A defense of zoom in video

Started Oct 31, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Cy Cheze
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A defense of zoom in video
Oct 31, 2011

Lyle Aldridge wrote:

...I've never understood the fascination of zooming video - all too often it gets overused with the result looking very amateurish. It kind of reminds me of the myriad of fonts people used to plaster onto each page with the early Mac computers.

Commercial video work seldom needs or uses zoom because the productions employ multiple cameras, have the privilege to control scenes or actores, enjoy the ability to shoot close-ups, have option to shoot multiple takes, and may utilize separat sound capture and mixing.

Few amateurs and almost as few enthusiasts can use more than one camera on most occasions. They don't have license to walk up close to subjects, take second or third takes, or use platforms, jibs, booms, or other expensive stuff to obtain shots from multiple or optimum angles. The only sound you get is what your on-board mics pick up. Unlike still photography, you cannot crop the video to mimick the effect of multiple cameras or focal lengths, without instant and horrible IQ loss.

Zoom is the only workaround the small guy can employ. Quick tromboning looks awful, but some zoom is necessary to track, to change the scope of the frame, or to emphasize or obtain better detail of specific subjects or actions--which you cannot commandeer by waving your riding crop about a Hollywood set. Nor can you lumber up onto the altar or performing platform to get the close-ups.

You cannot always cut during the zoom action without losing action or creating discontinuities sin the sound. It is sometimes possible to trim out the intermediate points where the camera zoom is in action, but that takes time and work, and does not dispense with the need to be able to zoom.

The worst thing about zoom, other than jerky or redundante "trombone" movements, is the image shake or loss of light capture you get at long zoom. A tripod or avoidance of low light can diminish those problems, but still not alleviate the need for zoom.

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