Getting Started: Shooting Sequences

The Burmese version of this chapter can be downloaded here: Getting Started: Shooting Sequences (Burmese)

Another aspect of your preparation is to understand how to shoot an effective sequence. Again, rather than duplicate existing content, we share lessons from the StoryMaker app. The app was developed as part of a partnership between the Guardian Project, Scal.io, Free Press Unlimited and video4change member, Small World News.

How Do I Create a Sequence?creating sequences
A series of shots assembled together is a sequence. When made up of shots that support each other, an individual sequence can tell a complete story. Each sequence of five shots makes a complete scene.

To shoot for a sequence you need to break down each story element into individual parts. It may be a small number of parts, or it may be many. You need to know all the parts before you can put the sequence together correctly.

Let's walk through an example. You are filming a story on a popular fruit stand. You want to show someone buying fruit.


We will need to see a person who will be buying the fruit.


We will need to see the fruit.


 We will need to see the person paying for the fruit.



As a sequence of three shots in that order it tells a simple but complete story.

Knowing your story gives you the freedom to record your shots in any order. In the end, you will assemble them to tell your story.

These shots are the beginning, middle and end of your story. There is a person, there is a piece of fruit and the person who paid for the fruit. It is a very simple story, but it works. You can now add an interview, with the seller or buyer of the fruit. You might also include a wide shot to define the location.

When you are shooting for your sequences, think about your story and you will be able to tell yourself what shots you still need.

No matter how complex your story gets, remember to shoot in three parts: beginning, middle and end. Each of these may have multiple shots, with different elements in the frame. As a whole, your shots must add up to a sequence that includes all three parts. In some stories you have an entire five-shot scene (or more!) for each section of the story.



A popular technique to use when you might not know the story you are telling is to start with shots that are further away, working your way into a scene shot by shot. If you record your shots in chronological order, they will have a feeling of progression to them. By using the five basic shots, you will be able to include different elements of your scene.

Things to Remember

  • Any successful sequence will answer the six important questions: who, what, where, when, why and how.
  • Each question can have more than one answer, but your sequence should answer each question in order to be successful.
  • Creating an effective sequence means shooting different-sized shots each containing complementary parts of the story.
  • When you bring several sequences together, you make a more complex story.
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