DESIGNING THE SCENE PROFESSIONALLY

Report
DESIGNING THE
SCENE
PROFESSIONALLY
By the end of today’s sessions.....
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Shot sizes
Camera Introduction
Composition
Coverage
The Axis of Action
The Slate & Calls on Set
Preproduction Planning & Design Tools
Working the Camera
Safety
RECOMMENDED TEXTS
“Producing Videos”
(Third Edition)
Martha Mollison
Allen & Unwin
WHAT DOES “PROFESSIONALLY” MEAN?
• TIME = MONEY (Fixed budget)
Lose money if you don’t have everything
you need, when you need it, where you
need it
• “Professional” means you come armed with a
plan!
• Planning leads to efficiency
• Planning allows for creativity
• Planning assists in achieving safety
Four STAGES of Film & TV Production
• Development
• Pre-production
• Production (Principal Photography)
• Post-Production
Coverage
• How do you cover a scene
• How many shots
• Who decides
Shot Sizes
What do we mean by ?
MCU
MS
WS
VLS
ECU
Shot Sizes
• Wide Shot
Very long
shot
(VLS)
Shot Sizes
• Wide Shot
Long shot
(LS)
Shot Sizes
• Wide Shot
Medium
long shot
(MLS)
Shot Sizes
• Mid Shot
(MS)
Shot Sizes
• Medium
Close-up
(MCU)
Shot Sizes
• Close-up
(CU)
Shot Sizes
• Big
Close-up
(BCU)
Shot Sizes
• Extreme
Close-up
(ECU)
Camera Introduction
Camera Introduction
Camera Introduction
Using a Camera
• Automatic Settings
fine if NO problems
• Turn on and press the big red
button
-like an auto pilot
• Results often acceptable,
but could be so much better
Camera Introduction
• Automatic Settings
take control of…
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White Balance
Exposure
Focus
Shutter
Gain
Camera Introduction
• Automatic Settings
Often
Simply can not reproduce the
shot you want
Skills
• If the shot needs to
be steady
Use a tripod
or at least
Hand-hold carefully!
Working the CAMERA
There are SIX variables to consider:
• Angle / Height
• Image size / Framing / Composition
• Motion (pan, tilt, tracking) Why move?
Is it motivated?
• Depth of field (shallow focus)
• Focus
• Speed. Undercranked / Overcranked
Skills
• Composition
Think ahead
Rule of thirds
Perspective and
points of view
The RULE of THIRDS
• Is
commonly used to help
create interesting, appealing
images.
• Cut your frame into thirds,
vertically and horizontally, and
place the elements of your
image on these lines eg the
horizon of your landscape shot
sits on the top or bottom third
and not dead centre in the
middle of the frame.
• Your subject is positioned on
the right third or left third of the
frame, not directly in the centre.
Camera movement
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Pan
Tilt
Zoom
Dollie-track-crab
Crane-tongue-ped
Composition
• Looking space
-to be pleasing to the
eye
-to match other shots
of a sequence
(style)
Composition
• Looking space
• Headroom
Too little headroom
-to be pleasing to the
eye
Too much headroom
-to match other shots
of a sequence
(style)
Good
Composition
-to be pleasing to the
eye
-to match other shots
of a sequence
(style)
Coverage
• Movement
• Make the shots you take editable
Master shot
Motivation
Advancement
The Axis of Action
• (Crossing the line)
• http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALgu
EHV9VvA&feature=related
THE TOOLS OF PRE-PRODUCTION
PLANNING & DESIGN
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Project Brief / Script
The Shotlist
Storyboards
Marked-up Scripts
Camera Plots
The Schedule
PROJECT BRIEF / SCRIPT
• Is a document (from an extended
paragraph to a fully developed script)
outlining the story for us.
• Requires you to figure out your story.
• Can be visually interpreted in many
different ways.
• Designing shots and coverage to
effectively and seamlessly reveal story is
one of the great creative challenges
A PROJECT BRIEF Example:
• “CASHCOW”
Margie approaches a computer in an empty lab.
