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Shooting Reverses


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#1 Chris Durham

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 12:07 PM

I'm still pretty new to shooting for other people. A lot of my experience has been shooting my own stuff, and I design my shots with the 180 degree rule in mind. This weekend I'm shooting a short where most of the action is in a corner booth of a diner and to get good coverage of the waitress, we need to shoot reverses from the other side of the table. Any advice on doing this in a way that's least visibly disruptive (i.e. not too blatantly rearranging the position of actors on screen)?
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#2 David Regan

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 01:01 PM

When you introduce a third character, you are establishing a new line, so don't think of yourself necessarily breaking the 180 degree rule by turning around to look at the waitress. You could cross the table directly, or have a couple separate lines of action for each person at the booth. i.e. when the waitress asks one person what they want, be in a OTS of the person at the booth looking at the waitress, and when she turns to the other, have an OTS from that person. Generally speaking, I feel if you establish your space well, when you do turn around the audience will still understand where we are. And assuming you have to cheat your table out to get the camera in these positions, you really can get away with a foot or two, as long as your careful.
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#3 Dan Goulder

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 01:14 PM

Once you've established the setting with wide shots, you can move to longer lenses, which will take out a lot of the background, allowing for greater flexibility.
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#4 Paul Bruening

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 01:43 PM

180 rule is an old school directorial rule. It is a holdover from the studio days, before television. Hollywood had unspoken standards designed to avoid viewer disruption. There were quite a lot of these "rules" (better referred to as "rules of thumb"). The 180 rule does get broken. I can't pull any examples off the top of my head. But, my list-of-rules-radar goes off pretty often on this one.

The point to the rule is to avoid viewer disruption. A break in 180 logic does cause viewer distress. Which can be useful. Curiously, the more you break it, the more the viewer will compensate. That reaction can be used to heighten viewer participation in action sequences. The downside to breaking the 180 is that viewer reaction tends to be slightly hostile. The biggest downside to breaking most of the rules is that it will disrupt the viewer's suspension of disbelief. We all want to avoid that, with certainty.

How's that for a load of associated and useless data to the question?

A better answer would be: Don't break it. Slap your director if you have to, "Snap out of it!" If that doesn't work, 1) dolly across to the new line, 2) go really wide in the new line and live with the viewers' adjustment period, 3) as already mentioned, go close and live with the adjustment, 4) as already mentioned, live-restage the performers and live with the lesser adjustment (this is my fav way of doing it). If everyone is sitting in the scene, then, that last one will look pretty goofy.
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#5 Chris Durham

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 02:24 PM

For most of the short, it makes sense to look from the diner in to the table. There are three actors at the table and we want to feature their faces. A lot of this will be OTS shots which avoid mirrors that are around. The master will be somewhat wide and from a point that avoids the mirrors. Most of the waitress's action can be got from in front of the table in Master or OTS shots. There are a couple points though where the focus is on her and we want her from the front. These are where we're doing reverses. If I place the camera basically in POV of the actor across the table from her, then I'm basically setting up a new line temporarily to focus on her and I'm hoping it's not too disruptive. And I think maybe the way to do this is to basically center her in the shot because this gives her as a point of reference for the (temporary) line change.

Does that make sense?
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#6 Evan Pierre

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 04:31 AM

Don't think of the 180 degree 'rule' as a 'rule', it's more of a guideline. You can use it to help tell your story and generate an emotion in your audience.
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#7 Ralph Keyser

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Posted 11 December 2008 - 06:57 PM

For most of the short, it makes sense to look from the diner in to the table. There are three actors at the table and we want to feature their faces. A lot of this will be OTS shots which avoid mirrors that are around. The master will be somewhat wide and from a point that avoids the mirrors. Most of the waitress's action can be got from in front of the table in Master or OTS shots. There are a couple points though where the focus is on her and we want her from the front. These are where we're doing reverses. If I place the camera basically in POV of the actor across the table from her, then I'm basically setting up a new line temporarily to focus on her and I'm hoping it's not too disruptive. And I think maybe the way to do this is to basically center her in the shot because this gives her as a point of reference for the (temporary) line change.

Does that make sense?


Your plan will work fine, Chris. If you are shooting a single of the waitress, you can do it from somewhere near where either person is sitting and the audience will have no trouble keeping up. Unless you want a POV shot, I'd leave the other actors in place so the waitress has an accurate eye-line and someone to play off.
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#8 Mark Williams

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Posted 12 December 2008 - 03:09 AM

Chris could the camera sit on the table? Or maybe get the waitress to move back a few feet and film from in front of the table with the camera looking up from the perspective of those she is looking down at for closeups. The actor at the table could sit nearer the front with the camera positioned on the table I guess you already thought of that so probably not the answer your looking for.. Perhaps the table could be easily removed? Worth a look. Maybe another booth near a window where the camera could be set up outside?
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Willys Widgets

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

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Wooden Camera

Metropolis Post

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Glidecam

Abel Cine

CineLab

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Tai Audio

Visual Products

Aerial Filmworks

Rig Wheels Passport

Opal