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Camera 24pHD Crew
6th Sept 2003
Interested in feedback from the forum on the need for both a DIT and a
Video Controller on a 4 camera sit-com that will be color corrected (scene
to scene after editing) in post.
Could one do the job with just a DIT in that situation?
Producer would like to go that route, financial issue of course, what
else is new.
Thanks in advance.
Paul Maibaum wrote :
for both a DIT and a Video Controller on a 4 camera sit-com
that will >be color corrected…….in post”.
I'm not sure what the difference is between a video controller and a DIT.
I'd fight for what I call a "video engineer" (but what others
seem to call a video controller; there seems to be a difference in terminology
between here and LA) on the set: someone who will, at the very least,
match the cameras, do a little painting, ride iris if need be and keep
an eye on the waveforms.
For a few hundred bucks a day your producers may save quite a lot in post.
If nothing else the person doing the final color correction won't have
to fight wildly different-looking footage.
This is assuming that you're using camcorders and not recording to decks
elsewhere, and that you're not doing any sort of switching. All that makes
it a lot more complicated and adds at least one more person.
My $.02, and worth every penny.
Art Adams, DP
Mountain View, California - "Silicon Valley"
The DIT does not take the place of a video controller in addition to working
as the DIT on a multi-camera show. The video controller is responsible
for shading the cameras (running Iris, matching the cameras, timing cameras
if it is a live show etc.) The DIT works the floor directly with the cameras
and provides assistance to the VC.
In a multi-camera show in which camcorders are involved it is not possible
or ideal for the VC to be at all places at once dealing with on set camera
issues in addition to working in the booth or trailer shading cameras.
One major item, which needs redefining is the confusion between what Art
has termed "video engineer" which does not have the same meaning
LA or in other larger production markets.
Video Engineer is actually an incorrect term when defining the person
who shades cameras as the proper term is "video controller".
In IA 600 the term engineer is not used to define the person assigned
to shading cameras as 695 deals with the engineers. On a mobile truck
there would most likely be a video engineer and/or the EIC "engineer
in charge") who oversees the technical setup and operation of his
or her truck and the VC who handles the camera shading.
I would advise other production markets to start using the proper term
"video controller and DIT" instead of generically calling that
person a "video engineer" unless they are referring to a person
who is responsible for engineering duties not camera shading. The proper
use of job titles will avoid job description confusion and miscommunication.
>”In a multi-camera show
in which camcorders are involved it is not possible or ideal
for the VC to be at all places at once dealing with on set
camera issues in addition to working in the booth or trailer
What kind of issues does the DIT deal with once the cameras are shaded?
Art Adams, DP
Mountain View, California - "Silicon Valley"
Refer to my post in response to Dale's initial question.
In SF or smaller markets the video engineer is actually the VC, DIT and
all rolled into one nice package.
Paul Maibaum wrote:
>"..........the need for
both a DIT and a Video Controller on a 4 camera sit-com that
will be color corrected..........in post."
I will give you my view. First of all 4 camera Sit-coms should not be
shot with F900 camcorders. Panavison uses camcorders because that is all
they have. These camcorders are connected to Control units for video control
functions. Plus8digital does not use camcorders and uses 950 cameras connected
to CCU’s (Full Function Camera Control Units located off stage).
The recordings for these cameras are made on F500 HDCam studio recorders
located in a trailer with the video controller and a video tape operator.
Larger tapes than camcorder tapes can be used saving additional money.
In some cases full bandwidth 4:2:2 recordings are made on Panasonic D5
The video tape operator can make simultaneous down conversion tapes for
off - line editing saving both time and money. In addition to the video
controller and tape operator there is an "ENGINEER" to perform
maintenance and trouble shooting of the entire setup because there is
no tape recording being done on stage in camcorders there is less camera
crew needed to change tapes and do labels, etc.
There is also no need to run all the time code and audio feeds to the
camcorders which causes less problems, and what fails most often on a
camcorder? The Tape Recorder.
In this setup a spare studio VTR can be instantly utilized and the audience,
director, crew and actors are never aware of the problem. Contrast this
with the need to change out an entire camcorder while everyone waits and
the cost of hundreds or thousands of dollars an hour is also avoided.
In shows like ‘Reba’ the video controller matches cameras
and performs the video control functions. This show is so well "video
controlled" that no tape to tape color correction is needed after
assembly. This is a further savings of money. Overall the show is done
with less persons for less money.
"And your producer wants to save money". Figure out the whole
system not just the number of crew members and everything else will fall
in to place including doing the show with the best quality for the least
amount of money.
