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"B" Camera


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#1 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 07:14 AM

Worked on my first feature film this past weekend, just a two day fill in. We shot with the HVX 200/ P+S technik adapter, and it looked great.

"B" camera was just on HVX 200, which looked so far off.

...to my point; the coverage that I got, mixed with the masters and 2 shots that "A" camera got, doesn't seem to make for enough coverage in my eyes.

I had to shoot on the end of the lens, all the way open, to get something close to what "A" camera was going to get, and yet, the language of the film just seemed so fu**ed.

Was "B" camera worth it? I don't think so. If it had a mini 35, then yes obviously.

There were many times that I had great OTS, with equal eyeline, and wanted to go reverse, and the DP decided against it, and we went with one OTS and a wide master; how is that going to cut?


Ranting, I know; just throwing it out there. :ph34r:
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#2 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 07:41 AM

Whether they shot enough coverage really depends on how the Director is planning to cut the scenes. You just have to assume that he or she knows what they want better than you do as a day player.

Lighting for two cameras can be tricky, particularly if you're trying to cross shoot, as it nearly always involves a compromise somewhere. You may have been able to get the angles you saw, but that doesn't mean that the DP was happy with the way they were lit. Sometimes shooting with two cameras can actually slow you down.
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#3 Bob Hayes

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 09:42 AM

B-Camera is a really tough job. You are expected to get great footage even though most of the thought and energy goes into setting the A-Camera. Also because of the length of the lens and often less then ideal position B-Camera is much harder on the operator and assistant. That said the extra coverage can be invaluable. And B-Camera often gets the really cool angle that A-Camera can?t because it is focused on telling the story. My advice to you is to watch the blocking and start thinking of how to cover it immediately. Think less of your self as a second A-Camera and look for shots that compliment what A-Camera is doing. Check with the DP to see if he thinks it is a good idea. Get the camera in quickly and get ready so no one will be waiting for you. Realize that because you are B-Camera not every part of every shot must be perfect.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 June 2006 - 11:19 AM

I don't see a problem with the B-camera operator wondering about how it will cut, but that's just for his own education, not to be undermining the director / DP / AD / script supervisor (and maybe producer) who are really the only voices that should be heard on set deciding these issues. An operator and DP can talk about it, of course, as in the operator asking things (quietly) like "are we going to get the reverse over the shoulder?"

There simply isn't time on a set often to cover scenes from every angle, and sometimes you even do inadequate or compromised coverage due to lack of time. I've been on many heated discussions over this issue when as a DP, I feel that the coverage is poor and won't cut smoothly. But that's my perogative. Ultimately it's the director's decision whether to move on or not.

I remember doing this wide shot looking at a porch at night as someone walks up the steps and turns to talk to someone on the porch in a 50/50. The plan was then to shoot two raking overs of the dialogue. But when I got the camera on the porch for the first of the two overs, the AD tells me that he, the director, and the producer decided, in order to save time, to just cover the dialogue in a tight 50/50 2-shot from the porch looking back out at the street, a 180 degree flip from the wide master. So we eliminated one set-up, but I told the director that it would not cut as smoothly and he'd be compromising the point of the scene, which was this romantic look that the two people give each other. He said he agreed but he didn't have a choice because the producer was insisting that we do it in one shot, not two. So I lit the most romantic 50/50 tight 2-shot I could...

Maybe it will cut just fine, maybe the point will still get across, I don't know. It wasn't so much a bad bit of coverage, just a weaker way of covering. I know it will cut, that's not the issue.

As far as getting matching shots in reverse, I think some people are overly academic, pedantic about that, always matching size, focal length, etc. as if a computer were directing the movie. That only makes sense if the people occupy the same importance dramatically in the scene. There are situations where you focus more closely on one person's face and play the other coverage looser because the other character's emotions are less important.
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#5 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 13 June 2006 - 04:07 PM

As far as getting matching shots in reverse, I think some people are overly academic, pedantic about that, always matching size, focal length, etc. as if a computer were directing the movie. That only makes sense if the people occupy the same importance dramatically in the scene. There are situations where you focus more closely on one person's face and play the other coverage looser because the other character's emotions are less important.

Good point David. It seems like way too many people don't understand this. I've had so many situations where they want the exact same over or single to the inch, even to the point of matching exact camera height and angle, and oftentimes it doesn't really match the other over anyway. For example, the size of someone's head can make a shot look tighter or looser. Or what if one actor is taller than the other? I enjoy scenes that mix it up a little. It's more interesting. If every over and single matches every other over and single it looks stale. Your computer analogy is right on.
I'm not sure where this 'exact matching' thing comes from (do they teach this in film school?), but it really gets on my nerves sometimes.
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#6 Hunter Sandison

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Posted 13 June 2006 - 08:06 PM

I remember doing this wide shot looking at a porch at night as someone walks up the steps and turns to talk to someone on the porch in a 50/50. The plan was then to shoot two raking overs of the dialogue. But when I got the camera on the porch for the first of the two overs, the AD tells me that he, the director, and the producer decided, in order to save time, to just cover the dialogue in a tight 50/50 2-shot from the porch looking back out at the street, a 180 degree flip from the wide master. So we eliminated one set-up, but I told the director that it would not cut as smoothly and he'd be compromising the point of the scene, which was this romantic look that the two people give each other. He said he agreed but he didn't have a choice because the producer was insisting that we do it in one shot, not two. So I lit the most romantic 50/50 tight 2-shot I could...


What does 50/50 mean?
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 13 June 2006 - 11:25 PM

Two people facing each other shot in profile, sometimes called a "profile 2-shot" as well.
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#8 Hunter Sandison

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Posted 14 June 2006 - 12:42 AM

Two people facing each other shot in profile, sometimes called a "profile 2-shot" as well.


So you shot a wider profile 2 shot as your master and then punched in for a closer profile 2 shot from a similar angle in lieu of OTS singles? Did I understand correctly?
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 14 June 2006 - 01:00 AM

Actually it was odder than that - a very wide shot of the house and front porch as the person on the sidewalk walked up the steps to stop & talk to someone waiting on the porch, then the other shot was a tight profile 2-shot as the person steps up onto the porch and turns to talk to the other person... but shot from on the porch looking back out into the street, a 180 degree flip.

We also had singles of the two people before the moment on the porch, when the person on the porch was looking down at the street and the person on the street was looking at the person on the porch, before she steps up to join him on the porch. But the moment on the porch between them is covered in a tight profile 2-shot instead of raking overs or singles.
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#10 Hunter Sandison

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Posted 14 June 2006 - 01:50 AM

Thank you for the clarification, Mr. Mullen.
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