Shooting for the edit: Dos and dont's

BBC Editor Garry Paton on how to get the essential shots for your sequence so it comes together perfectly in the edit.

This series of films is from BBC Fresh online, BBC Three’s space for short documentary films, finding the voices and directors of the future. It is a place to watch, learn and share, providing advice for new documentary filmmakers, as well as the opportunity to have their work shown by the BBC.

In order to craft your story you'll need to create a sequence of shots. All sequences, like stories, have a beginning, middle and end and you’re simply telling that story with pictures.

It’s common practice to film the same action a number of times in a number of ways in order to have as many options as possible in the edit.

"The most important thing I think you need to do is cover the action and tell the story."–Garry Paton

There are four different types of shots you will want to capture on your shoot:

Wide shots
Start with a wide shot to give the audience a sense of direction for the sequence and to establish the story.

A wide shot is sometimes referred to as the master shot as you can tell the whole sequence in one shot.

You can also dip in and out of the edit. More importantly, it means you have a 'safety' before you start filming other shots.

Mid shots
This is how we naturally see people.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to have the action happening for too long, but make sure you capture enough to be able cut into and out of the shot in the edit.

Close ups
Close ups are some of the most important shots you can take as they give the audience the chance to really connect with characters and the story.

You can lead into a close up from a mid shot or medium shot.

There are various ways you can move to other parts of the sequence such as a pull focus, a tilt down or a pan.

A cutaway is another type of shot you can use to help piece your sequence together.

Additional shots outside of the sequence are also very important as they can be used at any point in the sequence and they add to the story.

Remember, continuity is very important when filming a sequence and will make a difference when editing. It’s standard practice to repeat the same shot a number of times from different angles to help create a more seamless cut during the editing process.


Staff sign-in

Please wait while we check that you are connected to the BBC internal network

Sorry, we couldn't confirm that you were on the BBC internal network

  • Please check that you are connected to the BBC internal network
  • Please check the link you are trying to access is correct
Close and continue

You are confirmed on the BBC network

Close and continue