THIS IS KEY! KEYFRAMES AND HOW TO SELECT THEM
- April 15, 2019
- Shane Hurlbut, ASC
THIS IS KEY! KEYFRAMES AND HOW TO SELECT THEM
The best way to shoot is to shoot the wide shot, you shoot the medium, you shoot the overs, and you go for the closeup.
Now I’m all about new technology. I’m all about what’s the latest and greatest, but there’s some things you just don’t buck, and the reason why you don’t buck them is because they’re the most efficient way to make a film and to tell your story.
If you start in a closeup and then you move out to the wide, the choices that you made in the closeup might not be possible in your wide shot. You might not have a way to bring that light in. You might not have a way to keep the blocking working.
It is block, light, and shoot. It’s something that we’ve done for a hundred and some odd years.
I get to the same kind of thing when people talk to me about my digital workflow.
THEM:How do you want to do this?
ME: I’m going to do something crazy
THEM: Really, what?
ME: Okay, we’re going to shoot on these things called digital magazines. Then we’re going to take those and we’re going to deliver them to the lab.
ME: And the lab is going to process them.
THEM: Oh, okay.
ME: Then we’re going to take those magazines after they’ve been processed, backed up, and LTOed, and we’re going to erase them and send them back to us and we’re going to shoot on them again.
“SHANE’S CONVERSATION WITH THEM”
By Shane Hurlbut
I just described what we’ve done for 125 years. We shoot on film, hold that negative. We send that negative to the lab. They develop it, and that is what we are doing in the digital age. We’re not processing it on set. We’re not color-correcting it on set. We’re not backing it up on set. We’re not doing any of those things. We are doing it like we’ve done it for 127 years.
The reason why is because it is the best way to do it! It has all the checks and balances that come into playing with our digital negative as it did with our film negative, just as we block, light, and shoot, is the same etiquette of the wide to the medium to the over to the closeup.
Wide Shot – name the TV show I’ve chosen to show this point…
The Mid Shot
Saved this close up for last and it’s the coolest one!
That doesn’t mean that you cannot do a whole shot as a oner!
That does not mean that you can come up with inventive ways to move the camera and do all the things that you’ve studied and talked about. You need to first know where all the actors are going to be, then light where they just went and then lens and light as a unit.
I find that any time I do that, I’m incredibly fast, I’m incredibly efficient, and I get all the coverage and leave nothing on the table. That’s what you want. (Re-read that last paragraph having clicked the play button below…)
Take a look at the Semi Pro series on Blocking and Lighting for our latest, coolest series.
Now I’ve worked with some directors that don’t like to work that way. They like to start with a specific shots. It might not be the wide shot. It might be a medium shot. It might be a concept shot. Then you don’t shoot this shot in the right order. What you find out is you tend to start to lose your way, because the light was coming from a specific angle in the wide shot, and then you went in for the medium and the closeup and everything gels. Then all of a sudden, you go back and forth, and 90 degree angle, and then another 45 degree angle, and then you spin all around. You’re like, “Well, where was the light? The light was coming from there but,” and you start to get confused.
I’ve been doing this for 25 years, and I was confused a few days ago because we literally circled the actors before we really even established what was happening. I lost track of where the light was coming from, depending on where the camera was. These are things that slow you down, because then you have to stop for a second. You’re like, “Okay, it was coming from the side of the sconce, but when we went over to this shot, we flipped it because they were blocking it,” because there’s some times where you do need to flip the key. It’s all well and good that it’s coming from the one side that you’ve established, but when it’s all said and done, whatever looks good, looks good.
Flat does not look good, so if you intend to be on the line of sight where you’re going to be flat to the actor and the light is going to be flat to his face and your angle is kind of flat. You’ve got to go over and use light to shape that and make it so it’s not flat. These are things that I’m always thinking about.
Now I find that when you do block, light, and shoot, it’s incredibly efficient. You absolutely know where your motivation is, and you can really deliver it on time, on schedule, and on budget.