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Single Camera Dramas

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Liam O'Neill

on 18 June 2015

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Transcript of Single Camera Dramas

Single Camera Dramas
The Walking Dead
'The Walking Dead' is a single camera drama which uses flash-forwards, as well as flashbacks. This shows that the drama has a non-linear structure and storyline. The show also features a range of camera and editing techniques to expose emotion in characters in the show. This creates more interest for the viewers, as they spectate the characters as they develop. An example of this can be drawn from Season 4 Episode 8 when they use close-ups of two different characters' faces to create a sympathetic feel in the audience, as well as hatred towards the other.
Breaking Bad
Genre: Crime Drama
Format: Serial
Breaking Bad is a realistic non-linear show, as it cuts to different time frames, usually in the intros to each episode. This creates confusion and cause the viewer to become attached and want to find out what happens next, and what just happened, and the reasons behind it all. This makes Breaking Bad a popular television serial. Most Single Camera Productions are shown in Prime-Time television time, which is exactly when Breaking Bad was shown across America. Prime-Time television is evening television, which usually is from 7:00pm to 11:00pm. Breaking Bad features a compelling plot line, with a range of camera, lighting, and editing techniques.
Camera Shots
Breaking Bad uses a lot of Point Of View shots (POV). A Point Of View shot is a camera shot which is seen through the view of an object or person, so seeing what the object or person can see. This is very different to most single camera dramas, as it uses film-like cinematographic cameras techniques. Breaking Bad also uses other various shots which aren't used in most single camera dramas, making this show more appealing to critics especially. This shot is used to engage the audience more, and make the audience feel as if they are in the situation.
This shot is an example of the non-linear structure in which Breaking Bad has, as it shows a shot of 'Walter White' promoting non-violence, and then a flash-forward of him, stained in blood, walking away from an exploded building. The camera work in these shots make it a lot more interesting to watch, as it uses more individual shots which differ to other single-camera dramas.
This is one of multiple scenes in Breaking Bad which illustrate the non-linear structure which Breaking Bad maintains throughout the show. This has been created by cross-cutting the present with the future, creating a sense of mystery and wonder, which are the senses which most television serials present.
This close-up on the character's face shows how when the sword is lowered, the character's face becomes happier, leading the audience to believe that the character is safe. This is revealed through the close-up shot. Close-up shots are often used in single camera dramas to emphasise or show a character's fa expressions, which can also bring out their feelings. This is important for a single camera drama, as the characters are the ones who make up the drama, and make it more interesting for the viewer, as well as more gripping.
Another close-up on the villain's face reveals more expressions which indicate opposite feelings, but it is actually another single camera drama twist. Another close-up shot is used on the executor to present his anger, and therefore leading to the camera zooming out whilst the executor swings the sword, and leading to the camera panning quickly, following the sword to the victim's neck.
In 'The Walking Dead', even though the majority of its set in the bright daytime of America, a lot of lighting equipment is still needed, just so every feature of a person/zombie's face is not missed, or misinterpreted. Lighting isn't needed as much in The Walking Dead, as the creators want to create a feel of realism for the viewer, as it creates more relation to the character, and more engagement with the viewer.
The lighting in 'The Walking Dead' is not scripted, but tested on the filming day, until they find the perfect lighting angle. The picture below shows the kind of moving lighting needed in order for an action shot to be correctly carried out. This allows for the lighting team to experiment, but can mean that it is a longer process, due to the lack of planning.
The lighting people, as shown below, need to meter the light to test whether it's bright enough, or dark enough to look good on the camera, especially in 'The Walking Dead' due to the darkness of the molding guts and blood that is found in various places around a zombie's body. With the indoor shots, this means that it is darker, and the lighting team need to creates a dim lighting, light enough so the characters can be seen, but dark enough so that the feeling of darkness is still present for the viewer
In Breaking Bad, a lot of editing is needed to emphasize different aspects of the show, and make it more visually appealing to viewers. This emphasizes the mystery of the show, therefore adding to the affect of the storyline. This is carefully created by the editors of Breaking Bad with the creator, so that the editing can create more mystery, and more emphasis on certain things.
Camera Techniques
This shot of the pink teddy bear shows how the editors of Breaking Bad used colour splashes or the 'colour pass' effect to emphasize and put all focus on the pink bear. This shows that this also has some significance as the editors want the audience to focus on this. Close-ups are also used to expose the damage to the bear, and its missing eye. Also, there is a use of low contrast to create a darker feeling, as well as to add a more appealing visual effect.
