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Insert Shots

Published : 13th February 2007

I know this is incredibly vague, but I'm wondering what tricks you all employ to shoot inserts. They most often come up in my world (on 24 day features) with very little time. Inevitably the insert ends up being the last shot of a scene, after the master and the coverage of each actor. There's time really only to shift the lights already playing--which are inevitably rather too big to finesse on something small like a book. And there's not a lot of time to flag those lights. Certainly no time to whip out the fingers and dots and get into the table top mode.

So what to do? What quick--5 minute--tricks might one have waiting in wings for such an a shot? And I don't mean sighing . . . "Let 2nd Unit pick it up."

Much obliged

Byron Shah
dp Los Angeles


> "Let 2nd Unit pick it up."

I thought I was going to get away with that until my agent agreed a deal for me to do the 2nd unit!!

Cheers

Geoff Boyle FBKS
Director of Photography
EU Based
www.cinematography.net


> So what to do? What quick--5 minute--tricks might one have waiting in >wings for such an a shot?

Bryon,

If you are possibly fortunate to have an operator who knows your ways a bit, leave him, the assistant, an electrician, and a grip for five or ten minutes to clean up the insert or two. An experienced operator will certainly have just cut the scene in his head and know how the to do the inserts so they will cut. Depending on how tight they are and how much background is seen, this can be done very quickly with minimal tools (a Kino and a Tweenie can do a lot). You can be on the next set with the director and actors getting your thoughts together on how to block the next scene. If marks are necessary, the second assistant can be there to mark.

With any luck, the camera will roll onto the new set about the time it is needed.

Of course, I bet you are having to operate for yourself. In that case, quickly line up the parameters for the insert shot, give basic instructions, and turn it over to your AC to wrangle it into readiness. When it's ready, you can then pop in to give it a quick look, tweak, and shoot.

Maybe others have a more creative technique they have used?

Randal Feemster, SOC
L.A./Tucson


Byron Shah writes :

>What quick--5 minute--tricks might one have waiting in wings for such >an a shot?

I like doing quick pan-on/pan-offs to make for a more active edit if they want, and I keep a small collapsible white/gold disc reflector handy to quickly punch the fill up a notch if needed for readability. IMHO it's not a good idea to change the setup much, or it won't cut. But then, I tend to light from practicals, through windows, etc. so that I can point the camera anywhere (within reason). Like many, my first point of inspiration was John Alcott.

Tim Sassoon
SFD vfx & creative post
Santa Monica, CA


>Like many, my first point of inspiration was John Alcott.

Alcott's stark balanced compositions in "The Shining" had a profound influence on me. He forever changed the way I would compose images. 2001, The Shining, Barry Lyndon, Clockwork Orange and Alien are the films that caught my attention and made me think what I wanted to do in life.

John Alcott along with Caleb Deschanel and Chris Menges gave me my earliest inspiration and inner fire to become a cinematographer.

Tom McDonnell
Cinematography/ High Definition
IATSE 600
New Orleans, La
Los Angeles, Ca
818-675-1501


>Like many, my first point of inspiration was John Alcott.

>2001, The Shining, Barry Lyndon, Clockwork Orange and Alien are the >films that caught my attention and made me think what I wanted to do >in life.

All due respect to John Alcott, but I thought that Derek Vanlint was the d.p. on

"Alien"?

Eric J. Nelson
Heavy Visuals
608.345.0805


> I know this is incredibly vague, but I'm wondering what tricks you all >employ to shoot inserts. They most often come up in my world

A few things I do, both for inserts and talent close-ups in challenging budget/time situations....

Have smaller fixtures standing by that can mimic the light quality of the big lights used in the masters...that way you can kill or flag some or all of the big lights and use the small ones to dial in a similar (but more specific, controlled) look on the inserts. For instance, a 1K in a chimera with a soft eggcrate on a baby roller stand can be rolled in and tweaked very quickly. Likewise, have some small lightweight fixtures (like those that use the MR16 bulbs) ready to throw spots of light where you need to.

Dimmers come in handy to dial in your light level quickly, but obviously you have to decide if you can live with colour temp shifts on cheap dimmers. As mentioned previously, Kinos are handy too, because of their relative portability, as well as the ability to break them down quickly (no cooldown.)

Have some smaller flags and nets, preset on stands, to cut the light where you need to, as well as appropriately sized cookies. If you set a couple of these up and put them off to the side while the main scene is being lit and shot, you'll be ready to jump in when it's time.

Mark Schlicher
DP/Editor?Storyboard Artist
Nashville, TN USA


> All due respect to john Alcott, but I thought that Derek Vanlint was the >DP on "Alien"?

Yep and Dragonslayer. I was referring to pictures that made a lasting impression on me. I should have stated my thoughts more clearly.

> Have smaller fixtures standing by that can mimic the light quality of the >big lights used in the masters...that way you can kill or flag some or all >of the big lights and use the small ones to dial in a similar (but more >specific, controlled) look on the inserts

Funny you mention that. Tonight after a long day I was surprised with some unplanned inserts. 32 inserts mind you. It's a car show. Problem solved with an excellent gaffer and an Arri Pocket Par shooting into the smallest Chimera they make with a scrape of 216. Without that unit I would be still shooting.

Tom McDonnell
Cinematography/ High Definition
IATSE 600
New Orleans, La
Los Angeles, Ca



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