Calling all professional filmmakers... need help with shots

upsguy27

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jun 25, 2007
1,198
16
Utah
I'm (re)filming my first short film this weekend, and I wanted some advice on how to do it. My first shoot didn't go so well, or at least I think so. My movie is a zombie movie. I've got all of the actors set, and a lot of extras. I have a great location (a run-down building), and good equipment (Canon GL2, boom mic). The thing I'm terrible at is shot composition.

What is the best way to shoot talking scenes? Specifically, one of my scenes is one character talking to a group of four, with about 5 feet of room between the two. I've never shot a talking scene before, so I have no clue what I'm doing.

Should I shoot one side of the conversation, then the other?

This question applies to any scene in my movie: Should I have the characters go through the same scene multiple times while I film from different angles, then edit them together later? Is this how films accomplish this?

I don't want to have one shot for too long, at the risk of it getting boring. I know about the rule of thirds and all that, but is that the best way to get interesting shots (filming the same scene multiple times from different angles)?

For the boom mic, should I have my operator hold it at an angle to the person's mouth? What about wind? When I shot last there was a lot of wind and it sounded terrible. Any way to reduce this?

Finally, do you guys have any general advice for me? If I think of any more questions I'll post them. Thanks.
 

powerhouse7

macrumors regular
Oct 21, 2009
132
0
Canberra, Australia
First thing about shot composition is worrying about what you are actually putting into the frame (mise-en-scene) as apposed to how your going to shoot. I would really suggest looking at cinematography websites before you start. Go to photography websites and look up composition and design. Photography composition is exactly the same as film. Also, think about high and low camera angles (if you look down on your subject, the audience has power over the subject and vice versa).

With filming, if you don't have more than one camera you MUST shoot the same scene multiple times. A good thing to do is a storyboard. Go through your script and draw the shots you want for each scene then when it comes to filming, you just keep shooting the same scene until you have every angle you could possible want (remember, its always to better to shoot more footage than less - on average you need 4 times more footage than the final product); then edit it together to make it look like one shoot. Be care with continuity though when shooting multiple times - don't go moving your actors or set between shoots or when you cut it together it will look odd (eg. from one angle, an apple is on one side of a table, then the next shot, its on the other)

Lastly, with the microphone. If you have or can get one of those fluffy cases to go over the microphone USE IT! they are used to stop wind being too much of a problem. If you can't get one, cover the side of the mic that has the wind hitting it (don't actually touch it though or that will show up). Also, if the wind is on and off don't be afraid to wait out the wind. And never say you fix a problem up after the shoot. If the wind picks up half way through a scene. re-film. You only have one shot at it.
 

upsguy27

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jun 25, 2007
1,198
16
Utah
First thing about shot composition is worrying about what you are actually putting into the frame (mise-en-scene) as apposed to how your going to shoot. I would really suggest looking at cinematography websites before you start. Go to photography websites and look up composition and design. Photography composition is exactly the same as film. Also, think about high and low camera angles (if you look down on your subject, the audience has power over the subject and vice versa).

With filming, if you don't have more than one camera you MUST shoot the same scene multiple times. A good thing to do is a storyboard. Go through your script and draw the shots you want for each scene then when it comes to filming, you just keep shooting the same scene until you have every angle you could possible want (remember, its always to better to shoot more footage than less - on average you need 4 times more footage than the final product); then edit it together to make it look like one shoot. Be care with continuity though when shooting multiple times - don't go moving your actors or set between shoots or when you cut it together it will look odd (eg. from one angle, an apple is on one side of a table, then the next shot, its on the other)

Lastly, with the microphone. If you have or can get one of those fluffy cases to go over the microphone USE IT! they are used to stop wind being too much of a problem. If you can't get one, cover the side of the mic that has the wind hitting it (don't actually touch it though or that will show up). Also, if the wind is on and off don't be afraid to wait out the wind. And never say you fix a problem up after the shoot. If the wind picks up half way through a scene. re-film. You only have one shot at it.
Thanks. I'm actually in the process of doing a storyboard now. I have the fluffy case; I'll try to make it work.

