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Old June 25th, 2003, 05:24 PM   #1
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handheld and tripod mix advice

I'm shooting a commercial on Sunday, dealing with a bunch of people in a sports bar arguing over what to watch on the TV. I want to shoot some of it handheld, to give it a certain energy and emphasize the heat of their argument. The problem is, I'm not sure what to shoot handheld.

The setup for the commercial is as follows: two groups of people will be in this bar, telling the bartender, who gets increasingly annoyed at this, to change channels back and forth between two shows. A third group, acting as the voice of reason, will come in and suggest a third show that combines the best aspects of the two other shows. They'll watch the show suggested by the third group, and they're all blown away at its awesomeness. End

I feel the master, since it has to accomodate so many people would look best on a tripod. I don't know if that should be the only thing shot on a tripod, or if all the closer shots (there'll be shots of each group, shots of each member of each group, shots of the bartender, both MCU and CU, and a shot of the TV at the end) should be handheld, or if only the closeups of faces should be handheld. I don't usually mix tripod and handheld work when it's the same location and same scene, so I'm unsure of how to handle this. I know for sure I want quick pans to CUs of the faces of each member of each group arguing for their show, and these will handheld. Don't know what else, though.

Help!
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Old June 25th, 2003, 09:29 PM   #2
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Josh, great question. There is, as you know, no right or wrong answer here since it's purely stylistic.

My sense is that as the tension builds and the cuts come quicker (?) towards the climax, that would be the time to start working the handheld shots in.

There are various other ways to think about augmenting the growing tension. Perhaps the shots of the bartender would be over the shoulders or through the bodies of the various groups, and as he gets more annoyed the frame can be progressively more blocked by the foreground bodies, creating a cramped environment for him. You can get progressively more telephoto on him, with those foreground bodies become more out of focus. I recommend in this instance flagging light off the foreground bodies to a near silhouette, it will look more sexy this way.

I would also vary the shots of the customers between frontal and side angle, which could allow for some great stacked shots and again, foreground elements. With the camera shooting from, say, 20 feet down the bar, you can set glasses and such a few feet away to create abstract shapes in the near ground, and the profiles of the customers nicely stacked together.

As far as a "master" angle, most commercials rarely use the same shot twice, so it may be helpful to think of this as an establishing shot rather than traditional narrative coverage. You may not even need a wide shot that shows the physical relationship between the groups, this can be created simply with eyelines (the bartender looks left to one group, and right to the other). Telephoto shots will likely look better/ more filmic anyway.

A touch of smoke (fogger) will really help the look--get as much neon in the background as possible for color contrast!

Again, there are a zillion ways to skin the cat, this is just one approach. Have fun!
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Old June 25th, 2003, 09:48 PM   #3
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Charles, I'm not even shooting a commerical and I learned a great deal by reading these two posts. Thanks for the response.
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Old June 26th, 2003, 12:32 AM   #4
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All good advice, but can't use a lot of it. The bartender and the customers will face the same way to save camera setup time, and I'm too anal (also being the editor of said commercial) to say "well, we won't need the master again after this." All the shots will go all the way through, from beginning to end. I agree with what you say about the tension building and the more tension = more likeliness of handheld-itude, but I have a feeling we'll just barely get done doing it one way, let alone several. We only plan on 3 hours to shoot (cause that's all we've got!), and I made out a shot list, and it's got like more than 10 different shots on it.
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Old June 28th, 2003, 03:26 AM   #5
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Hi i'd be very interested to know what this is advertising?

Some kinda beer ad? just a guess.

This is a really informative subject....love it!!!!!
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Old June 28th, 2003, 04:27 PM   #6
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Shoot handheld, personally I love to use it handheld, it's more life in it and it's much easier to do. But maybe the shot of the three groups for example it should be tripod. You shouldn'd use handheld and try to hold it as still as possible, then you can use a tripod might as well...
Maybe you could use handheld pans between the group members? Maybe it will bring more life and familie feelings like in a nice pub=)
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Old June 28th, 2003, 09:33 PM   #7
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Yeah, I was going to do the handheld pans between members of the groups, but I wasn't sure what else. I don't feel like those should be the only handheld shots.


This is a stupid kind of advertising, is what it is. It's a commercial for a show I work on, that promotes the show. The producers of the show are going to use it. . .in the show! "But it's a commercial!" you say. Well, yes, it is, but they don't want to pay to air it anywhere, so they're going to air in the show itself.
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Old June 29th, 2003, 04:56 AM   #8
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I think you could use handheld only in the small groups, that may get a great feeling. And maybe handheld also if you have any shots at another of the groups from a groups perspective...
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