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M. Oliver Watson
Close ups
on Nov 30, 2008 at 2:06:15 am

I finally got my first real paid video shoot. Its a core strength video. Here's my question. I know that I need to get a wide shot for the whole video for my go-to shot, but how do I get my close up with out messing with continuity? Do I keep shooting until the whole video is shot, then go back and shoot the close ups, or do I cut between exercises and shoot the close ups then? Thanks a million!

M. Oliver Watson


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Todd Terry
Re: Close ups
on Nov 30, 2008 at 3:47:15 am

Two ways, really... or a combination of both.

The first option would be single-camera style, just as if one were shooting a movie. In this method you would shoot the scene in a master shot (wide shot), then the performers would do the scene again (and again and again) for your various midshots, closeups, different angles, etc.

The second option would be to do a well-rehearsed multi-camera shoot.

We did a couple of exercise videos way back in the day... and we did a bit of a hybrid. The main shoot was a three-camera shoot, with the cameras shooting both wide shots and closeups. After each take, the scene was performed again a couple of times, moving the cameras in this time for various closeups and alternate angles. Back in editing, the first three camera takes were synched up and a version was cut from that... then we went to the alternate (second and third) takes from the various cameras for other shots to augment the original cut.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Mark Suszko
Re: Close ups
on Dec 1, 2008 at 6:08:40 am

Well, you might have one other trick available, if you shoot HD but deliver in SD, the HD wide shots can be tightened-up a lot in post and still work for SD. I would say you could zoom into a hi-rez HD shot about up to 25% and get away with an "acceptable" (YMMV) SD master, but that would be pushing it.

I have faced a similar situation when I have to shoot non-pro acting talent in skits and the like. I shoot that multi-cam with a locked-down wide cover shot and the close-up cam placed as close to the wide cam as possible. I jam synch the time codes so both shots have the same code. If the talent gets a take right, which is rare, O have my wide and my tight already, and can move on. When the talent is untalented, or the action hard to reproduce in some other way with precision, double-coverage is cheaper in the long run over trying to single-cam it. The time saved in shooting and in post pays for the second camera.


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M. Oliver Watson
Re: Close ups
on Dec 1, 2008 at 2:34:33 pm

Mark,

Oops, I responded before I saw your post. Unfortunately I am just starting out, so I'll just have to single cam it. But your advise to place the cameras side by side gives me a clearer picture of how it perhaps should, or at least could be done. I will be shooting in HD, but the clients want the end product in HD, so the zoom option in post may not work. What are your thoughts on how to keep any continuity problems at a minimum? As I mentioned, this is my first real paid shoot and there are other potential shoots riding on this one, so I'd really like to do a good job.

Again, Mark, thanks a million for your advice!

M. Oliver Watson


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M. Oliver Watson
Re: Close ups
on Dec 1, 2008 at 1:59:41 pm

Todd,

I only have one camera, so I'll be taking the first option. My question then, is how often do you have problems with continuity? And if so,how do you minimize the chances of that happening?

Thanks Todd, I can't tell you how much I appreciate your help.

M. Oliver Watson


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Todd Terry
Re: Close ups
on Dec 1, 2008 at 3:43:31 pm

[M. Oliver Watson] "how often do you have problems with continuity?"

Not too often... it's the same thing that filmmakers deal with all the time when doing single-camera shoots. There are some things you can do that will make continuity better and life easier in editing...

1) Plan and rehearse. The better your talent can reproduce the scene accurately time after time, the better your continuity will be. Rehearse them, and impart to them the importance of doing it exactly the same every time. Really good pro actors are quite good at this... others, not so much.

2) Multiple takes. If time permits, do a few extra takes of each setup. Wide shot Take #1 might not cut that well with Closeup Take #1.... but WS #2 might cut beautifully with CU #4. Give yourself enough coverage to try differnt options.

3) Vary camera options. The bigger the changes in the scene between cuts, the better the continutity will look. If you shoot a wide shot from position #1, and then a mid-shot from position #1, they might not cut well. But if you shoot a wide shot from position #1, and then cut to a closup from a much-different position in the room (say moving the camera to the left or to the right a good bit), the continuity will be good. Vary focal lengths a fair bit too... don't go from a "kinda wide shot" to a "kinda a little bit tighter" shot. If you are going to change focal lengths, change them a lot. Keep the camera moving... don't shoot all your shots from the same spot on the floor. Do wide shots center, left, and right, and do your midshots and closeups from varying positions, too...that way your cuts will not only be changing focal lengths, but changing camera angles, too. Move the camera in and out as well.... if you are in position #1 for a wide shot, don't do a closeup just by zooming in... also move your camera in closer to the talent. That will change the perspective and will be just another factor that will help cover continuity errors.

4) Learn how to edit for continuity. Often the best match cuts aren't technically perfect matches. Really good seamless-looking match cuts often have overlapping action. Say your scene is a person with his hands down at his sides, and he raises them straight up over his head. And lets say you wanted to go from a wide shot to a close up at the point when his arms are exactly horizontal. Often times the best looking cut to the tighter shot would be actually at a couple of frames before his arms are perfectly horizonal in the closeup... so that the action actually overlaps just a tiny bit. I know this may sound odd, and the first time I read about that editing technique when I was just a highschool kid making bad movies I thought, "Ummm, no way." But actually it often works and works very well.

