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Dailies, in filmmaking, is the raw, unedited footage shot during the making of a motion picture. They are so called because usually at the end of each day, that day's footage is developed, synced to sound, and printed on film in a batch (and/or telecined onto video tape or disk) for viewing the next day by the director and some members of the film crew. However, the term can be used to refer to any raw footage, regardless of when it is developed or printed.
Another way to describe film dailies is "the first positive prints made by the laboratory from the negative photographed on the previous day". In addition, during filming, the director and some actors may view these dailies as an indication of how the filming and the actors' performances are progressing.
Film dailies can refer to the viewing of dailies on film in a theater.
Dailies are usually viewed by members of the film crew either early in the morning before filming starts, during the lunch break, or in the evening after filming ends. It is common for several members of the film crew including the director, cinematographer, editor and others to view and discuss the dailies as a group, but some productions opt to distribute multiple copies of the dailies for individual viewing (e.g., on DVD).
Viewing dailies allows the film crew to see exactly what images and audio were captured the previous day, allowing them to make sure there are no technical problems such as dirty, scratched, or out of focus film. It also allows the director to ensure that they are happy with the performances of the actors and that they have captured a scene from all the necessary camera angles. If additional filming is desired it can often be done immediately rather than re-shooting later when sets may have been torn down and actors may no longer be available.
Dailies are also often viewed separately by producers or movie studio executives who are not directly involved in day-to-day production but seek assurance that the film being produced meets the expectations they had when they invested in the project. Commonly a dailies sequence is quite boring, as it often includes multiple takes of the same shot.
Film directors and film producers prefer to view film dailies rather than DVD dailies. However, because of the costs involved, some productions will start by viewing film dailies and later switch to DVD dailies. One reason why film dailies are preferred over DVD dailies is it is much easier to check for correct focus with film dailies than with video dailies. HD dailies can be as big as 2k resolution (2048 x 858, 2.39:1 aspect).
In the production of low-budget films with few crew and a short uninterrupted shooting period there is sometimes no time to view dailies.
Many films have one main film unit which does all primary filming and one or more smaller film units shooting additional "pickup" shots, stunts, or shots involving special effects. These shots are included with the main unit footage on the dailies reels. A typical pickup shot might be a simple shot of the exterior of a building which does not involve any actors, and is filmed with a smaller crew to save time and money.
If a unit shoots with more than one camera usually all the shots from one "A" camera will be followed by all "B" camera shots because of the way the dailies are processed.
To save time, ordinarily only a small amount of the previous day's footage is viewed. If viewing dailies on video, often all the footage is transferred and the viewer can fast-forward as desired. Dailies on print film are more expensive to produce and cannot be easily fast-forwarded. In this case, during shooting the director will specify which takes he or she wants converted to dailies. When a take is completed, the director yells, "Cut" and if the director wants the take converted to dailies, the director will also yell, "Print". Once the director yells, "Cut! Print!", the script supervisor, the camera assistant and the sound person circle the take number on their log sheets so that only these circle takes will be printed that night by the film laboratory.
The end of a dailies reel may contain sound that was recorded without simultaneous picture recording called wild sound.
Visual effects shots are often assembled daily for viewing by a visual effects or animation supervisor. They will contain the previous day's work by animators and effects artists in various state of completion. Once a shot is at the point where additional feedback from the director is needed they will be assembled and screened for the director either as part of the normal dailies screening or as a separate weekly VFX dailies screening.
Dailies delivered to the editing department will usually have timecode and keycode numbers overlaid on the image. These numbers are used to later assemble the original high-quality film and audio to conform to the edit. Depending on how the dailies are produced, these numbers may only be on the editor's copy of the dailies or on all copies of the dailies.
During the typical filming of a motion picture, a movie camera captures the image on 35 mm film and a separate audio recorder (such as a Nagra tape recorder or digital hard disk recorder) records the sound on-set.
The sound is synched to the film using a clapperboard as a reference. The clapperboard is labeled to identify the scene, shot, and take number for the camera. The numbers are also read aloud to label the audio recording. Once camera and sound are rolling, a camera assistant will close the clapper creating a visual and auditory reference point. During the synching process after the film has been developed, the technician will look at the numbers on the slate board and then match the numbers with the verbal slate. Then the technician looks for the frame where the clapper first closes and for the beep or clapping sound on the audio tape, adjusting one or the other until they happen simultaneously when played back. This needs to be done for every take. Systems exist which record synchronized timecode onto the film and audio tape at the time of shooting, allowing for automatic alignment of picture and audio. In practice these systems are rarely used.
Before computer-based editing tools became widely available in the late 1980s, all feature-film dailies were printed on film. These pieces of film are called the workprint. After viewing, the workprint is used by the film editor to edit the movie using a flatbed editor. Once the workprint is edited and approved, the negative is assembled so it is identical to the edited workprint.
Today, most editing is done on computer based non-linear editing systems which use a video copy of the dailies. When the film is telecined, keycode numbers are logged which assign a number to each frame of film and are later used to assemble the original film to conform to the edit.
Video or digital film
When using a video camera or digital motion picture camera the image and sound are often recorded simultaneously to video tape or hard disk in a format that can be immediately viewed on a monitor, eliminating the need to undergo a conversion process to create dailies for viewing. The footage recorded each day will still usually go through a daily process to create a second copy for protection and create multiple copies on DVD or other media for viewing by producers or other people not on set.
Outside of their use in producing a motion picture, dailies are desirable by fans as a collectors item and to see more of the filmmaking process. They are also desirable to film students and teachers to illustrate how a film is shot and as a tool to practice editing.
For a variety of reasons, major motion picture studios never release their dailies for outside use. One cited problem is that the Screen Actors Guild has a clause in their contract to protect their actors' privacy which says that the producers of all union productions must give up their rights to the actor's performance for anything but the edited movie. In most other English speaking countries, the actors unions have similar contracts which limit the distribution of all film dailies. New Zealand does not have this limitation, which is why the dailies from Xena and Hercules are on the DVDs for these shows.
Every year American Cinema Editors holds the ACE Film Editing Contest in which they make dailies available to 50 film students for an editing contest. ACE also sells a video tape with film dailies from the 1950s TV show Gunsmoke. These film dailies have been used by many film schools for the last 40 years.
Rushes and dailies are also used to create trailers, even if they may contain footage that is not in the final movie, or the trailer editor and the film editor may use different takes of a particular shot.
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- IMDb Film Glossary - 2007
- "Glossary" of filmmaker terms, The Competition Commission (established by the Competition Act 1998), UK, 2001
- "The case for film dailies", American Cinematographer, April 2004
- Die Hard 4, "One Man Riot Squad", July 2007, American Cinematographer
- "Post-Production Planning During Pre-Production" by Andy Pratt, 2007
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