Home of Professional Cinematography since 1996

4 Camera 24pHD Crew

Published : 6th Sept 2003


Interested in feedback from the forum on the need for both a DIT and a Video Controller on a 4 camera sit-com that will be color corrected (scene to scene after editing) in post.

Could one do the job with just a DIT in that situation?

Producer would like to go that route, financial issue of course, what else is new.

Thanks in advance.

Paul Maibaum
DP/LA



Paul Maibaum wrote :

>”…….the need for both a DIT and a Video Controller on a 4 camera sit-com that will >be color corrected…….in post”.

I'm not sure what the difference is between a video controller and a DIT. I'd fight for what I call a "video engineer" (but what others seem to call a video controller; there seems to be a difference in terminology between here and LA) on the set: someone who will, at the very least, match the cameras, do a little painting, ride iris if need be and keep an eye on the waveforms.

For a few hundred bucks a day your producers may save quite a lot in post. If nothing else the person doing the final color correction won't have to fight wildly different-looking footage.

This is assuming that you're using camcorders and not recording to decks elsewhere, and that you're not doing any sort of switching. All that makes it a lot more complicated and adds at least one more person.

My $.02, and worth every penny.

Art Adams, DP
Mountain View, California - "Silicon Valley"
http://www.artadams.net/



Paul,

The DIT does not take the place of a video controller in addition to working as the DIT on a multi-camera show. The video controller is responsible for shading the cameras (running Iris, matching the cameras, timing cameras if it is a live show etc.) The DIT works the floor directly with the cameras and provides assistance to the VC.

In a multi-camera show in which camcorders are involved it is not possible or ideal for the VC to be at all places at once dealing with on set camera issues in addition to working in the booth or trailer shading cameras.

One major item, which needs redefining is the confusion between what Art has termed "video engineer" which does not have the same meaning here in
LA or in other larger production markets.

Video Engineer is actually an incorrect term when defining the person who shades cameras as the proper term is "video controller". In IA 600 the term engineer is not used to define the person assigned to shading cameras as 695 deals with the engineers. On a mobile truck there would most likely be a video engineer and/or the EIC "engineer in charge") who oversees the technical setup and operation of his or her truck and the VC who handles the camera shading.

I would advise other production markets to start using the proper term "video controller and DIT" instead of generically calling that person a "video engineer" unless they are referring to a person who is responsible for engineering duties not camera shading. The proper use of job titles will avoid job description confusion and miscommunication.

Tony Salgado



>”In a multi-camera show in which camcorders are involved it is not possible or ideal for the VC to be at all places at once dealing with on set camera issues in addition to working in the booth or trailer shading cameras”.

What kind of issues does the DIT deal with once the cameras are shaded?

Art Adams, DP
Mountain View, California - "Silicon Valley"



Art,

Refer to my post in response to Dale's initial question.

In SF or smaller markets the video engineer is actually the VC, DIT and even sometimes

sound recordist all rolled into one nice package.

Tony Salgdo



Paul Maibaum wrote:

>"..........the need for both a DIT and a Video Controller on a 4 camera sit-com that will be color corrected..........in post."

Paul :

I will give you my view. First of all 4 camera Sit-coms should not be shot with F900 camcorders. Panavison uses camcorders because that is all they have. These camcorders are connected to Control units for video control functions. Plus8digital does not use camcorders and uses 950 cameras connected to CCU’s (Full Function Camera Control Units located off stage). The recordings for these cameras are made on F500 HDCam studio recorders located in a trailer with the video controller and a video tape operator. Larger tapes than camcorder tapes can be used saving additional money. In some cases full bandwidth 4:2:2 recordings are made on Panasonic D5 VTR’s.

The video tape operator can make simultaneous down conversion tapes for off - line editing saving both time and money. In addition to the video controller and tape operator there is an "ENGINEER" to perform maintenance and trouble shooting of the entire setup because there is no tape recording being done on stage in camcorders there is less camera crew needed to change tapes and do labels, etc.

There is also no need to run all the time code and audio feeds to the camcorders which causes less problems, and what fails most often on a camcorder? The Tape Recorder.

In this setup a spare studio VTR can be instantly utilized and the audience, director, crew and actors are never aware of the problem. Contrast this with the need to change out an entire camcorder while everyone waits and the cost of hundreds or thousands of dollars an hour is also avoided.

In shows like ‘Reba’ the video controller matches cameras and performs the video control functions. This show is so well "video controlled" that no tape to tape color correction is needed after assembly. This is a further savings of money. Overall the show is done with less persons for less money.

"And your producer wants to save money". Figure out the whole system not just the number of crew members and everything else will fall in to place including doing the show with the best quality for the least amount of money.

