Surferchicks Home


Title | Contents | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4

A Parallel Shoot and "Form Follows Format"


"My own thoughts about the two mediums are that film has a past tense feel to it, that we are watching something that has occurred. Video on the other hand has a present feel to it. Curiously, the only tense I was concerned with was the future and not having enough of it to accomplish this task in a few short weeks."

-Henry Ferrini, Director


Video has a reputation for getting short-changed when it comes to production values. But if video is shot film-style, thereby enhancing its quality, will it have increased appeal to the production and viewing communities? A goal for the parallel shoot was to give video the same attention to detail that is normally reserved for film.

From the interviews that were conducted it is apparent that despite what would seem to be technically obvious answers, production people and engineers alike have opposing opinions on the preceeding questions.

These two questions have elicited highly opinionated answers but lack the visual evidence to prove a point. There are many factors that come into play that can cause video to look more filmic or film to have a more video look. The nature of a parallel shoot can allow for controlled experimentation of these variables. From this we can learn more about the capabilities and limitations of each media, in addition to the aesthetic opinions of the viewing public.


HISTORY OF THE WHOLE PROJECT (or how it came to be)


In any production there are a series of phases that need to occur in order to reach project completion. There is first the seed of an idea, and if one goes the giant step beyond, there is pre-production. This is usually the most time consuming phase if the project is to come off well. Pre-production consists of all of the organization that will either make or break the success of the project such as budgeting, crew recruitment, project design, space and equipment needs and plenty of other necessary details. If that reaches maturation then there is the actual production. Finally there is the post-production. Oh, one more thing; if you want the results of your labors to be shown anywhere then you have to deal with distribution.

The seed was planted long ago. I have had an interest in multi-media production for a number of years and have always been thrilled by live performance. Throughout the past six years I have shot a lot of dance. In autumn of 1987, the manager of a Boston based dance company approached The Film/Video Section at M.I.T.'s Media Laboratory. She dropped off a videotaped performance and some brochures about the company. KRAUS and... was interested in a video/dance collaboration. I talked with my friend and collaborator (Dorothy Shamonsky) about the project's possibilities. We had a history of being able to work well together under the stresses that accumulate during any production.

Meanwhile, I was also thinking about my thesis and the form it would take. In my position as a research assistant, I was learning about high definition television (HDTV). Having heard of HDTV a few years before, I had from the first had an interest in this medium of the future, this new, supposed vastly improved television. Now we were using Sony's 1125-line HDTV in a study that we conducted at The Audience Research Facility (ARF). We went to 1125 Productions (a high definition production house) in New York City to edit together a tape for our study and ran a highly successful "Study A" at ARF during December.12

A video/dance collaboration and HDTV: What do the two have in common? Some of my early work in multi-format production used dance as subject. It occurred to me that a parallel shoot in three media would be an exciting thesis project and using a professional dance company would be fun.

The performance part of the picture began in my mind as more of an "icing on the cake" venture and naively, oh so naive, I thought that it wouldn't require a tremendous time commitment on my part. The performance was going to consist of a combination of dance and media. The first piece on the program would show the parallel video and film footage, side-by-side, on two large video projection screens. The dancers would dance the same piece live and would be in sync with the projected imagery for part of the time. The audience would be given a questionnaire and asked to write down which screen was film and which was video. This would become Study I.

12 "The Mass Audience Looks At HDTV: An Experimental Study of Subjective Responses to NTSC and HDTV Technologies, W.R. Neuman, S. O'Donnell, S.M. Schneider, and L. McKnight, March 22, 1988



What exactly is a parallel shoot? A parallel shoot is taking two or more cameras and aligning them as nearly as possible, then shooting simultaneously with the goal of attaining virtually identical framing. The resultant parallel footage permits examination of any number of variables that exist between the two or more media. This arrangement can exhibit minor variances depending on the intent of the production but remain relatively the same. To date, parallel shoots have been used primarily for psychophysical testing of film and video resolution.

