Single camera techniques have been used around the start of the 20th century when classical Hollywood cinema started to develop and spread around the United States, this production style is still widely used in some specific genre TV shows and amateur projects, as many things single camera setups has its perks and flaws as its being implemented while filming shows/movies/short projects.
The perks of said setup can be that it uses less budget than a multi-camera setup which contrast the single camera setup and is mostly used while filming live concerts,events (that are filmed in real-time and everything is filmed in one take without a possibility to stop it midway and alter the footage),high-end shows that require multiple angles of the same shot.Though using such setup also requires multiple lights for the cameras to capture in the same lighting and quality.This setup also uses a bigger audience of worker to manage the cameras, live editing by the director for cut queues or to switch between cameras in real time to capture specific scenes, face expressions, movement.This method of production also uses a bigger budget caused by the extra staff required to manage everything that the recording would go smoothly atop of the counted budget for the scene(s)/actors/props/equipment already required for the production. Those would be some of the hurdles smaller production companies or groups could come across while trying to make a small budget project that is why single camera is used more commonly and is less expensive not requiring a vast amount of equipment, staff and other.
Single camera setup as mentioned requires a smaller group of staff to manage things though it takes more time to record as everything is done by using one camera and possibly multiple lighting setups for a same level light around the scene (depending on the scene of course).The production may take a longer time but is also thought out more thoroughly as specific angles could be pre-thought(or sketched to give a feel of how the end product should look like) before filming and captured later on by the cameraman/director of the project.However the flaw of the single camera is that again time is consumed quickly by it as everything can be from only one angle at a time which for example :a simple conversation that a few actors can have would have to be shot multiple times if different angles are necessary, exhausting the actors and staff in the process. Though this process is considered more creatively liberating as the director is able to thing is ways to portray monotone camera angles that others would use and tell a story a clear through interesting angles and perspectives.
(Scenes from Edgar Wrights movie “Hot Fuzz” (2007), Simon Pegg as one of the lead actors)
The ability to tell a story with such angles separate good directors from mundane ones as they fully use the scenes from quick cuts,zooms, things entering/leaving frames in different ways or things popping into frame without being noticed by the actors. Such angles and care to detail makes the movie more interesting and stand out from the other movies as it is noticed in American movies as of late boring frames are captured as characters talk over some problem instead of letting the scenes tell the story instead.
Ferris Bueller’s Day off
Film made in 1986 directed and written by John Hughes and Matthew Broderick playing the lead character Ferris Bueller. An American comedy where the main character as the audience sees tends to break the fourth wall from time to time as he explains his inner thoughts throughout the movie.
As it may not be a single camera product but it can be used easily for explaining the camera shots used in here as they use in other movies.
One of the example in the diversity in the movie would be the differences between the shown moods in the settings of Ferris Bueller and his friend Cameron.
The shown differences between Ferris and Camerons visual moods show their state of health as Cameron is actually home and sick with napkins and pills scattered around the room and tucked in bed while on the other hand Ferris faked his sickness and is relaxing as much as he can, pretending to be in a relaxing, Hawaiian environment type to place (as many think of relaxation and instantly think if Hawaii) . The music tunes also change as scenes change between the characters dialogue ,Cameron- low pitch,slow and somewhat melancholic music to show how the character state of feeling and pain while as a contrast Buellers music was chosen to be a relaxed ukulele tune just to further show that Ferris is healthy,cheerful and relaxing while having fun with his own day off.
Multiple scenes throughout the movie where schoolkids sit in class sleeping, zoning out and “paying attention” to class have more unsaturated palette and silence in a way showing that it’s boring and monotone.To contradict such place Ferris’ environment was light and colorful (his room decor along with his clothes and music in the background).
In some scenes where a dramatical queues are necessary they’re “short and sweet” as a quick pan from the nurses feet to her worried face and concerned body language shows as something bad approaches ,the next scene goes back to a silent class as the nurse enters and brings the bad news to one of the students. In other more comical scenes music follows along and “shadows” the characters actions to further make fun of the situation.
