The Filmmaker`s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital

The Filmmaker`s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital
THE
FILMMAKER’S
HANDBOOK
ACOMPREHENSIVEGUIDE
FORTHEDIGITALAGE
FOURTHEDITION
StevenAscher&EdwardPincus
DrawingsbyCarolKellerandRobertBrun
OriginalPhotographsbyTedSpagna
andStephenMcCarthy
CompletelyRevisedandUpdatedbyStevenAscher
WithContributionsbyDavidLeitner
APLUMEBOOK
CHAPTER9
ShootingtheMovie
T
hischapterisabouttheproductionphaseofmakingamovie:
planningandorganizingtheshoot,directingthefilm,and
camerawork.Giventherangeofpossibletypesofproductions—dramas
anddocumentaries,studentprojects,andprofessionalfilms—youmay
findpartsofthechaptermoreorlessrelevanttoyourwork.Butthe
conceptsandmethodsofonekindofproductionoftenapplytoothers,
evenifsomewhatdifferentinscaleorexecution.
Becauseshootingamoviedrawsonalltheskillsandtechniquesof
filmmaking,insomesensealltheotherchaptersinthebookarerelevant
tothisone.Morespecificallyregardingthechoicesmadebythedirector
orcameraoperator,it’simportanttohaveanunderstandingofcameras
(Chapters3and6),lenses(Chapter4),andediting(Chapter13).The
financialandlegalaspectsofthetopicsinthischapterarediscussedin
Chapter17.
THEGOALSOFPRODUCTION
Atthemostbasiclevel,productionisthetimetocaptureimagesand
soundsthatyou’llusetotellastory.Foradrama,productionrepresentsa
tremendouscollaborationbetweenallthosebehindthecamera
(producers,writers,director,artdirector,cinematographer,etc.)andthe
actorswhoperforminfrontofit.Inadocumentary,there’sanotherkind
ofcollaborationbetweenthefilmcrewandthefilm’ssubjects.
It’simportanttokeepinmindthatproductionisnotanendinitself,
butameanstoanend:everythingyoudoinproductionistoensurethat
whenyougettotheeditingroomyou’llhavetheelementsyouneedto
tellthestory.Thedirectormustconstantlythinkaboutnotjustwhatthe
cameraiscapturing,buthowthatfootagecanbeeditedtogether.Partof
thedirector’sskillisbeingabletovisualizehowscenesbeingfilmedwill
translatetothescreenandhowthey’llintegratewithscenesthathave
alreadybeenfilmedandonesnotyetshot.Havingsomeediting
experienceisextremelyusefulfordirectorsandcinematographers.
Thisisnottosaythatgoingintoproductionthedirectorneedstopreeditthemovie(thoughmoreonthatbelow).Infact,hopefullythe
directorwillprovidetheeditorwithmaterialthatcangotogetherin
multipleways.Eventightlyscriptedfilmsareoftentransformedinterms
ofpace,pointofview,andstorytellingintheeditingroom,andthe
directorshouldanticipatetheeditor’sneeds.
Thinkingaboutshootingandeditingatthesametimecanbeeven
trickierwithdocumentaries,whereyoumayhavelimitedornocontrol
overwhathappensinfrontofthecamera.You’recapturingeventsor
moments,butyoumaynotknowtheirmeaningandplaceinthefilmyet.
Thiscallsforevenmoreflexibilityonthepartofthedirectorand
cinematographer.
Thischapterisinpartaboutthelanguageofcinema,thegrammarof
howshotsflowfromonetothenext.Thekindsofshotsyougetandhow
they’reultimatelyeditedconstituteakeypartofthefilm’sstyle.People
sometimesthinkofstyleandcontentasseparatethings,buteachreflects
ontheotherandaffectshowaudiencesunderstandthefilm.There’s
meaningineveryshot.
Thoughpartsofthischapteraddressnarrativefilmmakingin
particular,documentaryworkofteninvolvessimilarconcernsintermsof
filming,editing,andproduction.Documentaryandfictionfilmmakers
shouldbeversedineachother’smethods.
Fig.9-1.IntheseshotsfromAlfredHitchcock’sPsycho,composition,
lighting,andselectivefocusworktogethertodrawusintothesceneand
makeuswanttoseewhatNormanBates(AnthonyHopkins)isseeing
throughthathole.(Universal)
Scenes,Takes,andSequences
Sometermsthatdefinehowthecameracapturesaction:
Asceneisaneventthattakesplaceinonesettinginacontinuous
timeperiod.Twoactorstalkinginakitchenmightbeindicatedinthe
scriptasascene.However,ifoneoftheactorswalksintothedining
room,andthecamerafollowsormovestothenextroom,thatisoften
consideredaseparatesceneinthescript.
Asequenceisgenerallyasceneoraseriesofscenesthatmakeupa
unit.Theabove-mentionedscenecouldalsobereferredtoasthe“kitchen
sequence.”However,sequencescanbemadeupofshotsthattakeplacein
differentlocalesbuttogetherformaconceptualwhole.Forexample,you
mightrefertothe“baptismsequence”inTheGodfather,whichincludesa
sceneinachurchintercutwithaseriesofscenesofmurdersbeing
committedaroundthecity.1
Ascenemaybemadeupofasingleshot(suchasawideshotofthe
entireaction)oritmaybedividedintoseveralshotsorcameraangles(or
justangles)thatwilleventuallybeeditedtogether(suchaspairedcloseupsoftwoactorstalkingtoeachother;seeFig.9-3).
Duringproduction,wheneverthecameraismovedtoanewspotto
getadifferentcameraangleorscene,that’sconsideredanewsetup.
Changingsetupsoftenmeansnotonlychangingcameraposition,but
changinglightingandotheraspectsaswell.Simplychangingthefocal
lengthofthelenstogetanewshotfromthesamepositionisnotanew
setup.
Varioustakesarefilmed,eachtryingtocaptureaparticularshot.For
example,“Scene8,Take14”isthefourteenthattempttocapturescene8
inthescript.Letterscanbeusedtoindicateaparticularanglecalledfor
inthescript.“Scene8A,Take4”isthefourthattempttogetthesecond
cameraangle(A)ofscene8.Anotherwaytonotateitwouldbe“Scene8,
Shot2,Take4.”
“Take”(orcameratake)referstoeachsectionoffootagefromthe
timethecamerabeginsshootinguntilitisturnedoff.“Shot”is
sometimesusedtomeancameratakeandsometimestomeantheedited
take—thatis,theportionofthetakeusedintheeditedversionofthe
movie.Toconfusethingsfurther,“scene”sometimesmeansshot(asin,
“scene-to-scenecolorcorrection”).Usuallythecontextdistinguishesthe
meaning.
COMPOSITIONANDSHOTSELECTION
TypesofShots
Shotsaredividedintothreebasiccategories—thelongshot(LS),
mediumshot(MS),andclose-up(CU).Thelongshotincludesthewhole
bodyofthepersoninrelationtotheenvironment,usuallytakenfrom
fairlyfarawayfromthesubject.Awideviewofalandscapeis
sometimescalledalongshotorawideshot.Theestablishingshotisa
longshotthatdefinesthebasicspaceorlocalewhereeventswilltake
place.Themediumshotisnottoodetailed,includespartofthesubject,
andusuallyincludespeoplefromheadtokneeorfromwaistup.The
close-upshowsadetailofthescene;inthecaseofaperson,itisaheadand-shouldershot.A“two-buttonclose-up”showseverythingfromthe
facedowntothesecondbuttononaperson’sshirt.Inabigclose-up,just
afacefillsthescreen,orinanextremeclose-up(ECU)partofafaceora
smallobjectfillsthescreen—forexample,awatchorafly.
Twoshotstakenfromoppositeanglesarecalledreverse-angleshots.
Aconversationbetweentwopeopleisoftenshotwitheachpersonalone
intheframeinthree-quarterprofile.Whenthesceneisedited,weseeone
personlookingright,thentheotherlookingleft(seeFigs.9-3and13-4).
Thisshooting-editingstyleiscalledshot/reverseshotorangle/reverse
angle.Theseshotsaretypicallyclose-ups,butthebackoftheother
personmaybevisible(aclose-upthathasthebackofanotherperson’s
headoranotherelementintheforegroundissometimescalledadirty
close-up).
Shot/reverse-shotcuttingisoftencontrastedwiththetwo-shot,which
isasingleshotoftwoactorsfromthefrontshowingthemfromtheknees
up(kneeshot)orwaistup.Thepoint-of-view(POV)shotistakenfrom
someone’sorsomething’svantagepoint(suchshot2inFig.9-16).Itcan
betakenfrombehindanactoroverhershoulderorwiththecameraatthe
positionofhereyes.POVshotsalsoincludeshotsfromextremevantage
points,suchasfromdirectlyoverhead(bird’s-eyeview).
Fig.9-2.Shotdivision.Thecategoriesarenotexact.(A)Theextreme
close-upfillsthescreenwithasmalldetail.(B)Thebigclose-upfillsthe
framewithaface.(C)Theclose-upincludestheheadandshoulders.(D)
Themediumshotincludesmostofthebody.Whentwopeopleareshown
inmediumshot,itisatwo-shot.(E)Thelongshotincludesthewhole
bodyandthesurroundings.(CarolKeller)
Fig.9-3.ThissequencefromBornYesterdaybeginswithatwo-shot,then
cutstoamediumshotofJudyHolliday,followedbyareverseangleof
WilliamHolden.(ColumbiaPictures)
Composition
Eachshotiscomposedorframedinthecameraviewfinder.Whenyou
filmfromascript,theactionandframingforeachshotcanbeblocked
out,orplanned,beforethetake.Inunscriptedwork,framingand
movementareimprovisedbasedonbothwhatisseenthroughthe
viewfinderandwhatisseenandheardoutsidetheframe.Framingcanbe
thoughtofasawaytocontrolviewers’attention:directingthemto
certainelementsinthescene,excludingotherelements,andcreatingan
imagethat’svisuallysatisfying.
Thenotionofcompositioncomesfrompaintingandinpartfromstill
photography,anditreferstothearrangementofobjectswithintheframe
—theirbalanceandtensions.Compositioninmotionpicturesisquite
different,sinceobjectsmovewithintheframe(subjectmovement)and
theframeitselfcanmove(cameramovement).Furthermore,oneshotis
editednexttoanother,creatinganentirelynewsetoftensionsand
balancesthroughtime.
Perhapsthemostcommonlycitedcompositionalguideistheruleof
thirds,whichcanhelpyouavoidplacingimportantareasofinterestdead
centerintheframe,whichtendstobedull.Instead,positionimportant
areasone-thirdofthescreenwidthfromonesideortheother(seethe
upper-leftimageinFig.9-20).Inaclose-upormediumclose-upshot,
youcanplacethesubject’seyesaboutathirdofthescreenheightfrom
thetop(thenosewillthenberoughlycenteredintheframe;seeFig.1233).Itshouldbenotedthatagreatmanywell-balancedcompositionsdo
notconformtothis“rule.”
Trytoplaceobjectsandpeoplenaturallyinthestaticframe—either
comfortablywithintheframeorusingtheedgetocutthemoff
decisively;don’tplacethemsoclosetotheedgeoftheframethatthey
seemtofightwithit.Avoidlargedeadspacesorlosingthesubjectina
massofirrelevantdetails.Beparticularlyattentivetowhat’sdirectly
behindthesubject,suchasplantsthatmayseemtobegrowingoutofa
person’shead,oractivitythatdistractsfromwhatyouwanttheaudience
tofocuson.
Akeyconsiderationwhenframingamediumshotoraclose-upofa
personishowmuchheadroomthereisbetweenthetopofhisorherhead
andthetopoftheframe.Individualshotsvarytremendouslyintermsof
howmuchheadroomfeelscomfortable.InFig.9-14,thesubjects’heads
nearlytouchthetopoftheframe,whichworkswellinthisscene.Inshot
3AinFig.9-16,thespaceaboveGraceKelly’sheadfeelsnaturalinthe
wideshot,butintheclose-up(3D),thesameamountofheadroomseems
perhapsunnecessary(thefinalframemightfeelbetterbalancedifthe
cameratilteddownjustabitasitmovesin).ManyoftheshotsinFig.
13-4areframedsotightlythatthere’snoheadroomatall.Headroom—
andcompositioningeneral—issubjective,andcinematographersand
directorsmustgobytheirinstinctsineachsetup.
Althoughtherearenosetrulesforcomposition,compositionscreate
expectations,andthatmaybeusedtosurprisetheaudienceortoconfirm
ordenytheirexpectations.Forinstance,cameraanglesfrombelowcan
beusedtosuggesttheimportance,stature,andheightofthesubject(orin
somecases,itmayjustbeanunflatteringangle).Inhorrorfilms,
compositionalimbalanceoftensuggestssomethingscarylurkingoutside
theframe.
Becauseashotoftenrevealsitsmeaningthroughmotion,it’spossible
tohavestrongfilmcompositionwithoutwell-composedstillframes.
Compositionthatisdynamicusuallyresolvestensionbytheuseof
subjectorcameramovementorthroughediting.Aframethatseemsoff
balanceatfirstmayfluidlybecomebettercenteredasitdevelops.Orthe
off-balancequalityitselfmaybeusedasaninterestingpictorialelement.
Thesedays,grossimbalancesthatviolatetheconventionalnotionsof
compositionareoftenusedtoaddflavor.
LeadingtheAction
Whenasubjecthasadefinitemovementtowardthesideoftheframe,
placethesubjectclosertotheedgefromwhichheismoving(seeFig.94).Forexample,ifyoutracksomeonewalkingfromrighttoleft,frame
himclosertotherightsideoftheframeasiftoleaveroomforwalking
ontheleft.Iftheshotcontinuesforsometime,thepersoncanadvancein
theframetosuggestforwardmovement,andevenexittheframetothe
left.Similarly,someoneinprofilelookingoffscreentotherightshould
generallybeframedclosertotheleftsideoftheframe,leavingspaceon
theright.
Fig.9-4.Leadingtheaction.(A,B)Leavemoreroomonthesideofthe
frametowardwhichtheactionpoints.(C)Thevoidontheleftthrowsthe
frameoffbalanceandmayfeelawkwardorsuggestsomethingwill
happen(forexample,someonemayapproachfrombehind).(Steven
Ascher)
OtherElementsintheDynamicFrame
Thefocusmaybe“pulled”fromthebackgroundtotheforegroundto
shiftaudienceattention.Somefilmmakersconsiderthistechnique
manneredunlessitisusedtofollowamovement.Selectivefocusisused
toaccentuateaportionofthesubject.Inaclose-up,it’susuallyadvisable
tofocusontheeyes.Atilt-focuslens(seeFig.4-23)allowsyoutotiltthe
planeoffocus,drawingattentiontoanarrowarea.Lightingmaybe
changedwithinashot;forexample,carheadlightsmightsuddenly
illuminateaperson.
Shotstiltedsideways(tiltedhorizonline)arecalledDutchangleor
cantedandaresometimesused,ofteninmediumclose-up,toaddtension
toastaticframe(seeFig.9-5).Sometimesonetripodheadismounted
perpendicularlyonanother;thelowerheadsetsthebasicangleofthe
shot,whiletheupperheadcontrolstheamountofsidewaystiltandeven
allowsthecameratobesmoothlytiltedfromsidetosideduringthetake
(seeFig.9-6).
Fig.9-5.AshotwithatiltedhorizoniscalledacantedorDutchangle
shot.(StephenMcCarthy)
Cinematographersoftenshootatananglethatrevealsasmanysides
oftheobjectaspossibleinordertoenhancethefeelingofdepth.For
example,abuildingfilmedhead-onrevealsoneside;shotfromanangle
itrevealstwosides;andshotdownandatanangleitrevealsthreesides.
Usefamiliarreferencestoestablishscale.Anenormousboulderwill
seemlargerifthereisapersonintheframe.
Fig.9-6.TheCartoniDutchheadenablesyoutomountasecondfluid
headperpendiculartothefirst,allowingside-to-sideaswellasfront-tobacktilts.(Cartoni)
Hollywooddirectorsfrequentlyusecameraangle,movement,and
lightingtocreateafeelingofdeepspaceinanimage.Thisallowsthemto
clearlydistinguishforegroundfrombackgroundandexcludelargeareas
ofunmodulatedblackorwhite.Europeandirectorsinthe1960sand
1970softenemphasizedtheflatnessofthescreenthroughtheiruseof
lightingandcameraangle,sometimesshootingperpendicularlytoawall
orallowinglargeareasoftheframetobeoverexposedorunderexposed.
CompositionintheMonitororViewfinder
There’sacomputerexpression,“whatyouseeiswhatyouget.”
Unfortunately,whenframingupashotinavideoorfilmcamera,what
youseeisoftennotwhatyouget.Thatis,theimagethat’sultimately
deliveredtotheaudiencemaylookalotdifferentfromtheoneyou’re
seeing,notjustincolororexposure,butalsointheshapeoftheframe
andwheretheedgesofthepictureare.Itcanbetrickyinshootingtotry
tocomposefortheframeyou’reseeingwhilekeepinginmindthe
differentwaysitmaygettransformed.
TVCUTOFF.TraditionalCRTtelevisionsetsweredesignedto
enlargethepictureslightlyinsidethebezelonthefrontoftheTV,which
cropsofftheedgesoftheframe(calledTVcutofforoverscan).Web
videos,ontheotherhand,usuallyshowtheentireframe,edgetoedge.
Betweenthesetwoareflat-panelLCDsandplasmaTVs,whicharenot
supposedtocutofftheedges,butsometimesdo.
Becausetheaudiencemaynotseetheedgesoftheframe,remember
whenshootingtoavoidpositioninganythingcrucialtooclosetothe
edgesoftheviewfinderframe(top,bottom,orsides).TVcutoffis
inconsistentfromoneTVtoanother—youcan’tcountonhowmuchthe
edgeswillgetcut.Somethingundesired—likeamicrophoneinthecorner
oftheshot—mayormaynotshowup.
Fig.9-7.Safeactionandsafetitleareas.TheouterboxesshowTVsafe
actionandsafetitleareaswhenworkingin16:9;theinnerboxesshowthe
samewhendoinga4:3center-cutcropforSDtelevision.Thesafeareas
hereareconservativeandbasedonolderCRTstandards.Mostmodern
flat-paneldisplayshavelesscutoff,andyoucanusuallygetawaywith
positioningthingsclosertotheedgesoftheframe,especiallywithregard
tosafetitle.(StevenAscher)
ThecameraviewfindershouldbeabletodisplayaTVsafeaction
frameasaguidetoshowwhichpartsmaybecropped.TheTVsafetitle
areaisevenclosertothecenterofthepicturetoprotecttextandtitles
thathavetobereadable(seeFig.9-7).Somemonitorsareswitchable
betweenunderscan,whichshowsyoutheentireimage,andoverscan,
whichshowsyoutypicalCRTcutoff.Underscanwillshowyouwhen
unwantedthingsaredefinitelyout,andalsowhattheimagewilllooklike
whenshownontheWeb.
ASPECTRATIOISSUES.Ifyoushootinawidescreenformat,be
awarethatyourmoviemaybeshowninanonwidescreenformat,
particularlyifbroadcast.Similarly,ifyoushootnonwidescreen,the
footagewillquitelikelybeconvertedtowidescreenatsomepoint.Please
readthediscussionofaspectratiostartingonp.74andparticularlyHow
AspectRatioAffectsYourShootingonp.80.Fig.9-7showsthesafe
actionandsafetitleareasofacenter-cut4:3imageextractedfroma16:9
frame.
Somecamerashaveinterchangeableviewingscreensorcandisplay
differentaspectratios,suchas1.66,1.85,and2.39.Sometimesa
widescreenlookisachievedbyshootinginarelativelylesswideformat
andcroppingormaskingtheimageinpostproductionorprojection.For
example,youmightshootdigitalin16:9andthencropthetopand/or
bottomoftheimagetocreate1.85duringpost(seeFig.9-8).Ifthisisthe
case,besuretoshootaframingchartatthebeginningoftheproduction
sothatthecinematographer’sintentionsintermsofframingareclearly
indicated(seep.269).
THEMOVINGCAMERA
Staticorlocked-offshots(thatis,shotsthathavenocamera
movement)canbecontrastedwithmovingcamerashots.Acamera
pivotingfromasinglepointcanpan(moveinahorizontalaxisleftor
right)ortilt(pivotinaverticalaxisupordown).Ifthesupportthat’s
holdingthecameracanberaised,thismaybeboomuporpedestalupor
craneup.Ifthesupportisonwheels,youcanmakeadollyortracking
shot.
Fig.9-8.Thisproductionisbeingshotin16:9andwillbecroppedinpost
to2.35.Themonitoristapedtoshowtheeventualframing.Some
monitorscandisplayframelinesinavarietyofaspectratios.Waveform
monitoroverlayisinlowerright.(DavidKruta)
PansandTilts
Pansworkbestwhenmotivatedbyasubjectmovingthroughspace.
Panningwithamovingsubjectmakestherateandmovementofpanning
natural.Panningtofollowasubjectissometimescalledtracking,butthis
shouldnotbeconfusedwiththetrackingshot,wherethecameraitself
movesthroughspace(seebelow).However,panningwithalongfocal
lengthlenscanbeusedtosimulateamovingcamerashot(moreonthis
below).
Themostdifficultpansareacrosslandscapesorstillobjects,asany
unevennessinthemovementisevident.Thesepansmustbefairlyslowto
avoidjudderorstrobing(seep.393).Theswishpan,afastpanthatblurs
everythingbetweenthebeginningandendofthemovement,alsoavoids
thestrobingproblem.
Panningissometimesthoughttobetheshotmostakintomoving
youreyeacrossascene.Ifyoulookfromonepartoftheroomtoanother,
however,youwillseethat,unlikethepan,equalweightisnotgiventoall
theintermediatepointsinthevisualfield.Viewersoftenreadimages
fromlefttoright,andscenecompositionscantakethisintoaccount.Pans
oftencrossstilllandscapesfromlefttoright,asthoughtheworldunfolds
inthisway.2
Cinematographerssometimessaythatshotswithcameramovements
likepans,tilts,zooms,anddollyshotsaresupposedtostartfromastatic
position,graduallygainandmaintainspeed,andtheneasedowntoafull
stop.Thisruleisoftenhonoredinthebreach,andshotsoftenappearin
filmswithconstantspeedmovement.
Keepinmindthatthelargerthemovieisprojected,themore
exaggeratedanycameramovementwillbe.Aquickpanorshakycamera
maybefarmoredisorientingorobjectionableonalargescreenthanona
smallone.
DollyShotsVersusZooms
Whenthecameramovesthroughspace,theviewerexperiencesthe
mostdistinctlycinematicofthemotionpictureshots.Themoving
cameraisperhapsthemostdifficultandoftenthemostexpensiveshotin
thecinematographer’svocabulary.Awheeledvehiclewithacamera
supportiscalledadolly.Movingcamerashotsarecalleddolly,tracking,
ortruckingshots:Whenthecameramovesin,itiscalleddollyinortrack
in;whenthedollymovesout,dollyoutortrackout.Ifthecameramoves
laterally,itiscalledcrabbingortrucking(forexample,crableftortruck
right).Adollywithanintegralboomprovidesup-and-down(vertical)
movement,whichaddsenormouslytothelexiconofpossibleshots.Of
courseyoucanalsodotrackingshotswithoutadolly,eitherbyshooting
handheldorbyusingdevicessuchasaSteadicamoraslidertomovethe
camera(seebelow).
Zooming,unliketheshotsjustdescribed,doesnotinvolvecamera
movement.Azoomlensallowsyoutoincreaseordecreasethefocal
lengthduringashot(formoreonzoomlenses,seep.163).Somepeople
objecttothezoomeffectbecausetheviewerisbroughtcloserto(or
fartherfrom)thefilmedsubjectwithoutchangingperspective.InFig.4-
3,youcanseethatwithzooming,theentireimageismagnifiedequally,
similartowhenyouapproachastillphotograph.Inadollyshot,however,
thecameramovesintowardthesubjectandtheperspectivechanges;
objectsalsopassbythesideoftheframe,givingtheviewerthesenseof
physicallymovingintothespace.
Fig.9-9.TheDSLRontheslideronthefloorcanmakelateral
movements;thecameraonthejibarmcangethigh-angleshotsand
verticalmovements(boomupordown).Theoperatorwatchesamonitor
mountedonthejib.(AmandaKwok/SmallHD)
Themovingcameracreatesafeelingofdepthinthespace.Thezoom
tendstoflattenspaceandcancallattentiontotheactoffilmingitself.
Somefilmmakerslikethisfeatureandwillusethezoomtopickouta
significantdetailinthesubject.
Zoomingintheoppositedirectionofsubjectorcameramovement
resultsinatreadmilleffect.Ifanactorrunstowardthecamerabutthe
lenszoomsback,theviewerfeelsasthoughtheactorhasmadeno
progress.Similarly,ifyoushootoutofacar’sfrontwindowandzoom
wider,theviewerwillfeelasthoughtheforwardmovementisdisrupted.
InVertigo,AlfredHitchcockcombinedzoominginonedirectionand
movinginreversetosimulatethefeelingofvertigo.Thecameraappears
tomovedownastaircaseandthelenssimultaneouslyzoomsbacktokeep
thesizeofthefieldconstant.Althoughtheviewerseesthesamesubject
matter,theperspectiveisexaggerated(sincethecameramovescloser),
evokingthesensationofdizzinessduetoheight.Similarmoveswere
usedbyStevenSpielberginJawsandMartinScorseseinGoodFellas—
dollyinginonedirectionwhilezoomingintheothertocreatea
disorientingeffect.
