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Thread: On Set Monitor

  1. #1

    Default On Set Monitor

    Hi Guys
    I'm sort of new to the whole filming thing and have recently upgraded from a SONY hand held camera to a Canon XL1 along with a few other bits of equipment.

    However, What I want to know is.....

    When you are filming, can you use a normal portable TV to monitor whats happening or do I need something more advanced?

    Cheers in advance

  2. #2
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    Depends what you want to do.

    If you want to use the monitor to check technical quality then you will have to spend silly money. On the other hand, if it's just to show others what you're seeing in the viewfinder, then any 7' screen will suffice.

    Just remember: The bigger the monitor, the more people will be able to see it and the more people who see it, the more directors you suddenly have.

    The monitor really does become a magnet and everyone who sees the monitor will want to offer an opinion.

  3. #3

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    I'm looking at doing some documentaries and short films, but every set I see on TV have a monitor and I was hoping I might beable to use a normal TV..... But thanks all the same ..

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    Yes, of course you can use a normal TV, the XA1 will plug straight into it but before you do, a word from the wise: Unless YOU absolutely need a monitor, avoid them, they bring more aggro than they're worth.

    Especially in documentaries.

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    Trust me on this one. I've been there, done that, got the "T" shirt, taken the medication, survived the court case and written the book.

    Monitors are the invention of the Devil. They are evil. They create discord and eat babies (well, maybe not eat babies but you get my drift). A monitor is an invitation for everyone from the "Creative Director" to the make-up girl and every gopher in the vicinity to become Hitchcock. They will point out things you have seen but worse, they will point out things to the director which he hasn't seen. A shot can go all the way through the chain and nobody will notice that the foot of a lighting stand is in shot. If anyone in the edit suite onwards sees it, they will assume that it's part of the set and should be there. If you have a monitor, the geeky runner will take great delight in shouting that there's equipment in shot. Your protestations that "nobody will notice it" will be ignored in favour of a teenage twerp and ages will be wasted sorting out a non-existing problem.
    Then, when you call for the Make-up to slap a bit of powder on a shiny nose, she will look at the monitor and ask "why?" So, either you insist and look like a dragon or, to keep the peace with her, you acquiesce and two weeks later the editor sends you a rude note to watch your lighting in future because "there's a reflection right on the guy's nose".

    Then the director will be happy with a shot but a clueless P.A, who was watching the monitor, will shake her head. The director now becomes uncertain and suggests you "go again". So you waste time repeating a perfectly good shot.

    and it gets worse...

    Everyone will want to see a playback. The actors will be unhappy with their performance and want to go again. They will start to argue with the director who, until he saw the PB was more than happy with the acting. Some runner will insist that there's a "boom shadow" in shot, even though the whole scene was done with radio mics and the boom is still in the sound truck, suddenly everyone "sees" a boom shadow.
    The production grinds slowly to a crawl as every shot is examined, analyzed and repeated.

    This doesn't happen on professional shoots because (a) on the first day a runner is caught watching the monitor and is fired on the spot (brutal but it works) and (b) everyone is either too busy doing what they're paid for or needs to look like they're busy.

    So, do not use a monitor on set unless you really NEED it yourself.
    Last edited by Rembrandt Rob; 08-01-2011 at 11:30 PM.

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    Great post Rob, with one exception:
    Quote Originally Posted by Rembrandt Rob View Post
    Your protestations that "nobody will notice it" will be ignored in favour of a teenage twerp and ages will be wasted sorting out a non-existing problem.
    Didn't a wise man one say:

    "10. Finally, be your harshest critic..
    Don't assume that mistakes will be overlooked or forgiven. If you see a jump in continuity, the audience will see it to. If a shot is out of focus, don't assume that "nobody will notice"... Everyone will."

    So maybe having an extra pair of eyes specifically looking for anachronisms, and objects which shouldn't be in shot is no bad thing?
    Tim

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    There's a difference between looking for mistakes and finding something to look at.

    Yeah, if there's a tripod in shot, then it needs to be moved. A cable needs to be hidden under the carpet or under leaves... sometimes.

    In an interview if a lighting stand foot, in the corner of the room looks like a piece of the furniture, there's no need to move it. The crew know that it's a piece of equipment because they can see the real object, on the screen it could be a domestic lighting stand, or something which should be there. If it doesn't shout out "equipment" then it doesn't always need to be hidden or disguised. In a five second establishing shot, that piece of dark metal won't be noticed, certainly not enough to justify a half hour re-light, getting another stand out of the truck, building an outrigger, re-hanging the light and cables, just to hide something which doesn't need to be hidden.
    Sometimes moving a light, or setting a flag can put the offending object into shadow. You know that it will be out of focus and unrecognisable, the others who now know what they're looking at, don't. They still "see" a piece of equipment because that's what they've been told to see. That's where experience comes in. What you don't need is some pimply-faced media studies oik pointing out the three pixels which, in his opinion, "looks odd".

    If you ask people to look for "mistakes" they will always find something to criticise, often a total irrelevance. At the end of the day you don't need a dozen pairs of eyes, you just need to use yours correctly.

    as an example... The launch sequence for Thunderbird one...



    Have a look at it first, then read on...

    In the background, right in the middle of the screen after 1:00 when TB 1 is about to take-off. On the rear of the hall is a grapefruit juicer. Yup, the kitchen utensil used to squeeze juice out of oranges, grapefruits etc. Painted and stuck on the wall as a piece of "technology" You didn't notice it as a kid and how many times have you seen that sequence? Now that you know what it is, you will now see it every time that you look.

    Some things need to be "sorted" others don't.
    Last edited by Rembrandt Rob; 08-02-2011 at 01:11 AM.

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    Rob, I know you're right but you're living in a world where people know what they're doing.

    "At the end of the day you don't need a dozen pairs of eyes, you just need to use yours correctly." is absolutely sound advice for someone whose eyes have been trained and which have experience. I've a long way to go before I reach that stage (if ever I do) In my amateur world I need all the help I can get. A pro would be expected to see things which are wrong (and also which will go unnoticed) in a monitor and his reputation would surely take a bit hit if he called everyone over and asked "Alright everyone, does this look OK to you?" - he should know it looks OK. For an amateur, there's no loss of status in asking for help. In fact that's what we do all the time on this forum.

    In my world, I'd rather have the footage quickly reviewed by a number of people while it is still easy to reshoot, rather than discover it in the edit. (For example, my interview of the girls in the raft race film - another pair of eyes might well have spotted I should have moved the bench away from the wall to give an element of separation, I didn't spot it until too late).

    However, I can still take an awful lot from your earlier (brilliantly and humourously worded) post- it's obvious to me now that I'd only want a few key people to review it (cameraman, director, continuity) and definitely not cast members.

    EDIT: The Thunderbirds clip (which I had seen before) is slightly off topic as it wasn't as if the juicer was accidentally in the shot.
    Tim

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    I get what your saying Tim, it's just that I find that too many cooks really do spoil the broth. If you restrict the monitor to Cameraman, Director and Continuity then you've sussed it.

    ...but you're right about being hyper-critical. The thing to remember is that YOU have to be hyper-critical and correct your own mistakes before anyone notices.
    Last edited by Rembrandt Rob; 08-03-2011 at 12:27 AM.

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