How to make a
HOW TO MAKE A FILM
.L earn & T ry
e a r n :
how did the first motion picture look like and how are movies made today
what is shot
who are the people engaged in movie making?
what is the job of: director, script writer, actors, director of photography, costume designer, scenographer...
r y :
to make your own animated and documentary film to write a script
to make shooting script
to gether your friends and to select actors for your movie to direct your first movie
How to make a
HOW TO MAKE A FILM
.L earn & T ry
R a d i v o j e A n d r i }
R a d i v o j e A n d r i ć
C O N T E N T S
5 . . .Introduction
6 . . .The First Films
6 . . .Photography 8 . . .The first film
12 . . .Classification of Films 16 . .Film time 18 . . .Framing Shots 22 . .Film settings 24 . .Scene plan 26 . .Ramp
28 . .Crossing the Ramp and Camera
35 . . Composing Your Shots
36 . . More about the Camera
39 . . What is needed form making a film
42 . .The scenario and Shooting Script
for a Short Feature Film
44 . . Continuity
45 . . Editing
46 . . Rečnik
Hi, future movie-makers!
You watch films almost every day and have
probably asked yourself if you could also make one. Perhaps you have already tried your hand at making video recordings with a camera, but it all turned out shaky, incomprehensible, boring and altogether pretty awful.
I am here to help you.
My name is Radivoje ‘Raša’ Andrić, and so far I have
managed to direct three feature films (Tri palme za dve bitange i
ribicu, Munje! and Kad porastem bicu kengur) and it is my
pleasure to try and show you the basics of movie-making. A famous director once said that you could learn everything about making movies by spending four hours learning and ten years in a cinema. My opinion is a little different: in four hours – reading this book – you can learn the basics. Of course you also need to watch films, but learning is best done by doing.
Don’t let this frighten you – making a movie does not mean that you have to film a complicated story lasting two hours.
In fact you can make a good film story that lasts just two or three minutes. Let us begin. Believe it or not, the world’s most popular film festival is one that shows very short films, takes place in Berlin and is seen by 20 million people. How is this possible? “Whoever heard of people going to a cinema to watch short films?” you say. Whoever said that the festival takes place in a cinema?! The films are shows on video screens set up in subway trains, buses and trams and each lasts exactly 90 seconds – the average time between two stops on the journey. This means that the films are seen by the millions of Berliners travelling on public transport.
Believe it or not, there is now also a world festival of films shot with mobile phone cameras, a real festival, with
prizes and all. But forget festivals – the road to them is a long one. Let us begin by making movies that will be watched by your family, friends and schoolmates. The most popular Serbian festival of ‘shorts’ is the so-called ‘March Festival of Short Films’ – although for some reason it always takes place in April…
HE FIRST FILMS
Let us begin with the theory and practice of ‘moving pictures’ and their invention.
Throughout human history still images were easy to record in drawings, paintings and ultimately
photographs, but movement was much more difficult. The first successful such attempt was attaching a series of still images in a booklet, which one then flipped to get an impression of movement. The human eye is a bit lazy, so when you run a set of still images in front of it quickly, it cannot distinguish between individual images but sees a series of pictures that seems to move.
Researchers discovered that when you run a series of
24 still images before the human eye in one second, the eye sees them as a single moving image rather than as a set of
But what was needed in order to develop films as we know them now was the invention of photography.
Ask your mother or grandmother if they have any silver jewellery and whether the silver gradually tarnishes (darkens).
They will tell you that it does, and that they have to wash it with bicarbonate of soda to bring back its shine. Now ask them why the silver tarnishes. They will probably tell you that it simply has to do with the passage of time.
Well, that is not so! In fact silver gets darker because of the action of the light to which it is exposed. This was noticed in the 18th century – and that was the first step towards the discovery of photography. Now look at the things around you. Some are lighter and some are darker, and if we were to place a plate made of silver in the spot where you are sitting, in time
This book also contains an optical illusion. Look at the bottom right-hand-side corner. You will see a series of stick-man images. They
are quite similar to one another, but not exactly the same. Hold the corner of the book between your thumb and forefinger, as shown, and flip the pages fast.
It’s interesting, isn’t it?!
You could also make a similar toy yourself. All you need is an old exercise book and a bit of patience. Starting from the last page, draw a simple stick man in the corner. Now turn back one page and trace a new figure over the preceding one, only make it slightly different – for example by raising an arm slightly. Continue the process. For example the little man could gradually lift an arm and bring it down again, and then a leg, and so on... When you flick the pages the little man will appear to be dancing.
images of the things that stand in front of it would be formed on the plate. The objects which are the lightest would appear the darkest, because the tarnishing of the silver would be greatest where the most light fell on it.
In this manner we would get the negative of a photograph. A little later I will explain how we get a positive image from a negative.
But the silver plate took a very long time to darken – it took hours and hours of exposing to light.
People found it very tedious to sit and to wait for hours for each photograph – especially those who wanted their portraits taken! For that reason certain chemical
substances were found which when mixed with the silver made it darken faster. A mixture of silver and those chemicals was then spread on a transparent base material (it had to be done in the dark so as not to expose the silver to light), and that is how light-sensitive film was created.
If you put a piece of such film into a box that is
completely sealed except for a tiny hole opposite the film and open and close that hole for an instant, you will get a film negative. Initially people used just such a pin-hole, but now a set of glasses - a lens - is placed there instead. Its purpose is the direct the light towards the film as
accurately as possible. If you were to take the film out of your box to take a look at what you got, the silver would simply continue to darken and ruin your image. For that reason you need to take the film out of the box in the dark and dip it in a chemical solution (so-called fixer) that will stop the silver from continuing to tarnish.
How do you get a positive image? By passing light through your negative onto a new piece of film – in this way you create the negative of a negative: a positive – an image identical to what we see with our own eyes.
This process is still used to make photographs.
It might all sound a bit complicated, but don’t be dismayed! You are probably in a hurry to read on and see what happens later, but when you have finished reading the book you can return to these pages and everything will be much clearer.
The sealed room where you take your film out of your camera and develop and fix it is called a darkroom. When films are shot away from the city, say in a desert or forest, a special light-tight box is used to load and unload cameras.
People who did not have such a box even used their jackets for the purpose!
tHE FIRST FILM
Believe it or not, such a device was first made because of a bet! Two friends in America who loved horse racing often asked themselves if a running horse ever had all four legs in the air simultaneously. Horses ran so fast that it was
impossible to see it with the naked eye, so the two made a wager in order to settle their dispute.
So they invited a photographer to help them.
The photographer, a certain Maybridge, set up a row of still cameras, tied a string to the shutter of each camera and
stretched them across the racing track. The strings were thin so as not to trip the horse.
A horse in full gallop then passed in front of the cameras. As soon as the horse touched a string it broke it, but not before tripping the shutter.
When the negatives were developed they formed a set of still pictures of a galloping horse.
If you set up the photos in an optical illusion booklet and flicked it, the horse would appear to be running.
NOW SHAKE YOUR HANDS, AND WE CAN SET UP THE CAMERAS!
This was almost a movie as we now know it, but making it was extremely difficult and took hours and hours. You would have to set up rows of cameras and tie a lot of strings where an actor was walking – but what would we do if the actor was, say, sitting down? So this was definitely the wrong road to motion pictures. However, it did not take very long before a feasible means of making movie films was developed.
