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Introduction to Film and Media Studies: THE SHOT

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Introduction to Film and Media Studies: THE SHOT

  2. 2. THE CAMERA: WIDE ANGLE LENS The WIDE ANGLE LENS photographs a wide angle of view. A photographer who finds himself in a cramped location might use this lens in order to photograph as much of the subject as possible. However, the wide angle lens has the added effect of greatly emphasizing our perception of depth and often distorting linear perception (Monaco 89). A wide angle lens has a very deep depth of field (distance between nearest and farthest objects that appear in the scene). Anna Karina in Jean-Luc Godard’s Pierrot le fou (1965): Wide-Angle Distortion
  3. 3. THE CAMERA: WIDE ANGLE SHOT The following two shots are from Raising Arizona, directed by Joel and Ethan Cohen in 1987.
  5. 5. THE CAMERA: FISH-EYE LENS The FISH-EYE LENS is an extremely wide angle lens, which photographs an angle of view approaching 180 degrees, with corresponding distortion of both linear and depth perception (Monaco 89). FISH-EYE shots vary in terms of purpose/effect, but they are often used to create an atmosphere of chaos or establish a sense of fear. Still from Foo Fighters’ video for “Monkey Wrench”- directed by Dave Grohl, 1997
  6. 6. THE CAMERA: TELEPHOTO LENS (AKA LONG LENS) The TELEPHOTO LENS acts like a telescope to magnify distant objects. This lens has a useful effect of suppressing depth perception. It has a relatively narrow angle of view and a rather shallow depth of field (Monaco 90). Telephoto lenses add a distancing effect to diminish differences in size of characters closer and farther. The technique is characteristic of contemporary Japanese films like Kiseki (I Wish) by Kore-eda Hirokazu (2011), pictured below.
  7. 7. THE CAMERA: TELEPHOTO LENS Telephoto lenses are also ideal for tight shots and narrowing depth of field. This selective focus in The Graduate (1967, Mike Nichols) keeps the viewer’s attention on Ben (“Cinematography”).
  8. 8. THE SHOT: TELEPHOTO An image shot with an extremely long lens/telephoto lens is called a TELEPHOTO SHOT. The effect of using a long lens/telephoto lens is to compress the apparent depth of an image, so that elements that are relatively close or far away from the camera seem to lie at approximately the same distance. In this first shot (with a standard lens) from Payback (Brian Helgeland, 1999), we can clearly see there is a considerable distance between the fallen body and the red car (“Cinematagrophy”).
  9. 9. THE SHOT: TELEPHOTO Yet, when a telephoto lens is used for a close-up of Mel Gibson, his face looks like it is close to the car. Here a telephoto lens creates a shallow space, which combines with extreme canted/tilted framing to suggest the physical and psychological disarray of a man who has been betrayed, shot, and left for dead (“Cinematography”).
  10. 10. THE CAMERA: ZOOM LENS The ZOOM LENS has a variable focal length ranging from wide angle to telephoto, which allows a photographer to change focal lengths quickly between shots, and change focal lengths during a shot (Monaco 90).
  11. 11. THE SHOT: ZOOM SHOT In a shot with use of the ZOOM LENS, the viewer seems to move toward or away from the subject being filmed, while the quality of the image changes from that of a shorter to a longer lens, or vice versa. Zooms are commonly used at the beginning of a scene, or even a film, to introduce an object or character by focusing on it (“Cinematography”). In the ZOOM, since the camera does not move, the relationships among objects in different planes remain the same; there is no sense of entering into the scene; our perspective remains constant, even if the image is enlarged (Monaco 229). Depending on the subject matter, zooms are often used to create mood and develop characterization, as in this clip from Kubrick’s The Shining.