Most of the lighting used in Breaking Bad is in the indoor shots, as the sun is mainly used for the rest. The lighting in Breaking Bad is used to focus on characters and fade other characters out in certain shots. The main uses is for the audience to be able to see in the darker shots, yet still keeping a night-time or dark effect. Also, it helps set the mood for that scene.
An example of this in Breaking Bad is in this lawyer's office, where lighting is used to focus on the character behind the desk, and where there isn't any lighting on the characters who do not have the main focus in that scene. This makes the focus character stand out, whilst blacking out the other two characters who aren't the focus of this shot. This creates a silhouette effect, making the silhouetted characters seem not as important for that shot.
Lost was nominated for multiple Prime-time Emmy Awards for outstanding single-camera picture editing for a drama series. It has a non-linear storyline and uses multiple editing techniques to make it an attractive show. In Lost, a lot of cross-cut shots are used to create mystery and suspense. The storyline is packed with plot twists and and character development. Editing, lighting and camera shots are all important for presenting this in Lost.
Editing, Lighting, and Camera Shots
In Lost, a lot of different camera techniques are used to create focus on something or someone, or to create fear. As shown below, a lot of equipment and lighting is needed to perform the right shot. It needs to be located outside due to the amount of space needed to capture the shot, but shouldn't have the outside light ruining the darkish atmosphere. This is avoided using bright lights to create an unnatural light, rather than natural light. Also, it is filmed at night time (when actually the scene in the series is set in daytime. In the shots below, it shows the rusty and tight setting in which a scene is being filmed. The dim lighting exposes the darkness and emphasises the dirty setting in which the character is in. This makes the audience feel as if this is a whole different world, as the editors make a post explosive and crash like setting, emphasising the point of the show.
Game Of Thrones
Game Of Thrones won a Prime-time Emmy Award for outstanding single-camera picture editing for a drama series, and episode 9 of season 3 (The Rains of Castamere) earned this award through its use of lighting, editing, and camera work. Through all these techniques, it creates a sense of shock in the audience by revealing certain things at certain moments.
Camera Shots
This episode uses a wide range of different camera techniques to expose the facial expressions, and also show all the events in which are happening in that room simultaneously. A lot of close-up shots are used in order to reveal certain things, creating shock among the audience. The camera team carefully film shots from the right angle, so every little detail is revealed at the right time, so the full effect is revealed. Filming these shots at the right distance and angle is important for this scene, as filming from a bad distance can lead to the effect not being as powerful, as facial expressions may not be as exposed.
This shot shows how the blurred background creates focus on the character. This makes the audience focus on the character who is in focus, and helps to emphasise her more.
The shot pans in, to the point where she meets her fate. When she does, the zooming and panning stops, emphasising that her life has also come to an end, making it a lot more powerful for the viewer.
In Game Of Thrones, the majority of the show is located outside in the sunlight, therefore not a lot of lighting is needed. However, in 'The Rains of Castamere', very dim lighting is needed, but not too bright as a dark and dull lighting is needed for the scene.
Most of the light is created by the candles located around the hall, however lighting is still needed to capture important moments, such as when a dim orange light is place above this character, so that the viewer can see the expression of emotional pain.
White Walkers
In Game of Thrones, a lot of special effects, camera work, editing and lighting is needed to make the White Walkers as intimidating and scary as possible. This is revealed through using mystery in editing, lighting, and camera shots. Editing, lighting, and camera work is incredibly important for the white walkers, as in the first few seasons, this is all used to create mystery, by making it difficult to make out the features of the white walker, but revealing the shape and size of it. This is used up until season 2, where a close-up shot is used to finally unveil the mystery.
A mixture of dim, and more bright lighting is needed to build up and reveal the White Walker.
This second shot shows the darkened body of the white walker, and only the eyes and the weapon stand out. This is achieved through lowering the contrast on the white walker's body, and raising and intensifying the light on the white walker's eyes. This makes the characters a lot more intimidating, as the mystery and the sense of unknowing makes it more mysterious for the viewer.
Special Effects
Special effects are used on the white walkers to create a cold effect, with frosty steam glowing around the white walker's weapon and body.
Camera Shots
A lot of different camera shots are used to create fear and a sense of danger. The shot above shows a white walker, and consists of multiple camera techniques. The camera zooms into the white walker whilst the camera moves backwards on a dolly. This happens whilst the white walker is walking forward. The focus is on the white walker, and the background is blurred, to maintain focus on the white walker for the audience. The lighting is very dim, and creates a glow around the character, emphasizing the cold temperature of the white walker.
