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Creating a Shot Log

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 7/1/2011

Learn about this organizational tool that will help you transform your recorded clips once in the editing room

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    Keep Records

    While you are capturing footage, and when you are reviewing it at the beginning of post-production, you want to be able to have a concise record of exactly what you have. If you do not accurately catalogue what clips you have recorded, what shape they are in, and specific characteristics for every scene or location then you may have an insurmountable task ahead of you when it actually comes time for editing the project.

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    A List

    A shot log is supposed to be a detailed list of each take or clip for a specific location. If it is for a narrative digital video film project then it should list what page(s) the scene took place on. The tape number should be listed, as well as the name of the project, the scene, and the Director of Photography. The location(s) of the scene should also be listed on the top of the form. Below that should be a table that is divided into four columns. These columns are labeled at the top as Time Code, Scene, Take, and then Description.

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    Adding Information

    Once you have captured all of your footage, or while you are doing this, you begin to go through every scene and fill out a shot log form. Here you list exactly the time code each begins and ends, and what scene number it is. You put which take it is, and then put down any positive or negative remarks. You do this exactly for each scene, also indicating the ones you would like to use or not use.

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    An Important Tool

    This may seem like an exhaustive effort, but for large-scale quality projects you will have way too much footage to use and so you must remain organized. Having this review process, as well as a catalogue of it, will make editing a much more successful process because whenever you begin on a specific scene you will be able to reference the shot log and find the best scenes, their characteristics, and where you can find them. From here you can also begin to divide them up into bins or folders within the editing software and properly label them. If you do this you will be able to immediately find the shots you liked best, and even alternate ones if your editing goes a different route than you originally expected.

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    Organize the Chaos

    Filming is a chaotic process, and trying to put together what you recorded can be overwhelming. The shot log is just another aspect of the organizational attention that is so crucial for this type of work.