TheZoomEffect
Zoomingchangestheimagesignificantlyand,unlessitishandled
well,canbequitedisruptive.Theclassic,gracefulzoomstartsupslowly,
reachesthedesiredspeed,andgraduallyslowstoastop.Therearealso
timeswhena“pop”zoomthatjumpssuddenlyfromonefocallengthto
anothercanbeeffective.Asdiscussedearlier,somepeoplefeelthatall
zoomsshouldcometoastopbeforeacameracut.However,thereare
manyinstancesofcutswhilethecameraisstillzooming,especiallyifthe
zoomisslow,thatworkfine.
Ifyoudon’tlikethezoomeffect,butwanttozoomwithintheshotto
changefocallength,youcanhideitwithanothercameramovement—for
example,apan.“Burying”azoominapancanmakethezoomalmost
invisible.Novicestendtozoomtoooften(“zoomhappy”),whichcanbe
annoying.Zoomsaremosteffectivewhentheyaremotivatedand
deliberate,notrandom.
Foraslow,smoothzoom,useamotorizedzoom.Almostallvideo
lenseshavebuilt-inzoommotors.Externalzoomdrivesareavailablefor
cine-stylelensesusedwith16mmand35mmfilmcameras,digital
cinemacameras,andsomeHDcameras.Zoommotorsusuallyhavea
rangeofspeeds.It’shelpfultohaveaveryfastspeedtoresetthelens
evenifyoudon’tplantousethatspeedintheshot.
It’sveryimportantthatthezoomcontrolbeabletoaccelerate
smoothlyfromastopandfeathersmoothlybacktoastop.Sometimesan
externalzoomcontrolhasamoredelicaterockerswitchthanacamera’s
built-inswitch.Whenshootingonadollyortripod,you’llwantan
externalcontrolmountedonthehandleofthetripodheadsoyoudon’t
havetoreacharoundtothelens.Somevideocamerascanbe
preprogrammedtoexecuteasmoothmovefromonefocallengthto
another.
Somefilmmakerspreferamanual(nonmotorized)zoom,whichputs
youindirectcontactwiththe“feel”ofthezoom.Manypoweredzoom
lensescanbeswitchedtomanualmode.Manualzoomingallowsyouto
respondmorequicklytofast-changingaction.Itcanalsobeusedfora
deliberately“rougher”shootingstyle.
Somelensescanaccommodateazoomleverformanualzoomingthat
extendsperpendicularlyfromthezoomring;thelongerthelever,the
smootherthezoomcanbe.Detachabledragmechanismsareavailable
thatadjusttheresistanceofthezoom.
STYLEANDDIRECTION
Styleinmovies,asallartforms,iscontinuallyevolving.Atanygiven
time,differenttypesofmoviesmakeuseofvariousconventionsin
shootingandediting.Theconventionsshiftovertimeforavarietyof
reasons:astylisticallynewfilmwillspawnimitators;changesin
technologymakenewtechniquespossible;ideasareborrowedfromone
typeofmoviemakingandappliedtoothers.Whatfollowsisa
deliberatelysketchyhistoryofsomestylesusedinmoviemaking,and
somethoughtsondirecting,asastimulustothinkingaboutthe
relationshipofstyleandshootingpossibilities.Alsoseethesections
SomeFilmTheoryandApproachestoEditinginChapter13.
DRAMATICFILMS
NarrativeStyles
Infictionandotherscriptedfilming,thedirectormustplanhow
individualshotsrelatetotheactionofthesceneandtothejuxtaposition
ofothershotsthroughediting.Atthemostbasiclevel,thedirectorand
cinematographermustdecidewheretoplacethecameraandwhatto
shootineachshot.
Inthedeep-focusshot(seeFig.9-10),thewholeframeisinfocus.
Themeaningofthescenethusdevelopsinthedeepspaceoftheframe.
Thecameramovement,subjectmovement,dialogue,lighting,costumes,
andsoforthallcontributetotheforwardmovementofthefilm.Thelong
take—thatis,ashotoflongduration—allowstheactiontounfoldinreal
spaceandunderlinesthefactthattheshot’smeaningcomesfrom
filming,notfromediting.
Thisstagingoftheshot,ormise-en-scène,iscontrastedwithmontage,
inwhichmeaningandforwardmovementareconveyedthroughediting—
throughthejuxtapositionofvariousshotsthatbythemselvesmaycontain
lessinformationorcontent.Whentheactionofasceneiscapturedin
manyshortershots,thefilmmakerhasanopportunitytocontrolpacing
andtodirecttheaudience’sattentioninwaysthatmaynotbepossible
withlongertakes.Montagealsoopensupthepossibilityofconstructing
entirelynewmeaningsbysuggestingconnectionsbetweenshotsthat
otherwisemightseemunrelated(formoreonmontage,seeChapter13).
AndréBazin,theFrenchfilmcriticoftencreditedasthedecisive
influenceontheFrenchNewWave,thoughtitcharacteristicofadvanced
filmdirectorsofsoundpicturestobeconcernedwithmise-en-scène,with
theintegrityofthephotographedspace.Ifyouthinkofdangerousstunts,
itiseasytograspthevisceraleffectofseeingtheeventsphotographed
ratherthanconstructed.Amongallthesilentfilmmakers,BusterKeaton
seemedtounderstandbestthepowerofunmanipulatedspace.Hisstunts,
oftenperformedinlongshot,wereclearlyincrediblefeats.Muchofthe
attractionofunmanipulateddocumentaryisitsabilitytoconvincethe
viewerthatwhatisseenonthescreenactuallyoccurred.
Fig.9-10.Deep-focusshotfromCitizenKane.Awide-angleshotwith
bothforegroundandbackgroundinfocusallowstheactiontodevelop
withintheframe.(RKOGeneral)
Ontheotherhand,whenaudiences“suspenddisbelief”andenterinto
theworldofthemovie,acarefullyconstructededitedsequencecan
deliverenormousemotionalimpactorbringoutotherwiseburied
meaning.Stagingandeditingshouldnotbethoughtofasoppositesbutas
twostylistictoolsatthefilmmaker’sdisposal.
Thefirstdramaticfilmmakersapproachedmotionpicturesasan
extensionoftheater.Astorywouldbeactedoutinfrontofafixed
camera.Thoughtheearlysilentfilmsofthe1900swerenotactuallyshot
onaprosceniumstage,thecamera’srelationshiptotheactionwasmuch
likeatheatergoer’sviewofastageplay.D.W.Griffithiscreditedwith
firstexploitingthepoweroftheclose-up.Thecameracomesincloseto
revealnuancesofanactor’sexpression,creatinganewrelationship
betweenaudienceandactor,necessitatinganew,moresubtlestyleof
acting.Thesilentcinemadefinedthebasicvocabularyofthefilmimage.
Today,shotstakenwithoutsoundarereferredtoasMOS.Thestorygoes
thatwhentheGermandirectorscametoHollywoodintheearly1930s,
theyreferredtosilentfootageas“mit-out-sprache”(akindoffractured
Germanfor“withoutspeech”),henceMOS.
Hollywoodsoundfilmsuntilthe1950sgenerallywereshotinstudios
usingaclassicshooting/editingstyle:Scenesarefirstfilmedalltheway
throughinmastershots(relativelywide-angle,continuoustakes).Then
close-upsarefilmed,ifneeded.Theeditedscenebeginswiththewide
establishingshottoensurethattheaudienceiswellorientedand
comfortableinthesettingbeforecuttingtotheclosershots.Fromthis
classicapproachevolveda“traditional”styleoffilmingatwo-person
sceneusingfourcameraangles:amastershot,atwo-shot,aclose-upof
onecharacter,andareverseoftheother.Aradicalexceptiontothisstyle
isfoundinRobertMontgomery’sLadyintheLake,filmedwitha
subjective,point-of-viewcamerameanttorevealwhattheaudience
wouldseeiftheywereinsidetheprotagonist’shead.
Inthe1960sand1970s,asthegeneralcultureloosenedup,sodid
narrativestyleinmanyfilms.Theolddictatesofmastershot/close-up
coveragegavewaytoafreer-formshootingthatassumesaudienceshave
thevisualsophisticationtounderstandascenethatmightbeplayedin,
say,onlyanextremeclose-up.JohnCassavetesexperimentedwithastyle
thatseemstomergedocumentaryandnarrativesensibilities.Tothe
audience,boththeactingandthecameraworkmayappearspontaneous
andimprovised,withscenesthatfloworganicallyfromonemomentto
thenext.Ithasbecomeincreasinglypopulartoshootdramasina
handheld,documentarystyle.Thismaybedonetoaddasenseof
“realism”toafictionalorsemifictionalstoryorasaparodyof
documentaries(“mockumentaries,”suchasThisIsSpin¨alTap).
The1980sbroughtthemusicvideo.Madebyandforagenerationthat
wasraisedwatchingTV,musicvideosintroducedanewlexiconofquick
cuttingandthejuxtapositionofwildlydifferingtypesofimagery.
StylistictouchesexploitedinmusicvideosandTVcommercialshave
foundtheirwayintomanyothertypesofmovies;thesetechniques
includedeliberatelyshakycamerawork,distortedimages,fastcutting,
andintentionaljumpcuts(seebelow).
Todaynarrativefilmscombineelementsofallthesestyles.Many
mainstreamHollywoodorTVdramasareverystraightforward
stylistically,employingastylethatwillnot“intrude”onthestorytelling.
Independentdramastendtotakemorerisks,butmoreoftenwhatsets
themapartisthekindofstoriestheytell,ratherthanthefundamental
visuallanguageofshotselectionandediting.AstheInternetbecomes
increasinglyimportantfordistribution,it’sinterestingtoseehow
narrativestylesadapttothesmallsizeandgenerallyshortdurationof
onlinevideos.
Perhapsthebestwaytothinkaboutshootingandeditingstyleisto
watchmoviesandnotewhichscenesworkespeciallywellorbadly.To
understandtherelationshipofcameraworktoediting,itcanbe
particularlyinstructivetowatchfilmswiththesoundoff.
Coverage
Asdiscussedabove,oneapproachtocapturingasceneistoshootthe
entireactioninasingle,continuousmastershot.WoodyAllenoften
filmsscenesinanuninterruptedmaster,suchasmanydialoguescenesin
ManhattanandAnnieHall(seeFig.9-11).Insomescenestheremaybe
littleornocameramovement.Thisputsaspecialemphasisonthe
performancesandwritingandattimesmayde-emphasizethefilmic
aspectsofthescene.
Fig.9-11.ThisscenefromAnnieHallrunsaboutthreeminutesasan
uninterruptedmastershot.ItendswithWoodyAllendirectlyaddressing
thecamera,breakingthe“fourthwall”andtransforminganobservational
sceneintoonethatcallsattentiontotheactoffilming.(UnitedArtists)
Ontheotherhand,theopeningsceneofOrsonWelles’sTouchofEvil
isanintricatelychoreographedcontinuoustakethatcoversaboutthree
andahalfminutesofactioninclose-upsandwideshotsfromhighand
lowangles(accomplishedwithamobilecrane)inatourdeforceof
cinematictechnique(seeFig.9-12).Attimes,longmastershotscangive
anaudienceasatisfyingsenseofbeingabletoobserveanddiscover
thingsaboutasceneontheirown.
Forbothaestheticandpracticalreasons,filmmakersmuchmore
commonlyparseordividetheactionintovariousshotsinsteadofsimply
shootingasinglemaster.Thishelpsbothinshootingthesceneand
editingit.Coveragereferstotheoptions(thatis,differentcameraangles)
thathavebeenfilmedinadditiontothemaster.Havingmultiplecamera
anglesavailableintheeditingroomallowsyoutochangethepaceofthe
scene,directaudienceattentiontodifferentaspects,makeuseofthebest
performances,andeditaroundcameraoractingerrors.Ifasceneis
coveredwithonlyoneortwoanglesortakes,optionsarelimited.Many
aneditorhaslamentedadirector’slackofcoverage.
Onelogicalandtraditionalwaytobreakdownasceneistomove
fromalongshottoamediumshottoaclose-up.Thisorientsthe
audiencetothephysicalspaceandtheprogressionofincreasinglytight
shotssuggestsforwardmovementintothescene,asthoughthecamerais
delvingdeeperintotheaction(seeFig.13-2).Whenascenegoeswider,
fromamediumshottoalongshot,weexpectactiononalargerscale(for
example,anewarrivalinthescene)oraleave-takingfromtheaction(as
mighthappenattheendofamovie).Nevertheless,contemporary
audiencesarecomfortablewithawidevarietyofcuttingstylesandthe
traditionalrulesabouttherelationshipofshotsdon’talwaysapply.
PointofView
Amongthearts,cinemahasauniqueabilitytoinfluenceourthoughts
andemotionsandtoallowustoseetheworldthroughtheexperiencesof
realandfictionalcharacters.Inasense,thecamerabecomesthe
audience’seye,andthefilmmaker,throughshootingandediting,hasan
enormouspoweroverwhattheaudiencefeelsandunderstands.
Whataudiencesknowaboutthecharactersandwhichonesthey
identifywithdependsinpartonhowindividualscenesareconstructed
andhowthestoryunfoldsoverall.Howpointofviewisexpressedin
sceneandstorystructureresultsfromthewaythescriptiswritten,how
thedirectorchoosestofilmit,andhowthemovieisedited.Theseaspects
mustbeconsideredcarefullybeforeyougointoproduction.
Fig.9-12.TheopeningsequencefromTouchofEvilisanuninterrupted
mastershotthatrevealstheplantingofabomb,introducescentral
characters,andexplorestheurbanlandscapeincontinuouslyunfolding
action.WhenCharltonHestonandJanetLeighreacttothesoundofan
off-screenexplosion,theopeningshotends(1K)withacuttoacutaway
oftheburningcar(2).(UniversalPictures)
Let’staketheexampleofaseriesofscenesinwhichamangoesto
hisdoctor,thedoctorrevealsthatsometestresultsarebad,thentheman
goeshome(seeFig.9-13).Thefollowingareafewpossiblewaysto
shootandeditthissequenceofevents.
Thecameracouldwitnessthedayalongwiththeman.Weseehim
sayinggood-byetohiswifeasshedropshimoffatthedoctor’soffice.
Hegoesintothebuildingalone.Weseethedoctortellhimaboutthetest
resultsandthemanaskssomequestions.Wecuttohimathome,telling
hiswifethenews.
Inanotherwayofportrayingtheseevents,wemightstartwiththe
sameshotofhiswifedroppinghimatthedoctor’s,buthavethecamera
staywithherasheentersthebuildingandshedrivesoff.Wecuttoher
later,thinkingaboutthepossibilities.Thenwecuttoherservingdinner
assheaskshowthecheckupwent.
Inathirdscenario,webeginwiththedoctoraloneinhisoffice,
readingandreactingtothetestresults.Thenthemanenters.The
audiencealreadyknowsthenewsisbad.Theremightbenodialogueat
all,justasilentshotofthedoctor’sface.Wethencuttothemansilently
atthetable,notreadytotellhiswifewhathappened.
Fig.9-13.Threewaysofcoveringthesameevents.Seetext.(GregHigh)
Eachoftheseapproachesstressesdifferentaspectsofthestory.Inthe
firstoption,thecameraiscloselyidentifiedwiththemanandhis
experience.Thesecondversionisobviouslymorefromhiswife’spoint
ofview—howsheexperiencestheseevents.Dependingonthestory
you’retelling,youmightwanttorestrictwhattheaudienceknowsand
seestowhataparticularcharacterexperiences.InChinatown,likemany
noirandmysterystories,thecamerastayswiththedetective(JakeGittes,
playedbyJackNicholson)andtheaudiencegatherscluesalongwithhim.
WehavenoaccesstoeventsthatGittesdoesn’twitness.
Thethirdversionofthedoctorscenariodiffersfromthefirsttwoin
partbecauseitmayinvolvelittleornodialogue.Theaudience
understandstheoutlinesofthestoryandgathersemotionalcluesthrough
expressionandgesture.Anotherdifferenceisthatinthisscenariothe
audiencegetsinformationindependentlyofthemaincharacters(sincewe
learnofthetestresultsbeforethemandoes).Thisapproachaffectsthe
narrativeindirectandindirectways.Whentheaudiencehasknowledge
thatacharacterdoesn’tpossess,ascenecanattimesbeinvestedwith
irony,tension,orforeboding.
IninterviewswithFrançoisTruffaut,AlfredHitchcocktalkedabout
thedifferencebetweensurpriseandsuspense.Heimaginedamundane
dialoguesceneinwhichthereisabombunderthetable,whichsuddenly
goesoff,surprisingtheaudience.Hecontrastedthatwithadifferent
scenestructure:inthesecondversion,weseeananarchistplantthe
bomb,whichissettogooffinafewminutes.Now,thesame“innocuous
conversationbecomesfascinatingbecausethepublicisparticipatingin
thescene….Inthefirstcasewehavegiventhepublicfifteensecondsof
surpriseatthemomentoftheexplosion.Inthesecondcasewehave
providedthemwithfifteenminutesofsuspense.”AsshowninFig.9-12,
WellesusedthissecondtechniqueinTouchofEvil.
CAMERAANGLESANDMOVES.Thedifferentapproachestothe
doctorsceneorHitchcock’sbombexamplerepresentchoicesthatneedto
bemadeinthescriptanddirection.Anothersetofchoicesapplyto
cinematography,sincethecamera’spointofviewisexpressedmost
directlythroughindividualcameraanglesandmoves.Theeyelineor
sightlineisthedirectionapersonislookingrelativetothesceneand
relativetothelens.Acharacter’seyelinecanindicatewhoorwhatsheis
lookingat,andtheangleoftheeyelinerelativetothecameraposition
canaffectthewaytheaudienceexperiencesthescene.
ThesequencefromBornYesterdayinFig.9-3isshotina
straightforward,observationalstyle.Theprofiletwo-shotestablishesthe
setting;theover-the-shouldermediumshotsofJudyHollidayand
WilliamHoldencoverthedialogueinarelativelyobjectiveway.
Bycomparison,inthescenefromTheLastPictureShowshownin
Fig.9-14,thecameraisphysicallyclosertothecharacters,andtheireye
linesareclosertothelens.CybillShepherdisfilmedfromabove,
representingCluGulager’spointofview.Similarly,heisfilmedfrom
below,atabouttheheightofherpositiononthecouch.Theseshotsare
notover-the-shoulder,butarecleanmediumshots,whichcansometimes
heightentheaudience’ssenseofsharingthecharacters’pointofview.
Fig.9-14.InthisscenefromTheLastPictureShow,thecamerais
positionedclosetotheactors’eyelines.High-contrast,hardlightaddsa
moodyfeel(theshotofCybillShepherdevokesHollywoodblack-andwhiteglamourphotographyfromthe1930sand’40s).CluGulager’s
reflectioninthemirroraddsanotherdynamicelement.(Columbia
Pictures)
Insomefilmsandsomescenes,thecamerawillmorecloselytakeon
acharacter’spointofview.Forexample,theshotsfromRashomonin
Fig.9-15representthesubjectivepointofviewofeachcharacterlooking
attheother.Theeyelineofeachmanisveryclosetothelens,butnot
directlyintoit.Insomefilms,actorswilllookdirectlyintothelensand
talktoitasifthecamerawereinsidetheheadoftheothercharacter
(perhapsforanintimatekissingscene).Thistypeofshotcaneasilyseem
awkward.
Fig.9-15.POVshots.InthisduelingscenefromRashomon,theshotof
ToshiroMifuneontheleftrepresentsMasayukiMori’spointofview;the
shotontherightrepresentsMifune’sPOV.Theeyelineofeachactoris
towardthelens,butnotdirectlyintoit.(TheCriterionCollection)
Handheldcameramovesareoftenusedtorepresentacharacter’s
pointofviewandsometimesacharacter’semotionalstate.Panicor
frenzycanbereinforcedbyashakyornervoushandheldcamerastyle.In
reallife,ourremarkablehumanskeleton,gait,andsenseofbalancekeep
ourheaduprightandsteadyandourfieldofviewlevelinmost
circumstances,buttheconventionthatwobblyhandheldcamerawork
equalsinteriorityorasubjectiveviewpointisuniversallyaccepted.
Horrorfilmsnotoriouslyexploittremuloushandheldshotstotelegraph
thepresenceofanunseenonlooker.
Cameramovesareoftenusedtorepresentacharacter’sexperience.A
characterentersaroomandthecameradolliesforward,representing
whatthecharacterisseeing.Audiencesquicklymakeanassociation
betweenashotofacharacterlookingoffscreenandashotofwhatthat
characterissupposedtobeseeing.Forexample,inthescenefrom
Hitchcock’sRearWindowinFig.9-16,westartwithashotofGrace
KellyandJamesStewartlookingoutthewindow,thencutawaytotheir
pointofviewofRaymondBurracrossthecourtyard(formoreonthis
cuttingpattern,seeChapter13).WhenwecutbacktoKelly(shot3in
Fig.9-16)thecameradolliesinonherastherealizationdawnsonher
thatBurr’scharactermaybeamurderer.Thiskindofpush-intoacloseupiscommonlyusedinfilmstounderscoreacharacter’sthoughtsorto
emphasizetheseriousnessofasituation.
Fig.9-16.ThisscenefromRearWindowbeginswiththreeshots:(1)
GraceKellyandJamesStewartlookingoffscreen;(2)aPOVshotof
RaymondBurr;(3)theirreactionshot.Shot3dolliesinonKellyto
emphasizehershock.(Universal;StevenAscher)
Inmanyfilms,fluidmovementbymeansofSteadicam,slider,dolly,
crane,andboom(sometimesincombination)isusedtoaddflowand
lyricismtoascene,butnottorepresentanyparticularcharacter’sPOV.
InPsycho,AlfredHitchcockattimesusescameramovesinwhichthe
cameraitselfalmostbecomesacharacter,prowlingaroundaroom,
manipulatingtheaudienceinacarefullycalibratedway.
Whendeterminingcamerapositionandmoves,thinkabouthowyou
wanttheaudiencetoexperiencethescene.Shouldanyofthecharacters
befavoredintermsofpointofview?Whendoyouwantthecamera
positionedatadistance,observingtheaction?Whendoyouwantitin
close?Shouldthecamerabeavoyeuroraparticipant?Doyouwantitto
lurchimpulsively,creepstealthily,orweavewithuncertainty?
Whethershootingdramasordocumentaries,trytoputyourselfinthe
mindsoftheaudience.Whatdoyouwantthemtosee?Howdoyouwant
thescenetounfold?Useblockingtorevealthingsratherthantomerely
showeverythingupfront.Usemysterytoyouradvantage.Someshotsare
mostinterestingforwhattheydon’tshow.
Fig.9-17.InthiscontinuoustrackingshotfromPsycho,thecamera
revealsthestolenmoneyandasuitcasethattellsusMarionCrane(Janet
Leigh)ispackingtoleavetown.Thereisatensioninthewaythesethings
arerevealedinacontinuousshotthatfeelsverydifferentthanifthey
wereshowninseparateshotswithcutsbetweenthem.(Universal)
TheIllusionofContinuousTime
Livetelevisionshowsaretypicallyshotwithseveralcameras.Atalk
show,forinstance,mighthaveonecamerashootingaclose-upofthe
host,anothershootingaclose-upoftheguest,athirdgettingatwo-shot
ofboth,afourthshootingtheaudience,andsoon.Bycuttingbackand
forthbetweenthevariouscameraangles,weareshownmanyaspectsof
thescene,allincontinuoustime.
Dramaticfilms,ontheotherhand,areoftenshotwithasingle
camera.Theactionisfilmedfromonecameraangle.Thenthecamerais
movedtoanewangle,andtheactionisrepeatedoranewpartofthe
actionisstaged.Dependingontheaction,itmaybefilmedfrommany
differentanglesthatmaybeshotondifferentdaysand/oratdifferent
locations.
Continuitystyleisthetechniqueofshootingandeditingshotsfilmed
atdifferenttimessothattheactiononscreenseemstoflowcontinuously
intimefromonemomenttothenext.Continuitystyleisagrammarthat
audiencesarefamiliarwithfromyearsofwatchingmovies,anditis
sometimesthoughtofas“invisiblecutting”sincethetechniqueisso
commonastobeattimesunnoticeable.Somescenesandfilmsdemand
continuitystyle;othersdon’t(moreonthatbelow).
Therulesofcontinuitystyle(they’remoreguidelines,really)depend
onthescene.Taketheexampleoftwopeopletalkingacrossatable(see
Fig.13-4).Asnotedabove,thisiscommonlyshotwithashot/reverseshotapproach.OnecameraanglefeaturescharacterA;anotherfeatures
characterB.Aslongasthe180-degreeruleisobserved(seebelow),we
cancutbackandforthbetweenthemwithasensethattheconversationis
continuous.Sometimestheanglesonthetwocharactersarebalancedto
matcheachotherascloselyaspossible(seeFig.9-3).However,insome
scenes,theanglescanbequitedifferent.