The idea of doing a parallel shoot first occurred to me in 1983. I had a curiosity about the "film look" and the "video look" and at the time produced several small-scale multi-format shoots. The opportunity arose this year to do a more in-depth study and to conduct audience response testing through M.I.T.'s Audience Research Facility (ARF).s

When I began to talk about the idea, I was met with a wide response ranging from people who didn't know there was a difference between film and video, to heated debate about which was better, or why bother–it's perfectly clear that a viewing audience won't even notice a gross costume change from one scene to the next. With all of the energy going into the development of a new television standard, I thought it would be interesting to see if the general viewing public could tell the difference between film and video generated programming or if they demonstrated a preference for one or the other.

The only existing parallel footage that I knew of was test patterns that I was certain the viewing public would be rather unexcited about so I decided to create my own. Fortune on my side, I found quite a large pool of interested people. Unlike other artistic endeavors, the process of making media is a highly collaborative venture without which a project cannot come into being.

My goal was to produce a three way parallel shoot using NTSC video, 35mm motion picture film and HDTV. It was imperative that these all possess the same framing as much as the physical equipment limitations would allow. The ideal would be to shoot an existing or standard style commercial production so as to match contemporary production values. Early in the process I attempted to locate an interested producer but was unsuccessful in finding access to a show currently in production. Getting high definition equipment also proved futile, so we settled on 35mm and NTSC video.

There are many obstacles in obtaining a successful parallel shoot. Having witnessed the results of a very expensive but unsuccessful attempt, by trained professionals no less, I was all too aware of the problems. Getting identical footage from two cameras placed side by side is not an easy task. With two operators you get two pictures. When one zooms, the other has to be right there, when one tilts the other has to tilt, when one focuses the other needs to focus. We eliminated the dual operator problem by mounting both cameras side by side on a plate on an Elemac dolly. The Director of Photography (D.P.) operated the cameras with the help of a professional Assistant Cameraman (A.C.) and an experienced dolly grip. The D.P. aligned the two cameras so that a video assist on the Arriflex film camera was unnecessary. Needless to say it is a complex process but one that is worthy for assessing true viewer response to different media.




Location: The parallel shoot occured in The Philippe Viller Experimental Media Facility (The Cube). The Cube is 61'4" x 62'8" x 45'11" tall (see Table 2).

Cameras Used:

The Arriflex was fixed on a 6" riser plate and the Ikegami was mounted on an O'Connor 50 fluid head. Both camera assemblies were mounted side-by-side on a 13" plate which was then mounted on a Worall head. This allowed coordinated tilt and pan motion of both cameras. The Worall head was used for two reasons. One is that it can support the weight of the two cameras and the other is that being a gear head, it allowed very precise moves. The focal lengths were fixed for each shot. Matte boxes were used on both cameras to control flare from the lights. Academy aspect ratio was maintained on the 35mm camera.

The Ikegami was customized with a crosshair and raster generator. This is similar to the crosshair seen through the film camera but electronically generated. This made it easy to align the two cameras. The tricky parts were calculating the parallax, focal length and distance to optimize as much as possible the matching of the frames. We were constantly having to choose the focal length that would give us the shot we were looking for. Was it better to move the dolly or change the focal length?

The other major consideration was the image size. A one inch video tube would have given us a closer match to the 35mm image size but in our case we had a 2/3" tube, which is closer to the image size of 16mm film. We had to consider depth of field when choosing focal length and distance.

The 5247 Kodak film stock was chosen because it is close in speed to a video camera. We rated the 35mm at ASA 125 and thereby matched it to the 125 ASA rating of the Ikegami. Our luminance range varied between 100 and 150 footcandles.

TABLE 2 - 84KB, Cube Plan by Greg Tucker


The original source audio cassette was played from a Harmon Kardon TD202 cassette deck and dubbed directly onto a Sony APR-5003 2-track 1/4" reel-to-reel, with center time code track. The time code on the audio was generated with the internal Sony generator on the deck.

