camera crew is, the more options the Director has, and the better the show will turn out.