She dumps her bag on the desk and slumps in
the chair. She feels something on the chair and
reaches under her bottom to find a wallet. It has
wads of cash inside. A quick glance around the
room and at the door confirms there is no sign
of anyone so she decides to put the money in
her pocket. She grabs her things and heads for
the door, dumping the empty wallet in the bin
as she leaves. Just as the wallet lands, the
door opens and Margie is face to face with an
angry person, glaring between her and the
discarded wallet.
SOME POINTS TO KEEP IN MIND
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SIMPLICITY: A good short film usually has a SIMPLE idea at its core.
It usually deals with ONE incident and the conflict is established early
on.
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ACHIEVABILITY: The best short films focus on MINIMAL
CHARACTERS and are set in ONE or TWO LOCATIONS. Minimise
the time wasted on travelling between locations and you will have
more time to spend on composing brilliant shots. Have a rainy weather
contingency too if you’re filming outdoors.
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MAKE IT CHALLENGING: Keeping your script simple doesn’t mean
writing something bland and pointless. The best scripts are simple but
layered. They have meaning and subtext; they have developed
characters and a satisfying payoff.
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THINK VISUALLY: Don’t pick ideas where most of the drama or
comedy is in the mind. Think “VISUALLY”!
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NOT HEAVILY DEPENDENT ON DIALOGUE OR SOUND: Avoid
ideas where dialogue or sound are integral to the story.
The SHOTLIST
• Is a LIST of required SHOTS in script order, indicating
shot size and a description of characters and the actions
to be filmed. The shot may cover a lot of action and be
used many times in the edited film. However, it only
needs to be written in the shotlist once, the first time the
script calls for it, with a complete description of all the
action to be captured.
• The DIRECTOR generally composes a shotlist and
marks-up the script.
• Make your shotlist clear: explain the characters’ actions
thoroughly but concisely.
A SHOTLIST Example:
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SHOTLIST “Cashcow”
SCENE 1 - INT. COMPUTER LAB. NIGHT
SHOTS and DESCRIPTION
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1. WS Margie approaches computer, dumps bag, sits, continue all action and pan to
capture Margie’s action at door.
2. MS Margie sits in chair, feels something on chair, reaches under her and pulls out
wallet, opens it and finds wads of cash, continue all action until she gets up from chair.
3. CU Margie’s face as she feels something on chair, pulls out wallet, opens it, finds
cash, looks around room and at door, pockets money. Continue all action til she gets
up from chair, TILT with her as she stands and let her leave frame.
4. ECU (HA OS) Over Margie’s shoulder as she pulls out wallet, opens it to find wads
of cash, pulls out money, looks around room and pockets it.
5. WS (PAN, HH, POV) Margie looks around room and door, TILT see money and
pocket it.
6. MS (PAN) Margie walking to the door, she throws wallet in bin, her hand reaches for
handle and door opens
7. CU (HA) Wallet lands in bin. Shoot from person outside door POV, so can cut back
to this, shoot with door open and closed for different lighting.
8. CU (HA) Margie turns from bin to person opening door, shadow of door opening
crosses her face, her shocked and guilty look as person realises she has thrown wallet
in bin.
9. CU (LA) Person looking up from bin back to Margie, very angry.
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STORYBOARDS
• A storyboard consists of drawings representing each
shot as outlined in the shotlist.
• Storyboards are used as a pre-visualisation tool and
enables the Director to communicate their ideas to the
entire crew.
• You should do a storyboard to help you plan and
prepare but they should not limit flexibility.
• You don’t need to be Picasso! Line drawings are
effective as they establish angles, framing, eye lines and
so on.
A STORYBOARD Example:
A STORYBOARD Example:
DESIGNING COVERAGE
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Coverage refers to the variety of shots that cover the action in a scene.
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Adequate coverage means you have planned enough shots such that the story
will cut together (i.e. be able to be edited together into a coherent story).
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As an example we could decide that we are going to cover all of the action in a
given scene, two people talking at a table in a café, in 3 different size shots:
1. A wide shot WS showing the café, both characters and the whole scene if
possible.
