Turn to two cameras…or not ?

Tourner à deux caméras…ou pas ?

Turn one or two cameras ?


A few weeks ago, I received a comment from a reader of the blog, who told me in essence : ” me, I’m going to shoot my film on two cameras-or-nothing “. I’ve tried to learn a little more about her motivations and I understood very quickly that this young apprentice director didn’t know necessarily what it means.

The time has passed and I had forgotten this comment… until Friday night. So I decided to tell you about it. Other readers of the blog must be thinking the same thing, so this is an article that will give you the advantages and disadvantages

A few years ago, turn the two cameras was reserved only to big projects. We were shooting in film and everything was more complicated… but is this what has really changed with digital ?

At the time, and today

Frankly, turn both cameras to make a movie or a short film, 15 years ago where today, it is the same thing. The cost may be down a bit since the film was more expensive than the digital maps which are reusable. But the cameras themselves are also expensive. There, I speak of the pro cameras !

In addition, today, there must be as many staff to operate the cameras. And it requires the same additional material that at the time. It always has to be one cameraman, a 1st assistant camera, a second or a wizard video, a video feedback (combo), lenses, filters, reinforcements etc…

Why use t-on two cameras (or more !) ?

On a lot of television, or even movies, I’ve turned to two cameras and, each time, it was not a coincidence. The first reason for this is not a coincidence it is that two cameras this is a non-negligible cost to the production. This means that the budget allows, blow by blow, take a second camera. But even if the production “has the means” to take as a second camera on the duration of the shoot, it will do so not necessarily because it is necessary that the developer knows to justify the use of the second camera.

On the last plan of work, that I had between the hands, there were 22 days of shooting for the movie and 10 days for second camera. It was indispensable for sequences where there were a lot of actors or scenes say ” more complicated “. In this kind of cases, it is necessary to cover the sequence and the game the best way possible for that scene to be alive and that she falls within the timing of a working day.

  • The time constraint is one of the reasons the most common. If a sequence requires 30 shots it would take 2 days for the turn ! Reduce the plans, it is difficult especially if the sequence is long or if there is a lot of ” action “. Instead of turning two days, to pay the salary of an entire team for one more day and all the fees actors, it is better to rent a second camera and the technicians to make it work. I remember scenes of dinners on the shooting of little murders of Agatha Christie with a number of actors who did not end…even if there was dialogue, we shot these sequences with two cameras to save time.

  • The technical constraints expensive as the ” rouling “ that is to say, when you put the car game on a tray, car dolly, to pretend that the comedian leads. The camera car is expensive to hire, and request resources and special permissions, or even the forces of law and order. To make it simple, this kind of sequence costs an arm… it is best to take two cameras and shoot two different values with each shot.
  • Special effects : explosions, stunts, fights, etc… can be good reasons to turn to two cameras.
  • Having a second camera and a second image team also allows d’to have two teams ! The camera turns to the plan and the B is going to make establishing shots or cutaways.

I remember that on the series ” black Baron “, for the scenes shot in the hemicycle of the national assembly with hundreds of extras and dozens of actors, these were shot with 4 cameras ! I can tell you that it was sports !!

Good plan or no turn 2 cameras ?

If you turn with a hardware-less pro it is quite possible to shoot with two cameras for a lower cost.

If you have never practiced shooting with two cameras or even just seen a team use two cameras, it is easy to say : “The day I will make my film I will turn to two cameras. I will go more quickly and it will be more simple “. Error, gross error !

Turn both of the cameras, that we will call on the plateau of the cameras A and B, cannot be improvised, and if you think that this will save you precious time, without understanding all of the problems you may become disillusioned very quickly and see the extra hours and the delays accumulate !

