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TV & Film Production Basics

TV & Film Production Basics

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Published by: HajjiAlBalos on Nov 23, 2010
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A film director is a person who directs the making of a film.

[1] Generally, a film director controls a film's artistic and dramatic aspects, and visualizes the script while guiding the technical crew and actors in the fulfillment of that vision. It is the director's sense of drama, along with the creative visualization of the script, that transforms a screenplay into a wellmade motion picture. Responsibilities The role of a film director in the creation of a movie is a large one, and typically includes completion of the following tasks:
• • • • •

Realizing the overall artistic vision of the film. Controlling the content and flow of the film's plot. Directing the performances of actors, both by putting them in certain positions and by eliciting the required range of emotions. Organizing and selecting the locations in which the film will be shot. Managing technical details such as the positioning of cameras, the use of lighting, and the timing and content of the film's soundtrack.

Often directors choose to delegate many of these responsibilities to other members of their film crews. For example, the director may describe the atmosphere he wants from a scene, then leave it to other members of the film crew to find a suitable location and/or to set up the appropriate lighting. Meanwhile, other directors have far more control and bring their artistic vision to the pictures they make. Their methods range from those who:
• •

Outline a general plotline and let the actors improvise dialogue. Control every aspect, and demand that the actors and crew follow instructions precisely.

• • • •

Write their own scripts (such as Quentin Tarantino, Hayao Miyazaki or Robert Rodriguez). Collaborate on screenplays with long-standing writing partners. Act as their own cinematographers and editors. Star (often in leading roles) in their films, such as Orson Welles, Woody Allen or even Ed Wood, Jr.

Directors work closely with film producers, who are usually responsible for the non-artistic elements of the film, such as financing, contract negotiation and marketing. Some directors will often take on some of the responsibilities of the producer for their films. Steven Spielberg is known for doing precisely that, and the early silent film director Alice Guy Blaché not only produced her own pictures but actually created her own highly successful studio.

Camera Angles
The shot angle is the level from which you look at your subject through the camera. Eye-level angle - One of the most commonly used shots is the eye-level shot. Why? Because it's the perspective most familiar to us - we usually see things from our own eye-level. This angle also causes the least discomfort because we're used to it. If you're shooting a person, and you want to make it an eye-level shot, make sure you shoot at their eye-level, not yours. Low Angle - In this shot the camera looks up at the subject, making it seem important, powerful, or perhaps larger than it is to the viewer. For example, you might be sitting on the ground looking up at someone who is standing. (click here for an example) High Angle - In this shot the camera looks down on the subject, decreasing its importance. The subject looks smaller. It often gives the audience a sense of power, or makes the subject seem helpless. In this case, you'd be higher than the other person (maybe they're sitting, or maybe you're standing on a desk) looking down on that person.

It is wide enough to show the physical setting in which the action is taking place. yet it is close enough to shot facial expression. One of the major distinctions among types of shots is the shot size. two shot. Shots with different shot sizes. a considerable amount of time is spent on pre-planning (e. It fills the screen with the details of a subject. In computer animation. The topics in this handout are: • • • • • Types of shots -. distance. video. 180 degree rule Camera moves Composition rules Safe areas Types of shots: The followings are types of shots commonly used in film. and animation.. Medium wide shot (MWS) shows a character usually cut off across the legs above or below the knees. Wide shot (WS) shows an entire character from head to toe.g. arms. The shot size identifies how large and area will be visible within the frame. • • • • • • Extreme wide shot (EWS) shows a broad view of the surroundings around the character and coveys scale. Among the following common shot sizes the distance between the camera and subject varies. and geographic location. 1. .shot size. Close-up shot (CU) shows a character's face and shoulders. camera angle. It is close enough to show subtle facial expressions clearly. Medium shot (MS) shows a character's upper-body. storyboarding and animatics) so that a maximum amount of fully rendered scenes an/shots will be used for the final animation. In editing phase scenes/shots are assembled in a way that the story is told in an effective way. Extreme close-up shot (ECU) shows only a part of a character's face. and head. POV. over the shoulder shot.Elements of Cinematography Camera: In film making multiple cameras (multiple camera positions of a single camera) are often used.