Just plan well and shoot well and continutity doesn't have to be a huge issue...


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Mark Suszko
Re: Close ups
on Dec 1, 2008 at 5:16:38 pm

Point number four of Terry's reminded me of a tutorial I saw in a college film class, the example was some race scenes in the Robert Redford film "Downhill Racer" that illustrate what Todd was getting at perfectly. You sometimes have to "lead" the eye to create an anticipated motion and the cut actually works better that way than if it was more "scientific" in the matching action.

I don't have too many more tips to add, just that tape is cheap unless its blank when you're done, so in a situation like this I would roll nonstop just in case something magic happened by happy accident. Meaning, roll on ALL the rehearsals, even if you know the first couple of run-thrus are going to be rough.

They give you practice in positinoing the camera and anticipating moves, they also help you fine-tune the blocking of the shot, looking out for things in the background that should not be seen, etc.

They give you a chance to grab some good closeup reaction shots of each person, adequate room tone, extra and alternate versions of dialog that could save you later, etc.

You might shoot the rehearsals with the red tally light disabled to trick the talent into relaxing because this is "just practice". I often get the best material in such faux-candid moments.

Pre-blocking the action on paper, and knowing where you are using what camera lets you speed things up and not waste time on camera and lighting setups that won't end up in the final cut.

You start to get an eye for continuity over time; having OCD or a tendency to be overly critical of others in this case is a plus. One thing you might want to try to help you get all you need is to add some columns or boxes in your paper script where you can check off multiple takes of each scene as you capture the wide coverage, the tight coverage, the reaction or cut-away shots, the room tone, shots of a color bar chart (not camera bars but actual footage of bar charts under your lighting conditions).

In the bustle of production it is easy to skip a scene you thought you already captured, but really only rehearsed, or only got from one angle, so as things in my script are shot I like to run a sharpie or highlighter thru each paragraph or block of lines in my copy of the script to denote it got covered. You can go with multicolor highlighters and perhaps use one color for each character or each camera angle needed. This gives you a very plain illustration by day's end that you got everything you needed, if the shooting script has been completely lined-thru in every page. Anything still pure white is missing or deliberately deleted.

Also don't be afraid to slate takes, especially end slates. If you don't have a slate, get a cheap $5 student locker white board and erasable marker, and write the page number and scene number and any other key data on that board like audio assignments or camera settings, and hold that up at the beginning of the take, or upside-down at the end of a take, (called "end-slating") if you forgot to slate the beginning or came up with something extra to write.

This can be a huge help when digitizing later. Of course more high-end and high-budget producers have better and more technological means to capture this information as metadata and put it into spreadsheets and databases but even simple slating on-camera is still useful to everybody at any level.


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Nicholas Bierzonski
Re: Close ups
on Dec 1, 2008 at 5:28:40 pm

I thought I would add something to the fine suggestions given in this thread. I recommend you shoot some cutaway shots that will not matter continuity-wise. This way if you encounter continuity issues you can cover glaring jumpcuts. For example...if I were shooting an interview I would be sure to shoot a few variations of the interviewer nodding their head as if they are listening to the interviewee. This allows me to cover a jump cut or audio edit while the interviewer is on camera.

If you are shooting close ups of doors on a model car being described by the talent...angle the close up of the door so that it does not show the talent. If the talent isn't in the shot there is no action to match. Or use a shallow depth of field so the talent is out of focus behind the car. These cut away shots can be life savers. If you find you don't need them in the edit; No harm. But you'll sleep better at night knowing you've covered your butt.





-Nicholas Bierzonski
Senior Editor/DVD Author/Java Boy
http://www.finalfocusvideo.com


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Richard Herd
Re: Close ups
on Dec 2, 2008 at 12:21:36 am

How are you handling audio?

-- shoot the whole thing in one take so the audio is contiguous.
-- shoot more coverage
-- aesthetically, keeping the camera within 15 degrees of each other will create a slight jump cut. Sometimes that's cool, sometimes not.
-- be sure to shoot so the editor can cut on action, so if a guy is doing a sit up, then you cut on that. Editor's job--which could be you too!--is to scrub the video for the edit point
-- you can also "trick the eye" by letting the action exit the frame and cut on that too (one technique I use a lot--when audio doesn't matter--is to shoot the wide shot, let the subject clear the frame, then I quickly reframe and zoom for a CU/MU, leading the subject for a clean entrance on the CU. In editing, I delete my reframe and zoom.



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M. Oliver Watson
Re: Close ups
on Dec 2, 2008 at 2:41:40 pm

As far as audio goes I purchased an Azden SGM 2X shotgun mic and a 25 Ft cable before I ever got this opportunity. I'll just tie the mic into the camera jack. I did some research on these shotgun mics and they seemed to be the way to go. I just couldn't afford a lavaliere mic. The video is a core strength video, which means a lot of moving around by the talent. I am looking into renting a lavaliere mic, which seems to be only option. I'll be renting lights also -- Probably an Arri kit. I know it may seem that I'm not prepared to take on this job and I won't make much of a profit, but I've got to start somewhere. I just appreciate all of your advice. Its been invaluable!

