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View Full Version : How many camera's is ideal?



Kidster
05-24-2004, 06:55 PM
Hey guys....I am in the preproduction stage of a feature and am curious about how many camera's some of you have used on shooting a film. Anybody use just one..and if so. how much of a pain in the ass was that..and did it kill the mood on the set with so many setup changes. Wasn't "Slingblade" shot with just a single camera?

Thanks in advance,

Scott

Mike_Donis
05-24-2004, 07:01 PM
I always use just one camera....Hollywood does it a lot of the time, too.

Thing is, when you have multiple cameras, you have to take tons of things into consideration: lighting set-ups can't be as precise, you can't position your camera in certain places because it'll interfere with the field of view of the other camera, etc.

It's not really a problem on set at all...most actors are used to this style of shooting, and it's a piece of cake. In general I'd say it's the best way to go about shooting, especially when getting two cameras is an issue a lot of the time.

Barry_Green
05-24-2004, 10:59 PM
It seems every time Mike posts, I end up saying "ditto." And I'll do it again.

For feature or dramatic narrative work, one camera is standard. You can only light a scene to look its best from one angle, and therefore only one camera will be able to capture the best image.

TV work frequently uses multiple cameras -- sitcoms, interview shows, obviously reality shows. But for dramatic narrative work, you'll primarily stick with one camera. An exception would be for a stunt scene or something like that, something where you really don't want to do it twice, so you'll set up multiple cameras to capture the action from all sorts of different angles.

Kidster
05-25-2004, 02:02 AM
I love this new directing subject...you guys just saved me the cost of another dvx! I had read the Nancy interview and noted where she used two camera's..so I thought that was probably the norm. ...so I had put another dvx in the budget...and Barry you are right about multi camera's for TV...I produce a weekly Golf show and Outdoor and we use two camera's. Second is srtrictly for B-roll. Thanks to the both of you for your input.

Scott

David Jimerson
05-25-2004, 06:38 AM
B-Roll is a good point. A second unit can be a very valuable timesaver, so figure that into your cost equation. Just a thought.

Stas_Tagios
05-26-2004, 03:14 AM
Of course, two cameras need not necessarily be used to shoot opposite angles of a given scene (like shooting reverse over-the-shoulders to get two people talking to one another); you could have both cameras pointed at the same subject, one with a wider angle and one tighter, so as to get your wide shot and close-up at the same time. This could be helpful if you want the freedom of cutting from wide to close or vice versa during the same take (say, if the actor really nailed the scene in a specific take, or if you want to cut on some action the actor's performing and have it match exactly from shot to shot).

Tony Scott, for example, loves using two cameras for shooting tight and wide shots of the same subject at once, except he usually uses a tight shot and a tighter shot, loving telephoto lenses.

24 also makes use of multiple cameras to aid in the continuity of action for their frequent split-screens.

David Fincher made much use of mutiple cameras in Panic Room, as you'll see if you take a look at the Panic Room special edition DVD supplements.

But as the others have pointed out, single camera shoots are the norm, especially on lower budgets.

Barry_Green
05-26-2004, 12:24 PM
Excellent post!

Guest
05-26-2004, 07:19 PM
Of course, two cameras need not necessarily be used to shoot opposite angles of a given scene (like shooting reverse over-the-shoulders to get two people talking to one another); you could have both cameras pointed at the same subject, one with a wider angle and one tighter, so as to get your wide shot and close-up at the same time. *This could be helpful if you want the freedom of cutting from wide to close or vice versa during the same take (say, if the actor really nailed the scene in a specific take, or if you want to cut on some action the actor's performing and have it match exactly from shot to shot).

Tony Scott, for example, loves using two cameras for shooting tight and wide shots of the same subject at once, except he usually uses a tight shot and a tighter shot, loving telephoto lenses.

24 also makes use of multiple cameras to aid in the continuity of action for their frequent split-screens.

David Fincher made much use of mutiple cameras in Panic Room, as you'll see if you take a look at the Panic Room special edition DVD supplements.

But as the others have pointed out, single camera shoots are the norm, especially on lower budgets.

I couldn't agree more... I have used one on many occassions, but I find myself using two fairly regularly now, and doing it for many of the reasons you list...

THiNSPiRiT
05-27-2004, 12:43 AM
Meh, one camera is really all you need. Multiple camera shoots should be reserved, in my opinion, for elaborate shots of action, ie, many extras doing multiple tasks, explosions, action scenes, stuff like that.

This will ensure continuity between angles when the action is almost impossible to duplicate the exact same again and save you tonnes of money from blowing something up twice.

Otherwise, one camera is totally sufficient. Allows for less errors too, only one camera to forget rolling, only one camera operator, only one camera the actors have to worry about not looking at, only one roll to capture on the computer... when you have two cameras or more you definitely upgrade the complexity which is always a head ache...

