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  • Writer's pictureBrett Gentry

That Perfect Shot...

The perfect shot with video usually consists of more than just a still shot somewhere. It often involves more than one movement, too. Sometimes, it's a push, pan, and focus at the same time. Other times, it's a pull, pitch, and roll at the same time. Some people call it a Money Shot, others call it a Golden Shot. In any case, we are always looking for that perfect shot. Here's the story of one such shot.

Morián and I were at a wedding, recording all the wonderful and joyous happenings of the event. The bride and groom had a lovely dance, as did both of their parents. In fact, many dancing couples performed very well. The location was amazing, with a lovely pool looking over the golf course, a full bar, and plenty of room to enjoy the company of friends. The decorations were top notch, and even part of the pool was covered with a platform and a floral arch. Even the cake was a one-of-a-kind creation that was so stunning, guests were torn between tasting it and cutting up such a work of art.

But Morián will always remember one special thing about the wedding: the perfect shot.

The bride and groom loved Marvel characters, and they had little Marvel figurines scattered throughout the venue. A Spiderman figurine was hanging from a plate tower with cookies and cupcakes on it, and Morián found it interesting. He tapped on my arm and told me to get a shot of it. But I turned the tables on him. "YOU get the shot. You can do it."

So he went for it.

He wanted a push shot, and since it was so dark, he would have to adjust the shallow focus to follow the push and keep the Spiderman in focus. Also, since it was so small, it would have to be in the Macro range. This was a tough move, but I had confidence in him. After all, this is what he's studying in school.

On his first try, he started just a bit away from the Spiderman, and focused using the wheel. Once he got it in focus, he hit Record and started moving the camera forward slowly. As he did the motion, he adjusted the focus wheel to try to keep Spiderman in focus. But he went the wrong way, and it ended up looking incredibly blurry. Morián shook his head in disappointment. "Do it again," I told him.

Second try was pretty much the same thing. He got in place, got in focus, and tried again. This time, he was able to turn the wheel in the right direction as he moved; however, he turned it too far. But that's okay. Chalk it up to experience, and try again. Only this time, I decided to give some input.

The focus wheel has two little sliders with screws that can lock down to stop the wheel from turning after a certain point, called "stop screws." As Morián got back into position for the next try, I asked him if I could help him with the stop screws. I undid one screw, slid it around to the point where it met the internal tab, and set it in place. Then, I instructed him to go to the close point and adjust the focus there. He did, and then he adjusted the stop screw for that direction to that point. Finally, he moved back to the start point and began the maneuver.

The stop screws did their job, and Morián did his job. As he moved, he was able to keep it mostly in focus, but the beginning and end were both definitely in focus. During the movement, he turned the focus wheel too quickly and met the close point too quickly. Fine. Fourth time's the charm?

It sure was. After stepping back to the start point, Morián tried again. He put it in focus, and started his maneuver, this time moving the focus wheel much more slowly than the previous three times. He had done it. Spiderman stayed in focus for the entire shot, and the shot was perfect.

But that's not the point of this writing.

I got something from that experience at that time: the memory of how I felt the first time I got that "perfect" shot. The feeling of accomplishment like none before swept over me, and it made me feel both humble and powerful, both excited and awestruck. I had pulled it off. My perfect shot was merely a pedestal push to the hands of a presenter as she was creating some crafts, which doesn't seem like much, but it was PERFECT. Everything happened exactly the way I wanted it to, with my focus following her hands, and the camera not moving too suddenly or allowing the hands to leave the frame. I even felt my heart flutter a bit as I knew I had struck gold with that shot.

And that's what I saw in the face of Morián as he got that shot. His eyes lit up, and a smile shot across his face that was bigger and brighter than any smile he showed all day. Without even looking at the shot, I knew he'd done exactly what he wanted to do. All of a sudden, his stance changed, and I could see the confidence and joy come over him. It was more than visible; I could feel it. He had gotten his "perfect" shot, and now he wanted to find another one and do it again.

He did just that, and continues to do it to this day.

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