Filmmaking 101 Questions...

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Dome Vongvises, Mar 11, 2004.

  1. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    I have bad threads, but I think this one will be an interesting resource for younger folks:

    1. What's the miniature camera-thingy directors and DOP's use?
    - I've watched the docs on Brazil and seen some Spielberg docs where the directors hold around a little camera that looks like the thing you see golfers use on the course. What exactly is it called and how is it used?

    2. When Fullscreen or Pan 'n' Scan is released, who's responsible for the composition?
    - I would imagine a DOP or director would be too pissed to work on it. If I directed a film, and I knew my film would get released pan 'n' scan, I'd purposefully fuck up the composition even further.

    3. What exactly is a "daily"?
    - Is that the reel of film that was shot that day?

    4. During conversation shoots, are there two cameras going at the same time, or are the dialogue scenes shot from one end, then shot from another, and edited together later to create the illusion of conversation?
    - And yes, I do think of these things in the middle of class.

    I'll think of more later. Hopefully, there's at least one filmmaker on this board.
     
  2. WillG

    WillG Producer

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    I'm not a filmmaker, but I'll give some of it a shot.

    Can't answer question 1

    For question 2 I would imagine it's the person who does the telecine transfers or something close to that. I think sometimes the Director or D.P. oversees the transfer. For example, I believe James Cameron has been known to personally oversee some full screen transfers of his Super35 films.

    Question 3: You pretty much have the gist of it, I think

    Question 4: I believe that during those conversation shoots that both sides are recoded separately and then edited together. But, I'm not sure that is necessarily how it is done in all cases. But that is what I gathered from some on set footage I have seen.
     
  3. Mike Williams

    Mike Williams Screenwriter

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    In conversation shots, USUALLY there is a MASTER SHOT, which shows both people in the composition at once; then CLOSE-UPS of each person are shot, and USUALLY these are all shot separately. People do 15 takes of a scene, NOT because they keep flubbing their lines, but because there is usually one camera and you have to keep doing the scene over and over so that all the angles are covered.

    Action sequences are usually shot with many cameras at once.
     
  4. ThomasEdison

    ThomasEdison Extra

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    I think the 'camera-thingy' is a lens the directors look through to let them know what the shot will look like through a camera's widescreen lens.
     
  5. ToddP

    ToddP Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't know what it's called, or if it even has a specific name. It's not a camera though. I believe it is a lens of some sort, and it's used to frame a shot. It's so the director can see the framing of the shot without looking through the camera all the time.
     
  6. Chad Ferguson

    Chad Ferguson Supporting Actor

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    For question number 4: It's a tough question to answer cause it all depends on style, types of shots, how close are you to the axis, etc... I think that all comes down to time, budget, and just choice. So yes, it can be done with a camera(s) or either side or for more pratical lighting set ups, Cameras just on one side, then turn around and same from the other side. On the opposite note though, look at some stuff by Oliver Stone where the camera is everywhere and anywhere. Only the tired out Crew knows how many set ups actaully happened there. Or just do it the PTA way and do a oner. Sorry if I got off track but I hope that anwsers your question somewhat.
    Thank you
     
  7. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    Anybody else is free to ask questions too. [​IMG]

    Thanks for the response.

    Question 5:
    What's the technology behind a Steadi-Cam?
     
  8. Haggai

    Haggai Producer

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    It depends, but I guess they usually shoot one end and then the other. Like in a scene where two people are on the opposite sides of a door-frame, or looking up/down at each other through a window, obviously you can't have two cameras pointing in opposite directions in those cases.

    I was just watching the commentary on the Amadeus Director's Cut DVD last night, and they talk about having two cameras for the climactic scene where Mozart is sick in bed, composing the Requiem, with Salieri taking dictation at the foot of the bed. For that scene, each of the two actors had a camera filming him. From the way Milos Forman talked about it on the commentary, and the way Tom Hulce talked about it on the documentary, you could tell that it was a pretty unusual circumstance that allowed them to film that way--as they point out on the commentary, that scene is all about the music building up on the soundtrack, with both characters pretty much sitting in the same place all the way through. Forman and Hulce both talked about how much they enjoyed doing the scene that way, since Hulce and F. Murray Abraham could react to/play off each other with ALL of it ending up on film the FIRST time.
     
  9. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    1)Already answered by several people

    2)No idea—but I very much doubt that many serous films are made with a view as to how they will look in a 4:3 composition.

    3)Very well covered already. I would add that most shoots now include a simultaneous video that can be used before film is processed. In fact, most sets will include a monitor or two for use by the director, DP, assistant directors and such to determine on the spot if the results are as desired. Correction and retakes can be made right then. In this scenario, dailies are used to make sure that what is captured on film is what was seen on the video. This is because video has a different exposure latitude (how much of the difference between dark and bright is captured) and depth of field than 35mm. There are several stories about mistakes that were made in these areas due to over-dependence on the videos.

