Shooting for Safety
It used to be common practice – way back in the days when people acquired moving images with celluloid – to frame your shot wider than intended so that you had some room when editing to tweak the composition, allow for different aspect ratios (Television vs theater, for example) and allow some flexibility for vfx.
Early digital cameras barely had enough resolution for delivery. Most of them weren’t even true 1080P. Reframing your shot in post almost always resulted in a visible loss of quality, so it was something you only did if you had no other choice.
Today, you can grab a quality 4K camera for under $2,000. Or, if you work at the Hollywood level you can acquire at 6K. Either way, the practice of “shooting for safety” and reframing in post is now more viable than ever. Combined with the immense flexibility of a modern NLE like Adobe Premiere or Final Cut X, the possibilities are incredible.
As I’ve espoused this technique, I’ve gotten a lot of push-back from cinematographers. They claim that this technique is lazy, is cheating; and that a good shooter should be able to get the shot “right” in camera. This is BS. Not dissimilar to DP’s complaining about colorists.
The low budget set, or any shoot for that matter, is a hectic, rushed situation. Yes, you should do your best to get it “right” on the day of the shoot, but you are doing your director and editor and colorist (which on a no budget shoot is probably you) a disservice if you don’t allow for possibilities after the fact. Away from the stress of the shoot is often the best time to make creative decisions.
The video above offers a tiny glimpse (in-between Adobe masturbation) into how the Gone Girl team used this technique. They went so far as to combine different takes. Great stuff, I think.