Why Do People Film With Two Cameras?

What’s the big deal about frame switching? Culturally, considering the perspectives of other people helps us to build empathy and broaden our worldview. In marketing, brands use it to access culture-specific mental frames across audience demographics. But those aren’t the only benefits to seeing things from different angles. In a more literal sense, directors and cinematographers switch frames and shots because viewers often want more visual information – especially when looking at a product or service online.

While we may understand that different video perspectives enrich our final product, the notion of filming from a spectrum of differing angles can feel daunting. What is the multi-camera setup or mode of production? With this approach, you simply incorporate more than one camera to simultaneously record the scene (whether it’s a customer testimonial, real-life footage of your business, a video blog, or anything else). The simplest way to embrace multi-camera productions is to start with two cameras. When you add a second camera, you may also want to add another camera operator. Let’s look at the reasoning behind the need for secondary equipment and a secondary operator.

Why might a second camera be worth it?

Diversity – Though it’s best not to make the production of your video overly complicated, a diversity of shots makes for a more captivating video. By getting shots with a second camera, you are doubling your available footage when it comes to editing. A different perspective on the same action, adding another angle, or changing focal length all allow for a more varied and compelling scene.

Smoothness – When you use two cameras, you can match the way the shots are connected in editing so that you can seamlessly move from one to the other and back. This makes editing those tricky transitions much simpler.

Backups – Backups are a common concept in computing; by building multiple redundancies into their systems, IT teams embrace repetition so that no single item of data is ever lost. The same is true when you have a second (or “redundant,” you could say) camera; you might lose a certain angle, but you won’t lose the moment. Did you end up with a botched zoom on Camera A? Switch to Camera B. Did someone bump Camera B right as your customer was getting to her main point? Switch to Camera A.

Why might a second camera operator make sense?

Speed – The second operator for the additional camera means that you are able to set up and break down faster. While the director scouts the location, the other camera operator can unload and start building the cameras. You can also wrap up more quickly at the end of the day with an extra set of hands.

Ideation – Having an additional professional on the set will give the director an industry insider for their collaborative input on framing and lighting the shots, among other things.

Breakoffs – One operator can shoot establishing shots and exteriors while the other camera-person shoots the talent that’s showcasing your product. This has the potential to save you hours of time and effort during production.

Taking a multi-camera approach to shooting video may not be intuitively obvious at first. In fact, because it can be hard to wrap your head around all the shots you’re getting and how they might fit together, it may take some time before your team masters the method. Yet with enough practice, you’ll not only be filming more efficiently, you will be publishing more captivating content. So the next time you schedule a shoot, consider bringing a second camera – in the end, your brand will be better off. 

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Do you want to tell your story through video? Figuring out the number of cameras is just one aspect of a great end-result. At Golden Arm Media, we’re passionate about delivering compelling content for our clients that drives real brand growth and ROI.

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