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Old November 2nd, 2009, 01:44 AM   #1
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Shooting dialogue

Hi!

I am shooting some independent low-budget short movies. One of the problems i faced is shooting a dialogue. Is it all about repeating it three times from different angles (wide, over-shoulders)?
When to use over-shoulder and when just a talking person... How about shooting with two cameras, does anybody do it...
I would be thankful to hear some advices from you...
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Old November 11th, 2009, 12:20 AM   #2
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if you have 2 cameras then go for it, this depends exclusively on your budget and preference, but since you are starting out you really dont have a preference yet so try it out, since Im used to being the camera operator I would never shoot with 2 cameras because I NEED to see the footage Im getting to make many decisions on the spot... again it depends on you and how you work and direct

As far as close ups and over the shoulders, listen to your dialogue and then analize at what part of the dialogue you need to push the close up, look at movies (good movies of course) and notice at what moment they do the close up, it is not random it usually matches a specific moment of the dialogue
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Old November 11th, 2009, 09:14 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Patrik Vale View Post
1. Is it all about repeating it three times from different angles (wide, over-shoulders)?

2. When to use over-shoulder and when just a talking person...

3. How about shooting with two cameras, does anybody do it...
1. In certain cases, yes. There are many techniques you could use to save time and keep continuity but in certain cases, especially if the dialogue is short and the scene is sparse, then yes. And more confusingly, there are certain circumstances when you don't have to, but the quick and dirty is yes, there will be the need for repetition.

2. Hopefully, you have studied and broken down the script (or have even storyboarded) and know where the scene is going, what plot points are important, and what's the what. Your shots will come from that bit of homework. Of course, there are some happy accidents that happen on set, and if you can get the talent to recreate those instances then a OTS, or CU, or ECU, from a WS, or MS might serve you well depending on how you or you DP works. I mean think about it... In No Country for Old Men, when Chigurh is in the gas station talking to Thomas Thayer, the old man at the counter, the cuts spoke almost as clearly as the characters talking. When to show a person, and not to; when to see both, and when to focus on one; when to see an action, and when to see a reaction; these are things that you have to know before you walk on set- they are your (or the directors) choices, and they are vital and will dictate how you both shoot and edit your pieces.

3. I personally don't. In my personal opinion, as far as I am concerned, for my purposes it's cheating. Again, that's IMHO as far as I am concerned. But others can answer for themselves.
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Old December 15th, 2009, 08:13 PM   #4
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It helps tremendously to have a well structured scene already in place... complete with two turning points... don't forget... just like an entire film... individual scenes should also follow a three act structure. When the scene gets more emotional... move in on a character... ease the tension... pull out a bit. Pretty simple.
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Old December 22nd, 2009, 06:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrik Vale View Post
Hi!

I am shooting some independent low-budget short movies. One of the problems i faced is shooting a dialogue. Is it all about repeating it three times from different angles (wide, over-shoulders)?
When to use over-shoulder and when just a talking person... How about shooting with two cameras, does anybody do it...
I would be thankful to hear some advices from you...
Only three shots? Coverage often requires more than that, even with a fixed camera and just two stationary characters. Wide establishing shot, medium two-shot, outside reverse on A, inside reverse on A, outside reverse on B, inside reverse on B .... etc etc
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Old December 26th, 2009, 07:26 PM   #6
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Hi Patrik. re the 2 camera question I have recently been working with that setup but only because one of the projects was improvised performance based and couldn't be repeated and the other was a documentary style thing. The major problem for me was lighting - two cameras from two different angles basically meant restricting angles so that no rigging/stands etc were in shot and lighting so that it would work for both setups, which meant compromises to the look of each. It was do-able, and the result was quite OK but from an esthetic point of view the quality definately suffered. If you are looking for quality rather than speed I would certainly go with one camera where you can compose each shot and get the best angle/composition/art direction and lighting for each setup
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Old February 5th, 2010, 01:11 AM   #7
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Patrik,

Okay, this is sort of filmmaking 101. Yes, it's mostly about getting coverage. Do your mastershot and get it over with. Don't shoot until you get a perfect one. Get a handful and move on to coverage. Give your editor as many options as you can. Over the shoulder, close up and medium shot on each of them all the way through the scene. Don't edit in your head. Do the scene the whole way through each time with both actors engaged and doing their roles. You want the actor who isn't on camera to be sure to feed the actor who is on camera with a lot of energy. No sleepwalking through their lines just because the camera isn't focused on them. If your actors have memorized their lines (I fire anyone who isn't off book two weeks before I shoot - I won't waste a minute of set time on someone who doesn't have their lines down cold) and have rehearsed them, this doesn't need to be an enormously time consuming process.

Now, hitting the beats. One of the shortcomings of most indie films is that they have no moments - one of the things that Spielberg does so effortlessly. Take a look at your script and figure out the places in the dialogue where the action shifts. A woman is talking to her husband's secretary, and the secretary asks a question about the husband. During the course of answering the secretary, the wife realizes the two of them are having an affair. Now that action shifts mid-sentence, but she's going to finish what she started to say before the realization. Got that? Where ever there is a beat, you must punctuate it - either with either a camera movement or an audio cue. Also, you should have nailed this down with your actor beforehand, and have them hit the beat in their performance as well. Hire good actors and they'll tell you where the beats are and they'll know how to hit them.

Shooting with two cameras makes blocking much more complex. Don't do it until you're actually good at making films.
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Old March 26th, 2010, 04:50 PM   #8
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Like others have said, 2 camera setup restricts you immensely, I only use 2 cameras if I can the main shot I want in addition to another angle that I could use. In my current feature length, I used the 2 camera setup for one scene in a lobby, it was big enough where I had a camera on the 3rd floor looking down and then hid the second camera in the artificial trees on the first floor to get a cool low angle.

If you already have a second camera, have a buddy use it to record your film production so you can go back and make a documentary reel along bloopers. I find that it makes the actors and everyone involved remember the good times and will remind them how much fun it is to make it when you ask them to make another movie.
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Old April 5th, 2010, 06:51 AM   #9
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If you're asking these questions then I'm assuming you really don't want to do many takes of the same action.

Try to rehearse the performance and block for a one-take scene. This will get the acting to really stand out - but will also show any flaws immediately if it's anything less than good. You could use a dolly to change perspectives. Talk to your DP for suggestions.

Sticking to two cameras has the disadvantage of not being able to light correctly. You'll need more equipment and more time to set it up. Then why not just go with one camera, less equipment and do each take separately? Cost-wise it's the same, but the latter is way less complex.
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