FaveDave
07-04-2004, 07:26 AM
I've shot 20 short films, 1 feature, and 2 music videos. I used 2 cameras (DVX-100s) only once - on my 18th short.

It was a waste of time and I wouldn't do it again except under very specific conditions like shooting a hard-to-repeat stunt or bit.

The lighting is not as good with 2 cameras and you need a larger crew, plus a video tech to match the 2 cameras - which are going to look different, by the way. Even the exact same camera with the exact same settings looks different.

If it's your first film, I DEFINITELY recommend that you only use one camera. 99.999999% of all movies you've ever seen used only one camera. There's a reason for that.

Have fun.

NoMaD
07-09-2004, 12:27 AM
I lit for 3 cameras once. It was the hardest thing I have ever done and would never do it again. The only reason I would shoot on more then one camera again would be if it were a TV show (sitcom or daytime talk show ::shutters::) or a action flick... and would only use them on stunts and explosions, even though I dislike cutting during fights... just my style.

smithy
07-09-2004, 12:44 AM
Yes one camera is all you need for a feature. If you are doing a sitcom or soap opera the norm is 4 cameras. (ABC and X) but for the idea of buying two cameras you might consider renting a better camera and shoot with it. Possibly HD vs MiniDV.

Josh_Boelter
07-09-2004, 04:36 AM
I was thinking about renting additional cameras for a scene set during a soccer game. There are only a couple of actors in the scene and the dialogue takes place on the sideline. The rest of the people in the scene will be soccer players and I just want to gather enough footage of them actually playing naturally so I have material to work with in editing. So I thought it might be worth having additional cameras at different angles for that.

Other than that, I plan to use just one camera. If I could afford more than one camera, I alsow ould think about moving up to a higher-end camera.

David Jimerson
07-09-2004, 06:27 AM
Well, you're not going to get a better camera than the DVX for the price of two DVXs. It's a considerably larger jump.

smithy
07-09-2004, 11:00 AM
Yes if your thinking of buying an HD camera that's 24p then it would be considerably less than buying 2 DVX's. If your not shooting in 24p then you could also rent Digibeta or DVCPRO-50 camera. And can still use programs like magic bullet (mac) for filmlook. But you could still possibly rent 2 DVX's for the day and save the rest of the money your production costs. You can also find many other aspiring DVX owners in the area who are willing to put their time and equipment up in order for them to get a reel out for themselves. Try local DVX clubs in your area...and see who is willing to help you out.

David Jimerson
07-09-2004, 11:31 AM
I hope you meant "considerably more," not "considerably less." A 24p HD camera would run you the price of what, 20 DVXs?

Mike_Donis
07-09-2004, 01:58 PM
unless its the SDX, or Varicam, or the HDWF900, basically anything that shoots in 24P...I'd go with the DVX any day of the week. A film project will look more like a film if it's in 24P, and regardless of the Magic Bullet conversions, it's not the same as originating in 24P. A Betacam, while maybe better quality according to Betacam owners, doesn't look nearly as good as the DVX - the footage looks like it's from a soap opera. The DVX is capable of producing imagery that'll blow people away, and if viewed in Standard Def, will trick most people into thinking it's film.

smithy
07-11-2004, 12:32 AM
I hope you meant "considerably more," not "considerably less." *A 24p HD camera would run you the price of what, 20 DVXs?

I meant to say renting the camera vs buying...OOPS.

David Jimerson
07-11-2004, 01:20 PM
I dunno . . . HD cams run about $1500-$2000/day to rent, from what I've seen. Doesn't take long to equal quite a few DVX purchases that way.

Barry_Green
07-11-2004, 03:49 PM
Base rate on a VariCam seems to be about $1200, but then you have to factor in a complete package, HD monitor, power, all that stuff... so yeah, $1500/day adds up pretty quickly.

Zoomforce
07-12-2004, 03:21 PM
I shot a feature with 2 dvx's in the Fall.. and it shaved off 4 shooting days. We never shot opposite angles ever.. It can be done, but you need alot of lights and alot of time so it cancels it out. However, we did shoot wide and tight almost always, and for the "steamy" scenes and other 1 camera scenes the 2nd operator would become 2nd unit and would go pick off insert shots, etc. It also saved alot of time pulling off crowd reaction shots etc. during the same scene with 2 cameras.

Editors loved us in the end because if there was a problem with one of the frames they had an alternate. For some reason during this movie I swear it was where's waldo with waterbottles.. they kept popping up in the BG.

The only problem we did have and didn't realize it till post, was the 2 cameras didnt even come close to matching.. specially in sharpness.