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Weekend Challenge: One-Shot Video

Cameron Christopher

Here at Vimeo, we like a lot of different things: pizza, walking in big circles with a camera, videos, Handstick, parks and sunshine, videos, things that make us laugh, dancing, hula hooping, and videos. We're pretty easy to please. We chose a few of those things, tossed 'em in a theoretical mixing bowl, and theoretically cooked something up for you!

We wanted to really challenge ourselves (and you) this time, though, and we decided to make the whole video in just ONE shot! When you watch, you'll notice that we don't make any cuts at all; it's one steady, fluid motion. Think you can make something similar?
(PS- no Vimeo staff members were harmed in the making of this video, except for when I tripped when trying to walk backwards.)

To help you understand how to write, plan, rehearse, and shoot this video, I talked to our very own Laura Turner Garrison and Andrea Allen.

VVS: How do you approach writing a script for a one-shot / tracking shot video?

LTG: Try to keep the dialogue manageable. You certainly could give your actor a long, dramatic monologue, if you're into the whole cruel and unusual punishment thing. There's so much to remember for timing, make the dialogue easy for your actors to memorize and master. You want your scene to have a story, but make sure it's not a story that will be virtually impossible to get in one shot. A one-shot video is essentially about motion, so if you're looking for scene ideas, think of a scene that can only take place while covering distance.

Andy Nahman big cheesin'; Katie Armstrong, Daniel Hayek, Sean Coker, and Jason Hawkins rehearse lines and extreme emotion.

VVS: What are the first things you should do to set up your video?

Vimeo HQ floorplan and shooting route

LTG: Map out the route before you shoot. At the very least, you should know exactly where the scene starts, and where you want it to end. In the case of the Video Jam, I used a literal map and marked where each person was supposed to enter and exit. This helped the core crew understand exactly where we needed to go for each beat of the scene, and helped us establish the right pace. Remember, you can't cut away, so your actors need to know how they enter as well as when. Similarly, your crew needs to be prepared for these entrances and exits so they can capture it correctly. Try to make the actors actions interesting and dynamic!

The Vimeo Staff during a pre-shoot read-through of the script; Courtney Nasshorn and Lindsay Deak Friedman enjoy Blake Whitman's compelling and heartwarming performance.

VVS: How do you prepare everyone for the shoot?

LTG: It helps to do a walk through with at least the director & DP/shooter beforehand as well. We did a few walk throughs to make sure that the timing and pacing worked, and ended up changing the route a few times. You want to make sure the plan works before you start shooting, and maybe even before you get the actors on set.

AA: We also made sure people who had lines had plenty of time to read over the script. With the walkthrough, everyone could see where their roles played into the tone and knew that as things got weirder, they could get weirder. Encourage weirdness. If everyone acts like a crazy person, the only crazy person who is crazy is the one acting normal.

VVS: What about some tips for people who don't fancy themselves actors?

AA: Our video would not have happened without many people who never got any camera time! The crew is just as important and integral to making this type of shoot a success. Let people know what jobs are available or needed to be filled. Background acting is also a huge deal. The more interesting things happening in the background will make the viewer want to watch the video again and again just to catch it all!

Also, I made sure people were well fed and had a beer or two in them. Liquid courage is good for folks who are typically camera shy.

Derek Beck being gently hushed; Rebecca Tharp and Daniel Hayek having a serious talk about her extra head and his fingerless gloves while Darnell Witt dances in the background.

VVS: What technical tricks did you use for the shoot?

AA: To keep the camera moving smoothly, we used a wheelchair and pulled it backwards.

[SIDENOTE: If you don't have a wheelchair on hand, or you want to use other methods, you could build a dolly and shoulder rig or a snorricam. Or, you could use a flying camera stabilizer, like a glidecam!]

VVS: After all that planning, how flexible should you be?

AA: During the shoot, you'll know when it feels like you only have one or two shots left. It's not something you can really plan out. If someone has an idea, be open to it because it definitely can reinvigorate a tired/bored cast and crew. Just remember to be excited and excude your inner feelings (if they're positive) because fun is infectious!

Don't be afraid to screw it up. If you do screw it up, go with it. We screw up everyday in real life -- think of how you'd handle it then, and apply it to the shoot!

VVS: How do you keep the energy level up?

