Operating for Kids
This is written from a cameraman
or operator's viewpoint who blocks the shot.
1. Continually watch for things that
get put into the scene. Overzealous prop people and other helpful people can
add something that ruins a nice composition.
2. Always make sure that you have
enough set and dressing to allow for the unpredictable movements of kids or
animals. A great action with the camera off the set is embarrassing.
3. Watch the background in a sunny
looking set. Thin objects add dimension, but large objects grab the eye.
4. I find that just enough propping
is best. It's easy to over prop. Make sure that people look through the eyepiece
at the correct framing if they don't agree with your composition suggestions.
5. Gently press the director for
what actions he is looking for and what unexpected bits would satisfy the script.
There are things especially in commercials that may seem great that are not
usable for the story. If the director seems to not be sure of what he wants,
your asking might force him into thinking about it. A professional will appreciate
it. A petrified novice might resent it.
6. Ask the gaffer to light an area
as large as the kids might move into. Great lighting in just a small area and
limited angles may be bad lighting when the kids decide to do their best bit
somewhere else. If the lighting looks bad with the kids in the set, stop things
and have it corrected. Good gaffers watch the scene as it plays, but some go
for coffee after it is lit. Cutting a scene because of unexpected action of
a kids can destroy a great bit that is not repeatable. It can also make the
kid insecure. (See "Directing
Non-Actors" in Intermediate Production Advice)
7. Watch for focus, whether you pull
your own or not. A great but soft shot is doubly embarrassing. Ask for another
take if in doubt.
8. Review the video assist if you
are in doubt about getting a shot or not. Sometimes a lapse of attention watching
for the mic., you can miss a unexpected action by a kid. Don't be embarrassed
to NOT see everything in the frame as it happens. Sometimes you can feel that
something was wrong in a take, but not know exactly what it is. Say so and ask
others what they saw and it will help you remember. During a long take you might
forget a small lighting problem that came and went or a boom shadow or being
off the set. Study the video assist. A cut-a-way or reframing in editing might
solve the problem. Doing more takes than necessary will tire actors, crew and
9. Make sure that you include enough
of an action so the audience will understand what's going on. Seeing hands moving,
but not seeing enough to know what they are doing is not good. Two cameras are
a great luxury. One tight, one wider. One at a different angle can see things
hidden from the other for unpredictable and one-time actions.
10. For really close action, consider
a separate small monitor at the lens for the focus-puller that has a separate
video camera at right angles to the action. Marks for distance can be marked
with grease pencil on the monitor screen. The focus-puller need not even look
at the actor. A Kubrick trick.
© Copyright 1999-2004 Ron Dexter. All Rights Reserved.