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Punching in


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#1 Don Davis

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 12:14 PM

Hi gang,

I recently shot a short where the editor happened to be on set. We had a brief discussion about coverage prior to shooting, and he insisted that all close-ups on talent be at least 30 degrees different in angle than the wide/medium shot. Only this, he claimed, would allow him to cut directly from a medium shot to the close-up. This was a single camera shoot, with multiple takes at different focal lengths to achieve a wide, medium, and CU of the talent. I've been on several 2-camera shoots where the DP would run both cameras simultaneously on one actor to capture a medium and CU in one take. In these circumstances he would place the lenses as close as possible to one another to insure it appeared to be from the same angle. My question is as follows: do you need to change camera position when punching in to a CU to ensure cutting options?

Don Davis
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#2 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 12:28 PM

Hi gang,

I recently shot a short where the editor happened to be on set. We had a brief discussion about coverage prior to shooting, and he insisted that all close-ups on talent be at least 30 degrees different in angle than the wide/medium shot. Only this, he claimed, would allow him to cut directly from a medium shot to the close-up. This was a single camera shoot, with multiple takes at different focal lengths to achieve a wide, medium, and CU of the talent. I've been on several 2-camera shoots where the DP would run both cameras simultaneously on one actor to capture a medium and CU in one take. In these circumstances he would place the lenses as close as possible to one another to insure it appeared to be from the same angle. My question is as follows: do you need to change camera position when punching in to a CU to ensure cutting options?

Don Davis
Novice DP
Los Angeles, CA

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


It's usually an editorial preference to have a slight viewing angle change if cutting a MS directly with a CU. The editor may want the POV to shift from the third person to perhaps the "face to face" viewpoint of the other actor in the scene.

Having exactly the same angle and "jump cutting" between a MS and CU can be disconcerting, and should usually be done instead with a continous zoom or dolly move.
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#3 Michael Nash

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Posted 02 September 2005 - 03:48 PM

I've been on several 2-camera shoots where the DP would run both cameras simultaneously on one actor to capture a medium and CU in one take. In these circumstances he would place the lenses as close as possible to one another to insure it appeared to be from the same angle.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


That's the difference, right there. Two cameras running at the same time ensure the action will be exactly the same in both shots (the timing of head turns, lip flaps and so on). So even if the angle appears similar, the continuity of action helps "smooth out" a slight jump cut. A punch in can appear as a jump cut if the focal lengths aren't different enough, and if the action doesn't match exactly then the jump looks even worse.

In reality, even two cameras right next to each other view slightly different angles, especially if the focal lengths are different enough. When covering live events with a group (like in reality TV) I'll put the two cameras as close together as possible so that either camera can get a wide or a CU and still maintain a good eyeline. But that's out of necessity, trying to capture the most coverage in a single take.

How much a "punch in" bothers you (or the director, or the editor) is a matter of taste. I personally don't like it, but it's not a hard and fast rule. It's one of those gray areas where both the DP and the editor have an opinion and control over what coverage gets used. I can sympathize with the editor not wanting to be forced into what he feels is a "bad" cut, and trying to protect himself in case he needs to cut directly from the medium to the CU. However, it may be the director or DP's intention that the CU come after a cut to the reverse angle, in which case they may WANT the angle to look as similar as possible.

As a DP I always feel that each frame should look as strong as possible, and rarely does a simple punch-in give me a perfect frame from a wider shot. You'll usually want to shift a little one way or the other to get the background to fall into a better composition. I guess I just feel that if a shot is worth framing, then it's worth framing "right." That alone avoids a jump cut, because a punch-in isn't doing anything for your storytelling if the shot doesn't look any different than the wider shot!

I generally follow the rule that as the lens gets tighter so should the eyeline (camera gets closer to the "line" or axis). But that's just a general rule to make sure things cut smoothly; you can break it at will if another angle is stronger. For example you could cut to a CU in profile, if a more object POV is needed at that moment.
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#4 David E. McMurray

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 04:05 AM

Hi gang,

I recently shot a short where the editor happened to be on set. We had a brief discussion about coverage prior to shooting, and he insisted that all close-ups on talent be at least 30 degrees different in angle than the wide/medium shot. Only this, he claimed, would allow him to cut directly from a medium shot to the close-up. This was a single camera shoot, with multiple takes at different focal lengths to achieve a wide, medium, and CU of the talent. I've been on several 2-camera shoots where the DP would run both cameras simultaneously on one actor to capture a medium and CU in one take. In these circumstances he would place the lenses as close as possible to one another to insure it appeared to be from the same angle. My question is as follows: do you need to change camera position when punching in to a CU to ensure cutting options?

Don Davis
Novice DP
Los Angeles, CA

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


In the "olden days" you never let the writer on the set. Followed closely by the editor.

As a learning experience... I think he/she is right. Great stuff for a DP/Camera Op to think about! Maybe the Director too.

Dave McMurray
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#5 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 06 September 2005 - 06:50 AM

Hi,

Compare this to the situation on video-shot TV stuff, where the "closeup" is often just exactly the same take again, only on the longer end of the zoom!

Phil
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