Production: How To Shoot Action Scenes

Regardless of the genre, action scenes between the good and the bad guys are found in most films released on the market. In order to do an effective action scene, a filmmaker must have at least two cameras to show shots from different angles and levels. This gives the video editor a variety of shots to choose from, making the action more exciting to watch. Here are a few steps to making a simple action scene.

Step 1 - Meet with the Stunt Coordinator

Have a meeting with the Stunt Coordinator. Discuss and explain as many important details about the action scene as possible. State what you want to see in the sequence, the goal and your plans in how to meet that objective. This brainstorming activity will allow you to see what shots are possible and which ones will need to be revised or abandoned altogether. It will also give the Stunt Coordinator a chance to get the important details down before he/she can work out a few action moves for the scene.

Step 2 - Practice On-Set

With the actors, doubles and crew present, have the Stunt Coordinator show you how the action will play out. This will give you a chance to see the actual movements for the proposed action scene. You will be able to discuss any changes you want with the movements or the action shots. During this time, the actors and doubles will be briefed on what they need to do to in terms of the specific movement and how to time these movements.

Step 3 - Light the Scene

Discuss with the Cinematographer or your Director of Photography on how the lighting for the scene should be done. While the lights are being set-up, have the actors, doubles and the Stunt Coordinator practice the proposed coordinated moves off set for the action scene.

Step 4 - Watch the Rehearsals Off-Set

Observe the rehearsal process to have a better idea on camera shots and angles. This will also give you time to analyze and comment on the movements and action and how to divide the scene into shorter sequences.

Step 5 - Practice the Scene with the Stunt Coordinator

The Stunt Coordinator will show off the first fighting sequence. Set up the cameras for the first sequence. Practice the different shots and camera angles.

Step 6 - Shoot and Repeat

Once you have finalized the exact movements and camera angles, film the scene. Repeat Step 5 and 6 for the succeeding sequences until the entire scene is over. Film each sequence at least twice. Change the speed and lens size for each of the two cameras for all of the sequences. This will give the post production crew at least 4 different shots from a variety of angles and levels without the need to move the cameras. It is a good way of filming the action in a short amount of time using just a few takes. Include the Director of Photography and the Stunt Coordinator when editing the video. The finished video need not include all of the action, just the shots that will convey the action without boring the audience.

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