Dance Videography

Been getting requests to shoot a dance video for various people. I’ve shot a few dance videos before but those were just single front & centered shots. This time I was asked to shoot an MV style, dance video. Thought it would be a good idea to blog about what I’ve learnt and what I can do to improve my dance videography while it’s still fresh.

Wide Shot

TECHNIQUE. Dance routines are usually meant to be watched from the front. So it’s important to have a good selection of strong close-up, middle, and wide shots from the front. In one shoot,  I made the mistake of having too many close-up shots but not enough mid-shots. Take for example the video above, most of the shots are primarily taken from the front with most shots being mid and wide shots.

Middle Shot

Close up shots are suitable when the dancers are relatively stationary or when you’re trying to capture their emotions. But when the dancers are moving around (a lot), it’s better to use a mid or wide shot to capture their movements. After all, a dance video is meant to show off the dance routine. Not just their pretty faces.

Close-up shot

All other shots from different angles should be used as cutaways. Or at times when the focus (main dancer) is out of frame or off-centered from the front shots.

PREPARATION. Discuss with the main choreographer what he/she wants the video to look like beforehand. This would give you an idea of the shots you’ll need and hopefully enable you to visualize them better. Getting good shots during the day, would make the editing process much simpler. Also, always remember to do your homework. Watch the original music video, listen to the music, and get an idea of what the dance routine would look like.

GEAR. Using a 70-200mm lens wasn’t such a good idea. Yes, we are able to get awesome close-up shots but it’s not appropriate for a dance video. I reckon a wide angle lens would work better for a dance video. Most of the wide angled shots were taken using my 18-55mm lens but most of the time it just wasn’t wide enough. Especially when you’re in a tight studio and pushed all the way back against the wall.

TIPS. It is crucial that the dancers know their routine well. I had the opportunity to work together with some really amazing dancers and this helped to save time and reduce the number of takes required. Thought this is out of your control as a videographer, it should be something to keep in mind.

Can’t say I’ve been completely happy with the shots I’ve taken but the video shoots have been great practice for me. Will write up another post of the editing process once I’m done.

2 thoughts on “Dance Videography

  1. Ian Carl Gimenez

    Hey Julian. Great article. I’ve been looking for some basic tips on how to shoot a dance video. Good thing I found one. What do you think are the ideal setting to shoot a dance video? Are there any rules when it comes to choosing a setting? Regards.

    1. juliantay Post author

      Hi Ian

      It’s not so much about choosing the ideal setting but using what works best for your videos. That said, I can tell you what works for me. I usually keep the shutter speed at 1/50 cause that’s the closest to how our eyes “sees” movement. A higher shutter speed (1/125, 1/250) would give a more sharper look to the movement which can look quite cool!

      You would usually want a wider depth-of-field so that everyone’s in focus. So keep the f-stop around f/5.6 or higher. That way you don’t have to worry about pulling focus as your dancers move back & forth from the camera. Having a wide-angle lens is a plus.

      Location and outfits can add a lot to the production value if you’re shooting on a budget. Shooting indoors is recommended as lighting is usually constant. If you’re shooting outdoors, be aware that light will change throughout the day. So plan ahead and film quick! And as always practice, practice, practice.

      Hope that helps & would to see you work when you’re done!



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