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Intro to Film

Studies

Introducing Cinematic
and Theatrical

In order to begin looking at movies


more critically, we need to learn a
little bit about the tools that
filmmakers use to create their
products.
If we were studying literature, wed
learn to identify similes, metaphors,
and symbols.
If we were studying painting, wed
learn about brush strokes, color
choice, and composition.

Cinematic Technique
Throughout this section, the term shot will
be used repeatedly; a shot refers to one,
uninterrupted image that is seen onscreen in
a finished film.
The shot ends when the camera cuts to
another image and there is just a tiny, split
second of black.
Your eye may not register black but it is
very similar to the blink of an eye. Look at
any scene from any movie or TV show and
you can practice identifying shots.

Framing
One of the first decisions
that a director makes when
designing a shot is deciding
how it will be framed. The
main choices are close-up,
medium shot, and long
shot.

Close-Up

When an actor is framed in closeup, we will see only the actors head
from about the neck up; objects shot
in close-up take up most of the
screen.
There could be a number of reasons
depending upon the film: close-ups
can show enormous amounts of
detail, they can reveal characters
emotions, they can be used to
emphasize important objects and

Close-Up

Long Shot
If an actor were framed in a long shot, we would
see the actors entire body. Imagine a character on
screen framed in a long shot.
You probably could not make out many facial
expressions or emotions, but think about what you
could see: you can see the characters surroundings.
In a great scene from Alfred Hitchcocks North by
Northwest, a man who has been framed for murder
is lured to an isolated cornfield, and Hitchcock
frames the scene almost entirely in long shots to
emphasize the mans vulnerability.
Long shots can also reveal distance or a lack of
emotional connection between characters.

Long Shot

Medium Shot
An actor framed in a medium shot would
be seen from the waist up.
A medium shot has some of the advantages
of the long shot and the close-up. More
detail can be shown in a medium shot than
in a long shot while a medium shot can
reveal more of the surroundings than a
close-up.
The vast majority of shots in a Hollywood
film and on TV shows are medium shots.

Medium Shot

http://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=laU2MI6X48I&list=PLB920518F4BFC73F
6

The Two Shot

Atwo shotis a type ofshotin which the frame encompasses a view of two
people. The subjects do not have to be next to each other, and there are
many common two-shots which have one subject in the foreground and the
other subject in the background.

Angles
The angle is the relationship between the
camera and the object being filmed or the
position the camera will take when
shooting the scene.
The cameras angle also helps the director
emphasize an emotion, mood, relationship,
etc. depending on its position.
There are three camera angles, low-angle,
high-angle and eye-level shot,

Low-Angle
This angle is when the camera is below a
subject looking up.
This angle makes the subject look larger and
can give the subject a sense of power.
This angle can inspire fear and insecurity in
the viewer, who is psychologically dominated
by the figure on the screen.
A villain shot from a low angle might frighten
the viewer, while a hero or leader shot from a
low angle might earn the viewers admiration.
https://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTlbCCASW_A

High-Angle
This is when a director places his or her camera
above the subject, looking down on it.
This has the effect of making the subject seem
smaller than it really is.
High-Angle shots create a feeling of inferiority,
weakness or powerlessness.
The object or character often gets swallowed up by
their setting - they become part of a wider picture.
http://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=8V1uE1-wTPs&list=P
LB920518F4BFC73F6

Eye-Level (Neutral)
This is when an audience sees the subject
straight on, the angle is even with the
character.
This is especially helpful directly after a
subject has been filmed by low or high angle.
From low angle to eye-level shot might
indicate a lowering of status or loss of power,
whereas a high angle to eye-level might
suggest a character is moving up in the world.
Most shots in films are eye-level because this
is the normal way we view others in real life.

Camera Movement
There are a number of ways a
camera can move when a
shots being taken.
Each has its own particular
features and effects.
These movements are called
panning, tilt, zoom and a
dolly shot.

