Author Topic: shooting a sitcom pilot soon.  (Read 2505 times)

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I Love a Magician

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shooting a sitcom pilot soon.
« on: November 23, 2010, 08:25:27 PM »
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started working with a couple friends recently towards putting together a pilot for a sitcom. the three of us are working equally on the concept, characters, etc. but i'm handling most of the technical stuff, as far as shooting the thing goes. i've mostly got no clue how to do this, so help me out, y'all.

my main concerns are with lighting and sound. our budget is pretty limited. as of right now i'm planning on renting a kino flo diva 400. can i get by just using one fixture or should i try to talk the dudes into renting two? we'll mostly be shooting in a restaurant of some sort so i'm not sure. also: should i try to get daylight or tungsten balanced bulbs?

what's the best way to do sound for projects like this? what sort of mics?

thanks in advance.

pete

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Re: shooting a sitcom pilot soon.
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2010, 11:08:35 PM »
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it really depends on what the places look like and how you want everything to look.  diva's a soft source that has considerable range, but it's hard to know if that'll gel with the rest of your set.  you've got a brilliant eye though, so i'm sure you can make it work.
I say save the cash on the light stuff and spend it on sound.
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polkablues

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Re: shooting a sitcom pilot soon.
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2010, 11:34:01 PM »
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Definitely a good shotgun mic, a boom operator who knows where to hold it, and a recording source outside the camera itself.
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matt35mm

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Re: shooting a sitcom pilot soon.
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2010, 12:05:20 AM »
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I agree with Pete.  Spend more on sound than lights.  Ideally, you're gonna want a couple of wireless lav mics and a good shotgun mic and omni mic.  That'll be fine.

And yeah, with lights, depends on what you want and what the place is like.  I always think it's really tricky to light interiors well.  In my experience, unless someone really knows how to light well, the more lights there are, the worse it looks (comes off as phony and/or harsh).  The interiors that I've shot that I thought really looked the best was just one or two simple soft, warm-colored lights coming from a direction that makes sense for the actual location of the set, and the actual lights on the set from lamps or whatever the restaurant has will usually give you a good amount of dimension to the image (a little bit of light hitting the tops and sides of the actors heads) that will also look natural.  So you're really just using the couple of soft lights to add more light to the overall shot and quietly fill in spots here and there.  But simple is the way to go.  More than a couple of subtle lights and you increase your chances of it looking bad, and it also takes too much time and saps everyone's energy.  Light quick, light easy.  Every opportunity you have to not use lights at all, take it.  It might involve shifting the actors to where the light is better, but it's worth it.  That's just my opinion, of course.

I think that video cameras these days can capture images really, really well, in the way that our eyes see it.  I see film students blasting 1000 watt lights at their actors like they're shooting on film, but they're not, so it simply looks harsh.  As long as you're paying attention to the exposure and getting that right, then I think most of the time, if something looks good to the eye, you can get it to look good in the shot without a bunch of fuss.  Though, it depends on the style.  This works best for a naturalistic style.  If you're going for something more stylized, you just have to experiment beforehand until you hit upon what you want.

Something that I wish someone would have told me: take an extra minute right before you shoot the shot to make sure that it's the best that you can make it at that point in time.  I'm generally happy with the films that I've made, but since I don't use much in the way of lighting and I like to shoot fast, I miss some details that I would have caught if I had just taken a couple of seconds to think about it before we rolled.  That little tweak to a light or getting something out of the shot really makes a difference between something looking all right and something looking great.

Anyway, the thing with sound is that it has to be captured as well as possible, because you don't really have any leeway with bad sound.  It's not as much of a subjective thing--it's either captured well or it's not, and you can't do much with it in post if it wasn't recorded well.  Two lav mics and a boom mic is the standard and generally best way to go.

I've probably said too much.  I hope something in the ramble was useful.  Best of luck!

pete

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Re: shooting a sitcom pilot soon.
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2010, 12:50:48 AM »
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but you're shooting comedy and sometimes it's actually awkward when comedy looks too good.  the best looking comedy I've seen thus far is The Trip - a new BBC show starring Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon:
and you have shows like curb that looks absolutely crap but sounds as good as any show.  that's kinda more what you should aim for, get a good sound guy who can hear all the rumbles and weird tones that no one can hear.
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Re: shooting a sitcom pilot soon.
« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2010, 11:54:31 AM »
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never enough, matt! the more rambling the better. if i do end up using lights they'll be used as lightly and as toned down as possible. i just want to make sure i've got a decent ISO and don't have to crank it up to 1600 just to see what's going on.

