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GRAMMAR OF THE FILM: THE SHOT

The audience of a film sees the film through the eye of the camera.

Shot: A single piece of film, however long, recorded continuously from the time the camera starts to the time it stops. A film can consist of anywhere from one to thousands of shots. Each time the camera is turned on and off is a take. Each take creates a version of the shot. Takes are chosen and edited before being included in the final film

Camera Setup: Placement of the camera during a shot. Camera relates to subject of shot.

Sequence: A set of shots that make up a dramatic or subjective unit, with a beginning, middle, and end.

Frame: The image held within the boundaries of the shot. The frame can shift within the shot depending on the motion of the camera and the lens.

Types of shots:

Extreme Long Shot (ELS) Panoramic view taken from a great distance. Often used in epics and battle scenes. Often used in establishing/shots sequences.
Establishing Shot A shot that is placed at the beginning of a sequence to establish the special context.
Long Shot (LS) Shot where audience can see entire body or a group of bodies
Full Shot Shows entire human body with head at top of frame and feet at bottom.
Medium Shot (MS) Shows upper part of body (bodies). Used for dialogue and scenes between actors.
Two Shot Medium shot that shows two characters. Used for dialogue. Often shot over the shoulder of one character.
Reaction Shot Shot that shows the reaction of the listener when another character is talking.
Close Up (CU) Concentrates on a small object, often the human face. Magnifies the importance of the object in the frame.
Extreme Close-up (ECU) Shot that magnifies the object in a powerful way.
Deep-Focus Shot A long shot photographed with a wide-angle lens. Objects near the camera are clear, as are objects far away. The eye moves from objects close up to objects far away – into the frame.
Point-of-View Shot (POV) A shot taken from the point-of-view of one of the characters. Places the audience in the place of the character. Sometimes called the “subjective” shot.
Out of Focus Shot Deliberately blurred shot
Soft-focus shot All out of focus except one detail. Sometimes, a slightly out of focus shot to emphasize beauty.

Angles:

Bird’s eye view Camera directly over subject. Places audience in god-like position
High Angle Shot Places audience over the subject, looking down. Subject is compressed and can seem unimportant. Tend to slow down motion.
Eye-level shot Audience at same level as subject. Gives audience the sense of equality. Camera is usually neutral.
Low-Angle Shot Camera looks up at subject. Can increase power of the subject. Action is speeded up. Can increase level of violence.
Oblique angle shot Camera is tilted, subject is off-balance.

Camera Movement

Zoom A change from wide-angle to telephoto (or vice-versa) in a single movement
Pan A horizontal movement of the camera from left to right (or vice-versa) while the camera is fixed on an axis.
Zip-pan Very rapid pan, blurring the subject
Tilt A vertical movement similar to a pan
Tracking shot A shot taken from a moving vehicle, often on tracks, or a “dolly”
Hand-Held A shot taken with the camera held in the cameraman’s hand. Usually unsteady.
Steady cam A device for making the camera steady when it is being hand-held. Allows for much cheaper tracking shots.

 Shot transitions: (Editing/Montage)

Cut A switch from one image/shot to another. By far, the most common type of transition.
Cutaway (Ellipsis) A cut to another location to cover elapsed time between one shot and another. A man runs down the street, cutaway to a woman watching him, cutaway to him turning the corner.
Cross Cutting Cutting between two or more sequences to imply simultaneity.
Jump Cut A cut inside a scene that eliminates “dead” time. It can be obvious or not.
Match Cut A cut from one image to another parallel image. A man jumps out a window and falls through the air cuts to the same man in a swimsuit diving into a pool.
Fade in – Fade out A movement from a black screen to a normal bright image. Fade out is the opposite.
Dissolve (lap dissolve) A fade out overlapping a fade in.
Wipe A line travels across the screen pushing off one image and replacing it with another.
Iris in/out Moving into the shot by enlarging a narrow circle at the center.
Focus in/out Beginning a scene with the camera out of focus and moving into focus. Often used in waking up or sobering up.
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