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Typical Shooting Ratios?


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#1 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 11:48 AM

What is the typical ratios when using film. I've seen some threads in the past but can't seem to locate any. I'm doing a short this summer and am entertaining doing in on 16mm or Super8. The short will be about 10 minutes. I did come calculations using a 5:1 ration and my costs to get it on the computer (develop, telecine, stock, etc) will be around $1200 for 2000' of B&W negative. That of course doesn't include the cost of getting or renting a camera.

Is 5:1 too much, too little or just right?
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#2 Chance Shirley

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 11:57 AM

Depends on your style of shooting and the nature of the movie you're making. I've heard of well-planned features with a 1.5:1 ratio, and documentary ratios can obviously be very high -- 60:1, 70:1, 200:1, etc.

I'm around 6:1 on my current feature. I was hoping for 4:1 but missed that mark due to some complex (for me, at least) shots and poor planning.
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#3 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 12:04 PM

It's an adaption of a Poe short, so hopefully my actors and actress don't require 200:1!?!!! :blink:

Also, the camera won't be moving at all. All shots will be on a tripod. Inspired by Ozu's films. Since the camera wont be moving that will cut down a bit on the ratio a bit I think.

BTW: Chance, I ordered the DVD used of Ebay. Should be her soon! P.S. Your mailbox is full so I couldn't PM that to you!

Edited by Jamie Lewis, 27 June 2008 - 12:05 PM.

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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 12:20 PM

The lowest I've ever managed for a feature is 7:1, most of my low-budget features were 10:1, nowadays, it's 20:1 -- for film. For digital, it is even higher. I'd say that 5:1 is the lowest you should ever plan on.

10:1 has the advantage of making calculations easier -- i.e. 100-page script = 100,000' of 35mm stock (rounding a 1000' mag down to 10-minutes).
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#5 Tim Terner

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 12:27 PM

The lowest I've ever managed for a feature is 7:1, most of my low-budget features were 10:1, nowadays, it's 20:1 -- for film. For digital, it is even higher. I'd say that 5:1 is the lowest you should ever plan on.

10:1 has the advantage of making calculations easier -- i.e. 100-page script = 100,000' of 35mm stock (rounding a 1000' mag down to 10-minutes).


20 ;1, And thats with recently, I suppose, A list actors. Why is digital higher David ?
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#6 Nate Downes

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 12:37 PM

I've done 3:1-12:1 before, tending to find myself around 5:1, but that is with pulling a lot of tricks and special cut-aways to reduce film used. (how many shots of a truck driving down a road do you need?)
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#7 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 12:45 PM

The lowest I've ever managed for a feature is 7:1, most of my low-budget features were 10:1, nowadays, it's 20:1 -- for film. For digital, it is even higher. I'd say that 5:1 is the lowest you should ever plan on.

10:1 has the advantage of making calculations easier -- i.e. 100-page script = 100,000' of 35mm stock (rounding a 1000' mag down to 10-minutes).


So for a 10 minute script I should be looking for round 100 minutes/4000'ish of film? :blink:

Edited by Jamie Lewis, 27 June 2008 - 12:45 PM.

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#8 John Sprung

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 12:49 PM

The cost of shooting one more take on film is more than on digital, so people tend to let the ratio drift higher.



-- J.S.
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#9 Evan Winter

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 01:02 PM

This doesn't directly help the original poster but it might be interesting. On music videos I shoot an average of 25:1 and I'm pretty sure that's a really low ratio for most Promo directors.

Evan W.
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#10 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 01:11 PM

I think another consideration that no one has mentioned is whether the film is dialog heavy or not and whether you're doing sync sound vs. scratch track. If you are doing a short that is "short" on dialog, you should have a much lower shooting ratio than if your movie is dialog heavy...unless you plan on replacing most of your dialog via ADR. It is reasonable to have 4:1 if well rehearsed, little dialog, or using pretty much all ADR.

