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#1 Ben J

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 01:33 AM

Hello,

I have recently started reading The 5 C's of Cinematography (one of the recommended books from this site). I am reading about filming techniques in the continuity section. It describes how the single camera technique (shoot master scene, then repeat performance for various angles) is best for professional actors and production crews. Is this still the case today? I found an article (http://www.davidbord....net/blog/?p=91) which implies that the multi camera setup is more common. I know budget and location would certainly be factors. I am thinking of 21st century Hollywood drama and HBO TV.

I am getting some American Cinematographer magazines where I'm sure I'll figure it out. I've been lurking here for a while now though and thought it would be time to sign up.

Edited by Ben Herbertson, 09 February 2010 - 01:37 AM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 01:50 AM

Hello,

I have recently started reading The 5 C's of Cinematography (one of the recommended books from this site). I am reading about filming techniques in the continuity section. It describes how the single camera technique (shoot master scene, then repeat performance for various angles) is best for professional actors and production crews. Is this still the case today? I found an article (http://www.davidbord....net/blog/?p=91) which implies that the multi camera setup is more common. I know budget and location would certainly be factors. I am thinking of 21st century Hollywood drama and HBO TV.


It's a mix today -- for dialogue scenes, generally one or two cameras are common.

Generally you start wider and move in tighter with set-ups because it's easier to light that way -- you establish the look of the room in the wide shots and where the light is coming from, and as you move in tighter, you can improve, tweak, cheat the lighting on the faces to be more attractive without violating the general look established in the wide shots. And it's always easier to bring in more equipment as you move in closer than to get rid of equipment if you move from close to wide. Plus you may put a light for a close-up and find that if you then shot the wide shot, there is no way for a light to be coming from that direction.

Same goes for sound, often the sound on a wide shot is "wider" and captures more of the general room ambience but since the mics can get closer on the close-ups, the sound is more intimate and directional on the tighter shots.

It gets harder to light and compose wide and close shots simultaneously for multiple cameras, and it can be harder to get good sound that way too... but it will be done when necessary or for stylistic reasons.

You also find that multiple camera style shooting lends itself to more telephoto lenses -- it's hard to work close to actors with multiple cameras using wider-angle lenses and not have the cameras get in each other's way. So you'll notice, for example, that the Coen Brothers movies (and movies shot by Roger Deakins in general) tend to be single-camera and work close to the action on wider lenses, whereas a Ridley or Tony Scott movie tends to use multiple cameras with telephoto lenses on them.

There are pros and cons to multiple cameras, especially for intimate dramatic scenes. Yes, multiple cameras may mean that actors don't have to repeat themselves as much for different set-ups and takes, but each camera needs an operator and focus-puller, and 35mm cameras are on the large side, so a room can get crowded with crew people just to accommodate more cameras and thus may be a less intimate situation to work in. Plus some actors feel that a separate single-camera set-up for their close-ups helps them concentrate for that moment and that camera angle and size, rather than just be "captured" by multiple cameras in a more documentary-style shoot.

There are also eyeline issues -- single-camera shooting makes it easier to get the camera close to the actor's eyeline, which allows them to "connect" with the audience bettter, whereas multiple-camera shooting often gives you a lot of "off-axis" camera angles, cameras that end up looking at the actors in semi-profile more often.
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#3 Ben J

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Posted 09 February 2010 - 07:45 AM

It's a mix today -- for dialogue scenes, generally one or two cameras are common.

Generally you start wider and move in tighter with set-ups because it's easier to light that way -- you establish the look of the room in the wide shots and where the light is coming from, and as you move in tighter, you can improve, tweak, cheat the lighting on the faces to be more attractive without violating the general look established in the wide shots. And it's always easier to bring in more equipment as you move in closer than to get rid of equipment if you move from close to wide. Plus you may put a light for a close-up and find that if you then shot the wide shot, there is no way for a light to be coming from that direction.

Same goes for sound, often the sound on a wide shot is "wider" and captures more of the general room ambience but since the mics can get closer on the close-ups, the sound is more intimate and directional on the tighter shots.

It gets harder to light and compose wide and close shots simultaneously for multiple cameras, and it can be harder to get good sound that way too... but it will be done when necessary or for stylistic reasons.

You also find that multiple camera style shooting lends itself to more telephoto lenses -- it's hard to work close to actors with multiple cameras using wider-angle lenses and not have the cameras get in each other's way. So you'll notice, for example, that the Coen Brothers movies (and movies shot by Roger Deakins in general) tend to be single-camera and work close to the action on wider lenses, whereas a Ridley or Tony Scott movie tends to use multiple cameras with telephoto lenses on them.

There are pros and cons to multiple cameras, especially for intimate dramatic scenes. Yes, multiple cameras may mean that actors don't have to repeat themselves as much for different set-ups and takes, but each camera needs an operator and focus-puller, and 35mm cameras are on the large side, so a room can get crowded with crew people just to accommodate more cameras and thus may be a less intimate situation to work in. Plus some actors feel that a separate single-camera set-up for their close-ups helps them concentrate for that moment and that camera angle and size, rather than just be "captured" by multiple cameras in a more documentary-style shoot.

There are also eyeline issues -- single-camera shooting makes it easier to get the camera close to the actor's eyeline, which allows them to "connect" with the audience bettter, whereas multiple-camera shooting often gives you a lot of "off-axis" camera angles, cameras that end up looking at the actors in semi-profile more often.


Thanks for the response. I noticed you did some work on season 2 of Big Love. I have been watching the latest season trying to apply some of the things I have learnt from reading. In the credits I remember seeing A Camera and B Camera. Your reply provides a great insight.
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#4 Mei Lewis

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 08:29 PM

I've noticed something that happens a lot which I don't understand the reason for.

A sequence of two people talking is often shot by doing two (or more) takes, first shot looking over one persons shoulder, from behind, at the other person, then the set-up is reversed, looking over the second person's shoulder back at the first.

In one direction, the person whose face we're seeing has an edge light visible on their hair, shoulder or around that area, to provide separation from the background. But when we switch to looking from the other direction and we can see that edge-lit shoulder from behind there is no bright light on it.

So, I think I understand how such a sequence is shot, I know that it's lit separately for each direction of shooting, and the edge light is there to separate the person from the background and has to be turned off when looking back in the other direction because it would be distracting.

What I don't understand is why such an obvious problem in continuity is allowed. It's not just occasional, it seems to happen more often than not in such shots!
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#5 Tom Jensen

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Posted 21 April 2010 - 10:58 PM

It's really because the average viewer won't notice it. Someone looking for it will see it. The point is to make every shot look good.
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Visual Products

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CineTape

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Wooden Camera

The Slider

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Technodolly

Paralinx LLC

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Tai Audio

Abel Cine

Ritter Battery

Willys Widgets

CineLab

Glidecam