We’vebeendiscussingasceneinwhichtherearetwocameraangles
featuringdifferentpeople.Whataboutasituationthatinvolvestwoshots
ofthesameperson?Sayyouhaveaclose-upofcharacterAandyoucut
toanothertakeofthesameclose-up(withoutchangingfocallengthor
cameraposition).Inthiscase,thejumpordiscontinuitybetweenonetake
andthenextwillbeverynoticeable(seeFig.13-3).Thisiscalledajump
cut.Toavoidjumpcuts,thereneedstobeasignificantdifference
betweenthefirstandsecondshot,bothintermsofthesizeoftheshotand
usuallytheanglefromwhichit’sfilmed.Thus,awideshotwillusually
cuteasilywithamediumshotoraclose-up,butacutbetweentwo
mediumshotswilloftenfeelunsmooth.Thechangeinsizebetweenthe
firstshotinthesequenceandthenextmightbeaccomplishedby
changingthefocallengthofthelensorbymovingthecameraforwardor
back.Thecamerashouldalsobemovedlaterally(leftorright)between
thetwoshotstoavoidthefeelingofajumpcut(somesaythattheangle
shouldchangebyatleast30degreestoprovideenoughdifference
betweenthetwoshots).Whetheracutfeelssmoothorjumpyisalso
affectedbytheaction,thebackground,andespeciallycontinuityinsound
(seebelowformoreonjumpcuts).
Whenrestagingactiontobefilmedfromdifferentangles,it’s
importantthattheactionbeconsistentfromtaketotake.Soiftheactor
picksuphiscoffeecuponacertainlineinoneshot,heshoulddoitatthe
samepointwhenfilmedfromotherangles.Thescriptsupervisor
(sometimescalledcontinuitysupervisor)isresponsiblefornotingawide
rangeofcontinuityissues,fromgesturestowardrobetolinereadings,to
ensurethatshotswillmatchwheneditedtogether.Ifyou’reshooting
digital,whenacontinuityquestionarisesitmayberelativelyeasyto
checkaprevioustake.Evenso,whenthere’sanunintentionalmismatch
it’softenthecasethatyoucanshootorcutarounditbecausethe
audience’sattentionisfocusedelsewhere(ofcourse,therewillalwaysbe
peopleontheInternetwithnothingbettertodothantrollforcontinuity
errors).
Acutawayisashotawayfromthemainactionthatcanbeusedto
coverdiscontinuitiesortocondensetheaction.Forexample,when
filmingapoliticiangivingaspeechatarally,ashotofawomaninthe
audiencecouldbeconsideredacutawayorareactionshot.Inediting,the
cutawaycanbeusedtosmoothlyjoinonepartofthespeechwithanother.
Youcutfromthepolitician(insyncsound)tothewomanandbacktothe
politicianatalaterpartofthespeech.Withoutthecutaway,the
condensedspeechwouldbemoreobviouslydiscontinuous.
Evenifyouplantoshooteachpartoftheactionfromonlyoneangle,
allowforanoverlapofactionfromoneshottothenextinthescenetobe
suretherewon’tbetemporaldiscontinuitiesintheediting.Forexample,
saythescriptcallsforawideshotofamangettinginacarandslamming
thecardoor,followedbyaclose-upofhisfaceashestartstheengine.
Shootthewideshotallthewaythroughtheslammingofthedoor.When
youstarttheclose-up,shoottheactionfromapointbeforethefirsttake
ended,includingtheslammingofthedoor.Thisgivestheeditoroptions
tocutthetwoshotstogetheratseveraldifferentpointswithout
discontinuity.Asnotedabove,thecamerashouldalsobemovedlaterally
betweenthewideshotandtheclose-uptomakeasmoothercutandto
minimizeanyslightdiscontinuitiesinaction.
Whenacharacterwalksoffcamera,theviewergenerallyacceptsa
timejumpwhenthenextshotbeginswithhimlateron.Forinstance,if
someonewalksoffframetowardthedoor,acuttothesameperson
walkingdownthestreetorsittingatarestaurantdoesn’tseem
discontinuous.Whenpanningortrackingwithamovingsubject,it’s
usuallyagoodideatolethimwalkoutofframeattheendoftheshotto
providemoreoptionsinediting.
Whenshootinguncontrolleddocumentaryscenes,youcan’trestage
theactiontogetnewcameraangles.However,continuityissuesstill
comeintoplay.Alwaystrytohaveinmindwhatshotyoucancutthe
presentonewith.Wheneveryoufeeltherewillhavetobeacutmadeto
anothershot,changecameraangleandfocallengthtomakecontinuity
editingeasier.Whenshootingascenewithrepeatedaction(forexample,
someonecookingorchoppingwood)youcancoveritfromdifferent
angles,andbesuretoincludeanoverlapofaction.Indocumentary,
cutawaysareoftenessentialtomakingascenework(seebelow).
CompressingandExpandingTime
Muchliketheissuesofpointofviewdiscussedabove,theflowof
timeinamoviedependsinpartonstructuraldecisionsmadeinwriting,
directing,andeditingandinpartonhowindividualshotsarefilmed.
Storytellingalwaysinvolvesbalancingmomentsthataredescribedin
detailwithscenesinwhichtheactionishighlycompressed(oromitted
altogether).Youwanttheaudiencetofocusonthosemomentsthathave
themostinterest,meaning,andemotionwhilemovingasquicklyas
possiblethroughstorypointsthatmaybenecessarybutarenotin
themselvesworthyofmuchscreentime.
Let’sgobacktothedoctor’sofficescenariosdescribedonp.337.In
thefirstversion,theentiretriptothedoctorisshowninafairamountof
detail.Themanandthedoctorengageindialogueaboutthetests,and
whenthemanreturnshomehetellshiswifeaboutit.Inthesecond
version,weknowthathewenttothedoctorbutwegodirectlytothe
conversationwithhiswife,essentiallyskippingtheofficevisit.One
approachisnotbetterthananother,buttheyusescreentimeandplace
emphasisinverydifferentways.Thethirdversionisalmostlikeasilent
film;itcouldbedoneinafewshortorlongshots,withnodialogue.It
mightconveyampleemotionalweightinrelativelylittletime.
Thescriptshouldbewritten(andrewritten)withacloseeyetowhich
scenes,dialogue,anddetailsaretrulyimportantandwhichcouldbe
condensedordispensedwithaltogether.Similarly,whenplanning
coverageofascene,thedirectorshouldconsiderwhichactionisworthy
ofbeingfilmedindetail.Inthethirdversionofthedoctor’sofficescene,
youmightdecidethatshowingthemansittinginthewaitingroomis
suspenseful,sinceweknowhe’sabouttogetbadnews.Conversely,inthe
firstversion,thesameshotinthewaitingroommayjustbedull.These
kindsofjudgmentsneedtobeevaluatedbeforetheshoot,butwill
ultimatelybedecidedintheeditingroom(moreonthisinChapter13).
Therearemanytechniquesforshorteningactionwhenafilmisshot
andeditedincontinuitystyle.Sayyou’reshootingacharacterpaintinga
pictureandyouwanttoshowherstartingwithablankcanvasandinthe
nextshotshowherputtingthelasttouchonthefinishedwork.Tosimply
cutfromonewideshottoanotherwouldprobablyseemtoosevere.The
routinesolutionistodissolvefromoneshottotheother.Another
possibilityistodoareveal.Thefirstshotendsasawideshot.The
secondshotmightbeginwithaclose-upofherfaceandpullback(either
byzoomorbymovingcamera)torevealthefinishedpainting.
Alternatively,asdescribedabove,youcanusecutawaystobridgefrom
onemomenttoanotherlateron.Soyoumightcuttothepainter’scat
watchingherwork,andthencutbacktothecanvasalmostcompleted.
Atonetime,jumpcutswereseenasaradicalnewgrammarthat
calledattentiontothediscontinuityintimeandtothemediumoffilm
itself(incontrastto“invisiblecutting”).Today,theyarefarmore
commonplace,andaudienceshavecometoacceptthemasroutine.There
aremanysituationsinwhichjumpcutsdon’twork,butincreasingly
filmmakersusethemnotonlyforscenesinwhichtheywanttohighlight
thejumpintime,butsimplybecausetheywanttoshortenasceneand
jumpcutswilldothejob.
Whenfilmmakerswanttoexpandtimeandmakeamomentorscene
lingeronscreen,thereareanumberofpossibilities.Thefirst,asjust
discussed,istoblocktheactionandcoveritinawaythatgivesitlotsof
screentime.Somescenesormomentscanbenefitfromslowmotion(see
p.389).MartinScorsesefamouslyfilmedboxingscenesinRagingBull
withavarietyofslow-motionshots,sped-upshots,shotsthatlinger,and
veryshortshotsinafast-cutmontage;thesetechniquestogetherextend
andcompresstimeinawaythattriestocapturethesensationofbeing
assaultedinthering.
The180-DegreeRule
Screendirectionreferstotherightorleftdirectiononscreenasseen
bytheaudience.Ifasubjectfacingthecameramovestohisleft,itis
screenright.The180-degreerule(alsocalledthedirector’slineorthe
line)tellshowtomaintainscreendirectionwhendifferentshotsare
editedtogether.Ifasubjectismovingorlookinginonedirection,in
generalit’sbestnottoletscreendirectionchangewhencuttingtothe
nextshot.Forexample,whenyou’rewatchingfootballontelevision,you
seetheblueteammovingfromscreenlefttoscreenright.Ifthecamera
werenowtoshifttotheoppositesideofthefield,theblueteamwould
appeartobemovingintheoppositedirection(thatis,theirscreen
directionwillhavechangedfromrighttoleft).It’slikelythatyouwould
beconfused.Toavoidthisconfusion,TVcrewsgenerallykeeptheirmain
camerasononesideofthefield,andwhentheyuseacameraposition
fromtheoppositesideofthefield,asubtitlemaybeflashedonthescreen
saying“reverseangle.”
Tohelpplanyourshots,imaginealinedrawnthroughthemainline
ofaction—beitamovingcar,afootballfield,ortheeyelineofa
conversation.Ifallcamerasetupsareononesideoftheline,screen
directionwillbepreservedfromshottoshot.Shotsontheline(for
example,someonelookingdirectlyintothecameraorashotfromtheend
zoneinthefootballexample)areconsideredneutralandcangowith
shotsoneithersideoftheline.
Fig.9-18.The180-degreerule.Ifallthecamerapositionsarekeptonone
sideofthesightline,screendirectionwillbepreservedinediting.(Carol
Keller)
Duringatake,thecameracanmoveacrossthelinewithminimal
disorientation.Butiflaterintheeditingroomyoudon’tusetheshot
wherethecameracrossestheline,youmayhavetoviolatethe180degreerule.Ruleviolationsmaydisorienttheaudience,butrarelyare
theydisastrous.Sometimesinsertinganeutralshotminimizes
disorientation.Theproblemismostseriouswhenscreendirectionitself
hasbeenusedtoconstructthespaceofthescene.Forexample,ina
shot/reverse-shotsceneoftwopeopletalking,theymustbelookingin
oppositescreendirectionswhenthereisacutfromonetotheother;
otherwisetheywillnotappeartobetalkingtoeachother.Similarly,
chasesequencesdependonscreendirectiontoestablishwhetheronecar
ischasinganotherorifthetwoareheadedtowardeachother.
Screendirectionissuescansometimesapplytoshotsthataren’teven
inthesamescene.Forexample,documentaryinterviewsareoftenfilmed
sothatonesubjectisfacingcameraleftandasubjectwithacontrary
opinion(oftenfilmedinacompletelydifferentsetting)isfacingright.
Cuttogether,there’sasenseofoppositionorcontrastintheframingas
opposedtotheuniformitythatwouldresultifeachwerelookingtothe
samesideofthelens.
Sometimestherearetwodifferentlinesofactionandthereisnoway
toavoidbreakingtherule.Forexample,acoupleistalkinginthefront
seatofamovingcarinascenethatisshotangle/reverseangle.Whenthe
driverisshot,thebackgroundismovingleft;butwhenthepassengeris
shot,thebackgroundismovingright.Sincetherelationofthecoupleis
mostlikelythekeyelementofthescene,drawthelineofactionalong
theireyelinetopreservetheirscreendirectionintheediting.
Formoreondirectingandworkingwithactors,seebelow.
Fig.9-19.ThissequencefromTheLastPictureShowbeginswithaPOV
shotofBenJohnsonthroughawindshield.ThecuttoTimothyBottoms
andJeffBridgesmakesitclearthatshot1wastheirpointofview.Their
conversationisthencoveredshot/reverseshot,movingtighteronthe
boysasthesceneprogresses.The180-degreeruleispreservedsincethey
lookscreenrightandJohnsonlooksscreenleft.(ColumbiaPictures)
DOCUMENTARIES
DocumentaryStyles
Peoplewhoareunfamiliarwithhowfilmsaremadesometimesthink
ofdocumentariesas“documents”ofreality—asthoughafilmissimplya
collectionoffootageof“real”peopledoingthingsorbeinginterviewed.
Infact,documentaryfilmmakerscanhaveverydifferentgoalsand
strategies,andtheirfilmscanvarywidelyintermsofstyleandgenre.
Someofthekeystylisticquestionsrelatetohowmuchthefilmmaker
attemptstocontrolorinteractwiththesubjects,andtotheway
informationisconveyedinthemovie.
SomeofthefirstmotionpicturesweremadebyThomasEdisoninthe
1890s.Thesewere“documentaries”inthesensethatacamerawassetup
torecordactualevents,suchastheelectrocutionofanelephant.The
Lumièrebrothers’TrainComingintoaStation(1896)isasingle,
continuousshotofatrainarriving.Itwasanamazingnoveltytoseethe
worldonfilm.
ThestyleadoptedbyUKdocumentarianssuchasJohnGriersoninthe
1930sand1940sisakindofhybridthatcaninvolvestagedeventsand
realpeople(nonactors).Itstartedinthedayswhencamerasandsound
recordingequipmentwereheavyandhardtomovearound,soaction
wouldoftenbeproducedandorchestratedforthecamera.Inthis
approach,scenesmaybescriptedandshotmuchlikeanarrativefilm.
Manyofthesefilmsusea“voiceofGod”narration—theauthoritative
malevoicethatprovidesfactualinformationandoftenspellsoutthe
messageintendedfortheviewertotakefromthefilm.
Inthe1960s,lightweight16mmcameraswereintroducedthatcould
recordsyncsoundwithportabletaperecorders.Theadventofhandheld
camerasmeantnewaccesstolocationsandpeople’slives.JeanRenoir
spokeoftheheavystudiocameraasanaltartowhichactorshadtobe
brought.Thehandheldcameracouldnowgooutintotheworldinsteadof
thefilmmakerbringingtheworldtothecamera.Cinemaverité(also
calledjustveritéordirectcinema)filmsattempttospontaneouslyreact
toeventsandcapturelifeasitislived.Withasmallcrewandenough
timeforsubjectstogetcomfortable,thefilmmakercanbecomevery
unobtrusive.Subjectswhoarenotself-consciouswillrevealtothe
camerahowtheyreallyliveandself-conscioussubjectswillreveal
themselvesinhowtheychoosetoperform.Manyofthesefilmsuseno
narrationorinterviews,andviewersmayhavetheimpressionthey’re
seeingaformofunmediatedrealitythathasn’tbeeninfluencedor
interpretedbythefilmmaker(whichwasthegoalofmanyearlyverité
filmmakers).However,allfilmingandeditinginvolvesselectionand
pointofview,sodocumentaryfilmshouldneverbeconfusedwith
unmediatedreality.
Inthe1970s,a“personaldocumentary”movementemerged.Inthese
movies,filmmakersexploretheirownlives,orshoototherswiththe
explicitacknowledgmentofthecamera’spresenceandthefilmmaker’s
roleininterpretingeventsfortheaudience.Ratherthancreatingan
illusionofobjectivity,thesefilmsembraceasubjectiveandpersonal
viewandareoftennarratedbythefilmmakersthemselves.
Inthe1980sand1990s,nonfictionprogramminggrewinpopularity
onnetworktelevision.Magazine-styleshowssuchas60Minutesare
structuredaroundshortsegmentsinwhichacorrespondentistheguide
andnarratorofaparticularstory.Theseproductionshavetheirrootsin
journalism.Thecorrespondentisseeninterviewingsubjectsanddoing
stand-ups—tellingthestorydirectlytothecamera.Theseshowsusually
containsomeamountof“verité-style”footageinwhichpeopleareseen
livingtheirlivesordoingtheirjobs.Thisfootageisoftenreferredtowith
theantiseptictermB-roll.B-rollisnoninterviewmaterialthatisoften
onlyallowedtoplayforafewsecondsinsyncsound.Thenthelocation
audioisdippeddownandthepicturebecomesabedoverwhichtolay
narration.
Todaynonfictionfilmsaremadeusingallofthesestyles,or
combinationsofthem.Whenyouembarkonadocumentaryproject,you
needtodeterminethestylisticframeworkforthemovie.Inwhatways
willtheaudiencelearnaboutthesubject?Bywatchingeventsunfoldina
verité-styleapproach?Byseeinginterviewswiththesubjectsorhearing
themoverotherfootage?Byseeinginterviewswith“experts”
commentingonthesubjects?Willtherebenarration(alsocalledvoiceover)?Ifso,isthenarratoradisembodiedvoiceorsomeonealsoseenon
screen(eitherasubject,thefilmmaker,oracorrespondent)?
Oftenthefilm’stopicwilldictatestyle.Documentariesaboutpast
eventsgenerallyuseacombinationofinterviews(talkingheads)and
archivalmaterial(stockfootage).Oftenthisiscombinedwithpresent-day
footageoflocationswhereeventstookplace.Sometimesreenactmentsof
pasteventsareshotusingactors.Thisfootagemaybeshotinastylized
waytoavoidbeingtooliteral;forexample,actorsmightbefilmed
withoutanydialogueorwithoutshowingtheirfaces.Ofcourse,themore
screentimedevotedtoreenactments(andthemoredialoguethey
contain),thecloseryougettothehybridgenredocudrama,whichexists
somewherebetweendocumentaryandfiction.
Fig.9-20.ThedocumentaryInsideJobdevelopsastoryoffinancial
collapseusinginterviews,exteriorshots,graphics,archivalfootage,and
narration.Thechoicetoshootinwidescreen2.35aspectratioresultsin
talking-headshotsinwhichthebackgroundplaysaprominentrole.(Sony
PicturesClassics)
SCRIPTORNOSCRIPT.Historicalandissue-basedfilmsoften
beginwithresearch,followedbyascriptordetailedtreatment.
Sometimes“preinterviews”aredonetodeterminewhatsomeonewillsay
(moreorless)beforethey’refilmed.Thefilmisstructuredasmuchas
possibleinthewriting,andthefootageshotinthefieldoracquiredfrom
othersourcesisintendedtoillustrateasetofideasthathavealreadybeen
laidout.
Oneofthereasonstelevisiontendstofavorcorrespondent-and
interview-basedproductionsisthattheycanbeproducedonashort
schedule.Interviewscanbedoneandstand-upsscriptedfairlyquickly.
Theinterviewbites(responses)areeditedtogetherwithB-roll.It’snot
unlikewritinganewspaperpiece.
Thisisincontrasttodocumentariesinwhichtheshootingisthe
research.Contemporarystoriesthatarestillunfoldingoftencallfora
muchmorespontaneousapproach.Youshouldhaveanideaofwhat
you’relookingfor,andfocusonparticularstorythreadsandcharacters,
butoftenit’sintheshootingthatyoufindwhatthearcofthestoryis.
Somestorieshaveanobviousarc—afilmaboutanelection,forexample.
RealityTVisaloosegenreofprogrammingaboutthelifestylesof
minorcelebritiesorinwhichpeopleengageincompetitionsorare
thrownintopreplannedsituations.Whilethedialoguemaynotbe
scripted,theideaisusuallytoshootasituation,event,orsetupthatcan
beeditedintoanhourorhalf-hourepisode.
Whenyoumakedocumentariesaboutrealpeoplelivingtheirlives—
withouttryingto“direct”themorstructurewhattheydo—you’renever
surewhat’sgoingtohappenorwhen.Manyafilmmakerhascompleted
weeks,months,oryearsofshootingwithnoideaifenoughofastoryhas
emergedtomakeafilm.Thenitmaytakeanextendedperiodinthe
editingroomtoweavetogetheracoherentpiece.Butthepayofftothis
riskyapproachisinthepowerofstoriesthatdevelopoveralongperiod
oftime,inwhichcharacterschangeandgrow,arebornordie.Theresult
canbeacomplexityanddepththatcan’tbeachievedanyotherway.
FilmingRealLife
Documentaryfilmprovidesauniquelyrichopportunitytoexperience
howotherpeoplelivetheirlives.There’saparticularthrillaboutseeing
dramaticmomentsunfold,knowingthatthey’respontaneousand
unscripted.Creatingtheenvironmentinwhichpeoplewillreveal
themselveswithacamerapresentispartofthedocumentarian’sart.
Themorethepeopleyou’refilmingtrustyou,themorecomfortable
they’llbeinfrontofthecamera.Filmmakersusedifferentapproachesto
buildingtrust.
Someliketospendalongtimewiththeirsubjectsbeforefilming
begins,togiveeveryoneachancetogettoknowoneanother.Ifyoudo
so,youcanexpectmanymomentswhenyou’llwishyouhadyour
camera.Regardlessofwhenyoustartfilming,spendingsomepersonal
timetogetherwhenthecamera’snotrolling(sharingamealoracupof
coffee)canbeanimportantpartoflearningaboutandgetting
comfortablewithyoursubjectsandtheirlearningaboutyou.
Youshoulddiscusswithyoursubjectswhatkindoffilmyou’re
makingandwhereyouplantoshowit.Youmaywanttotalkwiththem
aboutwhat’sokaytoshootandwhat’snot.Somefilmmakershavethe
subjectssignareleaseattheoutset,grantingpermissiontousewhatever
isfilmed(seeTalentandAppearanceReleases,p.739).Otherswaituntil
later.Fromajournalisticstandpoint,it’snotagoodideatogivesubjects
aformalrightofapprovaloverwhatgetsusedinthefilmandhowit’s
edited(you’remakingthemovie,notthem).3However,youmayormay
notwanttooffertoshowthemthefilmbeforeit’sdonetogettheir
response.Publicexhibitionofafilmcanhaveanenormousimpact(both
positiveandnegative)onthesubjects’lives,whichyouneedtoconsider
seriouslyasyoushootandedit.Insomesituations,peoplewillletyou
filmthemonlyiftheyhavesomeinputintheprocess.
Onceproductionbegins,keepthecrewsmallanduseasfewlightsas
possible,sotheshootingisrelaxedandlow-key.Whenyoustart
shooting,don’tmakealotofcommotion.Somecamerapeopleliketo
keepthecameraontheirshoulderorinpositionmuchofthetimeso
there’snotabigdistinctionbetweenthetimesthey’reshootingandwhen
they’rejustwaiting.Onavideocamera,turnoffthetallylightthat
announceswhenyou’vepulledthetrigger.Whenshootingdoublesystem,
keepslatesquiet,dotailslates,oravoidthemaltogetherifyou’realso
recordingaudiointhecamera(seeChapter11).Thepointisnottobe
sneaky,buttomakefilmingassubtleaspossible,withafluidtransition
betweenshootingandnotshooting.
Usingwirelessmicscanbeparticularlyusefulindocumentary.When
subjectswearamic,they’refreetoroamwheretheywantwithouta
soundpersonstickingamicboomintheirfaces.Besuretoshowthem
wherethemutebuttonissotheycanhaveprivacywhentheywantit.
Thoughpeoplemaybeself-consciousatfirst,thefactofthematteris
thatbeingfilmedoveraperiodoftimecanbequiteboring—thenovelty
wearsoffquickly.Thisiswhatyouwant—foryoursubjectstogoabout
theirliveswithoutworryingaboutwhatyou’reshooting.Some
filmmakerstrytobecomeaflyonthewallandinteractverylittlewith
theirsubjects.Othersarefriendlyandconversationalwhenthey’renot
shooting,butsilentwhenthecamera’srolling.Insomefilmmaking
styles,theconversationbetweenfilmmakerandsubjectcontinuesthe
wholetime.It’suptoyou.
Fig.9-21.LikemostofFrederickWiseman’sdocumentaries,BoxingGym
exploresaninstitutionusingonlysync-soundscenesofcontemporary
life,withnonarration,interviews,addedmusic,text,orotherframing
devices.(ZipporahFilms)
ShootingUncontrolledScenes
Forthecameraperson,filmingpeoplewithoutcontrollingwhatthey
dotakesaspecialcombinationofsensitivity,luck,andquickthinking.
Perhapsmorethananyotherkindofshooting,cinemaveritéfilming
requiresthatthecameraoperatorthinklikeadirectorandaneditor,all
whilespontaneouslyreactingtochangingevents.Thetendencywhile
shootingistoconcentrateonthecentralactionorpersontalking;remind
yourselfthattheaudiencemayalsoneedtoseethecontext(wideshot)
andreactionsfromothersinthescene.Thinkaboutthesequenceasa
whole.Askyourselfifyou’vegottenenoughcoverage.Thoughyoudon’t
yetknowhowthesequencewillbeedited,trytoprovidemultipleoptions
foreditingandshotsyouthinkmightmakeinterestingbeginningsor
endings.Theaudiencewillseethescenethroughyoureyes,soalways
havetheminmindwhileyoushoot.
It’sespeciallyimportanttothinkofindividualshotsandcamera
movementsashavingashape,withabeginningandend.Novices,
especiallywhenshootingvideo,tendtomovethecameraconstantly,
whichmakesthefootageveryhardtocut.Whendoingacamera
movement(whetheritbeazoom,pan,dolly,orwalkingshot),it’softena
goodideatobeginwithastaticframeandholditforafewseconds,then
transitionintothemovement,andglidetoastoponanotherframeand
holdthatafewseconds.Theeditormaycutoutthestaticbeginningand
end,butatleastheorshewillhavethemifneeded.
