Join James Ball for an in-depth discussion in this video Camera and set diagrams, part of Multi-Camera Video Production and Post.
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- A big part of the pre-production process is actually writing down a plan. I know a lot of people just like to wing it, but I'm a big fan of getting something written, I think it's a good starting point, right? - Yeah, I mean, it's all part of that planning process, that confidence process, I mean, whatever works for you, diagrams are kind of the obvious thing, they're visual, but they also will convey a little bit more information in terms of whatever you need, measurements, placement of cameras, placement of lights, placement of art department props, talent, I mean it's all putting, it's putting all the elements together, in one big visual that hopefully everybody can understand, you know, even if you're shooting in places where people don't speak the same language, or the culture's different, drawings are the universal communicator in this business, I'm telling you.
- So, for the case of this particular production, we had a pre-production meeting. Now, I was actually offsite, but first, the Producer and I met and we talked through the project. When we were designing this multi-camera shoot, to give you an idea on how multi-camera productions worked, we tried to come up with something that was going to be representative of a real world, but slightly challenging, shooting environment. For this, I decided that I wanted to get somewhere between four and seven cameras into the mix, so I started thinking about ideas on where those cameras would be.
We also wanted to make sure that we had adequate coverage, so it was important to sort of design things. Now, I knew that there was a handful of limitations, that we only had a reasonable-sized crew. So, when I sat down with the Producer, we sort of just mapped up what we were going to do, and how many crew people we needed, and what fit our budget. Of course, that plan, Jim, that's in my head, and even if I wrote it down, isn't really your plan, and as the Director of Photography, there's a certain transference that has to happen there, right? I have to take my vision and work with you to turn it into something that actually works.
- Yeah, someone like me, a Director of Photography, is essentially, you know, you're in service to the people that hired you, and that's the Director, and the Producer. So, my plan has to not only just mesh with your plan, it needs to be in service of your vision and your plan. Now, I can work on a number of levels where I can be more autonomous, be in more control in my areas, or give it up, you know, be there in support, but essentially that's my job.
Now, I need to be prepared for taking over whatever amount of control that's asked for or not necessarily asked for, so I'm going to overly prepare, or I'm going to prepare as many levels as I can, so, the diagrams, the prep in advance, all help me to be ready, so there are no curveballs. - So, this plan that you've made in advance, and that you communicate with each other, is going to serve as sort of a launching pad to getting results. Now, if everything goes well, you're going to get off to a pretty smooth start.
When we hit the ground running here in the studio, and you see that we're about set up behind us for our first production, we had a pretty good idea on what we want to accomplish. But as we started working through the studio, things changed. Exactly where the lights were going to go wasn't quite right. We found, for example, once we started lighting, that we needed to make a few tweaks and add a few extra elements to get the exact results that we wanted. So, the plan and reality are often different, and Jim, I know you're a big fan that once you sort of have reality, you need to re-document it in case you need it again, right? - Now, when you're making all these recordings, set diagrams, all the things to prepare yourself for possible future repeats, this is also a collaboration with other departments, so it almost is essential that everybody's doing this, because my notes, my records, may not be in sync with another department's records, for example, if I make a very meticulous lighting grid or lighting plan, and it's based on the placement of say, the set within a studio, and that person hasn't made similar notes and similar measurements, and then next time, puts the set in a different place, well all my marks don't really matter anymore.
So, I can sort of do everybody else's job, and take their measurements too, and I very often do, I mean, overcompensating is never going to hurt you in this job. But, collaboration is a really important word in this business, so everybody needs to be thinking about the other departments, the bigger picture, you know, not just their job, when you're doing this kind of planning. So, now that we're pretty much almost finished with our shooting, we know pretty much that the set is going to be what it is, because we've recorded it, so we want to make a record for it for future reference, whether we have to repeat the shoot, or it becomes a series, and we have to duplicate it more than a few times.
So it's this stage now that I'll really do a more fine-tuned diagram and documentation of the set, the lighting plan, the camera positions. It can be something pretty rough that I can make nice, or another professional person can make nice later, but for now I'm just making sure I get it down quick so I can recall it at a later time.
Yeah, so that first time is in some ways an experiment for the future if you have to repeat the shoot, the set, the conditions, for whatever reason, you need to document it, you need to measure it, you need to record it in every way you can, so once you get over that hump, that first hump where you've maybe taken a little more time and experimented a little bit, or reshuffled a little bit, that the next time it's clockwork, and you can tell your producers that it's going to take this amount of time, and as long as nobody messes around and changes things on you, it could happen, but, you have that blueprint that's been proven.
- Yeah, and you might even have a gear list that comes out of it so you know how to pack, or what to order for the next time. So, make sure you take the time, once the multi-camera production is over, or you're wrapping up towards the end, to sufficiently document. Take out the tape measure, take some photos, make some drawings, the more details the better, and that's just going to ensure that either the next time you have to do the same project, or maybe a project that's similar, a lot of times we're called upon to do similar productions, you're not starting from scratch. You've got great notes that you can draw upon.
You'll learn essential preproduction strategies to get the right gear and place it in the right position. You'll also learn techniques for syncing the visuals and audio captured from each camera. Rich and James offer advice for directors running shoots in the field, as well as strategies for crew members who are building sets and logging footage. Finally, in chapters 7 and 8, they share techniques for multicamera postproduction with Final Cut Pro X and Premiere Pro. In these chapters, you'll learn how to create multicam clips, apply color correction, color match angles, switch between angles, and refine and master your edit. By the end of the course, you'll have a thorough start-to-finish understanding of the multicamera production process.
- Planning the multicamera production
- Evaluating the location
- Creating camera diagrams
- Selecting the right equipment
- Communicating with crew
- Lighting multicam productions
- Matching and syncing cameras
- Directing a multicamera shoot
- Editing multicamera video