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Unit 22 - Single Camera Techniques

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Lucy Longley

on 22 June 2015

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Transcript of Unit 22 - Single Camera Techniques

Unit 22 - Single Camera Techniques
Task 1

For this task I needed to conduct detailed research into single camera productions.
Narrative Structure
A narrative structure defines the content of a story and the form used to tell a story. Typically known as either a story or plot.
Lucy Longley
Single Camera Production
Single camera production is a method of film making and video production. A single camera is employed on the set, and each shot to make up a scene is taken independently.

Multiple camera production is another method of film making and video production. Several cameras are employed on the set and simultaneously record or broadcast a scene. It is often contrasted with single camera production, which uses one camera.
Single Camera
Multiple Camera
Why Producers use single instead of multiple...
Single camera formats give the director more control over a shot, it is more expensive and more time consuming as the shot has to be planned thoroughly giving actors correct timing for their directions.

More than one camera may make it awkward to film the set without seeing crew, lights, etc. and also the expensive hire of more than one camera plus a crew to go with it - this is why single camera production is easier and more productive.

Single camera formats are often used in films joining an array of tracking and panning shots. They are useful in films as they circulate the room and set the scene for the viewing audience.
Which British Productions use single camera techniques...?
Soap Operas
Two / Three Parters
Single Dramas
Genres and Sub-genres
Period Drama
Get Started In Film Making. Tom Holden
Woking College Resources
A serial is a single story broken down into episodes, whereas a series contains the same characters throughout but with a different storyline each time.
Movie series examples: Harry Potter and Night at the Museum.
Serials and Series
Single dramas are almost short films with an episode sense, they are regularly known as TV movies. They tend to only be broadcasted once and are very rarely turned into a TV series.
Examples include - Our Girl 2013 and Finding Mrs. Claus 2012.
Our Girl became a TV series in 2014
Narrative Strands
Closed Narrative
Open Narrative
Linear Narrative

