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Using multiple cameras


pushparaj santhosh
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Hi all,

There is a shoot coming up next month and the director/producer wants to use two camera setup for the shoot. He thinks that by using two cameras it is possible to speed up the schedule and complete the movie in advance in comparison to using one camera setup. But is it true that by using two cameras the speed increases or is it just a hindrance in term of lighting and setting the shot in relation to two cameras? What is the true advantage of using two cameras? Can it help in speeding up the shoot? What is your take on this? Thanks in advance

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It's extremely common to use two cameras on movies and TV shows these days. The rationale is always that it will be quicker to shoot with two. In my experience, though, unless the director knows exactly what they want to do with the second camera, it can often get used to shoot coverage that's not necessary, or worse, can cause delays because of trying make the blocking work for both cameras. Often, it would be quicker just to shoot two different setups with one camera. Sometimes the lighting suffers as well, as compromises need to be made. All of that said, it's now an accepted and inescapable part of shooting, so you have to learn how to do it, and do it well.

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Depends how you use the two cameras. If you have lots of complicated blocking it can be a hindrance. 

But for conventional coverage - if you shoot both cameras in the same direction e.g  One wide and  one tight , it can speed up your day and give some useful extra coverage - but won't make it twice as fast.  

 

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7 minutes ago, Phil Connolly said:

it can speed up your day and give some useful extra coverage - but won't make it twice as fast.  

A director might have twenty setups planned, but they never split them between the two cameras. They just shoot twenty on the A cam, and then add another 15 on the B cam 🙂

They'll always use it as a way to get more coverage rather than as a way to move quicker.

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4 minutes ago, Stuart Brereton said:

A director might have twenty setups planned, but they almost never split them between the two cameras. They just shoot twenty on the A cam, and then add another 15 on the B cam 🙂

They'll always use it as a way to get more coverage rather than as a way to move quicker.

Yep I found that happening a bit. A cam is the one you use and B cam is bonus rather then "needed".

But it sometimes can help. 

I did once have a 12 page day where I had to split the coverage between 2 cameras and cross shoot, wasn't pretty but cut together ok. Having the second camera saved the day on that shoot (the schedule was nuts). Cross shooting has visual compromises, but can speed things if your backs against the wall. 

But I've not repeated it, I just try toschedulel better and use single camera 

I think having a second camera working as a mini second unit getting b'roll and inserts is nearly always more useful in the edit. 

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We generally use 2 cameras, especially on features. It allows you to either cross cover (which is what I like to do) or do a close up and wide shot at the same time. I actually prefer 3 cameras for dialog scenes because it helps when you have any ad lib and want to keep some of the fluidity in post. 

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Well on the first music video that I had directed we decided to use two cameras on some scenes in order to save some time. I decided to use two cameras on the stuff when we shot the band playing and it was actually a lot faster since we did not need to do a bunch of other takes to get the same stuff just tighter or something. But for the narrative part of the story we only shot with one.
But as contrast to the first video on my latest music video we used only one camera manly because there was only one higher end camera that could be used and in staid of 4 takes we ended up doing 12 takes. The problem was that the guys from the band were getting tired and the last takes were increasingly unusable. 
As far as narrative stuff like films I'm not exactly sure how I would use more than one camera but it would definitely be a problem with blocking or lighting. In either case I have not tried it with a film. But I do see the benefits of having coverage.

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If enough paint is thrown upon the wall, there might be something cool eventually.  It is not likely to be a masterpiece but if it works then who cares if careful thought was part of the recipe? 

Single camera set ups are a luxury in my experience in that it requires a director who really knows what she wants and actors that can duplicate a performance take after take.  But when careful thought is given to a scene and the DP can light for a single camera angle the results can be uncompromisingly good.

Improv, comedy and unskilled actors go together very well with multiple cameras.

Neal Norton
DP

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6 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:

It's funny but when I started shooting features in 1992 -- in 35mm film -- it was having more than one camera that was the luxury!