Afewdocumentaryfilmmakers,notablyFrederickWiseman,havea
styleinwhichscenesoftenplayoutinnearlyrealtimewithrelatively
littlecuttingwithinthescene.Thiscanallowhumaninteractionsto
unfoldinanaturalway.Farmorecommonly,scenesaseditedonscreen
mustplaymuchfasterthantheactualeventstakeinrealtime.The
filmmakermustshootsothattimecanbecondensed.Thismeans
judiciouslyshootingtheactionsothattheeditorcancutoutthe
uninterestingpartsandweavetogethertheessentialparts.Takethe
exampleofshootingtwopeopletalkingoverdinner.Themealmighttake
twohoursinrealtimeandruntwominutesintheeditedmovie.Ifthe
cameraremainedlockedinatwo-shottheentiretime,thesequence
wouldbealmostimpossibletocut.Instead,getavarietyofangles,some
two-shots,someclose-ups.Besuretoshootamplefootageoftheperson
listeningaswellasthepersontalking.Anover-the-shouldershottaken
frombehindthepersontalkingshowstherelationshipofthetwosubjects
withoutshowingmovinglips;thiscanbeveryusefulintheeditingroom.
Similarly,whenshootingsomeoneonthephone,trytogetsomeangles
frombehindorwherethephoneblocksthecamera’sviewoftheperson’s
lips.Whenshootingsomeoneplayinganinstrument,besuretoget
neutralshotsinwhichnofingerorhandpositionsarevisible.See
DramaticFilms,p.332,formoreonshootingandeditingconventions
thatapplytobothnarrativefilmsanddocumentaries.
ShootingInterviews
Filmmakersincorporateinterviewsinvariousways.Inatypicalnews
orjournalisticpiece,theymaybetheprimarysourceofcontentandtake
upmuchofthescreentime.Insomefilms,interviewsarewoveninwith
othertypesoffootageandfeelmorelikeanopportunityforconversation
orstorytellingthanforinformationdelivery.Insomefilms,theaudience
neverseestheinterview;instead,thefilmmakereditstheaudioanduses
itasvoice-over,togivethesensethatthecharacterisnarratingthe
movie.4
Akeyissuewhendoinginterviewsiswhethertheinterviewer’svoice
willbeheardintheeditedinterview.Thatis,willtheaudiencehearthe
questionsandfollow-ups(asiscommonwhenacorrespondentdoesa
magazinepiece)orwilltheyjustseethesubjects’responsesedited
together(whichistypicalwhenthere’snohostorfilmmakershownor
heardonscreen)?Doinginterviewswhenthequestionswon’tbeheard
createsaunique,somewhatbizarredynamicthattakessomepracticeto
pulloffsmoothly.Youneedtogetthepersontalking,butnotexactlyto
you(sinceyoudon’texistintheconversation).Youmayhavetheurgeto
respond,toreassurethepersonthatwhatshe’ssayingisinteresting,but
youcan’tmakeasound—atleastnotwhileshe’stalking.Somethings
thatmayhelp:
Setarelaxedtoneattheoutset.Havethesubjecttalktoyouandtry
toignorethecamera.Tellhimit’sokayifheneedstostoptothink,
ortoredoaquestion.(Though,forsometypesofinterviews,suchas
challengingapoliticianaboutquestionablepolicies,youmightwant
toputyoursubjectonthespot.)
Explainthatyourvoicewon’tbeinthepiece,whichiswhyyoumay
benoddingbutnotrespondingwhenhetalks.
Answeringquestionstheaudiencedoesn’thearcanproduce
awkwardresults.Ifyouask,“Wherewereyouborn?”andallyour
subjectsaysis,“London,”you’llhaveaproblemintheeditingroom.
Instead,askhertoincorporateyourquestionintoheranswer(“Iwas
borninLondon”)oratleastaskhertorespondinfullsentences.
Don’tletsubjectssay,“AsIsaidbefore”orrefertoearlier
conversation.There’snowaytoknowwhatorderthematerialwill
beused,orifyou’llusebothbites.Everystatementshouldstandon
itsown.Ifyou’renotpartofthepiece,don’tletthemreferto“you”
either.
Filmmakersdifferinhowmuchtoletpeopletalkduringan
interviewandhowmuchtotrytoinfluencehowtheyphrasethings
(italsodependsontheproject).Long,run-onsentencesmaybe
unusable.Alwaysbelisteningforhowyoucaneditwhat’sbeing
said,toshortenitwhileretainingthemeaning.Somepeoplehavea
knackforspeakinginlongstringsofdependentclausesthatare
simplynoteditable.Youmaywanttostopandaskthemtosaythe
sameideamoresuccinctly,ortoaddressthecontentinseparate
shortbitsinsteadofonelongchunk.Often,thefirsttimesomeone
answersaquestionisthefreshest.Ifyouneedtodoa“re-ask,”
changethefocallengthofthelenssoyoucaneditthefirstpartof
oneanswerwiththesecondpartoftheother,ifyouwant.
Sometimesinterviewsfeelmorenaturalifthesubjecthasaphysical
activitytodo,iswalkingordriving,orisinafamiliarsetting,likea
kitchen.Thebackgroundandsettingcanbeusedtotelltheaudience
somethingabouttheperson.Anotherapproachistouseaneutral
backdroptoprovideconsistencyfromonesubjecttothenext.Atextured
clothorblack(limbo)backdropcanbebroughtfromlocationtolocation,
butiftherearemanytalkingheads,auniformbackdropcanbecomedull.
Sometimesinterviewsarefilmedinfrontofagreenscreen,withthe
backgroundaddedinpostproduction(seeGreenScreenandChroma
Keys,p.211).Thisopensthedoortoallsortsofimageryinthe
background,includingmotionshots.Keyedbackgroundssometimesfeel
artificial,butwhenappropriate,theycanbeveryinteresting.
CAMERAANGLESANDMOVES.Forsit-downinterviews,usually
theinterviewersitsclosetothecamerasotheeyelineofthesubjectis
towardthelensbutnotdirectlyintoit(whichcansometimesfeel
awkward).Whenpositioningthesubject,beattentivetoscreendirection
—trytoalternatesetupswithsubjectsfacingscreenleftwiththosefacing
screenright(seeFig.9-20).Opposingscreendirectionisclassicallyused
forpeoplewithopposingopinions.Whentheintervieweristobeshown
oncamera,orifthereismorethanonecamera,sometimesonecamera
angleisfromtheside,togetmoreofaprofileshot.FilmmakerErrol
Morrisuseswhathecallsthe“interrotron,”whichisbasicallya
teleprompter(seeFig.9-33)thatprojectshisfaceonascreeninfrontof
thelens,sotheintervieweecanlookdirectlyintothelenswhiletalkingto
him.On-camerahostsorcorrespondentsgenerallylookdirectlyto
camerawhenaddressingtheaudience.
Somefilmmakersshootinterviewswithnocameramovementduring
shots,butzoominorouttovarythefocallengthbetweenshots.This
allowscuttinginoroutofthematerialwithouteverhavingtocutduring
azoom,whichsomepeoplefindobjectionable.However,awell-timed
zoomcanenhanceaninterviewbybringingtheviewercloserfor
importantoremotionalmaterial,orpullingbacktocapture,say,
interestinghandgestures.Ifthezoomisgradualandproperlytimedto
thephrasesofspeech,cuttingopportunitiesshouldnotbetoolimited.
Sometimesinterviewsarefilmedwithadolly-mountedcamerato
keepsomesenseofmovementthroughout.Curvedtrackcanhelpyou
maintainthesamedistancefromthesubjectwhilemovingaround.
Timingiseverything,sinceevenaslowdollymovewillreachtheendof
thetrackbeforelong.Itmayjustbeluckifyou’removingintheright
directionattherightplaceattherighttime.
Whenmorethanonecameraisused,asistypicalwithnewsand
magazineshows,onecameracanholdamoreconservative,widershot
whileanotherismoreactive.DSLRsaresometimesusedtoaddan
additionalfixedcameraanglewithoutanoperator.Shootinginterviews
withmultiplecamerasprovidesflexibilityforeditingandmakesitmuch
easiertocondensetimewithoutjumpcuts.Italsoavoidsthefake
reactionshotproblemthathappenswhenthere’sonlyonecameraandthe
interviewer’squestionsandreactionshotsarefilmedaftertheinterview
isover.(Forawonderfulexampleofthis,seeJamesBrooks’scomedy
BroadcastNews,inwhichacorrespondentisseentearinguponcamera
duringamovinginterview,eventhoughtheshotofhimcryinghadtobe
filmedasaretakeaftertheactualinterviewwasdone.)
Iflower-thirdswillbeusedtoidentifysubjects(seep.543),besureto
leaveroomatthebottomoftheframe.
SeeLightingInterviews,p.508,formoreoninterviewsetups.
PREPARINGFORPRODUCTION
Preparingwellforyourshootcanmeanthedifferencebetweenan
organized,productivefilmingexperienceandachaotic,haphazardone.
Actually,shootingmoviesisalmostalwayschaotic—therearean
enormousnumberofthingsgoingonatonce,decisionsbeingmade,
eventsoutofyourcontrol—butifyou’reprepared,andlucky,itwillbea
kindofcontrolledchaosthatresultsingettingthefootageyouneedwhile
stayingclosetoyourscheduleandbudgetandkeepingeveryone
relativelyhappy.
Preparationcantakemanydifferentforms.Foradirector,itmay
meanprevisualizingtheactionandcamerawork.AlfredHitchcock
preparedsometiculously—workingouttheentirefilmbeforehand—that
heclaimedthatshootingwasanuneventfulexecutionofthemoviehe’d
alreadyseeninhismind.
Foraproducer,preparationmeanshiringagoodteamandmaking
suretheresourcesneededareavailableontime.Nomatterwhatbudget
you’reworkingwith,therearealwaysfinancialpressures,andyoumay
notbeabletodeliverwhat’soneveryone’swishlist.Knowingwhich
thingsyoucandowithout—andwhichyoucan’t—ispartofthe
producer’sskill.
Forthedirectorofphotography,preparationmeanshavingthe
equipmentyouneed,knowinghowtouseit,andbeingconfidentthatit’s
working.Togetherwiththedirectoryou’llhaveworkedoutavisualstyle
and,dependingontheshoot,plannedindividualshots,angles,and
lighting.
Someshootscanbeplannedtothenubs;othershavetobehighly
improvisedinthemoment.AsaRomanphilosophersaid,“Luckiswhat
happenswhenpreparationmeetsopportunity.”Twothousandyearslater,
it’satiredcliché,butstillusefulforfilmshoots.
Fig.9-22.Shootingascene.Videocanbemonitored,logged,and
recordeddirectlyonalaptop.(AdobeSystems,Inc.)
PREPARINGTHESCRIPTANDAPPROACH
ScriptPreparation
Narrativefilmsoftenbeginwithastoryortreatment.Thenamore
detailedscreenplay(script)iswritten.It’simportanttoputthescriptin
standardpageformatsincethat’swhatactorsandexecutivesexpectand,
particularlyifyou’reanovice,youwanttoshowthatyouunderstand
industrypractice.YoucanuseascriptwritingprogramlikeFinalDraft,a
freeapplikeCeltx,orjustuseawordprocessor(formattingguidelines
canbefoundinscriptwritingbooks—seetheBibliography—oronthe
Web).Whenwritingascripttobereadbypotentialfundersoractors,it’s
agoodideatokeepcameradirectionandblocking(theactors’
movements)toaminimum.Thereadershouldexperiencethemovieasit
willplayonscreenandnotbeburdenedbythemechanicsofhowit’sput
together.
Whenyoureadthescreenplayofamovieyouadmire,orrecallthe
dialogueinamemorablescene,youmaybesurprisedathowfewwords
areused.Powerfulmomentsinfilmsareoftenmadeupoflooks,actions,
andrelativelyterseexchangesratherthanlongstretchesofexpository
dialogue.Novice(andexperienced)filmmakersoftenfindintheediting
roomthatscenesplaybetterwithmuchlessdialoguethanwaswritten
(seeChapter13).Thisisinpartbecauseofpacing,andinpartbecause
somethingsyoumightthinkneedtobeexplainedactuallyplaybetter
whentheaudiencemakestheconnectionsthemselves.Besuretoread
througheverylineofdialoguealoudbeforegoingintoproduction.Thisis
oftenbestdonewiththeactors(seebelow).There’snobettertimetotrim
dialogueandentirescenesthanbeforeyoushoot!
Anotherconsiderationisestimatinghowlongthefinishedfilmwill
run.Youmaywanttohitastandardlength,suchasninetyminutesortwo
hours,andyoumayberequiredtoifacontractcallsforit.There’sa
generalassumptionthatscriptsinstandardlayoutrunaboutapagea
minute.Dialoguescenesaremorepredictablethanactionscenesinterms
oftherelationshipofpagelengthtorunningtime.Evenso,some
dialogueisdeliveredasrapid-firereparteeandsomeisslow-paced.You
canestimaterunningtimebyspeakingthelineswithastopwatch.
Beforeyougointoproduction,everysceneanddescriptioninthe
scriptshouldbeconsideredforitsfinancialandtechnicalimplications
(seeWorkingBackwardfromtheBudget,p.58).Also,besurethetotal
numberofscenesandlocationsiswithinyourbudget(moreonthis
below).
Youmaywanttohavealawyerorscriptservicevetthescreenplay
foranypotentiallegalissues.Forexample,ifyouhaveacharacternamed
RoyCorneliuswholivesonHoustonStreetinNewYork,you’llwantto
checkthatthereisn’tarealpersonwiththatnameonthatstreet.Ifthe
scriptcallsforaspecificpieceofmusictobeperformedorused,thatwill
alsoneedtobecleared.Formoreonlegalandclearanceissues,see
Chapter17.
THESHOOTINGSCRIPT.Asyouapproachproduction,ashooting
scriptispreparedthatincludesspecificcameraanglesandmayhave
moredetailsonaction.Everysceneisnumberedandallsceneandpage
numbersarelocked.Thatway,ifchangesaremadetoapage,any
replacementpagescanbeinsertedwithoutreprintingthewholescript.If
page18isrewrittenandbecomeslongerthanapage,theextrapage
wouldbe18A.Similarly,ifanewsceneisaddedafterscene20,it
becomesscene20A.Revisionpagesaredatedandtypicallyprintedon
different-coloredpaper:thefirstrevisiononblue,thesecondonpink,
thenyellow,andsoon.
PrevisualizationandRehearsal
Ifyouweresettingouttodesignanenvironmentthatfosters
creativityandrelaxed,freshthinking,afilmshootwouldnotbeit.Ona
typicalday,ifyou’renotalreadybehindschedule,youwillbeifyoustop
toolongtoponder.Nottomentionthefactthattheremaybehordesof
peoplebusilyexecutingtheideasasplannedwhowon’tbehappywhen
youdecidetochangeeverythingatthelastmoment.
Therearemanywaystoexplore,experiment,rehearse,and
previsualizebeforeyouactuallygointoproduction.
Havingagroupofactorsreadthroughthescriptgivesyouachanceto
hearthedialogueandgetideasfordirection.Thiscanbedoneasatable
read,whereeveryonesitstogether,oryoumaywantactorstomove
aroundtogetthephysicalsenseofascene.Ifyoucanaffordit,reading
withtheactualactorswhowillplaythepartscanbeaproductivetimeto
workoutideasandtoformrelationships.Somedirectorsinsiston
rehearsaltime.DirectorMikeLeighusesrehearsalasatimewhenthe
actorscanactuallyshapethestoryanddialogue.Otherdirectorsprefer
thatactorsdothematerialfreshontheshootwithlittleprep.Thereare
benefitstorehearsinginaseparatespacepriortothepressuresof
production,butsometimesyoujusthavetorehearseinthemomentonthe
set.
Thephysicalaspectsofthesetorlocationareanintegralpartofhow
scenesareblockedandshot.Sometimesthephysicalspaceisdesignedor
modifiedaccordingtohowyouwanttoplayascene,andsometimes
you’reonlocationandjusthavetousewhatyou’vegot.
Thedirector,directorofphotography,andothermembersofthe
productionteamneedwaystoplanandcollaboratehowthefilmwillbe
shot.Perhapsthesimplesttoolistodrawbasicsketchesofcameraangles
andblocking.Thesecanbefloorplansand/ordrawingsofwhatwouldbe
seenthroughthelens(seeFig.9-23).TheDPmayalsowanttomake
chartsoflightingsetups.
Fig.9-23.Basicsketchesforplanningscenecoverage.(left)Anoverhead
diagramofcameraanglesandblocking.(right)Simplesketchesof
individualshotsfromthesamesequence.(StevenAscher;GregHigh)
Storyboardsareshot-by-shotdrawingsofhowtheactionand
cameraworkaresupposedtoplayonscreen.Thesecanbeparticularly
usefulforeffectsshotsandcomplexsetupswheremanypeoplemaybe
neededtomaketheshotwork.Astoryboardartistmaydrawthemoryou
mightmakesketchesyourself.Somedirectorsusedetailedstoryboardsas
awaytoprevisualizeascene;othersfindthemlimiting.Oftenthereare
manychangesbetweenthestoryboardandwhatisactuallyshotand
editedintothemovie.
Computerstoryboardingprograms,suchasStoryBoardQuickand
StoryBoardArtist,maysavetimeandcanbehelpfulifyoulackdrawing
skills(seeFig.9-24).YoucanalsouseappssuchasPoser,FrameForge,
andAfterEffectstocreatevideosequencestowhichaudiocanbeadded;
someapplicationscansimulatewhatacamerawouldseeifmoving
throughaphysicalspace—usefulforplanningsetconstructionoraCGI
shot.
Fig.9-24.StoryboardscanbecreatedwithappslikeStoryBoardArtist.
(PowerProductionSoftware)
Somefilmmakersliketorehearsenotjusttheactorsbuttheentire
movie,includingshootingandediting.FrancisCoppolaandothershave
usedvideoasatooltoshootessentiallyaroughdraftofamovie(or
scenes)andeditpriortoproduction.Youmightgooutwithasmall
digitalcameraandexperimentwithcameraangles,moves,dialogue,or
blocking.Cutittogetherandseehowitflows.Evenifyoucan’tshootthe
reallocationsorrealactors,you’llgetideas,andyou’lleitherusethem
forthemovieoryou’llrealize—withplentyoftimetomakeanewplan
—thatyouwanttodosomethingcompletelydifferent.
SCHEDULINGANDPLANNING
ScriptBreakdownandScheduling
Asyouprepareforshooting,everysceneinthescriptisbrokendown
fortheproductionelementsrequired.Ascriptbreakdownsheetliststhe
peopleandresourcesneededforeachscene,includingcast(both
principalplayersandextras),crew,stunts,props,wardrobe,makeup/hair,
vehicles,specialeffectsandequipment,music,andsoon.Thelengthof
eachsceneisindicatedinone-eighth-pageincrements(ahalf-pagescene
isfour-eighths).
Oncethescriptisbrokendown,ashootingscheduleiscreated.This
maybedonebythefirstassistantdirector,theproductionmanager,or
sometimestheproducer.Theproductionboard(alsocalledproduction
stripboard)isachartwithstripsofpaperforeachscene,colorcoded
accordingtowhetherthesceneisinteriororexterior,dayornight.Strips
canbemovedaroundtoformthescheduleandmodifyitasnecessary.
Thisorganizationalsystemcanalsobedoneonacomputerwithsoftware
likeCeltxorMovieMagicScheduling(seeFig.9-25).
Fig.9-25.MovieMagicScheduling.(left)Abreakdownsheetforeach
scene,withtalent,props,andequipmentneeds.(middle)Stripboardfor
planningtheshootingschedule.(EntertainmentPartners)
Productionschedulingisacomplextaskthattakesexperiencetodo
well.Thegoalistomaximizeefficiencyandremainflexiblefor
contingencies.Onalow-budgetfilm,it’scommontoshootaboutthreeor
fourpagesinatwelve-hourday.Dialoguescenesmaygofasterthan
actionscenesthatrequiremanycamerasetups(lotsofshortscenesoften
takelongerthanafewlongones).Thepaceofshootingisusually
dictatedbythebudget.Ifyoucanaffordonlytwodaysatalocation,
you’llhavetogetthescenestheredoneinthattimeevenifitmeans
compromisingtheoriginalplan.It’snotunusualtogointoashootwitha
fulllistofcamerasetupsontheschedule,thenparedownthelisttobare
essentialsasthetime—and,often,thelight—runout.
Generally,filmingintheorderthescenesappearinthescriptisnot
optimal.Youusuallyneedtofilmallthescenesthatoccurinonelocation
togetherbecauseit’stooinefficienttoreturntothesameplacetosetup
multipletimes.Similarly,youmayneedtoshootoutanactor(group
togetherallhisorherscenes)ifthatperson’savailabilityislimited.If
youuseschedulingsoftware,it’seasytoprintoutaday-out-of-days
schedulethatallowsyoutoseeallthedayswhenindividualactorsor
otherelementsarescheduledsoyoucanseeifrearrangingthingsmight
allowyoutofilmanactor’sscenesback-to-back.
Planningwithineachday’sshootshouldalsotakeintoaccountwhen
castmembersandresourcesareneeded.Forexample,shootthewide
shotsofacrowdscenefirst,thenshootclose-upsaftermostofthecrowd
hasbeendismissed.
Theproductionteamwillworkfasterandgetmorecomfortablewith
oneanotherafterworkingtogetherforawhile,whicharguesforshooting
relativelyeasyscenesfirst,thendoingmorecomplexsceneslateron.
Actually,crewsoftengothroughanarc:thingsarebumpyatfirst,aftera
whiletheygetintoagroove,andthen,asexhaustionsetsin,theyget
moreragged.Don’tshootkeyscenesonthefirstday.
Alsoconsideremotionalcontentwhenschedulingscenes.For
example,afilmabouttwopeoplemeetinganddevelopingarelationship
maybeperformedmorenaturallybyactorswhoarejustgettingtoknow
eachotherintheearlyscenesandhavetheexperienceoftheshootbehind
themforlater,perhapsmoreintensescenes.
Itmakessensetoshootexteriorscenesrelativelyearlyinthe
productionincasebadweathersetsinlater.Alwayshaveaninterior
coversetavailablethatyoucanmovetoifanexteriorbecomessuddenly
unfilmableduetoweather.Duplicatewardrobesandpropsallowthe
productiontocontinueevenwhenaprophasbeenmisplacedorashirt
hasgottendirty.
Whenyoumovefromonelocationtothenext(acompanymove)you
invariablylosealotoftime.Avoidmovesduringadaywhenpossible.
Schedulemealbreakseverysixhours(ormoreoften)andhaveplentyof
drinksandsnacks(calledcraftservice)availableatalltimes.Thetime
betweentheendofoneworkdayandthestartofthenextisturnaround
time,anditshouldnormallynotbelessthantwelvehours.Turnaround
canbeaparticularissuewithnightshootsiffilmingisscheduledforthe
nextday;youcan’tstopshootingat3:00AMandaskthecrewtostart
againat8:00AM.Exhaustionhascausedseriousaccidents.
Onsomeproductions,everythingisshotduringtheperiodof
principalphotography.Onothers,timeisleftinthescheduleforreshoots
(oftenaftereditinghasbegun)orfortheoccasionalpickupshotneededto
fillinagaportransition(pickupshootsaregenerallydonewithareduced
crew).ADRmaybeneededtoreplacedialoguebeforethemix(seep.
532).It’ssmarttoanticipatethesethingsbybuildingthemintothe
scheduleandtheactors’contracts.
Fig.9-26.Whenshootingexteriors,thetimeofdayandweathercanbeas
importantasthelocation.Forexample,lightatmiddaytendstobeflat
andmaybeharsh.Lightearlierorlaterinthedaymaycastinteresting
shadows.Themagichourjustbeforesunriseoraftersunsetmayshow
lightsaswellasthelandscape.Thincloudcovercanenhancecolorsand
softenshadows,whichisoftenhelpfulinclose-ups.Hazebuildupmay
obscuredistantshots.
SeeChapter17formoreonschedulingandbusinessarrangements.
TheShootingRatio
Drawingupabudgetandaplanhelpsyouaddressakeyquestion:
howmuchmaterialshouldyoushoot?Thetotalamountoffootageshotis
invariablygreaterthanthelengthofthefinaleditedmovie.Theratioof
totalfootagefilmedtofinalrunningtime(theshootingratio)varies
widelybytypeofmovie,budget,andthedirector’sstyle.Acarefully
planneddramamightbeontheorderof5:1or15:1.Arealitytelevision
showwithmultiplecamerascouldhaveupto450hoursoffootagefora
one-hourprogram.
Onadrama,thefootageshotwilldependonseveralfactors:the
lengthofthescript;howmanyscenesthereare;thenumberofdifferent
cameraangles(setups)required;howmanytakesofeachneedtobeshot.
Sometimesdirectorsshootawholesceneinwideshot,thenreshootthe
wholesceneagaininclose-uptogivethemostflexibilityinediting.This
resultsinahighershootingratiothanifyoudecideinadvancethatyou’ll
film,say,onlytheopeningandclosingofthesceneinwideshotanddo
thebulkofthedialogueinclose-up.By“pre-editing”inthiswayyou’ll
savetimeintheshootandreducetheamountoffootage(you’llalso
reduceyouroptionsintheeditingroomsomewhat).Hitchcockwasso
preciseinfilmingjustwhatwasneededthateditorGeorgeTomasini
jokedthatsometimeseditingascenemeantsimplytrimmingoffthe
slatesandstringingtheshotstogether.
