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Marks for actresses in long dresses.


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#1 Chris Clarke

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 03:27 PM

I'm about to start a film set in the 1500's. We have problem regarding marks for the actors and the focus puller. The costumes that the actresses will be wearing will cover their feet by about 3' in diameter. We are trying to come up with a way of marking them so that when they land on their mark, we have a guide as to how close they actually are. A mark for the edge of their dress is fine for them, but if they overshoot we don't know by how far? We have thought of having their dresses pulled up a little to reveal their feet but this won't always be practical. We are shooting two cameras so could often be in the scenario where the main camera is on a wide while the B is on a close up.
Any suggestions?
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#2 Mike Kaminski

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 04:40 PM

I'm about to start a film set in the 1500's. We have problem regarding marks for the actors and the focus puller. The costumes that the actresses will be wearing will cover their feet by about 3' in diameter. We are trying to come up with a way of marking them so that when they land on their mark, we have a guide as to how close they actually are. A mark for the edge of their dress is fine for them, but if they overshoot we don't know by how far? We have thought of having their dresses pulled up a little to reveal their feet but this won't always be practical. We are shooting two cameras so could often be in the scenario where the main camera is on a wide while the B is on a close up.
Any suggestions?


A bit of guessing may be required. If your puller is attentive he can estimate how far over or under the actor is just by watching the ground and judging how far the actor appears to be over; if your depth of field is a matter of inches though this can admittedly be difficult. In that case the best thing to do is put parallel marks beside the real one. An actress steps on her mark but the dress totally covers the surrounding area--but a mark placed two feet to the right, at exactly the same distance, remains visible. You can then use this as a judge for how much over and under the actor is. If its very far away depth perception becomes a problem--in this case remote focus would be a good option so you can stand alongside and judge for yourself. If you dont have a remote focus unit then use the 2nd ac.
For walking shots what i like to do is mark intermitten distances with small neon cones parallel to the actors; the 2nd AC has a walkie talkie and literally walks parallel to the actors, out of camera view, transmitting me the marks over the walkie--"1, 2, 3, 4..."--i dont even have to look at the actors, i can just keep my eye on the focus wheel and move it according to the readings of the 2nd over the walkie.
If its far shots that arent the type where they are walking towards the camera, judging the over and undershooting of marks can be pretty difficult since it will fluxuate in only small amounts. If i cant see or judge the compensation myself i have the 2nd stand near the actors and use hand-signals to translate how far off their marks the actors are. A good method is holding one hand out, facing straight up, kinda like a karate chop. this represents the mark. you can then use your other hand and slide it back and forth over your hand, representing how far over or under the actor is moving in relation to their marks. Now this only works for moderately distant shots, if the actors are 80 feet away you wont be able to see the 2nd's hand signals. In that case hopefully your depth of field will be good enough so that you can use a combination of these methods to arrive at a focus that is accurate by a few inches.
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#3 Luke Prendergast

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 05:29 PM

Color-coded marks - one for the spot, one for 6" over, 12" over etc.
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#4 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 12 April 2006 - 08:06 PM

Just run a piece of tape perpendicular to the mark and directly in front of the mark. Run it out a foot or two and put some distances on the tape so that you know how far the actor has missed the mark by.
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