2. A mid shot MS (or two shot 2S), showing both characters in shot from the
waist up, all action.
3. A close up CU of each character - so this is two separate shots of each
character’s face.
In total, that’s 4 camera setups: a WS, a MS and 2 x CUs.
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To get maximum coverage we would do each camera setup and have the
characters play out the scene from start to finish and, therefore, end up with 4
copies of the same scene with different framings and characters on camera for
each version.
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We would then have maximum choice when it comes to editing in choosing how
to put the scene together. We would have any overlapping action that we need
and be able to make choices that give the audience an impression of a flow of
action as we cut between different sized shots.
KEY CONCEPTS IN DESIGNING
COVERAGE
• Overlapping Action.
• Cutting on Action.
• Matching on Action (Continuity of
Action).
• Master Shot or Top-and-tailing.
• The Axis of Action / 180 degree rule /
crossing the line.
Some additional tips:
• As a guide it is a good idea to always have at least 2
shots covering the action at any given point.
• When planning coverage of a scene you also need to
think about what shot you will be cutting to next in order
of a story. This is what a shotlist tells us. As a rule it is
best NOT to cut from a WS to a WS. It feels like a jump,
and does not flow very smoothly. A better cut would be
from a WS to a MS. Once the camera is closer in, it is ok
to cut from CU to CU.
• The jump cut effect (abrupt jump when viewing) is
avoided by changing the camera angle. Therefore, the
rule is that when you change a shot size to cover the
action in a scene you must move the camera at least
30 degrees and change the length of the lens.
MARKING UP THE SCRIPT
• Is the process whereby you physically write
your shots over the top of the words of the
script.
• This process ensures you have planned good
coverage and overlapped action.
• It’s important to see that shots overlap each
other and that each significant piece of action
is covered from multiple angles.
MARKED UP SCRIPT Example:
A CAMERA PLOT
• Is an aerial map of your location,
indicating the position of the camera for
each shot.
• This helps you maintain the axis of
action and group similar shots together
for effective scheduling.
• Is a tool used to communicate to crew
members relevant aspects of the shot
CAMERA PLOT Example:
Use the CAMERA to tell the STORY
OBJECTIVE OR SUBJECTIVE CAMERA ???
• Is the camera curious, playful, omniscient,
lyrical? Will we use extreme close-ups or stay
distant from the characters?
• AUDIENCES prefer to be in the hands of a
strong, authoritative narrator rather than a
weak, tentative one.
• The camera is as important as the dialogue.
The SCHEDULE
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You will rarely shoot in script order. Shoot in the order that is
most EFFICIENT, taking into account the following factors:
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EXTERIOR or INTERIOR: try and shoot your external shots
FIRST. If it rains, you can shoot your interior shots while you
wait.
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ACTOR AVAILABILITY: Leave shots not requiring your actor
until the end so that they are not standing around (i.e.. POV
shots, door handles turning, etc.) Alternatively, shoot them
first and allow the actor to arrive later. Respect your actor and
the time they are giving.
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CAMERA POSITION: Shoot all shots with the camera facing
in a particular direction. Keep camera movement to a
minimum, as this requires additional time to reset the tripod,
adjust the spirit level, change lighting, etc.
A SCHEDULE Example:
Some SCHEDULING Tips:
• Remember to have regular breaks at least every 4
hours or so and stop for meals.
• Factor in time to set-up and pack-up, as well as
travel time if you have two or more locations.
• We usually film the WS also known as a MASTER
or SAFETY first. This works as a great run through
for everyone, establishing continuity and action for
cast and crew.
• You won’t get the shot right in the first take. A take
is an attempt at recording the shot. Even if the first
take is good, do another as a safety. Two takes per
shot, minimum.
• BE PREPARED!! Time is money so have a plan.
• Be realistic as accidents and mistakes happen
when you’re in a rush.
