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to recognize the underlying messages about society, culture, and dominant ideologies within the
film text of Inherit the Wind. We had
A GRAMMAR OF FILM
Shot IS a single
that focuses our attention on a particular subject. With a midshot, the camera is close enough to pick up detoil though qh away to be able to follow as the subject moves. The midshot is
camero. This is the basic unit from which a film is constructed. The length (or durotion) of a shot depends upon:
read the book; we had seen the film; and we had deconstructed both. Ultimately, it was time for me to relinquish my authority as teacher and to invite my students to become experts. I designed an assessment called "Film Trailers as Assessment" and posted the project description on our class blog: <http://societyissuesidentity. blogspot.com/2OO9/o4/filn1trailer-as-composition.html>. Over a series of five days, with significant co-teaching from our school librarian, M.J. Waite, students created and shared their film trailers. Some are posted on the class blog at <http:// society issuesidentity.blogspot. com/20 O 9/04/film-trailers-forinherit-wind-student.html>. I've included others in a professional development blog I created: <www. mediasuper market.blogspot.com>. The results ofthe students' efforts were impressive. For example. Laurel combined keen observation of metaphors into her film trailer: <www.youtube.com/ watch?v=EiNNw4pL9rs>. Brad studied the genre of film trailers and mastered it: <www.youtube. com/watch?v=qpNhlCuf6ws>. Within the classroom Nelly May reconciled her personal views of religion in a way that further grounded her beliefs: <www.youtube. com/watch?v=Oo4.bsAfckEU>. Maude called upon the drama and quick camera angles of films she had seen to create her own film: <www.youtube.com/ watch?v=oXv4Np6YDc8>.
purpose: to help the viewer to recognize setting or place, to show action, to show reaction • pace (or tempo) of the sequence in which it occurs
commonly used to show qction, such as a fight scene, q wqlk down q dork qlley, or a glimpse ot a villain coming into view. v _ - I O S e - U p is a close shot of on object or person. A close-up focuses the viewer's ottention on particular details. Close-ups of objects may serve as the introductions to new scenes, may offer a new fact, or may shift locotion in the story. Close-ups of a person hove q number of different functions:
Sequence Sequence is a group of
shots that depict one action, or t seem to belong with or depend upon each other. Sequences can range from a few to many shots.
• The close-up can imply thot the person on (for short scenes) a group of shots that wham we are focusing is q moin chqrqcter • The first close-up of a character (in a sequence of shots) • occur in one place A scene is generally a larger unit than a sequence. 1 we know who is watchinq qn even A close-up is most commonly used to show the reaction of a character.
• depict an event in the story
TYPES OF SHOTS
CAMERA MOVEMENTS IS q movement trom q stqtionory position to side-to-side.
IS a distonce
shot in which a setting, and not a character, is the emphasis. This is generally used to establisti the place in which action will occur, hence the term "establishing shot." A long shot is often used at the beginning of a scene or sequence, and may be combined with a panning movement of the camera to show a wider area.
IS a movement up or down from a stationary position.
occurs when the camera moves to follow q moving object or person. The comerá is mounted on a moving device, such as a rail piqtform, a dolly, or o vehicle.
Film in Education
A character filmed from a l O W O n g l e
outwoids away from a subject. The speed of a camera movement (which can range fram very fast to very slow) can dramatically aller its effect. will seem strong, powerful, toll, proud,
Editing S p e e d (ortempo) of
a particular sequence can involve fast editing, also known as fast cutting, in which the shots are one to two seconds long. Fast editing generates excitement and anticipation as, for example, in an emotional courtroom scene. In slow editing, shots ore three to ten seconds long. These lingering shots hove the
etc.; in contrast, if a high O n g l e
is used the subject will appear weak, insignificant, vulnerable, or small. The viewer's impression of a structure or object can be manipulated in a similar way.
MOVING FROM ONE SHOT TO ANOTHER
C^-Ut is the ending of a shot. If the cut is a jerky movement that seems a little inconsistent with the next shot, it is called a jump cut.