Nomatterhowpredictableyouassumetheactionwillbe,the
unexpectedalwaysseemstohappen:changesintheweather,flubbed
lines,ortechnicaldifficultieswithpictureorsound.Additionaltakesare
invariablyneededinactedwork,anddocumentaryisalways
unpredictable.
Onebigfactorintheshootingratioiswhetheryou’reshootingdigital
orfilm.Filmisobviouslyexpensive,sothere’salwayspressurenotto
shoottoomuch.Digitalischeaperonaper-minutebasis,sopeopletend
toshootitatamuchhigherratiothanfilm.Whenyoushootfilm,you
havetoeditinyourheadandmakeeveryfootoffilmcount.Witha
digitalcamera,it’salmosthardertoturnitoffthantojustkeepshooting.
Thebenefitofshootingatahighratiocanbeamorerelaxedfeeling
ontheshoot.Youcantakebiggerrisksintermsoftryingthingsout,
lettingactorsplaywithascene,ornotstoppingbetweentakes.With
unpredictabledocumentaryscenes,shootingliberallymayallowyouto
capturethingsyou’dotherwisemiss.However,therecanberealproblems
withshootingtoomuch.Aesthetically,shotscanbecometoorelaxedand
rambling,withnoparticularbeginningorend,andmaybeimpossibleto
cut.It’sinterestingtonotethatstudentswhofirstlearnhowtoshooton
filmtendtoshootmorecarefullyandthoughtfullythanthosewhostart
withdigital.
Then,ofcourse,highshootingratiosmeanextracostsforadded
productiontime,filmortapestock,andprocessing(evendigitalwill
havecostsduetotranscoding,debayering,orharddrivestorage).
Managingaprojectthathashoursandhoursofmaterialcanbea
headacheintheeditingroomandmayrequiremanydayssimplytoview
andlogthefootage.
Withexperience,youwillfindtheratiothat’srightforyourstyleof
working.
ORGANIZINGTHEPRODUCTION
TheCrewandProductionTasks
Thefollowingisabriefdescriptionoftherolesofkeymembersofa
largeHollywood-typefilmproductionunit,whichgivesanideaofthe
rangeoftasksinvolvedinamovieshoot.Theuseoftermslike
“cameraman”isnotmeanttoimplythatthejobisperformedbyamale.
Theexecutiveproducermayarrangeforfinancingorcontributein
otherwaystodevelopingtheproduction.Theproducerraisesmoneyand
oftencreatesthe“package,”whichmayincludethescript(literary
property),thedirector,andtheactors.Theproducerisresponsibleforthe
budgetandtheoverallproductionandcanhireandfirepersonnel.The
directorisresponsiblefortheproductionunit,translatingthescriptinto
visualterms,anddirectingtheactors.Insometelevisionproductions,the
producer’sfunctionsoverlapwiththoseofafilmdirector.
Thefirstassistantdirector(1stAD)isresponsibleforkeepingthe
shootonscheduleandmaintainsorderontheset.ThesecondAD
managescallsheets(seebelow)andmakessurethatneededactorsare
present.Thescriptsupervisorisresponsibleforcontinuityandmaking
sureshotsmatchineverythingfromweathertohairdoandthat
everythinghasbeenshotfromtheanglescalledforinthescript.
Fig.9-27.Crewonlocation.(ChrisFreilich)
Theunitproductionmanager(UPM)isresponsiblefortherelations
betweentheproductionandoutsidelaborandsuppliers.Heorsheworks
withthefirstADtokeeptheproductiononschedule.Alineproducer
performssimilartasksinasupervisoryrole.Aproductioncoordinator
handlesdetailssuchasshipping,transport,andlodging.Alocation
managerorscoutfindslocationsasneededandhelpsarrangelogistics.
Thedirectorofphotography(DPorDoP),alsocalledthe
cinematographer,firstcameraman,orlightingcameraman,composesthe
shots,planscameramovements,anddecideshowtolightscenes,usually
inconsultationwiththedirector.Onsmallunits,theDPmayoperatethe
camera,butonlargeunits,thecameraoperatororsecondcameraman
setsthecontrolsandoperatesthecameraduringatake.Thefirstassistant
cameraman(1stAC)operatesthefollowfocus,checksthefilmcamera
gatefordirt,andmanagesthecameraequipment.Thesecondassistantor
clapperloaderoperatestheslate,loadsfilminafilmcamera,andkeeps
thecamerareportsheet.
Onadigitalcinematographyorvideoshoot,jobdescriptionsare
somewhatdifferent,asthere’snofilmtoloadorgatestocheck,but
includeotherresponsibilities,suchasmanagingtapesordatafiles,
settingupmonitors,andsoforth.ADIT(digitalimagingtechnician)may
beonthecrewtoadjustcameraparameters,superviserecording,createa
visuallook,andoffloadandbackupcamerafiles.
Thegafferandacrewofelectriciansplacethelightsasdirectedby
theDP.Thebestboyorsecondelectricassiststhegafferinsettingup
lightsandcables.Thegripsmovethingsaround,placeprops,andbuild
scaffoldsandotherriggingforcamerasorlights.Thedollygrippushes
thedolly.Thesounddepartmentisrunbythesoundrecordist(alsocalled
productionsoundmixerorlocationsoundengineer),whorecordsthe
soundanddirectstheboomoperator,whomaneuversthemicrophone,
sometimesassistedbyacableman.
Thesecondunitisusuallyresponsibleforstunts,crowdscenes,battle
scenes,andspecialeffects—essentiallythosescenesthatareshotwithout
sound.Thesesceneshavetheirowndirectorandcameracrew.
Thecrewisdividedintodepartments(camera,sound,art,wardrobe,
etc.),eachwithadepartmenthead.Productiondesign,artdirection,set
construction,props,makeup,hairdressing,costumedesign,wardrobeon
theset,andcountlessotherjobsarespecializedtasks,eachrequiringone
ormanypeopletoperformthem.Jobresponsibilitiesvarybycountryand
bytypeofproduction.Onunionproductionstherearestrictrulesabout
whatdutiesfallwithinoroutsideagivenjob’sjurisdiction.Forexample,
thecameracrewusuallyshouldn’ttouchalightingfixture.Onnonunion
orsmallerproductions,theremaybesignificantoverlapin
responsibilities,andonepersonmaybecalledontoperformavarietyof
tasks.Productionassistants(PAs)arelow-paid“gofers”(goforthis,go
forthat)whodoallsortsofunderappreciatedtasks.Don’tconfusePAs
withAPs(associateproducers).
CrewSize
Findingtherightcrewsizeisabalancingact.Ifthecrewistoosmall
forthecomplexityoftheproduction,crewmembersgetoverburdened
andtheworkbecomesinefficientandslow.However,ascrewsizegrows,
thereisakindofinstantmultiplyingeffect:morepeoplerequiremore
support(cars,meals,accommodations),whichrequiresmorepeople.
Thesizeofthecrewcanaffectnotjusttheprocess,butthenatureof
whatgetsfilmed.Thelargerthecrew,themoreexpensiveeachhourof
workbecomes,whichaddspressuretotheshootandmakesitthatmuch
hardertoexperimentandtryoutideas.Particularlyondocumentaries,a
smallcrewwillhavebetteraccesstothesubjectsbeingfilmedandcreate
lessdisruptionintheirlives.Asmalldocumentarycrewmightconsistof
acamerapersonandasoundrecordist,witheitherorbothfunctioningas
director.Athirdpersonmaybeneededtodrivethecar,helpwith
equipment,andrunerrands.Somedocumentaryfilmmakersliketoshoot
alone,workingunobtrusivelywithasmallcamera.Seep.731forthe
businessaspectsofhiringcrew.
Casting
Foranyproductionthatinvolvesactors,castingisvital.Finding
actorswhoarenotjustrightfortheirrolesbutwhoalsoworkwellasan
ensemblecanmakeallthedifference.Ifthecastingisgood,the
director’sjobisenormouslyeasier.Ifthecastingisbad,agreatscript
anddirectormaynotbeabletosavetheproject.Foradramaticfeature,
havingsomeknownstarsmayenableyoutogetfinancingandisaboon
formarketing.Manystarshavebeenknowntoappearinlow-budget
filmsifthescriptisgoodandthenumberofdaysrequiredissmall.
Dependingontheproduction,youmayhaveachoicewhethertowork
withunionornonunionactors.Unionactorsaregenerallymore
experiencedandexpensive,thoughtheymayreduceordefertheirsalaries
forlow-budgetproductions.
Atthestartofthecastingprocess,prepareacastingbreakdown,
whichisalistofalltherolesinthefilmwithashortdescription.
Professionalsusuallyworkwithacastingdirectororacastingagency
thathasfilesonhundredsofactorsandconductsregularauditionsfor
newtalent.Acastingdirectorcanpointyoutoactorswhowouldbegood
foraroleandmayhelpwhennegotiatingwiththem.ForaHollywood
picture,atalentagencymightassemblea“package”ofleadactorsfora
project.BreakdownServices,Ltd.,isacompanythatpostsbreakdowns
foragentsandactorstoview.Inmanycitiesthereareagenciesand
castingwebsitesthatcangiveyouquickaccesstoalocalpoolofactors.
Someproducersholdopenauditions,advertisedtothegeneralpublic;if
youdothis,bepreparedtofindafewundiscoveredgemsandalotof
peoplewhohavelittleexperienceandability.Bewareofactors’
headshots(posedportraits)—theycanbemisleading.However,when
castingextras(nonspeakingbackgroundplayers)headshotsaretypically
allyouhavetogoon.
Whenholdingauditions,preparesides(portionsofthescript
excerptedforeachcharacter)andgetthemtotheactorspriortothe
audition.Sometimescastingdirectorsdothefirstauditionsthemselves,
whichtheproduceranddirectorreviewonline.Thencallbacksare
scheduledtoreadthepromisingactorsagain,oftenindifferent
combinations.Withsomecastingdecisionsyouknowinstantlyifanactor
isrightorwrongforapart;othertimesittakesalotofthought.Besure
torecordeverythingonvideosoyoucanreview.It’simportanttosee
howactorstakedirection,soaskthemtotrytheirlinesafewdifferent
ways.Payattentionnotjusttolinereadings,buttohowactorshandle
themselveswhenthey’relisteningandperformingactionwithout
dialogue.Amajorpartofactingisnonverbal.
Formoreonhiringactors,seep.732.
Locations
Theproducercanseekoutlocationsforfilmshootsorhirealocation
scoutwhomayalreadykeepadatabaseoflikelyplaces.Manystateshave
filmcommissionsthatcanassistinfindinglocationsandsecuringpublic
areaslikeparksandgovernmentbuildings.Potentialsitesshouldbe
photographedfrommultipleanglesorshotonvideotogiveasenseofthe
space.
Locationscouting—theBritishcallitdoingarecce(from
“reconnaissance,”it’spronounced“rekky”)—isimportanttoassesshow
suitableaspacewillbeforshooting.Foradrama,ideallytheproducer,
director,DP,AD,productiondesigner,soundperson,locationmanager,
andothermembersoftheteamwillscouteachlocation.Fora
documentary,sometimesjustthedirectorandDPgoalong.Atechnical
surveyisdonetodetermine:
1. Directionandartdirection.Isthespaceadequateforshooting?Are
theroomscrampedoristhereenoughspacetogetthecameraback
awayfromtheaction?Ifadollywillbeused,isthereroomforthe
tracks?Arethewalls,furniture,andartworkusableforyourmovie
orwilltheyneedtobechanged?Anyproblemswithviewsoutthe
windows?Foranexteriorlocation,willtherebeaproblemwith
crowdcontrol?Adigitalcameraordirector’sfinder(asmall
handheldfinderforviewingasceneatdifferentfocallengths)is
usefultoblockoutshots.
2. Lighting.Whatisthenaturallightandhowisitexpectedtochange
overtheshoot?(AppsformobiledeviceslikeHeliosSunPosition
Calculatorcanshowwhichwaythesunwillbeshiningatdifferent
timesofdayonagivendate.)Howmuchartificiallightwillyou
need?Aretheceilingshighenoughtohidelightsoutofframe?How
muchelectricpowerisavailable;willgeneratorsorothersourcesbe
necessary?Trytomeetwithmaintenancepersonneltocheckoutthe
powerandotherissues(seeChapter12).
3. Camera.Willanyspeciallensesbeneeded(forexample,awideanglelensforsmallspaces)?Cantheusualcamerasupportsbeused
orwillyouworkhandheldorwithaSteadicam?Willyouneedto
adjustcamera,filters,orfilmstocksduetohighorlowlightlevels?
4. Sound.Isthelocationquietenoughtoshoot?Isitunderanairport
flightpathornearahighway?Dothefloorssqueakwhenyouwalk
onthem?Isthespacetooreverberant(seeChapter11)?Askifthe
noiselevelchangesalotatcertaintimesofday.
5. Productionandsupport.Whataretherestrictionsintermsofwhen
filmingcantakeplace?Willitbedifficultorcostlytosecure
permission?Isthereadequateparkingorcanpermitsbeobtainedto
reservemore?Arethereenoughbathrooms?Aretherestagingareas
whereequipment,wardrobe,andmakeupcanbesetupseparatefrom
theshootingarea?Willyouneedfansorairconditionerstokeepthe
spacefromgettingtoohot?Isthelocationdifficulttofind?Isthere
Internetaccess?
Youwillusuallyneedalocationreleaseandinsomelocationsa
permitand/oraninsurancebond(seeChapter17).
Fig.9-28.Adirector’sviewfinderallowsyoutoviewascenewith
differentfocallengthlenses,togetafeelforwhatfocallengthyouwant
touseonthecamera.ThisiPhoneversioncombinesaZacutohandgrip
withtheArtemisdirector’sviewfinderapp.Director’sfindersarehelpful
forscoutinglocationsandplanningshots.(ZacutoUSA/Chemical
Wedding)
Findingagoodlocationthatsuitsallyourneedsisdifficult.Often
filmmakerswillshootexteriorsinoneplaceandtheinteriorthatismeant
torepresenttheinsideofthatbuildinginanentirelydifferentplace.Ifthe
productionbudgetwillsupportit,shootinginastudiocansolvemanyof
thetypicalproblemsoflocations.Evenonalow-budgetproduction,a
quietspace,afewflats(movablewalls),andsomepropscantakeyoua
longwayifyouhavegoodlightingandcleverartdirection.
BacktimingfromProduction
Shootingafilmisabitlikearocketlaunch:therearecountlessthings
thatrequirelotsofpreparationsothatallsystemsare“go”whentheship
blastsoff.Asaproducer,youshouldbeginpreproductionatleastthreeor
fourmonthsaheadofthefirstdayofshooting.Amongthetaskstobe
accomplished:scheduling,casting,hiringdepartmentheads,hiringother
crew,arrangingforequipment,props,costumes,vehicles,catering,and
determiningthepostproductionworkflow.Itcantakemonthstoget
musiclicensesifyouneedthemforsongsperformedduringtheshoot,
andotherformsofpaperwork,includinglocationpermits,insurance,and
contracts,alsotaketime.Foranexcellentpreproductionchecklist,see
MaureenRyan’sProducertoProducer(seetheBibliography).
THEEQUIPMENTPACKAGE
EquipmentPrep
Equipmentforashootmaybelongtoyou,peopleyouhire,arental
house,oraschoolorotherinstitution(seeEquipment,p.733).Priorto
theshoot,theequipmentpackageneedstobeassembledandtestedtobe
sureeverything’sworking.Forcameratests,seeChapters3,6,and7.For
audioequipment,seeChapter11.Thenightbeforetheshoot,makesure
thatreplaceablebatteriesarefreshandrechargeablebatteriesarecharged
(seeChapter3).
Ifyou’retravelingtothelocation,usesolidshippingcasestoprotect
thegearinvehiclesorplanes.Manypeopleprefertohand-carrythe
cameraitselfanddelicatelensesoraudiogearonplanes(seep.270).
Bringbatterieswhenhand-carrying;inspectorsmaydemandthatyou
operatetheequipmenttoshowit’slegit(butseep.132forlimitations).
Seep.285forshippingfilm.
Havingyourequipmentandsupplieswellorganizedandeasily
accessibleisextremelyimportant.Inthepressureofashoot,youwantto
beabletoquicklyputyourhandsonwhateveryouneed.Whenshooting
withalargecrewandplentyofsupportvehicles,thingscanbedivided
intomanycasesorstoragecontainers.However,whenyouneedtopack
lightforportability—andespeciallywhenworkingalone—havingthe
rightamountofgearintherightcasesmakesahugedifference.
Particularlyfordocumentarywork,you’llwantasoftshoulderbagorbelt
bagforbatteriesandsuppliesthatyoucanwearwhileshooting.
Fig.9-29.TheREDScarletcancapture5KREDCODERAWstillsand
4Kmotion.AvailablewithPLmountorCanonEFmount(shown).Also
shown:touch-screenLCDmonitor,batteries,REDMAGSSDrecording
media,andmoduletoaccepttheSSDs.(RED)
AFieldPackage
Thefollowingisabasiclistofequipmentforaprofessionalfield
shootinvideoorfilm.Dependingonyourcameraandproductionstyle,
youmayneedmoreorlessstuff.Typically,manyitemsarerented;others
maybeownedbytheproductiongroup.Expendables(supplieslike
gaffer’stapeorgelsthatwillbeconsumedontheshoot)arepurchased
beforetheshootorsuppliedasneededduringtheproduction.Allitems
arediscussedelsewhereinthebook.
DIGITALCAMERA
Camerawithzoomlensand/orsetofprimes
Twotofourbatteries,withcharger/ACpower
Fieldmonitor
Cablesforcamera-to-monitorconnection
Softcameracase
Media:flashmemorycards,tape,solid-statedrives;possiblyan
externalrecorder
Laptopand/orexternaldevicefordownloading;additional
externaldrives
ND(neutraldensity)filtersifnotbuiltin;close-updiopters;
circularpolarizer
FILMCAMERA
Camerabody
Lenspackage:zoomlensand/orsetofprimes
Twoorthreemagazines
Threebatteriesandcharger
85andNDfilters;close-updiopters;polarizer
Soundbarneyifneeded
Zoommotorandcontroller
Lightmeters;changingbag
Sparefilmcans;cameratape
CAMERASUPPORTANDACCESSORIES
Tripodwithfluidheadandspreader
Shoulderbraceforsmallcameras(ifdesired)
Mattebox,Frenchflag,and/orlensshade
Mountingplatewithrods
Follow-focuscontrol
Hihatand/ortablestand
Dolly;curvedandstraighttrackandwedges(ifapplicable)
Slider(ifapplicable)
Expendables
Seep.270forotheritems
AUDIOGEAR
Cardioid(directional)orhypercardioid(“shotgun”)mic
Lavaliermic;assortedclips
Wirelesstransmitter(s)andreceiver(s)
Fishpolemicboomwithshockmount
SoftieorZeppelinwindscreen
Fieldmixer
Headphones
Cablesformic-to-mixerandcamera-to-mixerconnections(often
XLR-to-XLR)
Extrabatteries
DOUBLE-SYSTEMRECORDING
(Ifapplicable)
Digitalaudiorecorder
Slate;timecodegenerator
LIGHTINGANDGRIP
Lightingunitswithstands,sparelamps
Smallonboardor“Obie”eyelight
ACpowercables;cubetapsorpowerstrips
Gels:CTBandCTO(smallsheetsforlights,largerollsfor
windows)
Spunand/orotherdiffusion
Collapsiblereflector
C-clamps,Maferclamps,springclamps
Woodenclothespins,sashcord,etc.
Gaffer’stape;blackwrap
Dimmers
OTHERLIGHTINGANDGRIP
C-standswitharms
Sandorwaterbags
Flags,silks,nets(varioussizes)
Foam-coreorwhitebouncecards
Appleboxes
Duvetyn(blackcloth)
Soundblankets
Overheadwithsilk,netandsolid
Tie-incablesandboxes
INPRODUCTION
Afterallthepreparation,it’stimetoshoot.
StayingOrganized
Createaproductionbookthathasallthekeyinformationneededfor
theshoot:allcastandcrewcontacts,directions,namesofvendors,budget
andfinancialinformation,etc.Beabletoansweranyquestionthatcomes
upquickly.
Everydayduringproduction,anADpreparescallsheetsthatinform
everymemberofthecastandcrewwhentheyshouldreportforshooting
andwhatwillbefilmedthatday.Thecallsheetincludescontact
numbers,directions,andanyotherusefullogisticalinformation.Mobile
appslikedoddle,PocketCallSheet,andShotListercanalsobeusedto
coordinatetheproductionteam.
Thedirectorshouldhaveashotlistforeachday.Theplannedsetups
andscheduleshouldhavebeendiscussedinadvancewiththeproduction
team.
Don’tassumethatpeopleknowtheplanunlessyouconfirmthatthey
do.Havebackupsincaseequipmentgoesdown,weatherturnsbad,or
someonedoesn’tshowup.
PreparingtheSlate
Theslate(alsocalledmarker,clapperboard,clapsticks,orsimply
sticks)originatedintraditionalfilmproductionasawaytohelp
synchronizesoundandpictureduringediting.Theclassicslatingdevice
isliterallyapieceofslateonwhichinformationcanbechalked,witha
hingedpieceofwoodontopthatmakesasharpnoisewhenitmakes
contactwiththeboard.Modernslatesareusuallyplasticorelectronicand
oftenincludeatimecodedisplaythatfreezeswhenthehingedboardis
slappeddown(seeFig.11-19).Therearealsoslateappsfortabletsand
mobilephones(seeFig.9-30).
Slatesareusedtodayfordigitalorfilmproductionsshotdouble
system(withaseparateaudiorecorder;seep.36).Whenshootingvideo
withoutaseparateaudiorecorder,slatingisnotneededforsyncing
purposes;however,it’sagoodideatouseaslateonalldramas—infilm
ordigital—tovisuallyIDthesceneandtakenumberattheheadofthe
take.EvenMOSsceneswithnosoundshouldbeslatedforidentification
(“MOS”iswrittenontheslate).WhenaslateisusedtoIDatake,butnot
forsyncing,thehingedbarshouldnotberaised.
Fig.9-30.MovieSlateappforiPhoneoriPad.Displaystime-of-day
(TOD)timecodeoryoucanjamtimecodefromanexternalsource.Ashot
log—includingsceneandtakeinfo,notes,andotherdatasuchasGPS
location—canbeexportedeasilyviatheWeb.Aplug-inisavailablefor
generatingdetailedsoundreports.(PureBlendSoftware)
Informationwrittenontheslateincludestheproductioncompany,
nameofproject,director,DP,sceneandtakenumbers,anddate.Ifmore
thanonecameraisbeingused,thatisusuallyindicatedbyletter(A,B,C,
…).Thecamerarollnumberisindicated(whichmaybeafilmroll,
videotape,ormemorycardnumber).5Thesoundtakenumber(ifused)
andsoundrollmayalsobeindicated.Asmallgraycard(seeFig.8-4)or
chipchartwillassistincolorcorrection.
Asnotedonp.323,therearedifferentwaysofnotatingsceneandtake
numbers.InonecommonsystemintheU.S.,thescenenumberaloneis
usedforthefirstsetupofascene(“Scene8”),withlettersaddedforeach
additionalcameraangleorsetup(“Scene8A”wouldbethesecond
angle).6Filmmakerssometimesuseasystemthattracksslatenumbers.
Thefirstsetupofthefirstdayofshootingisslatenumber1andtheslate
numberincreaseswitheachnewcameraangleuntiltheendofthe
production(theslateinFig.9-30indicatesslate108,take15).Numbers
areoftenwrittenonpiecesoftapethatcanbestoredonthebackofthe
slateandquicklystuckonthefrontasneeded(obviouslynotnecessary
withtabletorsmartphoneslates).Theassistantshouldincrementthe
numbersimmediatelyafterslatingtobereadyforthenexttake.
Today,muchoftheinformationontheslatecanbelogged
electronicallyandincludedasmetadatawiththepictureorsoundfiles
(seep.242).Formoreonslatesandslatelesstimecodesystems,see
SyncingAudioandPicture,p.465.
ShootingaTake
Forstagedwork,there’sabasicprotocolforbeginningeachtake.The
followingassumesthatdouble-systemaudioandslatesarebeingused.
Theassistantdirectorannouncestheupcomingtakeandcalls“last
looks”soeveryonefinishestheirprep.TheADthencallsforquietand
says“sound.”Theaudiorecorderisstarted,andtherecordistsays
“speed”whenreadytorecord.TheADthensays“camera,”andthe
cameraoperatorcalls“speed”or“rolling”whenthecameraisreadyto
record.TheACreadsaloudthesceneandtakenumbersfromtheslate,
says“mark”or“marker”(tohelptheeditorfindthesound)andclosesthe
clapsticks.7Whenready,thedirectorcalls“action.”Normally,the
cameraandrecorderarenotturnedoffuntilthedirectorsays“cut.”
Afterthetakeisover,thedirectorshouldindicatetothescript
supervisororpersonloggingifthetakeisgood(circletake)andany
notes.Withdigitalpostproduction,oftenallthetakesareavailableinthe
editingroom(unliketraditionalfilm,inwhichonlythebesttakesare
printed),butthereshouldbearecordofwhichtakesthedirectorliked
best.
Whenshootingtheslate,besureit’slargeintheframeandinfocus
sothenumbersarereadable.Iftheslateisinplacefortheveryfirst
frameofthetake,itwillappearintheclip’sthumbnailinediting,which
cansavetime.Evenwhenusingaslatelesstimecodesystem,aclapstick
withmanualslatesmaystillbedoneasabackupincaseoftimecode
problemsandforscene/takeinformation.