  12. 12. CAMERA MOVEMENT Camera movement is an effective artistic tool in filmmaking. Movement through space on film can be extraordinarily graceful. And, by its movement alone, a camera reveals much more than simply the space through which it moves. It can express emotions. The basic ways cinematographers move their cameras are (1) Steadicam (2) Dolly (3) Crane (4) Handheld There are also a couple of basic movement techniques (1) tilt (2) pan
  13. 13. CAMERA MOVEMENT: STEADICAM Steadicam is a brand of camera stabilizer mount that mechanically isolates it from the operator’s movement. It allows for a smooth shot, even when moving quickly over an uneven surface. The Steadicam was introduced in 1975.
  14. 14. CAMERA MOVEMENT The jogging sequence in Rocky is a very famous Steadicam shot.
  15. 15. CAMERA MOVEMENT: BASIC TECHNIQUES TILT: Moving the camera lens up or down while keeping its horizontal axis constant. Nod your head up and down – this is tilting.
  16. 16. CAMERA MOVEMENT: BASIC TECHNIQUES Pan: Moving the camera lens to one side or another. Look to your left and then your right – that’s panning.
  17. 17. CAMERA MOVEMENT: MOVING SHOTS The simplest way of moving a camera is to place it on a moving object, such as a car or train or a ship. That is called a MOVING SHOT. The camera can also be placed on its own mobile device, which is called a DOLLY. When the camera moves parallel to the ground, it’s called a TRACKING SHOT. In tracking shots, the camera follows the action, the characters. In a TRACKING DOLLY SHOT, the camera follows the action/characters on a physical dolly (Sikov 26). In the TRACKING or DOLLY SHOT, the camera as a whole changes position, traveling in any direction along the ground – forward, backward, diagonally, in circles, or from side-to-side (Bordwell 196).
  18. 18. CAMERA MOVEMENT: TRACKING SHOT EXAMPLE This is a long take TRACKING SHOT from the dystopian movie Children of Men, directed by Alfonso Cuarón in 2006. The camera operator pans the camera to follow the actors and the action in the scene.
  19. 19. CAMERA MOVEMENT: TRACKING SHOT EXAMPLE This is a famous long take TRACKING SHOT from Martin Scorsese’s 1990 mob film Goodfellas.
  20. 20. CAMERA MOVEMENT: THE DOUBLE DOLLY SHOT Spike Lee, legendary and controversial director, created the DOUBLE DOLLY SHOT. For Lee’s DOUBLE DOLLY SHOT, sometimes called the FLOATING DOLLY SHOT, he sets up a dolly for the camera, then puts the actor on a different dolly, and moves the camera and the actor at the same time. Essentially, the actor is standing on a small board that is mounted to a track, and the board is then pushed forward, as the camera is pushed away. This shot provides, for a moment, a dream-like feel. The central character is seemingly floating in mid-air, typically staring directly into the camera. The DOUBLE DOLLY SHOT is Spike Lee’s iconic signature shot (“Breaking Down the Spike Lee Double Dolly Shot”).
  21. 21. AUTEUR STYLE: SPIKE LEE’S DOUBLE DOLLY SHOT A montage of DOUBLE DOLLY shots from various Spike Lee Joints.
  22. 22. CAMERA MOVEMENT: CRANE SHOT TRACKING SHOTS are also made by the use of cranes. When the camera moves up and down through space, it’s called a CRANE SHOT. For a CRANE SHOT, the camera is mounted on a kind of cherry-picker, which enables it to rise up very high in the air – to ascend from ground level into the sky or descend from the sky to ground level.
  23. 23. CAMERA MOVEMENT Here is a famous example of a tracking shot from Orson Welles’s film Touch of Evil.
  24. 24. CAMERA MOVEMENT: CRANE SHOT EXAMPLE This is a CRANE/TRACKING SHOT from David Fincher’s 2002 film Panic Room.