For audio playback at the shoot the Sony APR-5003 went through an AudioArts "WheatStone" 16x4x2 board, into a Yamaha P2200 power amplifier and out through (2) Klipsch Lipschorn loudspeakers. The timecode from the Sony APR-5003 acted as the master for the 1" video deck.

To give an idea of the exactitude typical of a film style shoot and to demonstrate the variance between the two cameras, here is an excerpt from the camera reports:

  35mm Video

Scene 1

T 3.1/22mm

24' focus

2'5" camera to floor

F 2.8/9mm

25' focus

2'8 1/2" camera to floor

Scene 2

T 3.1/90mm

30' focus

2'5" camera to floor

F 2.8/39mm

30' focus

2'8 1/2" camera to floor

Scene 4

T 4/90mm

15' focus

4' 1/2" camera to floor

F 4/39mm

15' focus

4'4" camera to floor




The lighting design for the shoot was a complex issue. Lighting for dance is different from lighting for film is different from lighting for video. You get the picture. The lighting designer worked closely with the Director of Photography (DP) to create a light plot.


8 PAR NSP (Narrow Spots),1Kw, 3000'K
4 PAR MFL (Medium Floods), 1Kw, 3000'K
Color: Lee 183 Moonlight Blue

Sidelight Stage Right:

3 PAR 64 NSP, 1Kw, 3000'K
3 PAR 64 MFL, 1Kw, 3000'K
3 6x9 Elipsoidal Spot, 750W, 2800'K
Color: Roscolux (Rx) 101 Diffusion, Rx 08 Pale Gold

Sidelight Stage Left:

3 PAR 64 NSP, 1Kw, 3000'K
3 PAR 64 MFL, 1Kw, 3000'K
3 6x9 Elipsoidal Spots, 750W, 2800'K
Color:Rx,101 Diffusion, Lee 1/2 Daylight Color Correction, Rx 803 Pale Gold

Frontlight Downstage:

4 6x12 Elipsoidal Spots, 750W, 2800'K
Color: Rx 55 Lilac


4 6x16 Elipsoidal Spots, 750W, 2800'K
Color: Rx 55 Lilac



Preparations: Parallel Shoot: February 8, 1988

9:45 a.m. Crew members begin to arrive on the scene, (The Philippe Villers Experimental Media Facility, more commonly known as "The Cube" around The Media Lab). Au Bon Pain has generously donated breakfast so the crew is standing around drinking coffee and eating croissants before the massive workload ensues. There is everything to be done to create "the set" for the shoot. We have one day to turn over the entire cube floor (something that has never been done in its entirety until this morning), load in, hang, and focus the lights, lay out and tape down the dance floor, set up the audio board, the video gear, and the cameras, and be ready to go by 9a.m. the following day. Due to the minute size of our budget we have an almost exclusively untrained but enthusiastic volunteer crew. Joseph Levendusky, the lighting designer, knows that this will slow us down significantly but its what we have so we make do. Joe is not due to arrive back from Chicago until early afternoon (we paid close attention to the weather reports knowing that at this time of year a heavy snowfall in either Chicago or Boston could paralyze, or at the very least severely impair, our whole production).

The first order of the morning is to flip the floor. This task is accomplished within two hours with six workers at a time. Two teams of two flipping and two pulling taps out of the unflipped floor and then putting back the correctly colored tabs to match the flipped floor. After this was completed, we laid out the dance floor. This required a lot of care due to the floor being in terrible repair. After one end of the floor was taped, three "stompers" would stomp the length of the floor to try and flatten it out as much as possible and one person at the destination end would be ready to tape as the stompers arrived at the end. We still called it a "rippled effect" floor. It was free and we didn't have a lot of room to complain. Tom Sullivan, our audio engineer, was readying the sound equipment throughout the day. Director Henry Ferrini arrived about noon and we discussed the camera angles that he'd selected. Joe came straight from the airport and arrived somewhere between noon and one. The lighting truck arrived about 2 p.m. We unloaded and went to work on hanging the lights.

