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A stand-in for film and television is a person who substitutes for the actor before filming, for technical purposes such as lighting and camera setup.

Stand-ins are helpful in the initial processes of film and television production, the underlying problem is that quick-and-dirty consumer shortcuts (autofocus, deep focus, and relying on as-is location lighting) are simply insufficient to create the professional look which audiences expect from modern cinematography. Professional lighting and camera setup are always done manually and can be extremely time-consuming and tedious. Actors strongly prefer to be elsewhere during that time.[citation needed]

Stand-ins allow the director of photography to light the set and the camera department to light and focus scenes while the actors are absent, the director will often ask stand-ins to deliver the scene dialogue ("lines") and walk through ("blocking") the scenes to be filmed. In this way, a good stand-in can help speed up the day's production and is a necessary and valuable cast member on a film.

Stand-ins are distinguished from body doubles, who replace actors on camera from behind, in makeup, or during dangerous stunts. Stand-ins do not appear on camera. However, on some productions the jobs of stand-in and double may be done by the same person; in rare cases, a stand-in will appear on screen, sometimes as an in-joke. For instance, the actress who pretends to be Ann Darrow in the stage show during the final act of King Kong (2005) is played by Naomi Watts' stand-in, Julia Walshaw.

Stand-ins do not necessarily look like the actor, but they must have the same skin tone, hair color, height and build as the actor so that the lighting in a scene will be set up correctly, for example, if the lighting is set up with a stand-in shorter than an actor, the actor might end up having his or her head in relative darkness.

Stand-ins are also used for animated characters in a live-action film, sometimes with life-size character models, so that the animators know where to place their animation and how to make them move realistically, and for actors to know where to look; in these cases, skin tone and hair color are not so important. Height and build, however, are still important for any interactions between live-action and animated characters.

Some celebrities mandate that they will always have the same stand-in. Famous cases include Pluma Noisom (stand-in for Claudette Colbert), Harry Cornbleth (Fred Astaire) and Adam Bryant (Robin Williams). When Bette Davis walked out on her Warner Bros. contract, she negotiated for her regular stand-in, Sally Sage, to continue to work at the studio.

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