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Shooting continuity for documentary

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Rachel Miller
Shooting continuity for documentary
on Aug 26, 2011 at 7:52:53 pm

Hello I have been filming a documentary for 3 years and most of the footage has been shot in standard definition. I now have the option of shooting in 16 x 9 or in HD. Should I continue to shoot the film in standard?

Thanks,

Rachel


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Mark Suszko
Re: Shooting continuity for documentary
on Aug 27, 2011 at 4:04:45 am

That's an interesting problem. Do you have a creative vision of the final product yet? I mean, would it be a wide screen frame with your old footage windowed into it? Or do you want to keep it all 4x3, where you can use the larger frame size to enable pans and zooms and re-frames of the subject in post? Technologically, either way is equally valid. The question for me comes down to aesthetics, and what you want it to look like.

I worked on a year or so long series of oral history video interviews, we shot them all in 4:3 even though we could have shot them anamorphic wide screen. We had many issues to weigh. Budget being a major one. But I also was of the opinion that the wide screen isn't all that great for framing up facial close-ups, compared to the more square 4:3 ratio. I wouldn't call the vacant space on either side of that close-up in a 16x9 frame "wasted" space, exactly. There are many artistic things one could try, to add stuff to that frame, and you can position the 4:3 box to one side of the 16:9 and then run b-roll or other footage alongside the face, without having to cut away from it. Even roto-out the body and face from the 4;3 and insert it into a new 16:9. But the key is really IMO to decide on these formatting things up front and then commit to it.

What's your criteria for choosing, then?

Box office? If this is really destined for a film-out, that argues strongly for a wide-screen format, but not exclusively. For the web, I'd argue a 4:3 box framing things tighter and closer works better for small screens.

Amount of time the extra editing will take to blend the two formats? Will it obsolete any of the older footage?

Does the narrative material in the interviews support a lot of b-roll, and do you have that imagery for enough of the project, or would you need to budget time and money to generate that stuff?

I'm sorry I didn't just give you a simple answer, then again, it's not a simple question. Not really.


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grinner hester
Re: Shooting continuity for documentary
on Aug 29, 2011 at 9:53:18 pm

Only if you want it to match.



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Rachel Miller
Re: Shooting continuity for documentary
on Aug 30, 2011 at 2:53:54 am

In your opinion does video matching matter?


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grinner hester
Re: Shooting continuity for documentary
on Aug 30, 2011 at 1:06:49 pm

Not for most documentaries but anytime you are faking a multicam shoot it's crucial.



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