Throughout the day various other elements were scheduled to arrive. The Arriflex BL3 and the dolly, track and other accoutrements arrived throughout the afternoon. Due to the fact that the building is not wired for certain practical applications, it was necessary to move the Ampex one inch deck from the fourth floor to the lower level, (which equals the basement). New faces showed up to lend a hand and familiar ones, to contribute their part to the production. While picking up the film equipment, our A.C., Greg Collier, ran into a friend and professional colleague and we "picked up" a dolly grip. And so David LaBracio, unsuspecting innocent bystander, tumbled into our production, fortunately for us. Around 5 p.m. the Ikegami 79E arrived with its owner and our Director of Photography (Jim Griebsch) and things were falling into place. The camera unit began to set up the cameras in parallel.

Crew changed faces a bit throughout the day but there were several hardcore people who worked into the late night. At about 1 a.m. the remaining crew crawled home knowing that the lighting had a way to go, but the fatigue factor was beginning to dominate and we knew that to stay later was asking for trouble. And we did have a full day in front of us.

Parallel Shoot: February 9, 1988

The excitement and anxiety of February 9 was enough to get me out of bed at 6 a.m. Dorothy and I had to pick up the muffins from the Milk Street Cafe and get coffee (and whatever else) prepared for crew arrival, which was scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Dorothy was in fine form as she had fractured her arm in a fall on the ice the previous week. Joe appeared and went to work to finish the focusing.

We had our first (and really the only) setback right at the start. Two of the circuits on the crane (where many lights hung) blew and it took a long while to get that fixed. The first shots did not actually get going until 10 a.m. contributing to a frustrated Henry. But once the cameras were rolling, it went well. In typical film fashion, the going was slow. Each shot took at the very least, a half-hour to set up for the minute or so that was actually recorded on film and tape. The choreographer, insisting that the dancers be out by 3:30, stuck to her plan. Which put us back on schedule.



Technical Production Crew Duration Cost
Producer 4 months 0
Co-Producer 4 months 0
Production Manager 2 months $200.00
Director 1 month $100.00
Director of Photography 1 week $100.00
Lighting Designer 2 weeks $225.00
Assistant Camera 2 days 0
Dolly Grip 2 days 0
Audio Engineer 2 weeks 0
Video Engineer 2 days $50.00
Gaffer 2 days 0
Tape Operator 2 days 0
Production Assistants (20) 2 days 0
Facilities Supervisor 3 months, consult basis 0
Technical Consultants (2) 2 days 0
Photographers (2) 2 days 0
  Sub Total $675.00


Talent Duration Cost
Kraus and… 1 day $400.00
  Sub Total $400.00


Post-production Crew Duration Cost
Off-line Editor (2) 1 week 0
On-line Editor 2 days 0
  Sub Total 0


Equipment & Stock Duration Cost
35mm Camera Package 1 day $840.00
Ikegami 79E 1 day $100.00
3000' 35mm raw stock   0
Processsing   0
Film-to-tape transfer   0
1" tape stock & audio tape   $450.00
Insurance 2 days $125.00
Lights   $270.00
Gels   $95.00
Marley dance floor   0
Food   $240.00
More food   0
Misc, tape, floor plans   $70.00
  Sub Total $2190.00


Facilities Duration Cost
Production location 2 days 0
Off-line Editing 7 days 0
On-line Editing 6 hours 0
  Sub Total 0


  Total Cost for Parallel shoot $3265.00


*A 0 means a donation of equipment, labor, money, facility or food.