Whenpossible,doheadslates,whicharedoneatthebeginningofthe
shot.Headslatesspeedtheprocessofputtingthesoundandpicturein
syncintheeditingroom.Tailslates,doneattheendoftheshot,are
sometimespreferableforunstageddocumentaryfilmingsincetheydon’t
loudlyannouncetoeveryonethatfilmingisabouttobegin;theymayalso
belessdisruptiveforactedsceneswherethemoodisdelicate.However,
tailslatescanslowdownsyncing,sinceyouhavetolocatetheendofthe
takeandworkbackward.Theclapperboardisheldupsidedownto
indicateatailslate;thepersonslatingshouldcallout“tailslate”or“end
sticks.”
Ifeitherthecameraortheaudiorecordermissesaslateandyouhave
todoitasecondtime,announce“secondsticks”or“secondmarker”to
alerttheeditor.Inanysituation,agentleslatehelpsputactorsorfilm
subjectsatease.Generallyactorsshouldnotberushedtobegintheaction
immediatelyaftertheslate.
Fig.9-31.SlatingonaDSLRshoot.(SeanEllis/SmallHD)
CoveringtheScene
BesuretofirstreadStyleandDirectionstartingonp.332.
Whenshooting,askyourselfhowtheshotyou’retakingmightwork
withtheothershotsyou’vegottenorneedtoget.Doyouhaveenough
coverage—thatis,haveyouprovidedenoughoptionsforediting?Doyou
haveanestablishingshot?Cutaways?Haveyougotinterestingclose-ups?
Boththeorderofscenesintheoriginalscriptandtheoveralllengthof
themovieareoftenchangedsubstantiallyintheeditingroom.Keepthis
inthebackofyourmindasyouplanyourcoverage.Don’tpaintyourself
intoacornersothatshotsandscenescanonlybeputtogetheroneway.
Filmingacontinuousmastershotofanentirescenecanbetimeconsumingonsettogeteverythingright.Evenifyouplantodothescene
inasingleshot,surpriseerrorsoftenshowupintheeditingroomand
you’llwanttocutaroundthem.Shootingareactionshotoracutawayas
editinginsurancecanbevaluableevenifyoudon’tintendtouseit.
Sometimesalongtakeisgood,butyouneedtocutthesequenceshorter
andyourbeautifulthree-minuteshotnowbecomesaburden.
Directorsoftenconcentrateonthecharacterswhoaretalking.Keepin
mindthatsomescenesaremoreinterestingforthereactionsofother
characters.Whenfilmingaclose-upofoneactortalkingtoanoff-screen
actor,it’sagoodideatosetamicrophonefortheoff-cameraactoras
well—theperformancesfromthesetakescansometimesbebetterthan
theon-cameratakes.Higher-budgetfilmsoftenshootwithtwocameras
simultaneouslyinthissituation.
Forverywideshotsinwhichaboommiccan’tgetclosetotheactors
(andyou’renotusinglavaliers)considerrecordingthedialogueafew
timeswild(soundbutnopicture)withthemicinclose.Thismayhelp
youintheeditandisalotcheaperthandoingADR.
Blockingthecameraandactorsisakindofchoreography.Keepthe
imageasdynamicaspossible.Beattentivetothedepthofthespace
you’reshootingin,eithertoshowitortoletactorsmovethroughit.
HowManyTakes?
Directorsdifferintermsofhowmanytakestheytypicallyshoot.
SidneyLumet,whosebackgroundwasearlytelevision,likedtorehearse
actorspriortotheshootandonlyfilmafewtakesbecausethefirstones
havethefreshestperformances.StanleyKubrick,withabackgroundin
photography,wouldoftenshootnumeroustakesinordertogroomeach
shottoperfection.Onesayinghasitthatthebesttakesarethefirstand
thetenth(theadvantagesofspontaneityversuspractice),butthebudget
maynotpermittentakes.
Inexperienceddirectorstendtoshootmoretakesandchoosemoreof
themaspreferred(circletakes).Atminimum,alwaysshootatleasttwo
keepersofanyshottohaveasafetyincaseonegetsdamagedorhas
unnoticedtechnicalproblems.Evenifatakeisgood,itcanbeproductive
totryitagainfasterorslowerortovarysomethinginthereadingor
action.Oftenintheeditingroom,youwishyouhadmoreoptionsto
choosefrom,notjustmoreversionsofthesamereadingandblocking.
Whensomethinggoeswronginthemiddleofatake(bustedtake)try
toresetquickly(“backtoone”)withoutalotofchatterandkeepthe
momentumandconcentrationgoing.Somedirectorsliketogo
immediatelyintoasecondorthirdtakewithoutstoppingtoreslate.This
canbehelpfultoactorsbutmaycreatesomeconfusionintheediting
room.
Formore,seeTheShootingRatio,p.360.
ReviewingtheFootage
Somedirectorsliketoplaybackeachgoodtakeonvideoafter
shootingit;thiscanslowproductiondownalot.However,it’sgenerallya
goodideatocheckthebesttakesbeforebreakingdownacamera-or
lightingsetupandmovingontothenextone.
Lookingatdailiesisagoodwayforthedirector,cinematographer,
andotherstoevaluatethefootageasitgetsshot,preferablyona
relativelylargescreen.Somedirectorsinviteactorstoattenddailies
screenings;otherspreferthatactorsnotseethemselvesandgetselfconscious.Uncutdailiesdon’tlooklikepolishedmovies—they’re
repetitive,rough,andoftenmessy.Ittakesexperiencetoseethepotential
intherawfootage.Onlargerproductions,dailiesareoftenuploadedto
thecloudsothatexecutivesandmembersoftheproductionteamcan
monitorprogresswherevertheyareonatabletorcomputer(seep.94).
Onsomeproductions,theeditorcutsscenesasthey’reshot,which
canbeagoodfeedbackmechanismforthedirector.You’lleitherknow
thingsareworkingoryou’llseewhereadjustmentsneedtobemade(or
evenwhenscenesneedtobereshot).
Errorsdiscoveredwhileviewingrushesorduringeditingoften
necessitatepickupshooting,whichentailsgoingbacktogetadditional
shotstofillinasequence.Adocumentarycrewmightreturntogeta
cutawayfromacarwindow,or,inafictionfilm,theremightbeaneed
forareactionshotofanactor.Takestillsofsets,lightingsetups,makeup,
andcostumestohelpmatchshotsthatmayneedtoberedone.ManyDPs
(ortheirassistants)keepdetailednotesaboutlenses,cameraangles,and
lightingtofacilitatereshoots,someofwhichmayberecordedas
metadataincamerafilesorwithanappsuchasMovieSlate(seeFig.930).
WorkingwithActors
Asmuchasfilmsvarystylistically,directorsvaryintheirstyleof
workingwithactorsandinthetonetheysetforthetalentandthecrew.
Someliketoplanandcontroleverylineandgesture.Others,suchas
RobertAltman,liketocreateanenvironmentinwhichactorsare
encouragedtoexperimentwiththeirroles.Someliketodiscussdeep
psychologicalmotivationandothersaremoreinterestedinbasicblocking
andlinereadings.MichaelCaineoncecomplainedtodirectorJohn
Hustonthathedidn’tgivehimanyinstructions.Hustonreplied,“Theart
ofdirection,Michael,iscasting.Ifyou’vecastedright,youdon’thaveto
sayanything.”8
Asnotedabove,somedirectorsseerehearsalasachancetoworkout
ideaswiththeactors;othersprefertogointotheshootwithasmuch
spontaneityaspossible.
Whateveryourstyle,dowhat’snecessarysoactorscandelivertheir
bestperformance.Actorsareoftenextremelyvulnerabletodisruptionsof
moodandshouldbetreatedwithrespectanddeference.Onlythedirector
shouldgiveperformanceinstructionstoactors;anyoneelsewishingto
communicateshouldtellthedirector.Particularlyinintimateordifficult
scenes,someactorspreferthatcrewmembersnotevenmakeeyecontact
withthemwhilethecameraisrolling(insomescenesitmaybebestto
clearthesetofunneededcrew).Useyourtoneofvoiceevenincalling
“action”asawaytosetthemoodforthetake.
Rehearsalisdonebothfortheactorsandforthecrew.Theactors’
blockingwillaffectthelightingandthecamerawork(andviceversa).
Youmaywanttheactorstotakepartinworkingouttheblockingbut
don’tmakethemstandaroundwhilethelightingcrewdoesitswork
(that’swhatstand-insarefor).Marksforthecameraortheactorstohit
are“spiked”withapieceoftapeonthefloor.Keepinmindthatonce
lighting,props,anddollytracksareset,yourflexibilitytochangethings
islimited.
Avoidshoutingandargumentsinfrontoftheactors(oranyoneelse,
forthatmatter)anddon’tinvolvethemunnecessarilyinyourtechnical
business.Makesuretheyhaveacomfortablespacetogotooffthesetto
relax.
It’sveryhelpfulforthedirectortogetawirelessheadphonefeed
fromthesoundrecordisttohearhowdialoguesoundsasit’sactually
beingrecorded.Whenadramaticshootisdonewithalivevideomonitor,
there’satendencyforsomedirectorstoburythemselvesinvideovillage
(theplacewheremonitorsandplaybackequipmentarelocated,
sometimesundercoverwhenshootingoutside).Thiscanleaveactors
feelingisolated.Whenvideovillageisfilledwithalotofpeople
kibitzingoverthevideomonitor,youcaneasilyendupwitha“toomany
cooks”problem.
Fig.9-32.Kibitzinginvideovillage.(StevenAscher)
Wardrobe,Makeup,andSet
Anactor’swardrobe,makeup,andhaircanhaveahugeimpactonthe
lookofthemovieandonthecharacter’spresenceonscreen.Don’t
overlooktheimportanceofgoodmakeupandwardrobeaswellasart
direction.Withdocumentaries,it’softennotappropriatetodealwith
theseissues,butinsomesituations—suchasshootinginterviews—you
canchoosethesetting,makesuggestionsforwardrobe,andapplysome
minimalmakeup.
Guidelinesforclothingalsoapplytowalltreatments,furniture,and
otheritemsontheset.
Ingeneralit’sagoodideatoavoidverybrightorverydarkclothing.
Whiteshirtsoftenburnout(overexpose)whenthecameraisexposedfor
properskintones,especiallyindaylight.Pasteloroff-whiteshadeswork
better.VideocamerasandparticularlyDSLRscanreactbadlytofine
patternslikechecksandstripes,whichcancausemoirépatterns(seeFig.
5-18).
Avoidshinysurfacesorjewelry.Washabledullingsprayorevena
littledrysoapcanbeappliedtobrightitems,orlightscanbeflagged(see
Chapter12)tominimizereflections.Whenshootingpeoplewithglasses,
lightthemfromhighaboveortothesidetoavoidkicksintheglasses.
Applyingmakeupisanartandneedstobetailoredtoindividual
faces.Facialshine,causedbysweatingunderhotlights,isacommon
problemthatiseasilyremediedwithalittletranslucentfacepowder,
whichcanbebrushedonactorsorinterviewsubjectsandwillbetotally
invisible.Applythepowderfirsttothebrush,notdirectlytotheskin,and
touchupfaceswheneveryouseeshine.Manycinematographerscarry
powderintheirdittybag.
PromptersandCueCards
Actorsmayforgettheirlines.Correspondentsoron-cameranarrators
maybeaskedtospeaklongpassagesdirectlytothecamera.Linescanbe
writtenoncuecards.Whenahostorcorrespondentreadstocamera,her
eyelinemustbedirectedasclosetothelensaspossiblesoshewon’t
appeartobereading.Alow-budgettechniqueistocutaholeinthecenter
ofthecuecardforthelens.Abettersolutionistouseateleprompter,
whichmountsinfrontofthelensanddisplayswrittencopyfroma
computer(seeFig.9-33).Largertelepromptersmaylimitcamera
mobilityandusuallyrequireasolidcamerasupport.Smaller
telepromptersbasedontabletcomputersandsmartphonesarelighterand
cansometimesattachdirectlytothelens,permittinguseofahandheld
camera.Someactorsareadeptatusinganearprompter(alsocalledan
earwig),whichisaminiaturereceiverthatfitsintheactor’searandcan
befedwirelesslyfromapocket-sizedrecorder.Theactorreadshislines
intotheprompterpriortothetake;thenduringthetakehehearsthe
wordsplayedbackwhilehespeakstothecamera(thisonlyworksfor
scenesinwhichnooneelsetalks).Ittakespracticetotalkwhile
listening,sodon’tletthetalenttrythisforthefirsttimeontheshoot.
Fig.9-33.Teleprompter.(left)InthislightweightProPromptermodel,
thepersonbeingfilmedcanlookdirectlyintothelensandread,viathe
partiallyreflectingmirror,textdisplayedonaniPad.(right)Thisbracket
holdsaniPaddisplayingtextthatcanbepositionednearthecameraand
controlledfromaniPhone.(BodelinTechnologies)
LOGGING
Asyoumovefromproductiontopostproduction,it’sessentialto
organizethematerialthatwasshotandkeepgoodrecordsofwhatwent
onduringtheshoot.Onceyou’reintheeditingroom,you’llwanttobe
abletoquicklyfindeverybitofpictureandsoundthatwasrecorded.
Severaldifferentkindsoflogsorreportsareusedinproduction.
BasicLog
Thesimplestkindoflogisarecordofeachtake.It’seasyenoughto
createyourownlogformbymakingatablewithawordprocessing
program.Therearealsoseveralappsformobiledevices.Thelogincludes
informationon:
Dateandlocation.
Tapenumber,cardnumber,opticaldisc,orharddrive.Neverhave
twotapes,opticaldiscs,orfilmrollswiththesamenumber.Use
lettersifnecessary.
Scenenumberand/ordescription.
Takenumber(ifany).
Timecodestartforeachtake.(Usuallythestartingtimecodeofthe
nexttaketellsyoutheendingtimecodeoftheprevioustake,but
somepeoplenotebothstartandstopcodes.)
Indicateifthetakewasgood;anyperformanceorcontentnotes.
DevicessuchasScriptBoycanprovideawirelessremotereadoutof
thecamera’stimecodetoaidthepersonlogging(soheorshedoesn’t
havetokeepbuggingthecamerapersonfortimecodenumbers).When
practical,timecodecanalsobesuperimposedonavideomonitorforthe
logger.Therearevariousloggingappsformobilephonesandtabletsthat
allowyoutoemailtheloggingfiletotherestoftheproductionteam.
NLEsoftenprovideawaytoimportloggingdataasXMLtextfiles,
whichtheythenmapintotheirownmetadatafields.
Fig.9-34.Forlogginginthefield,theScriptBoyprovidesawriting
surfacewithbuilt-intimecodedisplay.Thetransmittersendstimecode
wirelesslyfromthecamera.(VortexCommunications,Ltd.)
Inunscripteddocumentaryworktheretendstobelittletimefor
detailedlogging.It’simportanttowritedownnoteswheneveryoucan,at
leastattheendofeveryday,indicatingwhathasbeenshotandwhich
files/tapes/filmrollscoverwhat.
ContinuityScript
Forfeaturefilmsandotherscriptedwork,thescriptsupervisor
createsamarkedscripttoshowwhatcameraangleswereusedtocover
eachpage.Thiscontinuityscriptservesasareminderofwhatcoverage
hasbeenshotandneedstobegotten,andittellstheeditorwhatshots
werefilmedduringproduction(seeFig.9-35).Scriptsupervisorswill
alsocreateaneditor’sdailylog(orsimilarname),whichlistsallpicture
andsoundtakesintheordertheywereshot,oratleastalltheselected
takes.Thescriptsupervisorwillalsopreparescriptnotes,whichinclude
descriptionsandcommentsoneachtakeandmayincludeitemsabout
lensesusedandcontinuityissues.Sometimescamerareportsincludelens
settings.
Somesystemscanuploadscriptinformationtothetelecineshotlog
tohelporganizevideoclipsbytheircontent(seeShotLogs,p.693).
Onafeature,adailyproductionreportisdoneeverynighttotrack
whatwasfilmedthatday.
Fig.9-35.Linedscript.Eachverticallineindicatesadifferentcamera
angleorshotthatwasfilmed.Zigzagportionsindicateoff-camera
dialogueoraction.Thescriptisnormallymarkedbythescriptsupervisor
duringtheshoot.
CameraandSoundReports
Whenshootingfilm,thecameraassistantfillsoutacamerareport
thatindicateseverytakeonagivenrolloffilm,includingthelengthof
theshotandanyremarks(seeFig.9-36).Goodtakesarenormallycircled
whenshooting35mm.Thistellsthelabwhich35mmtakestoprintand/or
transfertodigital.Thecamerareportshouldalsoincludesceneandcolor
informationthatwillhelpthelabortransferfacilitywithpicture
adjustments,suchasexterior(“Ext”)orinterior(“Int”);special
instructions(“printslightlyred”).Withoutinstructions,thelabmay
attempttobringintentionallyunderexposedscenes(forexample,day-fornightshots)orsceneswithcoloredgels(say,atanightclub)backto
normal.
Whendouble-systemsoundisrecordedforfilmorvideoshoots,the
soundrecordistmayfilloutasoundreport(seep.442).
Fig.9-36.Thecamerareportaccountsforeverytakeoneachcameraroll.
Thebesttakesarecircled.In35mm,usuallyonlycircledtakesare
printed.
SUPPORTINGTHECAMERA
TheTripod
Thetripodisathree-leggedcamerasupport.Thecameramountson
thetripodhead,whichsitsonthetripod’slegs.Headsdesignedfor
motionpictureworkareabletopan(shortforpanorama),whichmeans
torotatethecamerahorizontally,ortotilt,whichisaverticalrotation.
Frictionheadsfortripodsarethecheapest,buttheymakeithardtopan
smoothly.Fluidheadshaveabuilt-inhydraulicdampeningdeviceto
makepanningmucheasier(seeFig.9-37).Theirlightweightandeaseof
operationmakethemthebestformostsituations.Largecamerasare
sometimesusedwithgearedheadsthatusetwogearwheelstocontrol
movement(seeFig.9-38).Theseareheavyandtakeexperienceto
operatebutcanproducesmooth,repeatablemovements.
Headshaveanadjustmentfortheamountofdragordampeningfor
panning(it’seasiertopansmoothlywhenthehead“sticks”alittle).Most
headsmadeforvideocamerashaveabalancingmechanism,eithera
springaffairoraforward/backadjustment.Whenthecameraisproperly
positionedandbalanced,itshouldnotmovewhentheheadisunlocked.
Usethelockonthetripodheadstopreventanunintendedtilt,since
cameraandtripodcanfallover.
Tripodshavealuminumorcarbonfiberlegs(whicharelighterand
moreexpensive).Standardlegswilltelescopeouttoaroundsixfeet,and
babylegsraisetoaroundthreefeet.Dual-stagelegshavethreesections,
allowingthemtogolowerthansingle-stagelegswhilereachingthesame
heightorhigher(seeFig.9-39).Thehihat,usedforlow-angleshots,
doesnottelescopeandisoftenattachedtoaboard.Atablestandcanbe
usefulforsmallcameras.Tripodlegsandheadsareratedbytheweight
theysupport;don’tuseacameraheavierthantherating.
Fig.9-37.Fluidheadsarethemostversatileandeasiesttooperate.This
Sachtlerheadhasseven-steppanandtiltdragcontrolsandaquickreleaseplatethatattachestothecameraandcanbesnappedonandoff
thehead.Thetopsurfaceslidesforwardandbackforbalance.(Fletcher
Chicago/SachtlerCorp.ofAmerica)
Levelatripodsothatthehorizonlineisparalleltothetoporbottom
oftheframe.Unleveledtripodsresultincantedshotsandtiltedpans.To
levelatripod,extendoneofthelegs(loosentheleglockandtightenat
theproperlength);extendtheothertwolegsbutdon’ttightenthemyet;
holdthetripodinaverticalpositionandpressdownonituntilthelegs
areeven,andthentightenallofthem.Pointthelegssoyoucanstand
comfortablynexttothecamera.Withaball-in-sockethead,loosenthe
ballandmovetheheaduntilthebubbleontheattachedspiritlevelis
centered.Ifthetripodhasnolevel,alignatruevertical(liketheedgeofa
building)withtheverticaledgeoftheframe;oralignatruehorizontal,
viewedhead-on,withthetoporbottomoftheframe.
Fig.9-38.Gearedhead.Arrihead2shownwithArriflex535B35mm
camera.(ARRI,Inc.)
Quick-releasemechanismssaveanenormousamountoftime
mountingandreleasingthecamerafromthetripodheadwithouthaving
toscrewandunscrewtheconnectioneachtime.Avoidtripodsthatlacka
quick-releaseplate.Tripodlegsoftenhaveapointorspikeateachtoe
thatcanbesecuredindirtorsand.Aspreader(alsocalledaspideror
triangle)isathree-armeddevicethatspreadsfromacentralpointand
clampstoeachtripodleg;thispreventsthelegsfromslidingoutfrom
underthetripodhead.Aspreaderthatremainsattachedtothetripodeven
whenstoredfortravelsavesalotofsetuptime.Aspreaderthatattaches
midwayupthelegsinsteadofatgroundlevelcanbehelpfulwhen
shootingoutdoorsoronunevensurfaces.
Fig.9-39.(left)Tripodlegswiththespreadermountedmidlegcanhave
anadvantagewhenshootingonunevensurfaces.(right)Dual-stagelegs
(notethreesectionsoneachleg)canoftengobothlowerandhigherthan
comparablesingle-stagelegs.Thisspreaderisatgroundleveland
attachestothetripodfeet.(MillerCameraSupport)
Fig.9-40.Atripodthatallowsthelegstobespreadwidepermitslowangleshots.Anexternalmonitormakesviewingeasierwhenthecamera
isloworhigh.(TobyRalph/SmallHD)
Whenshippingortransportingatripod,loosenalllocksanddrag
mechanismsonthefluidheadsotheheadisfreetomoveinitscaseand
islesslikelytobedamagedbyroughhandling.
Arollingspiderortripoddolly(aspreaderwithwheels)facilitates
movingthecamerabetweenshots.Don’tuseitfordollyshotsexcepton
thesmoothestofsurfaces.Whennospreaderisavailable,afour-by-fourfootpieceofrugcanbeused.Youcantieropeorgaffer’stapearoundthe
perimeterofthelegsforanimprovisedspreader.
Sometripods(usuallymadeforstillphotography)havedevicesfor
elevatingthecenterofthetripod.Onsometripodsthisextensionmay
contributetotheunsteadinessoftheimage;it’susuallybettertoextend
thelegs.Ifadditionalheightisneeded,mountthetripodonaplatform.
Onlargerproductionsappleboxes—strong,shallowboxesofstandard
sizes—areputtogethertomakelowplatforms.Appleboxesareavailable
infull,half,andquartersize.
Ifyou’llbeshootingwithadigitalcameraforextendedperiodsona
tripodordollyit’sveryhelpfultohaveanexternalmonitoror,forafilm
camera,aviewfinderextension.Remotecontrolsforthelensandcamera
areavailableforbothvideoandfilmcameras.Somemountonthetripod
handle;someextendfromthelensorcameradirectlyoroncables.When
shootingfromatripodordolly,itcanoftenbedifficulttoreachthelens
orcameraswitchwithoutthem.
Dollies
Thedoorwayordoordollyisbasicallyaboardonrubberwheelswith
asimplesteeringmechanism;thisisalightweight,portable,and
inexpensivedolly.Youcanplaceatripodonitandanchoritwith
sandbags.Thewesterndollyisalargerversion.Thoughthesedolliesare
steerable,theycan’tmovelaterally,asacrabdollycan.
Adollywithanintegralboomprovidesup-and-down(vertical)
movement,whichaddsenormouslytothelexiconofpossibleshots.Ajib
armcanbeusedwithatripodand/oradollyforup-and-downorside-tosidemovement.Jibarmsarehardertocontrolthanbuilt-inbooms,but
theycanprovideextendedreachforhigh-angleshots.Ifthesupportcan
reachgreatheights,itiscalledacameracrane.Industrial“cherry
pickers”(likeatelephonerepairtruck)maybeusedtoraisethecamera
uphighforastaticshot,buttheydon’thavetheproperdampeningfora
movingshotthatendswiththecameramotionless.
Fig.9-41.Doorwaydolly.Lightweight,affordable,basicdolly.
(MatthewsStudioEquipment,Inc.)
Fig.9-42.Dollywithboompermitsverticalaswellashorizontal
movements.(J.L.Fisher,Inc.)
Mostdolliescanberunonplywoodsheetsorsmoothfloors.Useairfilledtireswhenrunningonpavement.Largetires,especiallywhen
underinflated,givesmoothermotiononroughersurfaces.Forthe
smoothest,mostrepeatablemovements,useadollythatrunsontracks.
Trackcomesinstraightandcurvedsectionsofvariouslengthsthatcanbe
combinedasneeded.Trackcanbeusedindoorsorout,butitneedstobe
carefullypositionedandleveledwithwedgestoproducebump-free,quiet
movements.Alittlelubricanthelpsstopsqueaks.Somedollieswithflat
wheelscanbeswitchedtoormountedonbogeywheelsorskateboard
wheelsfortrack.
Therearesubstitutesforprofessionaldollies—wheelchairs,shopping
carts,apushedautomobile,ablanketpulledalongthefloororatable.
Don’tsecurethecamerarigidlytomostoftheseimproviseddollies.
Hand-holdingorusingaSteadicaminsulatesthecamerafromvibrations.
