Shooting The Scene

Lesson 5 of 15

Exterior Shoot: Wide Shot Dolly In

 

Shooting The Scene

Lesson 5 of 15

Exterior Shoot: Wide Shot Dolly In

 

Lesson Info

Exterior Shoot: Wide Shot Dolly In

How much time do you usually spend blocking the talent? Is this a typical this's cement job production with the full crew it's on a production with a full crew, the director would do a lot of you guys can relax for a second while we set this up, but you know, if you want to get in the shade or be declared or whatever, the director would would talk to the actors and would usually come in with some sense, like I've sort of taken over a little bit of the director role, just just tio tio make this work so that I can talk to myself and but normally the director would say kind of generally where they want the actors to go and how they feel the movement, what happened? And then I might make the suggestion like they know we know that we wanted to have the have the action happen here, we know we want them to come out the door, that distance seems too far and, you know, we would realize it as we're blocking or maybe somebody we think about it before and, you know, and so that's where I might com...

e in with the suggestion to let's cheat this distance that's, you know, I like this background better let's figure out how to make it work, and it was in particular it was this it was this background right here that that we really liked yesterday and we didn't want to have her if we if we had played this action back over here close to the door you know this distance from the door we will our background would be a blank gray wall which was not interesting so that's where you know the dp came along and said, well, we really like this background this is more graphic how can we make it you know what? How can we solve the problem teo to make it so that we'll get the good background and the action will work and so that's where we came up with the with the idea to cheat so thank you one last question before we're almost ready why the choice for the dolly I've well, way talked about the mood and the tone of the movie yesterday and part of it is sorry I'm going just goingto jump up and get one little thing please I just wanna make sure that the track yeah and I want to make sure that doesn't extend to far past where we can get the camera to so yeah, maybe we stick this and a little bit farther this way so that we offset that move the sticks is far to this corner of the of dollars yeah, I think you could move that way so so and that's it that is constantly what you know, as a dp what I'm doing it's like you communicate the kind of the physical reality of what has to happen at the same time that you're somehow making creative and artistic decisions and, you know, and having you know, a creative conversation with, you know, the director or the set decorators or somebody on set you have to you have to be able to split your attention between what they're doing so that, you know, they don't get too far and down the wrong path and what conversation you're having about upcoming shots or with the creative intense is so we wanted to move basically because it would it it would make the scene a little bit more dynamic and also by doing this very slow move in we could we could get a sense of foreboding maybe or that something there was something a little mysterious or creepy cool yeah, so that's that was a great teaching moment thank for mentioned that the role of the dp is your half here you're half here, you're half yes, that was great. Yeah it's like one of those things where you know, I'll be talking to somebody you know it and I realize I'm looking off past them and it's because I'm watching it's like those guys putting that in the right place exactly sure and then I have to excuse myself on dh go over and figure out how it's how it's all gonna work perfect thank you yeah it's a it's a it's a really is this sort of fluid a fluid process so it looks like we're we're getting this together so the other part that I should be thinking about at the same time is the lighting and so I look at this and you know, kind of from experience I know that there's between the light and say this is usually about four stop range like from from direct son teo teo open skylight and that's you know that's typical let me see if I'm right so this is within andy one point eight this is telling me eight in two thirds and then I point it this way and this is telling me for so it is about three and two thirds stops not so bad I was almost there and so, you know, depending on what the mood I'm after I'll set you know, I know I'm going to have to set the camera somewhere I'll set the exposure to make you say make the whole scene a little bit brighter make the whole scene a little bit darker but you you definitely want toe set your virus and set your exposure so that it's as close as it's close to what you intend as possible and you know the the good thing about you you know for me on set I've tried and especially when I'm operating myself you get you get them going setting up the camera, setting up the dolly shot and then while that's happening you try to ignore it and you know, make sure there's going the right way but you try to ignore it and then focus on the lighting because you know, the lighting and the camera operating are really two different roles and you know you one person can take them on alternate them or you can split it up