Interior Shoot: Dan Wide Shot


Shooting The Scene


Lesson Info

Interior Shoot: Dan Wide Shot

So we have in our script we had two scenes that we shot the second scene first which is was exterior up on the roof and we did that for logistical reasons and it happens all the time and movie shoots so now we're shooting scene one which there's maybe we can throw the script up and you guy's probably have downloaded it but we've got dan eastman are our hero played by lex sitting at a table and he's you know, it seems like he's having a little trouble with his life so weii spoken the previous workshop about preparing that we wanted to you know, we want to set a certain mood for this that this is you know, the are references where we're surrealist movies like john cocteau's films they were japanese ghost story movies that there's there's definitely some kind of a supernatural element to it and you know, when we were scouting around creative life for you to find the places that that seems like we could use to tell this story the lunch room seems like the obvious choice so we've got this i...

s you know they're beautiful northlight windows it's faces north across the street you know, in the scout saw that the buildings that would reflect light in our pretty neutral color so it's not going to be one of those things like if there was a big pink building across the street or some something pretty weird that would affect the color and the quality of the light that comes in here but this is actually a really kind of ideal spot so I said ok, we'll shoot here and you know, the technical guys created well I've figured out how to make it happen which was, you know, great accomplishment so so here we go so we also have made up a shot list you know and kind of in my other role as the director I cooked up a little shot list and the general angles we talk we can talk through the script but the general angles are we have way haven't anghel on dan eastman here probably looking something like this where he's working on his his notebook and I thought that maybe a lower angle would be nice and you know, so we picked this direction to go with him because there's a there's this nice orange painting in the background there there's you know, there's some windows, some depth there's actually a little reflection which could be either a challenge or a bonus depending on how we play it and hopefully it's going to be a bonus and and you know and this you know, the lighting and everything just seemed really nice from this direction so and then we know we're going to do some angles looking towards his his notebook we have to see that he's writing or not writing we wanted set the tone, which is a little lonely, a little sad. And you so I thought, and tell me if I'm wrong about this, jessica, I thought that we'd start, you know, mostly because it's kind of traditional that you start with the wide shot so that you keep all the equipment back out of the way, we'll start with something that's pretty wide that shows him alone lonely in the rooms that makes sense. Yeah, okay, good, we're on the same page about that always good, and now we'll work our way in so that all of the equipment and crew and mess kind of follows it and we don't have toe, then pull it all out at the end. So so on that note, let's, just frame up the wide shot, and then we can talk about the issues that we're going to get into. So we're having a little trouble hooking up my iphone here, but we know the drill, and I think we will come to right about here on the eighteen millimeter lens, so I think it's about about this high and the reason I'm kind of choosing this because I found a height where when I frame up the shot, the camera isn't tilted up and down, so the vertical lines are are you know our parallel they're not key stoning which sometimes the keystone ing is an interesting thing to see but I feel like for this there's like I wanted a certain sense of stillness and you know it's it's meant to be a not a very dynamic situation so so that's uh that's why I'm kind of I'm finding the height where all the lines stayed more or less vertical what do you think it louise okey stoning is you think about you know, the lines of perspective when I'm looking at these vertical lines in the window right here if I if I'm looking straight at them looking pretty much level the lines will be the same distance apart on the top or on the bottom come out with the camera theresa, don't be don't be afraid and you know, but as as I tilt up or down it'll seem like those lines converge at one side of the frame or the other and weaken well kind of demonstrate this once we get ourselves plugged in here let me just make sure it seems like that's about right I'm just gonna go this way a little bit no actually I'm gonna go like this yeah, thanks so here we're on an eighteen millimeter lands you guys should be able to cut to that the exposure is not said, but you know we're kind of kind of plugged in and ready to look at sort of the raw image we have a filter in there we clean right excellent. So so now if I look at it like this the vertical lines you see a little bit of distortion we're on an eighteen millimeter one so I'm seeing a little barrel distortion but the lines are pretty much even from top to bottom but if I tilt up like this you see that the the window is wider at the bottom of the frame than it is at the top of the frame and that's that's keystone and it looks like a keystone in an arch when you know when an arch comes together this stone at the top of it that goes like that is called the keystone and that's what we're talking about so I because I want this to feel very still and uh on not dynamic and perhaps sad and lonely I feel like that's you know that's the kind of frame and so now my viewfinder put me here but things they're not like it still feels it feels a little loose to me right now I feel like I wantto walk in just a little bit with the camera so we'll do that good that it was just there was something at the right side of frame that was coming in that I didn't really like the table's in the foreground were eating up a little bit too much and that's like the director's viewfinder