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The Importance of Close-Ups in Film

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FilmTheoryGroup StClair

on 15 February 2014

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Transcript of The Importance of Close-Ups in Film

The Importance of Close-Ups in Film
Definition of a Close-Up

A close up is a photograph or
camera shot taken very close to
an object or subject to tightly frame it

What does a
close-up do?

A close up highlights important
features in a scene,
revealing plot elements....
...emphasizing emotion in characters.....
.... and generally drawing the audience’s
attention to important details through
the illusion of physical closeness.
Transitions to and From a Close-Up
Cut to a Close-Up

a more dramatic transition,
creating an emotional intensity.

ie. Shock, disgust, humour, love, etc...

and Lean-Out to

In a lean,
the audience better
understands the context of
the situation,because the
setting is in view for longer

There is a precise
methodology to transition
into a close up.
For example,
from a medium shot to a close-up
that is emotionally poignant, there
should be a subtle transition and enlarging
of the subject/object,
..And too many close ups
without co-ordination creates
a talking heads feel,
making it harder to know
who is important and who

For example, typical soap
Types of close-ups:
Medium close up:

shoulders to head.
Close up:

only the head
Extreme Close up:

only facial features.
Cut in:

Shows some other
part in detail up close.

ie. a body part
or a separate physical object.

Close ups are an important
element of characterization

A close up shot of a character
inspires a feeling of intimacy,
and empathy in the audience.
So, actors under the spotlight
must perform believably
at such a level of intimacy.

Hence, they are used
to dramatically indicate some
type of revelation or twist that
changes or strengthens the
plot, or the main conflict of the story.
Usually, the more important a character is, the more close-ups they have.

We care about him/her the most because we are “checking in” with him the most. We are the most intimate with his/her experience

If characters approach the camera, it sometimes means they know something the audience doesn’t.

if the camera approaches, it means we know something the character doesn’t
Hence, without co-ordinated close-ups,
the audience may have a harder time
figuring out who are the important
characters in a movie.

And would be lost in knowing
what the movie is about.
Close ups are a form of
visual punctuation, they visually
complete the ideas that make
a dramatic scene by their
timed placement and visual
A lean-in/lean-out is when
a camera zooms/pans in or out to or from a close up to a wider shot.
How Close-Ups are
used in a Scene
A transition to a close-up can set the tone of the close-up
The genre of the
film may determine
type and frequency of close-ups used.
Here, usage of close-ups gives a sense of rhythm and interest in a story.
And Plot:

For example, a film
with frequent and more
intense close-ups has
a more serious tone.

.... and a film with less
frequent and less emotionally serious tones has a more lighthearted feel and their dramatic shots are more likely to be framed as medium ranged shots.
Close ups will reveal the
humanity of a character,
emphasize and exxagerate emotions:

For example, in Jurrassic Park, Dr. Grant has more close-ups than any other character.
Stylistically, close-ups can set the intensity and tone
of a movie
In contrast, a character who gets few close-ups is less important
As an aside, in
acting communities, close-ups are prized by up coming actors because they help getting noticed.

Dramatic Tricks Using Close-Ups

Therefore, they add
gravity through exxagerated emotions to certain events
in a story, letting the audience know something important has/is happening.

different extremes of close-ups have different intensities
Similarly, if a camera moves from a close-up to a distant shot, there is a sense of despair...

..and if the camera moves from a more distant shot to a close-up, there is a sense of hope.
In an a serious movie, close-ups serve to set the to tone of a scene and to illustrate the balance of the main conflict of the story.
In a less serious, or a comedic
show, close-ups serve to deliver jokes. The images are examples of bizarre comedic extremes....
Where We Would Be

It would be hard to know who main characters are and where they stand in the central conflict because their importance is not highlighted with the spot-light effect of a close-up
It would be hard to identify key plot elements without close-ups
Comedies would be less funny and would lose their appeal
Hence, any conventional
cinematic producton would
essentially be
without close-ups
Full transcript