between two people but it's you know, there is ah kind of a mental shift that has to happen and you have to make sure that you khun keep more than one just proficiency you want to be able to keep more than one ball in the air and so you get somebody going on project that's going to take a certain amount of time and then you know and then you turn and work on the you know, work on another project. So right now I don't think that there's any real lighting that we have to do it's a little too wide and it's looking pretty nice the way it is um so I'll just I figure out what the exposure's going to be so with a one point eight with you know, I've got almost in eleven eighteen, two thirds there and for this way so I feel like the the shadow side should be just a little dark, but not too dark it should feel fairly open, so I'm going to expose that a five six and you know we'll see what that looks like. I'll use the false color as kind of a spot meter that's taking my spot meter meeting just, you know, just to get myself some confidence, really. And, you know, but there's, it's, it's basically experience that has told me where you know, how far under I want to make the shadow side teo, give the intended effect, and this is where, you know, practicing testing, you know, like definitely one of the you know, some of the testing that you can do before you get into a shoot is toe do exposure being around just say, you know, here's a scene I wantto overexpose it to stop over exposed two stops, you know, based on what my what my light meter says what's that going to look like what our skin tones going to read, howard, this shot is going to read, you know, at what point do highlights clip out past what the camera can handle those air, you know, it's all good stuff to figure that teo go through that in advance, make notes, make mental notes, you know, and be able to visualize it so that then when you're on the set, when you're shooting this, you can hold out your light meter, you can get a sense of what you're doing even before the cameras plugged in, which is kind of what we're what we've done. So, um, where we I'm gonna go do one thing to help theresa out here, which is although two things one thing is I noticed when we were looking before that, the the touchscreen for this camera is really hard tio it is really hard to read in the bright daylight, so it's a good thing we have the the e e v f the bomb do you find her? So why don't you put that on? And maybe I guess, take off the touchscreen or or figure out where to put it so that's kind of not in the way and then yeah, you could. And then and then I noticed that the sun because of the angle, the beautiful backlight angle was shining right down the lens, so we need the eyebrow on the camera, so I'm putting that on set it so that it just barely covers the lands, and hopefully that will make it so that it's not a featured player in the movie um, so this is this is what happens, we're, you know? Doing some a little bit of camera adjusting and then do we have the apple box here yes we do write great. So that's that's that's the other thing big big problem in film making in general is to figure out what can you be doing right now other than waiting for something to happen because there's always something that has that happen yeah, we haven't interesting cable going across here but we're going to get rid of that soon and so you know what there's one other apple box would you mind grabbing that please no, I think this is yeah this I'll stand on the dolly this is for the czar for the actors to stand on and maybe how was it before hope was on the right and and uh dan was on the left right when we did the rehearsal yes network's way should put it like this yeah, right exactly. I think that's good and then so the actors they're standing in for themselves so lex if you wouldn't mind coming up just before we tape it altogether west make sure it's in the right spot um so you don't mind let's we'll dolly back to one that's right way have some suggestibility all right and all right, so dan would you mind are you standing up on the box on the right there good yeah so there is a little bit of a sense I feel that that we have gone through the wall so let's uh let's jump off the box for a second you try that would you mind standing on that all right now I feel like we're seeing little enough of of dan that I'm not worried that it seems like we're uh we've blocked the wall but I do want to bring him over a little bit to the left if you wouldn't mind jump off one more time and I stand there for a second and it does you will move your box yeah and I feel like this is just from you know, from a visual standpoint I like this view out on the roof better what? Jessica what do you think is that said seem like so now does if you wouldn't mind going to your first mark there I'm going too move this box here um yeah so so she would she would step into there and then I'm gonna jump on the dolly and get the get the viewfinder where where we just went false color where is there a button? Alright, cool thanks. Um okay so yep here we are and so now let's do a little bit of a just this slow movin yep great and that, um lex, you come off and go to your first mark wait there we go yeah, that should work great and now well you can just play this shot all the way through is far into the scene is we want the director and the editor can make a choice about that so does you would