Just want to get some different explanations on shooting 2 cams or 1. I know there are some pros to shoot 2 cams, especially when shooting 20 day features with a lot of locations. What cons have you come across, and when does it absolutely pertain to shooting 2 cams vs. 1?
Having two cameras limits a lot of what you can do in terms of lighting. You need more lights and grip gear. Shooting with 2 cameras limits the type of lenses you can use a lot of the time. You also can't cheat actors over as much and can't flip the set for reverse shots.
Another big con I've found is the loss of attention that I give to an individual shot. If I'm operating A cam, I can't see what B cam is capturing.
Anyway, it's definitely a time saver and necessary with tight schedules or spontaneous performances. People can still get amazing shots with 2 camera set ups. However, at least for me, there's a slight loss of quality.
Well put, I would only add It is almost like there is more craft in a one camera shoot, despite the fact that it is probably technically harder to light et cetera for a 2 cam shoot. something a bit more sterile in a multi cam shoot. Sorry or the abstracts, but it is how I feel about it
When you look at it logically, you are trying to do something in half the time by getting your two shots at once.
In a way this would be fine if there was just as much time provided to setting up each camera but there tends to be as much pressure to get rolling as there is on a one camera shoot. You still don't want to have everyone standing around waiting on the camera(s)
In theory if you take the time and give each camera the same amount of time and attention it shouldn't be a problem.
The other thing is that it often means you have two camera operators who might have slightly different styles or something.
Then there are the compromises in lighting for two cameras too.
As Chris says, it leads to a bit of a loss of the craft in things as people struggle more to make it all work and to make compromises but it save time which is massively valuable.
I've never found that I've needed more lights or Grip equipment to shoot with two cameras. Lighting gets compromised to a certain extent, as what works for one camera rarely looks as good for the other.
The main disadvantage that I've seen is that the Producers are keen to use the 2nd camera as much as possible, so you end up spending a lot of time trying to shoehorn the B camera in, when it would have been much quicker just to shoot it twice with the A camera. Another common problem is that Directors love additional material, so instead of splitting the workload between A & B, they shoot everything they want on A, and add loads more for B.
If you have to do it, insist that both cameras shoot in the same direction. Avoid cross-shooting. Don't bone the sound dept by shooting wide and tight at the same time, or by shooting actors that they can't cover.
Yeah, if you can be selective with when you choose to use the additional camera then it can be a huge timesaver for certain scenes. But often producers are forcing you to shoot a second angle when the composition is crap, or we're wasting time moving crap out of the 2nd camera's shot, or we're making it impossible for sound to boom the shot. So there's really no time or effort saved under those circumstances.
That said, it's great to have extra camera bodies as backup. And also having bodies pre-built in handheld or steadicam configuration while you're still shooting on the dolly, so you can leapfrog to the next setup.
Thanks for the reply guys. I feel better reading your comments. I agree that it can possibly speed things up, but also can slow other areas down, and I don't want to compromise a crappy composition on Bcam just because the producers want to move. I made the decision early this week to shoot 1 camera body. Budget constraints were a part of this decision but at the end of the day, I am 100% confident to pull off the picture with 1 camera body.
I just finished a low budget indie feature with two cameras. We shot for 18 days and couldn't have done it using only one camera. As mentioned before what makes this advantageous is having the cameras shooting almost next to each other, but on different lenses. One is getting the OTS while the other is shooting a clean CU. Throughout the film, we never shot cross angles and there were times we only used one camera, such as complicated dolly shots or jib shots. But if the cameras are less than 30 degrees apart and the lenses are different, your lighting doesn't suffer and you make things go faster by not having to go back and do clean shots. I had two operators and a monitor that I could flip back and forth between their shots to see them. I set the framing, but trusted their instincts and abilities, which is why I recruited them for the project to begin with. You do need to take extra time allowing the ACs to get focus marks for both cameras. And there were times when an actor would change their movement from the rehearsal that made the second camera's shot worthless.
Done right, if the producer and director understand the limitations and the advantages, shooting with two cameras is a good thing. I was lucky and had a very understanding producer who was fine not using one camera when there wasn't a good shot for it to get. It all begins with your conversations with the director and producer weeks before cameras roll - and the AD once you begin to shoot. It really is how most TV shows and feature films are working now. And it can be just as creative for both cameras, without extra lights or grip equip.
A huge con to remember with two cameras is you can end up with a heck of a lot of footage afterwards, so whatever savings you might be making on set, you're instead pushing on to post for them to deal with.
But if your editor is fine with that, then that is all good. I shot a 48hr film contest once with two cameras. Tough job for the editor (but we'd delete in camera any worthless takes, to help save him afterwards), but it worked out well given the time constraints.
I'd agree with the comments mentioned earlier, in that I'd prefer to shoot with just one camera. *But* having a second camera is very handy! Though use it as a back up for if something goes wrong, or to be built up for the next shot while you're shooting the current one.
Edited by David Peterson, 20 July 2014 - 12:03 AM.
I would say that it is possible to cover a wide and tight at the same time for what would normally be a 2 shot, then over the shoulders. Here's something that I shot a few years ago where this worked out pretty well. A Cam is an Epic with Angenieux Optimo 16-42mm. B Cam is a Scarlet with Canon 70-200. Since I was a camera department of one on this shoot, I framed up A Cam and locked it off, then operated B Cam, punching in on the lens for close ups as needed.
We then turned the B Cam around and shot the reverse:
If we had shot the overs separately, then I would have liked to soften the key light on the close ups, as the nose shadows are a bit harsh. But sometimes you have to let those things go in order to make your day. I should have done that for the reverse, but I ended up just leaving it alone for the sake of time.