Parallel Shoot Project Concept: Kim Foley

Producers: Kim Foley & Dorothy Shamonsky

Director: Henry Ferrini

Director of Photography: James Griebsch

Associate Producer/Production Manager: Ruth Henderson

Lighting Designer: Joseph Levendusky

Gaffer: George Dobson

Audio Engineer: Tom Sullivan

Assistant Camera: Greg Collier

Dolly Grip: David LaBracio

Video Engineer: Steve Kuettel

Tape Operator: Ben Rubin

Technical Crew:

Jim Paschetto, Nina Hasin, Sabrina Birner, John Botti, David Larkin, Abigail Deser, Bernice Schneider, Stewart Krusee, Matthew Schneider, Layla Strieff, Mike Conway, Betsy Holland, Hans Michaud, Mario Bourgoin, Bill Coderre, Joel Kollin, Steve Strassman, Karim Ajania, Sarah Dickinson

Facilities Supervisor: Greg Tucker

Technical Assistance: Stuart Cody & Vicki Bippart

Photographers: Adina Sabghir & Peter Schweitzer

Off-line editors: Kim Foley & Henry Ferrini

On-line editor: Spencer Gentry

Film processed by DuArt

Post Production Facilities:

Ferrini Productions

Century III Teleproductions


Partial funding for form follows format was provided by:


Partial funding for the Parallel Shoot was provided by:


Generous contributions were also made by:


Special thanks to the following:

Glorianna Davenport, Sumi and Jean Foley, Betty Dexter, Richard Soloman, Tim Browne, Diana Gagnon, Lee McKnight, Larry Gallagher, Michael Roper, Carmen Cruz, Phil Korzenecki, Lisa Diettrich, Steve Klockow, Jim Davis, Daniel Epstein, The Dancer's Center at the Joy of Movement Center, Claire Beach, SCAT, Cambridge Chamber Ballet and Jennah Buckaroo.

THE PERFORMANCE "form follow format"


Two days after the parallel shoot, Dorothy, Joe and I had a meeting to discuss the upcoming performance. We had major issues to discuss. The floor plan had to accommodate the dancers' space needs and rear screen video projection system. Then there were the lighting requirements–not just for the performers, but also for the projection screens, there could be no light on the screens. And budget items, "No Joe, you can't have $500.00 for lighting, we don't have it," and in the end saying, "OK Joe, we'll find a way."

"form follow format" BUDGET


In addition to this budget, there was a sizable crew who donated time throughout the week of set-up. These people worked without monetary compensation. The budget below lists only outgoing cash.

Technical Production Crew    
Production Manager   $100.00
Lighting Designer/Stage Mgr.   $225.00
Video Engineer   $50.00
  Sub Total $375.00


Kraus and… 1 day $400.00
  Sub Total $400.00


Equipment & Stock    
2 Aquastar Video Projection Systems and screens   $1000.00
Lights   $500.00
Marley floor   $100.00
Bleachers   $200.00
Headsets   $50.00
Meals   $300.00
Misc, tape   $100.00
  Sub Total $2250.00


  Total for Performance $3025.00


'form follows format' PROGRAM

March 11 & 12, 1988



Co-producers: Kim Foley & Dorothy Shamonsky

Choreographer: Rozann Kraus

Lighting Designer & Stage Manager: Joseph Levendusky

Associate Producer: Ruth Henderson

Audio Engineer: Tom Sullivan

Video Engineers: Steve Kuettel, Stuart Cody

Lighting Technicians: Andrew Bennett, Dave Nelson

Electricians: Nina Hasin, Abigail Deser, Julia Lloyd

Facility Supervisor: Greg Tucker

Technical Crew: Jim Paschetto, Ed Slattery, David Larkin, Stewart Krusee, Steve Strassman, Mike Conway, John Botti, B.J. Davis, T.W. Li, Randy Hertzman, Andrew Mayer, Peter Andrews, Bill Coderre, David Small, Jim Puccio

Ushers: Nancy Compton, Michael Siegel

KRAUS AND...Dancers: Ramelle Adams, Marquerite Anne Furfey, Rozann Kraus, Nanette Ruggiero



