This blog, brought to you by UPP Studios, discusses the importance of inspecting the frame during an independent film shoot. Most independent films are shot with cameras that have very small LCD display screens. This makes it difficult to tell what one’s shot actually looks like. Shot composition is an art. Quentin Tarantino has worked with some of the best cinematographers in the business. In an interview, Tarantino said that his goal is to create films in which every frame is a gorgeous picture that he would be proud to hang on his wall. This is a wonderful sentiment, and quite ambitious. In most cases, there are many variables that a filmmaker cannot control. Things change position and lighting shifts. Everything has it’s own movement about it. To create a truly gorgeous shot, one must not only build an aesthetic, but one must also anticipate a lot.
Focus is a tricky thing. Believe it or not, there are instances, (depending on the camera and the lens one is shooting with), in which the tip a person’s nose could be in focus, while at the same time their eyes are not. Every slight shift of the focus ring makes a difference. The problem is, a shot could be ever so slightly out of focus and it may be a truly difficult task to detect this mistake. Furthermore, time constraints a filmmaker is working within, can force the filmmaker to move on to the next shot without checking the previous take for any flaws that may exist, which for obvious reasons is not recommended.
Continuity is another very important thing to watch for when inspecting the frame during a shoot. Even in the most big budget films, continuity errors occur. Often times, the errors are caught too late to correct, or they are due to factors that cannot be identically replicated time and time again. There are many films and television shows that show continuity errors when the characters in the film get wet. If more than one take is shot, the water will dry and re-applying it in the same exact way that it had previously laid on that character is nearly impossible. In an episode of “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia,” Dennis, (played by Glenn Howerton), gets water all over his shirt. In a 3 minute span, the amount of water and areas it encompasses, change drastically. Approximately a half hour into the first American Pie film, a plastic cup changes color several times.
Ultimately one has to accept that there are going to be things that slip by when inspecting the frame, or setting up a shot, or re-shooting a take. The best that one can do is make an avid effort to be aware and attentive.
UPP StudiosUPP Studios realizes that inspecting the frame is crucial to the success of a shoot. There are so many things to check for. Are there any reflections that capture the camera and film equipment? Are all of the subjects in focus? Does anything look out of place? Is the shot level? Has the amount of light been properly compensated for in the settings of the camera? To make things easier for themselves, some people purchase external viewing screens that are larger than the one attached to their camera, to use during a production.
In addition to the fact that they allow one to see a shot more clearly while one is filming, some external viewing devices have other sophisticated capabilities. Different cameras shoot at different bit-rates. A bit-rate determines how much information the camera is going to capture. The higher the bit-rate, the higher quality the shot. UPP Studios had the privilege of using an Atamos external viewing screen recently. The Atamos is actually able to increase the bit-rate of the camera it is connected to, allowing for a shot of higher production value. The device was a game changer. It optimized the efficiency of the shoot, expediting each take, lessening the closeness with which inspecting the frame was necessary.
The main thing UPP Studios has come to realize, is that if care and effort are given to a shoot, and everyone involved in the production is doing their job to the best of their ability, creating a beautiful aesthetic and a clean frame becomes second nature.
Thank you for your interest in UPP Studios. It is you, the audience, that motivates us to continue creating. There is a new blog every friday, and an original new media sketch comedy video right here at uppstudios.com, so stay tuned!