When ever we shoot we should be thinking of how the images will be used in the finished edit. To that end we must always shoot in sequences and not just consider individual shots. No matter how pretty or interesting an individual shot may be it must be linked to the pictures around it if it's to be part of the story and not just a "postcard".

Shooting a 5 shot sequence

Most editors will say that THREE shots is the minimum number to be a sequence but it's better to get into the habit of shooting at least FIVE shots in any and every element you film. When an editor cuts between they are looking for a change of camera position or a change of shot size to make the cut work without a jump.

How much should I shoot? Most shots in news and documentaries are between 3 and 7 seconds long. Films and dramas use some shots in a different way so they are normally in the range 3 to 15 seconds, unless they contain dialogue. So it easy to calculate how many shots you need using the guide of "5 Seconds per Shot".

The most common sequence in film or television is SOMEONE DOING SOMETHING. That can be anything from the very ordinary - like making a cup of tea or reading a letter through the more dramatic extremes of firing the gun or cutting up the body.

SHOT 1 - General shot (Wide Shot) to cover the whole action but not so wide that you can't see what's going on.
SHOT 2 - Action Shot (Hands), showing the detail of what's going on / being done.
SHOT 3 - Cutaway (Face), a non-sync shot that shouldn't show any of what's happening in the action shot, used to hide continuity problems between different parts of the General or Action shots.
SHOT 4 - Perspective shot (Over the Shoulder), to link the Cutaway to the Action shot.
SHOT 5 - Detail Shot (Finished product), close up, possibly a static of the detail from the Action shot.

Some of the best experience you can get is to go out and practice this again and again. If you are new to sequence shooting set your self some strict rules.

Start off with subjects where you can take control and get them to repeat the action again or make thempause between each shot for you. When you are happy with this way of working try to do the same in situations where you can't control the action. Remember, many tasks are repetitive - so you may not be able to get a bricklayer to stop for you or lay the same brick five times but one brick looks much like the next so it probably won't matter if it's another brick.

Always try to edit the sequence or better still get an experienced editor to do it for you. If it doesn't cut together you must understand why - or you won't fix the mistake next time.