Walter Mencken 9 a.m., May 23
Cinematographer's Notebook: Framing
The upcoming release of the Jonah Hill comedy The Sitter has inspired the folks over at Pajiba to note The Long and Assy History of Between-the-Legs Movie Posters.
Pajiba doesn't see the appeal or the point of such posters, and so they are content to merely complain, poke fun, and roll out a collection of samples. (More complete collection here.) Sadly, as is all too often the case when stooping to the lowbrow, there is a missed opportunity here for a more meaningful conversation about filmmaking than the subject matter might initially seem to warrant. But here at the Big Screen, we know from lowbrow. Let us use these posters, then, to have a frank discussion about framing.
"Shots are all about composition. Rather than pointing the camera at the subject, you need to compose an image. As mentioned previously, framing is the process of creating composition."
"Framing technique is very subjective. What one person finds dramatic, another may find pointless. What we're looking at here are a few accepted industry guidelines which you should use as rules of thumb."
"VWS (Very Wide Shot): The VWS is much closer to the subject [than the extreme wide shot]. He is (just) visible here, but the emphasis is still on placing him in his environment. This also works as an establishing shot."
"WS (Wide Shot): In the WS, the subject takes up the full frame. In this case, the [feet] are almost at the bottom of frame, and [the head] is almost at the top. Obviously the subject doesn't take up the whole width of the frame, since this is as close as we can get without losing any part of him. The small amount of room above and below the subject can be thought of as safety room — you don't want to be cutting the top of the his head off. It would also look uncomfortable if the head and feet were exactly at the top and bottom of frame."
"MS (Mid Shot): The MS shows some part of the subject in more detail, whilst still showing enough for the audience to feel as if they were looking at the whole subject. In fact, this is an approximation of how you would see a person 'in the flesh' if you were having a casual conversation. You wouldn't be paying any attention to their lower body, so that part of the picture is unnecessary."
"CU (Close Up): In the CU, a certain feature or part of the subject takes up the whole frame. A close up of a person usually means a close up of their face."
"CA (Cutaway): A cutaway is a shot that's usually of something other than the current action. It could be a different subject (e.g. [this football]), a CU of a different part of the subject (e.g. a CU of the subject's hands), or just about anything else. The CA is used as a 'buffer' between shots (to help the editing process), or to add interest/information."
"Look for interesting and unusual shots. Most of your shots will probably be quite 'straight,' that is, normal shots from approximate adult eye-level. Try mixing in a few variations. Different angles and different camera positions can make all the difference. For example; a shot can become much more dramatic if shot from a low point."
More like this:
- Movie Poster Rejects You've Never Seen: Jaws, Batman, Supergirl, more — May 22, 2012
- The Crazy Credits, Crawls, and Cautionary Warnings Quiz — Sept. 30, 2011
- The Movie Studio Logo Quiz: The Adventure Continues — Sept. 19, 2011
- Today in Movie Poster Trends: the Split-Face — Sept. 5, 2011
- Meet the New Hollywood, Same as the Old Hollywood — Sept. 2, 2011