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Old May 12th, 2010, 02:38 PM   #16
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You guys are right... my memory of cameras having letters does come from multi-cam film (i.e. sitcoms [Happy Days, Cheers, Taxi... yeah I'm old...])...

And I was going to bring up the point about dialogue on stage, where you'd replace the solo performer with two actors sort-of facing each other but cheating out to the audience, in which case you'd be cutting from one side to the other with the dialogue... and then basically apply that same technique to musicians, dancers, etc,. Even though it may be a change of screen direction in terms of eyelines, it still seems to me it's not crossing the line in a classic sense of it being disorienting.

But then again, Shaun knows more than I do about practically everything...
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Old May 13th, 2010, 01:08 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Edward Carlson View Post
Shaun, I've been taught that playback gets letters and cameras get numbers. I've never heard of decks getting colors, but that's certainly a possibility.
TV studios, arenas (at least the four I've worked in...) and remote trucks here use colours for playback. NEVER heard letters but I've only worked in Canada on lives...
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Old May 13th, 2010, 01:16 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Shaun Roemich View Post
it is still reversing screen direction, thereby contrary to the 180 "rule"
Thanks for the diagram. By my quick calculation your cameras are around 165 degrees apart - thereby NOT contrary to the 180 degree rule and so NOT crossing the line. A cut from A to B is comprehensively not wrong and is done all the time. It is not reversing screen direction, it is merely taking the opposite view - there's a big difference in those two statements.

A GENUINE example of "crossing the line" would be to imagine a football match where cameras are placed on the opposite side of the pitch from each other. When the ball is kicked from one camera it appears to travel from left to right, but when the second camera is taken it suddenly is traveling from right to left. You sometimes see this in horse racing coverage when the director is too late switching from the last turn close-up to the final straight long shot.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 01:18 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Edward Carlson View Post
The 180 line is now along the stage, not along the actor's eye line.
The 180 Rule is designed to keep screen direction the same. In the case I diagrammed, which admittedly is a poor example, as soon as you cut from A to B, you've reversed screen direction IF there is anything in frame that "gives it away".

Cutting WWE/WWF Wrestling live to inhouse video boards is the hardest lesson I ever had to learn: the handheld camera guy ringside would follow the action and I had to keep straight in my head WHICH WAY to send him to maintain directional continuity against my hard cameras. Again, with action "on stage", it is much more critical to get screen direction "right".

And with regard to entertainment lives, NORMALLY you have more cameras to "play with" so you'll cut from a stage left shot to an overhead jib move to a high angle balcony cam and then MAYBE to a stage right shot so that the viewer gets an idea of the space and can then "visualize" where the camera that they are viewing is situated. The effect is much more pronounced when you have a limited number of performers on stage AND you are unable to vary the framing much between camera angles.

In the diagram I supplied, IF I NEEDED TO cut from Cam A to Cam B, I would have Cam A in a medium shot or tighter and have B in a long shot to show the space and thereby lessen the effect of the jump cut. A medium shot on A cut against a medium shot on B is WRONG, at least in technical terms. And you are HIGHLY unlikely to see ANY seasoned switcher/editor make that edit decision UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY OR he/she is TRYING to create a disjointed effect visually.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 01:21 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Chris Jeremy View Post
Thanks for the diagram. By my quick calculation your cameras are around 165 degrees apart - thereby NOT contrary to the 180 degree rule and so NOT crossing the line.
The 180 rule has nothing to do with the degrees between cameras - it is an imaginary line that, when crossed, causes the action and/or screen direction to become reversed, as seen in my diagram.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 11:51 AM   #21
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Nice diagram Shaun, you should be an artist :). I work on lots of mobiles and in Canada VTR's go by colours. When I work on American Splits for hockey some directors use colours some use letters and some use both. It isn't uncommon to have gold, silver, brown and X, Y, A and B I'm glad I'm a camera guy I'm always a number.
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Old May 13th, 2010, 12:34 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Calvin Bellows View Post
I'm glad I'm a camera guy I'm always a number.
"I am NOT a number! I am a free man!"
-The Prisoner
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Old May 13th, 2010, 11:38 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Shaun Roemich View Post
The 180 rule has nothing to do with the degrees between cameras - it is an imaginary line that, when crossed, causes the action and/or screen direction to become reversed, as seen in my diagram.
The rule is actually called "the 180 DEGREE rule" - what do you think the 180 stands for? - and relates to the angles upon which cameras are placed in relation to a base line. Think of a protractor.

And yes, it is an imaginary line past which action would appear reversed (as I pointed out in my last post about football and horse racing). As Edward correctly pointed out, in the case in question the "imaginary line" is the line of the front of the stage, so in the OP (and your diagram) no cameras are crossing it so no crossing the line has taken place because all three cameras are on the same side of that line.

And yes, wrestling (and boxing) are both examples (like the horse racing problem) where you can get yourself to cross the line by following the action a little too far and if you compare it to the present discussion, your "ringside camera" would be "Cam B" and he would cross the line if he moved a few paces to his right and crossed the line of the front of the stage. However, as it stands, no crossing of the line takes place.