THE FLOW OF PRE-PRODUCTION
PLANNING & DESIGN
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STORY IDEA
PROJECT BRIEF / SCRIPT
SHOTLIST
STORYBOARDS
MARKED-UP SCRIPT
CAMERA PLOT
SCHEDULE
SHOOT
TIPS FOR STUDENTS
• Communication is key.
• Have “back-up” plans for the important
aspects of filming. Eg. locations,
equipment, talent, etc.
• Consider all risks and ALWAYS act in
the interest of the safety for the cast,
crew, the equipment & the public.
• Preparation does not restrict creativity
or inspiration on the day of shooting… it
allows for it!
Safety
• Students must take their obligation
under the Work Place Health and Safety
Act seriously
• You can not place anyone at risk
• You can not place yourself at risk
• You can not place any equipment at risk
Safety
• Students must take their obligation
under the Work Place Health and Safety
Act seriously
Safety
• Students must take their obligation
under the Work Place Health and Safety
Act seriously
Safety
• Students must take their obligation
under the Work Place Health and Safety
Act seriously
Hazard Controls
• Elimination
• Substitution / Modification
• Isolation
• Engineering Controls
• Administrative Controls
• Personal Protection Equipment
Safety
• Film and Television Project Risk Assessment Form
• 1. CAST AND CREW SAFETY
• A - Scheduling and logistics of proposed shoot from a
risk management point of view.
• Location
• Transport
• Manual Handling
• Weather
• Electricity
• Meal Breaks
• Security
• B - Administration ……………
RISK ASSESSMENT Example:
RISK ASSESSMENT Example:
RISK ASSESSMENT Example:
PLOTTING the Actors’ Movement
BLOCKING / STAGING
• Why do the characters MOVE?
• What do they DO as they speak?
• Key elements to STAGING:
• To drive the plot forward eg. JACK needs to get
the knife from the drawer in this scene.
• To make PHYSICAL what is INTERNAL. ie
movement of a character to explore internal
frustrations, anger, tension; to reveal character.
• To indicate the NATURE of a relationship eg power
relations - one standing, another sitting.
• To REVEAL key information or orient the viewer eg
discovery of key prop (gun, knife, .
• To emphasise dialogue or create contradictions eg
I’m quite calm as she shreds a lettuce.
DIRECTING the Actors on Set
Above all the Director must understand the purpose of the
scene.
• Don’t say “Do it this way”. Avoid line reads.
• Understand what is the objective of the actor at any
particular point.
• Understand what the character wants and what is
stopping them from getting it.
• What does the character learn about themselves
through the story? Does the hero become a “better”
person by the end of the story? In what way?
The Slate
Used to
identify
each
shot
taken
The Slate
CALLS on Set
• When shooting you need to establish a way to
communicate on set.
• It is crucial that you get into the habit of doing
CALLS before and after each shot.
• Proper CALLS make for an efficient, organized
and professional shoot. The lines of
COMMUNICATION need to be open so that
your cast and crew know what’s going on.
• Poor or non-existent calls will result in wasted
footage, confused and frustrated actors and
headaches in the editing suite.
An Example of CALLS on Set:
FIRST ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Standby. Quiet on set.
EVERYONE IS QUIET (even if it is a film without sound).
FIRST ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Camera Ready?
CAMERA OPERATOR: Ready.
FIRST ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Roll Camera.
CAMERA ASSISTANT: Calls slate. Shot # Take #
CAMERA OPERATOR (hits record button): Rolling and
Set/Speed.
DIRECTOR: Action!
When the scene is finished…
DIRECTOR: Cut!
Shooting the Monster
• Control the Monster! Do not let it control you.
• Efficiency is vital if you are to have creative control.
• The number of eye-lines determines the number of
setups.
• Coverage - have a plan but remain flexible.
• Don’t over-cover the scene!
• Don’t use your preparation as a safety net.
• To shoot the master or not?
• Clear and precise shot descriptions.
Remember your Audience
And if all else fails:
remember your audience….
because if you remember your audience,
your audience will remember you!
RECOMMENDED TEXTS
“Producing Videos”
(Third Edition)
Martha Mollison
Allen & Unwin

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