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Planning a multi-camera short with DVX100

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Kristen Maxwell
Planning a multi-camera short with DVX100
on May 30, 2005 at 3:02:04 pm

Howdy,

I'm the DP for a student project that will be shot in a style similar to the TV series "24," but we're doing this for a romantic comedy :) We'll have 3 or 4 DVX100A cameras on set, and I was wondering if you guys had any advice for going into a mutli-cam shoot like this. The primary action is a conversation between a couple at a "speed dating" service, and we will be doing split-screen of the 2 principles as well as "flashback footage" to be shot separately.

I know that lighting for multicamera is a chore, and I am also intrested in issues of synching, and general ideas about assigning roles to different cameras. i have a lot of pre-concieved ideas about this already, but I would love to have some input from the pros to mull over before we get started.

thanks for your expertise,

kris


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todd mcmullen
Re: Planning a multi-camera short with DVX100
on May 31, 2005 at 2:53:46 am

Kristin,
I believe 24 is shot with 2 cameras in traditional film style. And lighting for 2 cameras is never a chore. As a mater of fact, some of the best shots I have done are shots where we have used the 2nd camera for a close up or detail, such as hands moving, panning back and forth between dialogue, etc.
As far as synching, I assume you are trying to use a switcher and switch between shots? As far as assignments of cameras,
depends on blocking of scene. If 2 people are sitting across from one another then have a wider shot of both people and put your 2nd camera in for a close-up, and then have a 3rd camera on a nice profile.

hth,




Todd McMullen
Flip Flop Films
Austin


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Kristen Maxwell
Re: Planning a multi-camera short with DVX100
on Jun 1, 2005 at 8:23:06 pm

Todd, thanks for the tips! i look forward to trying these out.


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Carlos
Re: Planning a multi-camera short with DVX100
on Jun 4, 2005 at 4:18:33 pm

Here are my two cents based in 5 shows as DP with similar set up:


1.Use white balance presets for all three cameras. They will match better at post, trust me. Just change from 3.2K to 5.6K
2.Try not to go below 2.8 aperture as the lens, doesn


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john sharaf
Re: Planning a multi-camera short with DVX100
on Jun 5, 2005 at 3:36:38 am

Kristen,

As far as syncing the two shots up, the DVX does not, like more professional cameras, have time code input, so it is not possible to "slave" the codes to match. The low tech solution is to hit common sticks so that the editor can line up the two pictures. Advise the operators not to cut, but if they do, you must slate again.

Multicamera shooting does require some aditional coordination between the two operators; or else you're likely to get matching shots which will be difficult to edit. Again, the simple approach is to assign one camera to tighter, and one to wider. Alternatively, if there are two people in the scene, one camera could key on each player, trying to keep "two eyes" as much as possible.

As far as the lighting, the "chore" you refer to is trying to place the lights so that there are no stands in the shot. The keys should come if possible from the direction the actor is looking (probably towards the other actor), so either hangers, boom arms or polecats are de riguer. Sometimes an omnidirectional source like a china ball or Chimera pancake lantern is good for this purpose; the trick here is to control the spill off the walls.

The main reason for this type of shooting is to allow the actors some freedom of movement and improvisation. An alternate approach is to use rehersals (even without the crew present) to try out these things and then repeat the best stuff with the camera (or cameras) rolling. You just understand that shooting with two cameras in every direction is difficult because one must keep the other camera out of the shot as well as compromising the lighting because of the difficulty of hiding the units and the method of rigging. You must really calculate carefully if this is the best approach!


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Kristen Maxwell
Re: Planning a multi-camera short with DVX100
on Jun 5, 2005 at 4:48:44 pm

thanks for the good ideas, Carlos and John. I think we will try and get some wall spreaders and other aids in lighting "invisibly" as much as possible. Our director really wants to capture the actual exchanges between the actors (and have them synched in split-screens), so this is really the way we want to go. Also, being students, we're always looking for a good chance to try something that we're likely to make a mess of as a learning experience (we are, after all, paying for this privilege!).

One more quick newbie question on this topic - do you have any recommendations about setting up "eye lights" with such a scenario?

thanks again,

kris


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john sharaf
Re: Planning a multi-camera short with DVX100
on Jun 6, 2005 at 12:46:45 am

Kristen,

If you feel you really need eye lights, the only possible scenario would be to tastefully use on-camera units. The new LED Litepanels are really nice and pretty subtle, especially with the built in dimmer, but they are pricey!

The challange in using this type of light is to keep it out of your other camera, and to keep from making shaddows which reveal the lights' presence. this is a tall order and the better course is probably to do without.

If you want to keep the dark side from going black, another alternative is to use some kind of bounced fill light. This type of source can be made to be directionless and will not reveal an attemp to artificially illuminate a scene.


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Roger Sherman
Re: Planning a multi-camera short with DVX100
on Jun 10, 2005 at 2:08:00 am

avoid free run time code, trying to set all cameras to same time of day. it will cause major headaches and lots more time digitizing. record in record run time code and use a slate and the beginning of each shot.

four cameras sounds like way, way too many. it's hard to get the right angle with lighting with even two cameras. more isn't better. concentrate on lighting well, making beautiful frames. concentrate on the art, not the tech.


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