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Shooting Ratios


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#1 Deji Joseph

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 06:59 AM

From your experience, what are your general shooting ratios for Short and Feature films, Music videos Corporates and Web media?
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#2 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 18 June 2011 - 08:15 AM

How long is a piece of string... It depends on the budget and the shooting format - video tends to a much higher shooting ratio than film.

A ratio of 10-12 to 1 is pretty comfortable, although 5 to 1 is manageable if you know what you want and the actors are hitting their performances on camera (or at least giving acceptable performances). BBC drama tend to budget for 18 to 1 - TV likes lots of coverage in dramas. Some feature films go up to 100 to 1.

Video documentaries commonly 18-32 to one, although I've heard of a production that has 2000 to 1.
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#3 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 19 June 2011 - 10:29 AM

I tend to push for/work with a stock 10:1 ratio, when working on film. I know i can go shorter than that on some scenes and longer on others, but 10:1 tends to be average if there is enough rehearsals ect. Video can be much much much more. Recently I just did a corporate gig where we shot 8 hours (all day) for a 20 minute piece. I'm not sure what that ratio is, but me thinks the prod company just wanted to charge more for post.
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#4 Karl Eklund

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 07:28 AM

I am hijacking this thread a little to ask: Who decides the shooting ratio and using what? By that I mean, I am working on a short, and our budget allows us only to have 9-1, which is fine. But now that I will order stock, I need to decide how much for each scene. What is the norm, to use a timed script, or shotlist/setups? For example there are some scenes I know will need more coverage. Establishing shots of a house and the like, will probably only need 2-1 ratio, if even that. So, who comes up with the figures (DoP?, Director?, First AD?, Producer?, etc), and using what system?
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#5 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 07:40 AM

The director should decide the coverage they need for each scene. They usually do a shot list which the 1st AD can use for scheduling. They should keep in mind their shooting ratio and use the available stock wisely, so they don't over shoot and have enough to enable the actors to go for a number of takes for their key emotional scenes. You can work it out partly by using the number of pages for each scene. On the filming days you may discover that you need to cut back, so you need to prioritise the key pieces of action for the story.

Edited by Brian Drysdale, 20 June 2011 - 07:41 AM.

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#6 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 20 June 2011 - 07:13 PM

I would add that the DoP should be in on the shot list too, but yes, the director is the one who will be making the calls as to when it's shot. Now, if s/he goes over the ratio for one scene, they can make it up by cutting back on others, and or asking the producer for more recording media, whatever that is.
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#7 Matt Pacini

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 05:47 PM

I was on a commercial shoot for a 30 second spot, shooting a basketball team - Lebron James & Mike Bibby (& doubles for most of their stuff).

They had 5 cameras going on all shots, and they shot for 12 hours Saturday, and 13 hours Sunday... for a .30 second spot.
Abso-freakin-lutely insane.
It was the same 2 minutes or so of action, over, and over, and over, and over...
It seemed like the director didn't know what he was doing, because he really wasn't asking for anything different at all in the takes.
Just "Ok, let's do it again".
Really insecure, if you ask me. Or a major Stanley Kubrick obsession.

There were I think 3 setups a day., being covered by 5 cameras.
I mean seriously, how much coverage do you really need for a 30 second spot?

I can't even imagine how much film stock they burned through.

Matt Pacini
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#8 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 08:21 PM

I tend to push for/work with a stock 10:1 ratio, when working on film. I know i can go shorter than that on some scenes and longer on others, but 10:1 tends to be average if there is enough rehearsals ect.


And here I was going to ask if you'd DP my upcoming short on 16mm. Sadly, I need to shoot about 6:1. Honestly, I haven't seen why people need to shoot >10:1 anyhow unless Directors want alot of coverage, are picky, or just plain ole unorganized cast and crew.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 08:34 PM

10:1 is pretty normal for low-budget films and doesn't mean a lot of coverage was done. Typical medium budget movie shoots 20:1 minimum and a digital movie is more like 40:1 and higher.

7:1 is about the lowest I've managed on a small 18-day movie that was made in 35mm for about $150,000. And just to get there required very few takes and very little coverage.
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#10 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 09:42 PM

I've done 4:1 on a 16mm short before. It gets tough but is possible, esp if the director and actors are working really well together and if there are lines, they are memorized perfectly. Some simple planning can solve so many issues and time waste.
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#11 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 11:15 PM

A lot of it, Matt, is often because someone isn't happy with something, often neither director, nor dp....

p.s. Nice to see you back here, been a long while since you've been on!
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#12 Matthew W. Phillips

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Posted 28 June 2011 - 11:28 PM

10:1 is pretty normal for low-budget films and doesn't mean a lot of coverage was done. Typical medium budget movie shoots 20:1 minimum and a digital movie is more like 40:1 and higher.


Maybe I'm stingy or they forgot what it is like to have few resources. Who knows? Honestly though, it really comes down to what do you have available to get it done. I'm sure if it came down to lower ratios for food on the table, you'd see them come down quite a bit. People can always find ways to be more resourceful.
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#13 John Sprung

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 12:29 AM

- video tends to a much higher shooting ratio than film.


Yup. Back when TV shows were shot on film, they used to print about 7:1, probably shot about 10:1. For tape, multiply by maybe 3 or 4.... I've seen it to where an editor would have to work a 40 hour week just to watch dailies.



-- J.S.
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#14 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 01:15 AM

Maybe I'm stingy or they forgot what it is like to have few resources. Who knows? Honestly though, it really comes down to what do you have available to get it done. I'm sure if it came down to lower ratios for food on the table, you'd see them come down quite a bit. People can always find ways to be more resourceful.


I've done films at the 7:1 ratio, you need to be really tight on your coverage and keep the number of retakes down. I know of films which are even tighter and I once shot a 50 min community video which was edited totally in camera. Fortunately, I didn't watch it, but the structure was quickly worked out on paper and if something failed, we did an edit in camera on the tail of the previous good shot. An interesting exercise, but limiting.

TV producers like loads of coverage. so they have control during the edit plus they can adjust the actors' timing.
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#15 Joseph Arch

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Posted 29 June 2011 - 11:28 PM

I was on a commercial shoot for a 30 second spot, shooting a basketball team - Lebron James & Mike Bibby (& doubles for most of their stuff).

They had 5 cameras going on all shots, and they shot for 12 hours Saturday, and 13 hours Sunday... for a .30 second spot.
Abso-freakin-lutely insane.
It was the same 2 minutes or so of action, over, and over, and over, and over...
It seemed like the director didn't know what he was doing, because he really wasn't asking for anything different at all in the takes.
Just "Ok, let's do it again".
Really insecure, if you ask me. Or a major Stanley Kubrick obsession.

There were I think 3 setups a day., being covered by 5 cameras.
I mean seriously, how much coverage do you really need for a 30 second spot?

I can't even imagine how much film stock they burned through.

Matt Pacini



I know how you feel. I was also on a shoot and the director took such a long time to setup the shot, and then took even longer to shoot it. He just did not know what he was doing. What should have taken 2 hours to shoot ended up taking 5 hours. There was also no security. People were walking in and out of shots in the background.


Kevin Smith said the same thing about his scene in Die Hard 4. What should have taken 1 day to shoot took 5 days.

Edited by Joseph Arch, 29 June 2011 - 11:31 PM.

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