The inventors responsible for taking that major step were
Louis and Auguste Lumière, two French brothers who made the first movie camera and projector and gave the first public demonstration of a motion picture in 1895.
Lest as I forget, the bet was won by the horse-loving friend who claimed that all four legs of a horse would be up in the air at the same time.
The Lumière brothers produced a long transparent foil (film) and coated it with a mixture of silver and some other chemicals. They then wound the film on a reel and put in into a box with a lens – a camera. The film was cranked by hand to pass behind the lens and a mechanical shutter ensured that a series of still images was recorded on it.
It was the first-ever movie camera!
Thomas Edison, the famous American inventor, developed motion pictures the same year as the Lumières, but his was an inferior system.
Instead of projecting the film onto a large screen where hundreds of people could see it, Edison’s device was a large box into which only one person at a time could peer and watch the film.
That is why the Lumière brothers were called the fathers of cinematography – the art of making motion pictures.
Interestingly, the word ‘lumière’ in French means ‘light’ – and that is exactly what is needed in order to make photographs and movies.
After being chemically developed the film was placed in another box, called a projector and quite similar to the camera, which had a bright light bulb to illuminate the film. The film was then cranked by hand, just like in the camera, and a series of images was projected onto a white screen.
Rows of people sat and watched the film – it was the first cinema!
THE LUMIÈRES’ FIRST FILM, ARRIVAL OF TRAIN AT STATION, SIMPLY SHOWED A TRAIN RUNNING INTO A STATION.
It is said that viewers were so surprised and shocked that they fled from the theatre in panic, fearing that they would be run over by the train.
The Lumières’ second film was a little more ambitious. It was a short comedy in which a trick is played on a gardener watering flowers. A neighbour creeps up on the gardened and steps on the hose, cutting off the supply of water. The puzzled gardened looks into the hose, whereupon the neighbour lifts his foot and the gardener gets a jet of water straight in the eye.
The first spectators thought it enormously funny.
Why is that so important?
– Because the film had a story!
In order to make a movie, besides having a camera you also need to have a story on which you will base your film.
The camera that you (or your parents) have is certainly not a film camera, but a video-cassette or CD camera. It works according to the same basic principle as a standard film
camera, as light still needs to enter the camera through a lens. Here the story takes a turn, because instead of shining the light onto a film the lens projects it on an electrical light-sensitive chip which converts the image into a signal that is then recorded on tape with tiny magnetic particles in it or on a CD. Ouch! Help! It’s getting complicated…
But I promised you that it would not be too complicated. The way in which a video camera works does not really matter for our purposes.
Even I am not able to explain it to you fully, and I have been making films for years. So let us forget electrons, CCDs, CRTs and electro-magnetic radiation and concentrate on
Film development was very rapid – the first movie with sound was made in 1927, and the first full-colour firm in 1935.
LASSIFICATION OF FILMS
I know that this might be boring for you, because you keep learning about all sorts of divisions in school, but stay with me: we need to mention that films are divided into three categories.
So-called shorts are films that last up to 45 minutes (one example is an episode of a TV serial). Medium-length films last up to an hour and a quarter (we usually call them made-for-TV films, because they are too short for showing in
cinemas and are rarely shot to that length by design – usually a feature-length film is deemed a failure for theatrical release and is then cut by some minutes and broadcast on TV).
Feature-length films last from one hour and 20 minutes
upwards, and are made for showing in movie theatres. According to their content, films are features,
documentaries and animated films.
FEATURE FILMS are made according to a story prepared in
advance which is then turned into a succession of movie scenes. You need actors to play the characters (in your case, not professional actors – your friends can also act). You will instruct them what to do and what to say – you will therefore film events that you yourself invented.
DOCUMENTARY FILMS are films about events that the
cameraman or film director cannot control. One example is filming a basketball match in school. You cannot tell anyone what to do and how to play the game. They simply do what they do and you film them.
ANIMATED FILMS are films where actors are replaced by
objects or drawings. The most famous animated films are
cartoons, but there are also other kinds. Let us now make an animated film.
THE LONGEST MOVIE I EVER SAW LASTED FOUR-AND-A-HALF HOURS AND WAS VERY
Now play the film to friends. What will they say? “Big deal –
a toy car running from left to right. Nothing happens. It’s a boring film!” You know what – your friends are right. It really is
boring. In order not to be boring, a film needs to have a story! And every story needs to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Your film only has a beginning.
Let us now film something that is not boring.
TAKE A TOY CAR AND PLACE IT ON THE LEFT EDGE OF THE PICTURE IN THE VIEWFINDER. PLACE THE CAMERA ON
THE FLOOR. WEDGE IT TIGHTLY WITH HEAVY BOOKS SO IT CANNOT MOVE WHEN YOU PRESS THE ‘RECORD’ BUTTON. MAKE SURE NOT TO OBSCURE THE LENS WITH A BOOK.
PRESS ‘RECORD’. COUNT TO ‘ONE’ AND PRESS IT AGAIN (THIS MEANS A VERY SHORT TIME). MAKE SURE NOT TO MOVE THE CAMERA.
MOVE THE CAR TO THE RIGHT BY ONE CENTIMETRE.
MOVE THE CAR TO THE RIGHT BY ANOTHER CENTIMETRE. REPEAT THE STEPS UNTIL THE CAR LEAVES THE FRAME ON THE RIGHT.
NOW REWIND THE CAMERA TO THE BEGINNING AND WATCH THE TAPE. THE CAR WILL SEEM TO RUN ON ITS OWN! YOU HAVE JUST SHOT YOUR FIRST ANIMATED FILM. IT WASN’T VERY HARD, WAS IT? NOW REPEAT THE
THIS IS AN EXERCISE DONE AT HOME
The shot is what you see through the viewfinder of a camera – the segment of space that is recorded by the camera; it also stands for the duration of that recorded between the start of shooting
(REC) and its end
(PAUSE). So a shot is a segment of time and a segment of space before a camera.
Play your little film to friends and you will see that they will laugh. The fact that they found it funny is proof that your film is not boring but entertaining.
You have just shot your first film! A short one, but a film,
Your film has a beginning (introduction) – the car is running towards the camera, a middle (plot, or action) – the car hits the camera, and an ending (resolution, or
denouement) – the camera rises to show you – the author.
PLACE THE TOY CAR IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FRAME HALF A METRE FROM THE LENS AND FACING IT. RECORD THE SCENE IN THE SAME MANNER AS
…ONLY DO NOT COUNT TO ‘ONE’ WHEN YOU BEGIN THE SHOT BUT PRESS THE BUTTON AGAIN AS SOON AS YOU SEE ‘REC’ IN THE VIEWFINDER. KEEP MOVING THE CAR TOWARDS THE CAMERA ONE CENTIMETRE AT A TIME.
AFTER ABOUT 50 TAKES THE CAR WILL ACTUALLY BE
TOUCHING THE LENS.
NOW DRAW AN EXPLOSION BURST ON A SHEET OF PAPER. REMOVE THE CAR AND PLACE THE DRAWING ABOUT HALF A METRE IN FRONT OF THE LENS (LEANING
AGAINST SOME BOOKS). SWITCH RECORDING ON, SAY “BANG” IN A LOUD VOICE AND THEN STOP RECORDING.
PUT THE CAR BACK IN ITS LAST POSITION AGAINST THE LENS, BUT RAISE THE LENS ON AN EXERCISE BOOK. MAKE A BRIEF SHOT.
