View Full Version : How do you measure the length of a shot?

10 October 2005, 04:34 PM
Hello people.

I am working on a short film project and I am finding it somewhat difficult to define the length of shots. I've been reading how people set those lengths and I even remember them saying "this shot has to last 5.7 seconds" and stuff like that.

My question is, once you have the story and all, how do you define how much every shot has to last? For example in a dialog sequence, how do you know that dialog has to be 10 second long, no more and no less? How do you know it has to take your character exactly 8 seconds and 10 frames to go from point A to point B? I get approximate values but I can't find a way to do that, which will cause me not to know the exact length of my completed project.

Any ideas? :)

10 October 2005, 05:25 PM
I don't know why you'd want to be so exact with your timing. Getting your film down to the time you want is all down to the editing. Shaving precious seconds where they're not required.

The most common techniques are having somebody begin to walk towards a door, then cutting to them opening the door from the other side. There's no way they could have covered that distance so quickly, but it works.

As for dialogue... assuming you're using the standard two over the shoulder shots, you should be able to edit the conversation down to the time you need.

I just wrapped production on a film that had a very slow pan shot, which i explained to the cameraman by actually doing the movement myself first. I also explained what mood i was trying to create by taking my time doing it.

10 October 2005, 09:13 AM
That's all in the edit. If you're doing it from rought storyboards, you just have to visualize so much more to get correct timing. Animatic helps with the timing of the shots. As far as editing goes, I can recommend you to check a book by Walter Murch: In the blink of an eye. Really good book on editing, he tells a lot about when the cut should occur and things like that.


10 October 2005, 02:14 PM
Well I suppose I don't have to be THAT precise then :D

Thanks for the answers. I will get my hands on more editing stuff :twisted:

SOE digital
11 November 2005, 11:56 AM
Just play the scene out in your head the way you want it to be and use a rough estimate of how long it went for.
Anyone who is that detailed to put down things like 5.7 seconds for how a shot needs to be obviously has no more important things to do.

11 November 2005, 04:52 PM
Hey, Nemirc! Moonlighting over here?

I would suspect that when shots have to be that precise they are talking about a project that has a strict time contraint, a commercial for example. They are usually storyboarded and timed down to the frame. Having said that, they still have some flexibilty in timing but not a lot.

I agree with the others, just make it as long as it needs to be, Have a goal in mind for the over all length but use that as a guide. Various people use the length for calculating things like budgets, how much film/tape stock to buy, etc. Directors need a length so they know when they should stop filming. :)

Good luck with the project! Will it have some sort of Cg elements incorporated?

11 November 2005, 06:19 PM
Thanks for the answers, that makes my life a lot easier :bounce:

Shayder: I would worry more about it having real-life elements :scream: The real+cg will come after ;)

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11 November 2005, 06:19 PM
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