View Full Version : Shooting dialogue between two people

12-06-2004, 04:20 AM
I'm aware that when you shoot a conversation between two people with one camera, you shoot one actor and then the next, but does the actor who is not being filmed speak his (her) lines or do they just react to the other person?(I know, dumb question)
If somebody could describe the procedure I'd appreciate it.

12-06-2004, 05:48 AM
Depends on how good the actors are. Good ones can do their lines with just someone reading the script for cues, some can just do it without the cues.

With folks just starting out (including the camera op & sound person), I'd do it with both actors. First on Actor A, then redo the scene focusing on Actor B. (Actually, I'd do it three times...get some 2-shots in there, too.)

One thing to watch for is one actor stepping on the other actor's lines. MUCH easier to edit if the step-ons are exactly the same...or non-existent.


Kirk Gillock
12-06-2004, 06:09 AM
I would have both actors read their lines, whether their on camera or not. You know, as if it's a real dialogue. I think it's more comfortable that way. But GenJerDan is right about stepping on the other actors lines.

Jim Brennan
12-06-2004, 12:41 PM
It's generally easier on the actors that way. I've done pick-ups where I had to feed the actor his lines. It was harder on him than I thought it would be.

12-07-2004, 12:11 AM
Shoot both, its easier for an actor to have someone to react to.

Sure you can have the on camera actor talking to an off camera broom (angala landsberry dosnt hang around to do stuff off camera) but you will get a better preformance if there is actually someone there to talk to. (Tom Hanks on the other hand stays to work with the other actor even when his scenes are done.)

And yes record them both, you might find something from the off camera actor that you really like audio wise, thats what L-cuts are for. = )

12-07-2004, 12:55 AM
One thing to watch for is one actor stepping on the other actor's lines.
I'm editing something right now and 4/5 takes one person cuts off the last sylable of the other person's line. VERY irritatins.

Jim Brennan
12-07-2004, 06:34 AM
I wonder how guys like Altman deal with that? Multiple mics?

12-07-2004, 07:27 AM
The problem only comes in when you're editing, cutting between two or more shots of the same scene. Dialog matching is a pain in the butt.

As for Altman...I can't recall any of his films that looked like they were edited except for Dr T. ;)


12-07-2004, 09:10 AM
I'm pretty sure Robert Altman use a wireless mic on each actor--each recording to a separate audio channel.

TC--you have to correct the actors if they're stepping on each other's lines.

12-07-2004, 11:11 AM
Yeah, altman usually has the best mixers in the business....everyone on stage is mic'd to an individual audio track typically.

Erik Olson
12-13-2004, 08:14 AM
I saw a great docu on Altman and how his production mixer uses a studio-caliber multitrack mixer to bring up any of the principals at any given time. On several of his features, this was recorded to an on-set mixdown with no one knowing how their dialogue blocking was being accomplished.

It gives the editor the luxury to go in and use only the individual tracks he wants - eliminating a great deal of overlap issues.

On multicamera video shows, we often do iso-records of each individual camera (on standalone decks, not the camera head) in addition to the master switched version. It gives you a lot of latitude in post to be able to go in a pick-up some shots the director may have missed in the live environment. Course, this all costs money - just like multi-tracking your audio.