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Sony HVR-A1 and HDR-HC Series
Sony's latest single-CMOS additions to their HDV camcorder line.

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Old October 11th, 2007, 03:02 PM   #1
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Shooting with HC1

I've been experimenting with shooting in my back yard and have run into a problem I wasn't expecting - angles. How does one decide exactly where to place the camera? Obviously that is highly subjective as it essentially comes down to a matter of personal choice, but I think there are some guidelines people can offer.

The scene - my 7yo son is acting the part of someone not having a good day. He's sitting out by our small pond pouting/sulking/wanting to be alone. A CGI character fades in to his right and offers advice, etc.

Background will be blue screen

My thought was to shoot from about 12' at about 10 o'clock if my son facing dead on is 12 o'clock for the "wide" shot, putting my son on the right of view and the CGI character to the left. But I am unsure whether to shoot level or to put the camera somewhat high so as to capture part of the waterfall and pond. Thoughts?

For the "close ups" I'll move the camera to about the 1 o'clock position. But this will have him looking to his right at the CGI character. Should that be okay, or should I try to move the camera to the CGI character POV? Or somewhere else?

This is my first attempt at actually creating a scene.

Apologies if this is the wrong place to ask.
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Old October 11th, 2007, 05:21 PM   #2
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Well, the real way to do it is "all of the above." You always shoot any scripted material from a variety of angles so you have more to work with in editing. This is called "coverage."

So for any shot of two people talking -- real or imagined -- you shoot wide, medium and close shots, POV from both angles, and some high and some low. Generally in dialogue scenes you start with wider shots and get closer and closer as the conversation progresses, if this is appropriate. And if the conversation ends on a pensive or final note, you could cut back to the wide shot at the end.

But you're right, it's really a matter of personal taste. Just remember that the more shots you have the easier it is to get out of a jam in the edit suite...
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Old October 11th, 2007, 07:48 PM   #3
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Hi Adam,

Many thanks for the input.

I originally intended to open with a real high shot from my roof looking straight down and then introduce shots from different angles. The past couple of days I've been checking angles (and cutting weeds around the pond as appropriate) and started noticing that a shot from this spot would look nice...but so would a shot from this spot, and so on. I then wondered if I was thinking of too many shots and that it would just be a mess. Hence my question - I wasn't sure if it was "cover all the bases" or "keep it simple, stupid" (and I guess even that depends on what kind of outcome I'd be looking for).

As Mr. Burns would say, "Excellent."

Again, thank you.
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Old October 12th, 2007, 01:12 PM   #4
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Best thing to do is become very observant about how popular shows are shot/cut. Observe how and when cuts happen. Count from one to ten and see how it takes before the camera changes, and why. Is it timed to dialogue so you always face the one talking? Is it timed to an event? Is the viewer supposed to be in the room, involved in some way, or at a distance?

Remember that the camera represents the viewers, and they don't have the exteraneous locations information that you as the shooter will have. That is, they only know the location from what is seen through the camera. You may have to shoot extra scenes to set up the location and let them know where they are. Be careful in moving at extremes as you'll lose them, or make them think your shoot just changed location mid-stream.

Camera placement can also determine the mood of the viewers. If you place the camera at angles that most folks are not accustomed to being themselves, you will make them feel uneasy (such as looking over the edge of the roof vs. outside the second story window. Same angle, but one is safe and confortable, the other is not). Unless that's what your shooting for.

To recap, the camera is the viewer, with their eyes fixed forward.
Pete Ferling It's never a mistake if you learn something new from it.
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Old October 13th, 2007, 10:05 AM   #5
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Thanks Pete. Good advice. In watching movies in particular, I've often come away with more of a "feeling" than anything concrete. There are exceptions - the jerky, in your face stuff that's popular now, to me, is a load of bollocks - that is definitely a look I want to avoid. But there are other movies which, technically, seem very similar to each other, and yet I feel more "satisfied" with one over another, but I'm not quite sure why. One might seem more visually appealing for some reason. It's the "some reason" I'm trying to figure out. Perhaps the subtle differences between one movie and another is adding to my confusion - I should pick a sample of movies I particularly like and do as you suggest.

My "from the roof" shot - I'm wanting to attach the camera to a boom and thus have it directly overhead pointing down. Given what you said about the camera being the eyes of the audience, I don't know if this shot will make no sense - my thinking is that it will give a sense of loneliness to the shot - if I can get high enough so the shot is wide enough, it should add to the emotion I'm trying to create. Or I could be completely wrong (wouldn't be the first time). I might end up shooting through tree branches, if I move the shot slightly.

I'm just a wee bit excited about this project. Thank you much for the input!
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