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Do One Camera Shoots Still Exist?


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#1 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 09 July 2005 - 11:48 PM

I believe the day of only having one camera on a set are over.

No matter how high end the number one camera is, it's pretty much a given that another camera or two or three will be in operation if no other reason than to grab behind the scenes footage for the "making of" or "DVD extras" possibilities.

Are any productions still being shot using one, and only one camera?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 July 2005 - 02:05 AM

I believe the day of only having one camera on a set are over.

No matter how high end the number one camera is, it's pretty much a given that another camera or two or three will be in operation if no other reason than to grab behind the scenes footage for the "making of" or "DVD extras" possibilities.

Are any productions still being shot using one, and only one camera?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Sure, there are plenty of single-camera 35mm features made for example -- I've shot dozens myself. And I've shot some single-camera HD features.

A small video camera may show up on the set for a day or two to shoot interviews for an EPK, but I don't really count that any more than I would count a crew member having a home video camera in his bag, or a camera crew from Entertainment Tonight showing up. Otherwise, if you counted that, you'd have to start counting cell phone cameras...

The only cameras you can count are ones shooting footage to be used in the movie. And there are plenty of movies made with a single camera used for all the footage in the final film.

I don't understand why some home video camera or something not being used to shoot the actual movie should suggest that you're making a "multi-camera production". That's ridiculous. My digital point-n-shoot Canon can take brief bursts of video -- does that mean when I'm shooting a single-camera feature that I should tell people that "we're using about twenty-five to thirty cameras on this movie" because of all the people with cell phones and digital still cameras and home DV camcorders capable of shooting moving pictures? None of them are being used to create material to be used in the movie.

Even in the pre-digital age, there was always someone on set with a home movie camera or something. If I said something like "Lawrence of Arabia was shot with three 65mm cameras" (I don't know that, but it's just an example) would it matter if three crew members had a Super-8 camera in their bags? Would you say "Actually, the movie was made with six cameras"? No, of course not.

If a movie is shot using only one camera to generate all the footage used in the movie, then it's rightly called a "single-camera production" regardless of whether some home video camera happened to be on set.
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#3 Max Jacoby

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Posted 10 July 2005 - 05:02 AM

I've worked with some Dops who, although there are two cameras crews, mostly work with one, because using a second camera usually is a compromise to their lighting. It is very common on a single camera shoot to bring in a second camera on a daily basis, if the need arises (crowd scenes, stunts, etc...)
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#4 Remi Adefarasin

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Posted 10 July 2005 - 06:28 AM

I'm shooting single camera at the moment.

What works for me on many films is to have a spare body as an emergency back-up. Then on those days that you have a stunt or large crowd you bring in extra crew to man that camera and others you might need. I like shooting single camera not because of lighting but because you think more about what you want to say and devise the shot & staging for that end. With two cameras it?s often cover cover and you get to the cutting room discovering you?ve covered the story but not told it.

Having said that I often shoot with two cameras for the whole shoot but many scenes are single camera for the above reasons.

EPK footage is never shot on film these days.

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#5 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 10 July 2005 - 07:28 AM

There are many "single camera" shows (features or TV) that have a second camera body for steadicam or handheld. Most of the time only one of those cameras works at a time, but there are two carried on the show throughout.
But lately every movie I do seems to have multiple cameras. The first movie I did this year had two cameras working simultaneously about 90% of the time. The second movie I did this year had two cameras working 95% of the time, three about 35% of the time, and 4-6 working about 20% of the time. And a TV show I just finished used 5 cameras full time.
I think more and more shows shoot multiple cameras simultaneously more often because the schedules have shrunk and they have less time to cover the same amount of stuff. It's cheaper in the long run to shoot this way.
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#6 Micah Fernandez

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Posted 10 July 2005 - 11:23 AM

If I'm not mistaken, multiple cameras are the exception, not the norm. The only times more than one camera should be needed is for action sequences with extremely complicated blocking or if the entire setup can be only shot once. As someone above me said, the lighting is compromised and even the blocking is limited by multiple camera setups.
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#7 Alessandro Machi

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Posted 10 July 2005 - 02:54 PM

It seems to make sense to have a second camera body (with at least one lens already columnated for that camera) and tripod as a back up at all times, and it seems logical to document the day to day production, even if the person doing the documenting is only there for an hour or two each day.

Lower Cost HD camcorders are probably going to be used more and more as b-roll cameras as time goes on. How will film shoots respond? Will film shoots become more multiple camera friendly? May they reach a point where insert shots are shot digitally and combined on the D.I.? Or is that crazy because now part of the film did not originate on a film negative.

Is it more difficult to negative cut match different film cameras, or does the D.I. make it a moot point nowadays?
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#8 Dan Salzmann

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Posted 10 July 2005 - 03:38 PM

I don't believe that footage shot on low cost HD camcorders will ever intercut correctly with film.
As far as multi-camera film shoots are concerned, perhaps the key issues is the lenses matching.
Images shot on a PL mount Arri 2c will intercut just fine with images shot on a PL mount Arricam if the lenses match (and the cameras are in good working order).
There is no way to perfectly match images shot on an Angenieux zoom and images shot with Primos if the Primo look is the one you are going for.
DI is a great tool not a miracle cure.
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#9 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 10 July 2005 - 06:50 PM

If I'm not mistaken, multiple cameras are the exception, not the norm. The only times more than one camera should be needed is for action sequences with extremely complicated blocking or if the entire setup can be only shot once.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Who says? There are many instances where having multiple cameras speeds things up. Shooting action with multiple cameras is almost a given, but what about process trailer work where you need lots of coverage and the producer only gives you a day with the shotmaker? Or times when you have to be out of a location in a short period of time and have lots of coverage to do? Or the director could just like to use two cameras...it could be part of the look of the film.
I think multiple camera shoots are becoming the norm. Money isn't the only reason this would be the case, but it sure is an important reason.
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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 July 2005 - 11:56 PM

People will generally only mix film and digital for specific reasons, not willy-nilly. For example, "Seabiscuit" and "Ali" used that twin PAL lipstick camera rig (I think "Cinderella Man" did too) for a few sports action POV shots but they are very fast cuts (partly because they don't match very well.)

For one reason, it tends to be simpler to keep all your cameras on a set in the same format for ease of interchangeability of parts and accessories, plus keeping the post simpler. As of now, most features still do NOT use digital intermediates, remember, so mixing formats can really hurt the budget because it requires some sort of conversion step.

I would expect low-cost HD cameras only to be snuck in on 35mm shoots when it allows some unusual shot, like a crash-camera rig would allow. And the problem of matching the quality would have to be addressed. As for using a cheap HD camera as a B-camera for a pro HD camera shoot, that could happen but again, it could create more problems than it solves.

The music video I just did mixed 720P Varicam footage with 25P DVX100 footage, but the DV footage was treated in post to look even more different, except for a few shots where I had to try and match in color-correction some DV shots to the HD (and a few HD shots had to be timed to look like the DV.)
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#11 Max Jacoby

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Posted 11 July 2005 - 05:27 AM

Will film shoots become more multiple camera friendly?


Whether a film uses single or multiple cameras is mostly a decision by the director/dop. Some people like to shoot multiple cameras and some don't. I've worked with directors who couldn't get their head around using two cameras, Dops who were control freaks and didn't want to shoot with 2 cameras despite a whole B-camera crew being there/paid all the time. On the other hand Michael Mann famously shot the diner scene between DeNiro and Pacino in 'Heat' with four cameras, two on each actor.

There are advantges and disadvantages to both approaches, so it is not a questions of shoots become more 'multiple camera friendly'.
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