A cutaway also can be used when you want to
condense an extended flow of action; for example, if you
start a sequence with a closeup shot of the time clock
indicating 12 minutes left in the quarter, then cut to the
primary action on the field for about 10 seconds, then
cut back to the clock indicating 3 minutes left-the
elapsed time of 9 minutes would be indicated to the
An example of a cut-in is a close-up of one player's
foot as he kicks the ball. This close-up could have been
shot at any time; however, by inserting the cut-in into
the film during editing, the audience feels that the kick
actually happened during the game.
The difference between a cut-in and a cutaway is
simple. When filming the football game, the camera
operator "went in" and took a close-up of the kicker's
foot as he kicked the ball. The operator of the camera
cut-in to the action. However, when the camera operator
shoots a close-up of a fan's foot kicking another fan who
had been rooting for the wrong team, that is a cutaway,
because it cut away from the primary action of the game.
Cutaway shots represent secondary action. Cut-in shots
represent primary action.
As the name implies, in controlled action you can
control all aspects of a production. This includes actors,
their actions, the set lighting, and sound recording, if
any. You usually work from a well-developed script that
includes all the details. If the actors speak, the dialogue
is in the script. If the action is described by a narrator,
the narration is in the script. If the film is silent, the titles
appear in the script. Examples of controlled-action films
include training films, some documentaries and
historical records, and many publicity or recruiting
films. Controlled action, motion-media productions are
produced only by personnel with specialized "C" school
or university training. As a nonspecialized
Photographer's Mate, you will be faced with
uncontrolled or semicontrolled action elements of a
production or film.
In a controlled-action situation, everything is
normally written in the form of a detailed shooting
script. Predictable filming is performed and there are
few crises, except the occasional human oversights and
mechanical malfunctions.
The other world of motion-video recording
(uncontrolled action) is full of crises and surprises.
Success primarily is due to good reflexes, accurate
guesswork, and quick thinking. Careful planning is not
the most significant factor. Most of your motion-media
assignments will be uncontrolled or semicontrolled
Your success as a maker of uncontrolled-action
films depends on your knowledge of the capabilities and
operation of video equipment. You must also possess a
high level of technical skill. There is neither time nor
opportunity for research or practice while doing this
kind of assignment. You must be prepared in advance.
News, sports, special events, and on site-coverage of
ongoing activities make up the bulk of this type of
assignment. Another class of uncontrolled action is the
documentation of events that follow a known course or
pattern, such as parades and ceremonies. These are
called semicontrolled, because you know in advance
approximately what is going to happen, even though you
cannot influence it for recording purposes. Both types
of assignments are challenging, exciting, and usually
welcomed by confident camerapersons. But, they can be
"unfortunate experiences" for those not properly
prepared to cope with them.
Obviously you cannot develop a specific, detailed
plan for shooting uncontrolled or semicontrolled action.
You must get as much information about the assignment
as possible and in as far in advance as possible. This
information helps to provide an estimate of
requirements for equipment, supplies, scheduling of
personnel, transportation, camera positions, lighting,
and other technical details.
Whenever you are assigned to cover VIP arrivals,
award presentations, or special events, you should
immediately contact the person or agency in charge of
the project. This person is usually the public affairs
officer (PAO). The PAO can furnish you the full scope
of your assignment and provide the following basic
Name and rank or title of the person(s) involved
Place and time of arrival
Complete schedule of activities
When possible, you should personally inspect the
location and route of the proposed action (site survey).
If this cannot be done, try to get drawings, maps, plans,
or photographs of the area. Eyewitness descriptions or

Basic Photography Course

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