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Storytelling with camera

How are lens choice, camera movement, and depth of field used to increase artistic impact of Pixar films? Depth of field creates a feeling of love, camera movement shows the difference between perfect and real worlds, and focus adds imperfection to real-world scenes. When considering camera focus, we sometimes get things "wrong" on purpose to make real world scenes feel more authentic and imperfect.

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Video transcript

- You remember Patrick from the first video in this lesson? I've invited him here to talk a little bit about camera use. - Cheese! - Can you tell us a little bit about how you use depth of field in storytelling? - So, the one that has depth of view is part of the storytelling is a short film that I worked on called The Blue Umbrella. When the director, Saschka, approached me about doing the cinematography, he wants the audience to feel like they are kinda watching this love story unfold, in front of their eyes. So the idea was to try to use a longer lens so that there's a distance between the camera to the subject. It's like when you're in love, you know? You just don't look at anything else. You kinda concentrate on the person in front of you. And that's kind of the feeling we're trying to get. (happy music) - In addition to all the other choices you make, you could also choose to move the camera during a shot. Do you ever use that to help tell a story? - Oh, yeah, camera movement is very important. For Inside Out, camera movement is a big part of the camera structure of how the inside world works and the outside world works. The inside world is a perfect world? It's imaginative. So all the camera movement is very mechanical, it's very deliberate. Whenever it's moving you can kinda predict where it's going. So everything is very formal. On the outside world, on the other hand, is more organic, depending on the moments. So how we move the camera is very, very important. - And you're also focusing just like with a real camera to make sure the right things are in focus. Do you ever use focus as a way of telling a story? Or the way you focus? - Yes, actually on Inside Out, we used focus to try to add to the imperfection of the real world, Riley's world. Because Riley's world is based on a real location, San Francisco, Minnesota. We want the camera, it just feels natural that the camera should feel real. And imperfection is part of the real world. And something about Pixar's focus is that everything is always so perfect, because we're inside a computer. So we purposefully, in act two and act three especially, when the cameraman is trying to follow an action, we purposefully miss some of the focus and then refocus. It's just some of the subtlety we're trying to do to try to get to the imperfection. It's something that hopefully the audience can feel but not something that they can just say oh, yeah, I can see what they did. - Thanks, this is fascinating, thanks for coming by. - Well, thank you for having me, Adam.