(Note: Panavision and Plus8digital are just two examples used here to illustrate the system problems and the different solutions.)

Bill Hogan



Bill Hogan wrote:

>”….In shows like Reba the video controller matches cameras and performs the video control functions…”

To reiterate what Bill said, since this fact seems to be lost on many: On a multi-camera show, be it SD or HD, if you have a good Video Controller, there is almost NEVER any need for T2T color correction.

It makes no difference if it is a F900 camcorder with a MSU or a F950 camera with a CCU and 500 recorder - as long as it is a full control setup - though I share Bill's sentiment and personally prefer the latter configuration for engineering reasons. (Let the rants begin!)

Tom Tcimpidis



Well stated Bill,

Why not shoot a video show just like thousands of other traditionally shot video sitcoms?

Why is it the some think HD camcorders are the ideal method to use for multi-cam when they are not?

Camcorders are great for single camera productions but offer many engineering drawbacks within a multi-cam production where many issues have to be addressed (downconverts, quad splits, live line cut for audience, multiple channel intercom, IFB, iso as well as line cut recording, audio, video and time-code distribution.)

From a practical standpoint a trailer or truck offers the best quality control and engineering firepower as well as reducing the amount of cabling required. The routing of video, audio, tc, downconversion etc is much more ideal in a trailer or truck set up to act as the nerve centre of the entire production.

Tony Salgado



Bill Hogan wrote

>”one very articulate précis on the state of thinking in our new HD world”


Thank you Bill.

Multi camera shows are, indeed, very well served by the presence of a V.C., and, despite the undeniable efficacy of the currently fashionable, purpose driven, film style multi-camera HD shooting style "multiple single camcorder mindset paradigm" for those who simply prefer that film style operation, a "truck" is, simply, a very appropriate acquisition/recording solution for SD or HD, and that style is very easily adapted to provide the "set level" ergonomics that film style DP’s, Directors, and Operators crave.

Companies like SJC Video (and no they do not pay me in any way) have done this for years in SD production. Try it, maybe you'll like it!

GEORGE C. PALMER
HDPIX, INC.
HD and Digital Imaging Services
www.hdpix.com
www.angenieux.com



Tony:

Great delineations of the distinctions between the roles of the V.C., the DIT, and the Video Engineer. Can I quote you (with proper credit of course)? Lets talk offline sometime.

GEORGE C. PALMER



[Tom] ……"On a multi-camera show, be it SD or HD, if you have a good Video Controller, there is almost NEVER any need for T2T color correction."

Unless, of course, the show is specifically trying to define styles and looks with tape-to-tape. I agree that with a good Video Controller, all tapes will be properly balanced and even.

You can't get the harsh, desat look of "C.S.I," or the depth and contrast separation of "N.Y.P.D. Blue" on set.

Before everybody starts yelling, I know that those shows are film originated.

But, I am getting more and more call in HD online to create a sense of location based almost exclusively on color and *creative* treatment in tape-to-tape. Think "Traffic." And that trend will not stop, and it won't be that long until quite a few dramas are shot on HD.

That kind of thing cannot, and should not be done on set with video.

Lucas Wilson
iO Film
Hollywood



[Art Adams]…."For a few hundred bucks a day your producers may save quite alot in post. If nothing else the person doing the final color correction won't have to fight wildly different-looking footage."

Hey, Hey now... what's all this foolish talk about saving money in post?????

Lucas Wilson
iO Film
Hollywood



Lucas Wilson wrote:

>Unless, of course, the show is specifically trying to define styles and looks with tape-to-tape.

True, there are always special circumstances best handled in T2T, which
is why I qualified my statement by saying "almost..."

>You can't get the harsh, desat look of "C.S.I," or the depth and contrast separation of "N.Y.P.D. Blue" on set.

Actually, you can. I have done multi-camera shows where we have created such looks and others (like bleach bypass) in real time, on the set. (With the Slash 3, there are even more creative options along these lines, if one cares to utilize them.) It worked well and everyone loved it; enough in fact, that no T2T manipulations were done later in post.

Of course, YMMV.

Tom Tcimpidis

VC / DIT / EIC / EIEIO



>In shows like Reba the video controller matches cameras and performs the video control functions.

I hesitate to say this because some will undoubtedly take it the wrong way, but in the case of the show you mention ("Reba"), from what I've seen it looks like no tape to tape was done. The show, wo my eyes, looks flat and drab. Post color correction is not just about matching cameras, it's about making the material look the best it can - giving it more life, more "snap," more whatever. If you look at Reba then look at, say, episodes of "Titus", "8 Simple Rules" or "According to Jim," you'll see a world of difference.

