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Old August 16th, 2010, 08:53 PM   #1
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Multicam Crew Communication Question

How r u guys communicating during multicam shoots? Walkie Talkies with an earpiece? Been experiencing the need to establish comms sometimes during church ceremonies (big churches especially) We have 3 shooters and calling on the mobile is not the best way since everyone is on silence.

This is for crucial requirements only when there are intervals/singing, etc. Or do you guys just depend on workflow entirely?
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Old August 16th, 2010, 10:05 PM   #2
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for now I depend on just hoping everybody knows what to do and when. but lately I have been thinking that it might be a good idea to establish communication and confirm what everybody is doing during the shoot. Right now its purely based on shot list, experience, and "gut" but with DSLRs now I'm thinking we need to communicate so we all know who is shooting, who is near the end of their 12 minutes, and who is focusing.
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Old August 16th, 2010, 10:21 PM   #3
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I use Motorola radios with earpieces (the secret agent style ones, very cool) and they work well. I got the earpieces from eBay for $2 each. I would really love an RTS system, but they are way too expensive.
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Old August 16th, 2010, 11:22 PM   #4
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I use hand signals. There are only two of us, so that makes it easier. I just point to what I want him to shoot, then have a single-hand signal for wide, medium, tight, two shot, three shot, etc. I let the framing be his discretion. We also make sure the other one is set before we move our own cameras. I have a cover shot just in case, but I want to make sure I have one of the primaries set before the other one moves.

Hope that helps!
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Old August 16th, 2010, 11:52 PM   #5
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Generally we (my wife and I) know pretty much what the other is doing especially at crucial moments eg rings, vows etc eg when the bride is making her vows I'm tight on her face, my wife has a two shot of the groom's face and the back of the bride.

However, we also have a radio controlled camera at the back of the church which I control and so have some security.

If we have time we shoot usable transitions but if we are forced to make snap changes there's a chance we'll both be doing so at the same time in which case we go to the 3rd camera in the edit. Snap changes are the most demanding because you must know your camera and precisely the shot you're going to. Taking two or three bites to get there is not good enough.

Since we can operate all three cameras remotely if necessary - not ideal because no remote system (we could afford) is as good as a cameraman, we have a second control box with video feeds from all three cameras. If I wanted to see what the other two cameras were taking I could use the control box simply as a viewing unit. Certainly less disruptive than other comms systems.

In general I'd recommend you always use the same crew who'll soon understand how each works and always have a fall back in a third camera even if it isn't on a hothead or remotely controlled.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 12:04 AM   #6
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On my last wedding I tried using walkie talkie with a handsfree. It's pretty useful but also annoying sometimes, you gotta understand the situation of each other and consider that sometimes you need two hands to operate the camera (especially when using DSLR+monopod/steadicam).

Also, when you are using a RODE mic, you would want to keep your voice away as you could accidentally record yourself.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 10:16 AM   #7
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We do use hand signals sometimes but that needs some kinda drills to get it well enforced. I tink Philips example is great. Will use that as a primary means and get a walkie talkie sys as a secondary.

Johannes, that's a good point on the 2 hands to operate issue!
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Old August 17th, 2010, 04:01 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip Howells View Post
In general I'd recommend you always use the same crew who'll soon understand how each works
Bingo!

No walkie talkies here, but we have a 'hands free' policy. We keep the hands off the camera at all times, and do not touch it again unless everyone else's hands are off of their cameras. This guarantees no more than one camera is moving at a time.

We have also worked together on a ton of weddings and have a solid routine in place. I know when everyone else is going to move, who gets what stylistic shots and when, and other little nuances that you don't understand unless you've shot with the same people multiple times.

Of course, there is still a considerable amount of planning that goes into every ceremony. Each venue, couple, and service has something unique about it, but when you consistently work together you get a really good idea of what's going through everyone else's heads.

It's funny, because "don't move the camera unless everyone else has their hands off" is a really simple concept, but it took a few goes to get it exactly right. Now, I'm very confident in myself and the rest of the team that when we wrap up, we have at least one good angle at all times.
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Old August 17th, 2010, 10:41 PM   #9
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Matthew's technique is an interesting one though if hands-off is meant literally, I assume that means that all the cameras are balanced perfectly and that focus is on auto.

I have to admit that at least the camera that's used on a Fig Rig for the arrival of the bride at the door and which is rushed into its tripod position whilst the vicar pauses the bride at the door, rarely get's balanced accurately - as well as disconnecting it from the supply control on the Fig, taking it off the QR on the Fig and on to the tripod, I'm changing the CF card, hooking up the tripod supply connector and changing to an indoor white balance preset - it's just too much of a rush. Hands off for me under those conditions would mean locking off and that means any change of line up is preceded by the movement of unlocking the head - or maybe I'm just clumsy.

The other thing is that both my wife and I use manual focus throughout and I suppose the instinct is to keep your hands near if not on the focus ring. But it's an interesting idea.
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Old August 18th, 2010, 07:37 AM   #10
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Just to clarify, hands off is literal, but there is still movement. We just check to make sure that no-one else is making any moves. For example, I can reframe and/or refocus five times a minute if I had to, as long as no-one else was touching the camera. During the vows, If I am shooting from the side, I could go from a wider shot and then quickly zoom in quickly to a close up of the brides face because I look at the middle aisle and see a camera without any hands on it. Then, as soon as my focus is set, hands off, and the operator in the middle aisle knows that they can move.

It's just a visual indicator that "I'm not moving, go ahead and reframe/refocus/level the tripod/etc.

During the processional this becomes troublesome, but at least we know what everyone is covering. One is shooting straight down the aisle, one is coming in from behind on a Steadicam, and one is off to the side getting the groom's reactions. It's not possible to be "hands off" when you're on a monopod in the middle of the aisle, or on a Steadicam in front of the church, but we always have a unmanned cam wide so if we wanted to do a full realtime edit of the processional, we could do so without any movement.
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Old August 18th, 2010, 07:45 AM   #11
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My crew and I do the same as Matthew. We learned from Ray Roman about the hands off policy. It really helps a ton in the edit bay to know that you never have to worry that both cameras are setting up at the same time. Other than the hands off policy, we use hand signals, plus it helps to work with the same people consistently.
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