ADD ANOTHER EXERCISE BOOK, AND MAKE ANOTHER BRIEF SHOT. REPEAT THIS, RAISING THE CAMERA ON MORE AND MORE BOOKS UNTIL IT POINTS AT THE CEILING.
NOW KNEEL DOWN IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA, LEAN FORWARD INTO THE LENS , BEGIN RECORDING AND SAY: “SORRY, THIS IS THE END, BECAUSE MY CAR HAS COLLIDED WITH THE LENS!”
DO EVERYTHING AS IN EXERCISE NO. 1, BUT…
The lens, as we have said, is the foremost part of a camera through which passes the light that forms all the images that we see and is then recorded on a film or tape. The part of the camera at the rear through which we compose images is called the viewfinder. I can see you being puzzled by the phrase “the light that forms all the images that we see.” Let’s make a little experiment to see how light forms images. Draw the curtains shut and roll down the blinds in your room, making it completely dark. Can you see anything at all? Of course not, because there is no light, which we need to form the
images we see and to see colours. Without light we would never even know that colours existed!
EXERCISE No. 2
This manner of shooting offers you millions of possibilities! You can shoot animated films about your books ‘jumping by themselves’ from the table down to a chair and then ‘walking’ to your school bag and ‘entering’ it. You can shoot fruit slicing itself and making a fruit salad by itself, you can film a castle mysteriously building itself from play building blocks – but
you must never forget that every story needs to have an ending, must have a surprise at the end, something
unexpected, something because of which the film is in fact being shot.
Let us now learn something else that is also VERY important. You will probably admit that it was a little bit of a drag to do everything by yourself – to move the car and film the shot, and then move the car and do the shot, and again, and so fifty times.
Now imagine that you had done it with a friend – one of you works the camera and the other moves the car – you would have made the film three times as fast and would
have had fun, as well.
The exercise has taught you this: in order to
shoot a film you need a camera, you need a story (with a beginning, a plot and an ending), and you also need friends!
We shall talk about this in a while, but before we do, let us shoot two more exercises which will be made of several shots. What we have
done so far is also made of several shots, but when the film is played they all look like a single one, and most films are made up of a succession of shots, and that is what we will try now.
We will now try a documentary film.
The simplest type of documentary is recording an activity, a
process of work. Its purpose is to teach the viewer about how
something is done.
The film must not exclude a single segment of the process, but of course it must last shorter than the actual activity because otherwise it would be too long and dull. Two examples
we could mention are something simple, like cooking potatoes, or something much more complicated, like building a house.
Imagine shooting a documentary about the process of
building a house that lasted as long as the actual construction! It would last three or four months – no one is stupid enough to sit and watch a film for four months! For that reason time
2. GRANNY WASHES
PEELED POTATOES 3. GRANNY FILLSPOT WITH WATER 4. GRANNY TURNSON COOKER 6. GRANNY PUTS PEELED
POTATOES IN WATER
5. GRANNY PLACES POT ON COOKER 7. WATER IS BOILING 8. GRANNY TURNS
OFF COOKER 9. GRANNY PICKS UP A HOTPOTATO WITH A FORK AND PLACES IT ON A PLATE
Let us try to film How to Cook Potatoes in about a dozen shots. Could you do it in a single shot? Of course you could, but it would be pretty long and boring. It would last about half an hour and no one would want to watch it. If, however, you were to divide the process into about a dozen short shots, its duration would be no more than a minute and a half.
Have me missed anything? Yes and no.
We did not skip the important things – the potatoes were peeled and washed, placed in the pot with water, the water boiled, and the potatoes were cooked. So what did we skip? For one thing, there was no need to film granny peeling an entire potato but only the start of
the peeling, because the very next shot shows it completely peeled, and the viewer of course concludes that granny
peeled all of it. That is very important!
The viewers conclude some things by themselves!
In this case they conclude that granny peeled the entire potato, just as in a murder mystery they
conclude the identity of the killer. That means that in the cut between the two shots granny peeled the entire potato!
A cut is the place where we go from one shot to another, from ending one shot to commencing another. The name is derived from the process of editing classical films, where the editor actually cut pieces of film and cemented them in a sequence – ‘spliced’ them. Although there is no need to do this when using video tape, the term CUT has stuck.
EXERCISE No. 3
The viewer knows that between the first and second shots you switched the camera off and waited for granny to finish peeling the potatoes while the camera was turned off. It seems silly even to have to point it to any one of us – we have been watching films since early childhood and accept this without thinking. Watch any film a little more carefully and you will see that time is skipped over constantly.
In one shot the hero is in his pyjamas, eating breakfast – in the very next shot he is driving a car in a suit. We never saw
him change, leave his house, get into his car, turn on the engine and drive to the street where he is in the second of the two shots. Do you see how much time we have skipped?
What have we thrown out of our potato film? The most boring bit – the time it takes for water to boil! Granny put the potatoes in the water, and in the very next shot the water is boiling and the potatoes are cooking. Here you have thrown out five or six dull minutes of waiting for the water to boil. In this way you exclude unnecessary bits from your film and reduce its duration from half an hour to just a couple of minutes. This is
called film time! You yourself create film time, which is not the same as real time. In this way you make your film much
more dynamic for the viewer – something new is happening constantly.
Let us now see how you made the nine shots of your little film. You could have placed your camera in one spot from which
one can see the table, the cooker and the tap and sink. You could just have turned the camera on and off. So what would you
have got? A film which does not show what it is supposed to show. Your point of view would be very wide and would show
the table, cooker, sink and Granny, but not the potato, which is pretty small. Actually you might see something, but you would not be sure – a potato, a carrot, or even a rock? You would also not be able to see that the water was boiling, etc.
This means that every shot requires moving the camera to the best vantage point for the next shot. If you are shooting a
potato, the camera needs to be close to it so that it can be seen to be a potato. In the next shot the camera needs to be
positioned so that you see both the tap and the potato. In the next one, move back so the cooker can be seen. What you are
doing is changing the camera angle. Do not let this frighten
you – it isn’t complicated at all.
You guessed it: very soon artists appeared who did not want to compress time. Andy Warhol, the famous
American ‘pop’ artist, made a six-hour long film of a sleeping man. Andy just placed his camera on a tripod, turned it on and let it run. We usually call such films experimental.
Few people ever watch experimental films, because they are usually very boring. But don’t dismiss Andy’s talents - he actually made some terrific paintings.
A tripod is metal or wooden device with three telescoping legs. Its uppermost bit, called a head, is where cameras are screwed on.
Cameras are always placed on tripods to avoid shaking the camera and the image
during shooting. You have certainly noticed
how the picture shakes when you
shoot with the camera in your
hand. Also, imagine how bored Warhol
would have been if he had shot the entire six hours with a hand-held camera…
The tightest camera angle is called a
DETAIL SHOT. For
example the eyes of a basketball player looking towards the hoop. Also the ball in his hands.
The next tightest shot is a
CLOSE-UP, or CLOSE SHOT. There is a
‘little bit of air’ above the head and the top of the shoulders can be seen.
The lower edge of the frame is between the chest and belly button.
The lower edge of the frame is below the navel.
The lower edge of the frame is below the hips.
UPPER EDGE OF THE FRAME
LOWER EDGE OF THE FRAME
The camera angle is calculated according to the size of a human figure in it.
The next tightest camera angle is called an EXTREME
CLOSE-UP. For example a
face filling the entire frame. The upper edge of the frame goes across the forehead and the lower across the chin.
