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The Cost of "Wide & Tight"


VASI
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Outside of sound point of view; how can "wide & tight" saves money from production? Faster shootings aka less days is the usual answer, but it's not increasing the cost of extra camera operator & focus puller? I mean on this scenario (wide & tight) and not two cameras shooting simultaneously two close ups which make more sense for me. It's not take more time to DoP and Gaffer to light the scene for wide & tight?

 

Thanks

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I spent the day yesterday fighting wide and tight, and post lunch, there was no rehearsals either, for 'expediancy' - many takes followed.....

- needless to say the boom was also ( amongst soft shots, poor light, missed cues ) in shot somewhat - I pointedly said to my boom op that I wasn't worried if we got in shot since without rehearsal we had no idea of where to put the mic, I'm talking 21mm and 135mm intimate dialog scenes.   Anyway both the director and DOP heard me even though that wasn't really the intention and a bit of a pow wow ensued, we are all on really good terms, so the talk was convivial  - it was at the end of the day so we'll see if things have changed today.  Fingers crossed.

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I have had DPs volunteer wides and tights easily as often as I have had directors ask for them. They pad their setup count and save points for the times THEY want to shoot with one camera. There's always time to shoot one camera when it serves the DP.

So I approach it the same way. I try to give them wide and tight whenever it "works" for me (the lav sounds pretty good on a particular character - it's noisy so might be on a lav anyway - try to shoot even tighter of bits and pieces they want anyway, like reaction shots or pick-ups of hands and such). That way they can see I'm trying to help them be "faster" sometimes, so maybe they'll help me get better sound sometimes.

Lots of times they just want to shoot anything to keep the director or producer happy. I've had side conversations with the DP when they say they plan to get a shot again when the cameras move in, because the long lens is "wrong". They shoot it anyway. Sure it's possible it can be used, but if they're shooting a "bad" shot, I don't stress over it.

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There is also the issue of lack of rehearsal and lack of actor skill.  Many actors are hired almost purely for looks, and esp when unrehearsed may not be able to give a consistent enough performance that cutting between takes would work very well (not hitting marks etc).  Thus it is important to get as much coverage as possible on every take so it will cut.

 

philp

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I think the de-evolution of the art form once called "Cinema" is increasing at an ever quickening pace as we no longer have the discipline to rehearse, block, light, get focus marks on shots that make up the scenes, that make the Movie/TV Show/Commercial any more. Add to that 2 or more cameras and a compromised product is what we end up with. Add to that, the day, (it's already here) when the 4k, 6k, 8k cameras can push in and reframe any wide shot into a much tighter shot. We sound people end up recording every shot as many ways as we can and are more tracking engineer than what being a mixer once was. Personally I can't see it ever going back and I've lost my energy to fight against the tide of new school against what was a wonderful controlled way of telling a story in the realm of Cinema. It's not that the new way sux, hell, we need to do something with all our tracks and radios. It's just that I know for a fact we did it better in the old days and ways.

CrewC

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I think there can be justification for a 2-camera shoot when it's not wide & tight. If they have a medium shot of the character on the left simultaneously with a close-up of the character on the left, then the sound can be optimized and the lighting can be optimized just fine. Even a 2-shot and a close-up can work from the same direction. It's when they're criss-crossing or shooting wide & tight (or wide and medium) that the problems come up. 

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The thing I struggle with the most is when the intention of b camera is "just shoot something, we have to use both cameras cause they're here".

All of a sudden, mid scene, b camera moves cause a cameras planned but unrehearsed move puts them right in b cameras shot. Now both shots are messed up, the sounds is messed up, yet it still counts as the " coverage " you get of the scene.

I agree with Marc, there are some situations where multiple cameras have a benefit. The rest of the time.....

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Hi,

 

Valid points from all. So, the cost of extra hands (camera operator / focus puller) isn't so high; if we think the DoP takes an action on first or second camera sometimes then the cost is much lower for them. In terms of numbers on paper production saves (actual) money.

 

In one hand we have the "saved money" and in the other hand we have the "lost" actual value of highly quality in picture and sound. Is it worth the "saved money" versus the actual value of highly quality picture and sound? This is what I am trying to figure out.

 

Thanks all

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Sadly, the audience doesn't seem to care about the lack of quality.

The studios are all owned by big corporations, and are run by lawyers and Harvard MBAs. Filmmakers used to run studios, and that's no longer the case.

There may still be people out there attempting to create art, but mostly the business plan wins and we are assigned to create content.

I dream of some day getting to work on something where people truly care about the quality of the product and the telling of the story.

