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Blurring Multiple-Camera and Single-Camera Shooting Modes

by Jeremy Butler

Continuity editing is affected when multiple-camera and single-camera production modes are blurred together—as can be seen in this excerpt from How I Met Your Mother. First, a long shot establishes the main characters sitting in a bar booth—a frequently used setting in the program—and director Pamela Fryman has positioned Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Ted (Josh Radnor) on the left, and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Marshall (Jason Segel) on the right, with Marshall closest to the camera. In a sitcom with an audience the camera would stay on Lily’s and Marshall’s side of the booth, shooting shots of her from over his left shoulder, as, indeed, Fryman does in several shots. However, she also cuts to a camera on the other side of the booth—a camera position that would have been visible in the long shot—and shoots Lily over Barney’s right shoulder. She thus breaks the 180° rule. Note the differences in the backgrounds of the two shots of Lily. In the conventional medium close-up recorded from the same side of the booth as the long shot, we see an adjoining booth in the background; but in the medium close-up from the other side we see a wall. And that wall is where a camera would conventionally be positioned when shooting in a studio with an audience! Clearly, Fryman did multiple takes of this scene and, for some of them, positioned the camera inside the set—as one could only do in the single-camera mode of production.

Blending Multiple-Camera and Single-Camera Shooting Modes: How I Met Your Mother

A scene from the sitcom How I Met Your Mother that illustrates how multiple-camera and single-camera production modes can be blurred together.

from How I Met Your Mother (2005)
Creator: Bays & Thomas Productions
Distributor: CBS
Posted by Jeremy Butler