When a film or a TV series is produced in the single camera genre, it means that every scene is shot individually, generally using one camera. This type of production was commonly used in Film noir, films and shows that are generally crime and drama based. This was very popular during the early 1940’s to the late 1950’s. Examples of Single camera produced films/shows are The Inbetweeners, Bewitched, The Office (US) and The Walking Dead.
There are benefits to using a single camera production, such as:
- Low budget due to only being filmed using one camera
- Less cameras to move around during filming and no chance of capturing another camera in a scene
- Gives the director more control over the scenes and how to present them
- Easy to collect the scenes and edit them
On the other hand, there are downsides of having only one camera such as:
- They have to set up and take down the camera for each scene
- Cant take multiple shots of a scene at different angles
- It is not very time efficient
- If the camera gets damaged or broken, they could loose all the data
For example (In reference to the image), two characters would be talking to each other, Red and Blue, and to film this the would film e.g. reds lines first, being shots 1,3,5,7 and 9. Then the camera would be moved and aligned to face blue and the shots 2,4,6 and 8 will be filmed. All this makes it easier in the editing a postproduction process as the can just place the shots next to each other and it will appear as if the two characters are having a conversation.
However, depending on the scene and how the director wants the film/show to be made they might make some adjustments to the cameras. For example, in a scene in which they want shots that cut between the characters, they would have to shoot the entire scene, with the camera facing Red and then do the same while angling the camera at Blue. This allows them more freedom to cut back and forth between the characters during the editing process for the different angles.
During filming a single camera production, there is an array of shots camera angles that can be used, such as:
- Long shots which are used to display the location
- Medium shots which are often used to showcase multiple characters
- Close up shots are used to determine a persons emotions and certain props.
There are many different formats and genres used in single camera productions. Such as a Sitcom, Soap opera, Period or a crime show.
- A Sitcom, or Situation Comedy, is style of comedy focused on characters which appear repeatedly in each episode and follow funny storylines. They are usually set in common and typical environments, for example, a family’s home, a school or a workplace. Sitcoms gained a lot of popularity during the 1960’s and they are becoming more and more popular ever year.
- A Soap opera is a television, or radio, show that showcases and follows peoples lives, conflicts that they have and how they deal with them. They are always set in a certain place (Eastenders = London) but the plot is fictional. Soap operas tend to go on for a long time due to its narrative structure being multi-stranded.
- A Period drama is set to be reminiscent of of certain/earlier time period. It involves detailed sets, costumes and props to represent the time period in which the show is set in. The costumes and context of Period drama shower generally very elaborate, Like in Downton Abbey.
With single camera productions, there are three basic structures
- Linear – When there is a continuos storyline and the plot is more clear as the episodes proceed. An example of this is Game of Thrones.
- Non-Linear – When the story is not chronological, often uses flashbacks and the story is fragmented.
- Multi-stranded – Where a story is shown from different perspectives. For example, Eastenders is multi-stranded.
An example of a single camera production is Bewitched.
Bewitched is a fantasy sitcom and was originally aired on the ABC network on September 17, 1964 in black and white until the year 1966 in which they converted the show to colour.
The show was created with a linear structure, showing the life of the main characters and how they progress as the episodes go on. For example, in the first episode, Pilot, it shows how Samantha and Darrin are getting married and then in later episodes its showing how their relationship grows. As well as Samantha’s inability to do housework because she’s a witch and never had to do it normally before, so she’s learning how to be normal as the show continues. Each episode has a closed ending as the conflict in the episode is settled at the end of it, leaving no cliffhangers or confusion for the audience.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AxQXbox86E This scene is a good example of some of the effects they use in the show. Firstly they use continuity editing for magic and in this scene to make clothes appear out of nowhere into Endora’s hands. They did this by using a team of stagehands, people who were directed to do things while they freeze the scene. For example in this scene, Endora holds up her hand and then she and the filming will pause while the stagehands place the clothes in her hand, then continue filming and in the post production editing they will place the two scenes together, making it look like magic.They also use a close up shot on Samantha, to catch her emotions while she talking to Endora. This tells the audience how she is feeling towards Endora and allows the audience to see the characters opinions on things that happen on the show. Medium shots and cross cutting for Edna and the monkey to catch the commotion in the scene and to show them communicating, and the scene ends crossfading into the next. The lighting is bright and vibrant due to the scene being shot on a set to help display a contemporary home. It also makes the scene seem happier and lifts the mood.
The Inbetweeners, like Bewitched, is a sitcom. However it was based more on reality and real life problems teens have. It was broadcasted on the E4 TV channel on May 1, 2008 and ended October 18, 2010.
It also resembles Bewitched due to the fact that the show has a linear structure, having the episodes in chronological order, and the fact that each episode has a closed ending. Each episode has a different plot, showing how the teens are growing into adults and try, and fail, to drink beer and have sex and impress people. The show uses a technique called hand held camera, where the cameraman carries the camera around, recording, to make the show seem more realistic and showing things as they would actually look. Similarly, they use the natural; overcast London weather as the lighting. This shows that it isn’t always sunny and bright, but that life can be gloomy and it makes the episodes seem grittier and look like a real situation. Compared to Bewitched, there is barely any artificial lighting used as The Inbetweeners was filmed in London and during whatever light the environment provided. Whereas Bewitched is filmed mainly inside with lights set around the house, making it look warm and welcoming.
https://youtu.be/RVY717u04II In this scene, Jay, Simon, Neil and will are in a boat with a fish. They are shocked because it is moving about and they panic and they end up calling for help and killing the fish. There are lots of jump-cuts between each character to show the current situation between them and how they panic. There are a multitude of shots in the scene as well. Firstly, there is a long shot scene for a brief moment to show where they are and how the scene starts, then there is a close up on the characters faces to display their emotions, the fish (which is causing the commotion) and to show the audience the tension that is rapidly rising, helping them see how the characters feel. As well as medium shots to show the characters in the boat and to see them all at once. Extreme long-shots are use to show the flare gun being fired and to let the audience see what is looks like.
The Office (US)
The Office (US) is a sitcom and a mockumentary (a parody of a documentary). It was broadcasted on the NBC Network on March 24, 2005 and ended May 16, 2013.
The show follows a linear structure and each episode has its own plot based around the characters jobs and personal lives. The show uses closed endings, leaving each episode to itself and making each one memorable with the jokes and catchphrases. The Office is similar to the inbetweeners because they also use the hand held camera technique for some of their scenes, filming the actors around he workplace. This captures the realism that’s presented.
Eastenders is a Soap opera and was originally broadcasted on BBC One on 19 February 1985 and is currently ongoing. The soap follows a multi stranded structure due to multiple storylines progressing in each episode, which usually results in cliffhangers which will attract the audience and make them interested and want to see how the story will continue. There is a lot of segmentation in the show, which at times is abrupt but it keeps the people watching and makes them focus on the storyline.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHjfdeVvJP0 In this scene, Janine and barry are arguing and then she pushes him down a hill and he hits a rock. Similar to The Inbetweeners, they use the natural light from the environment, which really enhances the suspense of the scene and it creates a solemn mood. The scene has a lot of close ups due to it being an emotional scene, Barry saying he loves Janine whereas she doesn’t and lied about loving him, and to catch their facial expressions which react to what the other has said. There is a long shot included to show him falling down the hill, and to display the danger due to it being a steep drop.