Single Camera Techniques (Task 1)

What is single camera production? This form of production is when only a single camera is needed to record a show/ programme, instead of having multiple cameras on an actor at once, a few examples of this technique would be The Adaams Family, The Inbetweeners, Trollied and Doctor Who. This style of filming was often used in the Film Noir era but that was down to not being able to after multiple camera on a set. Often with single camera production, the lighting of each shot has to be adjusted to make it similar to the previous take. Additionally this technique is seen on genres such as TV sitcoms, low budget films, music videos and dramas. Using this kind of technique connects the audience more with the programme or show because its as if it was their perspective looking at a conversation, the viewer would only have one angle to look at when observing. However the four that I am going to talk about are The Walking Dead, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Dark Knight and The Midnight Beast.


Brooklyn Nine Nine is a police-based comedy first made in 2013, which stars actors such as Terry Crews, Andy Samberg and Stephanie Beatriz. We can see with this production a cameraman/ woman tends to follow around the cast with only an couple of cameras, that and a lighting man and a couple of boom men to capture the sound of each actor. When looking at various episodes we can see that ‘Brookyn Nine-Nine uses the cinematic technique called “hand-held camera” in which a cameraman deliberately doesn’t put a camera on a stand so then there would be more movement for the camera, additionally it makes the audience feel a part of the programme, instead of sitting in a stationary, frozen position. Furthermore the cameraman tends to zoom out and in if they want particular shots, rather than retaking certain shots, both saving time and directing the audience on whether they should be looking at a character’s reaction or an entire scene.

Even though this program was made in 2010 and is an American horror drama, AMC’s The Walking Dead also uses the single camera technique, I believe this technique works even better in this program rather than Brooklyn Nine-Nine is because it emphasises more on facial expressions, drama, gory details and the what the world looks like now it consists of the living dead. The Walking Dead also works on flashbacks to ‘the world without the dead’, They’ve even dedicated whole episodes to it, like Michonne’s back story. Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the technique is used more of comedic timing and action scenes. Even though most of The Walking Dead is filmed outside during the day, lighting is still needed in order to capture raw detail like the makeup of zombies, however it is rarely used because the producers want there to be more of a connection between the audience and the show. When it comes to scripting, the TV show often bases their narrative of the comic book as that was released first in 2003, however the producers of the TV show often change certain parts in order to keep the audience guessing, for example the characters Daryl & Merle Dixon are a part of the TV show but are non-existent in the comics. A TV drama, which is The Walking Dead, is an exaggerated life situations with more drama, narrative and issues.

This technique can be used on film as well as TV series, an example would be DC’s The Dark Knight, one of the most popular Batman films to date, staring both Heath Ledger and The Joker, Micheal Cane and Alfred and Christian Bale as Batman. We see that a lot of the shots are more stable than The Walking Dead and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, however some scenes use ‘hand-held’ camera to emerge the viewers, like I said before. However the filming was limited due to Warner Bros recording with IMAX camera, which meant they could only record between 30 seconds and two minutes, meaning filming could be challenging if mistakes were made. Additionally due to a large budget lighting was key too, one particular scene where lighting was used very well was the cell scene between the Joker and Batman- at first we can just able make out the Joker’s iconic makeup and the Commissioner’s facial feature, this is down to the dull ceiling lights, but then bright lights are turned on when Batman enters the scene, this could be symbolic- Batman is the light in the dark time in Gotham. In this scene too we also hear non-diegetic music, of an instrument getting higher in pitch implying that the tension and angry is building between both of these characters. This movie does a very good job on emerging the audience; the single camera technique does this film justice in the sense of making the viewers feel like they are in that scene. Close-ups are often used to see the raw emotion on each of their faces, and see how terrifying the Joker’s makeup has become, telling the audience that this is the Joker at his scariest moment, that and you can see the positive emotion on his face whilst Batman is interrogating him. What makes a film different to a TV series is that it is seen in one long sitting usually lasting between an hour or two and a half hours, whereas a TV series tells a story though several episodes lasting between half and hour to an hour. The Dark Knight’s duration is 2 hours and 32 minutes, yet is very short compared to The Walking Dead considering each episode is an hour long with about 14 episodes each series.

Lastly, The Midnight Beast. This show was originally a YouTube comedy channel that had hits such as ‘Tik Tok Parody’ and ‘Dead Granny’ featuring Kevin Hart and Ice Cube, however the group made their own TV series on Comedy Central UK. The Midnight Beast are mainly known for their parody music videos, but almost all of their music videos have the same camera technique which is a field curvature lens, where the video curves around and the appearance is almost magnified near the centre. When first starting out the band didn’t use much lighting, however when they got their TV comedy series, various different lights were used when recording such as ring lights, strobe lights and focusing on the foreground rather than lighting the background like their old videos where it was more mise en scene. Much like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, they do try to use comedic timing to their advantage, but instead on zooming in on character expressions, is awkward pauses in their music (diegetic sound).

Overall we can see that the single camera technique is very effective when it comes to connecting to the audience and feeling as if they were in that scene, but it also helps with budgeting and production time, however it does make it difficult when controlling the lighting because each scene has to be redone. We can also see similarities between both single camera and multi camera- the doesn’t usually effect the shot (unless it’s a close up of someone talking directly at the camera, like the Midnight Beast or Steven Yeun in the Walking Dead photo I showed), then the sound is centre and not drifting off/ moving from each ear. Furthermore building a scene would be the same due to us seeing the scene when the viewer or character enters the scene, as well as taking multiple shots at the same time. I do feel that out of these four examples, The Walking Dead embraces this technique the most as it builds up the tension of living in a dangerous situation as well as capturing the different emotions of each character.




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