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    Brief
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    This is a short film put together by some close friends and I agreed to shoot it for them. My camera/Steadicam operator Neal Bryant was very excited to do a 12 min one'r, he had always expressed disappointment at coming along after the heyday of such things. I had operated quite a few of those in features and TV shows like ER and The West Wing so it all felt familiar! The director and I started blocking over coffee (with sugar packets and creamers standing in for actors), then walked it through in the space two days before, then rehearsals with primary cast the day before.

    What is always difficult with long take one'rs is keeping interest throughout and not forcing the camera to make unmotivated moves to get from one point to another with dead space inbetween. It is also tricky in a piece like this that relies on two people having a progressively more intimate conversation to really get in there. I think we could have pushed this angle further in retrospect.

    I kept the lighting as simple as I could to allow the director the maximum amount of time for shooting and to not overburden the crew who were all helping out. We were primarily chinaballs in the gallery with some colorblasts for color accent. I had hoped to program cues to keep the background down in areas we weren't shooting in at any given time to create some pop to the foreground, especially with the white walls, but that proved to be one thing too many to get to in our time frame.

    The original idea was to get a complete take from beginning to end. The director and I had worked out several "safety points" spaced about 3 minutes out so that if we were unable to get complete takes, we could make cuts at those points and no-one would be the wiser. Fortunately we were able to get about 9 minutes of it to everyone's satisfaction and decided to pick it up from there so we could wrap on schedule.

    Looking back on it now from several years ago, my big takeaway is how damn good Neal's operating is throughout. He had some tricky things to manage (the closet was incredibly tight) and he never faltered once, plus his stamina was incredible.

    Last edited by CharlesPapert; 11-10-2019 at 12:18 PM.
    Charles Papert
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesPapert View Post
    This is a short film put together by some close friends and I agreed to shoot it for them. My camera/Steadicam operator Neal Bryant was very excited to do a 12 min one'r, he had always expressed disappointment at coming along after the heyday of such things. I had operated quite a few of those in features and TV shows like ER and The West Wing so it all felt familiar! The director and I started blocking over coffee (with sugar packets and creamers standing in for actors), then walked it through in the space two days before, then rehearsals with primary cast the day before.

    What is always difficult with long take one'rs is keeping interest throughout and not forcing the camera to make unmotivated moves to get from one point to another with dead space inbetween. It is also tricky in a piece like this that relies on two people having a progressively more intimate conversation to really get in there. I think we could have pushed this angle further in retrospect.

    I kept the lighting as simple as I could to allow the director the maximum amount of time for shooting and to not overburden the crew who were all helping out. We were primarily chinaballs in the gallery with some colorblasts for color accent. I had hoped to program cues to keep the background down in areas we weren't shooting in at any given time to create some pop to the foreground, especially with the white walls, but that proved to be one thing too many to get to in our time frame.

    The original idea was to get a complete take from beginning to end. The director and I had worked out several "safety points" spaced about 3 minutes out so that if we were unable to get complete takes, we could make cuts at those points and no-one would be the wiser. Fortunately we were able to get about 9 minutes of it to everyone's satisfaction and decided to pick it up from there so we could wrap on schedule.

    Looking back on it now from several years ago, my big takeaway is how damn good Neal's operating is throughout. He had some tricky things to manage (the closet was incredibly tight) and he never faltered once, plus his stamina was incredible.

    Great short. Amazing work by Neal and the whole team! I loved the sound design, nice balance of conversations bleeding in and out, sometimes just being able to hear parts of sentences etc.

    With the dark dress room it's pretty impressive he continued to operate to be ready for the light switch, rather than just waiting for the lights to come on then resuming the operating.

    - Was the boom op involved in the entire take too? Or are oners generally wireless lavs?

    - Where were the safety points? I'm guessing the whip pan at 04:16, the barrier at 07:30 and the DRESS room?


