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I do I tell a story with my footage?
When you shoot your video, it is often a confusing array of shots that most people won't be able to understand. When you edit, you need to put the video elements together in a way that allows people to follow the story.

Let's follow the example of a video of your child's birthday. This tutorial can be applied to any video project by following some basic guidelines.

The first step in editing is to make sure you have the necessary footage. Be sure to shoot multiple angles of the event so you have plenty of video to work with. A combination of wide, medium and close shots, as well as various "cutaways" (generic shots of other people from other angles that can be used in between multiple cuts of the same person).

Start out with a shot that establishes the scene. This could be a wide shot of the beginnings of the festivities, a closeup of a "Happy Birthday" banner or a shot of the birthday child entering the room at the beginning of the event.

Next, mix in shots of guests arriving, the pile of presents building up and the guests greeting the guest of honor.

After that, use various angles of games being played as well as other entertainment taking place. If you shot the event fully, you'll have plenty of close-ups of guests faces to cover up missing passages of time that will occur when you edit.

The next stage is a shot of the presentation of the cake and blowing out the candles. Throw in some cutaways of the reactions of the other guests, then move on to the cutting of the cake and eating.

The next step can be showing presents being opened. When you shoot the event, make sure you get close-ups of each item when it's opened as well as some reaction shots of the other children looking on. You can mix these together to shorten up the process and keep the video interesting.

Finally, end the video with the last few bits of the party, followed by the guests leaving. As a final step, perhaps you might like to add a short interview with the birthday child. Ask them questions about how they liked the party, what their favorite present was, etc.

Remember, when you edit, it doesn't matter what order you shot the footage in. As long as it looks like it belongs, you can use it to break up longer shots. For example, you may have one single shot of the cake being brought out, the candles being blown out and the cake being cut. However, that makes for a long and boring shot. However, if you get some closeups of guests before and after cake is passed to them (shoot these while the cake is finished being cut), you can use those angles to tighten up the long single shot.

In addition, you can "stage" some shots to use as cut-aways. For example. Before the cake is passed out, turn the camera toward the guests and ask them all to clap. This will provide a reaction shot to the candles being blown out. You may also wish to set up a shot of a plate of cake being passed from one child to another.

Here's how it might come together: Show the cake as it is first being brought out. Cut in a shot of a child that was actually of him or her waiting for cake. This can imply the child is watching the cake being brought out. Now you can cut directly to the cake being set on the table and candles being blown out instead of showing it's path all the way across the room. After your child blows out the candles, use that applause shot you staged to cut up the shot some more. This allows you to cut directly to the cake being cut. Insert the shots of cake being passed around and continue with footage of eating.

Editing works best when you have the right footage to work with. If you remember that you will be editing, you can shoot with that idea in mind. You can then shoot video as the right shots become available, rather than working in order of events. It's not the order that you shoot in so much as how the shots are edited that allow you to tell a story.

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Some of the tips and advice may void your equipment or service warranty. When in doubt, consult your owners manual and/or seek professional assistance. does not recommend performing any task that may damage your equipment, void your warranty or violate applicable laws. Since laws vary, depending upon your location, check local regulations regarding any activities you choose to engage in.