Planning and Sponteneity

First, another bit of non-marketing: I just finished this video about butterflies at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum’s butterfly haven. I took the video the same day as my button quail video, although it took me a while to have time to edit this one together.

It illustrates a couple of points about video that I’ve learned in my day job. (Which involves making video, even though it’s a highly traditional print publication. But that’s a whole other, and awfully complicated, issue.) First is the value of planning.

Now this video, really, is pretty simple. I knew that it was going to be just a montage of butterflies, so all I had to do was get as good a variety of butterflies in as large a variety of activities as possible.

Okay, that’s not a terribly demanding level of thought. But it does illustrate a general practice that’s applicable to more complicated projects. Figure out the story that you’re trying to tell, and then figure out the type of shots that you’re likely to be able to use to tell it, and what you’ll need to do to get them.

The thing is, when you’re taking video, you usually don’t have absolute control over your subjects, nor do you really want it. So after you’ve planned, you also have to be open to alterations on the fly. Sometimes ideas don’t work in practice, sometimes things you’re expecting to happen don’t, and sometimes you get opportunities you didn’t foresee.

There’s a small example of that in this video. If you watch closely, you’ll see that there’s a clip that’s repeated three times. (It’s the shot of three butterflies at a plate of fruit at 0:15.)

It wasn’t something I planned to do. But while I was editing, I noticed that the owl butterfly on the right was tapping to the beat. (Okay, more accurately, plunging its proboscis into the orange to drink its juices in a rhythm that happened to match up well with the music that I’d chosen. Exhibit interpretation FTW.)

I liked the effect, so I kept it.

Again, a pretty small thing, but scalable. Live events always seem to have an opportunity to go beyond the original plan. Once in a while, it’s something you’ll only catch while editing. But more often, you’ll have to adapt your plan in order to capture it on video.

Serendipity happens, especially if you look for it. Welcome it!

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