Every scene in every episode of SVU is different - you know, all that emotional stuff - but in terms of production, there's usually a standard set of shots that make up most scenes:
- Wide shot of detectives approaching victim/witness/suspect, establishing location
- Reverse wide shot of victim/witness/suspect
- Single coverage of each character in the scene
- Two-shot of our detectives sharing a knowing look as they realize what's going on
- Close-up of victim/witness/suspect as he or she recounts crime/provides clue/confesses in tears
- Reverse close-up of our detectives reacting to crime/clue/confession
The specifics of each shot, and any additional shots, are of course up to each director, in consultation with the D.P. and camera operators, but those are the basic building blocks. Sometimes we put the camera on a dolly; sometimes it's handheld, and sometimes we use a steadicam...
But rarely do we get to use a crane. Most of the time, they're not necessary, and crane shots are relatively complicated. But occasionally, when the story or location calls for it, we're lucky enough to bring in a massive crane, and you'll get to see the results in this week's episode, "Friending Emily." In the shot, Fin and Rollins search for a house in a neighborhood of similar-looking houses, and the best way to get these houses in frame with our detectives - and to show the scope of the investigation with other unis and ESU officers searching the neighborhood - was a crane shot.
The nice thing about crane shots is that, if you're going to shoot it, you're probably going to feature it, which means that they often become "one-ers," aka an entire scene that is completed with one shot (instead of the building blocks listed above). For the cast and crew, this is often a nice relief - though these scenes take longer to set up, require more rehearsals and often need more takes to get everything just right, they still go much faster than any other scene because, well, they're done after one shot. We don't do "one-ers" too often (you'd get bored of them, trust me), but we usually have one or two in most episodes. Check out "Friending Emily" this week to see for yourself!