Pan
When a cameras head moves left to
right (or vice versa), staying on the
horizontal axis, the director is using
panning.
This technique is often used to show a
setting because it reflects the typical
movement when we take in a new
scene.
With this technique the camera can
track an object or follow any type of

Dolly Shot
Pan, tilt and zoom camera movements
are all executed while the camera is in a
fixed position.
The dolly shot refers to any time the
camera itself moves, with on tracks,
from a helicopter, on someones back or
in any other way.
Dolly shots move the audience with the
action and keep us from feeling like
spectators.

Tilt
If the stationary cameras head
moves up and down on a vertical
axis, it is called a tilt.
It moves just as you would move
your head if you were standing at the
base of a mountain and you started
looking up.
Tilt shots are often used to show the
vertical significance of something.

Zoom
When the focus of a stationary camera
changes within a shot, the movement is
called a zoom.
When a director wants to catch a
characters reaction or to create a
sense of paranoia they may choose to
zoom from a medium frame into a close
up frame.

Editing
After the scenes are filmed, theres
still a lot of work to do and creative
choices to be made.
An editor is often referred to as the
films storyteller, connecting the
images into a cohesive and coherent
narrative.
There are several ways that an editor
can connect images: cut, fade,
dissolve, point-of-view, and parallel.

Cut
A cut is the quickest way to move
between images.
An editor joins two pieces of film (two
shots) together so that I the finished
film it looks like an instantaneous
change between shots.
This can be jarring or smooth
depending on the filmmakers
purpose.

Fade
A fade is when the image seen on screen slowly
fades to black or white or some other color.
A fade can indicate time has passed.
For instance, in older films when two people go
into a bedroom and the shot fades to grey; when
the shot fades back in, they are smoking
cigaretteshmmmmwhats going on?
Fades can also signify that a segment of the film
has ended, like the end of a chapter in a book.
Fades tend to be slow paced and create a somber
or pensive mood.

Dissolve
A dissolve is when an image on screen is slowly
fading away while the next image is fading in.
For a brief moment, both images are on screen.
Dissolves are used to connect images or to
move between images in a smooth, rhythmic
fashion.
The famous opening to Apocalypse Now uses
this technique.
https://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIrvSJwwJUE

Point-of-View
This occurs when an editor tries to show what a
character is thinking.
Through the use of point-of-view editing we see
through a characters eyes, which puts us in the
characters shoes.
For example, imagine we see a man on a subway
looking around. The film cuts to what he sees:
handbags dangling and wallets half in pockets.
We cut back to the man half-smilingwe know he
is a thief who is confident of success because the
point-of-view editing lead us to this conclusion.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kx_iMcYJltM

Parallel Editing
This technique, also called cross-cutting, is
used to cut between that are happening
simultaneously but in different locations.
Think of the damsel in distress tied to train
tracksthe film cuts from the damsel to the
train and then back to the damsel.
This is obviously used to build suspense.
Other reasons for using parallel editing are to
make connections between events to
emphasize themes.
http://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_I82117oAw

Length of cuts
The final decision for an editor is to
decide on the length or duration of
each shot.
The typical Hollywood shot lasts
approximately 5-8 seconds.
Editors can choose either long takes
or short takes.

Long Takes
Long takes generally feel as if they
unfold in real time which created a
realistic feel. (Think back to the Grand
Illusion French film with the 58 second
cut).
In a long take, the viewer often gets to
decide where to look and what to look at.
Long takes can create a slower, more
languid pace.

Short Takes
Short takes, on the other hand, are typical in the
quick-cutting music videos which can last under a
second.
This creates a much more rapid, energetic style
and pace.
Action films will often use increasingly short takes
to create suspense and drama in a fight scene or
car chase.
Editors use short takes to draw our attention to
what is important unlike a long take where we
have an opportunity to examine the scene. (Think
back to the Psycho car sinkingcutting back and
forth for 2-3 seconds creates anxiety in the
viewer)

Sound
The sound track for a film can produce a
layered effect, adding energy and depth
to the visuals and ultimately the story.
Can you imagine a horror film without
the creepy music or an action adventure
without the sound of explosions?
What we hear in a film is as essential as
what we see.
There are three classifications of sound.

