5. Film grammar
Current time:0:00Total duration:4:27
Basic shot types
- In the previous exercise, you broke down parts of your story into a series of minor beats and shots. Next, you need to think about framing and staging. The setting or environment for each scene acts as the stage. And where you place your characters in camera within the space is called staging. Over the years, a number of different shot types have been introduced to film grammar to help the audience understand the story. For example, if the story calls for a new setting or environment to be introduced, it is common to start with the wide shot. Wide shots are staged by placing the camera far away from your characters to give a broad perspective and understanding of a new location. Wide shots used in this way are also called establishing shots. Establishing shots are often followed by a medium shot, like this one. Medium shots are personal, close enough to establish emotion and conversation. Like if you were talking to a friend. When you need to punctuate in an emotional moment or story point, closeup shots, like this one, can be very effective. These three shot types, wide, medium, and closeup are the most commonly used kinds of shots. It's important to remember that when making your shot choices you need to keep asking yourself two basic questions. What do you want the audience to know? What do you want them to feel? Now let's hear from artists how they use these ideas. - So you've got wide shots and medium shots and closeups. And, one of the tricks is to figure out how and when to use all of those shots within a scene. If you shot a whole scene in closeups then everything would have kind of equal weight. Whereas if you're shooting a scene using medium shots of people having a conversation and then somebody drops a bombshell in the scene and you go into a big closeup at that moment that they're making that big reveal or telling that secret, then just visually, that moment's gonna have a lot more weight than if you'd been shooting the entire scene in closeups the whole time. - Every shot gives you new information that the other shot could not. One way of arranging shots, or thinking of arranging shots is going from a wide to a medium, to a closeup. But that's not the only way. Sometimes for instance, in cars you can start with an extreme closeup and then go to a wide. It's just important to set up your shots so it's clear on what the audience needs to know and feel. Once I decide on that I have to start figuring out what the audience needs to see in order to know that. - If you take Muntz's lair, for example, in Up, we start kind of medium shotty at the beginning of the scene when Carl and Russell are being led up to Muntz's lair. But then when we see Muntz's lair it's a wide shot. We see this gigantic cave and when we go into the cave we see this gigantic space inside the cave. With the wide shot you get to see how many dogs this crazy man has too. Once we get into the dining table there, it's a little closer. And, a little more intimate. So then as the scene goes on and it's clear to Carl that Muntz is a little crazy and this is a dangerous situation there is a closeup on Carl that is great for getting the audience to feel what Carl's feeling. - So once you've chosen what kind of shot you want to use, you need to decide how the image will be composed within the frame. In film, the edges of the screen define a box or a frame. Within which your shot is being viewed. You can use what you learned in the Visual Language lesson to help design the visual composition within the frame. Based on what you want the audience to know, and what you want them to feel. Framing your story points with clarity is essential. If the audience doesn't clearly understand the idea you're trying to communicate nothing else matters. They'll be lost. When it comes time to deciding where in the frame your main subjects should appear the simplest thing to do is put them right in the middle, like this. Center framing generally offers a feeling of stability, or neutrality. Another common framing choice is called the rule of thirds. Imagine breaking your frame into equal thirds, like this. Then you frame the shot so that your subject is at one of the four intersections. Using the rule of thirds is a common practice for creating more interesting and natural compositions. Use the next exercise to become more familiar with the basic shot types and framing.