For this week’s task, we learnt about screen direction, the different types of camera movement, equipment that is used to achieve this and the way to illustrate it effectively in a storyboard.

The Storyboard

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Creating a storyboard is one of the most important pre film production steps, and some argue that it is the best visual representation of how a movie is intended to look. It involves drawing all the planned shots and scenes for a movie, and serves as a plan and guide through the filming and even editing stages. It enables others to clearly see and understand ones plan for a film and if done well, can save a lot of money that would have otherwise been used to re film scenes that did not turn out as intended.

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Many can argue that a simple list of all the shots and scenes is also effective. This is absolutely true, however a storyboard allows for a better demonstration of camera movement, and screen direction in general. Although theatre staging can be used effectively in film, too much of it does not involve the audience in what is going on within the scene. In theatre, all of the staging is objective, meaning that the audience is an onlooker, observing the scene rather than being involved in it. With a camera, you can do so much more than this. The camera is the audience, so when it gets up close and personal with a character or element within the film, so does the audience.

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Maintaining Screen Side ! –>  While illustrating a storyboard, it is important to maintain the same position of characters within the scene, otherwise the audience will get confused. The picture above illustrates this. It shows an over the shoulder shot of a male and female character having a conversation. The first picture shows the male on the left and the female on the right side of the screen. Even when the camera is switched so that it is focused on the opposite character, they maintain the same place on the screen.

Maintaining a smooth flow in a film ! –> Russel Evans commented in his book that it is a filmmakers task to provide the viewer with a complete sense of where we are, who we are, and when that changes. Good continuity is what keeps the audience with you. ‘The effect of broken continuty is unusually shocking;’ he continued, ‘ it momentarily drops the viewer from the fairground ride experience of watching the film and sends them back to earth with a knock’. In order to possess a smooth flow for ones film, they must take into consideration control, organisation and selection both during filming and editing.

Continuous movement ! –>  To get the effect of a continuous movement, for example a character walking, it can be achieved by using segments of different shots, instead of a single, long shot. Filming the character walking from different angles is a way to accomplish this.

Showing a change in direction on the screen ! –> Showing a character walking in one screen direction can get quite monotonous for the audience to watch, and changing it up can prove to be more dynamic, if it is done in a way that does not confuse the audience about the destiation of where the character is heading to.

This can be accomplished in 3 simple ways, the first is to make the character change direction in the first shot, and then start the next shot with her entering in the same direction where she had previously exited. Blogger Mick Hurbis-Cherrier explained this clearly saying, “Given that our character leaves the first shot (A) moving screen right, we match screen direction and start the next shot with (the character) following a footpath screen right.”

Another way this can be accomplished is by using a neutral shot, which involves the character moving either directly away or towards the camera. It is any shot that is placed directly on the line of action. (180 degree line).

 

The final way to show a change in direction on screen is by using a Point of view shot (POV) It shows the action and what is occurring on the screen from a characters point of view, or the subject that the character is looking at. A picture example of this is below.

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This POV snapshot from Breaking Bad (2015) shows what the character is looking at.

Camera Movement

‘Camera Movement is one of the most expressive tools that a director can use. There are so many types of camera movements that have differeent effects on a film, and it not only allows for a smooth transitions and establishing shots (as seen in the video below) but it also make the audience feel like more connected and involved in to the action occurring on the screen.

Pans are quite popular camera movements in the film world, and extremely effective. It involves the camera moving slowly in a horizontal direction, showing the audience the entirety of a scene.

A camera tilt is similar to a pan, except that it scans the scene vertically instead of horizontally. On a tripod, the camera moves in this direction, and is often following a subject that is moving.

Thirdly, Tracking shots are used by moving the camera alongside the scene, usually on a moving vehicle, or a track. One particular blog post suggested even using a trolley for low budget filmmakers.

Other methods or tools used for camera movement that a quite self explanatory are handheld shots, crane shots, zoom lenses and aerial shots.

