Let 'em go

When you only have one subject in a room or small area, it’s hard to capture a lot of different angles of the subject because two different shots back to back showing the subject in two different places is a jump cut - the subject appears to jump from one to the other. The solution is to let the subject leave the frame. Once the subject leaves and then reappears someplace else, the viewers just assume that’s where the person was going all along.

Like this: Notice how the dog leaves the frame to the left, and then appears facing left at the water bowl. Those two shots back to back work, only because the dog disappeared (left the frame) and then reappeared (at the water bowl.) If the dog hadn’t left the frame, she would have “jumped” from the middle of the room to the bowl - a jarring image for the viewers.

Moca the dog leaves the frame to the left, which makes a good edit point. You can show her someplace else after she leaves the frame.

She’s at the water bowl. Back to back, these two shots allow the viewer to see the dog moving from one place to another without jumping.

This videography technique was part of my story today: pet owners turning to CBD, a supplement derived from marijuana, to help calm their pets during fireworks shows on Independence Day. My three key elements:

  • So what (what difference does it make): July 4th is the day when more pets get lost than any other. That’s because they’re freaked out by the booms of the pyrotechnics and run away. This is a HUGE deal to pet owners.

  • Real people (the people living the story): A pet owner. Better: a pet owner whose dog freaks out during fireworks. Even better still: a pet owner whose dog freaks out during fireworks but has calmed down because of CBD. Found one. 😀

  • Show me don’t tell me (video): The dog and the calming products made with CBD.

I was able to find all these things, thanks to some teamwork in the newsroom. As we discussed the story in the morning meeting, producer Cecelia Wong said her roommate was going through this very problem - dog can’t handle fireworks, but CBD helps. This is where all the video of Moca came from. One more clip, again showing her leaving the frame, which allows another shot of her to follow in a different part of the room:

Moca runs in and out of frame making it easy to edit around this shot.

One other videography tip: you always want the light shining on your subject, not behind the subject shining on you and the camera. When that happens (when the videographer is looking into the light) that’s called backlighting. The camera simply can’t handle it. But, sometimes you have no choice but to have the light behind the subject. In that case, do your best to make what you want the viewers to look at look good. Here’s an example:

In this shot, the window is behind the subject, not ideal. But there’s no way to get the camera between the dog and the window. So, choose to make the subject look good - the dog, and accept an overexposed window.


  1. Let ‘em go out of frame. It’ll give you more opportunities to edit when you have one subject in a small room.

  2. Make the subject look good, even if that means the background looks bad.