A sequential order, shots flow from beginning to end. Flashbacks can be used, as long as it jumps back to the main story.
This form of narration is used in British films to build tension, this engages the audience and makes them feel part of the journey the character is taking.
An example of this is: War Horse.
Non-Linear Narration
The opposite of a linear production, the events jump around and don't have a clear sequence. This technique is often used in crime dramas, where the ending is typically shown at the start of the film. This form can contain flashbacks, usually associated with the time; time is almost always manipulated by movies with non-linear narratives.
Single Strand
One central character in a single plot, whilst surrounded by minor characters. A single strand narrative always keeps the focus on the protagonist whilst highlighting their story/journey over anything else that is occurring. Examples of single strand narrative are Superman and James Bond.
Multiple Strand
"Multiple strands can have two or more isolated groups of characters existing at once." This form of structure appeals to British audiences as they are not only concerned about the outcome of each strand, but how the stands relate to each other. Examples of this is Inbetweeners 2 and Love Actually.
British film producers use non-linear narrations to make films more technical and to stimulate the audiences response, to make them think about how in the crime drama the ending occurs.
An example of this is the film Pulp Fiction.
Single strand is used when creating British films as it gives the audience a character that they can relate to and follow through their journey. Producers use this structure as they can focus on one main protagonist, resulting in fewer main actors on set.
Open narratives have no apparent beginning, middle or end. Typically cliff hangers are used to engage an audience and keep them watching. This form of narrative is generally used for TV serials, however for movies even though they tend to be 'stand alone' productions an open narrative can be used if they intend to be followed by a sequel.
E.g. Coronation Street
Closed narratives are more commonly found in movies; due to the storyline being unraveled before an audience, and then brought to a conclusion. Having a closed narration does not mean no movie sequels can be made, they tend to be seen as different films with the same characters. A good example of this is James Bond; there are 23 movies (with the 24th coming soon) all with a different storyline, but the same characters.
Closed narration is used in British films as directors and writers are able to put across a story and conclude it all in one film. It also gives the opportunity for sequels which have different storylines.
Another example is 'About Time' - The film compresses 20 years into just over 2 hours.
Shot Types
Extreme Wide Shot -
The view is so far from the subject that he isn't even visible.
Very wide Shot -
The subject is only barely visible.
Wide Shot -
The subject takes up the full frame (Long shot)
Mid Shot -
Shows some part of the subject in more detail while still giving an impression of the whole subject.
Close Up -
A certain feature or part of the subject takes up the whole frame.
Extreme Close Up -
Gets right in and shows extreme detail.
Cut-in -
Shows some (other) part of the subject in detail.
Cutaway -
A shot of something other than the subject.
Two-shot -
A shot of two people, framed similarly to a mid shot.
Over-the-shoulder Shot -
Looking from behind a person at the subject.
Point-of-view Shot -
Shows a view from the subject's perspective.
Weather Shot -
The subject is the weather. Can be used for other purposes, e.g. background for graphics.
How is the camera used in Single Camera Production?
Technical Aspects
Shot Types source:
Building a Scene & Story
Most traditionally found on television, soap operas are continuous programs based upon reality of the same group of characters in one area.
Examples of this include: Hollyoaks, EastEnders, Coronation Street and Neighbours.
These are examples of the different genres that use single camera techniques...
Lighting is used to set an atmosphere, be representative or to symbolize an event or emotion.
Sound is used to stimulate emotions to suit the mood/atmosphere of the film.
This diagram is displaying the correct light set up in order for the subject to be fully lit whilst not creating unnatural shadows.
By removing the fill light and replacing the key light with an umbrella to reflect the light the subject is creating a shadow.
"This back light just highlights the left cheek of the subject while keeping the light pretty dramatic."
Why do they only use one camera?
Using one camera allows the directors to use less budget on crew and equipment; instead they can be more creative with set designs and actors.
Why do they only use one camera?
Having locations inside houses or set buildings the actors and crew are in such close proprieties; therefore with simultaneous filming from more than one camera could mean other cameras are seen in shots - using one camera makes sure this doesn't happen.
Why do they only use one camera?
Using a single camera technique tends to achieve fewer continuity mistakes; even though it is more time consuming with single dramas they have a more flexible schedule.
Also known as TV Mini-Series they are 2 or 3 episodes long. Typical episodes run for 60-90 minutes. They can be any genre of program.

An examples of this production is: 'Prey' - Thriller 3 episodes 2014
"On the run accused of a terrible crime, Manchester Detective Marcus Farrow (John Simm) tries to prove his innocence while being hunted by his former friends and colleagues."
This three parter portrayed all the aspects of a film or TV series in three 1hour episodes; it used flashbacks and a linear narrative as we learn as Marcus found out.
Narrative Theories
Todorov's Five Act Structure
Vladimir Propp's Eight Character Roles
Levi-Stauss' Binary Oppositions
Uses and Gratifications
Todorov published an influential theory in the 1960s suggesting that "stories begin with an equilibrium or status quo where any potentially opposing forces are in balance".
Todorov suggested that conventional narratives are structured in five stages:
1. A state of equilibrium at the onset
2. A distruption of the equilibrium by some action
3. A recognition that there has been a disruption
4. An attempt to repair the disruption
5. A reinstatement of the equilibrium

This type of narrative structure is very common and is frequently used in many 'mainstream' film narratives.
Todorov's Theory Example: The Titanic
1. Everyone is extremely happy about boarding the 'unsinkable ship' and they are enjoyed their first few days aboard the titanic.

2. A disruption of the equilibrium occurs when the 'look-outs' notice an iceberg up ahead. They try going hard to starboard but the ship still hits the ships; grazing the side and taking on water (but the captain and passengers do not realise).

3. Once they realise that the ship is taking on water it is too late. They start warning the passengers to wear their life jackets and to head to the deck.

