July 26, 2015 at 9:35PM, Edited July 26, 9:36PM

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Cinematographers and shot list

Do professional cinematographers create shot lists? Or do they make it up as they shoot, I mean I'm having a real hard time doing it, I've made a shot list, but as soon as we start shooting the shotlist would get scrapped and I'll just shoot on what ever I feel like shooting, because I think the shot list isn't enough, probably because I haven't seen the location yet, It was my first time shooting there, and plus, in creating a shot list, do I first need to see the location before creating it?

7 Comments

You might want to try creating a photo storyboard before your shoot takes place ( I use a small digital camera to approximate the shots I want to make ), and then use this photo storyboard to create your actual shot list. The photos are a great reference for the shots you want to capture, and will help to illustrate any gaps you might have when it comes down to the actual shoot. ( you can always use stand-ins to represent your actors when making the photo storyboard )

July 27, 2015 at 8:40AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32729

So you check the location first before creating a shotlist? I guess my problem is I just imagine what the place would look like. So I need to check the location first, right?

Steven Victor

July 27, 2015 at 9:41AM, Edited July 27, 9:41AM

>>>So you check the location first before creating a shotlist?

Yes, because what you imagine in your head might not fit with the reality of where you have to actually shoot. So if you do a visual walk-through of your shooting locations you can use a small digital camera ( I use a Panasonic LX7 camera ) to produce a photo storyboard of the actual shots you want to capture when you come back for the actual shoot. The photo storyboard is a big help to determine if things are actually going to work visually, and you can change things on the fly to accommodate any limitations of the location.

Afterwards you can send a PDF of the photo storyboard to key members of your shoot, so that they have a clear idea of what you are trying to create.

July 27, 2015 at 10:54AM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32729

Alright, thanks a lot, I've been having trouble with these kind of things, probably because I just create shot list out of the blue without even checking the location. Thanks Guy :) appreciate the help

Steven Victor

July 28, 2015 at 3:56AM

A cinematographer does several things before hitting that 'record' button. He/She has endless discussions and meetings with the director on shots. He/She may even do a location scout. From there, he can work with the director on a shot list. What is captured should always be a collaborative effort. Being the DP, it's default that you will add your own creative wisdom on how to achieve the director's vision. I've seen detailed and basic shot lists. However you decide to make yours, make sure you include: lens, wide/medium/close-up (if not more detailed), movement, INT/EXT, day/night, and general action. All of those will determine how the shot is executed and seen. They should all have reasons for existing.

After having meetings/discussions with the director, I've often made my own shot list (to get started) and presented to the director. From there, he/she can see my gears in motion and we can fine tune a shot list.

Granted, you may do some shots on the fly as shooting may not go 100% smooth on set and a million other things can interfere with your schedule/shot list. However, because you've had so many discussions with the director about his/her vision, you should be able to come up with alternative shots that will tell his/her story. You should NEVER work blindfolded when working as a DP. ALWAYS have some clue as to what you want to do. Not being even a little prepared will not yield positive results.

July 28, 2015 at 12:19PM

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Ryan Atkins
Cinematographer/Editor/Colorist
181

A shotlist is there to help you shoot what you need (and not forget anything). Ofcourse you can shoot more or different shots if time permits, but yes most of the times there is a shotlist, because it is too expensive to forget something.
To create a good shotlist that makes sense it is indeed adviced to check out the location(s), because imagination is good, but reality can kick in really hard if your shotlist is physical impossible.
I.e. for this corporate video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuG9630YQEk we first scouted a few locations, visited 3 and choose the best one. While there I measured the vailable space so I could create a map to plan positions of both lights and camera.
If I would have to make all the shots up on location I would need 2 days with the whole cast and crew AND possibly forget a shot or 2.
That would have been a waste!

July 30, 2015 at 12:38PM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9008

Agreed with all of the above. You won't always have a chance to know the ins and outs of the location you're shooting, but you should always have the chance to know WHAT you are shooting, thus having a good general understanding of the shots you want to get. I would definitely always recommend creating a shotlist, it really helps on set. I even sometimes put times with my shots, kind of making it a schedule/shotlist (ie we need this shot by 2pm, then move to this shot and get that by 2:30, etc.). Anyway, I would imagine most people have their own way, so I would find what is comfortable for you so that every time you start a shoot, you're confident in getting the shots you need.

July 31, 2015 at 12:17PM, Edited July 31, 12:17PM

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Ben Meredith
Cinematographer/Filmmaker
966

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