Choreography: Rozann Kraus
Dancers: Ramelle Adams, Marquerite Anne Furfey, Rozann Kraus, Nanette Ruggiero


Choreography: Rozann Kraus
Music: Daniel Epstein
Video remake: Kim Foley


Choreography: Rozann Kraus
Video: Kim Foley & Dorothy Shamonsky
Music: Toby Mountain
Dancers: Ramelle Adams and Marquerite Anne Furfey


Videodisc: Dorothy Shamonsky
Music: Kim Foley
Dancer: Nanette Ruggiero


Choreography: Rozann Kraus
Music: John Cage
Dancer: Rozann Kraus

FEMINEERED (Excerpt - photos from the M.I.T. archives)

Videodisc: Dorothy Shamonsky


The solo version of this work was originally commissioned by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom; text from a speech by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1888.

Choreography and sound mix: Rozann Kraus
Dancers: Ramelle Adams, Marquerite Anne Furfey, Rozann Kraus

WAYOUT (Premiere)

Choreography, video and sound mix: Rozann Kraus
Dancers: Ramelle Adams, Marquerite Anne Furfey, Rozann Kraus, Nanette Ruggiero



Typically, a production like this takes many months of preparation and organizing. It also takes a sizable budget. The "real cost" budget for this production was well over $20,000. We came in at $6290 for the parallel shoot and the performance combined. There were several reasons that we succeeded with this budget. Media professionals were interested in the concept and so were willing to work for next to nothing and in most cases nothing. Our "studio" was an in-kind contribution. We received reduced rates and donations for most of our equipment. And we received donations for all of our post-production work.

Lest you think that it is easy to go about a production in the manner that we did, let me forewarn you. The work that went into getting these donations should not be underestimated in the least. Let me stress that in most cases, it took many, many hours to get a small donation and that we were entirely burnt out by the time the performance came to a close. Both Dorothy and I were running fevers during the performances. I think that we are both in hearty agreement that we will never again undertake a project that does not have an adequate budget to begin with.

On the brighter side, both the shoot and the performance went very well (no major disasters and standing room only crowds at both performances), the parallel imagery was amazingly parallel, and the studies produced very interesting results.

  Total cash outlay for both Parallel Shoot & Performance $6290.00

The budgets were a close estimate. There were several outstanding bills that hadn't come in yet, so the total rose a little.



The following photos were taken by several photographers.

Adina Sabghir

Dorothy Shamonsky

Richard J. Solomon

Peter Schweitzer

Kim Foley


Plate 2- 159KB, Entrance to "The Cube"

Plate 3- 95KB, Flipping the floor in "The Cube"

Plate 4- 176KB, Hanging lights 3 stories high

Plate 5- 169KB, Prepping the dolly

Plate 6- 114KB, Shoot preparation

Plate 7- 158KB, Lifting the dolly onto the track

Plate 8- 128KB, Director of Photography, James Griebsch, adjusts camera

Plate 9- 59KB, Crew member takes a break

Plate 10- 133KB, Audio engineer Tom Sullivan

Plate 11- 102KB, Production shot #1

Plate 12- 134KB, Director, Henry Ferrini

Plate 13- 105KB, Production shot #2

Plate 14- 132KB, "Take 3", Photo by Peter Schweitzer

Plate 15- 140KB, Production shot #3, Photo by Peter Schweitzer

Plate 16- 116KB, Production shot #4

Plate 17- 162KB, The Crew

Plate 18- 110KB, The Edit room

Plate 19- 152KB, The 10 1/2 x 14 foot projection screens in the cube for 'form follows format'

Plate 20- 118KB, Technician Stuart Cody

Plate 21- 102KB, 'form follows format' performance, "Hanji", Photo by Adina Sabghir

Plate 22- 142KB, 'form follows format' performance, Photo by Adina Sabghir

Plate 23- 103KB, 'form follows format' performance, Parallel Shoot's "Dance in Parallel", Photo by Adina Sabghir

Title | Contents | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4