Technical How-To: How Long Do Clips Need to Be?

by Kaitlyn Mitchell

This week at Stringr, we’re tackling a question that Stringrs frequently ask: How long does a submitted video need to be? And what does it mean to submit only “raw” footage?

At Stringr, the quicker you upload your video, the more newsworthy it is. This makes it more likely for your video to be promoted to our customer.

The only way you can get your video to us as quickly as humanly possible is by NOT editing your video footage, as tempting as it is for you perfectionists out there. We see you there. We NEVER promote video submissions that have been edited to include subtitles over the footage and music over the natural sound. Our customers employ their own professional video editors who will edit your video to their liking — so there’s no need for you to.

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You will regret over-editing. Leave the hard work to us!

By unedited footage, we don’t mean a 20-minute video that shows your subject AND the inside of your coat pocket while you’re not actively shooting.

At the curation desk, we prefer to see your clips separately uploaded. If that means you submit 10 or more different video clips, no problem! You can actually group a set of clips — See our video on the Stringr home page on how to do this.

Many of you have asked — What is the proper video length of each footage request?

We here at Stringr ask that individual clips are no less than 10 seconds each, and ideally we are looking for about two minutes of footage. Unless you’re shooting action-packed breaking news, five-second clips are too brief to interest our customers.

But if you’re shooting plain old b-roll, it’s best to make each clip you submit at least 15 seconds to one minute in length and that you should provide a variety of shots at different angles and vantage points. The rule of thumb with b-roll is: the more you have to work with, the better.

While there is no time limit for your videos, note that the longer your video is, the longer it will take to upload from your smartphone using the Stringr app. So it is best to cap really great footage at one minute or so and submit another clip if you want to show more of the action. A fantastic feature of the Stringr app is its ability to upload your video in the background while you continue to shoot more clips on the app. It will then upload those clips separately.

Let us be clear: we do not frown upon editing your video clips together in a separate app before uploading to Stringr if it is done well and shows a variety of shots; however, if that prevents you from getting us your footage as fast as possible, it may not be worth the extra effort.

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Stringr footage from Chicago flooding in mid-June.

Happy Father’s Day, Stringrs! Stay dry — best to avoid taking your car for a swim like these unfortunate folks from Chi-Town.

How-To: Shoot Motion

Video is great because it captures the motion of the world around us.  However, when shooting, you don’t necessarily need to follow the motion to capture it best.  In a lot of scenarios, keeping the camera still is the best way to record what is going on.  Before pressing record, think about the subject matter and how it is moving.  Understanding your scene can help you plan your shots ahead of time, making you more efficient on scene.

When shooting a scene or an event, think about how it is moving within your frame.  If there is a lot of different motion, like people walking in a crowd, set your camera up to capture everyone moving instead of following a single person.  If there are less people try to capture where they are moving by having them move across the frame.

Using wide or medium shots is the best for capturing motion because you can show where everything starts and ends.  You want to avoid panning back and forth, which creates shaky and often ugly footage.

Instead of panning around the scene to capture everything that is occurring, shoot a variety of different shots from different angles. When shooting complicated scenes, simply keeping the camera still is the best way to capturing the movement.

When shooting, don’t be afraid to move the camera position to capture the best shots. Instead of zooming, move the camera closer to the subject to get clearer shots. If there is a lot of motion to one side, move to that side to avoid having to pan.

If you want to track a certain subject, make sure to keep the camera steady and not cut the subject off by having lead room in the frame.

By using a variety of different shots, you automatically increase the quality of your footage.  So remember to keep your shots steady and not cover the entire scene in one sweeping clip.