extreme wide shot wide shot medium wide shot medium shot .

from a wide shot to a medium wide shot) while framing the same subject. The usual compromise is to have a shot of a shot size that is inbetween the sizes of the two shots (e. . and then to a close-up shot). On the other hand. when cutting from a shot to another shot of a significantly different shot size (e. you will produce a shock effect which is most likely inappropriate.g. If the size of the subject does not change sufficiently. the difference in image size must be decisive.close-up shot extreme close-up shot The images are from "The Art of Technique: An Aesthetic Approach to Film and Video Production" by John Douglass and Glenn Harnden Notes: Indecisive cut and shock cut When cutting from a shot to another shot of a different shot size (e.g. from a wide shot to a close-up shot).. you will get the unpleasant effect of an indecisive cut and the audience will perceive it as a mistake or a distraction.g. from a wide shot to a medium shot.

Moving the camera around the subject horizontally while aiming at the subject creates different camera angles below: 1. Profile. 3. 5. Rear. Another one of the major distinctions among types of shots is the camera angle. The frontal angle tends to flatten the three dimensionality of facial features and environments. Changing the camera angle changes the appearance and function of your shot. 2.2. Three-quarter front. 4. . Frontal. Three-quarter rear. The three-quarter front angle is more often used than the frontal angle or profile because it shows more depth and volumes. Horizontal camera angles. Shots with different camera angles.

It also gives the impression of height. Moving the camera around the subject vertically while aiming at the subject creats different camera angles below: 1. or more childlike. The camera is placed above eye level. Low angle. The camera is placed below eye level. 3. stronger. A low angle shot can make a character look bigger. Most commonly used.Vertical camera angles. younger. looking downward. High angle. confused. 2. looking upward. Eye level. weak. A high angle shot can make a character look smaller. or more noble. .

framing the same subject. the camera is placed at the eye position of a character. POV shots. and the appearance of the subject does not change sufficiently.high angle low angle The images are from "The Art of Technique: An Aesthetic Approach to Film and Video Production" by John Douglass and Glenn Harnden Note: Indecisive cut When cutting from a shot to another shot with a different camera angle (e. you will get the unpleasant effect of an indecisive cut and the audience will perceive it as a mistake or a distraction. 3.g. If the difference is less than 35 degrees. Two shot & over-the-shoulder shot . (Birn. In a point of view (POV) shot.4 POV Shots. from a frontal shot to a three quarter front). the difference between the two camera angles must be greater than 35 degrees.2. pages 180-1) 4. 8.

Over-the-shoulder shot is a close-up of a character as seen over-the-shoulder of another person in the foreground. Look at the following camera placements: .• • Two shot shows two characters. an important rule to keep in mind is to place all the cameras on the same side of a line of action. This rule is called "180 degree rule". A line of action is a path which your subject is traveling along or an imaginary line between two characters who are interacting. Two shot Over the shoulder shot 180 degree rule If you are using multiple cameras and plan to edit the different shots in a scene into a seamless sequence.

These shots are called "reverse angle shots".If Camera 2 and Camera 3 are used. . the audience stays on one side of the line of action.

It's disorienting and confusing.If Camera 2 and Camera 4 are used. . the audience crosses the line of action.

The images are from "The Five C's of Cinematography" by Joseph V. Mascelli Camera moves The camera position is often animated in computer animation for no good reason or no reason at all simply because the virtual camera can be moved easily. Tilt is sometimes called "pitch". magnifying a portion of the scene without moving the camera. study popular types of possible camera moves with a real camera. Dolly in and dolly out are sometime called "track". The camera does not change the location. Zoom. The camera's lens is adjusted to increase or decrease the camera's field of view. Tilt. If you want to animate realistic and effective camera moves. The camera rotates from side to side. The camera's actual position changes. such as to move alongside a moving subject or to travel closer to a character during a scene. Try the following: • • • • Pan. Dolly out backs the camera away from the subject. Dolly. so that it aims more to the left or right. The camera rotates to aim upward or downward without changing the location. . Dolly in moves the camera closer to the subject.

while zoom refers to changing the camera's focal length.. when you change the focal length of your camera). . your camera does not move and perspective does not change. Objects far from the camera change in relative size at a slower rate than objects which are close to the camera. When you move the camera. That is what you see through your human eyes as you walk around. On the other hand. your perspective changes. the perspective changes. you are moving the camera in space. Zoom The difference between dolly and zoom is that when you dolly. when you zoom (i. Dolly vs.The image is from "The Art of 3-D Computer Animation and Imaging" by Isaac Kerlow.e.

