Cinematography handout lesson 2


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Cinematography handout lesson 2

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  2. 2. MICRO ELEMENTS OF FILM: PART 1 WHAT ARE THE MICRO ELEMENTS? CINEMATOGRAPHY MISE-EN-SCENE SOUNDS EDITING PERFORMANCEWhat is Cinematography?In the early days of cinema a single camera was attached to a tripod to record events on the set. This wasknown as the fixed camera. The effect was rather like going to the theatre to watch a stage play; theproduction would be seen from one position and always in long shot, so that all the set, characters andaction were visible to everyone in the audience at all times.As ideas and techniques progressed filmmakers began to experiment with moving the camera to differentpositions and a range of shots came in to use. Gradually, certain convenetions were established, such asthe use of close-up shots to convey emotion, or to focus the audience’s attention on a certain action orsubject.Cinematography includes everything connected with the camera. You will need to be able to discuss: The shot type used The camera position The movement of the cameraThe other important aspect of cinematography you should discuss is framing. When a filmmaker frames ashot, he/she is making a decision about not only what should be included in a particular shot but also whatpercentage of the shot is taken up with each element.You will need to study all of these elements carefully when analysing the cinematography of a piece, whilstalso commenting on how meaning is created through the choices made.While photography is the recording of a static image, cinematography is the recording of moving image. Inorder to obtain the desired images, the cinematographer must attend to two areas: Control of LIGHTING Operation of the CAMERAThe images consist of reflected light and the camera records light.Indeed, in Britain a cinematographer (the person responsible for2
  3. 3. lighting and camera work) is sometimes known as the lighting-camera person or as the director ofphotography. CINEMATOGRAPHY - FRAMINGA key ingredient of cinematography is FRAMING. When we frame something we are making a consciousdecision about what to include within that frame and what to exclude. Deciding where to place the cameraand what to include/exclude in the shot produces what Bordwell and Thomas call ‘a certain vantage point’(Bordwell & Thomas, Film Art: An Introduction)Framing is an incredibly powerful in creating meaning, as the camera does not merely record that which isin front of it but can be placed skilfully to create the required impression of identification. This meansconsidering distance angle, height and level of the camera.Shot size is determined by the framing. There are several different choices of shot and each will be usedspecifically by a filmmaker to generate a particular meaning or communicate an idea to the audience. Cinematography – Shot typesThere is a convention in video, film and television industries which assign names andguidelines to common types of shots, framing and composition. The list below brieflydescribes the most common shot types EWS The view is so far (Extreme from the subject Wide Shot) that he/she is not even visible. This is often used as an establishing shot VWS The subject is (Very Wide visible(barely) but Shot) the emphasis is still in placing them in their environment3
  4. 4. WS (Wide The subject takes Shot) up the full frame, or at least as much as possible. The same as a Long Shot MS (Mid Shows some part Shot) of the subject in more detail whilst still giving an impression of the whole subject MCU Half way between (Medium a MS and CU Close UP) CU (Close A certain feature Up) or part of the subject takes up the whole frame ECU The ECU gets (Extreme right in and show Close Up) extreme detail. It is also used to draw audience attention to a very specific spot4
  5. 5. CA (Cut A shot or Away) something other than the current action Cut In Shows some part of the subject in detail Two Shot A comfortable shot of two people, framed similarly to a mid shotOther shot types include: P.O.V. shot Shows the view from (Point of View) the subjects perspective5
  6. 6. Weather shot The subject seen is weather, usually sky. Can be used for other purposesEstablishing Shot – this is the opening shot of a film or film sequenceMaster Shot – this includes all of the action in a particular sequence. At the ending stage, any close-ups oncharacters or medium close ups of conversations can be inserted in to the master shot. The master shotacts as a constant background of action which is punctuated with other shots. CINEMATOGRAPHY - DISTANCEDistance refers to the amount of relational space between the audience and the character on the screen.Though the characters are two-dimensional and the audience is distinctly separate from the screen bydead space, the camera perspective, in effect, attempts to provide the amount of space desired subject tothe director’s direction. This space often results in the interaction and psychological connection betweencharacters and the audience. CINEMATOGRAPHY – CAMERA POSITIONThe position of the camera when a shot is filmed has a significant effect on the meanings that aregenerated.What meanings are generated by the use of these angles?Eye Level shot (straight angle) – the camera is positioned at chest of head heightLow Angle Shot – positions the camera below eye level, looking up at a character, object or action within asceneHigh-Angle Shot – placed the camera above eye level, looking down on characters or actionBird’s-eye shot (Ariel View) – looks vertically down at the subjectPoint of View (P.O.V.) – presents action as if from the viewpoint of a particular character6
  7. 7. CINEMATOGRAPHY – CAMERA POSITION Not to be confused with angles, the height of the camera is also valuable in creating meaning. Keeping a straight angle, the height of the camera can be adjusted for effect. You may wish to film something from a low height but stillkeep the angle straight on, for example, someone’s footstepsSimilarly having the camera at a high height can create a specific effect. Forexample, a comic effect can be created if you have two characters of opposing height and you keep thecamera on the taller one, cutting off the smaller character, or vice versa.The LEVEL of the camera is the technique that isused the least, and can only really be explained byexample. If the level of the camera is ‘canted’ theimage on screen will appear rotated in some way. Itis an effect that is generally achieved through hand-held manoeuvre and creates a stylised look. It ismore common in TV shows than film but it can oftenbe seen in films aimed at younger audiences to givea sense of the unconventional.7