Thepersonpushingthedolly(thedollygrip)becomesanextensionof
thecameraoperatorandneedsjustasmuchpracticeandfinessetogetthe
shotright.Keepthisinmindwhenhiringyourdollygrip.Evenifyou
don’tplantodomovingshots,havingthecameraonadollywithaboom
cansaveagreatdealoftimeontheset,allowingyoutoquicklyputthe
camerainpositionsthatwouldbeslowerorimpossibletodowitha
tripod.
Fig.9-43.Compactjibarmscanbeusedforlocationandstudiowork,
andcanbemountedonatripodoradolly.(MillerCameraSupport)
Fig.9-44.Briefcasedolly.Canbeusedwithstraightorcurvedtrackoron
barefloor.Thedollyplatformfoldsup,becomingathincarryingcasefor
travel.(FletcherChicago/EgripmentUSA)
Fig.9-45.Thedollygrip(left)playsacrucialroleinexecutingawelltimeddollyshot.
Fig.9-46.Cinevatesliderpermitslateralorverticalmoves.Canbe
mountedonatripodorontheground.Whendoinganykindofcamera
move,placingthesubjectorobjectsinthenearforegroundhelps
accentuatethesenseofmovement.SeealsoFig.1-19.(Cinevate)
Shortcameramovescanbedonewithsliders,whicharecompactrail
systemsoftensmallenoughtofitonasingletripod.Differentlengthsare
popular,fromameretwofeettosixfeetandlonger.Someareultralight,
designedfortheDSLRweightclass;othersaresturdyenoughforthe
largest35mmfilmcameras(andrequiremoresupportthanasingle
tripod).Withevenatwo-footslider,theuseofawide-anglelensto
emphasizemovementthroughspaceandaslow,deliberateforwardglide
orlateralmoveofsixsecondsormorecanaddwelcomeproductionvalue
todocumentaryanddramaticsequencesalike.Themovementwillbe
mostvisibleonscreenifthecameramovespastobjectsinthe
foreground.
ShootinginaMovingVehicle
Whenyouneedatrackingshotthat’sfasterthanwhatyoucanget
fromadolly,useamotorizedvehicle.Avehicle,especiallyifitis
equippedwithashootingplatform,isextremelyversatile.Ingeneral,the
largerthecar,thesmoothertheride.Automatictransmissionis
preferable,sincemanualshiftingmaycreateajerkymovement.Keeptire
pressurelowtosmoothouttheride.Ifyou’renotusingaprofessional
cameravehicle,it’susuallybesttohand-holdthecameratoabsorb
automobilevibrations.It’seasiesttoachievesmoothcameramovement
ifthecar’sspeedremainsconstant,andmostdifficultifthevehiclegoes
fromastopintomotion.
Shootinginthesamedirectionasthemovingvehicleresultsinthe
motionappearingnormalonthescreen.Shootingatrightanglestothe
directionofthevehiclemakesthecarappeartobegoingroughlytwiceas
fastasitis.Atintermediateangles,thespeedisbetweentheseextremes.
Wide-anglelensesincreaseapparentspeedandlongfocallengthlenses
candecreaseapparentspeed(seePerspectiveEffects,p.385).By
shootingatahigherframerateyoucansmoothoutunevennessintheride
(similarly,youcanslowdownnormallyshotfootage,butthiswon’tlook
asnatural).
Whenshootingactionthattakesplaceinacar,youmaybeabletoget
theshotsyouneedbyshootingfrominsidethecar,whichmightinvolve
shootinghandheldfromapassengerseatormountingacamerainsidethe
carorout.Heavy-dutysuctionmountsandclampsallowyoutoattach
camerastothehoodorsideofthecar.Thesurfacemustbesmooth,clean,
anddrytousesuctionmounts.Ifthecameraismountedonamoving
vehicleorinaprecariousspot,besuretotieitdownwithsafetylines.
Fig.9-47.Suctionmountscanbeattachedtocars,windows,and
nonporoussurfaces.Carmountsshouldbesetupbyexperiencedpersons
usingsafetylineswhenpossible.(Filmtools)
Forbettercontrolandlighting,aswellasawiderrangeofcamera
anglesandmoves,largerproductionsuseacameravehicletotowthecar
thattheactorsarein(whichiscalledthepicturecarorpicturevehicle)
eitheronahitchoronatrailer.Atrailerfacilitatesdoingshotsthrough
thesidewindows,includingdollymoves.Towingthepicturecarfrees
actorsfromhavingtoconcentrateondrivingwhiledoingtheirscenesand
issafer.
TheHandheldCamera
Thehandheldcamerawasfirstexperimentedwithduringthesilent
era,especiallyinthefilmsofDreyer,Clair,Vigo,andVertov.Cameras
thenwerehand-crankedorspring-wound,ortheyusedheavymotors,and
sound,ifpossible,wasnonsynchronous.Notuntiltheearly1960s,when
lightweight35mmandsync-sound16mmcamerasarrived—launching
NewWavefictionfilmmakingandcinemaveritédocumentary
filmmaking—wasthepotentialofthehandheldcamerarealized.Notonly
couldthecameranowcapturenewsubjectmatterinnewlocations,but
handheldshooting,atitsbest,impartedanewelectricitytotheimage.
Theextrememobilityofahandheldcamerapermitsfollowingevery
action,achievingafeelingofintimacyandspontaneityimpossiblewhen
usingatripod-ordolly-mountedcamera,whichiswhyhandheldshooting
isoftenbestinunscriptedsituations—whetheradocumentaryorwith
improvisedacting.
Sometimesahandheldcameraisusedspecificallytobringa
“documentary”feeltothefootage,inwhichcasealittlebitofshakiness
maybedesired.Ontheotherhand,askilledcamerapersoncanhand-hold
withrealsteadiness,maintainingmobilitybutkeepingtheimagevery
stable.Camerasthatergonomicallylendthemselvestocomfortable,
balancedhand-holdingareoftenusedtosqueezeoffshotsthatwouldtake
toolongtosetupotherwise.Itisnotuncommonthesedaystoseean
occasionalhandheldshotmixedinwithmostlytripodanddollyshots.
Audiences,whethertheyknowitornot,havegrownusedtoseeingthis
mixofmountedandhandheldshotsinbothmoviesandparticularly
televisiondramasthatarelimitedtotighterbudgets.
TIPSFORHANDHELDSHOOTING.Shoulder-mountedcameras
arethesteadiest,becausetheoperator’sbodybracesthecameraand
dampensvibrations(seeFig.2-16).Camerasthatareheldinfrontofthe
eye,likesmalldigitalcamcorders,arehardertoholdsteadyandcanfeel
heavyafterafewhoursofshooting,especiallywhenyouadditemslikea
mattebox,focuscontrol,onboardmonitor,wirelessreceiver,portable
recorder,and/orlight.Asinglelightweightitemcanoftenbemountedto
thecamera’sshoe;otherscanbeattachedtorodsora“cage”(seeFig.1015).Heavieritems,likeawirelessreceiver,canbemountedonyourbelt
orputinasmallshoulderbagwithwirestothecamera(seeFig.11-1).
Mostsmallcamcordersfeaturesometypeofinternalimage
stabilization,whichcanbeveryeffective.Camerasthatdon’tbalanceon
theshouldercanbeusedwithabrace.Somebracesincreasestabilitybut
stillrequireyoutosupportthefrontofthecamera(seeFig.3-15).A
largerbodybracecantakemoreweightoffyourarmsandallowsteadier
shots,butsomecinematographersfeelitimpartsamechanicalfeeltothe
shootingandmakesithardertorespondtounpredictableeventsorto
shootinsmallspaces,likeacar.
Witheachdifferentmakeormodelofcameraorcamcorderyoumust
memorizewhichwaytoturnthelenscontrolsforfocus,aperture,and
zoom.Makeupyourownmemoryaid,suchas“pulltobringinfinity
closeandbright,”whichmeans(assumingthelensisoperatedwiththe
lefthand)pullcounterclockwiseforfartherdistances(infinity),toopen
uptheaperture(bright),andtozoomincloser.Thecontrolsonyourlens
orcameramaybecompletelydifferent,soyoumayneedtomakeup
anothermemoryaidforyourrig.
Toshootahandheldcameraoverextendedperiodsoftime,ithelpsif
you’reingoodphysicalshape.Findacomfortablepositionforshooting
bypracticingbeforeyoubegin.Somepeopleshootwithonefootinfront
oftheother,otherswiththeirfeetshoulder-widthapart.Don’tlockyour
knees;keepthemslightlybent.Standsoyoucansmoothlypanineither
directionandmoveforwardorbackward.Forfilmingwhilewalking,
walkGrouchoMarx–style,withyourkneesbentandshufflingsothatthe
cameradoesn’tbobupanddown.
Whenyoufilmwithoutascript,avoidexcessivezoomingand
panning,whichcouldproduceresultsthatareunwatchableand
uncuttable.Togetintherhythm,studentsshouldtrycountingslowlyto
sixwithoutmakinganycameramovements.
Whenyoushootwhilewalkingbackward,havesomeone(say,the
soundrecordistonasmallcrew)puthishandonyourshoulderanddirect
you.Trycradlingthecamerainyourarmswhilewalkingandshooting;
useafairlywide-anglelens,positionedclosetothesubject,andkeepin
stride.Putthecameraonyourkneewhenshootingthedriverinthefront
seatofacrampedcar.
Tosteadyastaticshot,leanagainstapersonorasupport,suchasa
carorbuilding.Whenshootinglandscapesorsceneswithstrong
architecturalelements,anyjigglesbecomeobviousduetothestillnessof
thesubject.Considerusingatripodorputtingthecameraonasurfacefor
theseshots.TheSteadybagislikeasmallbeanbagandallowsyouto
perchacameraquicklyonaflatorunevensurfaceforasteadyshot.
Documentaryfilmmakingcreatessomeofthemostdifficultfollow-
focussituations,asthecamera-to-subjectdistanceconstantlychangesin
unpredictableways.Thisisespeciallyproblematicwithlarge-sensor
camerasthathaveshallowdepthoffield.Whencarefulfocusingisnot
possible,zoomtoawiderangletoincreasedepthoffieldandmovethe
distanceringtotheapproximateposition.Asyourskillincreases,itwill
becomeeasiertopullsomethingdirectlyintofocusbylookingthrough
theviewfinder.Aspreviouslysaid,rememberthatthewidertheangleof
thelens,thelessannoyinganycamerajigglewillbeintheimage(see
Chapter4).
ImageStabilizationDevices
Imagestabilizationmethodscanbeusedtolessenunwantedcamera
vibrationsandjiggles.Theserangefromcommonopticalimage
stabilization(OIS)systemsbuiltintosmallcamcordersandDSLRlenses
tobuilt-insystemsforB4-andPL-mountlenses(byCanon)tolens
peripherals(alsoCanon)tohandheldorbody-mounteddevices,including
helicopterandothervehiclemounts.Inpost,therearenumeroussoftware
applicationstoremoveunwantedcamerashake,notablyAdobeAfter
Effects.Mostprofessionaleditingsystemsnowofferthisfunction;Apple
FinalCutProX,forexample,canautomaticallystabilizewhenyou
importthefootage(seep.593).
INTERNALIMAGESTABILIZERS.Electronicimagestabilization
(EIS)requiresasensorlargerthantheactualimageitself(orfirstmust
slightlyenlargetheimage)todigitallyrepositiontheimagewhileyou’re
shootingtoreduceimageshake,whichmaynoticeablyaffectimage
quality.Forthisreasonitisfoundmostlyincheaperconsumer
camcorders.Asmentionedabove,internalopticalimagestabilizationis
usedinDSLRlensesandcamcordersfavoredbyprofessionalstodampen
vibrationandshake.Experimenttoseewhetheryouliketheeffectof
opticalimagestabilization.SomeOISsystemsaddaslightlagtocertain
cameramovements,givinganunwantedfloatingeffect.Somenewer
camcordersofferachoiceofdifferentlevelsandtypesofOIS.
THESTEADICAM.TheSteadicam,Glidecam,andsimilardevices
allowthecameratobemountedonagimbaledarmattachedtoaharness
wornbythecameraoperatorthatisolatesthecamerafrombodyshake,
enablingsmoothmovements(seeFig.9-48).Thisenablescamera
movementssimilartothosefromadolly,butwithmuchfastersetups,
shootingintighterquarters,andsignificantlyincreasedmobility.Any
vehicle—automobile,boat,helicopter—canserveasaplatformfordollysmoothmovements.Pans,tilts,runningshots,andshotsgoingupstairs
canbemadewiththesubtletyofthemovesofthehumanbodywithout
anyhandheldjiggles.
Sincethemid-1970s,camerastabilizingsystems—firstandfamously
Steadicam—haveenablednewcameramovesthatblendthefreedomof
hand-holdingwiththecontrollabilityofadollyorcrane.Infact,thevery
firstSteadicamshoteverseeninamovie,fromBoundforGlory(1976),
wasproducedbySteadicaminventorGarrettBrownridingatallcrane
shotallthewaytotheground,thenhoppingoffandfloatingthecamera
throughthemovie’sset.PriortoSteadicam,thiswouldhavebeenan
impossibleshot.AlexanderSokurov’sRussianArk(2002),acostumedramarompthroughthehistoryandgalleriesoftheStateHermitage
MuseuminSaintPetersburg,isnothingbutasingleninety-six-minute
Steadicamtake—andavirtualencyclopediaofSteadicamtiming,
technique,andmoves.
Theimpactofadevicelikethisonthelanguageoffilmshot-flowhas
beenmonumental.Notonlydoesitexpandthebasicrepertoireof
dollylikeshots,but,moreimportant,itcreatesnewrelationshipsbetween
filmmakerandlocationandbetweenfilmmakerandactors.Quick,
inexpensivesetupsrelievethepressureonactorsandcrew.In
documentary,theuseofimagestabilizationdevicescanbeeffectivefor
trackingorestablishingshots.Forfilmingpeopleinmoreintimate
settings,however,theequipmentmaybetoointrusive.
Althoughyoucanrespondtounplannedsubjectmovement(unlikea
dolly,forwhicheachshotmustbeblocked),responseisslowerthanthat
ofashoulder-mountedcamera.SteadicamorGlidecamshotshavea
floatingqualitythatsomepeoplefindlessexcitingthanwell-done
handheldshots.Andattheendofamove,itissometimesachallengeto
maintainaperfectlystablehorizonlinewithoutsomebobbing.
ASteadicam-typesystemmustbesetupspecificallyforeachsize,
weight,andbalanceofcameraandrequiresthatfilmcamerasbe
equippedwithavideotapformonitoring.Filmcameraswithvertically
mountedmagazinesorcoaxialmagazines(seep.262)workbest,since
thecamera’scenterofbalanceremainsmorestableduringatake.The
operatorneedsspecialtrainingandplentyofpractice.Oftenwide-angle
lensesworkbestwhentrackingaction.
Therearevarioussmallerdevicesdesignedtosmoothoutcamera
movementforsmalldigitalcamerasexemplifiedbytheSteadicam
Merlin(seeFig.1-15).Thesearehandheld,withnobodybraceor
monitor.Withpractice,thesecanprovidesmoothmovesinsome
shootingsituations.
Fig.9-48.Steadicam.Thecamerafloatssmoothly,isolatedfromshocks
orjarringwithspringsinthesupportarm.Theoperatorwearsaharness
andwatchesasmallmonitormountedontheSteadicam.Steadicamand
Glidecamalsomakesmaller,handheldsystemsforsmallcameras(see
Fig.1-15).(TheTiffenCompany)
CAMERAMOUNTS.Tostabilizelargemovements(forexample,
whenshootingfromaboat)agyroscopicstabilizercanbemountedona
tripodtocompensateformotioninthecameraplatform.Whenshooting
fromahelicopter,aTylermountorWescamsystemcanbeusedto
stabilizethecamera.
SOFTWARESTABILIZATION.Manysoftwareapplicationsallow
youtostabilizeashotinpostproduction.Someareastonishingly
sophisticatedandcanmakeabouncy,handheldshotlookdollysmooth.
Formore,seep.593.
SLOWMOTION,FASTMOTION,ANDJUDDER
SLOWMOTION
Slowmotioncanbeusedtoanalyzemotionortocallattentionto
motionitself.InLeniRiefenstahl’sOlympia,afilmofthe1936Olympics
inBerlin,themovementsoftheathletesarebrokendownandextendedin
timewithslowmotion,lettingtheviewerseethingsunobservableinreal
time.Televisedsportseventsoftenshowreplaysinslowmotion(“slomo”)toanalyzetheaction.Slowmotionextendsrealtime,sometimes
givinganeventmorepsychologicalweight.Acharacter’sdeathmay
occurinaninstant,yetbethemostimportantmomentinafilm.Starting
withBonnieandClyde,countlessfilmshaveshowntheprotagonist’s
deathinslowmotion,extendingthetimeofdeathtogiveitgreater
emotionalemphasis.Todayfilmmakersoftenuseslowmotiontoadd
feelingtootherwisemundaneshots.
Slow-motioneffectscanbeachievedintwoways:byrunningthe
cameraathigherthanregularframerate;andbyshootingatnormalspeed
andthenslowingthefootagedownlaterduringpostproduction.Therecan
beanoticeabledifferencebetweenthetwomethods.
Whenthecamerarunsfast,youarecapturingmanycontinuous
framesinagivenperiodoftime(say,80framesinasecond).Thismakes
theslowedactionseemsmoothandcontinuousonplaybackorprojection.
Thistechniqueisalsocalledovercranking.
However,whenafilmorvideocameraisshootingatnormalspeed
(say,24or30framesasecond),andyouthenslowthefootagedownin
post,motionmayappeardiscontinuousandjerky.Theslow-motioneffect
isachievedinpostbyrepeatingeachframetwoormoretimes,then
movingtothenextframe.Therewillbeaslightjumpwhenyoumoveto
eachnewframe.Also,thenormalmotionblurthattakesplacewithany
cameraand/orsubjectmovement—whichisinvisibleatnormalplayback
speeds—willbemorepronouncedwhennormalfootageissloweddown
(seeFigs.2-14and2-15).Thiseffectmaybedesired,orattimesitmay
justlookinferiortotrueslow-motionshotwithacamerarunningata
higherframerate.
SoftwareappslikeTwixtorandthetimewarpeffectinAfterEffects
cancreatebetterslowmotionduringpostproductionbyinterpolating
(essentiallycreatinganewframethatbridgesthegapfromoneframeto
thenext).Ifyouplanforthis,shootwithafastshutterspeed(lessthan
1⁄
2000 second)toreducemotionblur.
Theeffectofovercrankingdependsinpartonthebaseframerateof
yourproject.Forexample,iftherestofthemovieisbeingshotat30fps,
thenshootingat60fpswillslowmotionbyhalf.Highframeratesalso
resultinshorterexposuretimes,whichrequiremorelight.
Fig.9-49.PhantomFlexhigh-speeddigitalcameracanshoot5to2,570
fpsat1920x1080HDresolution.(VisionResearch)
Highspeedscanhelpminimizetheeffectofunwantedcamerajiggle
andvibration.Whenthecameraishandheldoronamovingvehicle,
fastercameraspeedslengthenthedistancebetweenjerkyoruneven
movementsandmaketheimageseemsteadier.Ofcourse,anysubject
movementwillalsobeinslowmotion.
High-SpeedCameras
Sometimesveryhighframeratesareneededforaneffectorto
captureoranalyzefleetingevents.Ifyouwanttoseeindividualwater
dropletsslowlycrashingonthegroundorabulletshatteringglass,usea
high-speedcamera(andsometimesstrobelighting,whichislikeusinga
veryshortshutterspeed).High-speeddigitalcameras,likethePhantom
Flex,canshoot720pHDvideoatover6,000framespersecond,andeven
higherframeratesarepossibleatlowerresolution.Asapointof
comparison,acameraspeedof250fpsstretchesonesecondofrealtime
intomorethantensecondsof24pfilmtime.
High-speedrecordingimpliesveryshortexposuretimes,which
usuallyrequiresalotoflight(andasensitivechipforavideocameraora
faststockforafilmcamera).Somecamerascanbeoperatedatnormal
speedandthenrampeduptohighspeedwhenthekeyactionbeginsand
they’llautomaticallyadjusttheexposure.
Fig.9-50.Toachieveshotslikethis,inwhichrapidlymovingobjects
appeartomoveslowlybutsmoothlyandareclearanddistinctwithno
motionblur,youneedtoshootatahighframerateandnotmerelyslow
downnormallyshotfootageinpost.
FASTMOTION
Mostfilmcamerasandmanydigitalcamerascanbeoperatedat
slower-than-normalframerate(calledundercranking).Thisresultsin
eachframebeingexposedforagreaterlengthoftime.Forexample,
shootingat12fpsgivesonestopmoreexposurethanfilmingat24fps.
Thiscanbeusedtoadvantageinsceneswherethelightlevelistoolow
forexposureatnormalspeedandthereisnomovementinthescene—for
example,whenfilmingexteriorsatnight.Keepinmindthatanymotion,
likecarheadlights,willseemspedup.Ifshootinginadarkchurch
interiorat12fps,youmighthaveactorswalkathalfspeed,ormovethe
camerahalfasfastasusualsothemovementwillappearnormalin
playback.Ifyoutakeundercrankedfootageandslowitdownin
postproduction,youcangetaninterestingghostlikeeffect.
Undercrankingproducesaslowershutterspeed.However,itcreatesa
verydifferenteffectthanshootingatnormalframeratewithan
adjustableshuttersettoaslowershutterspeed(seep.135andp.256).
Chasesequencescanbeundercrankedtomakemotionappearfaster
andmoredangerous.Thesped-upmotionofsilentfilmcomedywas,
supposedly,theresultofanunintentionallyundercrankedcameraona
MackSennettset.Youcangetthiseffectbyshootingatabout16to20
fpsandthenplayingbackorprojectingat24fps.
Time-Lapse
Withsignificantlyslowerspeeds,timeisproportionallyspedup.In
time-lapse,thesuncanset,aflowercanblossom,orabuildingcanbe
demolishedandanotherconstructedinafewseconds(sometimescalled
pixilation).Nonlineareditingsystemscanspeedupshotstocreatetimelapsesequencesfromfootageshotatnormalspeed,butforactionthat
takesplaceoverhoursordays,youwon’twant(orbeableto)recordthat
muchfootagetospeedituplater.
Forverycondensedtime,youneedacamerathatcanmakesingleframeexposures.Somedigitalandfilmcamerashavethisoption,which
maybecalledintervalrecording.DSLRsareveryeffectiveforshooting
time-lapsefootageandstop-motionanimation.Animatedfilms,suchas
TimBurton’sCorpseBride,havebeenshotwithDSLRs.Filmmakerscan
putDSLRsonsmall,motorizedtrackstogetveryexcitingmovingcameratime-lapseshots.Somefilmcamerascanbeusedwithan
intervalometertocontroltime-lapseexposures.GBTimelapseisanapp
thatcanprovideversatilecontrolofaDSLRandcaptureimagesdirectly
toacomputer.
Findingtherightframerateforatime-lapsesequencetakessome
experimentation.Startbyestimatinghowlongyouwantthefinished
sequencetorunonscreen.Fromthisyoucanfigurethetotalnumberof
framestoexpose.Sayyouwanttoshootasunsetthattakestwohours
(120minutes)andhavetheshotruntensecondsinthemovie.Forthis
example,let’sassumethisisa24pdigitalorfilmproject.Hence,10
seconds×24fps=240frames.Thismeansyouneedtoexposeanaverage
of2framesperminuteduringthesunset.It’sagoodideatostart
shootingsometimebeforeandcontinueafterthemainactiontoprovide
flexibilityinediting.Unlessyou’reshootingfilm,it’softensafestto
recordmoreframesthanyouthinkyouneedinaperiodoftime,and
speedthefootageupabitinpostifnecessary.
Exposuresmaybeprogrammedforoneorseveralframesatagiven
timeintervaloratvaryingintervals.Thefewerexposuresatatimeand
thefartherapart,themorejumpyorstaccatothemotionwilllook.
Single-frameexposuresareoftenslowerthanthenormalcamerashutter
speed,whichcanalsohelpreduceflickerwhenshootingunder
fluorescentsorotherpulsedlights.(Avoidfluorescentswhenpossible;if
youcan’t,softwareplug-insmaybeabletoreduceflickerinpost.)Very
slowshutterspeedsforeachexposurewillincreasemotionblur.Youcan
usethiseffecttoturncarlightsatnightintocoloredstreaks.
Sometime-lapsesequenceslookbestwithoutchangingthelensirisor
exposuretimeoverthesequence.Inthiscase,basetheexposuresetting
onthelightreadingatthemostimportantpartofthesequence.Youcould
also“ride”theexposure,changingitmanuallyorbyusingprogrammed
featuresinthecameraorintervalometer.
Insomesituationsanauto-iriscanextendtheusablelengthofthe
sequenceifthelightischanging.Inothers,itmightfightwiththeeffect
you’relookingfor:asunsetmightlooktoosilhouetted,forexample.
Often,awide-anglelensproducesthebesttime-lapseeffect.Awide
shotoftrafficatacertainframeratemightproduceashotthatlookslike
afast-movingriverofcars;anysinglecarmightbeseenmovingfrom
onesideoftheframetotheother.However,ifyouusedatelephotolens
togetalongshotofthesamesceneatthesameframerate,youmightend
upwithashotthatshowedindividualcarspoppingintooneframeand
disappearinginthenext.Aninterestingeffectcanbehadbywalkingor
dollyingthecamera,shootingaframeortwoeverystep.
