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shooting coverage vs a concept for a scene?


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#1 kevin baggott

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 02:18 AM

I'm a wrtier/director with only one feature under his belt. And a topic I alway find hard to research is how best to shoot a scene. I would just love to hear from experienced folks there preferences for shooting. Do they like to have a concept for each scene say someone like Gordon Willis does as opposed to shooting traditional coverage, ws, ls, ms, mcu, cu, ots, etc.

Thanks good peeps!
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#2 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 07:51 AM

I'm a wrtier/director with only one feature under his belt. And a topic I alway find hard to research is how best to shoot a scene. I would just love to hear from experienced folks there preferences for shooting. Do they like to have a concept for each scene say someone like Gordon Willis does as opposed to shooting traditional coverage, ws, ls, ms, mcu, cu, ots, etc.

Thanks good peeps!


For as many different people who might answer a question like this, there are probably that many different ways to approach it. As I've worked on projects and with various Directors over the years, it becomes apparent which have clear ideas about the story and the "look" of the project vs those who have no idea at all.

The more inexperienced and unimaginative among them settle in with the standard coverage.... and usually a lot of it. When there is no clear concept for a scene or the entire thing, a lot of standard coverage is the security blanket used so that they have something to cut later on. What's always frustrating is spending hours setting up a complicated Steadicam or crane shot only to spend the rest of the day shooting coverage that can only be used to cut it all up. It's a sign of no-confidence that the imaginative and interesting shot won't play.

Confidence in what a whole project should look like is likely the biggest element involved, but shot choice should be driven by the script itself and not necessarily anyone's "vision." Shoehorning in "cool shots" for the sake of trying to be interesting can be just as inappropriate as shooting coverage every which way til Sunday. It's really impossible to have a one-size-fits-all strategy for shooting a scene. The ultimate goal should be in finding a shot or shots which tell the story visually in a way that compliments the action and dialogue. If that HAS TO be done in multiple cuts or better plays in cuts, then lots of coverage is probably best. But if the overall style of the project and the scene itself calls for some kind of "one-er" or interesting/cool shot, then (time and budget notwithstanding) the goal should be to make that happen.

It should be all about the script and story. Not about anyone's "vision" or desire to get cool things on their reel.
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#3 kevin baggott

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 08:15 AM

For as many different people who might answer a question like this, there are probably that many different ways to approach it. As I've worked on projects and with various Directors over the years, it becomes apparent which have clear ideas about the story and the "look" of the project vs those who have no idea at all.

The more inexperienced and unimaginative among them settle in with the standard coverage.... and usually a lot of it. When there is no clear concept for a scene or the entire thing, a lot of standard coverage is the security blanket used so that they have something to cut later on. What's always frustrating is spending hours setting up a complicated Steadicam or crane shot only to spend the rest of the day shooting coverage that can only be used to cut it all up. It's a sign of no-confidence that the imaginative and interesting shot won't play.

Confidence in what a whole project should look like is likely the biggest element involved, but shot choice should be driven by the script itself and not necessarily anyone's "vision." Shoehorning in "cool shots" for the sake of trying to be interesting can be just as inappropriate as shooting coverage every which way til Sunday. It's really impossible to have a one-size-fits-all strategy for shooting a scene. The ultimate goal should be in finding a shot or shots which tell the story visually in a way that compliments the action and dialogue. If that HAS TO be done in multiple cuts or better plays in cuts, then lots of coverage is probably best. But if the overall style of the project and the scene itself calls for some kind of "one-er" or interesting/cool shot, then (time and budget notwithstanding) the goal should be to make that happen.

It should be all about the script and story. Not about anyone's "vision" or desire to get cool things on their reel.


Thanks a lot Brian! I really appreciate it. Very helpful. I recently wrote a feature film with a character based on John Ford. I always remember him during The Quiet Man - the scene where Wayne and O'Hara get married outside the church. He shoots one angle - W. Hoch the DP notices O'Hara looking magical in some natural light and nodges Ford to take a look. Ford says: "poop... if I shoot a close up somebody will just cut it in..."

Jesus to have that experience under one's belt makes me cry. Thanks again Brian.

I would really appreciate to hear from other folks tactics they find frustrating or rewarding in their collaborations with directors in regards to this subject - "coverage" . Thank you!
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#4 Ryan Thomas

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 10:01 AM

Thanks a lot Brian! I really appreciate it. Very helpful. I recently wrote a feature film with a character based on John Ford. I always remember him during The Quiet Man - the scene where Wayne and O'Hara get married outside the church. He shoots one angle - W. Hoch the DP notices O'Hara looking magical in some natural light and nodges Ford to take a look. Ford says: "poop... if I shoot a close up somebody will just cut it in..."

Jesus to have that experience under one's belt makes me cry. Thanks again Brian.

I would really appreciate to hear from other folks tactics they find frustrating or rewarding in their collaborations with directors in regards to this subject - "coverage" . Thank you!


Go to hollywoodcamerawork.us

I found their dvds extremely helpful when trying to figure out how to cover a scene.

Hope that helps!
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#5 kevin baggott

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Posted 22 May 2009 - 10:50 AM

Go to hollywoodcamerawork.us

I found their dvds extremely helpful when trying to figure out how to cover a scene.

Hope that helps!


Going right now - thanks Ryan - kev
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Aerial Filmworks

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Ritter Battery

Opal

Technodolly

FJS International, LLC

Paralinx LLC

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

The Slider

Tai Audio

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

rebotnix Technologies

CineTape

CineLab

Willys Widgets

Glidecam

Abel Cine

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Wooden Camera

Visual Products