The lower edge of the frame is around the knees.
MEDIUM SHOT. The
whole human figure is visible. There is a little bit of air above the head and some ground below the feet. Three or four actors standing next to each other can usually fit in the frame.
SEMI-TOTAL SHOT. Half a
football field is in the shot, or maybe part of a street, or a house in a field.
TOTAL SHOT. A whole
football pitch is in the shot, an entire street or a house in a large field of grain.
The American shot was called so because it first appeared in Westerns to show cowboys and their revolvers in holsters hanging from the belt. The Russian shot was so named because it is seen a lot in old Russian movies.
FRAMING IS USED SO THAT VIEWERS GET TO SEE ONLY WHAT THEY ARE INTENDED TO SEE.
If your brother is riding a bicycle and you try to frame him in an extreme close-up, you will never succeed. He will keep
running out of your shot and the camera will wander aimlessly looking for him. But as soon as you pull back and widen your angle of view, things will be much easier. Try it for yourself and see. Changing points of view in a film is very important, and
not just so that what needs to be seen is actually seen.
We will talk more about this in the next exercise. But before we proceed to it, let us make a few more shots in our potato film.
IF YOU USE A TOTAL SHOT TO FILM YOUR BROTHER PEELING AN APPLE, VIEWERS WILL HARDLY BE ABLE TO SEE YOUR BROTHER, LET ALONE THE APPLE.
A BETTER CHOICE MIGHT BE A SEMI CLOSE-UP, WHERE BOTH THE BROTHER AND APPLE WILL BE SEEN WELL.
IF YOU WANT TO SHOW THAT THERE IS A WORM IN THE APPLE, THEN CHOOSE A DETAIL SHOT. NOW FILM GRANNY PLACING THE PLATE ON THE TABLE (AMERICAN OR SEMI CLOSE-UP)…
NOW FIX THE CAMERA ON A TRIPOD, MOVE IT BACK FORM THE TABLE (MEDIUM SHOT) TURN THE CAMERA ON, MOVE INTO THE SHOT, GRAB THE PLATE AND RUN OUT OF THE FRAME.
NOW PLACE THE CAMERA AT THE SPOT WHERE GRANNY WAS STANDING IN THE PREVIOUS SHOT AND FILM THE TABLE WITHOUT THE PLATE ON IT. THIS IS A
SUBJECTIVE SHOT, WHICH
MEANS THAT THE CAMERA IS ‘ACTING OUT’
SOMEONE’S POINT OF VIEW. SHOTS LIKE THESE ARE FREQUENT IN HORROR FILMS.
…AND THEN FILM HER TURNING TOWARDS THE SINK AND WASHING HER HANDS.
THE LAST THING WE SAW WAS GRANNY PLACING A BOILED POTATO ON A PLATE, WHICH YOU SHOT AS A DETAIL. THE FRAMING OF A SHOT IS DETERMINED BY THE ACTION TAKING PLACE IN IT.
WHEN YOU PLAY THE FILM THIS SEQUENCE OF SHOTS WILL APPEAR AS IF
THE CAMERA HAS BECOME GRANNY’S EYES, HER GAZE
ON THE TABLE.
THE MOVE FROM THE CLOSE-UP OF GRANNY’S SURPRISED FACE TO AN EMPTY TABLE IS CALLED
CUTTING TO A VIEW.
THERE IS ALSO A CUT TO AN ACTION, BUT MORE ABOUT THAT LATER.
EXERCISE No. 4
NOW FILM GRANNY
(CLOSE-UP) TURNING TOWARDS THE
SPOT WHERE THE PLATE WAS BEFORE YOU TOOK IT. THE TABLE CANNOT BE SEEN IN THE SHOT. GRANNY IS OBVIOUSLY SURPRISED.
THAT IS WHY WE ARE SHOOTING HER CLOSE-UP - TO SEE THE REACTION ON HER FACE.
Why have we done all this?
The reason was to turn the film from one simply showing an activity to one with an actual story. As long as granny is cooking potatoes, it is just an ordinary activity. But when you steal a potato – that is a film with a story. This story has a middle (plot) – you stealing the potato
– but it has no ending. You will get an ending if you fix the camera on
a tripod and make a shot of yourself (medium close-up), not in the kitchen but in your room, where you have hidden, trying to hold the potato and chucking it from one hand to another because you can’t eat it as it is too hot to hold. Your film now has an ending, a conclusion.
Also very importantly – it has an idea, or a moral! What is the idea
behind the ending? Simply that those who steal get punished – burned – because stealing is wrong.
In the next exercise we shall also be making a documentary, but this time a report. A report differs from the record of a work process or activity because you are allowed to skip over parts of the process.
Let us try to make it in about a dozen shots and entitle it Dad Repairs
the Car. You can make a report about many different things: a day at the
beach, a school basketball game, an excursion, a picnic…
1. DAD PULLS ON
OVERALLS 2. DAD PICKS UPTOOL BOX 3. DAD LEAVESOUR FLAT 4. DAD WALKS OUTOF THE BUILDING 5. DAD LIFTS THEHOOD OF THE CAR
6. DAD FIDDLES
WITH THE ENGINE 7. DAD STANDING NEXTTO CAR, SCRATCHING HIS HEAD
8. DAD LYING UNDER THE CAR, REPAIRING SOMETHING
9. DAD ENTERS CAR AND FIRES THE ENGINE
In films in which you play a villain, make sure that you don’t get smacked at the end.
This could be the end of your film, but nothing interesting happened at the end, so you could put in a little more work.
EXERCISE No. 5
From this exercise we will learn something new. We will learn about film settings.
In this film you create your own settings, which do not have to correspond to those existing in real life. What does that mean? Well, you simply did not shoot those settings which you found dull. For example you skipped dad walking down the stairs in your building. Why not? Well, because it was not important for your story, as the topic is dad repairing the car, rather than dad going down the stairs. You might for example have followed the shot of dad leaving the flat with one of him walking out of a completely different building, on the other side of town. Playing those two in sequence will give the viewer an impression that dad walked out the building where your flat is located.
The flat is in one building, and the exit in a completely different one! You tricked viewers and they never knew it. Why would you do something like that? - For the sake of beauty!
Perhaps your building is dilapidated or neglected, maybe its colour is ugly, and you want your film to be nice. And so you film your dad leaving a completely different building.
Movie directors do that all the time!
Usually the flat where the hero lives is in one place, the hallway in another part of town, and the building in a third location, perhaps even in a different town! Creating a film setting which differs from real life to make a film more attractive was invented by Russian filmmakers very early in the history of movies.
YOU COULD MAKE A HAPPY ENDING IT DOES NOT NEED TO BE A HAPPY ENDING
IN THAT CASE THE NEXT SHOTS MIGHT SHOW THE CAR DRIVING THROUGH A PLEASANT LANDSCAPE AND YOUR FAMILY ENJOYING A PICNIC, WITH THE CAR VISIBLE PARKED IN THE BACKGROUND.
YOU HAVE JUST CREATED A FILM SETTING!
THESE FOUR SHOTS WERE FILMED IN THREE DIFFERENT CITIES -WHEN PUT TOGETHER - THEY GAVE
THE IMPRESSION THAT
EVERYTHING HAPPENED IN THE SAME CITY. A RUSSIAN DIRECTOR SHOT A YOUNG MAN STANDING IN A STREET IN St. Petersburg AND GAZING IN THE DIRECTION OF… CUT… A GIRL STANDING ON A STAIRCASE IN Moscow. SHE BEGINS TO RUN TOWARDS THE YOUNG MAN… CUT… THE YOUNG MAN (FROM St. Petersburg) RUNS TOWARDS THE GIRL… CUT… THEY MEET IN THE MIDDLE OF A ROAD (IN Kiev).