you mind stepping forward to your second mark? We'll see how that plays out that's nice and um and then thea other thing I just you know, a thought just occurred to me maybe this works is at the end so now lex, if you wouldn't mind stepping out and so now daisy you're you've just written in the notebook and you stand back up and get you picked it up now as she walks off dolly back and maybe this works for the last set up of the scene and so we'll try the other set up to but this has a nice mysterious quality to it a cz well, so so we just figured out how to how to use one set up cover the whole scene, give the editor and the director a lot of choices in in postproduction by using the same piece of dolly track you know, in one point of the scene going one way and the other point coming the other way and that's like sometimes you'll find directors who have who have made a shot list and you know, each moment in the scene has a very specific shot but there's often something really interesting to be found just by just by saying well what happens if we run this shot for the whole scene what happens if we just let all of the action play and you know what can we do just with the with the piece of equipment that we've set up right now how can we turn that into you know another shot that helps work for our story so you just witnessed that happening in real time right here right here in front of you so the other thing I noticed as I was looking at the shot as I wish that the camera were just a little bit lower so let's drop down a little bit yeah, the camera if you don't mind at you answering a question go like you know three or four inches what would your your camera crew be like on a shoot around this type of budget your camera crew looked like it would look just about like this I have done you know, one of my favorite shooting experiences was a movie called our song it was way shot in crown heights in brooklyn the crew was myself to camera assistance the entire lighting department was one person there there was no script supervisor which was very weird for us and the entire package it into two twelve foot cube trucks we had you know it was a super sixteen shoot we had one cube truck that was camera sound there were two sound people uh, sound mixer in a boom person myself to camera assistants, one lighting person and the director and the assistant director. And that was that was it? That was the entire shoot. So and there was a movie that went to sundance, you know, got a lot of attention. Jim mckay was the director, you know? And you know, that movie did. I did really well for him. Carrie washington was the star and she's gone places since then. So, uh, you know, it's like, you can take the smallest amount of equipment and do things that I thought it was a really beautiful movie too. You can you can make something out of it, you know, with with just with very little I'm very, very few people. You you limit your choices, but it also makes you much more much, much more flexible, much more fluid and the you know, the limitation in equipment that limitation and means is actually for me, it's a creative impulse are creative. The creative driver it was like, I you know, I had done a few bigger movies then with, you know, with forty foot trucks full of equipment and to do this movie, it was it felt like I had gone from having to try toe drive the titanic teo, you know, being on a bicycle and, you know, it was like it was like having to figure out what to do with the symphony orchestra versus, you know, like, you know, me and three guys in the garage with a guitar, bass and drums. So so it's, like, you have to look at it, you have to find the positive spin on everything. So there's, the camera has gotten a little lower, but you say we shoot something doing all right, so the the thing that we might do before we shoot it is toe we call it dotting the marks. So because the shot's wide enough, I would see the marks in the shot. So, theresa, would you mind just going in and dot in them that way? You know, and maybe use some black tape or something so that the actors know where to stand and you know, the you know, the shot happens the way we want, but the camera doesn't pick up the hot pink and blue marks on the ground. So, you know, time honored tradition on the movie set to not shoot marks. Um so while teresa is doing that, maybe we'll dio how how are you guys feeling you like? You good to go right? Awesome that's good because I'm a little compulsive this way I will just double check the light meter reading right before we go it's a day exterior and that means that everything is constantly changing on dh you know? So my habit is even though I might have taken some meetings before you know there are there are little wispy clouds but sometimes their big clouds sometimes you've spent so long talking about stuff that you know the sun has moved to someplace completely different so I always right before we go I always take a light meter reading so but yeah it's definitely if I can throw one piece of advice in there it's on day exteriors right before you're going to shoot I usually I'll even wait if the clouds were kind of in and out wait until they say roll sound and then take the light meter reading and call the stop out then just because it's you know when you're not in control of the lights you have tio keep on top of what's happening so all right let's try this shot way have somebody to slate