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With regards to the budgetary considerations, I am wondering if the calculation of adding another camera crew, thus shooting more setups per day thus saving money really adds up. I'd imagine that the saved budget is being moved to the post-production where it becomes an expense again. For adr, picture corrections (making it look better?), and so on.

I frequently meet production managers who don't really care about post-production (just like many ADs). They have a budget for post, and they won't touch that, but they often don't remember that money saved during production will incur costs in post. I ask them to consider my request to spend a litlle now in order to save a lot later. But they won't do it. Not all of them, of course

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Again, this savings is not quantifiable in a dollars savings, it's figured into the amount of time it takes to get the shots your Director wants/needs.

Unless, you as the sound mixer, are trying to boom both the wide and the tight with one microphone, then there is no ADR costs.

In regards to the "cost" to the artistic integrity, it's huge, close ups that are flat looking, wrong eyelines and out of focus shots, due to a shallow depth of field, when shooting with a long lens. The lost art of matching sizes, from one close up to the other. However, your sound can still sound good, due to the advancements made in radio microphone technologies, and lavaliere microphones.

Yes, of course, that's all true. Perhaps I didn't choose my words wisely. There may be no more ADR than with a single camera, altough I do believe that the risk for ADR is higher when a lot of wiring is involved.

And there are always situations where a lav isn't possible, and if (because of wide and tight simultaneously) the boom is not working, either, there is not much else to do. A plant maybe.

But this constant "wire everyone" is producing more costs in post, as there are more tracks to juggle, and more work to be done on lav tracks, I'd guess. Adding perspective, cleaning the occasional rustle and so on. This is not necessarily related to two cameras, though, and I don't know how this actually works out cost-wise, but it will certainly create more work for post.

And I'm sure we all agree that a well-placed boom mic always sounds better than a well-placed lav mic.

OTOH I also see advantages to shooting with more than one camera:

If dop and gaffer really know what they are doing, I think that it can actually be beneficial for the actors. Fewer setups are better for concentration, every actor (or most ) is always on and will give their best, continuity-wise it'll match perfectly, and so on...

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I'll wire everyone if they want.  They'll shoot with as many cameras as they want.  But just because they have more than one camera doesn't mean that all shots from all cameras are going to work all the time, any more than all my wires are going to be clear and free of clothing noise or etc all the time.  An acceptance of this reality is what separates good multiple camera directors from bad or inexperienced ones.  This does not take into account the ambitions of the B thru Z-camera operators, of course.  Re: ADs, even some of the ones I've known  for years are really mostly about checking things off their shotlists and getting Brownie points because they got some of the "if there's time" shots.  They generally give a flying fuck about post, especially audio post.  Not Their Problem, and shit flows downstream.  

 

philp

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On most shows, it'll cost less to pay a few people more time to fix something later than it'll cost lots of people to spend a little time to get it right on the day.

Quality used to generate revenue, so that used to be factored in. I believe that the importance of quality to the paying audience has lessened to the point that doing it better doesn't trump doing it cheaper.

Cheap. Fast. Good. Pick 2.

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When wide and tight are used in the same take, I love to go and talk to the director and ask when we can break the master. This really allows them (director and DP) to show their hand at how much they've thought about the shot as well as if they have much experience in post.

 

In TV, the master goes away in about 3 seconds to establish geography, there may be a possible bookend back to the master at the end of the scene. So I ask when we can break the shot, hope for the answer to not be too deep into the scene, and hopefully get to chuckle when I see the camera op freak out when the master gets broken. Good times.

 

Scott Harber

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I've lamented to budding directors before that a guy like Hitchcock would only roll on a big wide shot for about 10 seconds, then cut. In rare cases, he'd do a pickup for the last 10 seconds of the shot. When asked why he didn't roll on the entire shot, he'd look shocked and answer, "why I ever want to go to the wide shot in the middle of a conversation?" He essentially cut in the camera on a lot of his classic films.

 

Today is different, and there are studios who will get on the phone immediately to the director or the AD if they feel they aren't getting enough "coverage" every day. They (wrongly) believe if there's 4 or 5 or 6 hours of material every day for a 10-minute scene, they'll always be able to save it in post. 

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Coming from a TV drama as boom operator; I found the director telling every necessary department the master shoot will be 3-5 seconds. When we had scenes with 3-4 pages dialogue and 7-8 actors, director comes to me and telling "don't panic, I will pick up one - two lines from here and after I will cut". I found this faster than "wide & tight".

 

Isn't this cheaper for production and more fast for AD's?

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