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    Quote Originally Posted by rob norton View Post
    Great short. Amazing work by Neal and the whole team! I loved the sound design, nice balance of conversations bleeding in and out, sometimes just being able to hear parts of sentences etc.

    With the dark dress room it's pretty impressive he continued to operate to be ready for the light switch, rather than just waiting for the lights to come on then resuming the operating.
    It doesn't come across well with the compression online, but it only stays dark for a short time in the film, then a long slow ramp up as if one's eyes are adjusting to the light.

    - Was the boom op involved in the entire take too? Or are oners generally wireless lavs?
    It depends on the complexity of the shot. There were a lot of wires but also boom for the main characters. Every show is different. The boom ops on "ER" were absolute magicians with the boom pole. I remember seeing them telescope the pole in and out again in the middle of a long take without handling noise.

    - Where were the safety points? I'm guessing the whip pan at 04:16, the barrier at 07:30 and the DRESS room?
    Yes, those were all of them. Good eye!
    Charles Papert
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    Thanks for the info Charles.

    Telescoping the boom pole mid shot - wow, I'm impressed!

    Regarding safety positions, can you share any loose rules that would make a safety appropriate? Do you walk through a Director's ideal take, while taking note of any that may happen organically?

    It must be much more difficult to create your own e.g. extra walks much closer to camera to give the editor a chance with a wipe. I can see how an over ambitious safety may (ironically) slow the shoot down rather than speed it up.


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    Yes, a foreground cross in the middle of a moving shot like that would be a particularly difficult version of a planned wipe. You'd have to make sure the wipe happened on both sides exactly timed to dialogue and physical position in set, plus all of the background action was similarly timed. It obviously can be done but as you said, it's adding complication to things. What I have done in the past is shoot a foreground cross against blue so it can be added in post and perfectly timed. I once did this on a project I directed where I had to cut between a wide and closer shot on the same axis and the actor's action wasn't matching. In this instance I pulled the foreground cross from another shot entirely and roto'd him by hand (I don't know After Effects so I did it laboriously a frame at a time in Photoshop--results were a little rough but unnoticeable if you aren't looking for it): https://vimeo.com/172262276 at 2:03.

    So the easiest things to wipe are as seen in Brief: dollying or panning through a neutral surface like a wall, or a whip pan. A foreground cross very close to camera is a lot easier than one further away as it becomes much more of a blur. Back in the "Scrubs" days we did tons of transitions like this between scenes and in montages--started with dollying past solids and progressed to actual objects where we really pushed the envelope.
    Charles Papert
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    Quote Originally Posted by CharlesPapert View Post
    Yes, a foreground cross in the middle of a moving shot like that would be a particularly difficult version of a planned wipe. You'd have to make sure the wipe happened on both sides exactly timed to dialogue and physical position in set, plus all of the background action was similarly timed. It obviously can be done but as you said, it's adding complication to things. What I have done in the past is shoot a foreground cross against blue so it can be added in post and perfectly timed. I once did this on a project I directed where I had to cut between a wide and closer shot on the same axis and the actor's action wasn't matching. In this instance I pulled the foreground cross from another shot entirely and roto'd him by hand (I don't know After Effects so I did it laboriously a frame at a time in Photoshop--results were a little rough but unnoticeable if you aren't looking for it): https://vimeo.com/172262276 at 2:03.

    So the easiest things to wipe are as seen in Brief: dollying or panning through a neutral surface like a wall, or a whip pan. A foreground cross very close to camera is a lot easier than one further away as it becomes much more of a blur. Back in the "Scrubs" days we did tons of transitions like this between scenes and in montages--started with dollying past solids and progressed to actual objects where we really pushed the envelope.
    Thanks again. The TIWYAS wipe completely works.

    I'm trying to put together a oner for my own reel using our inspire2/x7. I think it'll probably only be 20 seconds but still lots to think about. Will post in cinematography section once it's done so everyone can tear it apart!


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