for us awesome eugene that's excellent. Okay, so you know from a practical standpoint I'll make sure you know would you mind just throwing false color on you for me for a second? All right? We're good thanks alright and from a practical standpoint you know when you're operating the camera you want to make sure that you're is comfortable in you know in your operating position as you can as you can be you want to make sure that your your body is kind of stretched out that you're not all hunched into some position that that after you've done you know after that takes been rolling for a while you're trembling or shaking it's not you know it's partly for your comfort but it's mostly that like any time you're uncomfortable or awkward it translates to the camera movement so I just make sure that the handle is where I can reach it nicely the eyepieces or in where I can reach it without having to do deep knee bends or squats um and the bubble is level more or less um and uh you know the horizon looks level here and we've got our you know I'm looking through the eyepiece and making sure that all the settings there where I want because I'm compulsive I will usually check the stop and now we're ready to go so so I feel like way should take it from the beginning even though a little bit of the dialogue is gonna be off speed it'll just make sure that all the timing works out ok is that seem right to you guys all right, so um so we're ready and that's well say let's just shoot it. Yes well slate it so at this point the assistant director would say roll sound and you know the sound man would say speed here were like our production is recording the sound and so then we will roll the camera camera say speed and then um you would slate it and I'd say set and action so hope uh when you gonna tell me who you are and what you do and I should have called the police by now but for some reason I feel like I can trust you happy yeah yeah guess what usually it's me who does all the signing when you see your mother tell her hello for me, will you excuse me? My mother died when I was twelve. I will just kind of do a little reset. So would you mind putting the bag and the book about where it should be if you drop that straight down right there he's still rolling and then step out please lexx ok, that was a little on air reset and now continue please. Daisy all right, so that was actually a pretty decent first take and rehearsal there a couple of things I know I would do better in the operating and but it seems like from your and how did that feel for that for you guys you feeling good about that? You feel like you're kind of working out yeah, right exactly and then you know so so now you know we've done one take will give some notes about about how we feel like it could be better and then the second take is going to be perfect so so I think what you want to do on the dolly move is is wait that you know, he's going to say his line and does you'll cross in and when you see dizzy like a step away from her mark I feel like that's the moment to start and then yeah and then I feel like once so we're going to do that reset I'll just you know, I I'll say okay, we set and we'll put the bag and the notebook however it dropped when you dropped it we'll just set it where it is we're actually not you know what what's simple we're not going to take the moment where you fly up in the air in this shot for sure so just, you know, it's like when we you know, when she gets the point of touching you will say we set you could just put the bag and notebook down, step off and then well, then we'll continue the scene and then I know that you know, after seeing that one, I know how I'm going to set my framing for I've given myself some notes about how I'm going to set my framing for the for the end scene was that does that seem right? Cause it feels it feels like I was framed a little too far that way like I wanted to, you know, set the frame for the empty wall rather than for her and let her walk out is that jessica is agreeing, so yes, eugene haven't the preparation to be a good idea to place the node look either in shadow or in the sun because it's goingto move? Yeah, yeah, and we could have a closer we're goingto have exposure problem that is a really good point, yeah that's the shadow as eugene points out that the shadow there is going to keep getting smaller and smaller and we're you know, hopefully, you know, my hope is that we're going to get to that shot before the shot it goes away, but there are a couple of ways we can approach it. We can know that for the close up of the notebook on the ground, I can use one of the flags wherever they went and, you know, and we can create our own shadow to match because we're just going is just going to be a small little shot that's, you know, it's, you know, it's kind of knowing that you can save yourself on the close ups that makes me not I don't think about them so much and, you know, but in for the wide shots you right it's like if we if we took too long doing this way if we had you know if we did twenty takes or whatever the sum of moved you'd see that shadow and if they intercut between take one and take twenty somewhere during the scene you realize that that you know the audience might realize that something was different so that's where it sze you hope that you know even when you're in that situation where things go go long you know in daylight situations where you can't