Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Shot typography

Living in Oblivion - an amusing satire on the process involved in making Independent Cinema.

I thought I would share a little post on Shot Type descriptions to help inspire and encourage new filmmakers with the process of capturing on camera.

Shots are framed in particular ways and have terminology assigned to the way we frame when applying the process of Continuity to our shoots and editing. This is so the viewer can make sense of the Temporal space within each scene and also of the narrative structure once stitched together. The art of stitching together shots that make sense as a whole is called Suture. It essentially means seamless. So we don't notice the cuts and can follow the narrative along without being ejected from the world of its narrative. If a shot is not appropriately placed using this scheme we often find ourselves seeing what is known as a Jump-Cut.

The first thing you will encounter as soon as you look through the viewfinder of the lens is what is known as Mise-en-scène which really is just another way of saying "What is going on in the frame or scene", it might be the design of a shot, the location, or action that unfolds. The next aspect of setting up your shot is framing and there are technical abbreviations that you will want to use in order to enable your shooting schedule to run smoothly and articulately. Even what we call an Open Shot where action is unseen but we are aware of it, is all part of the Mise-en-scéne.

Between the script and storyboard, there is the Shot List, an abbreviated list of directions for the Director of Photography and Camera Assistant. The Shot List can be used to allow other crew members to set the Camera up whilst the D.O.P and Director discuss the composition and action in the scene using the Storyboards as a visual guide reference.

Dr Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick)

Long Shot (L/S) often used as an establishing shot or re-establishing shot. When I say re-establishing, in Continuity editing it may be sometimes appropriate to draw the viewer's attention back to the whole scene again. This Long Shot is a H/A (High Angle) Long Shot.

Ed Wood (Tim Burton)

Medium Close Up (MCU) cut off between the breast pocket and just above the head, top of frame. You will encounter many Medium Close Ups in News Reports.

Rumble Fish (Francis Ford Coppola)

Medium Shot (M/S) is the middle ground of the entire frame. Sometimes you will see parts of actors or locations partially hidden out of frame.

Rumble Fish (Francis Ford Coppola)

Medium Long Shot (MLS) is adjusted for more action or motion in the frame. Actors can walk about, props can be seen in full. This Medium Long Shot is a L/A (Low Angle) Medium Long Shot.

Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks)

Close-UP (CU)

Young Frankenstein (Mel Brooks)

Full Shot (F/S) fits the entire frame of an actor's body.

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (Carl Reiner)

Over the Shoulder Shot (OSS), an extreme version of the Over The Shoulder shot taken here but it is used a lot during dialogue scenes, back and forth between two actors. Especially used in Soapies. Another variation on the Over the Shoulder Shot is what we call an Associated POV which means that the camera is actually following the subject whilst capturing a portion of the subject's body through-out the scene.

Other shots you may encounter ...

ECU (Extreme Close Up)

POV (Point of View)

This is where the camera lens behaves as one or several of the characters, we see through the camera lens as if we are seeing through the eyes of the character. The main type of POV is the Optical POV, the other as mentioned above is the Associated POV.

Two-Shot (Two actors in frame together)

Adaptive POV (Camera following slightly OSS of person)

Shot Reverse Shot (Where we frame two shots in conversation)

BEV (Birds Eye View) from way above looking down.

WEV (Worms Eyes View) from down below looking up

It is always difficult to emphasis the importance of Storyboarding, below is an example from sketch to screen from Terry Gilliam's film Jabberwocky (1977).

The link to this Post will take you to Celtx, excellent pre-production software for planning your shoots. You can download this Software onto your USB stick (yes it is light weight enough to sit happily on your USB).

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