Tuesday, May 17, 2011


The first thing to note about this topic is: Every shot should aim to tell a story.
Now every rule can be broken and there might be moments where you don't quite have to do this. But it is still something very important to always consider.
A lot of my notes from today come from a variety of sources but most directly from the Director's commentary (Shekar Kapur) from his  film "Elizabeth." I highly recommend anyone to watch it and then watch the commentary.
Here are some questions he asked himself during the filming. Try asking yourself the folllowing:
- What is this scene about?
-What is the philosophy? (Philosophy-study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language)
-Why are we shooting it this way?
-How do you think it should be? (Ask other people what they think, feedback is essential!)

Basic Camera Shots
(I got these pics from this site, where you can learn more about these. Most of these are self-explanatory)

The key thing to remember when deciding what shot to choose is: what EMOTION is the shot evoking.
Extreme Wide Shot

Very Wide Shot

Wide Shot

Mid Shot

Medium Close Up

Close Up
Extreme Close Up
Over-the-Shoulder Shot
Point-of-View Shot

Cutaway Shot

Moving the Camera and Cutting

Moving the camera is something that film makers plan out very carefully, so take time to think about your camera moves. Always justify the movement and the cut. Another note to remember in the CG world is to think about your camera as it exist in the real-world, with weight. A camera weighs a lot so make sure your camera doesn't feel like it's floating around. If you are unsure of what to do, always keep it as simple as possible.

Cutting was best described to me as blinking. Imagine you are looking at your grandma's living room, you start at the left side, hear a noise at the window, and blink and are over on the right side by the window. You don't feel disoriented, your brain just doesn't need the information in the middle you just want to see what is by the window on the right side.  

Another way is to think of how we see the world around us.
Imagine you walk into a busy street market, you first take in the whole scene, then your eye is caught by a merchant on the right side juggling tomatoes, but then you look down the walkway and see the carrots which is why you came here. So you head in that direction, a few things might catch your eye so you look at them and then your arrive at the carrot stand.You can almost imagine your shots here,
1.A very wide shot of the entire market to establish the area, the length od the street ect.
2. A mid shot of the merchant juggling
3. A wide shot of the street but with the carrot merchants sign and the carrots attracting attention
4. A  cutaway shots of cucumbers in a basket
5. Another cutaway shot of a two birds in a cage
6. A mid shot of the Carrot merchant with a big smile ready to serve

Over the shoulder Shot with two people

These are some of the most common shots. One thing to remember is you don't always have to cut when the actor starts to talk, you can leave the camera on the actor listening. These are really great because you see what the character is feeling as they listen. Here is an example from Elizabeth, notice how towards the end the director has chosen to focus on Elizabeth and is just getting her reaction. (Note there is no audio, notice how everything is still super clear without audio)

Get Closer through Cuts

You can cut the camera so it gets progressively closer. This will intensify the moment as it feels like the stakes are getting higher and higher. Watch the example below, also no audio.

Camera Zoom
I often think zoom is used a bit much in CG Animation, so my biggest advice would be to be very subtle with it. Here is a nice example where it doesn't seem intrusive. 

Camera as an Actor:
Here is a nice example of the camera being an active participant in the scene as an actor. In this scene the camera is the ultimate interrogator in the scene. (No audio)

Showing Power:
You can use the camera to give the illusion of power. In the film Elizabeth Kapur is constantly following one of the main characters Norfolk. He is always walk somewhere and the camera is like as servant always following him, he is the one leading. This creates an element of Power and authority.

In Conclusion
Those were a few examples of what you can do with your camera. It also reveals a bit of the thought process the director used. This should push you to put this much thought and consideration into your shots. If all else fails, keep it simple :)

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