like if it gets you to within about a foot of where you want to be you're doing pretty good all right then would you mind helping me? We'll slide this table back towards me a little bit we'll just get it out of the frame somewhat even it up with this one all right, great. So I kind of like that I like where the you know I like the fact that those tables they're giving us some foreground actually sorry shan I do like the chair it makes me feel like there could be somebody there but there isn't yes maybe slide it down stage a little bit or upstage a little away from me yeah that's good, but I also kind of like that there's there's nothing on the on the table that you know it makes the space very empty looking so the other thing I'm looking at and I know these are minor details but there's a power cord coming from the from the teapot that it looks a little on unsightly. So all right, so we've kind of got a frame we don't know what the what the stop is there anything yet? But we'll get a get a setting so the other thing we should do is go to the standard white balance you know, we had a white balance in before like this is the part of the mental checklist too I just think all right, we have the you're so good with fifty six hundred and I don't know what the tenth yet but we've got the fourteen minus fourteen tent on so maybe we yeah, I think is there is there a, uh, kind of a standard let's go to the default right? And yeah and so now that should that still puts them yeah, but ottaway balancing without the yeah there we go. All right, good day light that's the default setting we wanted great so yeah, so we're here and looking at the looking at the shot so this is where we can kind of mess around the exposure and like for me there's a like you khun play back and forth with looking at the monitor and your light meter for for this kind of situation like if I'm, uh you know, I'll take the light reading here set my meter two, eight hundred because I had it set for the filter before and that's it eleven and a half and about four and a third to this son. So the other thing you know, one of the things I'm looking at is that these thieves ceiling lights are the little practical lights up in the ceiling on and I feel like it might be a little bit you know the mood might be a little better if we turn those officer does somebody know where the light switches for that? Um I think it can say eugene or victor can you just try those switches right over there if you don't mind and um yes, that was it score all right so so I got about a four looking straight towards the camera and let's see what happens if we put that stop on um that is a four okay um and so we'll put the show the false colors what's outside is completely clipped and which maybe there's no law that says you can't do that it might be the look that you want this has kind of a very you know, it's a brighter ethereal look and even though my I like standing in the room it does it doesn't feel very bright but when you look at this on the monitor it is so but then you know, since I'm here I'll look at it with the false cover and go halfway between the four and they ate that that we were that we were getting to the window and see what that looks like so I'll stop down a stop and it's still the outside is still very bright but the mood on the inside feels a little bit better for me there's you know we actually are starting to get some shadows somethings that there's not black but there are things in the shadows and there's nothing particularly outside the window that I care to see if we had. If we were worried about the the highlight detail outside, I would turn on the false color and take it until the red disappears or almost disappears and turn it back on. And now I see what's out the window, but there's nothing really there that I'm worried about yes, louise and the filter no there's, no filter but it's just it's just clean. So right now, like, if you were, if you were concerned about seeing things that are happening outside the window, what would you have to do? You have to bring up the light level inside this room so that matched. But in this shot, I'm seeing all the way from one wall to the other wall. So, you know, if we bring up the light level from here, it might not be very dimensional will be a little bit flat. We worry about reflections of the light in the windows behind us, and it also its it would turn into something different. I actually like in this situation I like making the windows a little hot, keeping it a little dark inside, but not too dark and, you know, and having the a mood where you know that you feel that soft light just coming in since it's facing north all day long there's never going to be any direct sunlight that comes in well, the light will stay pretty consistent until the sun sets so that's how I cooked up this exposure and you know, in our scene we can talk through the action um uh dan eastman is he's sitting at the table and let me just make sure I get all the beats right he's sitting at the table he's gotta know pad his steaming kettle so he could be looking at that and his head's down he's not very happy on then he tried he picks up his pen he tries to write a little bit he stops and drinks his tea and then he says a few words and then the phone rings he looks at it, but after a moment of that he gets up to get more water for his teacup. So we have, you know, in the wide shot all that action is going to be pretty subtle it's not really going to play that much, but we definitely want you for the beginning of the scene established the way this is and then in a certain point when he when he gets up to go to his teapot we might want to use this shot again because it might be great to show that he's alone and, you know the space is empty because at the end of this scene hope appears and you know if we want hope can kind of appear out of nowhere on a cut we're not going to get that far in this scene today there's just there's too much to do not enough time and you know, so we've lost hope but but you know wi I would when when we set up a shot I plan to have the action play run as much of the action through the scene as you know as you