4. Within the panic they start to fill the lack of lifeboats with women and children first. They release the boats with a lot of spare seats; meaning many people were stranded on the ship.

5. The reinstatement occurs when the people who escaped on the lifeboats realise their mistake and return to find anyone who survived the sinking of the ship.
"Uses and gratifications theory is an approach to understanding why and how people actively seek out specific media to satisfy specific needs." This theory is a popular approach to understanding mass communication.
The main focus of this theory is 'What do people do with Media?'
Vladimir was the founder of the idea that a certain type of character was to be used in every narrative structure. "His theory has influenced many filmmakers into writing and producing successful narratives."
Propp suggested that every narration has eight different character types:
The Villain -
fights the hero in some way
The Dispatcher -
character who makes the villain's evil known and sends the hero off
The (magical) helper -
helps the hero in the quest
The princess -
the hero deserves her throughout the story but is unable to marry her because of an unfair evil, usually because of the villain. The heroes journey is often ended when he marries the princess, thereby beating the villain and resulting in a “happily ever after” moment
Her father -
gives the task to the hero, identifies the false hero, often sought for during the narrative. Propp noted that functionally, the princess and the father cannot be clearly distinguished
The donor -
prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object
The hero or victim/seeker hero -
reacts to the donor, weds the princess
False hero -
takes credit for the hero’s actions or tries to marry the princess
Propp's Theory Example: Jack the Giant Slayer
The Villain/False Hero- Roderick (Stanley Tucci)
The villain in this film is the kings advisor, suppose to marry the princess. Whilst Jack is trying to save the Princess, he instead wants to rule over the Giants.

Helper - Elmont (Ewan McGregor)
A protector of the Princess Elmont goes on the quest to rescue the Princess, he helps Jack and fights Roderick to save him.

Princess - Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson)
Having ran from the castle Isabelle finds Jack's home and here is where the beanstalk grows forcing her up into the giants world. She has been forced into marrying Roderick by her father, but instead falls for Jack.

Father - King Brahmwell (Ian McShane)
Brahmwell has arranged for his daughter to marry Roderick, when she runs away he becomes worried and when Jack returns her safely he allows them to be together.

Donor - Monk (Simon Lowe)
The monk gives Jack the beans in exchange for his horse; these beans grow the beanstalk that makes Jack go and safe Isabelle.

Hero/Dispatcher - Jack (Nicholas Hoult)
Jack is the main protagonist who goes on a dangerous quest to save Isabelle, he fights giants and Roderick to save her.
Why do they only use one camera?
Same as for film series and serials, two/three parters use single camera production as they can create creative shots by using less of the budget on crew and equipment.
In the mid-20th century Claude Levi-Strauss and Roland Barthes came together and had an important insight into the way that we understand words. They relaised that how we understand certain words depends not so much on the meaning but much more by our understanding of the differences between the word and its opposite - which they called the 'binary opposite'.
"They realised that words merely act as symbols for society's ideas and that the meaning of words, therefore, was a relationship rather than a fixed thing: a relationship between opposing ideas."
Each time a new angle on the subject is needed a new take is filmed. The camera is moved into the new position and the actors act out the take again. This happens many times with the different angles filmed individually, then in the edit the takes are put together to form the scene.
In this image camera position A is used to record the subject. If the director wants a different angle he will use a different camera position - this means the camera will move and the actor will repeat the shot.