Animation
Animationcanbeseenasavariantoftime-lapsephotography.A
seriesofpaperdrawingsorpaintingsonacetate(celanimation)isdone,
withslightchangesbetweentheimages.Afewframesofonedrawingare
exposed,thenthenextoneisfilmed.Onprojection,theartseemsto
“move.”ThistechniquecanalsobeusedforClaymationandother
pixilatedshotsofrealobjectsthatseemtomovebythemselves.
Today,animationisusuallygenerateddigitally,buttraditional
animationcanbedonewithananimationstandandaDSLRorfilm
cameracapableofsingleexposures.Inthepast,motion-control
animationstandssuchastheOxberrywereusedtoprogrammovesacross
ananimatedorstillimage.Todayit’smorecommontoscanartworkand
dothemovesinaneditingsystem(seeAnimatingStills,p.596).
JUDDERORSTROBING
Allmotionpicturesarebasedontheillusionthataseriesofstill
images,whenshownoneafteranother,willappeartohavemovement.
Fortheillusiontoworkandformotiontoappearsmooth,thechanges
fromoneimagetothenextcan’tbetoogreat.Whenyoushootvideoat
60framespersecond(eitherprogressiveorinterlace)motiontendsto
lookfairlysmoothonscreen.However,whenyoushootvideoorfilmat
24fps,therearefewerimageseverysecond,andthechangesbetween
frameswheneitherthecameraorthesubjectmovescanbegreater(see
Fig.2-15).Ifsomethingmovestooquickly,totheaudienceitcanlookas
thoughtheobjectisjumpingorskippingfromonepositiontothenext
ratherthanmovingsmoothlyandcontinuously.Thisirregularmovement
issometimescalledjudder,strobing,orskipping.9Itcangivetheviewer
eyestrainoraheadache.Judderissomethingtopayattentiontowhen
shootingatslowerframerates(like24fps)andsometimesevenwhen
shootingathigherframerateswhenanadjustableshutterissettoavery
fastshutterspeed.
Judderismostvisibleinpans,especiallyfastmovesacrossstrong
verticallines.Thehighertheimagecontrastorgreaterthesharpness,the
morelikelythatjudderwilloccur.Tominimizestrobingwhenshooting,
therearevariousguidelinesortricks.Aruleofthumbistoallowatleast
fivetosevensecondsforanobjecttomovefromonesideofthescreento
theother.Thisappliesbothwhenthecamerapansorwhenthesubject
movesthroughastationaryframe.Ifthecameramovesorpanswitha
movingsubject,theviewerconcentratesonthepersonandislesslikely
tonoticejudderinthebackground.Inthissituation,useshallowdepthof
fieldifpossibleandfocusonthesubject,lettingthebackgroundgosoft.
Avoidpanningacrosshigh-contrastscenesthathavestrongverticallines.
Fastswishpansareusuallynotaproblem.Youcangetchartsofsafe
panningspeedsfordifferentcameraandlenssettings.
Footageshotwithcamerasthathaverelativelysmallsensors
(includingSDvideocameras,someHDcameras,and16mmfilm
cameras)mayappeartojuddermorethanfootageshotwith35mmfilm
camerasorlarge-sensorHDcameras,inpartbecauseshotswithlargesensorcamerastypicallyhaveshallowerdepthoffield,makingiteasier
tothrowthebackgroundoutoffocus.Usingaslowshutteronavideo
camera(forexample,1⁄24second)mayreducejudder.Judderandflicker
oftenlookworseinthecameraviewfinderthanwhentheimageisseenon
anormalmonitororprojectedonscreen(seep.86).However,whenit
comestoprojectiononabigmonitororinatheater,biggerscreenscan
makejudderseemmoreseverethanonsmallermonitors(thejumpsin
theimageareacrossagreaterphysicaldistance).Videoprojection,
becauseit’sbrighter,maylookjumpierthanfilm.
Aphenomenonrelatedtostrobing,andfrequentlyreferredtobythe
sameterm,isoftennoticedwhenthewheelsofamovingvehicleonthe
screenseemtobestoppedortobetravelinginreverse.Thisoccurswhen
exposureshappentocatchspokesatthesamepositioninconsecutive
frames(thus,thewheelsseemstopped)orcatchtheminaposition
slightlybehindsothewheelsappeartobespinninginreverse.
SHOOTINGTVsANDVIDEOMONITORS
Therearemanysituationsinwhichyoumaywanttoshootavideoor
computerdisplaywitheitheravideocameraorafilmcamera.Youmay
beshootingasceneinwhichacharacteriswatchingTVoryoumightbe
gettingshotsofawebsiteonalaptop.
Insomecasesshootingvideodisplaysisverystraightforward.For
example,shootinganyflat-panelLCD,plasma,orOLEDscreenwith
eitheravideoorafilmcamerausuallyproducesexcellentresults
regardlessoftheframerateorshutterspeed,atleastinmostcases.
Sometimeswhentheframerateorscanningrateofadisplaydoesnot
exactlymatchtheframerateorshutterspeedofthecamera,thescreen
imagewillseemtoflicker.Manyprofessionalandprosumervideo
camerashavevariableelectronicshutters.Somehaveaspecificfeatureto
exactlymatchtheshutterspeedofthecameratothedisplay’sscanning
frequency.Sony’ssystemiscalledClearScan;Panasoniccallsits
SynchroScan.Theseprovideforawiderangeofscanningfrequencies
thatcanbedialedinveryprecisely.Changingtheshutterspeedofavideo
cameraaffectstheexposuretime,butthebasicframerateisnotaffected
(seep.135).Don’tforgettogobacktoyournormalshutterspeedafter
shootingthescreen.
Anotherapproachwhenshootingacomputerdisplayistochangethe
scanning(refresh)rateofthemonitor,usingthecomputer’scontrolpanel
(Windows)orsettings(Mac).
Whenshootinganydisplay,besuretowhite-balancethecameraon
thedisplayandsetexposurecarefully.Ifyouwantthedisplay’simageto
lookflatandrectangular,shootwithalonglensfromagooddistance
away.Oryoumighttrygettingverycloseandlettingsomepartsofthe
screenbesharpintheforegroundwithotherpartssofterinthe
background.Sometimeswhenyoufocusonthescreenyouseethepixels
tooclearlyorgetamoirépattern.Trythrowingthelensslightlyoutof
focustoreduceoreliminatethismoiré.
Sometimespeoplemountapieceofgreen-screenmaterialoverthe
monitorsothatvideoorcomputerimagescanbeaddedlaterwitha
chromakey.Youmightdothisifthemonitorimageisn’tavailablewhen
you’reshooting.Thisismucheasiertodoconvincinglyifthecamera
you’reshootingwithdoesn’tmove.
Whenshootingamonitorwithafilmcamera,takeareflectedlight
meterreading,notanincidentreading.Thecolortemperatureofmany
monitorsisclosetodaylight(6500°K).Usean85filterfortungstenfilm
ifyouhaveenoughexposure.Somemonitorsofferachoiceofcolor
temperatures.Youmayneedafairlyfastfilmtogetenoughexposure.
SHOOTINGCRTs.Shootingold-fashionedCRTtelevisionsorvideo
monitors—especiallywithafilmcamera—ismorecomplicatedsinceyou
oftengetahorizontalshutterbarorhumbarintheimage.Filmmakers
workinginPALcountriescangetacleanimagesimplybyshootinga25
fpsPALvideomonitorwithavideocameraorstandardcrystal-syncfilm
camerawitha180-degreeshutterrunningat25fps.Sometimes
filmmakersinNTSCcountrieswilladoptasimilarstrategyandshoot
filmat29.97fps.Whenfilmistransferredtovideoat29.97fps,motion
willlooknormal,butiftransferredatastandard24fps,motionwill
appearslightlyslowed.Therefore,useofthistechniquehingeson
considerationsofframerateandscenecontent.Besuretoconsultwith
thetransferhouseinadvanceaboutproperspeedforthesoundrecorderto
maintainaudiosync.
AnotherapproachtofilmingaCRTinNTSCcountriesistouseafilm
camerawithavariableshutter.Whenfilmingat24fps,ashutteropening
of144degreescanbeused(equals1⁄60-secondshutterspeed),atleastfor
shortshots.Somecamerasprovideaprecise23.976fpsframerateto
perfectlymatchNTSC’s0.1percentslowdown(from30fpsto29.97),
whichcreatesatrueframe-ratelock.Motionshotat23.976willappear
normalwhenprojectedat24fpsandthefootagecanbetransferredto
videoatrealtime.
SHOOTINGIN3D
TheBasicIdea
Unlikethesinglecameraandlens,wehavetwineyesandourvisual
perceptionisbinocular.Thetwoeyesarerequiredfordepthperception:
Hownearisthatlion?Howdistantisthatlake?Howdeepisthatravine?
CanIreachforthatfruit?
Whenthefourthdimensionoftimeisadded,depthperceptionallows
ustoperceivevelocity.Notonlyhownearthatlionis,butalsohowfast
he’stravelingtowardus.
Fromcavedrawingsonward,artistshaveattemptedtorepresentthe
threedimensionsofspace—height,width,anddepth—intwodimensionalform.NotuntiltheItalianRenaissanceandthedevelopment
ofscientificperspectivedidrealisminpaintingsucceed,andittookthe
inventionofcinemainthenineteenthcenturytoincorporatetheextra
dimensionoftimeindepictingrealisticmotion.Evenso,theoutcome
waslimitedtoaflat,two-dimensionalscreenlackingthevisualcues
neededforgenuinedepthperception.
Stereoscopy,or3Dimaging,arrivedwiththebirthofphotography.By
1840,theEnglishinventorSirCharlesWheatstone—whowasfirstto
explaintheroleofbinocularvisioninstereopsisordepthperception—
hadinventedastereoscopefordisplayingstillphotosinstereopairs.
Handheldstereoscopesexplodedinpopularityinthesecondhalfofthe
nineteenthcentury,asevidencedbytheireasyavailabilityatfleamarkets
today.
Justasdepthperceptionrequirestwoeyes,stereoscopyrequirestwo
images,oneforeacheye.Thismeanstwocameras.Creatingdual
simultaneousimageswasfeasibleusingtheearlieststillcamerasbut
impossiblewithhand-crankedsilentmotionpicturecameras.
Bytheearly1950s,theatricalmoviesdubbed“3D”—threedimensional—becametechnicallypossibleandenjoyedabriefheyday,
withmorethansixty3Dfilmsreleasedin1953alone.Notableexamples
areCreaturefromtheBlackLagoon(1954)andAlfredHitchcock’sDial
MforMurder(1954).Butthetechnicalchallengesofmanipulating
enormoustwinblimpedcameras(forsoundfilms)persisted,asdidthe
challengesofsimultaneousprojectionoftwogiantreelseachcontaining
a35mmprint,oneforeacheye.Asaresult,3Dfilmsdiedoutuntilthe
early1980s,whenasecondspikeinpopularityoccurred,including
Fridaythe13thPart3(1982)andJaws3-D(1983).
Fig.9-51.3Dcamcorder.ThePanasonicAG-3DA1hasduallensesand
two1920x1080HDsensors.Thiskindofone-piececamcorderiseasier
tooperatethan3Drigsthatusetwoseparatecameras.(Panasonic
Broadcast)
Thistypeof3Dfilmmaking,usingmotionpicturefilm,never
achievedmainstreamstatuswithproductioncrews,audiences,
distributors,orexhibitors.Loadingandidenticallyexposingtwostrands
of35mmmotionpicturefilm—alsodevelopingandprintingthem
identically,withallthecostsdoubled—wasneverapicnic;andthose
funnyglasses,whetherPolaroidoranaglyphic(red/cyan),whichoften
inducedheadaches,failedtoendearthecomplexformattothepaying
public.
Digital3D
Thepopularityandcommercialsuccessoftoday’smotion3D
(sometimescalledS3Dforstereoscopic3D,todistinguishitfrom3D
computergraphics)isdrivenbythecountlessadvantagesofdigitalvideo.
Compact,silentHDcamerasareeasilymountedsidebyside.Since
there’snofilmtoloadorprocess,it’spossibletoview3Dresultsinreal
timeoruponplayback—perfectforrealigningtheoptics,ifnecessary,for
abetterstereoexperiencefreeofeyestrain.
Evenso,3Ddoublestheamountandcomplexityofcamerasystems:
lenses,opticalpaths,sensors,DSP,framerate,evenstorage.Allmustbe
perfectlymatchedandsynchronized.Choosingtoproduceaprojectin3D
isnotachoicetobetakenlightly.
Theproduction,postproduction,distribution,andexhibitionofdigital
motionpicturesin3Disanextensivetopicwarrantingitsownbookshelf.
Sinceafulltreatmentof3Dtechnologyandtechniques,includingthe
psychophysicsofstereovision,isbeyondthemeansofthisbook,below
isabriefoutlineofbasic3Dconceptsandpractice,meantasastarting
pointonly.
Fundamentalsof3DImages
Thespacingbetweenoureyesiscalledtheinteroculardistanceand
canrangefrom55to75millimeters(65mm,or2.5inches,isaveragefor
adults).Thespacingbetweenthetwomatchedlensesrequiredofany3D
camerasystemiscalledtheinteraxialdistance,thespacebetweenthe
centralaxisofeachlens.
Thedistancebetweenoureyes,whichofcourseisfixed,iswhat
determinesoursenseofscale,thedepthandsizeofobjectsweexperience
asnearandfar.Becausetheinteraxialdistancebetweentwocamerasina
stereorigcanbeadjusted,theappearanceofdepthin3Dspacecanbe
collapsedbymerelyreducinginteraxialdistance.Increasingthe
interaxialdistanceimpartsasenseofgreaterdepth.
Convergence(sometimescalledvergence)isthedegreetowhichtwo
lensesorcamerasina3Dsystemareangledtowardeachother,similarto
thewayoureyesrotateinwardasweviewanobjectapproachingour
nose.Asbabieswelearnbothtoconvergeoureyesonanobjectof
interestand,atthesametime,focusoureyesonthatobject.
It’sbeensaidthatmaking3Diseasy,makinggood3Dishard.Many
oftheproblemscreatedforviewersof3Dmoviescanbefoundinthefact
thatwhenweview3D,wefocusoureyesonatwo-dimensionalscreen,
whichofcourseexistsatafixeddistance.Meanwhile,becauseofthe3D
effectweareexperiencing,oureyesareconvergingelsewhere,eitherin
frontoforbehindthescreen—anunnaturaldissociationofconvergence
andfocusasfarasoureyesandbrainareconcerned(seeFig.9-52).
Minimizinguncomfortablevergence/accommodationconflicts
(“accommodation”isthetechnicaltermforrefocusingoureyes)isthe
keytomaking3Dmoviesthatdon’ttiretheeyes.
Fig.9-52.(A)Normally,whenwelookatanobjectoureyesconverge
andfocusatthesamepoint.(B)Whenviewing3Dmovies,oureyesfocus
onthesurfaceofthescreen,yetconvergeatadifferentpoint,wherever
theobjectwe’relookingatisplaced.
Anglingtwo3Dcamerastocreatetheillusionofobjectsbehindthe
screenresultsinwhat’scalledpositiveparallax;placingobjectsinfront
ofthescreen(aspearthrustintotheaudience,forexample)resultsin
negativeparallax.Consequently,the3Dimageareabehindtheviewing
screeniscalledpositivespace,whiletheareainfrontiscallednegative
space.
Theso-calledView-Mastereffect,inwhichobjectslooklike
cardboardcutouts,canbeavoidedbynotusinglongfocallengthlenses,
whichflattenobjectspacetobeginwith.
ProductioninDigital3D
Creatingadigital3Dmoviecanbeaproductionprocessora
postproductionprocessoracombinationofboth.Alivesportingeventon
TVisanexampleofdigital3Dthatmustbecapturedinproduction.In
contrast,virtuallyallHollywooddigital3Dmoviesreleasedbefore2010
wereshotin2D,thenpainstakinglyandexpensivelyconvertedto3Din
post.(The3Dconversionofearliermovies,likeStarWars,issometimes
calleddimensionalization.)However,since2010,shooting3Dontheset
hasbecomethenormduetothearrivalofcompactdigitalcinema
cameraslikeRED’sEpicandARRI’sAlexaM,whichmaketwo-camera
3Drigsmoremanageableinsizeandweight.(ThinkSteadicam.)
Additionalfactorsarethegrowingfamiliarityofexperiencedcrewswith
thedemandsof3Dproductionandarealizationonthepartofproducers
thatshootingdigital3Dtakesaboutthesametimeas2D.
Digital3Dcamerarigstakemanyforms.Countlessindependent
producershavecreated3Dbyplacingtwoidenticalcamerassidebyside.
Typically,verycompactcamerasareusedforthisapproach,togetas
closetoa2.5-inchinteraxialdistanceaspossible.Toavoid3Dproblems,
theremustbeperfectagreementbetweenthetwolensesusedforleftand
rightimages:identicalf-stops,noverticaldisplacement(likeoureyes,
bothlensesmustexistonthesamehorizontalplane),matchedgeometry
forleftandrightimages,andifzoomsareused,perfectsynchronyin
focallength(imagemagnification),withnocenterdriftineitherlens
duringzooming.It’satallorder,butanydeviationswillcauseeyestrain
andentailcostlyortime-consumingcorrectioninpost.
Fig.9-53.Side-by-side3Drig.ThisoneusestwoGoProHeroHD
cameras(seeFig.2-8).(PhotobyDavidLeitner)
Fig.9-54.Mirror3Driginwhichthetwocameras(ARRIAlexas)shoot
throughapartiallyreflectingmirror.(PhotobyDavidLeitner)
Professional3Dcamerarigscomeintwobasicconfigurations:side
bysideandaverticalarrangementfeaturingabeam-splittingmirror.(See
Figs.9-53and9-54.)Achievingatightinteraxialdistanceisalwaysa
problemforaside-by-siderig,limitedbythewidthofthecameras
involved.Theover/undermirrorconfigurationovercomesthiseasily,
sincebothcamerascansharethesameopticalaxisiftheywantto.For
example,duringtheproductionofTheAmazingSpider-Man(2012),an
interaxialdistancebetween0.25and0.75inchwasusedthroughout.An
interaxialdistanceof2.5incheswasfoundtobetoowideforshooting
objectscloserthantenfeetwithoutinducingafeelofminiaturizationin
thescene.
Lastly,anumberofconsumerandprofessionalall-in-one3D
camcordershavebeenintroducedbyPanasonic,Sony,JVC,andothers.
Whattheyhaveincommonaretwoside-by-sidelensesandtwosensor
systemsbundledintoonedevice.SmallCMOSsensorsareused,from1⁄4
inchto1⁄2inchinsize,eitherarrangedasdualsinglesensorsorasdual
three-chipblocks.Interaxialdistanceisfixedbyeachcamcorder’ssize
anddesign,whileadjustmentofconvergenceisachievedbyaninternal
opticalelementshiftedmanuallybydialorautomaticallyinsomecases.
Dualimagestreamsarerecordedontofile-basedflashmediainpopular
compressionformatslikeAVCHD.Onboardviewingisachievedusing
either2Dviewfindersofferingoverlaystodepictproperconvergenceor
by“glasses-free”autostereoscopicLCDs,whichflipoutfromthe
camcorderinnormalfashion.Autostereoscopicdisplaysuselenticular
screens,which,whenheldataclosedistancefromtheface,offereach
eyeadifferenceimage.You’refamiliarwithlenticularscreensfrom
postcardsthatproduceanimatedeffectswhenrotatedbackandforth.The
fineverticalribsyoufeelwhenyoutouchthefrontsurfaceofthesecards
arelensesthatmagnifydifferentimagesfromdifferentangles,justlike
anautostereoscopicLCD.
Thisleadstotheissueofhowyouviewormonitordigital3Dduring
production.Autostereoscopicdisplaysarelimitedtoonevieweratatime.
Theymustbesmallinsizeandpositionedstraightinfrontofyoureyesat
ashort,fixeddistance.Notethatthisdescribestheviewingconditionsof
acellphone,gamingdevice,tabletcomputerheldatarm’slength,or
laptopscreen—whichiswhyautostereoscopicdisplaysarebeginningto
arriveonthesedevices.Anythinglargerrequireseitherpassiveglasses,
withcircular-polarizedfilters,oractiveglasses,withelectronicLCD
shutterssynchronizedtothe3Ddisplay(moreonthisbelow).Forthis
reason,somechoosetomonitor3Dshootsinstandard2D,placing
emphasisonperformanceandshotflow,andonlylaterviewtheresultsin
3D.Adoptingthisscenario,peaceofminddictatesplacingan
experiencedstereographeratthecenteroftheproductionteam.
Editing3Disanevolvingcraft.Someeditpartwayin2Dusingeither
theleft-orright-eyerecording,thenswitchtofull3D.Plug-insto
facilitateeditingof3DareavailableforpopularNLEslikeFinalCutPro
andEFXprogramslikeAdobeAfterEffects;therearealsoplug-insto
detectandcorrectparallaxandalignmenterrors.DashwoodCinema
Solutions(www.dashwood3d.com)isparticularlywellregardedforboth
theinformationatitswebsiteanditsplug-insandsoftwaretoolsfor3D
production.
ExhibitionandDistributionofDigital3D
Mostcommercialtheatersexhibiting3DintheU.S.todayusea
single-projectorsystemfromRealDthatalternatesleftcircular-polarized
andrightcircular-polarizedimages144timesasecond.Thatequals72
flashesasecondtoeacheye,or3flashesperframeat24fps.Topreserve
polarization,asilverscreenisrequired.(Awhitemattescreenwon’t
work,whichishowyoucanalwaystellit’sRealD.)Theviewerwears
inexpensivepassivecircular-polarizedglasses(thingrayfilters),which
canbethrownaway.
Ifatheaterdoesn’twishtoreplaceitsperfectlygoodscreenwitha
costlysilverscreen,itcanusetheDolbysystem,inwhichaspinning
wheelinfrontofthedigitalprojectoralternatestwosetsofnarrow-band
RGBfilters.Theaudience,inturn,wearsrelativelyexpensivepassive
dichroicglasses(theyreflectcolors),whichpermitonesetofnarrowbandRGBimagestoenterthelefteye,andtheotherset,therighteye.
Theseglassesthetheaterownerdoesnotwantyoutotossorwalkout
with.
Asanalternative,thetheatercouldinstallaprojectionsystembased
onactive-shutterglasses,inwhichanalternatingLCDfilterovereach
eyeiswirelesslysynchronizedtotheprojector’soutput.IMAXhasused
thistechnology,butit’sthemostcostlyofall.
Flat-screen3DTVsforhomeviewinguseeithercircularpolarization,
whichfavorscheapglasses,orasystemofactivelyswitchingleft-and
right-eyeimages,whichactive-shutterglassesarewirelesslysyncedto.
Theargumentagainst3DTVsusingcircularpolarizationisthattheysplit
oddandevenscanlines,sothateacheyereceivesonlyhalfof1080lines,
or540lines—halftheverticalresolution.Thiscancausetheedgesof
horizontalactiontoappearserratedastheydidinthedaysofinterlaced
CRTs.Ontheotherhand,active-shutterglassesrequirebatteriesor
chargingandareexpensive.Whatparentwantstobuyreplacementswhen
theirkidsbreak,lose,orrepeatedlydecimatethem?Andwhatkidwants
toholdhisorherheadperfectlyuprightfortheproper3Deffect?(You
canviewa3DTVwithpassiveglasseslyingdownorstandingonyour
head,ifyouwish.)Thejuryisoutonwhichofthese3DTVtechnologies
willdominatethemarket,withbothtypesbeingbuiltandmarketedby
majorTVmanufacturers.
Signalstandardsfor3DTVareinplaceforcabledistributionand
several3Dchannelsaretestingthewaters.With3Dproductioncosts
droppingconstantly,withaswellingcatalogof3Dboxofficehits
availableonBlu-ray,andwithgrowing3DchannelsonYouTubeand
Vimeo,digital3Dappearsnottobeapassingfad.
1.Nonlineareditingsystemsemployadifferentuseof“sequence.”In
anNLE,asequenceisasingletimelineorgroupingofshotsthatcould
rangefromoneshottotheentiremovie.
2.Itwouldbeinterestingtocomparefilmsfromcountrieswherethe
languageiswrittenrighttoleft(likeArabicandHebrew)toseeifthere’s
anydifferenceinhowpansaretypicallydone.
3.Somebroadcastersmayconsiderthefilmcompromisedifthe
subjectshavecontrolorifitfeelslikeapuffpiecepromotingagroupor
individual.
4.Ifyouknowforsurethatyouwantonlytheaudiofroman
interview,recordingwithonlyanaudiorecordercansometimesput
peoplemoreatease.Oruseavideocamerabutpointitaway.
5.Althoughmemorycardsanddrivesarerecycled,i.e.,copiedand
erasedforfurtheruse,it’sagoodideatonumberthemandkeeptrackof
theiruseincaseoftechnicalproblemswithaparticularcardordrive,
whichcanbetracedonlyifyoumaintainaclearrecordoftheiruse.
6.ThelettersOandIareoftenskippedsincetheylooklikenumbers.
7.Ifthesoundfilesarelabeledwiththesceneandtakenumbers,
readingthemaloudmaynotbenecessary.Differentproductionsuse
variationsontheaboveprotocol.
8.FromMichaelCaineinterviewonNPR’sFreshAir.
9.Theterm“judder”isalsousedtorefertotheirregular,sometimes
stutteringmotionthatcanresultwhen2:3pulldownisusedtoconvert24
fpsmaterialto30fps(seeFig.14-31).
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