AA: It's the directors job to keep everyone excited and into the shoot. If the director is excited, it rubs off on the cast and crew. Be sure to encourage everyone and give lots of praise when you see someone do something you really liked. If you're inclined, as I was, make sure people feel they can make their performance their own. If they want to change a line, and it works, let 'em do it! Collaboration on shoots like this is awesome.

Brad Dougherty being Brad; Brian O'Hagan being really excited about how great the shoot was going!!!

So, there you have it! Those are our insider tips and tricks for shooting a smooth one-shot video -- ready to try it yourself?

The Rules:
+ Shoot a video in a single shot, no cuts!
+ Keep your video under 2 minutes.
+ If you add music, use a song you've created or something from the Vimeo Music Store.
+ Upload and post your video to the Weekend Challenge Group by Tuesday, June 4th at 11:59 PM (EST).

Remember that only videos made specifically for this Challenge will be considered.All videos must be approved by the Vimeo Staff before appearing in the Group, so don't worry if your video doesn't show up at first; we'll get to it!

The winner of this Challenge will receive a free Vimeo Plus account for one year, and one of our stunning new trophies!

If you're already a Plus member, you'll get another year! The runner-up will receive an extra 3GB of upload space, Plus account or not.

Ready for a challenge?

Shoot a video in one shot, and have fun with it!

Accept this challenge


The winner this week is Darryl Ahye with his mini-thriller, Not Him. Our Runner Up is Jonas Elsgaard with What to do?.

Congrats guys, and see you next week!

In this ongoing Vimeo Video School series, we present our community with fun challenges to help hone their video-making prowess.


Elm Pictures Plus

This project made my day! You all are absolutely hilarious and creative!

Russell Reynolds

Work ? If you did work there you'd be the only one Lee.

d.i.m llc

really Vimeo? who is going to surpass your 'one shot' video? it was awesome!

Russell Reynolds

You've blown it Katie. We all had this image of you 'vimeoers' collecting the big bucks for rolling up for work 2 hours late, clowning around for a few hours then leaving early to go to the pub.

Alex Williams Plus

I apologize, I am new to Vimeo and do not entirely understand how it works at this point, but how would I upload a video into this competition if I had one? I clicked on the Accept this Challenge button and it lead me to the group page, but I could not find any place to submit a video. Thanks!

Cameron Christopher Staff

Hey Alex! Once you join the group, you'll be able to select that group via the "Add To" button on your video.


Vimeo videoschool is so great! : )

It is the only place where beginners and professionals learn how to make a good film!

Vimeo is AWESOME!

jody diamond PRO

Cute. Nice idea. Ironically, I ONLY shoo one-shot videos. I specialized in videos of concerts, especially new music and Indonesian music (that's gamelan for those in the know.) What I like is making a video of something I have not seen before. I think of it as "creating a seeing" for another time, person, and place. Since I almost always shoot concerts, with occasional lectures by composers, I don't have to worry about "making up" a sound track. Come to think of it, there is LOTS of sound editing in your project, which has the same effect as editing the scenes. Next time, try it with ambient sound (there's lots) or a single, non-message carrying sound, like a drone.


hi, do you have a editing challenge in the future? everyone uses the same footage and music to create different films, it will be interesting too! thank you!

Justin Waldman

I really would love to have taken on this challenge but two other movies this weekend and an all-day photo shoot on Saturday made it impossible. I really love this challenge and the Vimeo staff's take on it. Every wheel chair I've seen since Friday has made me just a tad nostalgic. I also realise that Vimeo is pretty high up the video-production ladder.


loved it cool and funny

Randy Harsha

All Y'all having fun, I want to work for you! even if just to clean TP off the floor....

Gary Anderson

I see nothing new here. LOOKS just like a regular day in my castle I mean house :P

Sonya German

This video made me feel old, everyone looks so young.

Leo Bi

movi would be perfect for this.

Michael Biggins AKA Blackout

Oh man I am king of the one shot no cuts improvisational dialog all the way... but anyone who proclaims himself king is a fool! so ... I am a fool.

I did this in 2011 to annoy my Iphone friend who can't remove his eyes from the device... and the file was too big to upload to vimeo at the time so I had to go via evil google / youtube (don't hate me).

Trumpet DInopup Takes a Byte out of Apple

One take, no script. All Dinopup. (make sure to 1080p view)

Justin Waldman

You're a hoot Michael Higgins! But then I guess you knew that. One shot wonder.


its hilarius but...
I always record that way!

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