M. Oliver Watson


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Richard Herd
Re: Close ups
on Dec 2, 2008 at 6:16:49 pm

Here's another technique: Get there very early :)

I don't know exactly how much experience you have but if you're a one man show, then you need time to do both jobs: camera and audio. This post is about audio:

Wear headphones and listen very carefully: What's that buzz? What's the hum? Then search for them and turn off the refrigerator, turn off the A/C or heater, coffee pot, fluorescent lights...a million things really.

One potential problem to anticipate is the lav mic: If the talent is moving a lot, then the potential for rubbing the mic on clothing is a real problem. The best mic for this would be akin to a headset mic.

I recently shot an interview, and the location jimmy-rigged their audio so poorly that I could not get a line from the board into my camera, so I did my best to use a shotgun mic. Well the room was very loud, so I've spent hours and hours EQing the thing and at best it's still less than mediocre. Business-wise, I was not on the hook for the audio, so I bore no responsibility, and offered solutions for next time and now will produce the whole thing next (rather than just shoot). Anyway, this leads to my next questions: What about room tone? Will there be music in the room?

Last: You may also want to consider posting in other forums to get some feedback that's not limited to cinematography. There's a lot of them to choose from.





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M. Oliver Watson
Re: Close ups
on Dec 3, 2008 at 6:13:12 am

My experience is very limited, and yes I am the audio guy as well as the editor. Part of me says I'm in over my head, but its what I love, so I'll do my best and have fun learning.

I did a walk through today with the client and took note of several things. Room tone was not one of them, so thank you for that! There will be no music, just the talent talking to her client. The talent's movements will not be too quick or jerky, so I may be o.k. there, although I hadn't thought about using a headset mic. And I will take your suggestion about the other forums also.

I guess the only way to thank you guys is to make the best video I possibly can. So I'll take all of your advise and do my best. Thanks a million!

M. Oliver Watson


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Richard Herd
Re: Close ups
on Dec 4, 2008 at 1:14:59 am

There's no end to learning. :-) I pitched an ad concept for a film school, but it wasn't accepted. Here's the pitch:

Busy city street. Folks all around. Walking fast. A guy starts singing: "I know everything..." Slowly the others on the street hear h him and begin to chime in, until it's a huge hollywood musical dance number, singing in a 6/8 shuffle:

"I know everything
there is to know
about making movies
'cause I went to film school.
And I bought a book.
And I memorized the f-stops:
{sing along}
1 1.4 2 2.8 4 5.6 8 11 16 22
{big finish}
I know everything
there is to know
about making movies
'cause I went to film schooooooool."

The cast goes back to living their normal life in the city.

I guess it's too sarcastic, for a film school brand. THe point is, I guess, MAN! there's a ton to learn.
:-)



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Todd Terry
Re: Close ups
on Dec 4, 2008 at 2:59:03 am

[Richard Herd] "THe point is, I guess, MAN! there's a ton to learn."

Very very true.

And just as important, is where you learn it.

I've said it many times before, and it's absolutely true: I learned more in my first four hours on a real movie set than I did in four years of film school. That's no exaggeration whatsoever.

If you're gonna go to film school, pick a good one.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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M. Oliver Watson
Re: Close ups
on Dec 4, 2008 at 2:59:51 pm

OK, you caught me. I just graduated from a local collage-turned- university at 49 due to a forced career change. I've always wanted to write and make movies as an outlet to my unrelenting imagination and drive to change the world. Well--I got my education!

These kids were fast --super fast! Seemed to be born with a camera lens in their eye and a light meter in their hands. Incredible! I, on the other hand, whirled about wondering in utter consternation what the heck it was all about, where did all the technical jargon fit in to my simple, small town "dream" of projecting my world-changing mind-movies onto a screen?

So, here I stand with a fist full of reality in one hand, a Panasonic HVX200 ready to roll in the other and a mind full of questions. All I can say is...Roll Camera...and see where it takes me!

Thanks for your insight and willingness to share it. It really continues to be invaluable.

M. Oliver Watson


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John Cuevas
Re: Close ups
on Dec 11, 2008 at 3:14:07 pm

Responding a little late, but if you haven't, just thought see if you can recruit some help. Even if it's just one person, they could watch a monitor for you and while wearing a headset and aiming the shotgun.

If you just do it yourself, you'll probably have to mount a shotgun. And if your talent moves too much, there could be significant differences in the audio levels and tone.

If you've recently graduated you shouldn't have much trouble recruiting people, or even better if you can afford it-look around your area and find a professional grip/audio guy. Might cost a little up front but could save you hours and hours of headaches while posting.

Johnny Cuevas, Editor
http://www.ckandco.net


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Mike Cohen
Re: Close ups
on Dec 17, 2008 at 3:43:07 am

that's good advice. Occasionally hiring a freelancer to help you is a great way to learn. It's like a one day refresher course in audio/video/lighting...whatever.

Let us know how you made out on the shoot.

Mike Cohen


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