October 25, 2014 at 2:08PM

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Do you use two cameras to capture different angles of a scene or have the actors perform many takes and cut between the footage from the various takes?

Usually when shooting a scene, unless we deliberately have planned a long tracking shot or a long take from just one angle, we cover the scene from different angles and cut them together during post.

Do you normally use two or more cameras to get those takes or have the actors perform the exact same thing over and over again and use just one camera and light the shot for that particular angle?

If you use more than one camera, is it possible to light a scene in such a way that it looks nice on both the camera angles?

Sorry, I am a total newbie here. Please be gentle. I don't know much. I am learning.

15 Comments

Both methods are correct and both are used.
It is true that usually you compromise a bit with the lighting if you light a set up for two cameras. On the other hand, even if you have more than one camera shooting at the same time, still you will have to edit the takes (unless it is a live show for TV which they switch in real time from Camera A to Camera B etc).

October 26, 2014 at 6:59AM

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Stel Kouk
Filmmaker
3105

If you have 2 cameras, two operators, and you can still hide your lights and your boom while shooting from two angles, then, in my opinion, you could save time, make your life easier in the editing suite and help ensure the subtler elements of continuity by shooting from two angles at once. If there is any element of improv in the script, shooting all the angles at once can be especially helpful. Still, it can be a lot to think about for the director. Getting one beautiful shot is hard enough, getting two at the same time is obviously even harder.

October 26, 2014 at 5:10PM, Edited October 26, 5:10PM

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Tom Abray
Indy Videomaker
290

Benefits of shooting multi-cam over single cam, in something like a drama or comedy film, it allows for improvisation. Without having to go "what you said there was really funny, unfortunately I had the camera on another actor, can we run it again and you give me that same comedy gold you just gave, thanks"

Also comes down to budget constraints, if your doing a once in a life time special effect multi cam is probably the way to go.

However single cam is often the go to for controlling light etc.

October 26, 2014 at 6:15PM

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Dale Leszczynski
Shooter Editor VFX
271

It's better sometimes having one camera at the time. Other tiomes not, but you must clear that before and not after.

October 27, 2014 at 8:09AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7594

Obviously it's better to cover any non-repeatable action with multiple cameras -- eg. stunts, explosions, public events, action involving animals, etc.

One occasion where I like shooting with two cameras is a simple two-person dialogue scene. If you shoot matching over-the-shoulder shots at the same time, not only do you make things easier for yourself in editing (you always have matching action to cut on), but the interaction of the two actors is more natural and dynamic -- the scene proceeds organically, with the characters reacting to each other. It's more like a conversation, and is especially helpful if there's any kind of improvisation (as Tom and Dale mentioned above).

The tradeoff is that you need more lighting instruments. You can still get good lighting on both characters. One tip: you can't put a lightstand behind an actor because it will be seen, so any necessary lighting has to be done from above, on boom arms from stands on the camera side of the actors. You should probably also use two mics, one on each actor.

October 27, 2014 at 11:13AM

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Minor Mogul
Dilettante
666

depends how many times you can repeat the performance. aerial shots, explosions, or amateurs, it's a lot harder to keep doing takes.
i personally prefer one camera and one camera operator. it's always worked better for me because we can pay more close attention to detail with one camera. also there is always a different style camera work differences. i almost always end up using mostly footage from one cam.
for sitting dialogues or static cameras, im usually ok with doing two cameras.

for fashion shoots for bts or co-shooting with photo crew, i prefer 2 cameras. there just isnt enough time with the talents to do 6 takes. but you can manage to get 3 x2.

October 27, 2014 at 12:05PM

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Kazu Okuda
Filmmaker
1321

Lighting is always the big issue when it comes to indoor multi-camera shoots.

A great lighting solution for Indie projects is to use Autopoles with wall-booms attached, so you can place an AutoPole next to the wall and be able to hang a light 6 feet out from the pole in any direction.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/822851-REG/Impact_VP_712BP_Deluxe_...

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/546663-REG/Manfrotto_098B_098B_Wal...

http://blog.ieba.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/AutoPolesInUse.jpg

October 27, 2014 at 2:30PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30632

Skyfall was shot mainly with one camera..... Lucy was shot mainly with one camera, some of the action sequences was even shot single cam.

If you are a lighting wiz I would stick to having more rigging options. With a two camera setup you need to plan more and maybe place the lights higher to allow for cams to frame and you might end up with compromising the light.

