Videographing comp tips for newbie...

I have asked a videographer to video my comp events/heats (standard dancing) for me. He is a bit clueless on what to video for me in dance context - where does he focus feet/arms/body/whole ?. I thought to have him focus on the technique bit, feet closing, foot work etc. as that would be the important part for a bronze student. We will have a few trial sessions in studio but i need to "tell" him what to do. Anybody willing to share some ideas ?

My reason for video is to truly see what i look like when i dance (first comp video) and how can i improve my dancing.
I'd recommend asking him to keep you and your partner continuously in the frame and to include your whole bodies throughout the dance. You will want to see your posture as well as your footwork. If he zooms in just enough to fill the frame with both of you, including your feet, you will be able to see your footwork, too.

You may also want to find out where he will be standing--how far away, on floor level or elevated, one specific location or can he choose where to stand, etc. That will help him plan how to film you. Has your videographer had experience doing action video (sports, etc.)? That would help, too.


Well-Known Member
Corne, I also agree with waltzgirl...have your videographer keep you and your partner both - with full body shots (from head to toe) - in frame. Hopefully he has a zoom and is good at using it if you are dancing on a large floor. He will want to continuously keep you and your partner in frame with some, but not an excessive amount of "white space" around you (i.e. when you get to the far end of the floor you don't want to have to use a magnifying glass to see yourselves on the video).

It's normally better to video from an elevated place near the floor. At most pro-am comps here they set up an elevated platform near the floor for the official videographers to tape from. If we were allowed to video for ourselves at these comps, I would say the first row of the riser seats, if they are fairly close to the floor, would be a good location (not sure if your comp will have riser seats).


New Member
This is the first pro/am comp that i know of in SA so organizers still need to get a feel for what and how to do things. No riser seats will be available as far as i can find out. Only front row seats at a premium price. He/She can not move around the floor either, only allowed to video from their seat. I know that he/she has experience videographing cycling races but is mainly a wedding videographer.

thanks a lot for the tips, i'll pass it on.

I have contacted one of the dance organizations and they were very excited about the idea of doing videos at the comps. Hopefully things will change soon.
I agree with the above, however, get him to also pan out every now and then and catch some of the othe rdancers. I had a friend video us a month ago and, in contrast to the professional videos, he panned out in addition to focusing on us. This is invaluable to both see who was on the floor at the time and, more important, to compare your dancing with theirs - timing, frame and movement differences can be assessed with just a few seconds of comparison.


Well-Known Member
One thing to note is that when video is focused tightly on a couple, it doesn't give a very good sense of speed or movement.
One thing to note is that when video is focused tightly on a couple, it doesn't give a very good sense of speed or movement.
Ditto when the cameraperson is camped out at the end of a long wall. The sense of movement is significantly diminished when the movement is either directly toward or away from the observer.


New Member
I must say this is very helpful and from all the post the best way is to have the couple in question completely in frame with some of the background showing so we can have a way to see how fast we are moving.

Is that correct?


Active Member
Generally you want to keep the entire couple in frame (as described above). In the standard/smooth dances you tend to want to keep the couple just barely behind center horizontally (ie the videographer should slightly lead the couple). This helps to accommodate times when the couple might "surge" more quickly than expected without the videographer losing them. Leading the couples also helps to create the sense of movement lacking in these tighter shots.

The videographer needs to be trained to zoom slowly and evenly, and to pan slowly/evening. Quick pans or zooms make watching the video very very painful. Its better to lose the couple for a second than have rapid pans to re-find them.

In Smooth, Rhythm, or Latin, you'll need the videographer to leave more "head-room" to accommodate high arm lines not present in Standard.
Getting a good elevated position to work from is much more critical for latin/rhythm (at least if the event has a full slate of entries) than for smooth/standard - in the later obstructions will be temporary, but in latin if your target sets up behind another couple you may get next to nothing.

Personally I know prefer to have my (standard) videos with the couple filling about half the screen vertically, no more than 2/3, because the big picture is more telling than the tightly zoomed one.
One problem we had with camera-people(even those who danced!) is that they would miss the event. There's a lot of sitting around, listening to what is coming up next, and waiting. Besides the framing bit, the camera person should understand how the comp is run, have a program of events, and sit somewhere where they can see/hear what event is next. Otherwise, the person is all excited to film you, wait wait wait... then falls asleep/gets bored/goes to the bathroom, and that will be when your event happens! Really try to get an estimate when your event will run, and add buffer before and after. The rest of the time, tell him to go rest or sleep or do whatever to keep his focus for the event.

EDIT: this is one of the biggest problems I've experienced even with the videography service you get at comps! The camera person simply misses the event! This is what I paid $$$ for?!?!
I agree with the suggestions everyone has made. It should help that your videograper has taped cyle races because he/she should have experience with zooming to accomadate travel.

I would reccomend trying to stay closer to the 1/2 verrtical screen than the 2/3 at first and also in quickstep until he/she is totally comfortable with the zoom distances of that floor. Taping some practices will also help.

Your videographer needs to be alert to schedule changes. Quite often heats are run in a different order than they are listed in the program. There can be a number of reasons for this. They could be ahead of schedule and someone is not there yet, but everyone in the next heat is there. Write in entries and cancellations can also change things if a heat that was supposed to be a final becomes a semi or vice versa.

It will also be a big asset that the videographer knows you and won't have to keep scanning all the men trying to catch their numbers to find you.

There is always so much good advice to new dancers.. I have been a photographer for over 30 years and have taken many vids and photos of
dancers. This is what I have found. Most dancers want the vids and photos
as a memory of the comp. That is when you would focus on the dancers and
the picture lines for a photo. This is great but not the best use of what you
are paying to get. The best dancers want to see the overall of whats on the
floor. They know how they dance but want to see how they look with other
dancers. They use it as a training tool. I have done this also with a still camera using burst mode and a wide angle lens getting all the dancers. I know this cannot be done with a point and shoot and the photographers you pay at the comp won't do this. But I have found two or three photographers who are dancing at each comp who may do this for you. Still cameras as of yet have not been banned from comps. I do see this coming because some of them can take video as well. Also an overall vid helps if you bring in a coach who has not seen you dance. You can take a couple minutes and show them how you look with other people on the floor. A great value and they know what to work on right away. Just a few tips I hope someone gets ideas from them.

Thank you

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