Matching Action Exercise

This exercise includes shooting an interview

Matching action occurs when you edit shots of the same action taken from a variety of angles to create the illusion of one continuous action. 

Matching Action occurs when you edit a sequence of shots of the same action in a logical order, i.e. cause and effect, which creates the illusion of one continuous action. For example, a person making a latte can be broken down into wide, medium and close-up shots, with changes in camera position to create new angles. Each shot is a component of the larger story, which can be edited together to convey detail and advance the story. Different angles of the same action are edited to continue the action from one shot to the next. 

The potential for matching action increases when there is plenty of repetition in the action. Sometimes, you can arrange for the subject to repeat the action, but in news packages you don't want to direct your subjects to do things they would not otherwise do. Keep it honest, however, in anything you shoot, keep an eye towards detail observing which hand the person is using to perform a certain action, how full the glass of water is between shots, etc.  Each action gives opportunities to shoot wide, medium and close-up shots. 


Engage viewers with a story where the action progress from shot to shot. In teams of 2, choose a story is about someone doing something, such as a hobby (knitting) or some past-time or recreation (hiking, painting, etc) or even making lunch (a sandwich or other meal). Even if you work in teams of two, you need to each have your own activity that is different from your partners, your own footage, and your own final video you edited. All assignments must be shot with the equipment assigned to the class unless other arrangements have been made with the instructor.

Interview (optional to work on the interview items we discussed)

You will need to shoot an interview with this person and use their sound-bites (SOTS) as narration for the footage. 

What do you need to do

Make sure you record natural sounds (NATS), that "take you there". Get the microphone close to the action, e.g., someone's hands as they play the guitar.

Shoot a sequence of shots where the action overlaps and then edit the shots together to create the illusion of one continuous sequence (this is matching action). Match the action between the shots as precisely as you can so that the timing "feels" continuous. Make sure to give yourself some "padding" to edit the shots. Don't have your subject stop the action too soon or start too late.


  • Use a tripod for every shot - no exceptions
  • Always use additional lighting for the interviews. Use lighting if the shot appears dark especially in close-ups.
  • Must include NATS
  • BONUS points may be awarded to more creative works - show creativity in your camera angles and make sure the lighting between shots is consistent. 

Total Running Time (TRT) 

At least one minute long, but not much more than two minutes. 

Editing - You can edit matching action in one of two ways (try both)

1)   Cutting after the action, which shows the relative positions of hands or body before and after the motion. For example, when a person raises a cup of tea to their lips, the cut occurs after they have raised the cup fully. The next shot shows the person taking a sip.

2)   Cut on the motion itself, where the cut occurs during the motion. For example, the edit is made just after the person starts to raise the cup. The next shot continues the motion where the cup finally reaches the person's mouth. This type of edit is considered the most seamless, which means that it goes largely unnoticed by viewers. 

The CUTAWAY - helping to avoid continuity errors

A common continuity problem occurs when you fail to match the approximate positions of the object between shots. For example, if in one shot the person's hands are raised, but in the next they appear lowered. If the action doesn't match, then you have a continuity error. A solution might be to insert a shot that cuts away from the main action. For example, inserting a close-up of the person's face between the shots that show their hands in different positions. 

Another continuity error happens when you cut from a wide shot of a person and then to a facial close-up, but they're looking in a different direction. You need another shot to insert between these two shots to avoid the continuity error. Perhaps you can insert a shot of what distracts their attention, such as a clock on the wall, or a scoreboard. 

Without cutaways you could end up editing yourself into a corner, forced to use a shot that would result in a continuity error. Get a cutaway shot that lets you cut away from the principal action. Cutaway shots can save you from embarrassing continuity errors when you are unable to match the action specifically from shot to shot. But remember -- the cutaway should be part of the story.

Matching Action in News Packages: 
During the production shoot, keep your eyes open for matching action opportunities: a person typing at a computer; digging a hole; reading a book; playing catch; packing a box (notice that many of these ideas involve people, but sometimes you can also show machines like a bulldozer or robots). Exploiting the action in your photography will help you create more dynamic sequences. Remember, in news reporting, you never want to stage a scene, but look for action that is repetitive, giving you the chance to move the camera to shoot the same action from different angles. When you edit the shots, you can create the illusion of one continuous action. 

Watch for Matching Action in Motion Pictures:
In motion pictures, scenes are usually shot using a single camera, which has to be re-positioned for each change of angle. For a scene involving a conversation between two people, the scene is broken down into a wide shot (or master shot, showing both people at once) and then close-ups of the principal actors. The potential for matching action is far greater when the people are having a dinner conversation. However, the challenge is that you have to block the action precisely so that a person with their fork raised in one shot has it raised in the next. Or a glass shows the same amount of liquid when taken from other angles.

What you need to turn in:

EXPORT as an H.264 and make sure you name the file name in the following manner,  Your Name_Matching Action. Turn your finished product into to me on a flash drive in class, emailed to me from Goggle Drive before class starts, or in the TV 1 folder in student storage ::::must be done and in the folder at least 30 mins before class so I can pull it from the folder to show::::

Below is a matching action example that was shot during a TV-1 class and edited in the span of 60 minutes. Mind you, this was a rush job, but you get the idea.