  • The downsides are, as I said above, the number of additional technicians and equipment that you need to add. Even if you are in a configuration of the short film and that you do not pay your team, you will have to pay and feed them… maybe even the house… This represents significant costs for a small budget. But it can also add grips, if the second camera is on a steadicam, etc…
  • I tell you that you need a script supervisor on a film set. If you have two cameras you will need a second one. In general, it takes an assistant script supervisor who will fill out the necessary reports. If there are two platters, this can happen, it will necessarily have to be a other script and also an assistant director for directing the tray 2 with the camera B. In general this is the second wizard that takes the “place” of 1er the time of the existence of the second plateau. According to what he has to run it you will take a 3th wizard (reinforcement) to support the 2nd. It’s cheaper for the production to do this than to pay the salary of a second first assistant or a second salary of second.
  • The additional hardware, same I talked about above, but you must count that this may affect on the place it takes in the truck, or you need to rent another vehicle “more small” to carry all the gear (camera included) additional. For that the director may review the plans shootés by the two cameras must be 2 return video (combos). This means batteries in addition, the place of storage etc… It doesn’t feel like anything, but that, more this, more that, the more it = it costs an arm ! And the budget of a film is fragile ! Never forget that.

How to film with two cameras ?

There are several possibilities :

  • You can use it on multiple trays at the same time (rare). It happened to me on the series Grand Star (The company of ice) or for cutting planes.

In the same axis

  • This is to say that the two cameras are positioned in the same axis. You’re going to tell me, what’s the point ? You’re right. If you use two cameras to film the same actor in the same axis without changing the value of the plan, it does nothing. It will therefore be necessary to change the focal length. The camera Has filmed in a wide shot and the other more tight. Don’t forget the rule of the two difference values for the two plans are attached. That is to say, if you’re shooting a comedian in the american plan, it will be necessary to tighten with the camera B in plan chest minimum.

It is clear that this configuration will save you valuable time in terms of filming !

Sound problem

But be careful ! If you are too broad with the camera, and tightened with the camera (B you might upset the sound engineer and the boom operator ! Because being too broad, the boom operator will not be able to perch close to the actor that will be tight on the B camera ! It will take time to equip the actor with a HF and hide it in the best way possible… Because otherwise it will not be able to obtain the optimal dialogue with the perch.

Problem of light

After your engineer, this is your chief operator that you are going to put into the difficulty. Because light a wide shot does not demand not the same light thata close-up ! As the camera B will be the closest it will be necessary to illuminate his face. Only here, the chief operator will not be able to approach its projectors… otherwise they will be in the field of the camera is wide shot… in Short, you will understand, it will take time to adjust all this.

But as you have an excellent assistant director, he will have anticipated all these problems with the chief op ;o) as Much as it is necessary to provide and prepare your shooting with a camera, it takes still more prepare the shooting with two cameras !

Filming with two cameras in two different directions ?

It is in the field against field , or in another configuration, rotate in two different axes allows you to be more comfortable to shoot… especially in the comfort of the game for the actors. Because in the field against field, the actors play ” really together “…any account… even the listening time (when one of the actors do not speak and listen to the other) and for the editor as it is more flexible because the two cameras are connections (they are running at the same time) one with the other, so the actors too !

Problem team

Rotate in several axis requires to have a space game largest. This may involve more extras, more scenery discovered… and necessarily have less space to hide the team and technical facilities

Problem of light

This forces your chief operator to shed light on two axes instead of one ! Therefore, more light material and less space to hide.

You will understand to turn to two cameras and allows you to go faster in order to turn, provided that there is the number of people sufficient to absorb the work that this represents. But also provided you prepare well for these days of shooting a few individuals. It is necessary that you know exactly where you are going to ask your camera before the day of the shooting…otherwise you’ll go straight into the wall.

I hope that this article on : ” Turn to one or two cameras ? “ you liked it. Please do not hesitate to ask me your questions or comments below this article.

Leave me a comment below this article.

I will tell you next week.

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Tom Weil

ps : Thanks to those who have left a message on the article from last week, or sent an email.

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