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Introduction to Film Terms and Techniques

ENGL 220 - Fiction Into Film Day 1 Presentation

Mariya Vaughan

on 25 August 2017

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Transcript of Introduction to Film Terms and Techniques

Intro to Film
Terms and

Thank you for your attention!
More film terms to come...
Corrigan, Timothy. A Short Guide to Writing About Film. New York: Longman, 2010. Print.

Beaver, Frank. Dictionary of Film Terms: The Aesthetic Companion to Film Art. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2006. Print.
What is the value of analysis (of both literature
and film)?
The best place to start any analysis is with the theme.

Answer the question:
What is the film about?
Sound can be used and edited with as much complexity and intelligence as images can.

It can be described according to pitch, loudness, and timbre.

It can take the form of dialogue, music, or noise (thunder, car tires screeching, gunfire).
It develops critical thinking skills.
It also provides a window to examine our own and other cultures and the factors that influence our own ideas about the world around us.
You have to pay careful attention to a great many details in both the literature and films. This attention to detail also helps you to give evidence to back up your opinions about a work.
You’ll learn to
these texts rather than simply watching or reading them.
<The triumph of good vs. evil.
Reluctant heroism in the face of unimaginable brutality >
Questions to understand themes:
Who are the central characters?
What do they represent in themselves and in relation to each other? The importance of individuality in society? Human strength or human compassion?
-How do their actions create a story with a meaning or constellation of meanings?
-Does the story emphasize the benefits of change or endurance?
-What kind of life or what actions does the film wish you to value or criticize and why?
-If there is not a coherent message or story, why not?
-How does the movie make you feel at the end? Happy? Depressed? Confused? Why?
Voice and Music
Narrative cueing:
the use of a sound or piece of music to support a moment or motif in the story, such as a romantic violin motif when two characters meet. When the cues are sudden or especially dramatic, they are called stingers.
the voice of a narrator or commentator who typically is not part of the story and cannot be heard by the characters.
originates in a speaker who was or will be seen onscreen but is not at the time the voice is heard.
Overlapping dialogue: simultaneous mixing and overlapping of character’s speech.
Postdubbed sound: sound and dialogue added later in the studio.
Onscreen sound: the source is an object or action in the image.
Direct sound: recorded when the image is being shot.
Offscreen sound: the source is outside the film frame.
Ambient sound: background noises or music that surround the main action and dialogue.
What other kinds of sounds are vitally important?
When can sound be used to dramatic effect?
Manipulation and creation of sounds:
A French term, roughly translated as “what is put into the scene”.

It is all the properties of a cinematic image that exist independently of camera position, camera movement, and editing.

Includes lighting, costumes, sets, the quality of acting, and other shapes and characters in the scene.

It encompasses all of the things within the frame on screen.

It is about the theatrics of space as it is constructed for the camera. How this space is arranged and how the actors and objects relate within it can be analyzed in detail.
You must learn to be suspicious of realism in the movies.
It is always constructed for a purpose.
The various ways a character, object, or scene can be illuminated, either by natural sunlight or from artificial sources.

Allows the filmmaker to create a certain atmosphere.

Gangster films: shadowy darkness in alleyways; we get a feeling of oppression and gloom.

Westerns: bright lighting in an outdoor scene – gives a feeling of clarity and optimism.

Look for patterns of light and shadows, graphic patterns in sharp shadows, natural or artificial, and other manipulations within films.
To provide depth and visual dimension through lighting in a scene, film artists control the quality, amount, and placement (angle) of light.

Lighting (cont)
The combination of controlled hard and soft light in a lighting scheme.

Architectural detail in the setting can be achieved by throwing a hard light at a 90 degree angle across the set. The hard light produces shadows at points where there is varied texture and structural shape on the set wall.
Set Light
Also known as three-point lighting.
The characters are at times lighted for dimensional interest and artistic shading.

A character is provided with a key light, back light, and at times a fill light.

Key light: generally a hard light that indicates the principle source and angle of illumination and is the most intense light in the scene.

Back light: falls on the head and shoulders of the character; comes from the back at a 45 degree angle; serves to add dimension to the scene by separating the actor from the background.

Fill light: a softer light than the others; adds general illumination to the scene and reduces harsh shadows
Actor Light
High Key Lighting
A scene has bright, general illumination.
It is typically used for comedies, musicals, and standard dramatic situations where dialogue and action are the critical concerns of the scene or film.
Soft light
is evenly diffused, non-focused light that washes over a scene.

Color is one of the central factors in determining the tone of a film.

Tone: one’s responses to a particular motion picture as a result of various stimuli which are contained within the film. It could be ironic, comic, serious, playful, brooding, cheerful, light-hearted, somber, and so forth. The tone can be consistent or may shift constantly.
The Wizard of Oz uses a Technicolor scheme full of primary reds and yellows to suggest a fantasy world much different than that of Kansas.
In Schindler’s List Steven Spielberg disrupts a horrific story in black and white with the glimpse of a child’s red coat.
Many Science Fiction and Horror films use blue tones. Ex: Underworld
Are the colors realistic? If not, why not?

Is there a pattern in the way a film uses a particular color or group of colors?

Does the film use colors symbolically?

If the movie is in black and white, how does it add to it, especially if color could have been used?

How do the colors and tones relate to the theme of the film?
The location or the construction of a location where the scene is filmed.

They may suggest historical realism, such as in Flags of Our Fathers; provide images of a characters mind; describe the central theme of the film; or become as complex and important as the story or characters themselves, like in The Truman Show when the main character discovers his life is a television show and that he lives and works on a TV set.

In analyzing the setting and sets you need to do more than just describe them. You should seek to discover its significance in relation to the major themes of the film or to other aspects of the film (such as its historical period).
This will help explain why the setting and the way it is constructed is important.
Setting and Sets
Acting style, or how an actor plays a part, differs from film to film and from one decade to the next.

Some actors might be chosen because they have no acting experience.

Compare this to the mannered style of an actress like Maggie Smith, whose notion of a realistic performance includes a great deal of studied artifice.

Acting can, at times, make or break a film.
The clothes characters wear.

They vary along a spectrum from realistic dress to extravagant costumes; they can even provide the writer with the key to a character’s identity.
Why do characters look the way they do?

Do their costumes suggest how they view themselves or how they wish to be viewed by others?

Does a character change clothing to become “different people”? Do those changes tell you anything about the personality or the society?

Is there a special feature of a costume that helps you analyze the character?
Diegetic and Non-diegetic
Diegetic sounds - characters can hear

Non-diegetic sounds - characters cannot hear
Responses to Sound
High pitch sounds cause tension, suspense

Low-pitch sounds emphasize dignity or solemnity; also can suggest anxiety or mystery

We have similar responses to the ranges of volume and tempo within films
Low Key Lighting
Less general illumination of the scene, heavier shadows, and a more atmospheric quality to the scene.
Typically used to add atmosphere to dramas and suspense stories where visual underscoring of mood is a critical consideration.

Often this is used with
Hard light,
a focused, highly directed light that will produce intense shadows as it strikes objects or characters in a scene.
Soundtracks: tone and emotional appeal
Defining moments and characters:
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