(Note: Panavision and Plus8digital are just two examples used here to
illustrate the system problems and the different solutions.)
Bill Hogan wrote:
>”….In shows like
Reba the video controller matches cameras and performs the
video control functions…”
To reiterate what Bill said, since this fact seems to be lost on many:
On a multi-camera show, be it SD or HD, if you have a good Video Controller,
there is almost NEVER any need for T2T color correction.
It makes no difference if it is a F900 camcorder with a MSU or a F950
camera with a CCU and 500 recorder - as long as it is a full control setup
- though I share Bill's sentiment and personally prefer the latter configuration
for engineering reasons. (Let the rants begin!)
Well stated Bill,
Why not shoot a video show just like thousands of other traditionally
shot video sitcoms?
Why is it the some think HD camcorders are the ideal method to use for
multi-cam when they are not?
Camcorders are great for single camera productions but offer many engineering
drawbacks within a multi-cam production where many issues have to be addressed
(downconverts, quad splits, live line cut for audience, multiple channel
intercom, IFB, iso as well as line cut recording, audio, video and time-code
From a practical standpoint a trailer or truck offers the best quality
control and engineering firepower as well as reducing the amount of cabling
required. The routing of video, audio, tc, downconversion etc is much
more ideal in a trailer or truck set up to act as the nerve centre of
the entire production.
Bill Hogan wrote
>”one very articulate précis
on the state of thinking in our new HD world”
Thank you Bill.
Multi camera shows are, indeed, very well served by the presence
of a V.C., and, despite the undeniable efficacy of the currently
fashionable, purpose driven, film style multi-camera HD shooting
style "multiple single camcorder mindset paradigm"
for those who simply prefer that film style operation, a "truck"
is, simply, a very appropriate acquisition/recording solution
for SD or HD, and that style is very easily adapted to provide
the "set level" ergonomics that film style DP’s,
Directors, and Operators crave.
Companies like SJC Video (and no they do not pay me in any
way) have done this for years in SD production. Try it, maybe
you'll like it!
GEORGE C. PALMER
HD and Digital Imaging Services
Great delineations of the distinctions between the roles of the V.C.,
the DIT, and the Video Engineer. Can I quote you (with proper credit of
course)? Lets talk offline sometime.
GEORGE C. PALMER
[Tom] ……"On a multi-camera
show, be it SD or HD, if you have a good Video Controller,
there is almost NEVER any need for T2T color correction."
Unless, of course, the show is specifically trying to define styles and
looks with tape-to-tape. I agree that with a good Video Controller, all
tapes will be properly balanced and even.
You can't get the harsh, desat look of "C.S.I," or the depth
and contrast separation of "N.Y.P.D. Blue" on set.
Before everybody starts yelling, I know that those shows are film originated.
But, I am getting more and more call in HD online to create a sense of
location based almost exclusively on color and *creative* treatment in
tape-to-tape. Think "Traffic." And that trend will not stop,
and it won't be that long until quite a few dramas are shot on HD.
That kind of thing cannot, and should not be done on set with video.
[Art Adams]…."For a few
hundred bucks a day your producers may save quite alot in
post. If nothing else the person doing the final color correction
won't have to fight wildly different-looking footage."
Hey, Hey now... what's all this foolish talk about saving money in post?????
Lucas Wilson wrote:
>Unless, of course, the show
is specifically trying to define styles and looks with tape-to-tape.
True, there are always special circumstances best handled in T2T, which
is why I qualified my statement by saying "almost..."
>You can't get the harsh, desat
look of "C.S.I," or the depth and contrast separation
of "N.Y.P.D. Blue" on set.
Actually, you can. I have done multi-camera shows where we have created
such looks and others (like bleach bypass) in real time, on the set. (With
the Slash 3, there are even more creative options along these lines, if
one cares to utilize them.) It worked well and everyone loved it; enough
in fact, that no T2T manipulations were done later in post.
Of course, YMMV.
VC / DIT / EIC / EIEIO
>In shows like Reba the video
controller matches cameras and performs the video control
I hesitate to say this because some will undoubtedly take it the wrong
way, but in the case of the show you mention ("Reba"), from
what I've seen it looks like no tape to tape was done. The show, wo my
eyes, looks flat and drab. Post color correction is not just about matching
cameras, it's about making the material look the best it can - giving
it more life, more "snap," more whatever. If you look at Reba
then look at, say, episodes of "Titus", "8 Simple Rules"
or "According to Jim," you'll see a world of difference.
