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How many film cameras are considered "normal" for a camera package?


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#1 Reuel Gomez

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 06:32 PM

Say I had four to six sync-sound cameras, all in a particular configuration (studio, handheld, Steadicam, etc.) and two MOS cameras, would that be considered "too much"?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 07:54 PM

Fine if your budget was north of 30 million dollars...

 

For example, on "Astronaut Farmer", which had a budget of 12 million dollars, we had two Panaflexes and one Arri-2C, and for a couple of days we got a third Panaflex for second unit.

 

On "Big Love" we had two crews and three Panaflexes, one was a stripped down lightweight Panaflex permanently built for Steadicam.

 

But on "Smash", we just had two Alexas, two crews, except for big musical number days where we brought in a third camera.

 

Now some cop shows have more oddball cameras (DSLR's, GoPros, Sony F3's, etc.) for big action scenes, but many of those are not operated, just stuck somewhere.

 

It's not just the cameras (and extra lenses, and support gear), it's the crews if you run all of those cameras at once.  And even if you didn't, you'd need a larger crew just to set-up the gear, wrap it, maintain it, etc.  Almost every camera would need an operator and a first AC and a 2nd AC if used for the scene.  So if you ran six cameras, that's 18 people on your camera crew.  Maybe a couple could share a 2nd AC, and maybe one of the MOS cameras was unmanned and just needed a 1st AC, but you see the cost issues are not just with the cameras.  The other factor is the amount of film stock you would burn running that many cameras at once.

 

Reuel, you seem particularly obsessed with how big-budget movies are made, as if you will be jumping into one right off the bat.  Most people get lucky to have one or two cameras on their first movie and a few days of Steadicam, two or three on the second with a full-time Steadicam, a full-time second unit or c-cam on the third, etc.  I have yet to use six sync cameras and two MOS cameras on a show!

 

I'm not sure all of that would even fit into a typical camera truck.


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#3 Reuel Gomez

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 08:16 PM

Reuel, you seem particularly obsessed with how big-budget movies are made, as if you will be jumping into one right off the bat.  Most people get lucky to have one or two cameras on their first movie and a few days of Steadicam, two or three on the second with a full-time Steadicam, a full-time second unit or c-cam on the third, etc.  I have yet to use six sync cameras and two MOS cameras on a show!

I guess it's because those are the kind of films I grew up with and still watch today. I was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome a couple of years back which explains why I have such a narrow-minded mentality when it comes to taste in movies. So it's really just that I hope that one day I'll get the chance to do one, even if it's not my first. I'm just trying to educate myself so if that day ever comes I'll go in knowing what I'm doing.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 25 August 2013 - 10:31 PM

You get there one step at a time, you learn to make a movie with one camera so you can figure out when a second camera would help, and so on. Sometimes you learn that fewer cameras are better than more... the first time you try throwing three or more cameras on a scene.
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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 03:20 AM

Even - and perhaps especially - in my small world, I've found that even throwing a second camera in can end up compromising both. I find that often, even in quite small locations, if you don't have huge amounts of upscale lighting gear, you can find yourself lighting things quite - what's the term - narrowly? So that only one camera really works at once. If you have big gear and big locations you can light more generally, but often that's tricky on anything but big shows.

 

P


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#6 Reuel Gomez

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 06:45 AM

Thanks for the advice guys. I guess I've been getting so hung up on what I want to do and less so on what I'm going to have to do to make it in the business. I've been focusing more on all these formats and cameras and lenses and less on sharpening my storytelling skills now. I'm still going to comment and post on this forum, but I think in my free time, I should probably start trying to teach myself about how to tell a story.
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#7 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 26 August 2013 - 07:14 AM

Just shoot a lot. It helps. It happens because filmmaking is expensive, but people just don't shoot enough.


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