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Basic Filmmaking Techniques

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Bryant Crisp

on 9 September 2016

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Transcript of Basic Filmmaking Techniques

Filmmaking 101:
Basic Techniques

shot: a single piece of film uninterrupted by cuts
The Rule of Thirds

This "rule" is really more of a guideline that helps cinematographers determine how best to frame shots. Imagine a tic-tac-toe board superimposed over the screen, and you should have a basic idea of what this technique looks like in practice.
FRAMING

Framing refers to how the images are oriented onscreen. How close should the camera be to the subject? How far away? Every framing choice is a balancing act between character and context.
establishing shot:
often a long shot or a series of shots that sets the scene. It is used to establish setting and to show transitions between locations.
long shot:
a shot from some distance. If filming a person, the full body is shown. It may show the isolation or vulnerability of the character (also called a full shot).
knee shot:
a shot of a person from the knees up
medium shot:
the most common shot. The camera seems to be a medium distance from the object being filmed. A medium shot shows the person from the waist up. The effect is to ground the story.
close-up:
the image being shot takes up at least 80 percent of the frame.
extreme close-up: the image being shot is a part of a whole, such as an eye or hand.
two shot:
a scene between two people shot exclusively from one angle that includes both characters more or less equally. It is used in love scenes, arguments, or scenes where interaction between the two characters is important.
cowboy shot:
a shot framed from mid-thigh up. This technique derived its name through the filming of many Westerns, when this technique was commonly used.
CAMERA ANGLE

The camera angle refers to where the camera is in relation to the subject relative to the angle, rather than the distance. Just as with framing choices, angles are intended to convey meaning.
eye level:
a shot taken from a normal height, i.e., the character’s eye level; 90 to 95 percent of shots seen are eye level because it is the most natural angle.
high angle:
camera is above the subject. This usually has the effect of making the subject look smaller than normal, giving him/her the appearance of being weak, powerless, and/or trapped.
low angle:
camera shoots subject from below. This usually has the effect of making the subject look larger than normal, and therefore strong, powerful, and threatening.
over the shoulder shot:
shot over one character’s shoulder capturing a second character opposite. This technique is commonly used to show a conversation from the first character’s perspective.
point of view:
shows what things look like from the perspective of someone or something in the scene. It must be juxtaposed with shots of the actor’s face in order to make a connection with the viewer.
Dutch tilt:
a shot composed with the horizon not parallel with the bottom of the frame. Used extensively in Batman, and frequently by Orson Welles.
CAMERA MOVEMENT

Camera movement refers to the manner in which the camera is manipulated during a given shot. Camera movement can add tension, create a particular mood, set up audience expectations, establish a style, and/or add energy to given shots.
LIGHTING

Lighting is the purview of the Director Photography, or DP. The DP uses a variety of lighting techniques to help develop characters and establish mood.
high key:
scene is flooded with light, creating a bright and open-looking scene
low key:
scene is flooded with shadows and darkness, creating suspense or suspicion
bottom lighting:
direct lighting from below, often making the subject appear dangerous or evil
side lighting:
direct lighting from one side. This may indicate moral ambiguity or a split personality.
front lighting:
soft lighting on the actor’s face. It gives the appearance of innocence or goodness, or a halo effect.
back lighting:
strong light behind the subject. If the lighting is strong enough, only a silhouette of the subject being filmed will be visible.
EDITING TECHNIQUES

Editing techniques refer to the tools editors use to transition between images. Different techniques, as with framing, lighting, etc., can convey different meanings. The most basic techniques are the cut, wipe, dissolve, and fade.
cut:
the most common editing technique. Two pieces of film are spliced together to “cut” to another image.

wipe:
a new image wipes off the previous image. A wipe is more fluid than a cut and quicker than a dissolve.

dissolve:
a kind of fade in which one image is slowly replaced by another. It can create a connection between images. This is also called a lap dissolve.

fade: can be to or from black or white. A fade begins in darkness and gradually assumes full brightness (fade-in) or the image gradually gets darker (fade-out). A fade often implies that time has passed.

Flashback:
a cut or dissolve to action that happened in the past
flashforward:
a scene that breaks the chronological continuity of the main narrative by depicting events which happen in the future. Contrast with flashback.
shot-reverse-shot:
a shot of one subject, then another, then back to the first. It is often used for conversation or reaction shots; shot-reverse-shot is also used with eye-line match.
cross cutting:
cut into action that is happening simultaneously. This is also called parallel editing.
eye-line match:
cut to an object, then to a person. This technique shows what a person seems to be looking at.
fade:
can be to or from black or white. A fade begins in darkness and gradually assumes full brightness (fade-in) or the image gradually gets darker (fade-out). A fade often implies that time has passed.
jump cut:
This is a cut involving an interruption to the continuity of time, where the image in a shot closely matches the image of the previous shot.
montage:
a technique where a number of images are quickly flashed across the screen to suggest action the director may not have wanted to film directly. Hitchcock used a montage effect when filming the shower scene in Psycho, for example, so as to get the film past the censors.
stop motion:
a form of animation in which objects are filmed frame-by-frame and altered slightly between each frame. The original King Kong (1933) makes extensive use of stop motion photography.
SOUND

Sound is an incredibly powerful tool filmmakers use in order to manipulate audiences' moods and expectations. All sound can be divided into two categories: diegetic and non-diegetic.
diegetic:
sound that would logically be heard by the characters in the film

non-diegetic:
sound that could not be heard by the characters but is designed for audience reaction. An example might be ominous music for foreshadowing.
THE KULESHOV EFFECT

The Kuleshov Effect is a film editing (montage) effect demonstrated by Russian filmmaker Lev Kuleshov in the 1910s and 1920s. It is a mental phenomenon by which viewers derive more meaning from the interaction of two sequential shots than from a single shot in isolation
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