I appreciate the talents and efforts of the best video controllers as
much as anyone. But this is not a contest. Live painting and post color
correction, under the right circumstances, complement each other. You
need to establish a good base look, with cameras properly matched. But
to really make the material sing, it is valuable to be able to take the
edited program (now you have continuity - which you don't while you're
shooting) into a proper color correction environment and give it that
extra sparkle. Besides, even when no tape to tape is done, "TBC-type"
color corrections are done during online assembly all the time. Have been
since the 70's.
IATSE Local 600
I must agree with Michael that simply matching camera via primary color
correction and avoiding secondary tape to tape will leave the program
without the additional visual snap.
Tape to tape color correction is necessary to enhance what has been done
on set or would have required more time which would be more efficiently
accomplished in a color correction suite.
I have worked on a number of single camera HD shows where the producer's
decide to avoid secondary color correction and the results on air have
been quite disappointing compared to those projects which have gone the
In my humble opinion half the secret of making HD imagery
more film like is the time spend on secondary color correction.
First, I want to say that I am in no way demeaning the position of the
DIT. I'm trying to understand how everyone defines the two roles of DIT
I'm curious how many DIT's are qualified to make camera set-up adjustments.
I'm not talking about VC's who also work as DIT's but more about crossover
techs like former film camera assistants.
My impression is that by practice the DIT's job classification (local
600's?) is to work alongside the operator, AC if there is one, and DP
to insure that the camera is put together properly, is in the proper recording
mode (23.98, 24, 60i, etc), the lens is back focused and all the other
things that need to be addressed in production but fall outside the operator's,
VC's or AC's domain.
The line between the 2 jobs seems especially blurry when input from the
DIT crosses into the realm of the VC, as is the case when a DP asks for
a "warmer" picture by way of DSP adjustments to the camera.
If someone is changing the camera set-up I want them to be knowledgeable
enough to also say "well if we change from gamma table 5 to table
3 here's what the consequences are in post". Being able to find that
menu item and change it is only half of the answer, and it seems to me
that if a DIT matches cameras on location then he has just moved into
the position of VC, regardless of how production is paying him as a line
I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for both positions and
have done many shoots where I wished one or both positions were filled
with competent people.
So if there is a question here it's this: when a DIT shows up on set,
what do other DP's expect from them and when do those expectations push
the DIT into the role of VC?
Randy Miller, DP in LA
Tony Salgado wrote:
>”In my humble opinion
half the secret of making HD imagery more film like is the
time spend on secondary color correction...”
Semantics police alert!
The term "secondary color correction" has a meaning other than
the one you intend.
I believe you are referring to any sort of post-production color correction.
"Secondary color correction" in color correction terms means
grabbing a particular vector of color (which is user defined in terms
of width, chroma, and luminance) and tweaking it, without tweaking the
overall picture's color balance.
I never felt is was a particularly good term myself, but since it's a
common term, you probably want to avoid using it to mean something completely
Jeff "good cop, bad cop" Kreines
No I was indeed referring to secondary color correction as this is not
accomplished easily via the VC using only primary color correction RCP's.
I also implied the capability of power windows etc that comes along with
tape to tape and not primary color correction in the field. I am aware
there are some remote control panels do offer limited secondary color
correction but not to the extend and capability available in a color correction
Yes indeed full tape to tape does include primary and secondary and that's
the point I wanted to make is that tape to tape goes well beyond what
can be accomplished via the VC in the field. Scene to scene matching is
best done in a color correction suite under the most ideal viewing environment.
Primary color correction in the field to match cameras will reduce the
amount of time a colourist has to spent matching the camera in post and
instead spend the time enhancing the footage.
Matching cameras in the field has alot more to do than just primary color
correction it also includes detail/enhancement, gamma, pedestal, matrix,
knee and white clips. etc etc.
Thanks for your perspective. I think there is still confusion about the
2 positions in general. It sounds like the titles are interchangeable
but I think some VC's would not consider themselves to be DIT's. And vice
Maybe the analogy is similar to the situation of having a 16mm film shoot
that is primarily with an Aaton but has a couple of high-speed shots with
a Photosonics camera.
When I've been faced with that situation I have talked very candidly with
the AC prior to prep to insure that they know the Photosonics camera's
quirks and requirements and can take care of the high-speed assisting
work as well as the sync stuff. I guess the only way to know what to expect
from a DIT is to have a similar conversation beforehand about painting,
Obviously your presence in Montana was a lucky break for that production.
By the rental house's description many would have said a DIT would be
able to do everything needed. Your later conversation with the DP is analogous
to the one I mentioned above.
Maybe there's no right answer and if the shoe fits.....
Randy Miller, DP in LA