  25. 25. CAMERA MOVEMENT: TRACK-AND-ZOOM SHOT/DOLLY-ZOOM SHOT The TRACK-AND-ZOOM SHOT, also known as the DOLLY-ZOOM SHOT is a shot in which the foreground elements stay the same size while the background elements grow or shrink. The camera operator simultaneously uses a dolly or track and a zoom lens. The most famous TRACK-AND-ZOOM SHOT/DOLLY-ZOOM SHOT is the tower shot from Vertigo (1958). This is the first implementation of the technique. It is said that director Alfred Hitchcock came up with the idea for the shot after fainting at a party, and wanted to recreate the feeling/look of that experience. In this shot from Vertigo, Hitchcock used carefully controlled zoom combined with a track/dolly and models. Hitchcock laid the model stairwell on its side. The camera with zoom lens was mounted on a track looking “down” the stairwell. The shot began with the camera at the far end of the track and the zoom lens set at the moderate telephoto focal length. As the camera tracked in toward the stairwell, the zoom was adjusted backwards, eventually winding up at a wide-angle setting. The track and zoom were carefully coordinated so that the frame of the image appeared not to change. As the track moved in on the center of the object, the zoom moved out to correct for the narrowing field. The effect relayed on the screen was that the shot began with normal depth perception, which then became quickly exaggerated, mimicking the psychological effect of vertigo. The shot cost $19,000.00 for about two seconds of film time. (Monaco 91)
  27. 27. CAMERA MOVEMENT: TRACK-AND-ZOOM SHOT/DOLLY-ZOOM SHOT Stephen Spielberg used a similar combined TRACK-AND-ZOOM shot in Jaws (1975) to add to the sense of apprehension (Monaco 90). This sudden distortion of perspective isolates and zeroes in on Brody. His worst fears become real. He should have closed the beach.
  28. 28. CAMERA MOVEMENT: DOLLY- ZOOM SHOT What is so effective about the DOLLY-ZOOM SHOT (which is often called the VERTIGO EFFECT) is PERSPECTIVE DISTORTION. The perspective changes based on the relative position of the camera to the subject. In a basic zoom-in shot, the shot just magnifies the image, while in the dolly-in shot the surrounding objects are affected by the changing perspective distortion caused by the camera movement. The camera operator increases the focal length to zoom in while simultaneously dollying the camera out or vice versa. The zoom keeps the frame crop the same so the foreground object stays roughly the same size. This isolates the effect of the perspective distortion. The camera operator needs to try to match the speed of the zoom with the speed of the dolly for the effect to work. It’s a technically difficult shot, but it has become commonplace in modern film.
  31. 31. THE CAMERA: DEPTH OF FIELD AND FOCUS All movie viewers are well aware that a scene can show some things in focus and let others get fuzzy. That effect is due to the lens’s focal length. Every lens has a specific DEPTH OF FIELD: a range of distances within which objects can be photographed in sharp focus, given a certain exposure setting. Outside the zone of sharp focus, either closer to the lens or farther away, objects will fall off and remain fuzzy. Depth of Field controls perspective relations by determining which planes will be in focus. Typically, a director chooses SHALLOW FOCUS (sometimes called SELECTIVE FOCUS)– choosing a focus on only one plane and letting the other planes blur (Bordwell 174), as in the example below from Batman Begins, directed by Christopher Nolan. The technique is used to focus viewers’ attention on one aspect of the scene.
  32. 32. THE CAMERA: SHALLOW FOCUS SHALLOW FOCUS suggests psychological introspection, since a character appears as oblivious to the world around her/him. It is therefore commonly employed in genres such as the melodrama, where the actions and thoughts of an individual prevail over everything else (“Cinematography”), as in this shot from the HBO series Game of Thrones.
  33. 33. THE CAMERA: DEEP FOCUS In Hollywood in the 1940’s filmmakers began using lenses of shorter focal length to yield a greater DEPTH OF FIELD. This practice came to be called DEEP FOCUS (Bordwell 174). This style of photography strives for sharp focus over the whole range of action. DEEP FOCUS is generally closely associated with theories of realism in film. DEEP FOCUS involves staging an event on film such that significant elements occupy widely separated planes in the image. It requires that elements at very different depths of the image both be in focus. In these two shots from Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958) and Besieged (L'Assedio, Bernardo Bertolucci,1998) all of the different planes of the image are given equal importance through DEEP FOCUS, not only to the characters (like the man peeking at the window in the first image), but also to the spaces (Shanduray's basement room in the second) (“Cinematography”).
