Today we are going to be looking at performing for camera technique. The terminology used and the differences between camera angles.

Top tips when performing for camera:

1. Eye contact. To achieve solid eye contact, focus on your scene partner’s downstage eye. Inexperienced actors often look shifty-eyed, as they move back and forth between another actor’s two eyes. Depending on the tightness of the shot, this may not be an issue. However, you should be very careful if the shot is extremely close and intense. By focusing on the downstage eye (the one closer to the camera), your performance will have more stillness, which both directors and audiences prefer to the shifty-eyed look.

2. Take a stand. Most of us, when standing normally, see the same thing when we look down at our feet. A V-shape, with each foot pointing a bit outward and our heels closer together. This works perfectly well in life, but when an actor places himself on a mark in front of the camera, this stance can lead to swaying—both side to side and backward and forward. By breaking the symmetry of these two halves of the “V,” your stance will be far more solid. Moving one foot in front of the other, and shifting its angle a bit, will make it almost impossible for you to sway. Also, for those who suffer from shakiness from stage fright, this technique can prove to be a lifesaver.

3. Take stock of your habits. We all have them, but the ones I’m referring to in particular are the ones that might prove distracting to a director or an audience. These include: excessive blinking, flaring nostrils, over-active eyebrows, flipping hair, touching face, licking lips, sighing, crossing-arms, hands in pockets, and, well, the list is endless. But if you tape yourself and carefully self-scrutinize, you will be able to eliminate these habits altogether—or at the very least lessen some of them.

4. Don’t beat up on yourself! We are all imperfect creatures. As an actor, it’s your goal to choose which imperfections to showcase in your characters. Just don’t let your own habits, affectations, and mannerisms get in the way of giving a great performance.

Sir Michael Caine’s 6 top tips on film acting:

  1. When speaking to an actor off-camera, look into one eye and stick with it.
  2. Film acting is, in large part, reacting and listening.
  3. While rehearsing something with a fellow actor, if a crew member can come up and recognize you’re rehearsing vs. having a real conversation, then you aren’t doing it right.
  4. An actor relaxes in front of the camera by concentrating, and knowing that you have no enemies on set, everyone’s on your side and doing their best to make you look your best for the movie.
  5. The camera catches everything you do, so don’t be afraid to play things subtly.
  6. A majority of movie acting is relaxation.  If you’re knocking yourself out, you’re doing it wrong.

Terminology:

Blocking: The process of running through a scene prior to filming to decide where the actors will move and where lighting and cameras should be placed.

Boom: The large fuzzy microphone on the end of a pole that looks a bit like an old dog. It floats above the actors, close enough to pick up dialogue but, ideally, far enough up or down that it doesn’t appear in the shot.

Call sheet: A list, usually created by the first assistant director, of actors who will be required on set for each day’s shooting, what scenes are scheduled and which locations will be used.

Clapper: A board displaying key information about the scene being filmed (scene number, take number, film name), filmed by the camera before each take. On top (or bottom) is a piece of wood on a hinge (traditionally painted in black and white stripes), which claps down to the board, allowing for audio-visual synchronisation. Also known as “clapboard”.

Clean speech: A take in which there were no errors with dialogue recording.

Continuity report: A list specifying everything that happened when a scene was filmed, including weather conditions and camera settings. This is meant to prevent continuity errors creeping in between takes or during reshoots. Also known as the “continuity script”.

Pick-ups: Footage filmed after shooting wraps, usually of minor shots. In the case of something like The Lord Of The Rings, however, pick-ups were major and essential. Jackson even went so far as to film a few pick-ups for the extended edition of Return Of The King, after the film won eleven Oscars.

Re-shoots: Footage filmed after shooting wraps, re-doing scenes from the film rather than adding additional scenes or minor reaction shots etc. The existence of re- shoots is often seen as evidence that a film is in trouble, so filmmakers will go out of their way to describe re-shoots as pick-ups.

Shot list: A planned list of the scenes and angles to be shot that day, including details such as location, and which actors and departments are involved.

Camera angles:

EWS (Extreme Wide Shot) The view is so far from the subject that he isn’t even visible. Often used as an
establishing shot.

VWS (Very Wide Shot) The subject is visible (barely), but the emphasis is still on placing him in his
environment.

WS (Wide Shot) The subject takes up the full frame, or at least as much as comfortably possible. AKA: long shot, full shot.

MS (Mid Shot) Shows some part of the subject in more detail while still giving an impression of the whole subject.

MCU (Medium Close Up) Half way between a MS and a CU.

CU (Close Up) A certain feature or part of the subject takes up the whole frame.

ECU (Extreme Close Up) The ECU gets right in and shows extreme detail. Variation: Choker

Cut-In Shows some (other) part of the subject in detail.

CA (Cutaway)A shot of something other than the subject.

Two-Shot A shot of two people, framed similarly to a mid shot.

(OSS) Over-the- Shoulder Shot Looking from behind a person at the subject.

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Acting Challenge:

Set up a camea or ask someone to film you using 4 of the camera shots:

  • Wide Shot
  • Mid Shot
  • Medium Close up
  • Close up

You will talk to camera for about 1 minute, you can talk about anything, who you are, where you come from, something you are passionate about. You will do the same ‘scene’ 4 times so that it can be filmed using the different shots. Consider which camera angle works best for this sort of situation and look out for any habits/tics that you may have.

Business Challenge:

How do you present yourself on social media? How can you be more professional? Check your email address, Facebook page, anything where Casting Directors can view you and make an opinion of you from it.