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#1 peter orland

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 08:06 PM

What are some low-budget ways of shooting an actor talking to himself, as in Adaptation etc?

The scene is quite long, 18 pages, i'm also worried about how i can shoot it and make it interesting for almost 20mins in the same location.
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#2 Gordon Highland

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 08:25 PM

One way is just to split screen it and don't move the camera or let the characters overlap, shooting each setup twice from the same position and wiping the second camera in in post. If the setting isn't that important, you could shoot it against plain white or black to give you a little more flexibility with compositing. The final way is with chromakey, and while it has little to do with budget, it can be very time- and render-intensive for a long scene. Any way you do it, you're going to want the actor to record his "A" character's performance into an IFB that he can play back into his ear while performing the "B" character to get the timing down and add realism in the interactions. Anything that doesn't time out quite right, you can just cut to different coverage to stretch or compress time. The eyelines are extremely important, and that they're looking at each other at the right times in rhythm, otherwise it appears very fake (this was masterful in Adaptation). Keep in mind they don't have to both be visible in the shot all the time.
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#3 peter orland

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 10:37 PM

Hello Gordon, thanks for the quick reply.

"One way is just to split screen it and don't move the camera or let the characters overlap, shooting each setup twice from the same position and wiping the second camera in in post. "

Does that mean that to create coverage, every new set up (shot) has to be locked down for the A and B
shots? Is this Ok for the edit?

By the way, do you know how it was done in Adaptation?
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#4 Gordon Highland

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Posted 14 December 2005 - 11:26 PM

Does that mean that to create coverage, every new set up (shot) has to be locked down for the A and B
shots? Is this Ok for the edit?

That's if you want to see them on screen at the same time without creating a lot of work for yourself, yes. If they're not locked down or if you change any camera settings, you'll see a seam where the backgrounds don't match. It's easy enough to test this yourself first, just set up a wide camera with two chairs, sit in one seat and then the other and lay the shots on top of each other in your timeline and draw a mask over half of one of the layers.

I don't know that you could do any real coverage with this technique, other than just cutting to closer single shots for most of the rest (which is the easiest way, anyway). The other thing is they can't really move any parts of their body past the center point of the screen, else you'll have to rotoscope it frame-by-frame. If it were me, I'd do the whole thing greenscreen, which would give you more flexibility, but I dunno your time budget. Then again, an 18-minute scene is waaaay too long to hold interest anyway, so you might wanna revisit that idea first. No, it doesn't make for very exciting viewing, but you said you were on a budget, so I dunno what else to tell you. Moving the camera will cause a lot of headaches (if you want to see them at the same time).

Adaptation used a team of visual effects artists and a variety of techniques, including greenscreen, split screens, and motion control. Keep it simple.
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#5 peter orland

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Posted 15 December 2005 - 12:06 AM

Thanks for the info and the advice.

Correct, 18min is a very long scene, it is a sc-fi and the scene is an interigation that is beautifully written, and i'd really like to see if i can pull it off. I think if i use the two people in the same shot sparingly then i can get plenty of other coverage to hold the interest. The set has been built and looks great. would you still shoot greenscreen if you were using a live set?

Thanks again.

Edited by peter orland, 15 December 2005 - 12:09 AM.

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#6 Gordon Highland

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Posted 15 December 2005 - 10:05 AM

I'd probably still use greenscreen, but only for one of the two people in each shot. One person is shot against the actual set you've built, leaving space in the frame for the other (this shot is called the plate), and then shoot the other person on greenscreen so you'll see the set behind them when the green is removed. This is if you want more interesting shots like over-the-shoulder or whatnot where the characters can overlap. They can't overlap with a split screen.

Here's an example. Greenscreen. Right after you get past the shots with the illustrations (greenscreen also), there's a couple where I have the same actor playing against himself dressed differently. In both cases I could've done it with a split if they didn't need to overlap. Instead I just greenscreened the person in the foreground. If you want to see the full version (there's not much more of that) it's here, and there's a couple more short sequences near the end where I just used cuts with matching eyelines for the same idea. The main actor eventually plays three roles: director, editor, and composer.
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