Angling the shot produces more depth and volumes. Teeter-totter rule Lighter weight can counterbalance a heavier weight if it is placed farther away from the center of the frame. but to place the horizon either above or below center. Avoid frontal angle The frontal angle tends to flatten the three dimensionality of facial features and environments. . approximately one-third or two-thirds up the height of the frame. The images are from "Digital Lighting and Rendering" by Jeremy Birn and "The Art of Technique" 2. It is usually best to avoid placing horizon lines exactly in the middle of a frame.Composition Rules: The followings are useful guidlines you can use when composing a shot. The points where the vertical and horizontal lines cross are aesthetically pleasing spots to place subjects or to have perspective lines converge. 1. 3. Rule of thirds Rule of thirds divides the frame into thirds both horizontally and vertically.

(Birn's Page 190. Safe Areas Text.. detail and setting) . the vital parts of your scene should take place within the central 90% of your frame. should be kept in the center 80% of the screen.Shooting straight against walls produces flat compositions with little sense of depth in frame. a guideline called the action safe area.) Camera Shots (Framing the camera to show emotion.g. the title of your animation. within a guideline called the title safe area. Why? It's because what's outside the action safe area is invisible on most TV sets. e. Angling the shot into walls produces receding perspectives and a better sense of depth. To make sure that your audience will not miss any important action in your animation.

This shows the close detail of the character's eyes and mouth. It can be used to heighten tension. It contains little or no background. The shot is taken from Good for conversation between two MS This shows half of the body.When a movie is made. It contains little or no background. This shows the detail of the character’s face. It can be used to heighten tension. CU This is a shot taken of a person’s head from just above the head to the top of the upper chest. The shot refers to the kind of image we see in a frame. The red writing indicates the most common types of shots. a variety of camera shots are used to add atmosphere and create a mood for the story. . This used to introduce a character and allows the character to show emotions. It can be used to heighten tension. The shot is taken from above the This allows you to get to know the head to just below the waist. the above the head to lower chest. Example ECU This is a very close shot showing the detail of an object or the To make the viewer aware of some Very close. A description and purpose of the shots used to create a film are listed below. The other shots can be used for a special purpose or to create more tension and atmosphere. It can also be used to film an object at close range. up Big closeup Close-up BCU This is full head height and the head takes up the entire screen. characters. Purpose specific detail in the film. Click here for more things to consider. Shot Extreme close-up Code Description physical features of a person.VCU This is a face shot taken from the mid-forehead to above the chin. Medium close-up Medium shot MCU This shows the upper half of the body. character more closely by viewing their facial expressions and body language.

Purpose It is used to make the character look small and also indicate that the character is weak or Example . there can be degrees of variation on these angles. This shows the landscape of the film or a barely visible character in the distance of a background. It often sets the atmosphere of a film. This gives information to the viewer about where the action is to take place. Angle High Description The camera is placed above and looks down on the subject or object.Medium long shot Long shot MLS This shows the whole person as well as some of the background. but the background dominates the shot. Extra long ELS shot Visual Literacy How do I make meaning Camera Angles There are four main types of camera angles used to suggest a relationship between the viewer and the subject of the image. This allows the viewer to understand the relationship between the characters and their environment. As with camera shots. Places the person in context. LS This shows the whole person and other characters.

equal footing with the audience.inferior. Eye An eye angle places the audience on eye. Camera Movement There are a variety of camera movements the director can use to make meaning on screen for the viewer. and vulnerable. It suggests reality. The camera turns from side to side.e. A character or object could be followed at a different speed or pace. from left to right or right to left. i. In this unit of work the Dolly and the Tracking camera movements will not be used. Low Overhead/ Bird's eye The camera is placed overhead or directly Characters and objects are made to look small above the object or scene. They are described below and to see an example of these movements click on the links associated with each type of movement. Angle Zoom Panning Description Purpose Example The camera moves towards or away from It is used to make objects appear closer or a particular object. It is often used in the opening scene of a movie or can be used to show the landscape from the .It is used to indicate that the character is on level with the character. further away. The camera is placed looking up on the subject or object. It is used to make the character look big and indicates that the character is powerful and dominant.

