In some Scrubs interviews; they talk about the decision to use the single-camera format. After reading about single-camera vs multiple-camera setups; I understand the basic difference.

However, there are several scenes in Scrubs where it is hard to believe that they could have been actually shot with only a single camera. Specifically; times when 2 characters are talking to each other; and the camera cuts back and forth between the two.

Are these scenes really shot by filming one actor's dialog; then switching and filming the other actor's dialog? It seems like that would make it sound very unnatural to the viewer; if the conversation that you were hearing were pieced together from multiple clips.

And on top of that, there are times when a cut is made mid-sentence from the speaker to the listener. How are these cuts done in single-camera? I can see it as being theoretically possible if the actor just says the same line at 2 different times; and then the cut is made using the first half of one take and the second half of another take; but again this seems like there's no way it would come out sounding right or natural.

So are some of these scenes actually shot with a second camera? Or is it actually always done with multiple takes being cut / spliced together?

An example can be found here; but almost any scene where characters are talking to each other shows what I mean.

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    Despite not knowing the showing, keep in mind they can record the entire scene twice, from different points, and then show image/sound from different perspectives.
    – BlueMoon93
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 15:20
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    "Are these scenes really shot by filming one actor's dialog; then switching and filming the other actor's dialog?" Yes, that's how it's usually done in movies as well. "It seems like that would make it sound very unnatural to the viewer" Why? Actors are pretending for a living. It is their job to make this appear natural.
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 16:14
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    How do you think movie dialog is shot? This 2 or more different takes and editing the conversation together is exactly how one-camera shooting works.
    – iandotkelly
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 16:31
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    I think the crux of the confusion here is the assumption that audio and video are not (or cannot) be edited separately in post-production. This is simply not the case. Audio can be edited separately and run over the finished video to keep voices and other sounds consistent across video cuts, no matter how much time transpired between the two shots being filmed IRL.
    – Steve-O
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 21:22
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    In your linked example video, we can see that the scene was filmed twice: Around 1:11, Dr Cox is shown from the front changing his seat position significantly; however, the shots from his back before and after that exhibit no great difference Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 22:27

1 Answer 1


This is actually fairly common in close-up dialogue scenes and interviews. Even if more than one camera is available it may not be possible to get the angle you want without the second camera being in shot.

The way it is done is that each scene is shot twice (at least) each time from a different angle usually with both actors delivering their full dialog. This both keeps the performance natural and correctly timed and gives a full audio track with both sets of lines for a given take. The two shots are then edited together.

Bear in mind also that the audio can be edited separately from the video so you can have a line from take 1 continue over a video cut to take 2.

Having scenes edited together from various different takes is a normal part of video production and actors, directors and editors are used to dealing with it.

If a shot is from one character's perspective, ie. an actor is talking directly to the camera, (to another character not the audience,) then this will be the only way to do it and it will inevitably by a bit unnatural for the actor but delivering a convincing performance in this sort of situation is part of their job.


Single vs multiple cameras is much more about a style of filming rather than the literal number of cameras.

For example a sitcom which is filmed 'live' is much more likely to use a 3 sided set, similar to a theatre stage, possibly with a live audience . With moving cameras used to film an entire scene in a single take similar to a live TV broadcast. This tends to work well for long running series as it is quick and cheap to film as you can reasonably expect scenes to be done in one or two takes and there is much editing required, just cutting between camera angles. For long running series like sit-coms this can also produce more relaxed and natural performances especially when actors are very familiar with their characters.

A single camera approach gives a bit more creative flexibility as its easier to use bigger, versatile sets and locations and it gives the editor and director more flexibility to create changes of pace and tone.

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    In interviews the UK term for the close up of the interviewer listening rather than speaking is called 'the noddies'... because, of course, the interviewee is no longer there so they're just acting looking interested & nodding, for the edit ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 18:51
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    In addition to the audio and video being editing separately, dialogue can, if necessary, also be re-recorded and synced the video. This is especially common in outdoor shots (where there's much less control over background noise) and when the director or editor decides to shorten the conversation, often by dubbing a new segue line, often delivered by the character with their back to the camera. Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 20:45
  • But I'm hypersensitive to desync between the visual of the person facing away from the camera and their audio.
    – Almo
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 21:07
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    @Almo - it often depends on the 'price' of the show. Some can afford to go to looping, some seem to barely be able to afford a noise-gate. My "favourite" obvious noise-gate show is 'Elementary'... I mean really, I love it but, boy, it's cheap & it ain't 'Sherlock' :P
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 21:11
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    @Nico The title is just a summary. Commented Feb 7, 2018 at 13:24

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