can as make sense for the shot and it gives you know it gives you options about how you can cut to it went you know at what moment you can only use it so what you say how are you feeling about the scene and jessica, how are you feeling about what do you feel like we want to run through one with with lex and kind of make sure we get the beats of the action correct? Yeah and then we'll we'll shoot it what? We just talked through the action do you need this script or do you need a sharpie got it all right here I can use mine thank you you're welcome okay, so yeah, we should need not this cable a little bit that doesn't work but maybe waken just well if we close it up and then you have a piece of tape or something or I could just get it tape it up under here somewhere I think it's in a good spot for the shot so yeah, that looks a little bit neater anyway um all right cool so yeah that's that's reasonable yeah um yeah, I might yeah here comes some tape great excellent lisa so we can just take that that loop up underneath there just so that so that things seem a little cleaner the other thing that I'm noticing it's all in the details this stool is not quite evenly spaced so I can get that so that it's looking yeah yeah right good point alright, we'll move can you move that middle stool out just just next tio I think you know what? Don't worry about the third one missing pretend that there's a there's a third one here go like this in spate eh? So the spacing seems right you're with those set seem right? Yeah. All right you know there's there's something about it just everything feels ordered and you know and calm and quiet and still there's a stillness to it um all right cool. So how do you feel like lex is good with the action jessica alright, we talked about it he didn't really have any questions all right cool. So shall we try one awesome all right, so let's uh we'll get this late eugene's got the slate and okay, so we'll roll I'm just it's a lock off so I'm gonna leave my hands off of this uh let's see what happens and action this is dan ok, I think that's where we would cut we're taking up to chris paige way would you might run the whole scene for this but it seems like in the interest of kind of going through the set ups will why don't we just keep the action to what's on the first page? Um so that was great can you think of anything better that we could do? The only thing would I would say we're just to be cheat out when you're going towards the kettle um because we lose your reaction when you're picking it up and and then uh more reaction to the cellphone greening because it's taking you out of your mental state so a little more startled looking I'm thinking the one thing we wantto make sure that we plan for I was imagining, you know, kind of on our shot lists that we did have some kind of an angle from over here looking this way so so can say lex, can you show me where when you come up to the kettle how do you how do you play it? We're just over here, but um yeah, so maybe I do we want to send it so that he's you know, if you step a step away from me so that you're more open there and so that way the phone is behind there is this what you want to look and we'll just see if this shot even works um like if we're here um or do we want to keep it from you know from that you know having play it from that side uh I'm bringing the camera too that would be fine yeah, I think it might be nice to get inside his uh you know, like it's either that or or we stay here with it which you know would be you know, kind of like we don't see his face when he turns to the kettle but then when the phone rings he turns towards us maybe that's better is there a way to kind of cheat a little bit of the notebook within a shot to kind of play it? I mean in sorry. So like when he's over he's over here we somehow see the notebook a little bit. Yeah. Yeah. So that in that case we would want to be over here. All right, so if we're we kind of go like this, you can get the tea kettle and you know down in the middle and the notebook something like that that seemed right and this is also like this this frame is going to be very you know, still very still feeling and composed, so okay, cool. All right, so we know we're going to do this shot, so I feel like for the wide shot weaken, do what looks good and this is this is like a perfect example of cheating. We'll do what kind of looks good for the wide shot, as long as you're in the same in the right general area, which means I think you do want to step a little bit this side of his tea kettle so that we can the camera can see what you're doing, and then when we come to the close up, we'll cheat him a little bit back that way because the camera have changed angles this much and, you know, and he's more or less in the same position, it will make it so that the audience won't catch that we've actually stepped him over, you know, two steps or half a step or whatever the distances, so all right, let's do one more like that, and so we're going, you're going toe play your action a little bit more to this side and yeah, right like that when we open it and and more reaction to the phone and what what was that was the those two notes, right? Okay, great let's try one more time, we're there that's a good question. One of them doesn't heat itself, and the other one does. So you would put the you could put your hot water from it's the goose neck. One is better for pour over coffee where you can, you know, so you can control the flow, especially if you're doing it with one of the gram scales and timers. All right, if you're obsessive coffee maker, um, okay, we're ready and roll, sound speed and, well say, action, right, this is dan, do you want to get him sitting, then I think we're okay between those two shots, but, yeah, that was good, right, and cut, right. I think that was good, then he can sit into the next thing. All right, great. So I feel like we've, we've got that shot, so I get to cross it off my office, which is it's, actually shot number three for those people following at home.

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.


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.