sound is the main thing i'm worried about because i don't have much experience with it. here's an example seen off the top of my head, and you can tell me (everyone, not just matt) what you'd do as far as mics and such: three main characters chatting around a table in a restaurant, they're interrupted by a couple of customers at another table asking for service, one of the main guys goes over to the customers table to see what they need.

pretty simple, but who do you put the lavs on? it's almost completely out of my realm of experience.

and i agree, pete, that sometimes it's strange when a comedy looks too good. i was actually watching 'the trip' last night and thought, "this looks about right."

last question for now: working with all these mics, what sort of device should i be using to run them into to keep everything separate?

i really appreciate the help, y'all.

Alexandro

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Re: shooting a sitcom pilot soon.
« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2010, 12:19:23 PM »
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I guess the lavs should go to the main characters and the boom to the other table, but if you have yet another boom it would be better.
You can also use do it backwards and it sounds ok. Just listen and do as your soundman tells you at all times and you'll be fine, those fuckers are obsessive about this shit and it pays.

pete

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Re: shooting a sitcom pilot soon.
« Reply #7 on: November 24, 2010, 12:41:25 PM »
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don't use the lavs in that set up.  if you have no cash and can't find a live mixer, then just get a fucking good boom operator to get really good takes, and enough good takes that you can choose from in the editing room.
“Tragedy is a close-up; comedy, a long shot.”
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JG

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Re: shooting a sitcom pilot soon.
« Reply #8 on: November 24, 2010, 12:57:34 PM »
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yea, i don't really like using lavs unless you need to. you should be able to handle most scenarios with a shotgun.  especially if all three characters are stationary, a decent boom should be able to set up shop with the mic in the middle of the table, angling at whomever is speaking...

when the other customers interrupt them, do they do so off-screen? in a situation like that, just get the audio of them interrupting as wild after you shoot... always make sure you are at least covering whatever you see in frame. you can always drop it in afterwards and it makes life easier on the boom operator.

« Last Edit: November 24, 2010, 11:01:56 PM by JG »

polkablues

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Re: shooting a sitcom pilot soon.
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2010, 01:12:24 PM »
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last question for now: working with all these mics, what sort of device should i be using to run them into to keep everything separate?

Here is a very short, informative article about recording sound for film.  On top of what it tells you, make absolutely certain to record room tone while you're on location.  It will be invaluable for smoothing out your audio between cuts and getting the most professional sound possible.
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Re: shooting a sitcom pilot soon.
« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2010, 11:05:10 PM »
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last question for now: working with all these mics, what sort of device should i be using to run them into to keep everything separate?

Here is a very short, informative article about recording sound for film.  On top of what it tells you, make absolutely certain to record room tone while you're on location.  It will be invaluable for smoothing out your audio between cuts and getting the most professional sound possible.

I could not agree with this more. RECORD FUCKING ROOM TONE! Seriously. I have forgotten to do it the past couple of shoots, and my life is far more annoying for it.

And I personally do not use lavs, always just boom. I think lavs can be a huge benefit, but it just depends on the scenario.
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matt35mm

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Re: shooting a sitcom pilot soon.
« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2010, 11:52:26 PM »
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I'm very pro-lav because it gives you a lot more flexibility in sound editing.  If the location is noisy, or if there's a thud on the boom mic track over a line of dialogue, you can usually save it through the sound from the lav.  It also gives the actors' voices a little more presence before fussing with it in post.  It's also very consistent from take to take, meaning that you could spice in a bit of dialogue from another take and it would be pretty seamless (though it's usually not a problem with sound from a boom).

Wireless is great because the actors can move around and you don't have to worry about it.  It's not that you will use the lav sound in every scenario, but I can't think of a scenario where you mightn't as well have the actors lavved up, except for scenes where they don't talk.  It's super great for very wide shots where you can't get a boom mic in there.  If we're talking about what's absolutely necessary, I guess lavs aren't that, but I like them a lot and would put it pretty high up on the list.  Maybe it's just personal preference.  Also, it was easy with the equipment that I had, because I had the boom mic going straight into the camera via XLR and then had a separate device recording the lavs.  If you can't record to camera or don't have a separate device, then yeah, just a boom mic would be fine.

Of course, do record room tone.  You can either have a check list or just task someone (or everyone) with reminding whoever's doing the sound.

 

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