Friday, November 16, 2007

Production Boost - Pick-Up (or "Insert") Shots

When you get to the point in post production of finally watching a rough cut of your flick, you might become a little disappointed when you notice that some scenes didn't turn out the way you thought they might. If you feel that a scene falls a little short when you watch it, don't react too quickly on your instinct of giving upon its potential by tossing it into the deleted scenes bin. This happens to all filmmakers and not just us DIYers.

This is one of the reasons why post production usually becomes one of the longest phases in the production process. It's a tough job to try to put all the scenes together like pieces to a puzzle so that they fit the way they should. This sounds easier than it usually is.

The Quick Fix
One quick fix that can help this situation of pumping some life into a flat scene is to go back and shoot some pick-up shots for the scene. I'm not talking about going back and re-shooting the entire scene - that would be counterproductive. What I'm talking about is to go back and shoot some b-roll, close-ups, reactions, additional angles to help accent what you've already shot.

What's to Shoot?
For example, just a few pick-up shots of a character's face can help move a scene along in the right direction. But what if you don't have access to any of your actors during post production? Well, you have the option of shooting b-roll of certain key objects in the scene. For instance, a CU of the villain's gun as an insert can add to the suspense and thrill of a scene without using your actors.

You might need a similar hand model, though - but for an insert shot that'll only last a few seconds, you don't need to be too detailed for your audience. You don't even need to be in the same location, you can easily cheat it. Just be sure to shoot the complementing angles.

Haste Makes Waste
So for your troubled scenes - just keep them, play around with the order of the clips if you have to - and try out some new insert shots. It's amazing what a 4 second insert can do to a scene. But remember, if you're still not sure about what to do with the scene even after you've inserted the pick-ups - then get a few more opinions. Have a few different people look at it and get their response.

Follow your gut - if you think you must really get rid of the scene to help the overall movie, then go for it. Just make sure you try all your options before doing so. (The iconic John Travolta dance sequence in "Saturday Night Fever" was on its way to the cutting room floor until they were convinced to remove a few inserts.) Good luck.