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Shooting a conversation -- Problem: Only 1 Camera

Orpheus's picture
Last seen: 6 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 03/13/2010 - 8:05pm

Hello All,

One thing I have always wondered about is how to shoot a conversation between two people and make it sound and look seamless. This would entail alternating shots from behind each of the actors so the audience can see actor "A" speaking but then switch to a reaction shot on the face of actor "B" while still hearing actor "A" speak.

I have the Adobe Production Suite and I'm just going to be shooting with the mic on the camera (yes, I know, not ideal).

For instance, let's say I have the actors play out the scene two times, with me filming from behind one actor the first take and then from behind the second actor on the second take. How do I make sure I can incorporate both angles and make sure they don't step on eachother's lines? Also, what effects in Adobe can smooth over the transition between clips that have different audio? (In other words, chopped up audio from each take) Sometimes I find it a bit jarring.

Hopefully I've explained the problem well enough, so if you know what I'm referring to, how do you do it well with one camera?

Thanks for taking the time to answer my question!

-Orpheus


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 6 months 1 week ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am
Plus Member Moderator

The "line stepping" simply HAS to be worked out during your session(s), with each "actor" actually participating in the conversation again - both ways. Hopefully, they will develop a cadence that allows for natural pauses between questions, answers and comments, BREATHING room that you can utilize in post to make your transitions without it being TOO tight, or loose. Also, record during the rehearsal - never know how useful that audio will prove to be.

My preference, when doing this, is to actually SHOOT the/a rehearsal from the front with a two-shot. Then I proceed to the left over-the-shoulder, right-over-the-shoulder. IMHO this makes for more powerful and natural audio/video and offers me "fixes" I normally wouldn't enjoy if I did ONLY the single shots. Back and forth between two people CAN be visually boring, with a third angle thrown in for a two-for, you should be good to go, and your session will come out much sweeter and professional-looking.

Again, IMHO, cuts are the BEST way to go between the actors in a "discussion" type of production. In post you also have the opportunity to let the lines breathe a bit - as long as you've pre-recorded some room ambience for audio fill between pauses/cuts in the dialog. This would smooth over the "chopped-up" audio about which you are concerned.


Ron Bergeron's picture
Last seen: 1 year 2 months ago
Joined: 06/27/2009 - 7:21pm

You know, I have a similar question, only different... I've noticed that some one-cam shoots can jump to close-ups with only a minor crossfade.I see this fromlive on-setwith the same camera angle, not another camera. Almost sure about that. (The show is shot and broadcast live locally.)

I use a Canon XHA1 and I doubt I can make it zoom in that quick even with the zoom set up on the control to jump to it. Best I can figure is the interviewee needs to be caught between sentences. Tricky. I wouldn't be shooting for a live feed. But still, I'd be terrified to make a huge miscalculation.

I guess the better option would be to crop in editing, but italways seems to be a touch out of focus no matter what... (Editing in either CS4 or Vegas Pro.)


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 6 months 1 week ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am
Plus Member Moderator

Your perception/suspicion is pretty much right on. The editor has utilized pauses in the dialog, along with the shooter re-framing either while the talent is pausing for thought, or by using a pre-arranged cue for the talent so he/she will know to wait until the signal to resume.

Editors have also been known to remove unnecessary commentary between lines when the shooter has pushed in or zoomed in a bit, or out, to change the POV (point of view) - it does take some good reflexes and an understanding/knowledge of the intended script to work better. Of course a presenter/talent who speaks well from memory or without notes either will make the tempo too tight to work this way, or will be professional enough to establish a nice pace that can be worked with in post.