If you’re shooting a scene for a film or maybe just taking footage of someone performing a simple action, it’s always a good practice to shoot more than you think you’ll need. This method gives you plenty of footage to pick from when it comes time to editing your video and putting it all together. However, with so much footage to choose from, you have to learn what shots are the most important to convey the action of the scene. In essence, you need to learn how to trim the fat.

Take a look at this exercise we did to illustrate the effects of cutting extra shots while still creating the same result — and actually a more-succinct scene.

Here’s a video of me getting coffee. Not the most cinematic of scenes, I know, but it’s a good mundane action that allows us to prove a few points. First, we overshot the scene and came away with WAY too much footage. Then, we made two edits: one overly long, drawn out and completely ridiculous scene, and one short, sweet, and succinct scene. Here’s the first. Pay attention to the pace and flow. Do you see anything that seems superflous? Are all these shots necessary? Does the viewer need to see all this stuff?

Getting Coffee Long Form from Vimeo Video School on Vimeo.

Now, let’s take a look at our second edit of the same scene. This time, we remove tons of shots that weren’t necessary for the scene and got straight to the point! Notice how the story doesn’t suffer because of the cuts, but in fact feels more driven because of them.

Getting Coffee Short Form from Vimeo Video School on Vimeo.

Now isn’t that better?

by Andrea Allen