Mise-en-scène is also known as staging. It is the overall look and feel of a movie, the sum of what the audience sees, hears, and experiences.
In some films, the elements of mise-en-scène is so powerful that
They enable the viewer to experience the aura of a place and time.
They present not only visual backdrops but “ideas.”
Contribute to the interpretation of the film’s meanings.
Genre formulas have a powerful influence in mise-en-scène.
Mise-en-scène is originally a French theatrical term, meaning “placing on stage.”
In the 1920s German filmmakers moved the camera within the shot for psychological and thematic reasons.
There are Seven Basic Moving Camera Shots: Panning shots (swish pans) Tilts Dolly Shots (Trucking, Tracking, Pull-backs) Handheld Shots Crane Shots Zoom Shots Aerial Shots
These are used extensively to communicate meaning and emotion about characters:
Low angle shot: Looking up at a character or object, often to instil fear or awe in the audience
Straight and high angle shots
Straight angle shot: Looking at an eye-level angle to a character or object, giving a sense of equality between subject and audience;
High angle shot: Looking down on a character, often to show vulnerability or weakness;
Canted or oblique angles
Canted or Oblique: The camera is tilted to show the scene at an angle. This is used extensively in the horror and science fiction genre. The audience will often not consciously realize the change. This is most often referred to as a ‘Dutch' angle, or 'going Dutch'.
The most obvious and frequently
referenced use of this technique is found
in the 'Batman' TV show and original
movie (when the villains were on screen,
the camera would show them at a canted
Proximity Emotion comes directly from the actor's eyes. You can control the intensity of that emotion by placing the camera close or far away from those eyes. A close-up will fill the screen with emotion, and pulling away to a wide angle shot will dissipate that emotion. A sudden cut from wide to close-up will give the audience a sudden surprise. Sometimes a strange angle above an actor will heighten the dramatic meaning.
Extreme close up
The use of different shot sizes can influence the meaning which an audience will interpret.
The extreme close up is used to reveal very small details in the scene. It might be used to reveal horror in a subject (extreme close up of the subject's mouth as she/he screams). It might also be used in a mystery to show some detail that the detective picks up on or to show some small clue.
Head and shoulders
The head and shoulders shot is used in news broadcasts. If you think about the television news you will realize that this shot reveals enough detail to see the subject's lips move and the expression on her/his face.
This shot shows your subject from above the knees to above the head. It is often used when the subject of the shot is doing something that requires the audience to see some detail.
The medium shot is from just below the waist to above the head. There is more headroom than in the bust shot. This show is used if the person is animated with their hand movements, etc.
MLS – Medium long shot
Remember in this shot does not cut the person off at the knees. With this shot, you can still see expression on the persons face, while getting more information from what is going on around the person.
This shot is useful for someone that is walking or moving.
This shows the person and the location that they are in.
ELS – Extra long shot
Also known as the Establishing shot, this gives the viewer some perspective as to where the subject is. This is very important if the subject is moving to new locations or times. It lets the viewer know where the video is taking place.
Two-shots are composed when two people are in the scene and their interaction is important. A two-shot is a good way to introduce a conversation. From the introduction you might cut to an over the shoulder shot of one person talking or a close-up of the other person reacting to what is being said.
Over the shoulder
The over the shoulder shot reveals one subject as seen from over the shoulder of another subject. It simulates a view of the subject as seen from the second person's eyes. This shot is often used in conversations between two people where the director wants to focus on the person speaking. Usually these shots are head shots (close ups of the speaker).
Choice of shot
Choice of shot size is also directly related to the size of the final display screen the audience will see. A Long shot has much more dramatic power on a large theatre screen, whereas the same shot would be powerless on a small TV or computer screen.
Putting it into practice
How many camera angles can you spot when watching the Truman Show trailer?
Are these effective in setting the mood and tone of the film?
Click to view
Sound is used extensively in filmmaking to enhance presentation, and is distinguished into diegetic ("actual sound"), and non-diegetic sound:
Diegetic sound : It is any sound where the source is visible on the screen, or is implied to be present by the action of the film:
Voices of characters;
Sounds made by objects in the story; and
Music, represented as coming from instruments in the story space.
