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How many angles w/single camera?


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#1 Joseph Dudek

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 07:54 AM

My question relates to how many sets up and different angles can you shoot from on scene, without asking too much of your actors/crew. For example, if you are doing an short film with people working for free, and the Director wants as many angles of a scene as possible so they have a lot to work with in the edit, where do you draw the line? Seeing as you will probably need to do the scene several times for each camera set up + the inevitability of things going wrong, bad takes etc.

Edited by Joseph Dudek, 28 September 2012 - 07:55 AM.

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#2 Travis Gray

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 09:01 AM

Storyboard. Plan what angles are needed ahead of time and then spend more time on takes to get the right performances if needed. Some people do overshoot, that's their style, but if you want to be efficient, plan the shots and have confidence in them. It'll make editing easier and save on wasted film/disk space.

Again, some directors do that.. forgot which big names have done it, and that may be their style, but, I'm a big fan of efficiency and pre-planning to save time later.
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#3 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 11:59 AM

Storyboard. Plan what angles are needed ahead of time and then spend more time on takes to get the right performances if needed. Some people do overshoot, that's their style, but if you want to be efficient, plan the shots and have confidence in them. It'll make editing easier and save on wasted film/disk space.

Again, some directors do that.. forgot which big names have done it, and that may be their style, but, I'm a big fan of efficiency and pre-planning to save time later.


Exactly. This is what I meant about pre-visualization and discipline in a previous thread. For my first 16mm short (which was 12-minutes in the final cut,) I storyboarded every shot. It's a lot of work, but it'll also teach you a lot. Especially if you start out doing it now. You will also have a better idea of what you want now (as far as angles and shots) instead of having to figure it out on set. That'll give you more time to try different things or to be spontaneous when you're shooting.
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#4 Tom Jensen

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Posted 28 September 2012 - 10:26 PM

I've never been a fan of storyboards and have rarely seen them used except for FX shots. You can pretty much walk onto a set in the morning block the scene, light it, rehearse and shoot. Get your master or wide shot first. Bump in and get your medium shots or over the shoulders, then your close-ups. Then you turn around and shoot the other way and get the reverses. More often than not you two actors maybe more. Just remember that coverage is getting what you need to cut the scene together. Don't shoot this way and that way and try to get everything because the money starts ringing up fast. You may need insert shots or reaction shots, Get those but be decisive and understand what you need to tell the story, The problem I find with storyboards is that your set and the blocking is going to change or be different on the day. Some directors lock themselves into storyboards and want you to get exactly what they want or nothing else. That's silly unless the shot is real specific and you have a big budget to pull off a big exterior or something. But, when you just want to cover dialog, make it easy on yourself. Don't re-invent the wheel. Shooting everything is a sign of insecurity and fear. My advice is to look at your script or the scene. Read it and then find a few movies that have something similar or tv shows and then look at what they do. Whey you find something similar, emulate it. Count the shot and categorize them into master, medium close-up. What moves do the camera make? Does the camera follow the actor in? Does he sit down, What does he do. And you can see how many shots it takes and how the director covers it. Keep it simple but don't forget something you need to make it work. And get everything you need from one direction before you turn around and re-light. Nothing will anger a crew more than going back to shoot something that you should have gotten when you were lit. Especially, when they are working for free.
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#5 Joseph Dudek

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 08:59 AM

Then you turn around and shoot the other way and get the reverses.


As in shooting both sides of the 180 line?
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#6 Tom Jensen

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 08:24 PM

As in shooting both sides of the 180 line?


As in shooting the opposite direction without crossing the 180 line. If you are shooting dialogue, you turn around to get the other persons' dialogue looking the other way
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#7 Joseph Dudek

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 07:04 PM

You say that shooting too many set-ups is a sign of insecurity, maybe that's true, but I've heard of directors such as David Fincher and Stanley Kubrick using as many angles as they possibly can, as well hundreds of takes, to maximise what they have to work with in post. Obviously this is a luxury that amateur film makers cannot afford, but perhaps it is not a question of insecurity as much as practicality and budget.

Edited by Joseph Dudek, 30 September 2012 - 07:06 PM.

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#8 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 09:06 PM

It can also be down to performance. Some actors really don't get it right until a few takes in, YMMV of course. But honestly, for the most part, overshooting is often a sign you don't know what you want. Which is fine, it's just something you need to be prepared for.
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#9 Anthony Kennedy

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Posted 05 November 2012 - 12:38 PM

I'm very of the mind that one should plan something out meticulously, but always be open to happy accidents, and inspirations on location. If you suddenly see a new shot that wasn't on the shotlist, or perhaps a shot, that will allowed you to cut out three set ups and still tell the story better, than take it. Storyboards are great. If I have the luxury of spending a lot of time on location, then I will use people as stand-ins and do storyboards with my dslr (accounting for the aspect ration and everything). That being said, some of the shots I'm most proud of came out of the sun coming through the window just the right way, and taking advantage of it.

Also if you're working on a low budget film, your actors are likely less talented and less experienced (or perhaps, talented, but used to a different medium like theatre). It is very important to spend a lot of time rehearsing (in the weeks/days coming up to the shoot, not just before the takes). Make sure you rehearse initially, in a more comfortable, natural way without the camera, so they can get a grasp on the emotional arch, then bring in the camera(s), and rehearse with them, so they know where to go, when to cheat, so on and so forth. The day of the shoot I wouldn't rehearse or I'd do very very little. A well rehearsed, focused actor, will almost always give their best performances in the first 4 takes.

Under no circumstance should you do more than 3 takes, if the performance or camera movement wasn't right, it is your fault for not preparing enough. Very few professional actors will do more than that, and especially when you're not paying someone, you can't expect more than them, especially if you're shooting the same performance, as it will be very hard for them to bring some new "truth" to the scene on their 15th performance. It wont matter if you do 12 takes, and the 11th one happens to be great, if the performance they give at every other angle is compromised afterwards, because they're now on their 13th performance even though it's just the first take on an alternate angle.

Make sure between each take the notes you give actors will actually help them improve on the next take. If you rush through giving notes, and if you're vague then you'll end up doing many takes, until by chance, it at best, sort of, falls into place. Gives actors simple tasks, do not over-intellectualize the scene for them while shooting (all table work is to be done in rehearsal). Do not tell them to "be more sad", you can not act a generalized emotion, give them an action...such as "confess" or "divert" or "erupt".
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#10 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 21 November 2012 - 06:45 PM

Under no circumstance should you do more than 3 takes, if the performance or camera movement wasn't right, it is your fault for not preparing enough. Very few professional actors will do more than that


Usually the professional actors know when things aren't right, they'll do more than 3 if required, although often time pressures may require you doing it from another angle and you'll have to build up it up there. However, if it's the key emotional moment for the story you have to go for more otherwise you've lost it. Sometimes the actors aren't in the zone at that moment for such a scene and need those extra takes.
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