Three cameras 3, 2, 1

Three Cameras

When we shoot a scene in studio, we use three cameras. We number these in inverse direction 3, 2,1. So the camera on our left is camera 3, in the middle is camera 2 and on the right is camera 1.  These cameras are connected to our preview monitors.

three cameras to film Bill and Sally

Bill and Sally in the set


So here is our first scene setting. Two characters Bill and Sally are talking to each other.  We have our three cameras lined up.  Camera 3 has a close shot of red haired “Sally” on the right. Camera 2 has a close two-shot.  Camera 1 has a close shot of the blond guy “Bill”.

Here is what each cameraoperator sees.

Cameraman 1 sees Bill.

Camera 1 sees Bill

Camera 2 has a 2-shot

Camera 2 sees a Close 2 shot

Camerawoman 3 sees Sally

Camera 3 focus is on Sally


If we connect these in numerical order to our preview monitors. You’ll immediately see that Bill is looking at Sally  even before we are cutting to program out ! In the quad setting we see 4 images on one screen of our preview monitor and we can easily follow what is going on in the scene. We can see what cutting will do to the way we tell the story.

Quad preview monitor shows each camera and program out

Here is what happens if you number the cameras 1, 2, 3 from left to right and connect them 1, 2, 3 to the edit panel and monitors.


Sally now seems to be looking away from Bill, and Bill looks away from Sally, which seems wrong with the image from camera 2. In the cutting and recording they will look okay. In the preview monitor that you as a director will use it looks wrong. And something that looks wrong will cost you time. You need any help you can get in order to be able to evaluate your cutting in a short time span. If your images are connected as in the top Quad example, you will see what you get. And that makes life easier, and give you more time to interact with your actors.

So if we in the next lessons will talk about Camera 3, that will be the one on the left. Camera 1 is always on the right and camera 2 in the middle. If you have the comfort of having even more cameras, always count from the highest to the lowest from left to right !

An inexperienced director will count the cameras in the wrong direction.


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