The movie itself may not have the in depth scenes and cuts where the story is told itself as multiple scenes run through (Like in Edgar Wrights directed pieces) but it is nicely done with the choices of capturing the scenes with pan camera movement,short scene cuts, switching the moods environment,colors or music, well placed musical queues to signify something serious or comedical, capturing the characters facial expressions and framing to show off the background and locations where the characters are as the story progresses along with character development.
Trailer park boys
“Three petty felons have a documentary made about their life in a trailer park.”
A Canadian mockumentary television series that had a successful run from 2001 till today with multiple series of the original “Trailer park boys”. Series created and directed by Mike Clattenburg , his work gained recognition and was shown in Adult Swim and Netflix (Multiple Trailer park boys series).
Story mainly revolves around a group of residents (who were ex-convicts) living in a trailer park and documenting their misadventures. Residents Ricky, Julian, and Bubbles try to get by on their daily lives doing petty crimes trying to get money and avoid the police at all cost.Most of the episodes turn out badly for the group as seasons may start as how everything is going well and optimistic for the group and then in the next seasons start they show how their plans crumbled and they returned to zero.
The show itself as it was started early 2000s not a large crew was used and a single camera setup was used in a way like reality TV shows where cameras follow the actors around. In the show itself the quality is amateur with the camera mans hands shacking giving it some authenticity. Throughout the series character dialogues may range from medium to long shots , characters point of view but filmed somewhere further from the present theme,zoom-ins on the actors faces as they may speak of a serious matter or a pun.
People partaking as characters in this series at least in the first seasons still make a mild rookie mistake by averting their eyes into the camera as they should talk to the person in front of them but also could be a way to break the fourth wall and involve we watcher to be in the camera mans shoes and be apart of the misadventures. Additional lighting throughout the series is barely used in most cases the natural light either outside or the lighting that is used in the facilities they film in are used , only during night time extra lighting is required. Camera capture is limited to a small range while in a scene , not extending towards unnecessary distractions and kept towards the main problem that one of the characters are facing.
Malcolm in the Middle
American sitcom directed and created by Linwood Boomer in early 2000s till 2006 for the Fox Broadcasting Company
The story that the show follows is the life of afamily who lives in the suburban fictional Tri-County area.Four brothers :Dewey, Malcolm, Reese and the eldest Francis; Francis being the main character most of the things that viewers see are from his perspective.
Being produced in early 2000s a small crew was used to create this piece, single camera setups used throughout the seasons and proved the ability to make a show that became successful by only using one camera and talented actors.The chosen cast were mostly minors but were able to carry out the tasks given to them, would it be learned lines , correctly act out directors wishes for the scene and how to act it out or even concentrate and not distract themselves easily as other minors tend to.
Through out the series as it was a single camera setup took time to shoot scenes and produce the product but along with that a range of shots were used too.The story itself portrays the hectic life of a family with multiple rebellious kids through the multiple seasons of the show,letting the audience would it be parents or kids relate and maybe see themselves in some situations that the director has managed to capture during the production of this series.
As example simple talks around the dinner table , maybe the eldest son brought up during it and the scene instantly can change to Francis’ apology towards his parents, showing the excuses that he has made and hopes to be forgiven for his shenanigans and troubles he has caused. Showing that the shows storyline for the episode isnt completely linear and gives extra contexts for the comical reasons. (Shown minor flashbacks to give context to the viewer , showing the ridiculous things Francis gets himself into and not leaving the viewer in the dark ,giving a chance for them to get a laugh from the situation)
Other scenes may include Malcolm giving his point of perspective as others don’t hear what he thinks only the viewer knows of his thoughts and plans for the moment.Giving insight of his or other characters lives , daily situations or just calling one or the other brother stupid because of the things that they did.
As a small production similar to the “Trailer park boys” the crew has used a low amount of extra lighting as they ,only by assumption, wanted to make the series as natural and close to reality as possible.