Introducing Adventures in Multi-Camera Directing

1 Jan

With the new year, it’s time to embark on new adventures. In this TELEVISION section of the blog, I’ll be covering my experiences directing multi-camera TV.

Filmmaker Olu Gittens, center, directing an episode of Different Voices (Executive Producer: Poet Minor) at Manhattan Neighborhood Network. Left, Drew Taylor. Right, Chance Anderson. Photo courtesy of Poet Minor.

As a film director working single-camera, I prefer to be near my actors while the camera is rolling – rather than perched at a monitor – watching for the performance, the connection, the eyes. In multi-camera directing, the director sits in the control room, a sound-proof space adjacent to the studio, watching 3 or more screens that simultaneously show the action taking place. Working in coordination with the TD, or technical director, the multi-camera director controls the rhythm and pacing of the scene, anticipate shots, highlight performances. I won’t be physically with my actors during the shoot! The intimacy between director and the performance must come from a strong vision for the scenes, effective rehearsals, hawk’s eye survey of all shots at once, and a good rapport with the actors and the control room team.

Filmmaker Olu Gittens, left, directing an episode of Different Voices (Executive Producer: Poet Minor) at Manhattan Neighborhood Network. Left, Drew Taylor. Right, Chance Anderson. Photo courtesy of Poet Minor.

Multi-camera directing is known for being less “creative” than single-camera filmmaking because of the limitations of camera placement, generalized lighting to accommodate several shots at once, and because we tend to see it only in news, sports, talk shows and soap operas. But don’t sleep on it! The process is its own roller coaster ride of anticipating shots, editing on-the-fly, teamwork and timing.

So, here’s to multi-camera directing, one of the many facets of my work as a filmmaker. Let the journey begin!
-O.G.

LINKS:
TV Directing, Museum of Broadcast Communications

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