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Old August 29th, 2012, 05:19 PM   #1
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What is principal photography?

I have just subscribe to American Cinematographer and a lot of time they talk about principal photography. Can some one explain what this is? I google it and it seems just like the production phase of filmmaking. But why is it call principal photography and not maybe production or principal filming?
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Old August 29th, 2012, 06:57 PM   #2
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Re: What is principal photography?

I'm not entirely sure. Photography seems to be the term for filming something. Director of photography for example.
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Old August 29th, 2012, 07:12 PM   #3
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Re: What is principal photography?

Victor, remember when you were at school in photography class, holding the camera upside down and the principal grabbed it,
clipped you over the ear and showed you how take some shots ..?

That's principal photography :)

No no, it's the photograhy as determined by the script, versus additional shots taken at the time to give the editors more to work with. I could be mistaken there.

Cheers.
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Old August 29th, 2012, 08:35 PM   #4
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Re: What is principal photography?

Victor, the production process for film making is broken into three major segments, pre-production, production, and post production. Principle Photography is the main part of what goes on during the production phase. It is the basically when your cameras are rolling and you are shooting the major elements of the script. You can think of it as shooting all of the lines of the script, getting the major cutaways and pickup shots. It's what all of the pre-producttion leads up to.

Once you go into principle photography, the clock really starts ticking. That's when your costs start to add up quickly. rental of gear, paying your crew, rental of locations, etc. all get accumulated during principle photography. Then, once you wrap principal photography, you go into post production. You may still have some special FX to do, some voice over, and sound design to do.

BTW, American Cinematographer is a great resource. Keep every issue, if you are in filmmaking you'll be referring to back issues decades from now.
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Old August 30th, 2012, 12:50 AM   #5
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Re: What is principal photography?

yeah I love American Cinematography. I actually bought 19 back issues copy because they were on sale for $1 each. Any other magazines you would recommend? Thank you for clarifying on principal photography.
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Old August 30th, 2012, 02:23 AM   #6
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Re: What is principal photography?

To clarify the above: principal photography is the scheduled body of the shoot, which may contain simultaneous 2nd units, action units, splinter units etc. Once principal is wrapped, those units may still be required, but they are general referred to as pickups (or reshoots, as the case may be). Often those will be scheduled once the edit is mostly complete, so that it is possible to define the work based on what is specifically required.
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