control it you hope that you can keep all the shots the same and this is this is where the a d a is saying all right stop talking about it and let's just roll all right how you feeling, teresa? All right good so okay so yeah lex and does he let's go toe one and then on the on the return is when she I think it's I think when she stands up as she stands back up yes yeah I think that's the place okay yeah, the speed seems great it's just you just think you know think kind of mysteriously slow alright? Yeah it's not really like we're following any action or anything we're just kind of keeping a little movement going okay um all right, so somebody said roll sound we're speeding and um roll camera and market take two right and we're set and action so hope when you gonna tell me who you are and what you do I should have called the police by now but for some reason I feel like I could trust you then happy way what usually on one side all the time you see your mother till I loathe bag in front of your foot there if you don't know front yeah right there is good yeah movement nope appeal goes to write great and step off who's let's okay, wait think that that seemed better write any any notes about the framing of the way the action happened I uh I guess for a name does he really like okay next time I guess be more aware to the city kind of look out to it and also turn your focus back to her would be great um I don't have any milk for you I think okay all right cool. So do you feel like we want to do one more take for that and we're taking doing great, okay let's do it so I felt like mechanically that all look good everybody anybody have any framing notes or anything like that? Yes. Any particular reason why she's walking out that way instead of back towards the door that's a really good question I was you know well she comes and goes in mysterious ways way what I was really thinking about on blocking it out this, I'd imagine that this shot was was kind of, was maybe the end shot of the movie, where maybe that wide shot becomes it. But if we have for walk up this way when we're doing this shot, it's a it's, a little bit cleaner of an exit. But now that now that you mention it, um, if we have her across through that works as well, we'll give her a little banana. So, yes, so exit just walked right to the and go up the box that he's standing on there. Okay, great. All right, good that's, a great that's. A great suggestion, always on it's like this is why it takes a village, a video village. Teo, you know, to make a movie. All right, okay, good. Yeah, that was great. On the end, it was perfect, right? I'm just gonna crank up the tension a little bit. I'm I'm not a heavy, fluid person, but I do like a little bit more attention, all right, and all right, so we're set on take three mark all right? We're set and action so hope you're gonna tell me who you are and what you do. You should have called the police by now, but, uh, I feel like I can trust your damn happy way feel like I'm always the one time you see your mother. Tell her hello for me, will you excuse? My mother died when I was twelve, so you can just calmly. Yeah. Just set the bag down and notebook in the spot and step back and just wait for a second dizzy. Okay? No, now you'll down action. Wait. So I wrote it. And the other thing the other day kind of instinctual thing I realized I was doing there is at the very end, there was nothing happening. I kept the camera rolling. I kept the frame going much longer than you know anyone would think that it would be maybe there's an n credit that goes on, maybe there's a dissolve to black. You never know. Or maybe they just want that timing it's, if you have shot it it's very easy for them to cut it off if you haven't shot it there's. Nothing that can be done. So it's. I think it's a good habit. You keep rolling the camera, and you keep framing the shot until somebody says cut until the actor stops at acting. Or until you know, until it seems like it's been ridiculously long.

Class Description

There is no greater filmmaking challenge than translating one’s cinematic vision into a practical shooting plan that produces edit-able footage. In Shooting The Scene, renowned cinematographer Jim Denault, ASC teaches you how to take a production plan and shoot efficiently, economically, and artistically.

Jim’s award-winning work includes The Campaign, Boys Don't Cry, and Game Change. In this class, he’ll share insights from his experience shooting both indie and studio films and teach you how to translate your vision into a series of filmed units (aka “coverage”). You’ll learn how to:

  • Set the aesthetic and technical approaches for each shot
  • Determine how many shots you’ll need within a scene
  • Balance practical limitations and still acquire what's best for the scene

Shooting The Scene will help all cinematographers, camera operators, and filmmakers develop a more systematic approach to planning a shoot. You’ll become more equipped to take an idea that only lives in your mind and turn it into an actionable shooting plan.


Reviews

Kevin Baggott
 

I had worked briefly many years ago on a shoot that jim was the DP for. I was very impressed with how he ran the set. It was a great pleasure to watch this course. Learnt many things. I would highly recommend it.

Kervin
 

This was a very informative class. It's great to see the thought process and solutions that go into a well executed scene.