I appreciate the talents and efforts of the best video controllers as much as anyone. But this is not a contest. Live painting and post color correction, under the right circumstances, complement each other. You need to establish a good base look, with cameras properly matched. But to really make the material sing, it is valuable to be able to take the edited program (now you have continuity - which you don't while you're shooting) into a proper color correction environment and give it that extra sparkle. Besides, even when no tape to tape is done, "TBC-type" color corrections are done during online assembly all the time. Have been since the 70's.

Mike Most
VFX Supervisor
IATSE Local 600
Los Angeles



I must agree with Michael that simply matching camera via primary color correction and avoiding secondary tape to tape will leave the program without the additional visual snap.

Tape to tape color correction is necessary to enhance what has been done on set or would have required more time which would be more efficiently accomplished in a color correction suite.

I have worked on a number of single camera HD shows where the producer's decide to avoid secondary color correction and the results on air have been quite disappointing compared to those projects which have gone the full route.

In my humble opinion half the secret of making HD imagery more film like is the time spend on secondary color correction.

Tony Salgado



First, I want to say that I am in no way demeaning the position of the DIT. I'm trying to understand how everyone defines the two roles of DIT and VC.

I'm curious how many DIT's are qualified to make camera set-up adjustments. I'm not talking about VC's who also work as DIT's but more about crossover techs like former film camera assistants.

My impression is that by practice the DIT's job classification (local 600's?) is to work alongside the operator, AC if there is one, and DP to insure that the camera is put together properly, is in the proper recording mode (23.98, 24, 60i, etc), the lens is back focused and all the other things that need to be addressed in production but fall outside the operator's, VC's or AC's domain.

The line between the 2 jobs seems especially blurry when input from the DIT crosses into the realm of the VC, as is the case when a DP asks for a "warmer" picture by way of DSP adjustments to the camera. If someone is changing the camera set-up I want them to be knowledgeable enough to also say "well if we change from gamma table 5 to table 3 here's what the consequences are in post". Being able to find that menu item and change it is only half of the answer, and it seems to me that if a DIT matches cameras on location then he has just moved into the position of VC, regardless of how production is paying him as a line item.

I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for both positions and have done many shoots where I wished one or both positions were filled with competent people.

So if there is a question here it's this: when a DIT shows up on set, what do other DP's expect from them and when do those expectations push the DIT into the role of VC?

Randy Miller, DP in LA



Tony Salgado wrote:

>”In my humble opinion half the secret of making HD imagery more film like is the time spend on secondary color correction...”

Semantics police alert!

The term "secondary color correction" has a meaning other than the one you intend.

I believe you are referring to any sort of post-production color correction.

"Secondary color correction" in color correction terms means grabbing a particular vector of color (which is user defined in terms of width, chroma, and luminance) and tweaking it, without tweaking the overall picture's color balance.

I never felt is was a particularly good term myself, but since it's a common term, you probably want to avoid using it to mean something completely different.

Jeff "good cop, bad cop" Kreines



Jeff,

No I was indeed referring to secondary color correction as this is not accomplished easily via the VC using only primary color correction RCP's. I also implied the capability of power windows etc that comes along with tape to tape and not primary color correction in the field. I am aware there are some remote control panels do offer limited secondary color correction but not to the extend and capability available in a color correction suite.

Yes indeed full tape to tape does include primary and secondary and that's the point I wanted to make is that tape to tape goes well beyond what can be accomplished via the VC in the field. Scene to scene matching is best done in a color correction suite under the most ideal viewing environment.

Primary color correction in the field to match cameras will reduce the amount of time a colourist has to spent matching the camera in post and instead spend the time enhancing the footage.

Matching cameras in the field has alot more to do than just primary color correction it also includes detail/enhancement, gamma, pedestal, matrix, knee and white clips. etc etc.

Tony Salgado



Lew,

Thanks for your perspective. I think there is still confusion about the 2 positions in general. It sounds like the titles are interchangeable but I think some VC's would not consider themselves to be DIT's. And vice versa.

Maybe the analogy is similar to the situation of having a 16mm film shoot that is primarily with an Aaton but has a couple of high-speed shots with a Photosonics camera.

When I've been faced with that situation I have talked very candidly with the AC prior to prep to insure that they know the Photosonics camera's quirks and requirements and can take care of the high-speed assisting work as well as the sync stuff. I guess the only way to know what to expect from a DIT is to have a similar conversation beforehand about painting, matching, etc.

Obviously your presence in Montana was a lucky break for that production. By the rental house's description many would have said a DIT would be able to do everything needed. Your later conversation with the DP is analogous to the one I mentioned above.

Maybe there's no right answer and if the shoe fits.....

Randy Miller, DP in LA