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Close Reading Films

An outline of the key aspects of mise-en-scene, camera work, aural elements, and editing in film study and how to apply them to various film clips.

Nicola Bain

on 22 August 2012

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Transcript of Close Reading Films

Using the chart on pg14 of the Film Analysis Handbook, write about the following film clip.
- Richard Maltby, 2008.
Hollywood Cinema.
"In a movie designed for a single viewing, the representation of space must be both comprehensible and significant"
Element #4: Performance
"Actors portray the feelings, motives, attitudes, and state of mind of characters by manipulating their facial expressions, posture, voice and gestures."
Element #1: Setting
The setting context and environment in which something is set.
Costumes are the clothes, make-up and accessories worn by the characters, giving viewers critical information about them.
"...the manipulation of light to selectively highglight specific elements in each scene so that they appear in a particular way."
illustrations by
Mat Moore
Element #2: lighting
Maria H. Andersen
Twitter: @busynessgirl
Illustrations by Mat Moore
in film

Created by Mrs Bain
e.g. time, place, economic situation.
Element #3: costume
- Thomas Caldwell, 2005.
Film Analysis Handbook.
- Thomas Caldwell (2005).
Film Analysis Handbook.
Compare your findings with your neighbour.
Slumdog Millionaire
Setting of
Read pg 17 of the Film Analysis Handbook and complete the Activity at the bottom of the page, focusing on the set of Slumdog Millionaire.
Based on the previous film clip, choose 3 of the following statements/questions to write about:
Describe the types of clothes the character wears.
Describe how these clothes suggest the character's status/background.
Discuss how this reflects their general attitude/level of self-confidence.

To what degree does the character's face reveal their thoughts?
What emotions is the character feeling?
How would you describe the character's posture?
Describe how each of the characters' voices sound.
Is their acting realistic?
Find an image that has a striking use of lighting and explain the effect that it has on the shot.
Consider how the lighting effects the shapes, emotions, characterisation, atmosphere etc.
Send your image and explanation to me at nicolaba@wgpcollege.school.nz
Element #1: Shot size
Exploring Film

"The range of different shots used in a film, usually established in terms of the most commonly represented object, the human body"
- Maltby, R. (2008). Hollywood Cinema.
Cinematography is the art, technique or act of making a film.

Think of it as motion-picture photography.
Element #2: camera angle
Element #3: camera movement
or shot motion
Some you should know...
... and some more...
"When viewing a film we are placed in a different position relative to the action each time one shot finishes and another one begins. For every shot in a film, the cinematographer must decide on the angle, level, height and distance of the camera in relation to the subject being filmed." - Caldwell (2005)
Filmmakers use camera movement to imply ideas about events and characters to the audience.
Close reading
Camera movement
Watch the following film trailer and write down the different types of shots and camera movement that you see.
Using the shot size descriptions on pgs 63-70, fill out the grid on pg 70
Now, as a class we will complete a smartboard activity about camera movement
Before we get started on sound... we need to understand the difference between diegetic and non-diegetic...
There is the 'story world'. Diegesis
and then....
"[Diegesis is] the narrative "space" that includes all the parts of the story, both those that are and those that are not actually shown on the screen." - Wikipedia.org
...there are the elements from outside the 'story world'.
Although non-diegesis is often discussed in terms of aural elements in film, it also includes visual elements that "[depict] something that is neither taking place in the world of the film, nor is seen, imagined, or thought by a character"
non-diegetic scenes
what do you think the difference between diegetic and non-diegetic sound is?
It may be easy to classify the differences between diegetic and non-diegetic sounds...
but, sometimes films blur the lines
watch the following scenes and write down what you think is diegetic and what is non-diegetic in the scene
Element #1: Music
Element #2: Sound effects
Element #3: Diegetic sound
Element #4: Narrator
/voiceover or dialogue
Sounds that are added during post-production to enhance the visual elements
Diegetic and non-diegetic music can massively impact a film scene. How does the music impact the following scene?
Diegetic sound is any sound that is part of the narrative sphere, something that is part of the 'story world'.
dialogue that will be heard on a movie's soundtrack, but the speaker will not be shown.
there are several applications for voice-over:
character device
creative device
educational/descriptive device
commercial device

Find and watch a film clip with a striking use of sound, then explain (using the terms you've learnt today) the effect that sound has on your viewing experience.
Your film clip must be film that has been awarded for it's sound track
What use is sound in film?
It can:
- Create visual meaning
- Direct the audience's attention
- Create expectations
- Create false expectations
Element #1: Transitions
The way in which one shot transitions into another. There are four key ways that films transition between shots and scenes:
Cut: One shot ends and the other beings immediately.
Dissolves: a brief overlap of one shot into the next.
Fades: dissolves to or from black or white.
Wipes: a dividing line appears on screen, wiping across the first shot and revealing the second
Element #2: Time manipulation/ temporal editing
Editing is the way in which a
film is put together to give us
a coherent sense of spatial, temporal, and narrative elements.
Filmmakers have the power of how time is presented to the viewer. It can be chronological or mixed up with flashforwards/flashbacks. It can be in real time, compressed time, or increased time.
Flashback: when scenes showing earlier events follow scenes that portray more recent events.
Flashforward: opposite of flashback.

Ellipsis: action is manipulated to take less time than it would in reality.
Cutaway shots: a shot of a constrasting element inserted between two principal shots to break them up.
Montage: used to depict long passages of time, composed of a series of quick shots.

Overlapping editing: showing shotsof the same event from different angles.
Freeze frames: when an image is frozen and becomes a still image on screen.
Element #3: Special effects
When filmmakers use a particular effect that isn't related to temporal or spatial editing necessarily, such as a chrome adjustment in a shot or making a shot faster or slower.
Element #4: Editing pace/rhythm
The number of edits in a scene influences the rhythm of a scene. To give each scene a particular rhythm, editors vary the time between edits/the length of shot. Editors can create various sensations by changing the rate at which these edits occur.
- Film Analysis Handbook
Spatial editing:
Lighting film and video clip:
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