Even though setting marks for your actors might seem quite simple, it’s critical for keeping sharp focus and properly framing your shots. The easiest way to get your actors stop at the same position every time is by sticking visible marks on the floor while you’re blocking each scene just before you start filming. In the video ahead, youtuber and cinematographer CinematicJ offers his personal workflow by showcasing the most common ways to set marks for actors. From using a T-shape mark, Toe Mark, Box Mark, Double Toe Box mark, you can choose what type of mark will suit your workflow better so that your actors will hit their marks every time while filming.
Typically, the T-shape mark is the most common mark that you can see on almost every set. In essence, the T-shape mark allows filmmakers to show actors which way their fingers are pointing so that they can find their angle a little bit more easily. Toe marks, on the other hand, are two separate strips of tape placed at the end of each foot of your actor.
The Toe Box is another mark that locks the talent in the correct position. You can use toe box when you need to place your actor on very accurate position. The latter also can be swapped with the double toe box mark where you need to create a separate mark for each foot of your talent. All of these marks will work like a charm for your closeups and middle shots. Obviously, they won’t be suitable for your wide shots.
For those occasions, you can utilise props as a reference to make sure that the actors won’t miss the right spot. Another tip is to use paper tape when you’re shooting indoors as the latter is much easier to remove than duck tape, for instance. When filming outdoors, you can utilise choke, sticks or sand t-marks for better reference or just make your own in advance out of plastic or other suitable material. If you are working on a budget, you can even get t-brackets from your local hardware store and cover them in different color tape.
Furthermore, if you’re working with multiple actors for a particular scene, you can use different colors for each actor so that they don’t mix their marks. That way it will be a lot easier for the people in front of the camera to hit the right mark and stop at the right place every time they need to. Also, make sure that your marks are not visible in your frame and always double check for those if you want to avoid complications later in post.
Ultimately, learning how to hit marks accurately and seamlessly is an essential component actors’ skill set that they need to master. Setting marks for your talents will help you not only nail down your focus and keep your framing, but these will also save you a ton of time when you need to move quickly from one location to another.