The sound issue has been most of my problem, personally, for eating up the takes. Also, sophisticated slating takes a lot of time.
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#11 Paul Bruening

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 01:14 PM

My current production has a shooting ratio of 0:1.
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#12 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 01:18 PM

I think another consideration that no one has mentioned is whether the film is dialog heavy or not and whether you're doing sync sound vs. scratch track. If you are doing a short that is "short" on dialog, you should have a much lower shooting ratio than if your movie is dialog heavy...unless you plan on replacing most of your dialog via ADR. It is reasonable to have 4:1 if well rehearsed, little dialog, or using pretty much all ADR.

The sound issue has been most of my problem, personally, for eating up the takes. Also, sophisticated slating takes a lot of time.


There isn't much dialogue that isn't a voice over, but some. There is one long take that I want to do but it can actually be done in two takes that will lessen the burden on the female lead.

Edited by Jamie Lewis, 27 June 2008 - 01:19 PM.

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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 01:24 PM

There isn't much dialogue that isn't a voice over, but some. There is one long take that I want to do but it can actually be done in two takes that will lessen the burden on the female lead.


If you're not doing a lot of traditional dialogue coverage, you should get by with a 5:1 ratio unless your single master takes, ala Ozu, run long and you shoot a couple of them. That can also burn up film because without coverage, you need to get it right in the single set-up. So rehearse, rehearse, rehearse...

Also, it depends on if your 10-page script is really a 10-minute movie. I shot a scene recently that was one page long but the actor managed to take up four minutes acting it out...
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#14 Jamie Lewis

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 01:33 PM

If you're not doing a lot of traditional dialogue coverage, you should get by with a 5:1 ratio unless your single master takes, ala Ozu, run long and you shoot a couple of them. That can also burn up film because without coverage, you need to get it right in the single set-up. So rehearse, rehearse, rehearse...

Also, it depends on if your 10-page script is really a 10-minute movie. I shot a scene recently that was one page long but the actor managed to take up four minutes acting it out...


Yeah, it's a seven page script but from past projects I know my writing usually runs long so I guestimated 10 minutes actual screen time. And like you suggested, there will be rehearsals which I've never done more than the night before a shoot.
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#15 Nate Downes

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 01:50 PM

I think another consideration that no one has mentioned is whether the film is dialog heavy or not and whether you're doing sync sound vs. scratch track. If you are doing a short that is "short" on dialog, you should have a much lower shooting ratio than if your movie is dialog heavy...unless you plan on replacing most of your dialog via ADR. It is reasonable to have 4:1 if well rehearsed, little dialog, or using pretty much all ADR.

The sound issue has been most of my problem, personally, for eating up the takes. Also, sophisticated slating takes a lot of time.

Just described the feature I'm working on. Dialog-light, and what there is happens to be in an environment where sync dialog is impractical (back of an open pickup truck) so ADR will be the key to it.
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#16 K Borowski

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 03:34 PM

My current production has a shooting ratio of 0:1.


Mine too!

Keepin in mind Paul, that if you have zero at the other end of the ratio you're going to run into non-real numbers, infinity, and a tear in the fabric of the space-time continuum, so be careful ;)
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#17 K Borowski

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 03:35 PM

Also, it depends on if your 10-page script is really a 10-minute movie. I shot a scene recently that was one page long but the actor managed to take up four minutes acting it out...


Billy Bob Thorton?
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#18 Deepak Bajracharya

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 06:45 PM

Namaste,

3:1 for my recent short movie, 6min 45sec duration in super 16mm format, not more than 5:1 for the full length features.

With best regards,
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#19 John Sprung

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 07:18 PM

There is one long take that I want to do but it can actually be done in two takes that will lessen the burden on the female lead.

Consider casting someone with stage experience. They're accustomed to knowing the whole damn show at once, and running it all the way thru. Pizzes 'em off sometimes if a director keeps cutting them in the middle of a scene. Once they get rolling, there's something unsettling about having to put on the mental brakes all the time.



-- J.S.
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#20 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 June 2008 - 08:11 PM

Billy Bob Thorton?


Never! His deliveries are usually pretty crisp and snappy, not drawn out.
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