I'm quite sure we could argue this point for the next few years and nobody could persuade you that you are confusing "crossing the line" with a purely artistic opinion about shooting patterns. It reminds me of a director I worked for when I was a broadcast television cameraman (about forty years ago!) who always confused the term "headroom", which made for some strange framing in her productions!
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Old May 14th, 2010, 01:09 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Chris Jeremy View Post
I'm quite sure we could argue this point for the next few years and nobody could persuade you that you are confusing "crossing the line" with a purely artistic opinion about shooting patterns.
Reason being I am NOT incorrect in this regard and IMHO, the "imaginary line" is NOT generated at the front of the stage, but is meant to emulate the viewpoint of a person seated in the audience and their viewpoint. As well, the "line" is "reset" whenever there is "neutral" screen direction involving the subject(s) in frame, which allows for cutting back and forth between A to C to B to C to A... without disturbing visual continuity ASSUMING the subject is FACING camera C in my "diagram".
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Old May 14th, 2010, 11:11 AM   #25
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Two cameras left and right of the stage following an dancer upstage going downstage, does look 'wrong' when you cut halfway along, when they were going screen left to screen right, then suddenly screen right to left, but in practice we do this because we have to, and it works. If we were doing a race or football game, then it doesn't work - because we've wrecked the 'journey' sequence. On stage, with plenty of movement, it's the movement itself that makes a dance exciting - it still looks good. This crossing of the line, which it still really is, only impacts when we attempt to follow an individual. When we cut across the centre line then it takes a moment to get oriented and find an individual in the group.
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Old May 14th, 2010, 01:26 PM   #26
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180 degree rule - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

YouTube - Moviemaking Techniques180 Degree Rule

Cinematography, 180 degree rule - Film School Online

Crossing the Line
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Old May 15th, 2010, 04:04 PM   #27
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Radical suggestion

FWIW I err on the side of Shaun here but not entirely. This is based more as viewer than on theory (and not in practice as I've only ever used one camera). TV shows will tend not to flip from side to side whilst looking at the stage though do do it on occasion. However they do very commonly have angles from the stage looking out to the audience though still on the same side as cameras pointing at the stage (e.g. talent shows - view the 'talent' from the audience perspective then cut back from behind him to see the judges reaction with audience behind them). This would place 'the line' down the centre of the auditorium not along the stage. Mind you if it was a staged drama this would never happen of course and cameras L and R of the stage would be more logical to capture the action, so it really does depend.

Having said that as viewers we are so used to the set up of a theatre that almost anything will work in my view if done carefully as we will adjust our perspective automatically and not get confused, so it is a special circumstance.

So going back to Tom's question I would somewhat radically suggest camera A in Shaun's diagram be placed at the back / side of the stage somehow, on the same side of the theatre as camera B and angled across the stage towards the audience!

Probably a stupid idea though.

Last edited by Geoffrey Cox; May 15th, 2010 at 04:05 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old May 30th, 2010, 12:54 AM   #28
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Going back to the number of cameras, we cover stage concerts quite regularly and always use a minimum of four cameras, six if we have the options of floor and balcony from the sides. The key cameras are co-located in the centre/front of the balcony, one wide and probably locked off, the other with a very long telephoto.

More importantly for the variety in editing, if you're recording pros and there's a dress rehearsal we always put cameras (often hand held) on the stage for rear-to-front and extreme close up shots.

In the precise sense of multicam editing these aren't in sync but most pros have been doing their songs etc for so long they hold sync for long period of time - certainly long enough to be able to insert extreme close-ups into a WS or MS from the balcony to make for interesting edits. That way you can end up conveying the impression there were up to 12 cameras on the job.
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Old May 30th, 2010, 06:21 AM   #29
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It's great to discover so many different techniques. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to relate your methods. You've given us techniques and suggestions that can't be found in most books ,(if any), on the subject.
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Old May 30th, 2010, 09:45 AM   #30
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While the classic cinema narrative 'line' is typically established in a relationship between two character's viewpoints. (Keep Person A on left of frame, Keep person B on right) - and keep movement consistent - if a character moves left to right in the chase, keep them moving left to right unless you establish a 'neutral' shot IE Moving directly toward/away from camera, where you can establish their change of direction.

In documentary/stage/sports and ENG situations - this is not always possible or even necessary. I often shoot concerts live with three or four cameras ranged across the front of the stage - the 'line' being drawn from stage left to right. In closeups, actors/musicians might be looking either screen left or screen right, depending on their location on stage - I do try to use a 'neutral' center wide shot to help keep the orientation fresh in the audience's mind - but it's not always possible for fast cutting. Additionally I often have a camera in the back of an orchestra, shooting the conductor. This obviously, is crossing the 'line' established along the apron. But today's audience is sophisticated enough to understand what they are watching. Pro sports will sometimes slug a shot "Reverse angle" if the camera is across the field from the announcer's position. People understand that the players are now running in the opposite direction.

The language of film and compositional approach has altered dramatically. Recall that in early film, it was unthinkable to shoot a closeup - for fear the audience would be 'confused' by a head without a body. Let alone MOVING the camera, or even PANNING it. But as techniques change and evolve - the audience learns to adapt. I still get frustrated by 'verite shake' of handheld techniques, but it has come to be expected as a more 'real' look, however carefully contrived it is.

Last week, I was watching an episode of NCIS - there was a very personal dialog scene between two characters - and the camera kept jumping back and forth across the line. I mean they were OBVIOUSLY breaking the line to make a point. Sometimes the closeups had the heads on the same side of the screen, sometimes on opposite sides, without an 'establishing' shot between to orient the viewer. I was very annoyed by this - and turned to my wife. "Did you notice anything weird about that scene?" "No, I mean, it was really well acted, they have great writers... what did you mean?" - Never mind.

Of course, one must know the rules, and know them well, in order to 'break' them.
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