Dailies. Maybe you’ve heard the term, maybe you haven’t. They’ve been associated with newspaper dailies– the everyday papers left on your doorstep in the morning. Yeah, not those. What are dailies in film? Well, if you’re new to production, it’s a good idea to know what they are. Let’s quickly go over industry colloquialism.

Dailies in Film

Defining an "everyday" term

For over 100 years, movies were shot on celluloid film, which requires development. In those days, you wouldn't be able to see what you shot on Monday until Tuesday. Now, thanks to digital technology, you can review your shots instantly. But just because the technology has changed, the importance of screening your work has never changed. Let's begin with a quick definition.

Dailys or Dailies Definition

What are dailies in film?

Dailies in film are the raw, unedited footage shot during that day. Sometimes in animation, they can also be called “rushes” or “sweat box sessions.”

Dailies may seem boring or excessively long, and it’s because there are no cuts, and you are watching one, long drawn out performance. Often times, the editor strings together multiple performances of the same scene to get it just right. 

Dailies Aren’t Just for the Editor

The director, cinematographer, producers, and actors, watch the dailies in a theatre or screening room, to see how the film is progressing.

They can assess not just the individual performances, but the overall aesthetics and cinematography. 

Is the lighting what they want? Is the camera in focus and out of focus at the right moments?

Watching dailies before the cuts, allows the filmmakers to figure out what they’re doing right, if they need to reshoot anything, make notes for future shoot days, and determine if they’re on track. 

Keep in mind, some actors avoid watching dailies. 


Well, watching themselves unedited could potentially make them self-conscious. If they don’t agree with the way they did something at an exact moment, they may get caught up in their heads for the following performance.

And it makes sense. Dailies can and have caused major cast upsets.

In Back to the Future, the dailies convinced director, Robert Zemeckis, that Eric Stoltz wasn’t the right fit for Marty McFly. After a few weeks of shooting, Stoltz was fired and Michael J. Fox took over. 

Dailies Today

Dailies use to be only screened in theaters, but now with the digital age, dailies are your own. And you can watch them instantly. 

But even so, it’s always a good idea to upload your dailies to your computer, iCloud, or hard drive.

Turning Dailies into a TV show

In this video, watch an editor from the TV show Counterpart walk through their workflow. As dailies come in and get organized by an assistant to the first assembly, the editing process is explained in detail.

Turning dailies into television

Up Next

What is cinematography?

Watching dailies are only helpful if you know a bit about how you want the shots to look. And this requires an understanding of cinematography. Take a look at our next post, we’ll define the term and outline the basics that every filmmaker should know. 

Up Next: What's cinematography →
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