Illustrative Examples of Units of Practice

Camera Techniques


To produce quality video you must first learn how to use a video camera. Camera techniques include caring for the camera, holding the camera, camera movements, camera shots, and framing and composition. The student will learn to create a simple video illustrating an idea or topic through a series of camera shots and camera movements. (Production, script, storyboard, zoom, dolly, truck, pedestal, tilt, pan, view, camcorder, audio, lens, filter, tripod, rule of thirds.)


Subjects: Any Subject, Career/Technology

Learning Levels: Grades 10-12

Author(s): Roddie MacRae


Stephen Spielberg, probably the most successful film director, won his first award for visual arts when he was 13 years old. The goal of this unit is not to create your own “Jurassic Park”, but to realize the basic operations when using a video camera. Being able to view a situation or scene and capture it in a way to communicate with others is a powerful tool. It all starts with the camera.


Science 6-8 Science & Technology

Science 9-12 Science & Technology

English/Language Arts: Grades 6-8 Listening/Speaking/Viewing

English/Language Arts: Grades 9-12 Listening/Speaking/Viewing

Social Studies 6-8 Geography : Human Systems

Social Studies 9-12 Behavioral Studies : Individual Development, Identity & Behavior

Social Studies - Education Schools/Activities : Educational Technology

Fine Arts Art, Music, Performing Arts, 

General Learnings: Problem-solving, Critical Thinking, Assuming leadership, Manipulating information, Exploration of ideas, Collaboration and sharing through communication, Organizing information


There should be 3-5 students in each group. To complete, the activities will take approximately 5-7 hours of working time. Students will  brainstorm ideas, create graphic organizers, sketch a storyboard, set up for production, and then record the project. Note: If the video is well planned and sequenced in the order of shots as to how they should appear, no out of camera editing is required. Plan the shots, record them in the predetermined order, and then view the finished product to see if the desired outcome has been achieved. Remember that you rarely capture good video by accident, you get it through planning. The teacher should begin this assignment by going over camera care and holding the camera. A concept attainment exercise for this lesson could be the viewing of the opening clip for NYPD Blue or other similar clip that illustrates camera techniques. An information sheet is included in the related resources section.


To plan, organize, sketch, and record a how-to, a situation, an event, or a performance that illustrates or tells a story as a sequence of shots. It could be how to dissect a frog, life at my school, getting served in the cafeteria, a track competition, or singing my favourite song. The primary focus for this assignment is the use of a variety of camera shots and movements, not the subject matter.

In groups, choose the topic that you plan to develop. Examine the roles of each of the individual involved. You need a director, the person responsible for the overall project, the graphic illustrator, and the person who will draw the storyboard and prepare a graphic organizer, a camera technician, and the actor(s). To explore further the roles of people involved with video visit

Using a computer webbing application i.e. Inspiration, create a graphic organizer to illustrate the roles of the people involved and the sequence of events that will occur in the video.

Sketch a storyboard of the scenes you plan to record. They should be sequenced in the order that they appear in the project. You should decide on the camera shot i.e. close up, medium shot, long shot, etc. and label each. Also record any other information for the camera operator like camera movements or special effects.

Sample storyboards can be viewed at

To find out more about camera shots visit

View the video demonstration for camera shots and movements at

For information on designing the shot – Framing and Composition visit

You are ready now to record your video. A well-planned video is very easy to record. Follow your sequence of shots, practice good care and holding techniques, and then follow your plan when framing your shots.

Present your video to the class. You can use your camera, an LCD projector, and a screen or your camera/VCR and a TV.


Group dynamics – not everyone is an actor so when choosing members for your group, try to include a computer guy, someone who likes to draw, an actor, and a person who likes to organize and lead others.

Start by designing the message. Come up with a short concise statement describing the main idea or message. When you analyze the situation, find out the facts and arguments for both sides of the story.


An internet access computer, a webbing program (I use Inspiration), a video camera with tripod, a TV or LCD projector and screen.