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Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

What do you hope for as a keeper rate from what you shoot on fllm?

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Your shooting ratio is very much a personal thing, but often dictated by budget. In the realm of digital acquisition its less important. In the days of film, a single minute of film could eat up a lot of money, so shooting rations were often required to be kept in check. That of course didn't stop some filmmakers, mostly those with the clout to make their own rules, from shooting 100:1 ratios.

 

In the world of digital though, ratios you shoot are directly related to the amount of time you have - not budget. Though, time is budget, so maybe it does still relate to budget... Anyway, bottom line is that your ratio should be kept to a minimum, no matter your format. Having 600 hours of footage to sort through for post is not going to do you or your editor any favors, and will eat up set time. This is where a good shot list (and a good AD who will enforce it) come in handy.

Edited by Landon D. Parks
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You're talking about what is called a shooting ratio. When I started out, most indie films shot a 10:1 ratio, or planned on that at least. Of course, I've known people to manage to shoot a narrative feature on lower ratios like 5:1. I did one feature with a 7:1 ratio. It's tough to go much lower than 5:1 because in typical coverage, shots cover more of the length of a scene than is in the final cut, so you might do three takes of a 3 minute master, for example, but only use 30 seconds of it in the cut.

If you cover two people talking in two separate single close-ups and both close-up shots run the length of the dialogue, and in the edit you give each character the same amount of screen time... well, right off the bat you know then that 50% of what you shoot won't be in the final cut, and again, you'll probably do more than one take on each person. If you actually only did the scene in those two shots and only did one take on each set-up, that's a 2:1 ratio.

 

So 10:1 is a good starting point for a single-camera low-budget shoot, plus it makes it easy to calculate the amount of film to order since it works out to be roughly one 10 minute roll for every script page that averages 1 minute of screen time. (That also works out that a 6 page day will probably generate 60 minutes of dailies.)

 

Of course, people can shoot much larger shooting ratios especially on a big-budget movie. And even with film, shooting ratios have crept up because of habits from shooting digital plus the modern approach of running two cameras on many scenes. On digital shoots with two cameras, a 30:1 to 70:1 is not uncommon. Again, if you shoot 6 pages with a 30:1 ratio, that's 3 hours of dailies.

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Of course, people can shoot much larger shooting ratios especially on a big-budget movie. And even with film, shooting ratios have crept up because of habits from shooting digital plus the modern approach of running two cameras on many scenes. On digital shoots with two cameras, a 30:1 to 70:1 is not uncommon. Again, if you shoot 6 pages with a 30:1 ratio, that's 3 hours of dailies.

 

David, did you ever read about the production of MIKEY AND NICKY (1973)? 1.4 million feet of film!! I think Elaine May would have wholeheartedly embraced digital.

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Here's a quick copy and paste:

Originally intended as a summer 1976 release, then delayed by editing problems, Mikey and Nicky was released in New York City on December 21, 1976. Because May missed the film's delivery date, litigation followed between her and Paramount, with the studio gaining possession of the film with final cut privilege. May didn't direct again for over a decade.

The film's original $1.8 million budget had grown to nearly $4.3 million ($16.6 million in contemporary dollars) by the time May turned the film over to Paramount. She shot 1.4 million feet of film, almost three times as much as was shot for Gone with the Wind. By using three cameras that she sometimes left running for hours, May captured spontaneous interaction between Falk and Cassavetes. At one point, Cassavetes and Falk had both left the set and the cameras remained rolling for several minutes. A new camera operator said "Cut!" only to be immediately rebuked by May for usurping what is traditionally a director's command. He protested that the two actors had left the set. "Yes", replied May, "but they might come back".

Angered by May's contentiousness during filming and editing, Paramount booked the completed film into theaters for a few days to satisfy contractual obligations, but did not give the film its full support. In 1978, Julian Schlossberg, who had previously worked in acquisitions for Paramount before starting his own company, Castle Hill Productions, purchased the rights from the studio with May and Falk.

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