IN THAT CASE INSTEAD OF STARTING THE CAR IN SHOT No. 9, THE NEXT SHOTS WILL SHOW THE CAR BEING REPAIRED IN A MECHANIC’S SHOP WITH DAD STANDING BY AND WATCHING.
Let us return to the exercise with dad and the car. The third and fourth shots show dad leaving the flat and the building. If you choose ‘Russian’ framing for both, it will look as if the image made a ‘jump’ – as if dad is the same, and his surroundings just changed. Try it and you will see. Now for the first do a medium shot, and the second a semi-close-up, and you will see that it will be much more pleasing for the eye.
You must remember this!
If you have a single hero in your film (in this case your dad), never frame him in the same manner in two successive shots!
You must treat this as law!
The difference in framing must be at least two categories: go back and look at the chapter on camera angles and framing – you will not achieve anything if for example you follow a medium shot with an ‘American’ shot – again it will just be the picture that will make a jump. But if you go from medium to ‘Russian’ – that will be much more pleasant to look at.
And it will be even better if you cut to a medium close-up.
What have we learnt?
We have learnt that the purpose of proper framing is not just to make sure that only that which needs to be seen is actually seen, but also to help that the compression of time (dad leaves flat, cut to dad exiting from building) is as easy as possble on the viewer.
In many films you can see shots edited so that they are framed exactly the same. For example, two friends sitting at a
table and talking, both in close-up. Wait a minute – haven’t you
just told us to keep changing the framing
constantly? – you ask. But in this case there’s
a major difference in the content of the shots – one close-up contains one friend and the next the other friend. These two are different people, and therefore the editing
THE BIGGER THE DIFFERENCE IN FRAMING BETWEEN TWO ADJACENT SHOTS, THE BETTER WILL BE THE CUT FROM ONE TO THE OTHER.
CHANGING FRAMING HELPS YOU TO COMPRESS TIME!
Arranging the sequence of shots in a film – which we call editing – can produce not just impressions of space, as we saw in our example, but also of emotions, that do not really exist.
In the following experiment, the first shot was a close-up of a man looking at something without showing any emotions. The next shot showed a plate of soup…
…and then the same close-up shot of the man was followed by another close-up of a pretty girl.
They played the two sequences to viewers and asked them to say what they thought the man felt.
Every single viewer said that the man was first hungry, and then was in love!
Mind you, two completely identical shots of the same man!
So editing the film produced impressions of emotions that never really existed.
The film about dad repairing the car (its happy-end version) is divided into three scenes.
Scene No. 1 is indoors, in the flat - preparing
for the job.
Scene No. 2 is outdoors, in a garage or street
-repairing the car.
Scene No. 3 is outdoors, in nature - the picnic.
Why is the division into scenes so important?
Because in every scene by selecting shots and framing you need to answer three questions:
Where is the scene taking place? Who is participating in the scene?
What are the characters in the scene doing?
This may appear simple, but in fact it isn’t. For example if your sister is preparing to go to sleep, it is dark in the room and if you try to film it neither the room nor your sister can be seen very well. So you will have to invent some action that will help viewers to see it – for example, your sister (‘Russian’ shot) gets into bed and then switches off her bedside lamp. But this shot must be preceded by the widest possible shot of the room to show that your sister is in fact in her own room rather than for example in your parents’ room.
So far we have talked only about compressing film time, but there are situations where film time has to be longer than real time. Things that happen very quickly in life can in fact be
extended in film time. Let us do another exercise.
Every major change of location represents a new scene.
Every major jump in time, although the action may be taking place in the same spot, also results in a new scene.
For example, in the evening you film your sister getting into bed, and the next morning you shoot her getting up. Although shot in the same room, these are in fact two different scenes because there is a big time difference between them.
1. A SEMI-TOTAL SHOT TAKEN FROM THE SIDE. ON THE LEFT SIDE IS THE GOAL AND GOALIE, AND ON THE RIGHT THE KICKER STARTING HIS RUN
TOWARDS THE BALL.
PLACE THE CAMERA BEHIND THE GOAL SO THE GOAL AND GOALKEEPER ARE IN FRONT OF YOU AND THE BOY TAKING THE KICK IS IN THE DISTANCE
BOY TAKING A PENALTY KICK AND HIS PAL IS ON THE GOAL. THIS MAY BE TAKEN AS A SINGLE SHOT, IN REAL TIME.
ONE BOY KICKS THE BALL AND THE OTHER CATCHES IT. YOU MADE A SINGLE SHOT LASTING PERHAPS THREE SECONDS. 2. CLOSE-UP OF THE GOALIE CONCENTRATING ON THE SHOT. 3. DETAIL SHOT OF A FOOT KICKING THE BALL.
4. PLAYER KICKING THE
BALL - MEDIUM SHOT. 5. GOALIE LEAPINGTOWARDS ONE SIDE -‘AMERICAN’ SHOT.
6. BALL FLYING THROUGH THE AIR -DETAIL.
7. KICKER WATCHING ANXIOUSLY WHETHER THE BALL WILL FIND ITS TARGET - CLOSE-UP.
8. GOALIE CATCHING THE BALL IN MID-AIR - MEDIUM SHOT.
BUT LOOK HOW WE CAN EXTEND THIS…
YOU HAVE NOW CREATED FILM TIME,
WHICH LASTS LONGER THAN REAL
You may also place your camera behind the kicker and the goal will be in the distance. These are camera angles – every action can be shot from several different angles. Your task – as the author of the film – is to choose that angle or those angles from which an action can best be viewed.
The cut from shot No. 3 to shot No. 4 is an action cut. When you are cutting in the middle of an action to a different shot in which that action continues (of course, you also have to change the framing, but you already know that) - you will get a proper cut.
EXERCISE No. 6
THIS EXERCISE IS A KIND OF REPORT, BECAUSE IT DOESN’T HAVE A TURN AT THE END. IF YOU STOLE YOUR MUM’S APPLE AT THE END, IT WOULD BE THE TURN. BUT YOU WILL SURELY BE PUNISHED THEN.
1. MUM TAKES THE BAGS. 2. SHE IS GOING OUT 3. SHE IS WALKING
DOWN THE STREET 4. SHE IS BUYINGAT THE MARKET 5. SHE IS COMING
BACK 6. SHE IS ENTERINGTHE BUILDING 7. SHE IS ENTERINGTHE FLAT
Let us now talk about something that is a little more difficult to do. It is called the problem of the ramp.
A ramp is an imaginary line which in our case extends
from the kicker to the goalkeeper. In shot No. 1 of our exercise the goalie was on the left and the kicker on the right.
These relative positions must be maintained until the end of the scene! This means that the boy running to kick the ball
must run from right to left, and that the ball entering the shot with the goalie must come in from the right. The best way to film this properly is never to cross the imaginary line with your camera. To begin with, you might actually draw the line with some chalk and never cross it – film all your shots from the same side of the line! If you make any shots from the other side of the line, you will only confuse your viewers – they will not know who is left, who is right, from which side the ball will fly, etc. Does a ramp also exist if there is only one
character in a scene? Of course! Here is another exercise –
once again a report.
