Join Chad Perkins for an in-depth discussion in this video Making the shot list, part of Creating a Short Film: 03 Pre-Production.
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- [Voiceover] In this tutorial we're going to continue where we left off in the last movie. We're going to look at how to get all the coverage we need for the hut scene, and how to figure out the best order in which to shoot these shots. Here in Shot Designer we've basically just set up a set, our talent, and one wide angle master camera. In most scenes you're gonna want a wide establishing shot, just the master shot is what they call it that's gonna cover all the action, just as a backup, if nothing else works, you can always cut back to the master shot, it's always a good idea. But for the remainder of the cameras, the remainder of the shots that we have to get, I need to refer back to the script.
So I have the script here, and again, this is scene seven that we're covering, the hut scene, and we have a bunch of action here that basically just describes what the girls look like and how their names are pronounced and all this kind of stuff, and the wide shot is gonna cover most of this information. Now, after Korda'a finishes drawing, she hands the drawing back to Ta'ani, and then Korda'a says, "Now can we go?" So for that, when she hands the drawing in and says, "Now can we go?" this wide shot from this direction isn't gonna work because Korda'a is gonna be facing towards Ta'ani, gonna be facing away from the camera, and that's usually not a good idea to have characters facing away from the camera while they're talking.
So what I want to do is create a new camera right here, click a plus, add a new camera, let's keep all my cameras green, why not, and I'm gonna go ahead and grab this one and move the direction. So I want to kinda create an over-the-shoulder of Ta'ani's shoulder onto Korda'a here. Now, it's important that I don't put the camera on this side. The reason why is when characters interact with an object or with each other, it creates this imaginary line of action often called the axis of action, and the cameras, once on one side of it, should stay on that side for the duration of the scene with rare exception, and we'll talk about that again in the training course in Cinematography.
There was, in the good-bye scene, a time where I was on this side of the line, and I actually needed to at some point be on the other side of the line to get this shot, and so we'll talk about line-crossing and all that kinda stuff. But just to help make things easier here, I'm just going to click on one of the characters and just choose axis line two, and then click on Korda'a, and that's the axis of action right there. So I want to put all of my cameras on this hemisphere. I could have started over here and stayed over there, but I don't have any cameras over there, so I want to do everything on this side.
Now, I'm gonna click on this camera, I'm gonna add a shot description. This is Cam B, it automatically chooses the next camera. We're not gonna actually use a second camera for this, but we talk about, when we're creating shot lists we talk about the next shot as adding another camera, even though it's really the same camera that we're moving, but this is just another shot. So I'm gonna call this over-the-shoulder, OTS Ta'ani, so this is over Ta'ani's shoulder, and it's going to be a close-up of Korda'a.
So it's over the shoulder of Ta'ani getting a close-up of Korda'a, and I click OK, and I could actually click on this label and move this out of the way if that's a little bit cleaner, so the camera and label can be moved independently, which is nice. Now if we go back to the script here, after she says " Now can we go?" Then we see Ta'ani stopping their packing and she stares at the drawing, and then she says, "Recite the poem." For that we want to get a medium close-up of Ta'ani, so I can create another new camera, and I click the plus icon here, add another new camera, and I'll click here, basically in the same space here, same spot, just a little bit tighter, and I'm going to add a shot description there, and this is a medium close-up of Ta'ani.
Click OK there, now just a couple more cameras here. Most of this other stuff is, as you start covering the scene with cameras, you realize we don't need to get Korda'a sighing because we'll get that in maybe the wide shot or maybe even in her reverse shot or whatever. When she does say the poem, "Through forest deep and desert long," that's actually a really important part of the story that's gonna be a callback for later, so we need the viewers to really connect to that part. So instead of covering that from one of the profile shots, 'cause she's gonna be facing forward when she says that, and so far all we have are cameras kind of on the side of her, I want to get a camera straight on.
Now what I'm going to do in order to create another camera, instead of going back to this plus icon, which is all the way over there, I can just go ahead and click on this camera and hold down my mouse, which will duplicate that camera which is kind of an easier way to create things. Again, I want this to be a head on shot, right there in Korda'a's face. So I'm gonna go shot description, and I'm going to say CU for close-up of Korda'a, and I might put in this long description, head on shot. Click OK.
Go back to the script here, and as we continue to go along, everything else here can be covered in the stuff that we already have. We can cover this shot here when Korda'a gets up, she walks to Ta'ani, pushes the Assurance down and gets in Ta'ani's face, we can cover that with the close-up of Korda'a that we already have, but then she goes back and she draws The Assurance some more, so we'll want, like when she says, "Ahh, I just drew it," which is cut out of the final film, but she said that, we want that in more of a medium shot.
So we're gonna add another, we'll duplicate this camera, and we're gonna go ahead and add a shot description there. This is also gonna be over the shoulder of Ta'ani, and this is going to be a medium shot of Korda'a. And then finally, we also want to make sure that we get any inserts, so right here it says "Ta'ani places Korda'a's drawing in "a pile of simlar drawings next to her," and we want to make sure that we really get that action. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna duplicate this camera, and I'm just gonna click on that, hold my mouse down, duplicate it, and then I can choose, INSERT, drawings pile I'll call it, and I'll click OK.
