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Shooting Ratios

When you get down to it, no matter how careful you were during the shoot, you probably recorded plenty of material that shouldn't end up in your finished project. I'll try not to get all mathematical on you, but the ratio of material in your final product to the total amount of footage you shot is called your shooting ratio. For instance, if you shot 100 hours of material and are trying to make a 5-minute music video, you will likely go insane because your shooting ratio would be an absurd 1200:1. More realistically, you might have shot 60 minutes of material (a full DV tape) for that same 5-minute video—a shooting ratio of 12:1. That's still higher than I recommend, but at least now you're in the ballpark of “normal” ratios.

Big-budget Hollywood filmmakers might shoot 50 or even 100 hours of film to get the coverage for a 2-hour-plus final cut—a shooting ratio of between 25:1 and 50:1 Between 9 and 12 hours of material is required for many 1-hour evening TV shows, with a typical ratio of 10:1. Television commercials are the most expensive productions per second; often several hours of film must be shot for just 30 seconds (900 frames!) of a commercial—a ratio that's off the charts.



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