A distorted ongle may be used
to make a scene more frightening, or to moke the viewer feel anxious or seasick.
opposite effect of the fast edit, and calm and relax the viewer. An example of the
A crone ongle, where
the camera moves up and away, is often used to end films.
slow edit is when the star-crossed lovers pause and reveal : feelings.
Fade In or O u t offers an image
that appears or disappears gradually. It brightens to full-strength over a full second, or darkens to fade out. The fade is often used O a division between scenes. S
CAMERA TERMS L d itl n g is the process of assembling and splicing together the various shots that comprise a film. Underlying the editing process is a technique that can be called
S o r t rOCUS is a slightly blurred sho
to moke the subject seem more attractive romantic, nostalgic, or dieamlike.
Dissolve o < :urs when one miage c
fades in while another fades out so that for a few seconds the two are superimposei
p O i r i n g , in which a story is built up by
alternating one set of shots with another.
is chosen, the tripod and dolly are deliberately abandoned. The director wants to create a sense of anxiety or confusion, recreating the chaos of real human life. A typical held shot follows
• To depict a conversation or
In p o i n t is an image that starts
the scene. Sometimes this inpoint is used to smooth the transition between scenes and make a visual link (a related object or shape) with the
confrontation between two characters the shots alternate from one to the other; angles may be used to suggest inferiority or superiority.
behind, and the shot implies danger. • Shots of a character alternate with shots of what the character sees. The first shot of the character is the point of view. iting together of 0 large number of shots with no intention to create a continuous reality. • In cross-cutting, a sequence of shots A montage is often used to compress alternates between two different locations time because numerous events ore (for exomple, the townspeople yelling chronicled in fast succession. Sound in dismay while the defense attorney approaches town on the train). The sequence builds to a climax and ends with the two things coming together. or narration con enhance montages' cohesion to setting and characterization.
o u t p o i n t of the previous she
CAMERA ANGLES filming a shot, a decision is made
)out the o n g l e at which the
I directed at a subiect; this influences the viewer's impression
Volume 38, No. 4 | March/April 2010
A GRAMMAR OF FILM continued SOUND TECHNIQUES Sound effects are added after filming. They need to be added because the original set did not allow clear and audible recognition of necessary audio elements. Sounds that are added later are numerous: lighthouse sirens, car tires s Torses hooves viewers might otherwise readily accept a character. Dialectical nuances open up to audiences new interpretations of people and their experiences. Dialect creates a direct effect on the way that audiences react. Non Because films are no more than recorded light, directors give special attention to lighting techniques. LIGHTING TECHNIQUES
or h i g h k e y lighting, the scene is
ooded with bright illumination, giving it a heerful feel and a happy atmosphere.
on a cobblestone street, a child crying ir the background, or a cell phone ringing
Background noise m k s ae
a scene seem more realistically close to viewers' authentic experiences. When
llumination is low
D i a l o g u e iso
we hear horns blaring, birds singing, children crying, or trains clattering, we associate these sounds with our own lives, thus allowing us to bel
and soaked with shadows, creating an ominous or melancholy mood.
Commentary o narration, r also called v o i c e - o v e r , layers
additional commentary and insight into characterization and conflicts. Often, a voice-over is the inner voice of the protagonist as she or he debates over life choices. The narrator is invisible in this case. Viewers react differently to commentary depending on several factors.
S p o t l i g h t s cast intense
beams on the subject.
Laugh tracks are added
to reinforce comedie action.
A strong light from behind, called
b a c k l i g h t i n g , separates the
subject from the background. It can also create a silhouette effect when the subject is not illuminated from the front.
Music i used s
most often to add
emotion to scenes. Usually the audience instinctively understands the feelings the filmmaker wants to evoke with a certain style of music. Some of the
S i d e l i g h t odds solidity and
depth, accentuating features and sometimes hiding facial marks.