  34. 34. THE CAMERA: RACKING FOCUS RACKING FOCUS/RACK FOCUS/PULLING FOCUS refers to the practice of changing the focus of a lens such that an element in one plane of the image goes out of focus and an element at another plane in the image comes into focus. This technique is an overt way of steering audience attention through the scene, as well as of linking two spaces or objects. The director changes focus during a shot to direct the viewer to shift attention from one subject to another (“Cinematography”). For instance in this scene from Richard Linklater’s 1993 film Dr. Finlay.
  35. 35. FRAMING In one sense, cinema is an art of selection. The edges of the image create a "frame" that includes or excludes aspects of what occurs in front of the camera. The expressive qualities of framing include the angle of the camera to the object, the aspect ratio of the projected image, the relationship between camera and object, and the association of camera with character. In Cruel Story of Youth (Seishun Zankoku Monogatari, Oshima Nagisa, 1960) the radical decentering of the character in relation to the frame marks her failed struggle to find a place in her world. (“Framing”)
  36. 36. FRAMING: FIXED CAMERA FRAME Fixed Camera Frame: When the camera and the focus of the camera do not move.
  37. 37. FRAMING Symmetrical Framing: Shots that are centered to have perfect symmetry.
  38. 38. FRAMING: CAMERA ANGLES Many films are shot with a camera that appears to be at approximately the same height as its subject. However, it is possible to film from a position that is significantly lower or higher than the dominant element of the shot. In that case, the image is described as low angle or high angle respectively. Angle of framing can be used to indicate the relation between a character and the camera's point of view. Or can simply be used to create striking visual compositions. (“Framing”) This HIGH ANGLE SHOT from the 2006 film Matilda, directed by Danny DeVito , presents the girl as weak and scared. High angle shots are sometimes called “Bird’s-Eye View Shots.”
  39. 39. FRAMING: CAMERA ANGLE Camera angle is often used to suggest either vulnerability or power. In The Color of Paradise (Rang-e Khoda,1999) the father, who rules absolute over his family, is often portrayed from a low angle (sometimes called “Worm’s-Eye View”), therefore aggrandizing his figure. On the other hand, his blind son Mohammad and his elderly grandmother are often shot from a high angle, emphasizing their dependence and smallness.
  40. 40. FRAMING: INTERPRETATION These interpretations are not exclusive, however. The relation between camera and subject depends on context and is not definitive. The father in this film is so busy smiling at his fiancé that he falls off his horse, suggesting that his view of himself as powerful and dominant is inaccurate. Additionally, Mohammed and Granny, seen from above, may also indicate that God is watching over them, and keeping them under protection. It is the responsibility of the viewer to find meaning. NOTE: There is also what we call an EYE-LEVEL SHOT. It is exactly as it sounds, a shot taken from the director’s eye-level.
  41. 41. FRAMING: ESTABLISHING SHOTS An ESTABLISHING SHOT introduces a new location – a church, a city street, a rooftop, a hospital room –from a vantage point that allows the audience to see all the relevant characters in the filmic space.
  42. 42. FRAMING: MASTER SHOTS A Master Shot is an entire dramatized scene, from start to finish, from an angle that keeps all the characters in view. Usually the master shot is shot first and then additional shots are shot and added later.
  43. 43. DEPTH The distance between subject and camera is very significant in “reading” a shot. Because people instinctively process visuals, and unconsciously identify with the lens, it is important to understand how directors establish meaning through depth. The type of shot dictates the amount of background information included, the amount of specific subject-related information is included, the size or portion of the human figure in the shot, the implied significance of the subject, the psychological subject information and the physical subject information.
  44. 44. DEPTH Close-Up Shot – a shot that tightly frames a person or object. Close-ups are one of the standard shots used regularly. Close-ups display detail, but do not include the broader scene. Moving in to a close-up or away from a close-up is a common type of zooming. Extreme close-up shots are ones that zoom in to even greater detail.
  45. 45. DEPTH Here is a famous scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s film Psycho that emphasizes the close-up shot.
