Guidelines for a Great Video

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We've all seen videos that drag on, have no apparent story & probably come straight off someone's camcorder & on to sites like YouTube. There likely are some great nuggets that are lost in all the boring stuff. Mark Twain's statement: "My apologies for writing a long letter, I didn't have time to write a short one" applies to videos, too; it takes time to produce a concise, well planned and engaging video that competes with the multitude of average videos out there. This page should give you some pointers to consider.

1. A Video Is A Story
All good stories have a beginning, a middle (where the "meat" is) & an end. Divers have it easy - we start out above the water usually messing around with gear, we get in the water & descend (beginning), there's no talking down there; we just look at cool, unusual stuff (main part) before coming up & out of the water (end). So, our dive plan is basically our shooting script. A good video portrays the mood of the dive aswell as unusual events & sights.

2. Video Is Not Sacred
Just because you shoot it, you don't have to keep it. Delete or crop (cut out) any uninteresting parts that don't add something to the final video, (such as a space or transition between two exciting parts that might otherwise lose their distinction). Also, there's nothing sacred about the order you shot the video so feel free to change the order if that helps the story. A TV producer friend once told me: "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story"!

3. Keep the clips short

You'll find that a well thought-out assembly of short, relatively uninteresting clips can be more interesting than one long clip unless you're working with a specific action sequence (e.g. sharks feeding underwater), so try to keep each clip between 2 - 4 sec. long .

4. Don't Forget Music
Underwater breathing makes a dull sound track, so use music instead. An appropriate soundtrack really enhances the mood & hence your movie. You may need to add or trim clips to fit the music, but you can just either fade the music out early or start part-way through the song. Instrumentals & music with vocals can work well, but try to find a melody that fits the mood of the dive. Also, above the water, commentary or interviews make the video more personal.

4. About Effects & Transitions
Use them sparingly! Video transitions are like punctuation in grammar. Fading in/ out is like a paragraph break. A simple cut or a dissolve (where one clip blends gradually into the next) acts like a comma or a period. Dissolves help flow between related clips & give a relaxed feel, whereas a cut (no transition) can be better to suddenly show something of interest. Ripples can transition between being above & below water. Others may work at times, but use sparingly.

Effects like color correction, brightness & contrast adjustments as well as sharpening may be useful. Just make sure you can revert to the original if necessary.

Here are a few ideas for what to think about for each of the main video sections, to get you started.

- Clips of people getting ready
- Boat shots: boarding & underway
- Shoreline
- Entering the water
- Move the camera from above to underwater
- Other divers descending to the bottom

Main Part
- Clips of the reef/ wreck/ environment
- Other divers in the water
- Close ups of reefs or plants
- Views up to the surface
- Any cool creatures, plants or activities

- Divers ascending & surfacing
- Bubbles heading up to the surface
- Sun/ waves from underwater
- Camera coming up out of the water
- Divers signalling to you
- Interviews with other divers on surface (in/ out of water)

Most important is to experiment & have fun! Good luck & feel free to email me with questions.

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