Diegetic versus Nondiegetic


Diegetic sounds are the sounds that emanate
from a source in the movie environment
Examples can include the sound of traffic, music
from a radio or any other sound that can
logically be heard from a character.
Nondiegetic refers to sounds that cannot
logically be part of the movie environment.
Examples can include the music playing while
credits are rolling, music that appears out of
nowhere to heighten a romantic moment, or a
deathbed scene. Grieving characters dont look
around for the source of the music, only we can
hear it.

Internal Diegetic
This third classification is a mix of the previous two.
If the audience can hear a characters thoughts we
can presume that the character can hear that sound
but the other characters cannot hear it.
Internal Diegetic sound concerns one character.
A man is sitting reading the paper while other
characters are laughing and talking, these sounds
fade and all we can hear are the intimate sounds of
the man as he is ready to have a heart attack: his
breathing is labored, watch ticking, shoe grinding a
cigarette out on the cement floor. By isolating these
sounds the director is heightening the suspense and
bringing the viewer inside that characters intensely
personal experience.

Lighting
Lighting is referred to as the filmmaker's
paintbrush or the raw material of the filmmakers
world. Without any type of light, footage turns
out too dark and ultimately underexposed. With
too much light, scenes turn out overexposed.
Lighting, like other elements of composition
places emphasis on subjects that are of more
interest, while taking attention away from objects
that are less important to the overall shot.
Light, shadows and color can also create mood,
draw attention to a specific area, modify shape,
create a 3rd dimension or bring out texture in an
object.

Low-key lighting
A horror film with every light in the house
lit? No way!
Low-key lighting uses a lot of shadows
with sharp contrasts between darks and
lights.
This contrast in lighting often indicates a
moral dilemma, hidden aspects of a
character, or something unexpected
about to happen.

High-Key Lighting
This is the opposite of low-key
lighting and uses lots of bright, open
lighting.
Romantic comedies, musicals and
important scenes from dramas all
frequently use this lighting.
This indicates honest in characters,
no hidden motives or unexpected
surprises.

https://film110.pbworks.com/w/page/12610256/Ligh
ting

Side versus Front Lighting


Side lighting is when one side of an
actors face is darker than the other.
This hints at hidden secrets or
opposing forces within a character.
Front lighting is when a character is
brightly lit without any shadows.
Heroes and heroines are shot in front
lighting to suggest pureness and
honesty.

Mise en Scene
This French term literally translates
to Put into the scene and refers to
the arrangement and creative
choices concerning everything in the
frame.
This requires a balance of Design
(setting, props, lighting, actors) and
Composition (how the above
elements are arranged in the space
of the shot).
These visual elements are crucial to

A short tutorial on the importance of


Mise en scene.
https://
www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQFszM
u0Q_s

NYT Analysis of a Scene


This NYT (New York Times) activity incorporates many of
the techniques and concepts we covered in the PPT.
Please remember, filmmakers do not apply techniques
without intent or purpose.
Creative decisions are made with the purpose of evoking a
response in the audience and further the meaning or
themes in the film.
Your job is to identify the techniques being used and
explain their purpose with the help of the directors
commentary.
Tomorrow we will spend the entire class looking at
Anatomy of a Scene for your first major grade in this
class. Directions and a clear example are on the handout.
We will do the first one as a class.
http://
www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/12/16/movies/20091216-

Props
Props are objects or part of the set that
actors manipulate to reveal information
about a character or situation.
These often forward our understanding
about a films theme or meaning.
In the opening scene of Sex, Lies and
Videotape a make idly takes off his
wedding band and spins it on his
deskwhat does this prop reveal?

Theatrical Elements
Theatrical elements are those
typically found in drama but they
also greatly affect film.
The main categories are sets,
costumes, props and acting (even
cast choices).

Costumes
Costumes are a very effective way to
characterize.
We often draw conclusions about a
character simply from the way they
are dressed.
Indiana Jones as a college professor
in a suit and tie or as an adventurer
with a leather jacket and whip?

Sets
Sets can determine an audiences
expectation for the action.
Sets can be manipulated to evoke a greater
response in the viewer, for example the
director of Streetcar Named Desire moved the
walls of the set closer together as the movie
progressed to give a sense of claustrophobia.
Different films shot in the same location, NY
city for example, can portray different
purposes