Camera Techniques used by Akira Kurosawa

In a video which demonstrated the various filming and camera techniques that the acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa uses, making his films stand out above the rest, I thought it was vital to learn about them, how they work and to introduce some of these techniques into my own future projects.

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(Tarbox 2012)

  1. Movement of Nature. This is when the background of a particular scene within a film features weather of some sort, enhancing the main scenario occuring. Wind, water, fire, smoke or snow can be used. An example of how this can be effective is if a devious malicious character is doing something devious or malicious, and a fire explosion suddenly occurs in the background. This not only adds to the visual satisfaction of the audience, but it also mirrors the emotions and nature of the character that is featured. Another example is if rain is featured in an otherwise quiet scene. Kurosawa commented that “Rain is a real emotional trigger that works in any film… take that feeling that is inside the character and bring it out in the background.”

 

2. Movement of groups. “When a lot of people are in a shot, any emotion feels big.” This is extremely relevant, and has a massive dramatic impact on a scene, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats. Even a group of 4 people is perfect for a reaction shot, as it can exaggerate the effects of that emotion, making a bigger impact on the audience.

In this clip from Lord of the Rings, from 0:38, there are thousands of characters in the scene, making a huge impact. (Derek 2011)

3. Movement of individuals. Individuals are also extremely effective at showing emotion, and if the acting is well done, the focus on just one character emotion and the passion they portray can get the audience to connect on a personal and one to one level with this character. Furthermore, Kurosawa would tell his actors to pick one gesture and use it throughout the film, so that the audience can quickly tell who is who. If they were nervous, the would pace up and down, if they were outraged, they’d stand up straight and so on.

4. Movement of the camera. One very effective technique that Kurosawa would use, would be to get a close up, mid shot and over the shoulder shot in one, single unbroken take. Also, all of the camera movements had a clear purpose. They would have a beginning, middle and end, telling a story by itself. Many camera movements in other films don’t really serve a particular purpose, especially when dialog is the main focus. However, if the camera movements within a film are dynamic and pleasing to the eye on their own, it automatically makes the viewing of the film a better experience, and together with good acting, a great narrative and cinematography, an overall masterpiece.

This scene is all one take, with no edits. It shows different angles and maneuvers clearly to follow the character without using separate edits

5. Movement on the cut. This occurs when Kurosawa cuts on movement within a scene. the audience is paying so much attention to the action on the screen that they don’t see the edit. Also, when one scene ends, the rhythm is switched for the next scene. If the first scene for example was static, the scene following it would start straight away with movement.

Practical Task !

Video can be viewed here:

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In this task, I was meant to demonstrate different types of camera movement through a video. It did not however, turn out as good as it could have been and looking back at it now, I see that I could have used many more techniques of camera movement to enhance the video and that would have also supported the narrative. I used a handheld shot, which is often used with a glidecam, to move the camera in the direction that the main character was heading, while facing her. Also, I used a cutaway technique when showing the viewer the money in this characters hand, and then cutting away to her face to show her reaction. However, I know there is so much more I could have done to show the multiple techniques that I learnt about.

References

copyright, of, U. and Terms, F. (2017) Storyboarding tips and techniques for short films. Available at: https://www.outsource2india.com/creative-services/articles/storyboarding-tips-for-short-films.asp (Accessed: 15 January 2017).http://www.masteringfilm.com/changing-stage-direction-3-simple-ways/

Camera angles (2000) Available at: http://www.mediaknowall.com/camangles.html (Accessed: 15 January 2017).

MediaCollege (no date) POV – point of view shot. Available at: http://www.mediacollege.com/video/shots/point-of-view.html (Accessed: 15 January 2017).

Maher, M. (2015) The power of point of view (POV) shots. Available at: https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/power-point-view-pov-shots/ (Accessed: 15 January 2017).In-line Citation:(Maher, 2015)

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/akira-kurosawa-the-genius-of-the-japanese-film-210061

YouTube. 2017. True Detective – Six minute single take tracking shot – no edits, no cuts – Who Goes There – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_HuFuKiq8U. [Accessed 20 January 2017].

 

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