So now we have six cameras here, one, two, three, four, five, six, and they're kind of all out of order. So we have Cam A, Cam B, gonna come back here to Cam C, and what I see a lot of amateur film-makers doing is that they will shoot in order, but the problem is is that when you start to shoot, you create something called a setup, and a setup is basically the arrangement of camera and gear and lights and everything for a particular shot, so if we are shooting Cam A here, what's gonna happen is that the gaffer and the sound guy and everybody else, they're gonna position lights and everything else behind the camera so they're not being seen, so that's a setup.
That takes a lot of work and a lot of effort. If we then go to Camera B and start shooting Camera B stuff, then they have to all take their gear and move it out of the way so it's not seen by this camera. So then if we shoot Cam A then to Cam B then to Cam C, people are gonna move their gear back to the same spot it was already in again. So this is a really inefficient way to work, and one of the biggest crimes that I see new, amateur film-makers making all the time, and it just sucks the budget, it drains the schedule, it makes the crew really annoyed and frustrated and weary because they're sitting there just doing the same thing over and over again, when it's a lot more efficient for everybody if we just get the shots on the same side while we're there.
For example, this Camera A, this shot of the wide, of the whole scene here, this is very similar in position camera setup to this medium close-up of Ta'ani. It's basically just a lens change, so it makes a lot more sense, even though it's out of order, to shoot everything from the wide, and then just change the lens or move the camera in as needed, but we still have basically the same setup, and then we capture everything while we're there. So it's a really good idea to maximize your efficiency.
When you have a wide angle lens here, get a medium lens, maybe even get a tight lens, maybe even add another shot that's an extreme close-up of Ta'ani's lips or her eyes or something like that, while we're already here. It takes basically no time to do that, whereas setups can take a very long time to do. So one of the things I typically like to do is I kind of like to go around in a circle. If I know that I'm staying on one side of the axis of action I kind of like to go around in like a half-circle. So I would shoot Camera A, change my lens and shoot Camera C, and then I would go over to Camera D.
If there was a light right here, which there was right behind Korda'a, it would be seen by Camera D. But if there was other gear on this side being stashed in a corner or something like that, that could stay there. So it's not really that big of a change going from, in this case, Camera C to Camera D, because it's just a little bit of a change, a 45 degree angle change or something like that, so it's not that hardcore of a setup. And then we get this shot next, the insert of the drawings, because the camera is, again, right here, it's super close.
And then I would go around like this, and so we're just changing a little bit each time. So instead of having this massive setup where everything's on this side of the camera and then we flip and then everything changes over, we can kind of go around like so. So what I would do is click this little button in Shot Designer to see my shot list, and if we click once we get the descriptions, which I didn't really add too many descriptions here but that's where you can get those descriptions, and what I do is I would, for example, I want Camera C to be the next shot, so I click and hold on Camera C, and once we do they kind of disconnect like that.
I could drag it up, so I want Camera C to be next. Then I want Camera D, then Camera F. So I can click on this, Camera D, and then Camera F, and then Camera E is the medium shot. I usually like to do wider first 'cause those are harder to get. Close-ups are really easy 'cause you could just bring lights in, and there's just not that much that the camera is seeing, so it's easier for gear to be brought in. So what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna make E first, and then B, so this is, I think, a much more efficient way of shooting things than just jumping around or going in order.
This is great, and I could show this to my crew, they would get it, they would know how we're gonna shoot, they would know where they're gonna put their gear. If they see the shot list, they could look at this reference and they could know where they could set their stuff down and what angles, like as the boom operator, he knows which direction to put his boom in so it's out of the shot, and so forth. However, this doesn't really tell the entire story that I wanted. For example, in this wide master shot, I don't just want to shoot the whole scene, I wanted to frame it in such a way that Korda'a takes up most of the shot, that she's really big with this wide angle lens, and Ta'ani looks really inferior in the background.
But from this shot diagram, we really don't get a sense of that. So in this case we need something a little bit more clear to show that, and that's where storyboards can come in handy. I didn't do too much storyboarding on The Assurance, but it can be helpful to get a little bit more descriptive visually of what you want out of each shot. So in the next tutorial, we'll look a little bit more about storyboarding, what that is, and why you might want to do it.
Learn how to prepare the assets, such as shooting scripts, storyboards, and shot lists. Discover how to schedule and budget a shoot, and keep costs down while leaving room for the creative decisions that need to be made along the way. Find out how to hire a crew, scout and secure locations for each scene, and prepare props, sets, and wardrobe for actors. Learn what you need to do to keep your people safe, and the things you can prepare ahead of time to make sure production and post-production run smoothly.
There are more filmmaking tips to be had! Make sure to watch the first installment to learn about the background of the project and to get an overview of the role of the producer. Look for the follow-up episodes to learn more about writing, directing, working with actors, editing and visual effects, and everything else that goes into filmmaking.
- Turning the script into a shooting script
- Working with script breakdown software such as Adobe Story
- Creating storyboards and a shot list
- Scheduling the shoot
- Budgeting the shoot and post-production
- Hiring a crew
- Preparing sets and costumes
- Scouting locations
- Creating props
- Preparing assets for post-production