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Frank Hegyi

Shooting coverage of improv

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Hi everyone,


I'm shooting a short this weekend, and the director recently decided that he wants to have the actors improv a lot of the dialog. A big portion of the film is an intense argument, so there will be a lot of movement, stepping on lines, etc.


We've been prepping this as a single camera shoot for about a month, but now we're worried it won't cut together if there's too much variation between takes.


My first thought is to trade our Varicam LT for 2 GH5s and cross cover the dialog. What do you guys think? Is there any way to cover chaotic improv with a single camera?

Edited by Frank Hegyi

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Same as doc - the better you know the characters, the better your coverage will be. It's important to know "motivations" even in doc so you can decide if the action or reaction is more important. If you're always reacting then you're always 1-step behind and you'll literally miss everything. The good thing is that you know going in what the idea is supposed to be, so you can plan with the director where to be for each "line" or idea. And you can always pick-up reaction shots after.


Hybrid is tough because unlike true doc, the characters aren't personally affected - though good actors should react with the same quickness and conviction as if they were. It can be tough to base your speed, but you'll feel it out and your director should help! You can even hybrid your hybrid coverage - you shoot it doc-style as you feel and at a certain point the director cues you into specific shots regardless of the literal words - for example as the argument escalates to a certain point you hit a frame and hold it regardless of what happens. Part of successful doc is good single-cam editing - the editor can be your ally. It's also worth mentioning that to the director how important it is to find an editor who knows how to cut single-cam doc - because it's NOTHING like other forms of editing.

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