A take is a single continuous recorded performance. The term is used in film and music to denote and track the stages of production.
In cinematography, a take refers to each filmed "version" of a particular shot or "setup". Takes of each shot are generally numbered starting with "take one" and the number of each successive take is increased (with the director calling for "take two" or "take eighteen") until the filming of the shot is completed.
A one-take occurs when the entire scene is shot satisfactorily the first time, whether by necessity (as with certain expensive special effects) or by happy accident.
Film takes are often designated with the aid of a clapperboard. It is also referred to as the slate. The number of each take is written or attached to the clapboard, which is filmed briefly prior to or at the beginning of the actual take. Only takes which are vetted by the continuity person and/or script supervisor are printed and are sent to the film editor.
Some film directors are known for using very long, unedited takes. Alfred Hitchcock's Rope is famous for being composed of nine uninterrupted takes, each from four to ten minutes long. This required actors to step over cables and dolly tracks while filming, and stagehands to move furniture and props out of the camera's way as it moved around the room. A camera operator's foot was broken by a heavy dolly during one intensive take, and he was gagged and hauled out of the studio so that filming could continue without interruption. The eight-minute opening shot of The Player includes people discussing long takes in other movies.
Aleksandr Sokurov's Russian Ark (2002) consists of a single 90-minute take, shot on a digital format. Mike Figgis' Timecode (2000) consists of a single 90-minute take as well, albeit with four camera units shooting simultaneously. In the finished film, all four camera angles are shown simultaneously on a split screen, with the sound fading from one to another to direct audience attention.
Other directors such as Stanley Kubrick are notorious for demanding numerous retakes of a single scene, once asking Shelley Duvall to repeat a scene 127 times for The Shining. During the shooting of Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick asked for 97 takes of Tom Cruise walking through a door before he was satisfied. Charlie Chaplin, both director and star of The Gold Rush, did 63 separate takes of a scene where his character eats a boot—in reality, a prop made of licorice—and ended up being taken to the hospital for insulin shock due to the high sugar intake. Chaplin also did 342 takes of a scene in City Lights (1931).
In other cases, it is the actors who cause multiple takes. One fight scene in Jackie Chan's The Young Master was so intricate that it required 329 takes to complete, and most Jackie Chan films include the most humorous of the outtakes from filming during the end credits. Dragon Lord, which Chan directed and starred in, holds the record for the most takes for a single scene, during an elaborate pyramid fight scene that required 2900 takes. Director Bryan Singer tried for a full day to get his desired shots of the cast of The Usual Suspects behaving sullenly in a police lineup, but the actors could not remain serious and kept spoiling the takes by laughing and making faces. In the end, Singer changed his plan and used the funniest of the takes in the final movie to illustrate the contempt the criminals had for the police. During the filming of Some Like It Hot, director Billy Wilder was notoriously frustrated by the retakes required by Marilyn Monroe's inability to remember her lines.
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In comedy, the term "take" is used to describe a performer's reaction in a bit.
A spit-take is a take in which a performer reacts in surprise by spitting a beverage out of his or her mouth.
A double-take is the reaction of surprise illustrated by the performer glancing at something, then looking away, then looking back in shock, astonishment, or amazement.
In music, a take similarly refers to successive attempts to record a song or part. Musical takes are also sequentially numbered. The need to obtain a complete, acceptable take was especially important in the years predating multi-track recording and overdubbing techniques.
Failed attempts are called False Starts if, say, not even a complete chorus or verse is recorded, while longer almost-complete attempts are called Long False Starts. Many producers in the 50's and 60's would find that the most desired performance would be split up among a number of complete takes and false starts.
This would therefore necessitate use of the reverse of a false start i.e. a pickup, in which recording starts in the middle or near the end of a song and finishes normally. In addition to this technique, replacement of only a portion of an otherwise acceptable take, known in the U.K. as a drop-in or in the U.S. as a punch-in, the performer begins singing or playing to the original take, and then at some point, their track is prepped for recording and engaged, capturing a section measuring a few words to a few bars in length, after which the track is then disengaged from recording. Several takes of the drop-in are often necessary to achieve the desired result.
Different versions of the same song from a single recording session are sometimes eventually released as alternative takes or `playback masters' of the recording; indeed, alternative takes of songs recorded by The Beatles were some of the most sought-after bootleg recordings by the band, before their official release as part of The Beatles Anthology; a similar case occurred with the recordings of Elvis Presley until his label, RCA, began releasing alternative takes itself in 1974 with Elvis: A Legendary Performer Volume 1. Also, Johnny Cash's Bear Family boxes holds takes on discs five and on Johnny Cash:The Outtakes it contains more than 124 unreleased demos and false starts.
Unfortunately, after multi-track recording was developed and songs were `assembled' by each musician coming in at a different time and recording their part by themselves rather than being recorded live, alternate takes more often than not do not survive due to the fact that 24-track 2-inch tape was extremely expensive compared to the half-inch 3-track and 4-track tape used in the 50's and 60's.
As such, for example if the drummer makes a mistake or their performance is not what the producer is looking for, the original performance is wiped and recorded over until a satisfactory performance has been captured, leaving no room for assembling multiple sections from multiple takes due to the expense of tape.
Once the drum kit has been recorded, the other musicians come in and record - and re-record their parts in a similar fashion until recording is complete, whereupon the production is mixed down to mono, stereo or Dolby surround.
With the advent of digital, producers can once again retain alternate performances of just about every instrument or set of instruments to be recorded and assemble sections accordingly to their liking, or even looping a section in order to get a more perfect performance. See Escape (The Pina Colada Song) for a further explanation.
In conservation biology, taking means pursuing, shooting, killing, capturing, trapping, snaring, angling, spearing, or netting wild animals; or placing, setting, drawing, or using a net, trap, or other device to take wild animals. Taking also includes attempting to take wild animals or assisting another person in taking wild animals.
- IMDb: Rope
- IMDb: The Gold Rush
- "Dragon Lord (DVD Description)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
- Minnesota DNR: General Hunting Information
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