I believe that.
Well for me it's also a luxury because for my own productions we only own the Pocket 4K now and that's the only one we can use and I'm really happy with the fact that we got off the DSLRs because it was always stressful not knowing if we had the shot right or not and with compression on that footage being really bad I was always nervous if the one good shot I wanted was usable or not.
But with the Pocket 4K there's less anxiety so I'm happy to do a compromise with more takes and time vs. using multiple DSLRs to save time.
But that's just me at this point and our virtually no budget projects. 

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The opposite end of the spectrum is that I dream about having only 2 cameras. We normally carry no less than 5 on my shows and we’ve had up to 45 cameras on several occasions. That gets challenging! I realize that most on this forum haven’t experienced that sort of production but it takes experience and good managerial skill to be successful with that many cameras and crew. Good fun!
 

G

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Though we have a B-camera and crew, we do so many complex, revolving Steadicam sequences in "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel", we often can't use a second camera angle... more and more, we've been having the character leave the room at the end of the Steadicam portion and enter another room where B-camera is waiting for them rather than cut the action.

This season we did one magic hour walk-and-talk sequence outside at a hotel on the water in Miami and we used four cameras.  But I think we shoot maybe 70-80% of the show with one camera.

Multiple cameras often forces you into a longer-lensed style and tighter shots, whereas our show's style is a moving wider-angle view following the actors in medium size, and often the moves are S-shaped or Figure-8's. Since we don't shoot close-ups on the show, it's hard for a B-camera to frame out the A-camera.

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On 2/10/2020 at 10:33 PM, Stuart Brereton said:

It's extremely common to use two cameras on movies and TV shows these days. The rationale is always that it will be quicker to shoot with two. In my experience, though, unless the director knows exactly what they want to do with the second camera, it can often get used to shoot coverage that's not necessary, or worse, can cause delays because of trying make the blocking work for both cameras. Often, it would be quicker just to shoot two different setups with one camera. Sometimes the lighting suffers as well, as compromises need to be made. All of that said, it's now an accepted and inescapable part of shooting, so you have to learn how to do it, and do it well.

Thanks a lot man. Much appreciated 🙂

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10 hours ago, David Mullen ASC said:

Though we have a B-camera and crew, we do so many complex, revolving Steadicam sequences in "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel", we often can't use a second camera angle... more and more, we've been having the character leave the room at the end of the Steadicam portion and enter another room where B-camera is waiting for them rather than cut the action.

This season we did one magic hour walk-and-talk sequence outside at a hotel on the water in Miami and we used four cameras.  But I think we shoot maybe 70-80% of the show with one camera.

Multiple cameras often forces you into a longer-lensed style and tighter shots, whereas our show's style is a moving wider-angle view following the actors in medium size, and often the moves are S-shaped or Figure-8's. Since we don't shoot close-ups on the show, it's hard for a B-camera to frame out the A-camera.

Thanks a lot. To my understanding as for as  conventional shoot is concerned having another camera may speed up the process by 10-20 percent and not by 50-100 percent as a lot of newbie directors/producers think. Thanks for the answer 🙂 Much appreciated

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Certainly it's not as simple as getting twice as much work done with two cameras instead of one because it takes more time to set up two cameras and it takes more time to light (well) for two cameras, so some time savings from gaining an extra set-up are taken away.  Plus that's an extra camera crew, maybe an extra dolly, extra dolly grip, etc.  And I'm sure the sound recordist would say that two cameras can make their job harder as well, they may even need two boom operators in some cases, etc.

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The sound team’s nightmare:

A camera on a 20mm seeing the entire room 

B camera on a 180mm choker close up of the actor whispering. 
 

G🤦🏻‍♂️

Edited by Gregory Irwin
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34 minutes ago, Gregory Irwin said:

The sound team’s nightmare:

A camera on a 20mm seeing the entire room 

B camera on a 180mm choker close up of the actor whispering. 
 

G🤦🏻‍♂️

If you want to make it really challenging insist on the actor being nude - to prevent the sound team from "cheating" with radio lapel mic's. 

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5 minutes ago, Phil Connolly said:

If you want to make it really challenging insist on the actor being nude - to prevent the sound team from "cheating" with radio lapel mic's. 

Ha! True!

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