The amount of light and the direction of the light source can give meaning to the viewer of the film. It can also indicate speed and reaction. Tilt The camera moves diagonally from the top to the bottom of the frame. For example. Click here for more information on lighting. lighting is used to indicate the time of the day. It can create a sense of Example . Dolly The camera moves towards or away from It allows you to follow the characters or the the character. The camera is usually on wheels. Purpose It is used to create a silhouette. from one place to another. It is used to show the character from head to toe and can emphasize size. The character can be made to look mysterious due to the effect of the shadows. Tracking Lighting Lighting plays an important part in creating the atmosphere in a film. The camera moves along with the actors or the action. The camera is often placed action. Angle Back lighting Description The main light source comes from behind the character. It engages the viewer in the action where they can feel part of it. on wheels to allow for a smooth movement.view of the characters.

It can also create the illusion of a bright. It is usually directed onto the main character. Some common colours and their meanings for a Western culture are: . Some examples of where colour can be used effectively in film making is through costumes. creating a sense of mystery. The main light source comes from below the character. It is used to remove shadows produced by the key lighting. This meaning is often different across cultures. lighting. many colours are associated with a symbolic meaning. Film uses colour to evoke a particular mood or feeling. For example a wedding in a Western culture is usually white while an Indian wedding utilises the colours of red and orange. The main light source comes from above the character. It can be used to disfigure the face. Key and fill lighting It is the main light source in a particular scene. Sometimes colour can be used as a motif or continuing theme throughout the movie. Horror films make use of this technique. It is used to light one side of the character’s face and produces shadows across the set. peaceful or excited. props. A funeral in an Asian culture uses white while a Western culture funeral is traditionally black. Under-lighting Top lighting Side lighting Colour Colours can make us feel cheerful or gloomy. The main light source comes from one side of the screen. sunny day. Fill lighting can be added to soften the effect of shadows. In most cultures.impending doom and is often used in horror movies. sets and film titles and credits.

danger. . enthusiasm. vegetation. friendship.Yellow Cheerful. death. wisdom. quiet. energy Blue Peace. chastity Brown Stability. To do this. hopeful Red Passion. success. The viewer’s eyes need to move around the screen so that the placement of subject in the frame is constantly changing with each shot. generosity Purple Wealth. reliability Grey Neutral. comfort. The most significant part of the picture should be placed where the lines intersect. classic. Try to put your subjects on the lines instead of in the middle when you are shooting. fun Black Evil. rebellion. respect. Applying the rule of thirds can help to avoid the problem of visually dull movies. health. blood. coolness. royalty. happy. protection Green Growth. With the horizontal lines it is best to place your subject either in the top or bottom third of the frame. heat. warm. ambition. you split the frame into three sections vertically and horizontally as illustrated below. drab Rule of 3rds Keeping your subject constantly in the middle of the screen can make for a boring movie. harmony. passion. tranquillity. mystery Orange Warmth. life. power White Purity. excitement.

Avoid putting your moving subject in the middle. In this picture the eye is drawn to the top-left part of the picture with the subject placed on the intersecting lines. This is viewed as an uninteresting and boring image. .The images below illustrate some of the principles of the rule of thirds.

If you wanted to emphasize the sky because of a sunset or cloud formation you would place it in the top two thirds of the picture.The subjects run along the vertical lines and the image is balanced. When shooting landscapes you need to decide where to place the horizon. the mountains the middle third and the foreground the bottom third. This picture is split neatly into thirds. As an establishing shot or end shot for your film a large expanse of blue sky could be used for the titles or credits in your movie. The sky occupies the top third of the picture. .

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