    4) All right, Mr. De Mille, I'm ready for my close-ups. Also covered very well. I would add that one of the reasons for not using multiple cameras is lighting. Often the DP wants a particular look for each actor (the other’s POV), which is hard to achieve with multiple cameras taking the same shot. There are a lot of stories here too—one of the most legendary was during the I couda’ been a contender speech in On the Waterfront. The story goes that Kazan filmed the master with both Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger. Steiger then stayed around to give Brando his lines for Brando’s close-up takes (a common practice was for a script girl to read the lines), as he knew this was a crucial scene and wanted to give Brando every chance to nail it. When it came time to shoot Steiger, Brando took the rest of the day off.

    5)Gyroscopes
     
  10. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    4) After his early films, Kurosawa almost always shot with 2 cameras and would film simultaneously as described in the Amadeus example. Sometimes he would use tele-photo and wide-angle lenses so he could get his master and close ups in one take. There are stories of him using as many as 8 cameras at once. How he kept multiple cameras out of each others way and got the lighting right I have no idea, but then, he was a genius and had great cinematographers and technicians.

    Most do it the master, close-up, close-up way, but its really a stylistic choice for the director to make.
     
  11. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Brook’s mention of Kurosawa shooting with eight cameras reminded me that Lars von Trier used up to 100 in some of the sequences in Dancer in the Dark. The dance sequence with the train is an example of that kind of use. I think maybe the music to that was the I’ve Seen It All number, but I could well be wrong.

    In any case most of those cameras were set up beforehand and they just shot what they were aimed at. The editing process put everything together in a coherent fashion.
     
  12. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    Oooh,
    Going to your friend and mine, The Internet® , I was able to find some good info. Some of the rest is conjecture by me.

    1. I believe that is called a viewfinder. I was reading a book set in 1940's Hollywood and it's a bit of a plot point. Again, I think it is used primarily for composition of shots without setting up an actual camera.

    4. I think it's all up to the director. Some may like to capture the conversation in whole without losing the interaction. I've seen some outtakes and alternate takes where the offcamera actor recites the lines very flatly, so it may not get as much positive collaboration as you'd find when both actors are really going at it.

    However, I'd imagine (as has been stated) lighting would be a real pain.

    5. On the Steadicam, this faq was the most straight forward one that I could find, including ascii art, which makes me nostaligic for old newsgroup faqs.

    Of note, they almost never use gyroscopes! They mainly use simple mechanical actions to get the correct effect.

    The movie Aliens gets a lot of mileage on steadicams considering their pulse cannons are mounted on them. It gives you a great opportunity to see them in action in ways you rarely get to.
     
  13. Jason Harbaugh

    Jason Harbaugh Cinematographer

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    *edit* Looks like Alex Spindler beat me to it. [​IMG]
    Actually no. Steadicam's do not have gyroscopes. The Steadicam works in three ways: 1) it isolates the camera from all but the largest movements of the operator, 2) it spreads the mass of the camera to increase resistance to rotation, and 3) it brings the **center of gravity** outside of the camera to where the operator can manipulate it directly.

    You can't just buy a steadicam, slap your camera on it and expect it to remove all your movements because it won't. You have to be very skilled inorder to opperate one of these. Learning ballet or tae kwon doe will help immensly.

    I actually just finished my very own steadicam for my miniDV camera. Works great, cost roughly $30 to make and takes lots of practice.
     
  14. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Jason and Alex, I sit corrected. My source was the commentary on the Das Boot DVD, where it was stated (and probably someone will correct me here, also) the action scenes in the sub were taken with a camera steadied by gyroscopes. The noise of the motor meant that all of the dialogue had to be done in post production.

    Obviously things have changed since that film was made way back in 1981.
     
  15. Alex Spindler

    Alex Spindler Producer

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    I don't think its actually incorrect, just that it is only for specialized situations are actual gyroscopes used. THe link I read mentioned that the weight of the batteries required to run them was also a deterrent.

    Fascinating stuff.
     
  16. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    And the example that came to my mind is certainly very specialized. A cameraman running through the sub, following the crew as they hurry to their stations, having to duck through the compartment doors and so forth is not your routine requirement.
     
  17. Jason Harbaugh

    Jason Harbaugh Cinematographer

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    You would be surprised at what a good steadicam opperator is capable of. Not saying that is the case but you never know. [​IMG]
     
  18. Chad R

    Chad R Cinematographer

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    Dailies are usually of the previous day's shoot, since it has to go to the lab and be processed overnight. However, with digital cameras they can now look at the current day's footage.

    Even with monitors for a director to watch, dailies are still necessary to check that the actual film contains what they want, and that there is no damage to the actual film.
     
  19. JohnRice

    JohnRice Lead Actor

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    That never occurred to me! Those definitely look like the mechanism from a Steadicam.

    BTW, any kind of steadicam type of thing really is very difficult to work with. It would be great if they did use gyros, but as has been mentioned, that would make them even heavier than they are, which is pretty heavy.

    For an example of gyro systems, check out a Tom Tykwer movie (Princess and the Warrior or Heaven) for the Space Cam shots. In fact, there is a short feature on the Heaven DVD.
     
  20. Chris_Richard

    Chris_Richard Supporting Actor

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    I'll throw out a question that comes up every year at Oscar time and I just give a blank stare when asked. I think we are up to question 6.

    6) What is the difference between Sound Editing & Sound Mixing? Can someone explain what each job is with an example from film? (I’ll apologize if this has been asked and answered somewhere else.)
     

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