IF WE HAVE A SINGLE CHARACTER IN OUR SHOT, THE RAMP IS THE LINE ALONG WHICH THAT CHARACTER IS MOVING.
In this exercise your mother should walk towards the market from left to right and return to your home walking from right to left. What would happen if you made a mistake – if mum were to walk back home in the same direction as she walked on her way to the market? Our viewers would think that she was not going back home, but on her way further, for example to granny’s home. And when all of a sudden she does arrive at home, the viewers would be confused. And it is not our aim to confuse our audience!
When you say a film should be clear, what that means is that you must not confuse the viewer. Being short means filming only what needs to be shown (obviously, mother does not need to be shown descending all the way down from the 6th floor), and being
interesting means that it must have an ending – something
interesting to end with. That means that you must tell the viewers something unexpected. In this case we skipped that part to prevent you being punished.
Remember granny looking at the table after you had stolen the potato?
We had a close-up (of granny looking at the empty table), and then we cut to the empty table. In this case the ramp is the imaginary line between grandma and the table.
Look at the picture below of two friends sitting and talking. The ramp is the line between their eyes. The one on the left is looking towards the right, and the other is looking towards the left. If you were to film them in successive shots as shown in the pictures marked ‘WRONG!’ it would look as if they were sitting one behind the other
rather than facing each other.
IS THERE A RAMP IF THERE IS NO ONE MOVING IN THE SHOT?
YES! THE RAMP IS
THE LINE OF SIGHT.
YOU HAVE NOW LEARNT ANOTHER RULE OF MAKING FILMS -FILMS MUST ALWAYS BE CLEAR, SHORT AND INTERESTING.
‘CROSSING THE RAMP’ AND CAMERA
There are several ways to ‘cross over’ the ramp.
But why would we ever do that?
The main reason is that it is necessary to change our point of view in order to show new space behind our actors. When you were filming the two boys playing football, you showed just 180 degrees of a full circle, just one side of the pitch.
And in a film changes are important!
Changes bring in something new – and when you have new elements it helps you to maintain the attention of the viewers.
The most important way to change something is
movement! Every movement is a change. So before we look at
‘crossing over the ramp,’ let us first talk about camera movements.
When the camera is static in your hand or fixed on a tripod, that is a STATIC SHOT.
When you swing a camera to the left or to the right while fixed on a tripod, or standing in one spot and just turning your shoulders, that is called PANNING.
When you are in one spot and swinging the camera up or down, that is called TILTING.
When you hold a camera and squat or straighten your knees, that is a LIFT.
When you walk forward,
backwards or sideways while filming, that is called a TRACKING SHOT.
TRACKING SHOTS can also be made by tying your camera securely on a skateboard and rolling it. Other tracking shots can be made from a bicycle, or out of the window of a moving car.
PAN RIGHT PAN LEFT TILT UP TILT DOWN
Why does the camera move at all?
The first and most important reason is to follow people, animals and objects (cars, trains, planes) which are moving in the shot. A second reason is to present space to the viewer. For example, do a close-up of you sister entering her room. Then put the camera in the place where she stood (subjective shot) and pan across the room: it will look as if she is turning her head and gazing at the room.
Panning can also be used to show where people are. In
many thrillers you have certainly seen scenes of someone hiding behind a car, and then the camera pans and shows us the person from whom he or she is hiding.
Panning can also be used to heighten tension. For
example, you film a goalkeeper standing at his goal and preparing to save a penalty kick, and then you pan onto the kicker. In thrillers you often see scenes of one person pointing a gun at another, and the camera then swings and shows the second person to be concealing a gun under the table.
So if you have a choice, always move your camera from a less interesting thing to something more interesting.
If the camera is at the same level as your sister’s head, or eyes, we call this a normal point of view (a normal camera angle, a horizontal shot).
If you squat and point upwards towards your sister, you have a low point of view, and if you climb on a ladder and look down on your sister, you have a high point of view.
Climbing to a sixth floor balcony and shooting down on your sister is a bird’s-eye view (make sure someone is holding on to you, heights are dangerous), while lying on the ground and filming upwards represents a frog’s-eye view.
IN ANY CASE, WHEN MAKING A CAMERA MOVEMENT MAKE SURE THAT THE ENDING OF THE SHOT IS MORE INTERESTING THAN ITS BEGINNING.
low point of view
high point of view
When you do a tracking, panning or any other shot, make sure that your camera is static at the beginning of the shot, then perform the movement, and then the camera must be still
again at the end. This makes for a good cut from the preceding shot and a good cut to the next shot. Cutting off the shot in the middle of a movement looks jittery and nervy. But there are times when this serves a dynamic
purpose: in a brawl in any action film the camera moves all the time, and cuts in the middle of a camera movement are
There is another camera action where neither you nor the camera move, but the image moves.
Is that some sort of magic? – you ask.
This action is called a zooming shot and is done by an internal lens movement.
If you pick up a camera you will see a button which brings things closer or makes them more distant as you press its opposite ends. That is the zoom button.
Zooming in is used to emphasize something that is already in the frame but cannot be seen too well.
For example, you film a medium shot of your brother peeling an apple, and then you zoom in on the apple.
Zooming out is used to reveal what is around the person or object that you are filming.
For example, you start filming a penalty kick with a detail shot of the ball, and then you zoom out and show the kicker, goalkeeper, goal and pitch.
BRINGING THINGS CLOSER TO YOU IS CALLED
ZOOMING IN, AND TAKING
THEM FARTHER AWAY IS CALLED ZOOMING OUT. Hey! Stop moving!
What sort of camera angle
zooming out Points of view are very interesting! We spend most of our lives watching the world from a normal point of view, so that a bird’s-eye view or a frog’s-eye eye view are interesting and unusual.
Remember – when determining the point of view, it is the level of what you are filming rather than the level of the camera that is important.
If you are standing and filming a frog on the ground, that is a high point of view, and if you are standing in the same spot and filming a basketball player, then it is a low point of view. You’re always at the same level, but the things you are filming are at a different level.
In films it is not only the actions of the camera that are important. In fact every action is important! How come? Well, a film is made up of a series of actions. If there is no action in the film, then you should not have made it at all! You might as well have made a series of still photographs. Films are also called motion pictures. So whenever you can film something moving, always film it moving and never film it standing still! It is much more interesting to see you friend riding a bicycle than just standing next to a bicycle.
If your character has to stand still, then make sure there is something moving behind him. If he is for example on a sidewalk, it is better to position the camera so the street with moving cars can be seen behind him, rather than filming him against a dull wall.
Of course this does not mean that you should constantly be zooming in and out, running with the camera, forcing people to jump up and down… Do not do it without any reason, as you will not get a film but just a bunch of shaky images that will annoy your viewers.
So don’t overdo it.
It is now time to ‘cross over the ramp’. We shall try different
ways in one exercise.
MAKING FILMS IS ALL ABOUT MOVEMENT -YOU SHOULD ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT.
1. THE FIRST WAY
YOU CAN CROSS OVER THE RAMP BY MAKING A LONG TRACKING SHOT. START WITH A SEMI-TOTAL SHOT OF YOUR SISTER WALKING FROM LEFT TO RIGHT. START TO WALK TOWARDS THE RIGHT WHILE TRACKING YOUR SISTER. AT ONE MOMENT SHE WILL BE WALKING
DIRECTLY TOWARDS YOU. AS YOU CONTINUE, YOU WILL PASS TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RAMP AND WILL STILL BE TRACKING YOUR SISTER, BUT SHE IS NOW WALKING FROM LEFT TO RIGHT. DOES THIS SOUND COMPLICATED? WELL, TAKE THE CAMERA AND TRY IT - AS WE HAVE ALREADY SAID, PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT!
