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Chapter 7

DIRECTIONAL CONTINUITY
IMPORTANCE OF ESTABLISHING DIRECTION

The direction in which a subject moves, or the direction in which a person looks, cause the most
vexing problems in motion picture continuity.
If a complete production could be photographed in a single shot there would be no directional
problems!
A motion picture is made up of a series of shots, filmed from different camera angles and when put
together in a sequence, forms a chapter in the story
A series of chapters are combined to make up the complete narrative.
IMPORTANCE OF ESTABLISHING DIRECTION
If an established move in a particular direction is unaccountably changed in consecutive shots, the
picture's continuity gets disrupted, that distracts or even confuses the audience
An unexplained change in screen direction can result in a serious mismatch
Directors working from a shooting script often rely on the director of photography for screen
direction, so that subjects look and move in the correct direction.
On failing to pay particular attention the cameraperson may get into serious directional trouble.
Directional continuity can be easily mastered if given attention
IMPORTANCE OF ESTABLISHING DIRECTION
No better way for a cameraman to win the respect of a film editor than by delivering footage that "cut
together"
Mistakes call for optical flop over, or other reversing editing tricks - necessary for salvaging
carelessly-filmed footage
A motion picture lives in a world of its own.
There is only a single viewpoint: the lens of the camera.
How the camera sees the subject is important - not how it appears in actuality.
Action is judged only by its screen appearance; by the way it should look - and not the way it actually
appears while being filmed.
SCREEN DIRECTION
There are two types of screen directions:
DYNAMIC (Bodies in motion)
STATIC (Bodies at rest)

DYNAMIC SCREEN DIRECTION


Constant; either left-to-right or right-to-left
Contrasting; both left-to-right and right-to-left
Neutral; toward or away from the camera

STATIC SCREEN DIRECTION (Bodies at rest)


Concerned with face and look of the static subjects on screen
DYNAMIC SCREEN DIRECTION - Constant
Constant screen travel depicts subject motion in one direction only.
Same direction is needed to show continued progression.
If a shot suddenly depicts the person or vehicle moving in the opposite direction to that previously
established, the audience will receive the impression that the moving subject has turned around, and is
returning to the starting point!
Once screen direction is established for a particular travel pattern it should be maintained.
Camera angles and shot types may be varied but direction of movement must not be changed.
DYNAMIC SCREEN DIRECTION - Constant
Established screen direction should be maintained throughout a travel sequence
When cutting from exterior of a moving object to an interior shot, camera must shoot from the same
side for smoother transition - deviate camera angle later to continue interior sequence
In the following example the narrative is concerned solely with activity inside a train, but whenever
the moving train is suggested - it shows a constant direction of travel. The train enters from screen
left, moves across the screen in a left-to-right direction.
DYNAMIC SCREEN DIRECTION - Contrasting
Contrasting screen travel may be used to show subjects comings and goings (descriptive phrase
used by early film makers)
May depict opposing subjects moving towards each other
Depicts subject motion in opposite direction
Occurs because audience is oriented through preceding shot establishing the direction
Left scene depicts group traveling toward, group at right is returning opposite direction.
DYNAMIC SCREEN DIRECTION - Contrasting
Moving opposition edited in alternate pattern may predict a clash.
Opposing action shots are filmed with alternate pattern of progressively closer shots as the action
reaches its climax.
Such closer-and-closer shots may be cut shorter and shorter, so that the sequence builds from lengthy
long shots to shorter medium shots, to clipped close-ups and a frenzied finish.
The viewer's emotions are, excited by the acceleration editing pattern and involved deeply as the
camera moves into the clashing climax.
NEUTRAL SCREEN DIRECTION
Neutral screen direction depicts moving subjects traveling toward or away from the camera.
Neutral movements are non-directional - may inter-cut scenes showing movements in either direction
Three types of Neutral Shots
Head-on and tail-away shots
Tracking shots
High or low angle shots
NEUTRAL SCREEN DIRECTION - Head-on and tail-away shots
Subject moves directly toward or away from the camera.
Such shots are neutral only as long as the moving image remains centered in the frame.
An entrance or exit will denote direction.
The front or rear of the moving subject should be depicted for an absolutely neutral effect.
If one side is seen, such as the side of an actor or a car, the direction of travel will be indicated.
NEUTRAL SCREEN DIRECTION - Head-on and tail-away shots
A head-on shot may begin neutral and then exit one side of the picture to match-cut with a following
directional shot.
NEUTRAL SCREEN DIRECTION - Head-on and tail-away shots
A tail-away shot may enter one side of the picture and then become neutral before it moves away from
the lens.
Such shots may be used deliberately to switch screen direction, by presenting a temporary neutral
condition between two directional shots.
NEUTRAL SCREEN DIRECTION - Head-on and tail-away shots
In head-on shots, on occasions a subject walks /runs/ moves directly toward the camera and covers the
lens, so that the screen is blacked out
NEUTRAL SCREEN DIRECTION - Head-on and tail-away shots
In tail away a subject moves directly away from the camera so that the lens is uncovered and the
setting is revealed
Frequently used for fast sequences, or for providing fade-in or fade-out effects
NEUTRAL SCREEN DIRECTION - Tracking shots
Tracking shots, in which the camera moves directly ahead or directly behind the player or vehicles,
are neutral if the subject does not enter or exit the frame.
Either a front or rear view is depicted
It is not a neutral tracking shot if a side or three-quarter angle is filmed, one side of the subject is
favored, and the shot indicates direction of travel.
NEUTRAL SCREEN DIRECTION High or Low angle shots
In such shots the moving subject travels directly toward and under or over the camera, so that it exits
either bottom or top of the frame.
Examples - A car filmed from a high angle may travel directly under the camera. A train or a jumping
horse may travel directly over the top of a low-angled camera.
USE NEUTRAL SHOTS

To provide visual variety - A constant left-to-right or right-to-left series of shots may be broken up
with neutral subject movement.
Head on or tail away are a welcome change from usual three quarter angle
High or low angle furnish contrast to eye level shots
Head-on shot is used to open a sequence and bring subject from a distant point toward the audience
Tail-away shot is used to close a sequence by having the subject recede from the camera
Such shots present moving images which increase or decrease in size as they advance or retreat from
the viewer, and thus effect a great depth than cross screen shots.
USE NEUTRAL SHOTS
To provide greater audience impact Head on shots place the viewer dead center, with the action
advancing toward him.
USE NEUTRAL SHOTS
To distract the audience A sequence depicting subject travel in a constant direction, is often filmed
with one or more shots moving in the opposite direction by inserting a neutral shot that allow the
editor to reverse movement completely without the abruptness of a direct cut from a directional shot
ACTION AXIS
Once the left-to-right or right-to-left directional movement is established, it must be maintained
throughout a series of shots, by remaining on the same side of the action axis.
A new location will require drawing a new axis but requires to remain on the same side as the original
axis to preserve established travel direction.
If the camera is always positioned on the same side of the axis, the directional continuity will be
filmed and maintained automatically.
ACTION AXIS
Once the left-to-right or right-to-left directional movement is established, it must be maintained
throughout a series of shots, by remaining on the same side of the action axis.
A new location will require drawing a new axis but requires to remain on the same side as the original
axis to preserve established travel direction.
If the camera is always positioned on the same side of the axis, the directional continuity will be
filmed and maintained automatically.