Pace, or the speed of delivery, can imply a circumstance, t-or example, faster tall "otagonist is in jeopardy. Tone of dialogue reveals the emotion of the characters. Characters might be rude, shy, aggressive, threatening.
most common uses of music are:
building suspense: scai THE ESSENCE OF ACTING The actor's primary goal is to perform
suqqestinq romance: ec establishing the location or setting:
determined actions that inspire
an audience to willfully suspend disbelief. We want to identify with the actors as real human; with conscious desires like our own. Emotions, the human equivalent of animals' instincts, arise from the ego, or our subconscious desires to become fulfilled. An actor locates motives for the character's actions as a • setting a pace: music can set the pace fo action, such a 'toon or rock video means to achieve the connection with the ego. Desires, action, and performance ore intermingled as one in the actor's world. many types of music are associated with certain parts of the world adding humor: music can add a comic element to a production if the music
passive, eager, quizzical, or sarcastic. Clarity (enunciation) can create a particular effect. Words that are inaudible suggest confusion woras that ar ilicit in sound can
is funny or doesn't fit the action
suggest power and authority.
20 Knowledge Quest | Film in Education
Actors see themselves as experiencing
COLOR In the U.S. filmmokers embed Western social codes of color to create choracter and mood.
Brown: earth. tieartti, tnome.
outdoors, reliability, comfort, endurance, stobility, simplicity, comfort
r e a l e v e n t s . The characters'past,
ego, and discourse with real people and reql things mqnifest in moments. Actors reconcile their real and ortificiql selves by constantly questioning their behaviors, reasoning, qnd conditions
White: reverence, purity.
simplicity, cleanliness, peoce, humility, precision, innocence, youth, birth, winter, snow, good, sterility, morriqge (Western cultures), deoth (Eqstern cultures), cold, clinical, sterile
excitement, energy, possion,
desire, speed, strength, power, heat, love, aggression, danger, fire,
I m p r o v i s a t i o n istheoct
of mqking something up as you go qlong. Some fomous qctors ore remembered for their spontaneous additions to scripts during filming.
blood, war, violence, aggression, oil things intense ond passionate
YellOW: ¡oy, hoppiness, optimism,
ideqiism, imagination, hope, sunshine, summer, gold, philosophy, dishonesty, cowardice, betrayol, jealousy, covetousness, deceit, illness, hozard
b l a c k : power, sexuqiity,
sophistication, formqiity, elegqnce, weolth, mystery, feqr, evil, qnonymity, unhappiness, depth, style, evil, sadness, remorse, anger, underground, good technical color, mourning,
The director's influence is key;
nearly every decision mode by the qctor is reinforced or scripted by the director. Some directors like to control octors' decisions O much O any other element of the film. S S
b l u e : peace, tranquility, calm, stobility, harmony, unity, trust, truth, confidence, conservotism, security, cleanliness, order, loyalty, sky, water, cold, technology,
death (Western cultures).
depression, appetite suppressant
work closely with q theatrical, film, or television company production team to reseorch, design, and create costumes.
O r a n g e : energy, balance,
warmth, enthusiasm, vibrant, expqnsive, flomboyant, demanding of attention
To "animate" is literally "to give life to." "Animating" is moving something that can't move itself.
v a r e e n : nature, environment, heolthy, Costumes must be designed to be in line good luck, renewql, youth, vigor, spring, generosity, fertility, jeolousy, inexperience, envy, misfortune
Animotion adds to g r a p h i C S the dimension of t i m e , vastly
increosinq the qmount of informqtion
with the team's overall i d e o l o g y
and time period.
Costume costs must stay within the production budget, so costume designers
r U r p l e : royqity, spirituality, nobility, spirituality, ceremony, mysterious, transformation, wisdom, enlightenment, cruelty, arrogance, mourning An qrtistic piece of qnimqtion will probably require different tools than an onimotian intended to simulate
need o good knowledge of t O D r i C S ,
lighting techniques, a d n production processes.
Costume designers often lead a team of
v ^ r a V : security, reliability, intelligence, staid, modesty, dignity, maturity, solid, conservotive, practical, old oge, sadness, boring
a n i m a t i o n usually refers to
two- and two-and-a-half-dimensionol systems that computerize the traditional hand-drown animation process.
people including d r e s s m o k e r s
Volume 38, No. 4 | March/April 2010 21
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