About the talking scenes, should I just film once side straight through, then the other side? And then do both sides from multiple angles?
 

powerhouse7

macrumors regular
Oct 21, 2009
132
0
Canberra, Australia
Yes. for every shot you have documented in your storyboard, shoot the whole scene from start to finish, then move your camera for your next shot, and film the whole thing again. Don't forget to also put close-ups of props. Eg. someone picking up a cup. I always forget those shots when putting together a shooting list.

Also, if you aren't happy with how the scene goes during a shoot, refilm it again (do multiple takes of the same shot) until you are happy. I guess the best way to learn all this stuff is through experience.

Good Luck!
 

upsguy27

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jun 25, 2007
1,198
16
Utah
Yes. for every shot you have documented in your storyboard, shoot the whole scene from start to finish, then move your camera for your next shot, and film the whole thing again. Don't forget to also put close-ups of props. Eg. someone picking up a cup. I always forget those shots when putting together a shooting list.

Also, if you aren't happy with how the scene goes during a shoot, refilm it again (do multiple takes of the same shot) until you are happy. I guess the best way to learn all this stuff is through experience.

Good Luck!
Okay, thanks!
 

spinnerlys

Guest
Sep 7, 2008
14,335
7
forlod bygningen
Some points from an editor assistant doing thousand of hours of synchronizing video and audio.


Don't forget a clapperboard, if you record the audio externally.

It isn't fun to synchronize two separate tracks (video and audio) without a clear marker.

A clapperboard consists normally of the roll/reel/tape number, scene, take and take number.


Example: You're on your second tape, shoot scene 14, take 4 and number 9 (the 9th try to shoot take 4).
It looks like this on a clap: 02 14/4 9 or 02 14 4/9.

Don't forget to announce the whole take number thing into the microphone.

And be sure to already run the tape for 3-5 seconds before your announce the clapperboard.




Also make sure what kind of emotions you want to convey via your camera, so think about using a not moving camera, a slow moving one, or a handheld one, or a combination of those.
And what about close ups of the face? Or not?
Or moving towards the characters or moving away from them. Or not moving at all.

If the scene and actors are good, even one take without one cut in between could suffice to transport everything that is needed to understand what is going on and be immersed into it.

Have fun, and don't forget the catering.
 

upsguy27

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Jun 25, 2007
1,198
16
Utah
Some points from an editor assistant doing thousand of hours of synchronizing video and audio.


Don't forget a clapperboard, if you record the audio externally.

It isn't fun to synchronize two separate tracks (video and audio) without a clear marker.

A clapperboard consists normally of the roll/reel/tape number, scene, take and take number.

Example: You're on your second tape, shoot scene 14, take 4 and number 9 (the 9th try to shoot take 4).
It looks like this on a clap: 02 14/4 9 or 02 14 4/9.

Don't forget to announce the whole take number thing into the microphone.

And be sure to already run the tape for 3-5 seconds before your announce the clapperboard.




Also make sure what kind of emotions you want to convey via your camera, so think about using a not moving camera, a slow moving one, or a handheld one, or a combination of those.
And what about close ups of the face? Or not?
Or moving towards the characters or moving away from them. Or not moving at all.

If the scene and actors are good, even one take without one cut in between could suffice to transport everything that is needed to understand what is going on and be immersed into it.

Have fun, and don't forget the catering.
Thanks for the tips. I don't have a clapperboard - do you know where I can get one (preferably in a brick-and-mortar store)?
 

spinnerlys

Guest
Sep 7, 2008
14,335
7
forlod bygningen
Thanks for the tips. I don't have a clapperboard - do you know where I can get one (preferably in a brick-and-mortar store)?
I don't really know, as I currently reside in Germany.

You could try googling it locally or maybe even try a toy store or maybe you have some kind of rental service for film equipment near you.
Or you can improvise by clapping something else together and writing something on a piece of paper or a small chalkboard.

It's only necessary if you record the sound externally, if you route the sound from the mic to a mixer to your camera a clapperboard isn't necessary.


Phoenix: http://www.hdgear.tv/ and http://www.reelmeninc.com/
 
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