Spatial relation is an often-overlooked principle of video editing. Spatial relation is something your brain has been processing since you were a baby.
Around the 8th month of life, you began moving around your world. You explored the size and shape of objects and observed people and objects as they moved through space.
How does this connect to editing video? Well, your brain wants to understand the world too. Since your brain was in its infancy, it’s been trying to figure out where things go. As an editor, you have to help the audience understand where they are in the world they are watching. You have to help them connect points in space or time. So how do you do that?
The story I’m going to use for this post is Give Him The Best Life
I start the story on a tight shot.
The 2nd shot is a medium shot.
The 3rd shot is a medium shot back to his face.
See how he looks up? The next shot is his mother above him.
We know we are in the bedroom. I need to move Reece to a different position on the bed. First, I’m going to use a tight shot, so the audience doesn’t feel jarred by the fact he’s in a different spot on the bed, and the apparatus on his face is no longer there.
I’m a firm believer in the power of the tight shot, and I love using them. My 2nd most loved shot is the wide shot. As wide as you possibly can be in the environment your in. Why? Your audience needs to understand the world you are putting them in, and the best way to do that is with wide shots.
In this story, I established Reece is on the bed. Now by going wide,
That is editing, keeping in mind spatial relations.
At [:48] I start wide this time.
The general guideline in editing is to start wide, then move to a medium shot, then to a tight shot. That doesn’t always work (hence why it’s a guideline and not a rule). Sometimes I start a sequence wide. Sometimes I start a sequence tight. It really depends on the shots I have and how they work together and maintain spatial relationship to each other. I don’t want the viewer distracted. I don’t want to viewer curious about how everything works in my world. I’m editing. I want to help them as much as I can so they can watch the story and not watch the editing.
At [:52] I need to go to the next part of the story. I use a tight shot
I could of probably put these three shots together in any order, and they would have worked. The previous sequence dictated how I put these shots together. The important thing is I went to a medium shot, you could see the two of them and how they relate to where they are in their world.
At 1:09, I start tight again.
so the viewer understands we are now in the bathroom. I started tight because I didn’t want a jump cut from the interview to mom in the bathroom, just trying to avoid anything jarring to the viewer.
At 1:48 Reece is in a new spot
If I only have time to show two shots in a sequence, I’m generally going to use a wide shot and a tight shot. Wide for spatial relation and tight because I want the viewer to look at only one piece of information (which a tight shot should contain).
I continue moving Reece around the house. Using tight shots and then wide shots, so the viewer understands where he is in the world I’m editing.
My photographer gave me lots of tight shots to choose from. I wished for more wide shots, even some super-wide shots.
Understand spatial relations is significant in editing. Help your audience understand where they are and what goes where in the world that’s in front of them. The tight shot is a vital storytelling tool. The wide and super-wide shots are #2 on my list.
Thanks for reading.