In Breaking Bad, the entire team get together to discuss where sound and music should or should not be, what it should achieve, and whether it is going to be score or source. Main music composer Dave Porter compose music for a few days, before using QuickPlayer to send them off to creator of the show, Vince Gilligan. Dave Porter tries to compose unusual music so that it stands out, and makes the show more unique. He uses instruments such as the Soniccouture instruments software.
Sound Design
The sound design in Breaking Bad is very interesting and unconventional, as it utilises a lot of Asian instruments as a backdrop for Walt when he is often very out of place in a particular setting. This makes the sound a lot more interesting, and emphasises the situation or event that is currently happening when the viewer is watching. Dave Porter tries to create music that "seems to blur the lines between music and sound design", making it even more unique.
Above: Dave Porter in his studio.
Sound is an important element in Breaking Bad, as it it used to emphasise and intensify certain situations and events in the show.
Building a Scene and Story
Building a Scene
In Breaking Bad, the whole team build a scene using many different elements, including sound, editing, scripting, acting, and camera work. All of these elements used together make a more gripping and altogether better show. However, the events that happen within that scene are the most important. An example of this in Breaking Bad is in the episode named 'Crawl Space', in the final scene. The scene is built upon camera shots and sound to make the scene tense, as well as the amazing acting from Bryan Cranston, which ultimately made the scene so significant and terrifying in the show. The events of Walt's uncontrollably terrifying and menacing laughter to Skylar's terrified face makes the scene a lot more scary, only to be made more scary with the music of Dave Porter.
Building a Story
In Season 1 of Breaking Bad, Walt's character is being set up, for example, his character starts off in simple grey boring clothes to show his normal life, and towards the end of the season, he needs to have become a small time meth cook, wearing more colourful clothes to show the change in his emotion and happiness. The creators need to work out how he gets there, so they choose his motivation for becoming a meth dealer, so he has cancer and therefore needs to make money in able to afford treatment of this, and also has a son with a disability. As well as having separate character arcs, each character has there own episode arc too, so by the end of the first episode, he has already initiated the transition from his normal self, to a meth dealer. Walt's character at the beginning of the story is put in contrast with Hank, Walt's brother, who is seen as a caricature of the complete opposite of Walt, and progressively, Hank tones down, and Walt becomes greater, showing the change in character arc from the beginning to end of the Season, and emphasising the change and progression of the characters. In the first episode, the creators set up Walt's relationship with his wife by making weaker love to show Walt's boring relationship with his wife, and how they cannot be bothered to make love. However, towards the end of the episode, after Walt has cooked meth for the first time, he come into bed and makes love with his wife like never before, suggesting that the meth is giving Walt new life, even though he has just been diagnosed with cancer, showing that the meth is not only for his family, but him. This sets up the whole television serial, showing how important the character arc is to the story, especially when initialising the show. This builds the base to the entire television serial. This is just one of many character arcs in the television serial, showing the depth of the show and how the amount of detail adds to the story and makes it much more meaningful and interesting.
The script in Breaking Bad is reasonably simple, but very powerful in directing the crew in what to do. Each important line or paragraph is separated, and the writer shows emphasis on important elements such as the 'SIRENS' to show how loud they need to be. The shooting script in Breaking Bad also contains the dialogue, making it a much more detailed script overall.
Below: The Script Formula for Breaking Bad.
There are three different types of format in which a single camera drama can be, which are as follows:
A series means that each episode has its own story, and has almost no relation to any other episode within the same series. This means that you are able to watch a later episode on its own without watching the rest, as it is not related in terms of its narrative.
A serial is when the entire television show consists of the same story or stories, meaning that you must watch the entire series in order of episodes for it to make sense. This means that you must start from episode 1, and continue in episodic order. This is evident in shows such as
True Detective
and Better Call Saul.
Single Drama
A single drama is when a television show merely consists of one or two episodes, and is not a continuous series. This is evident in shows such as See No Evil, in which just one episode was released onto television, following a short story.
There are multiple different genres of single camera dramas, many with intertwining and overlapping genres. These genres consist of the following:


; and


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