Music coming from reproduction devices such as record players, radios, tape players etc.
Non-diegetic sound : Also called "commentary sound," it is sound which is represented as coming from a source outside the story space, ie. its source is neither visible on the screen, nor has been implied to be present in the action:
Voice of God;
Sound effect which is added for dramatic effect;
Basic sound effects, e.g. dog barking, car passing;
Mood music; and
Non-diegetic sound plays a big role in creating atmosphere and mood within a film.
In motion picture and television production, a sound effect is a sound recorded and presented to make a specific storytelling or creative point, without the use of dialogue or music. The term often refers to a process, applied to a recording, without necessarily referring to the recording itself. In professional motion picture and television production, the segregations between recordings of dialogue, music, and sound effects can be quite distinct, and it is important to understand that in such contexts, dialogue and music recordings are never referred to as sound effects, though the processes applied to them, such as reverberation or flanging , often are.
Things to consider
Consider a film's main title and its opening credits:
Why was the specific title chosen (were there any other alternatives considered?), and how do the credits establish a tone or mood?
What are the first sounds and images in the film?
Can you find any motifs in the credits?
Do the end credits have any unusual features (e.g., out-takes, gags, additional footage, etc.).
[ Note: Up until the 1950s, films had a very set format for the credits: (1) credits at the start, (2) a "The End" title card following the film, and (3) a cast list with character names. Recently, most films immediately begin with a plot sequence, with 'opening' credits ("main title") super-imposed over them after a few minutes, and extensive rolling 'full credits' ("end title"), usually white text on a black background, after the film concludes.]
Know the basics
film's title (and alternate titles or production titles, if any)
year of release
Identify the studio Know the studio responsible for the film. Was it made by a major studio, a minor studio, or an independent? Why was the film made?
Note the film rating Consider the film's official MPAA rating (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17, or unrated). Was there any controversy surrounding the film's rating?
Classify the films genre
Decide on the film's principal type, its genre and sub-genre categories (such as action, adventure, musical, comedy, etc.). If it's a hybrid (a combination of two or more genres), what are they?
How does the film fit (or not fit) into its conventional, recognizable classifications?
If you were to write a short 'one-liner' summary to describe the film (often called a synopsis or film treatment ), what would it be?
Things to consider
Read about the narrative origins of the film (literary or otherwise):
Is it adapted from some other work, or based on an original idea? If adapted, how well does it follow the original?
If original, how fresh and innovative is it?
Does the film's screenplay effectively communicate the story through action and dialogue?
Fact or fiction
If the film is based upon an historical event or person, how true to life is the film?
Is the film fact or fiction?
Does it mythologize an historical event or period?
How is the story told?
How is the film structured?
Determine the film's pivotal scene(s) and sequencing.
How is the story's plot told?
through normal exposition
with a narrator (by voice-over)
chronologically or linearly
objectively or subjectively
List the following
the film's main characters (are their names significant?)
also consider a few of the minor characters and how they are used
a brief description for each one
their major motivations or ethical values/assumptions
their character development
Things to think about
Is there a hero (protagonist) ?
or anti-hero (antagonist)?
Are the characters believable and three-dimensional, do they change?
Is the acting memorable, exceptional, or inferior?
Do we care about the characters?
How is the cast chosen?
Ask yourself about 'star quality' - why were specific performers (or stars) chosen (or cast) to play each role - were they appropriately cast (i.e., the right age or size, or with the proper accent)? Were any of the performers cast against type? Were there any debut performances?
Were their performances appropriate for the roles?
Was the acting professional or non-professional?
Does one performer steal the spotlight from others?
Were the popular stereotypes (attitudinal or imagined) about different kinds of people (fathers, gays, Native Americans, the elderly, women, the mentally-ill, blacks, rural folks, etc.) challenged or reinforced?
Were there any caricatures?
Notice the typical conventions used in the film.
cars that crash will almost always burst into flames
all telephone numbers in America begin with the digits 555 (in reality they DON’T!)