October 27, 2014 at 6:36PM

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Torben Greve
Cinematographer
898

I've always shot dramas with one camera. Although at times when shooting drama in a handheld doco style I've used two. Generally for the reason you said 'nice lighting' as well as so the crew has a place to hide on location. Shooting both ways makes that hard

October 28, 2014 at 8:02AM, Edited October 28, 8:02AM

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Dean Butler
Writer Director Shooter Editor
626

I think having two cameras is always GREAT if you have time and control... Otherwise I much rather get the takes one by one.

October 28, 2014 at 9:25AM

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Viktor Ragnemar
Director/Cinematographer
1117

For me the answer lies in lighting. Often I want to light one shot one way and we'll need to repo camera and lights for the second shot.

IF you can light both cameras simultaneously and are happy with each, while hiding the lights and accounting for sound and any movement/blocking, then 2 cameras is fine.

It's been mentioned before but if you're not a stickler for the script and enjoy working with some improvisation then 2 cameras help to give options in the edit for how to cut that scene.

I work mostly with mostly narrative drama and prefer to use a one camera setup as it's also the least intrusive for the actors. When an actor has heavy material to cover, the fewer distractions, the better.

October 29, 2014 at 4:21PM

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Brandon Kelley
DIT/Director
627

mostly work***

Brandon Kelley

October 29, 2014 at 4:22PM

One way to save on some of the lighting constraints caused by a 2/multi-cam shoot is to keep them both on the same actor. Do a medium and a close up on the same actor. It's easier to make both of those shots work with the same lighting set up as it is to have one camera on each actor. You loose the ease of action continuity between the characters but you gain it if your punching in on the one character.

I have a few shoots where I've been so strapped for time that I wish we had planned/budgeted for a 2 camera set up. Assuming your talent is getting it right quickly, it halves the number of takes you have to do, but does add some set up time in between shots. And you need more crew.

I know that "Zero Dark Thirty" was almost entirely shot multi-cam. Up to 5 cameras at a time, even on some more simple dialogue scenes. Their budget crunch was time not so much money. They had to be mobile and move quickly. They shot on the Alexa and to avoid fatigue for their camera ops they stripped the cameras down to the essentials and put the battery and recorder and everything they could in a backpack that the camera op wore to keep as much weight of the shoulder and distribute it across their torso.

October 29, 2014 at 9:00PM

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Michael Markham
Actor/Filmmaker
862

Using two cameras instead of one can be a reasonable option.

BUT...... it means compromises:

a) you need to find a talented cameraman you can trust to handle the second angle
b) post becomes a bit of an extra challenge, as you're sure to end up shooting extra footage than usual
c) got to be extra careful with your angles that you don't see the other camera in it
d) lighting becomes *severely* compromised, as you can't shoot for the optimal look for the film from what you see, but also got to take into account what the other camera is seeing too.

December 27, 2014 at 11:30AM

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David Peterson
Wedding Cinematographer
2281

Not sure if someone else mentioned this (didn't read all the comments), but a great way to benefit from a two camera setup with minimal compromising of your lighting is to place both cameras very close to one another and have one shoot a wide or two-shot (ie. on a 28mm lens) with the other shooting a close-up of one of the actors (ie. on an 85mm lens). This is especially beneficial if there are improvisations or the performance has a lot of physical movement.

Then you shoot the other actor's close-up and two-shot from a different angle, preferable with a similar two camera method.

This will allow the editor the freedom to use the absolute best performance takes without issues due to continuity. For example, if the arm or body positions of actor B is with hands moving at the end of actor A's line in the two-shot, but their arms are static as they say their next line in their best take (causing a very noticeable continuity issue), you can cut to actor A's close-up for the last two seconds of their line, thus making actor B's arms a non-issue.

Nowadays you can do something similar by shooting oversampled (ie. shooting 4k or 6k when you're finishing at 1080) and pushing in/reframing in post, but in my opinion it looks better when you are cutting to a different lens with lessened depth of field (via the optical focal length) and very light change in camera position. But that's just me. Also, the oversample/reframe technique should be the default approach for documentaries in my opinion (where the depth of field issue is almost irrelevant for many reasons I won't bore anyone with).

February 6, 2015 at 1:03PM

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Jaan Shenberger
designer/animator & live-action director/DP
1241

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