Some people wonder, what is a multi-camera show and what is a single camera show? As you will learn during the pre-production process, there are two major ways to film: single camera, and multi camera. The differences between single camera vs. multi camera can be found in their names:
- Single Camera Format: Shooting something “single camera” means to only use one primary camera.
- Multi Camera Format: Using more than one camera would be considered “multi camera.”
These two methods have often been used to describe the filming of television shows. A single camera show may be a bit more film-like, with reactions and actions being driven by the director. A multi camera show will often feature a live audience or a laugh track, allowing performances to be swayed by those reactions.
In marketing, using a multi camera setup will have a direct impact on how long it takes to film, how much footage is gathered during that time, and what angles you’re able to capture on set. There are pros and cons to each style of filming you’ll want to consider before determining the best approach.
1. Filming Time for Multiple Cameras and Single Cameras
While it is always important to take your time and get the best footage possible, the amount of cameras you film with can be the difference between a one-day shoot or a two-day shoot. Filming over the course of one day only can save you a lot of money.
As you’re working through the pre-production phase, you’ll decide what gear to rent. Ask yourself: does it make sense to use multiple cameras? If you are filming a person delivering a presentation in front of a backdrop, it may be simpler to just use a single camera. A multi cam setup would allow you to capture multiple angles quicker, but it might not be worth the money it takes to acquire the gear. This is a situation where it may make more sense to just move a single camera through a few different setups, saving money on rentals and crew.
If you are filming something a bit more complicated, more cameras can be a big help. For instance, if you are filming a video that needs to be shot at a certain time of the day, multiple cameras will be instrumental in making sure you’re done on time. Rent more than one camera for those sunset shots, and you’ll be grateful for the amount of coverage it can provide in such a short time
2. Multi Cam vs. Single Cam Footage
If you’re short on production time, more cameras can help you capture the footage you need. Even if you do have a broader timeline for production, more footage can be helpful for your editor. This gives them options throughout the post-production phase, and also gives your client more to choose from!
By filming more in a shorter amount of time, you’ll be saving money during the production phase. This is always helpful, no matter how big the budget, but can be especially life-saving for those smaller budget productions.
If you do have a small amount of time for post-production, though, then a large amount of footage is not always useful. Your editor might get bogged down by too many options and that could slow your delivery of the materials down.
When it comes to the amount of footage you want to end up with, deciding on single camera vs. multi camera can determine how well your production goes. Plan accordingly based on the project type and the expectations of your client. Again, pre-production will be your roadmap to these decisions. The more time you spend getting to know the requirements of the project, the more time and money you will save in the long run.
3. Multiple Angles and Adding Variety to Shots
When it comes to editing, a variety of angles can be your best friend. They help make a video more interesting to watch, by giving audiences a change of pace throughout the video. More angles can help tell a story even better!
Multiple cameras are not necessary to provide more angles, but they help your crew film them a lot faster. If you are working on a shorter shoot, or if you just want to be more efficient, a multi camera setup will help get the job done a lot quicker.
Again, it all depends on the type of video you are producing. Simple videos, like explainer videos or product videos, might not require a lot of different angles. Even if they do, a single camera setup can still work, as these videos are typically quick and easy to make. Ask yourself early on what you really need out of your video, and you will save yourself a lot of trouble during the actual production process.
Deciding on whether or not to use more than one camera can be motivated by several factors. Ultimately, it comes down to what type of video you are filming and what exactly your client wants.
There is no correct answer when it comes to the choice between single camera vs. multi camera. Both are great options that can only be decided by thorough pre-production and a full understanding of the project. A production company can help you make this decision as well, and can help provide the resources you need to make your shoot a great one.