Single Camera Techniques

Single camera techniques are often used most in series, dramas, comedy, soap opera, crime, single drama or documentaries. These may have narrative styles, linear, non linear, open ending, closed ending.  The benefits of single camera are that it has a greater impact on the audience because it makes it seem more realistic, this makes them able to relate better to what is on screen. Television producers also use single camera techniques, for example in music videos and commercial advertisements.

It’s more convenient because not all crew need to be present at the time of shooting, this means more shots can be done. For example, awkward shots are easier to do because the cameraman can get right in between the actors, this means that you will be able to see emotion on the actors face better than if it was done using multi-camera. This also helps the audience empathize with the characters.   A single camera production is using one camera to film all the action. It takes longer to film because you need to stop the actors, set up and start again, but it means that the audience feels more involved in the programme. It’s good to use when the director wants to get a point of view from the actor, so for example a high shot would make the character look small and powerless, or if it’s a low shot it makes the character look big and strong. This helps create a better atmosphere, to the genre of the programme.  A major benefit of using single camera is that it is much cheaper than multi camera, because you don’t meed to use as much equipment. Although sometimes it may be more time consuming because each shot is done individually.


Single camera is a lot easier to set up and move around because there is only one camera involved and there also only needs to be a small crew. This takes less time than multi camera. The director may choose to pan between subjects, use longer takes, or stop the camera and film from a new angle to get the shots he needs. He can stop and change the lighting and angle and then start shooting again, and so on. This gives the director much more control over each shot.

This is an example of what a single camera scene looks like.

Examples of programmes that use single camera techniques are Scrubs, The IT Crowd, The Office, Sex And The City, Peep Show and Spaced. The 180° rule is a technique/rule that most directors and D.O.P’s stick to. An imaginary line is drawn between two characters and the camera must stick to one designated side. Single camera sitcoms are notable for their enhanced visual style. Unlike single-camera sitcoms of the past, nearly all contemporary comedies shot in this manner are produced without a laugh track. This a seperate soundtrack for a comedy show which contains audience laughter.

Single camera also means that the director can get shots like, long shots, establishing shots, medium shot and close ups. The director can also uses lighting as a way of making the character look beautiful or ugly, soft or harsh and artificial and real. Scenes are filmed with one camera, where shots 1,3,5 and 7 would be shot pointing towards one actor in a conversation the director will then have shots 2,4,6 and 8 filmed. It is also useful to create atmosphere to go with the genre of the programme.

The disadvantages of single camera production is that it takes longer to edit because all of the shots and reconstructing the scenes. You also have to repeat each shot at least three times, whereas when using multi camera you only need to do it once as you can capture everything at once.

This a clip from TV sitcom Spaced. It is filmed using single camera.


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