This will be repeated if the director wants a shot from position C or D. The camera will move again and the shot repeated.
The 180-Degree Rule
"The 180-degree rule of shooting and editing keeps the camera on one side of the action. As a matter of convention, the camera stays on one side of the axis of action throughout a scene; this keeps characters grounded compositionally on a particular side of the screen or frame, and keeps them looking at one another when only one character is seen onscreen at a time. It is referred to as a rule because the camera, when shooting two actors, must not cross over the axis of action; if it does, it risks giving the impression that the actors' positions in the scene have been reversed."
Camera positions D in the image to the right has passed the 180-degree perimeter; therefore does not follow the rule, making the actors position seem as though it is reversed.
Moving a lights position can change the mood of the scene.
Having lighting from below creates a spooky unnatural feel - typically used in horror films.
Lighting from above is used in family, adventure and action films as it wants to create the effect of a happy scenario and the surrounding atmosphere.
Lighting from the side -as demonstrated above- is found in crime and action as it gives a mysterious and concealed effect.
Synchronous - Making sure speech and lip movements are occurring at the same time.
Asynchronous - When lip movements and speech are not occurring at the same time - however this can be done as part of the film, an example of this occurring is Sgt Jones - Police Academy.
Master Shot
The main types are:
Eye-level -
shows subjects as we would expect to see them in real life

High Angle -
A high angle shows the subject from above, i.e. the camera is angled down towards the subject

Low Angle -
This shows the subject from below

Bird's Eye -
The scene is shown from directly above

Slanted -
This is where the camera is purposely tilted to one side so the horizon is on an angle
These are the main ones:
The framing moves left & right, with no vertical movement.

The framing moves up & down, with no horizontal movement.

In & out, appearing as if the camera is moving closer to or further away from the subject. When a shot zooms in closer to the subject, it is said to be getting "tighter". As the shot zooms out, it is getting "looser".

Any sort of shot when you are holding the camera, and you follow the action whilst walking. Hard to keep steady, but very effective when done well.
Soundscape - The characteristic types of sound commonly heard in a given period or location e.g. live sound.
Diegetic - Source of the sound is visible on the screen, or whose source is implied to be present be the action of the film e.g. voices, background sounds. Can be either on and off screen depending on whether the source is in the frame or not.
Sound Effects - The purpose of a sound effect is to: stimulate reality (record the sound of glass breaking, gun fire to simulate reality), create illusion (car coming up the drive, people talking in restaurants, animal noises) and mood (off-scene owl - lonely man, anticipates possible danger, fear, joy - all are being evoked).
Ambient - The background sounds which are present in a scene or location e.g. wind, water, birds, people, office noises, traffic, etc.
Non-Diegetic - The source is neither visible on the screen nor has been implied to be present in the action e.g. narrator, sound effects and mood music. This is a off screen sound as it is represented as coming from a source outside the frame.
How is sound usually recorded in a single camera production?
On musical genre film sets, such as 'Mama Mia The Movie' the actors sung their songs in a sound booth, then when onset they were played their version of the song and they sing/mime along to it. But in the final version they use the recorded version and not what is being sung on set.
This is because they are repeating the same section over and over which could cause the actors to lose their voices and it means they can focus on the acting more than the singing.

Using non-diegetic sounds on a single camera production means directors don't need to film the sound occurring instead they can have fewer frames and simulate having the sound coming from off-screen.
Shots are all about composition. Rather than pointing the camera at the subject, you need to compose an image. Framing is the process of creating composition.
The rule of thirds.
This rule divides the frame into nine sections. Points of interest should occur at 1/3 or 2/3 of the way up (or across) the frame, rather than in the center.
Continuity Editing is a style of film editing that occurs in the post-production stage. "The purpose of continuity editing is to smooth over the inherent discontinuity of the editing process and to establish a logical coherence between shots."

