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Old February 19th, 2008, 12:37 PM   #1
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shooting 2 actors separately then compositing

Hi, I have to shoot a scene but i cant get both the actors at the same time, is there any way i can shoot them seperately and then composite them into the scene?

has anyone done this who could give me some advice? what i would need to watch out for whilst shooting and would i roto the actors or green screen them?

any advice would be great.

Thanks, Tony
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Old February 19th, 2008, 02:50 PM   #2
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Words of advice:
  • Don't do it. It's a much greater inconvenience for you to fix it in post than it is for them to reschedule their other commitments. If you go ahead anyway...
  • ...don't make the scene timing-critical, since the actors won't have any cue. Shoot reaction shots to help smooth the cuts.
  • ...light your background evenly so you can key the actors.
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Old February 19th, 2008, 06:31 PM   #3
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well like the other poster said, if it can be avoided, do so because there are a world of things that can go wrong besides timing, like eye line.

one way is to not composite them at all. just keep the acters on the L and R on the frame and merge the 2 halves together. sure the camera might not perfectly line up if you have to take the camera down, but with some masking and warping its not that hard, and better then the green screen route I think.

another problem is eyeline. if its off, maybe some small warping can bring it back - maybe.

as for timing, if they are supposed to be having interactive dialog you simply playback the first actor's FINAL EDITED take for the second actor to play against. I've done this when mixing a live actor with a drawn cartoon character. the cartoon char had the VO recorded, completely edited, then played for the other actor. the secret is to read the 2nd actor's part as a place holder to fill out the timing if its a 2 shot. if you cut back and forth in the final edit on CU's, you can of course play with timing as needed. ideally you only use a quick establishing shot with both of them in the shot, then bounce between CU's where you can play with the edits freely.

realistically, you should get them to show up for the shoot at the same time and save yourself a ton of extra unneeded work.
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Old February 19th, 2008, 07:01 PM   #4
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First of all, storyboard it. Since you can't have a real take it's important that you pre-vizualize the shots so that you know where the camera will be. Second, create clean plates of the background. You don't need to shoot against GS as long as you have your shots pre-visualized and you a have clean plates of the background. Keep your actors on the left/right side of the frame. If you feel brave you can do some overlap but you need to have a solid storyboard for that. Use a stand-in for the missing actor. In this way the "real" actor will have a reference point. The stand-in should read the other part for the correct timing as well.

Good luck.
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Old February 20th, 2008, 01:12 PM   #5
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Realistically ... most (as in 85%+) of shots in "conversation" scenes only show a single character at a time anyway .. usually cutting between two camera angles ... which (unless it's live or live-audience TV) generally get shot separately most of the time anyway.

(optional homework .... record and watch an episode of your favorite network TV drama and count the number of shots that have more than one lead actor in clear view vs the total number of shots in the show. You'll probably be surprised at just how low the percentage is.)

You'll want at least one stand-in actor to play the "missing" roll for each shoot so the on-screen performer has a real person to converse with, but other than that, you might be able to do almost the entire scene as one-in closeups with perhaps as single split-screen establishing shot.

Even better would be to schedule the two real actors to at least overlap for 15-30 minutes on the same day so you could at least get a live-action establishing shot and maybe one or two other shots where they are genuinely together ... then shoot the rest as one-ins. It's actually not an entirely uncommon way to shoot.

So .. what exactly is the format of the show?
What exactly is the scene about? Where is it located?
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Old February 20th, 2008, 01:42 PM   #6
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I do this all the time, just yesterday actually. Use a greens screen, never roto! It's good to have them both there... but it is actually helpful to shoot them seperately in some cases. This way you can STUDY the first shoot, and know everything you need. Timing, composition, and where their eye level is. The lighting will be the trickiest part.
It WILL look fake, unless you have a bit of luck and skill. But my work is very animated so the aesthetic works for me.
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 09:42 AM   #7
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I don't know what software you're using

If you have After effects it's pretty easy. First your lighting has to be very similar then in after effects add a color adjustment layer to even the whole scene out. This can also be done to a lesser degree in Vegas and Premiere as well just add a solid do the adjustments to the solid and lower the transparency, this isn't great but it can be keyframed
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Old February 22nd, 2008, 11:35 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sherman Wing View Post
If you have After effects it's pretty easy. First your lighting has to be very similar then in after effects add a color adjustment layer to even the whole scene out. This can also be done to a lesser degree in Vegas and Premiere as well just add a solid do the adjustments to the solid and lower the transparency, this isn't great but it can be keyframed
Yeah I would recommend after effects and dv matte, makes your life a lot easier. A LOT!
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