YOUR SISTER IS HOLDING A DOLL IN HER HAND AND WALKING TOWARDS THE CAR IN WHICH DAD IS WAITING FOR HER. SHE DROPS THE DOLL, BENDS DOWN AND PICKS IT UP AND CONTINUES WALKING TO THE CAR.
2. THE SECOND WAY
YOU NEED NOT DO A TRACKING SHOT, BUT CAN ACHIEVE THE SAME THING WITH THREE SEPARATE SHOTS. THE FIRST CAMERA POSITION IS THE SAME AS AT THE START OF THE LONG TRACKING SHOT, ONLY NOW YOU ARE NOT MOVING (YOUR SISTER IS MOVING FROM LEFT TO RIGHT). THE NEXT SHOT IS TAKEN WITH A STATIC CAMERA, WITH YOUR SISTER MOVING STRAIGHT INTO THE CAMERA (AS WHEN YOU WERE ON THE RAMP
IN THE PRECEDING EXAMPLE). FINALLY, YOU ARE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RAMP, JUST LIKE IN THE CONCLUDING PART OF THE TRACKING SHOT (SISTER MOVING FROM RIGHT TO LEFT). ONE MORE THING: DID YOU FRAME ALL THREE SHOTS THE SAME WAY? PROBABLY NOT, BECAUSE WE TAUGHT YOU THAT TWO SUCCESSIVE SHOTS MUST NEVER BE FRAMED THE SAME WAY. IN THIS CASE THE FIRST SHOT MIGHT BE A MEDIUM SHOT, THE SECOND A CLOSE-UP, AND THE THIRD AN ‘AMERICAN’ SHOT.
2. 3. 1. 2. 3. 1. 2. 3. 1.
3. THE THIRD WAY
YOU CAN CROSS OVER THE RAMP BY USING DETAILS. IF YOU FILM YOUR SISTER WALKING FROM LEFT TO RIGHT AND THEN MAKE A DETAIL SHOT OF THE DOLL IN HER HAND (WHICH IS, OF COURSE, MOVING TOGETHER WITH YOUR SISTER), YOU CAN
FILM THIS DETAIL FROM ANY SIDE IN THE NEXT AND WIDER SHOT, USING IT TO CROSS THE RAMP. IN THE DETAIL SHOT VIEWERS LOSE THEIR SENSE OF DIRECTION BECAUSE THE SHOT IS TOO TIGHT TO ALLOW DIRECTION TO BE SEEN, AND THEN YOU CAN CROSS THE RAMP WITHOUT ANY WORRY.
4. THE FOURTH WAY
IF YOU MAKE A CUT WHEN YOUR SISTER DROPS THE DOLL, AND THEN FILM HER BEND DOWN TO PICK IT UP FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RAMP, YOU WILL NOT CONFUSE YOUR VIEWERS -YOU WILL MAKE AN EASY CROSSOVER. WHY? BECAUSE -YOUR SISTER IS NO LONGER MOVING ACROSS THE FRAME, BUT UP AND DOWN. THAT MEANS THAT ANY VERTICAL MOVEMENT ALLOWS
YOU TO CROSS THE RAMP. IF YOU EVER HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO FILM A ROCKET BEING LAUNCHED, YOU CAN FILM IT FROM ANY SIDE WITHOUT CROSSING THE RAMP, BECAUSE THE ROCKET IS MOVING IN A VERTICAL DIRECTION. YOU CAN ALSO MAKE YOUR CROSSING CUT WHEN YOUR SISTER IS STRAIGHTENING AS SHE PICKS UP THE DOLL. I HOPE YOU WILL NEVER HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO FILM A ROCKET FALLING TO EARTH.
A RAMP ANGLE IS THE ANGLE BETWEEN THE RAMP AND THE LINE CONNECTING THE CAMERA AND THE OBJECT IT IS FILMING.
Once you have crossed a ramp, the following shots in that scene must be filmed from that side of the ramp! Once you have begun a new scene, the ramp that existed in the preceding scene no longer applies. In the exercise where dad was fixing the car, he can leave the flat from left to right and exit from the building from right to left. There is another thing about the ramp that has nothing to do with crossing it – the ramp angle.
Between the penalty kicker and the goalkeeper is the ramp line, and when filming the two the angles between the camera and the ramp should be the same, because if you use a bigger
RAMP 6. THE SIXTH WAY
YOU CAN CROSS OVER THE RAMP BY FILMING FROM A VERY HIGH POINT OF VIEW. WHY CAN THIS BE DONE? WELL, THE
ANSWER IS THE SAME AS IN THE CASE OF VERTICAL MOVEMENT, ONLY IN THIS CASE IT IS THE CAMERA RATHER THAN THE ROCKET THAT IS GOING UP.
5. THE FIFTH WAY
A TOTAL SHOT IS ANOTHER WAY OF CROSSING THE RAMP. MAKE AN AMERICAN SHOT OF YOUR SISTER WALKING FROM RIGHT TO LEFT, THEN ANOTHER AMERICAN SHOT OF YOUR DAD WAITING FOR HER IN THE CAR (HE IS NOT MOVING, BUT HE IS LOOKING AT HER FROM RIGHT TO LEFT), AND THEN MAKE A
TOTAL SHOT SHOWING THE CAR, YOUR DAD AND YOUR SISTER, AND CROSS OVER THE RAMP IN THAT SHOT. THE VIEWERS WILL NOT BE CONFUSED. WHY? BECAUSE IN THE TOTAL YOU SHOWED BOTH YOUR SISTER AND THE CAR TOWARDS WHICH SHE IS MOVING. SO YOU ARE NOT CONFUSING ANYONE. THE WIDER THE TOTAL SHOT, THE EASIER WILL IT BE FOR THE VIEWERS.
angle when filming the kicker it will look as if he is kicking the ball beside the goal. Whenever there are two characters in a scene there is a ramp between them, and you must film both of them Str. 41 using the same angle off the ramp.
Let us look again at the scene where two men are talking. If you film one from an acute angle (say, 5 degrees), and the other from a much bigger angle (say, 30 degrees), it will look as if the second man is not looking at his friend at all but somewhere off to the side.
This is a plan view. A plan view is a drawing to scale of a scene seen from above. The actors are drawn as circles, representing their heads as seen from above. We also draw in their feet to show where they are facing. In the circle we inscribe the actor’s initial. The camera is a rectangle with a small triangle representing the lens (to show where it is pointing). Now we draw arrows showing where the actors and the camera will be moving. We can also add whatever else is important in a shot – a table, chairs, a bed, a river, a street, a door, windows…
Making a plan view will be very important when you make a shooting script for your film, but more about this later.
Two other important cuts are axis cuts and angled cuts.
The axis is the line between the camera and the actor who is being filmed. We mentioned this line when we spoke about the ramp angle.
When you are doing a medium
shot of an actor and he moves towards the camera along the axis until he reaches a close-up position, this is then an axis cut.
This cut is a shock for viewers, but it appears much nicer than when you do a rapid zoom in on the actor. That procedure is used when you want to emphasize that at that very moment the actor realized or saw something important.