  46. 46. DEPTH NOTE: The close-up is pure subject. The subject dominates the frame and takes on monumental significance. Close-ups are typically used to punctuate important dramatic moments. The Extreme close up reveals the subject in greater detail and strengthens its importance. The subject is presented with great implied significance. The audience knows it is important. Expectation is employed here to create suspense and/ or symbolic value.
  47. 47. DEPTH: Medium Shot: A camera angle shot from a medium distance. The distinction between depth of shots is fuzzy. Typically, however, a partial view of the subject that is not very close (ex: from the waist or knees up of a person) is considered a medium shot. Here are some samples.
  48. 48. DEPTH: MEDIUM SHOT A shot from the knees up is often referred to as a MEDIUM LONG SHOT or an AMERICAN SHOT. A shot from the waist up is typically referred to as a MEDIUM SHOT. It leaves just enough room in the frame for two or three characters. Now the subject is getting big enough in the frame to reduce background to the point of insignificance – increasingly subtle psychological information on the dominant subject is presented. These shots are often used to convey interaction between characters and as an editing bridge between a long shot and a close-up.
  49. 49. DEPTH: FULL SHOT The FULL SHOT frames the human subject from head to toe. The background is reduced a bit; the subject conveys more physical and psychological detail, and is large enough to dominate the frame and thus take on significance. A scene will typically cut to a full shot at moments when physical action is featured – such as fights, embraces, and physical comedy.
  50. 50. DEPTH: THE LONG SHOT The Long Shot (sometimes referred to as a wide shot): A shot that typically shows the entire object or person being filmed.
  51. 51. DEPTH: LONG SHOT A LONG SHOT is a who, what, and where shot. It is often the establishing shot – at the beginning or end of a scene. It balances specific subject information with general/background information. It is handy for establishing who is in a scene, where everybody is in relation to everybody else, where the action is taking place, and what is going on in the situation. The subjects are large enough in the frame to read in physiological and minor psychological detail.
  52. 52. DEPTH: EXTREME LONG SHOT EXTREME LONG or EXTREME WIDE SHOT: A long shot that is taken from far away – one that shows more than just the main subjects – there is a wide expanse of subject matter in the shot. These shots often emphasize setting.
  53. 53. DEPTH: EXTREME LONG SHOT The EXTREME LONG SHOT is dominated by background information; specific subject information typically takes up very little screen space in this shot; often, there is a subject in it, but that subject is too far away or small to recognize without context. Usually, characters are too small to be important. Often, characters are dwarfed by their environment. General locales as opposed to specific information are emphasized. There is often large scale action in which masses of figures function as a sort of collective subject.
  55. 55. DEPTH Point of View Shot (also known as POV Shot or Subjective Camera): These shots show what a character is looking at (represented through the camera).
  56. 56. SOURCE MATERIAL: TEXTBOOKS Corrigan, Timothy and Patricia White. The Film Experience: An Introduction. Third Edition. Boston: Bedfort/St. Martin’s. 2012. Print.
  57. 57. SOURCE MATERIAL: TEXTBOOKS Bordwell, David, and Kristin Thompson. Film Art: An Introduction. Tenth Edition. New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 2013.
  58. 58. SOURCE MATERIAL: TEXTBOOKS Monaco, James. How to Read a Film: Movies, Media, and Beyond. Fourth Edition. Oxford. Oxford University Press. 2009.
  59. 59. SOURCE MATERIAL: TEXTBOOKS Sikov, Ed. Film Studies: An Introduction. New York: Columbia University Press. 2010.
  60. 60. SOURCE MATERIAL: WEBSITES “Cinematography.” Yale Classes Film Analysis. Yale University Film Studies Program. 29 August 2002. Web. 14 July 2014. http://classes.yale.edu/film-analysis/htmfiles/cinematography.htm “Framing.” Yale Classes Film Analysis. Yale University Film Studies Program. 29 August 2002. Web. 14 July 2014. http://classes.yale.edu/film-analysis/htmfiles/cinematography.htm