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Dear Cinematographers,

 

Just wondering about takes of peculiar brevity—how are they done in production? Those in the films of Christopher Nolan, say, or the shower scene in Psycho (sixty-three shots for about three minutes), that last less than a second and never recur—does this sort of thing require an enormous amount of labor and precision, or is there just some trick to it? Moreover, how does one go about shooting sixty-three shots for a three minute long scene? If it is done as I image, the amount of effort and precision would be positively daunting!

 

Sincerely Grateful,

 

Kurt Cassidy-Gabhart

Edited by Kurt Cassidy-Gabhart

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A shot can be cut to incredibly short lengths in editing, even into the length of a single frame.

 

The real problem with any quick-cut montage sequence is mainly just the time to set-up a shot, which can be the same whether it runs long or short. Hitchcock made "Psycho" on a lower budget using his TV show crew, and yet he scheduled seven days to shoot that shower sequence, which is unheard of for a film with a limited budget (ultimately the production went nine days over schedule.)

 

So yes, the "trick" is simply getting enough set-ups completed to build the sequence in editing -- even on a smaller movie, a montage sequence will be given more time to shoot even though it might have a low page count.

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David Mullen ASC,

 

Well my God, it is an honor to have a professional cinematographer reply to one of my topics. Thank you for all the information, and for succinctly answering my question!

 

A shot can be cut to incredibly short lengths in editing, even into the length of a single frame.

 

The real problem with any quick-cut montage sequence is mainly just the time to set-up a shot, which can be the same whether it runs long or short. Hitchcock made "Psycho" on a lower budget using his TV show crew, and yet he scheduled seven days to shoot that shower sequence, which is unheard of for a film with a limited budget (ultimately the production went nine days over schedule.)

 

So yes, the "trick" is simply getting enough set-ups completed to build the sequence in editing -- even on a smaller movie, a montage sequence will be given more time to shoot even though it might have a low page count.

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