Continuity editing consists of the establishing shot, shot reverse shot (180-degree rule), 30-degree rule, crosscutting, match on action, eye line match, re-establishing shot, cutaway/ insert shot, sound barrier and white balance.
"A master shot is a film recording of an entire dramatized scene, from start to finish, from an angle that keeps all the players in view. It is often a long shot and can sometimes perform a double function as an establishing shot."
What issues could there be with continuity because of only using one camera?
Using a single camera means having to change the camera position many many times; this could result in filming mistakes "rough pans/tilts, heavy on the zoom or that they cannot focus on the subject properly" this will mean in the post-production stage their will be poor footage that they won't be able to fix during the edit.
Scripting is the most important stage in any film, this is where ideas come into reality; if the script is not completed or doesn't flow the film making process will not run smoothly and may be hindered dramatically as the director cannot portray the writers ideas into the film.
Throughout the production stage the writer needs to be onset to insure the script is followed or modified accordingly to suit the actors and set; whilst keeping the original theme and script continuity.
Building a scene
"Crime fiction is the literary genre that fictionalizes crimes, their detection, criminals, and their motives. It is usually distinguished from mainstream fiction and other genres such as science fiction or historical fiction, but boundaries can be, and indeed are, blurred."
Examples of crime films are:
Science Fiction
"Fiction based on imagined future scientific or technological advances and major social or environmental changes, frequently portraying space or time travel and life on other planets."
"A Historical period drama is a work of art set in, or reminiscent of, an earlier time period. The term is usually used in the context of film and television."
Drama-documentary: "A dramatized television film based on real events."
"Comedy is a genre of film in which the main emphasis is on humour. These films are designed to entertain the audience through amusement, and most often work by exaggerating characteristics of real life for humorous effect."
Google definitions
Google definitions
Building a story
What you have in the scene is very important: To make a shot look good and to gain a response from the audience the correct characters, props and costumes are needed.
Focusing on the mise-en-scene is important: set design, lighting, acting and costume and make-up - these are the aspects people will be looking for an if they are not consistent the film will not be as enjoyable.
Single camera productions must make sure their shots are relevant to the storylines. For example, a Victorian based period drama needs to make sure the clothing and props are all from that era so it all looks genuine.
A good storyline is needed to make a film successful. Insuring every scene and shot is relevant to the storyline means the audience will be able to engage and enjoy the performance.

Additionally the storyline needs to build up; having a good scene, good actors/characters and an interesting storyline will make the audience engage.
Cheaper as less equipment and crew are needed
Same angle
Easier to film in small spaces
Easier to control aesthetics (only focusing on the one camera
Takes longer - need to move everything multiple times
More continuity mistakes as shots are repeated
Filmed out of sequence
In comparison:
Number of films based on the same brand identity. Stories usually follow on as prequels or sequels to create one long narrative across the numerous films.
The aesthetics and narrative structure of the film makes the setting look like real life. An example includes: Johnny English
The aesthetics and narrative structure of the film makes the setting like a dream, surreal or fantastic. We cannot identify the film world as based in our own. e.g. Fight Club and Doctor Who.
Point of View
Restricted -
the audience cannot see everything that is happening, our view is restricted to a specific character, time or place. This helps to build suspense as certain things are revealed throughout the narrative. E.g. Now You See Me
Subjective -
the audience sees the events of the narrative from the point-of-view of one character only; this way we connect to their feelings and emotions. E.g. Clover Field

Omniscient -
the audience sees everything that happens at any given time: we know more than each individual character. This helps the audience to engage in the film as they feel in power and build suspense as we want to see what they do and who they meet.
E.g. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Objective -
the audience sees different perspectives of a story thus relates to different characters. E.g. Big Fish
Source: Woking College Resources
Short Films
Short Films use the single camera technique due to their typically low budget it means they don’t need to spend out for more equipment and crews, they also have the opportunity to spend more time making sure the aesthetics for the one camera is better. Examples include: Lights Out and Frozen Fever.
Feature Films
Feature films use single camera techniques so they can control continuity mistakes of seeing another camera, and it means less crew and equipment needs to be acquired therefore leaving more money for locations and actors. This technique is more time consuming but with feature films ‘flexible’ schedules they have the time to make sure each shot is correct. E.g. War Horse and RIPD.
Production companies use single camera techniques as it enables them to focus on the aesthetic outcome of a production - getting this right could mean production companies receive more business. The companies can save money as they save money on more crew and equipment, but it is more time consuming as each shot needs to be taken many times from differing angles.
Production Companies
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