Join Ashley Kennedy for an in-depth discussion in this video Discussing the multicam workflow on Sesame Street, part of Conversations in Video Editing.
- So we're gonna just watch a little bit of a segment here on one of your multi-cam shoots to get a sense of what's going on. But, of course, anyone watching this can go to Youtube and watch the entire thing. - Yeah, youtube.com/sesamestreet. - Perfect. All right. Do you wanna set us up before we, what, where are we at? - This is a street story called Numeric Con. They have their version of Comic Con on set that is celebrating numbers, and so this one is near and dear to me because it's probably one of the geekiest things we've done.
Sesame's always doing incredible parodies, but this one really revolves around the comic universe, and so right now, Elmo, this is his first time at a Numeric Con with Leela. Elmo is the Dark Nine. Right now they're 'bout to visit Fiverine and get his signature. - Thank you for the setup. And here we go. - I cannot wait to go home and tell my mother. - Boy, well, Elmo can't wait to get an autograph like dad. - Yeah. Oh, oh! Looks like we don't have to wait long, buddy! - Okay. Who's next? - Me, me! Hey, Fiverine. How you doing? Hey. I'm a huge fan.
I cannot believe I'm meeting you. I just need to shake your hand. Ooh. Uh-oh. - My crayons, you broke all five of my crayons. - Oh, I'm so sorry, Fiverine. - I use those crayons to sign autographs quickly. Now what am I going to do? - Oh, no! Now I'm never gonna get his autograph. - Worst convention ever. - Looks like they need a real number hero again, Leela. - Go to work Dark Nine.
- Stand back, everybody. The Dark Nine has a crayon for Fiverine. - Thanks, kid, but that's one crayon. Signing five lines with just one crayon is gonna take much longer. - Unless you don't sign with five lines. - But, Elmo, he's Fiverine. He has to sign with five lines. - But, Chris, there are other ways to show five. - Hey, yeah, that's true. - Like what other ways? - Well, Fiverine could just draw a number five like this.
♫ Do-do-do-doo ♫ See? - Hey, that's the number five like the one on my patented Fiverine superhero suit. - Okay (laughs). All right. So this you would say is a fairly typical multi-cam shoot that... Well, take us through kind of production. Where you on the set for this one advising for this particular one? - I actually was not. - Okay. - Yeah, yeah. - So you got the footage. - I got the footage. - And how was the footage delivered to you and how do you work with it beyond that? - We have a control room PA who will log the footage for buys and holds and with time code, and we'll use that to then import with the multi-cam cut.
So I'll get this with the script, the March script from the director, and my first pass with it is... It's two-folded. It's showing the director exactly every angle and everything that they got. Even if editorially I might think that an angle doesn't work, I make sure to put it that way they see everything that they have, and then later it'll educate whether or not we should necessarily use that angle. But this one in particular, I think there was more than one stop down and reframing the cameras in order to achieve the multiple angles.
But, yeah, this is fairly typical. They'll shoot a setup with a wide shot, and then choose specific close-ups, but all that is really decided at the script level with the director, where the cameras are gonna be and how they're going to cover it. I know editorially that can change depending on if something's not working, or if we feel like we need to be somewhere else at that moment. - And something like this, what do you like the most about cutting multi-cam and what are the biggest challenges in multi-cam cutting? - One of the things that's the most fun for me is being able to creatively choose, again, when and where we should be, not just the technical end of it, but story-telling wise I am given freedom to help decide what we should be looking at in any given moment.
So it's every gratifying to be a part of that story-telling process. Once everything's been captured, as the editor then you get to help choose how best to tell that story, and multi-cam really makes it a smooth process because you're worrying less about continuity and more about story. How can we get here, how can we get there and as quickly and as comprehensively as possible? I think one of the challenges with multi-cam, with Sesame, while they're shooting, when one camera, they'll have tally lights so when one camera moves away, they're already repositioning for their next shot.
We have incredible cameramen that know once they've got the shot they need, they move on to where they need to be next. And so the challenge for me is being able to find to the very last frame that I can get away with having a shot before the camera's already moving on to something next. - Okay. All right. Interesting. And then is it multi-cam and multi-group? Do they go through multiple takes within one multi-cam shoot, so you're working with many multi-cam clips in a multi-group? - Yes, yes, correct.
So let's say they do five takes. All five of those takes will be shot multi-cam. The performers, while they're performing, they're looking at a monitor that's below them while they're performing above them, so it's crucial for them to work with the TD and the AD to know what the camera's seeing at any given moment so that way eye line's working for them, and they're educated to see where they are in the frame. So part of rehearsing and getting through the shot is knowing exactly what camera is on you and when. - Mm-hmm.
- Definitely. - And then timing up those moments in post, you know, is fun and can be challenging for the reasons that you mentioned. Before we go on to kind of another style, is there anything else you'd like to say about working in multi-cam on Sesame Street? - I mean, something that's fun about working a multi-cam on Sesame Street for me is being able to choose from more than one take moments since the performers and the director already know when they were intending a close-up and when they were intending a wide shot and et cetera.
And it's consistent from take to take. I'll then be able to go back and start with the director's buy and hold, but then make some editorial decisions that this close-up of Fiverine might be better than another and so having that luxury to take specific pieces out and replace them with other takes because of the process of multi-cam and not having to worry necessarily too much if it will work in terms of continuity.
So the by takes are usually incredible, but there's, as any production, there's moments where, "Oh, someone said this better," or "This performance looked better." So we're able to then start to create the final piece that goes to air, yeah.