The angled cut is not so shocking, and is employed much more often.
In fact, almost every cut in films is an angled cut. For example, your dad gets into the car. You film him from an angle, and cut. Dad is in the
driver’s seat, and you now film him through the windshield.
That is a 45-degree angled cut.
B1 2 1 2 B A
OMPOSING YOUR SHOTS
Another very important prerequisite of every shot is good composition. Composing well means arranging everything in the frame as well as you can.
Divide every frame into nine equal imaginary rectangles, three by three, and then arrange actors and objects within those rectangles.
Which side of the frame needs to have more room (two-thirds, in fact) and which less (one-third) depends on the direction in which the actor is looking or moving. If he or she is looking or moving towards the left, then leave more free room on that side of the frame. If the frame contains no people doing any of the above things, then the composition is up to your own taste.
Place a vase with flowers on the table and try filming it while framing it in various ways. You will see that certain compositions will please your eye more than others.
ORE ABOUT THE CAMERA
We have already talked about the camera and I admitted not really knowing how it works. We do not need to know this in order to shoot a film, but we do have to know its functions – how to begin and end shooting, view filmed material, zoom the lens, and many other things.
Ask your parents to explain the purpose of all the buttons and functions on the camera. You can also find out in the
manual that came with the camera when you bought it.
When you read an instruction in the manual, you should immediately try it out.
That is the best way to learn and remember it. The manual is in English, you say. So what?! Grab a
dictionary, and get a little language exercise as well. Take very good care of the camera, avoid dropping it and spilling water on it, but most of all try not to scratch the lens. And always keep the batteries topped up.
THE LENS is an important part of the camera.
A WIDE-ANGLE LENS is ideal for shooting in confined
spaces, for example indoors. The framing is always wide, and useful when actors move towards the camera and away from it, as such movement appears very dynamic with a wide-angle lens.
Wide-angles are not good for close-ups because they distort actors’ faces, making them appear fat and funny (which is not so bad if your film is a comedy). These lenses have great depth-of-field, which means that if we place a ball in front of the lens both it and the kicker who is several metres away will be in good focus.
ШН T ШНT Ш НT
At its widest setting, the zoom lens is a wide-angle.
as you zoom in even more, you get a telephoto lens. At its middle setting, it
TELEPHOTO LENSES are not good for filming in confined
spaces. Proper framing requires placing the camera far from the objects being filmed and usually you run up against a wall. On the other hand, telephoto lenses are excellent for
shooting outdoors, because they compress space and the shots look ‘fuller’.
Position an actor in the street with lamp-posts and traffic lights behind him. First do an ‘American’ shot with a wide-angle, from close by. Now move the camera back some distance and again do an ‘American’ shot, only this time at a telephoto lens setting. This will appear much better – the row of poles will be more prominent and everything will look ‘more compressed’.
When an actor walks left or right - across the frame and not towards the camera or away from it – with a telephoto lens the shot will look much more dynamic.
Telephoto lenses have shallow depth-of-field. If you film a medium close-up shot of your mother in a green market with a telephoto lens, only your mother will be clear, and everything beyond her or in front of her will be fuzzy. But this is a good thing if you want to separate her from the mass of people and things around her. The bad side is that as soon as she starts walking towards you, she will go out of focus.
The automatic exposure facility built into your camera will give you a major headache, for example when filming an actor in a room with windows behind him. If you do a close-up, the actor’s face will be OK, but the windows will be washed out completely – you will not be able to see trees, buildings or anything else. If you do an ‘American’ framing of the actor against a window, suddenly the things seen through the window will be OK, but he will be completely dark.
Why does this happen?
We need to explain what a lens aperture is. The aperture is the
opening in the lens through which ight enters the camera. The
little hole which we mentioned at the start of the book.
Sharpness. Most cameras focus the image automatically. This is usually a good thing because you then don’t have to bother about focus as you film, but it is not always good, because sometimes the camera focuses not on what you want but on something else. Say you want to film an actor hiding behind some reeds, but the camera keeps focusing on the reeds and not on the actor, who is the important thing in your shot. That is when you have to switch off the automatic focus and turn the camera to manual focus. Read the instructions in your camera manual to find out how this is done.
EXPERIMENT WITH LENSES AND YOU WILL LEARN VERY QUICKLY WHICH ONE SHOULD BE USED FOR WHAT PURPOSE.
On a bright sunny day, the aperture in the lens is closed
(the little hole is small), because there is a lot of light and the camera needs very little to expose the tape well.
In twilight or on a cloudy day, the aperture opens up and
the little hole becomes bigger, to let more light into the camera.
On most cameras the aperture opens and closes automatically.
You can see this if you film while walking from a dark corridor out into bright daylight. In the corridor the aperture will be open, because it is dark, but as you leave the building, the aperture will close automatically. When you play back the tape, you will see that it will be OK until you walk out into the street, when for a moment the image will be ‘burnt out’, but then the camera will close the aperture and everything will be normal again.
But this ‘burning’ will bother the viewer.
The reverse will happen when you walk from a bright street into a dark corridor. The picture will be completely dark for a moment and then the aperture will open and everything will be fine again.
Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid this.
The picture will burn out or be completely dark for a moment every time you change your lighting
When we film our big movies we can even out lighting conditions with huge spotlights – it is like turning on, say, 180 ordinary light bulbs - but the only thing you can do is to make a cut.
That means filming one shot in the corridor, and then cutting to an outdoor shot.
As for the problem with the actor and the window which we mentioned, you can solve it only if your camera has a manual exposure setting.
If you have such an option in your camera, switch it on, and if the actor is more important in your shot, then open up the lens aperture, and if the things outside the window are more important, then close down the aperture.
Where exactly is this function located on my camera, you ask. That you will have to find out by yourself, by reading the instruction manual, because it is different on every camera.
It is allowed to change image sharpness in a single shot!
For example, you have an actor in the foreground hiding behind a tree, and far behind him a man from whom he is hiding. Your focus is on the first man, while the second is fuzzy and hard to see.
Now turn the focus manually onto the second man, thereby transferring the attention of the viewers to the second person, without having to make a cut.
You can only do this with a telephoto lens.
The clapper boy places the clapboard in front of the camera, the director shouts ‘Camera!’ - the cameraman starts the camera and shouts ‘Rolling!’ – the director shouts ‘Sound!’ – the sound-man starts the recorder and shouts ‘Rolling!’ The clapboard is still in front of the lens. The clapper boy then reads out the numbers on the board in a loud voice: ‘Forty-two slash twelve, take thirteen!’ (His voice is recorded by the
soundman). He claps the board and moves out of the shot. (Sometimes that can also be one of the things that ruin a shot – the clapper boy does not move far enough and his nose remains in the frame, or he trips and breaks a prop, or moves a spotlight…) Then the director shouts ‘Action!’ and only then to the actors start their part of the job.
The clapboard is a small wooden board with a hinged stick attached that is clapped down at the beginning of the filming of each shot. On it we write with chalk the title of the shot, which is designated by a number. For example: SCENE No. 42, SHOT No. 12, Take No. 13 (this means that the same shot has already been filmed 12 times, but there was always a problem that interfered: either the actor forgot his lines, or the camera shook, or a bulb exploded in a spotlight, or a noisy plane flew overhead…). You cannot imagine how many things can happen to ruin a shot – a million different things!
HAT IS NEEDED FOR
MAKING A FILM
Let us repeat once again what is needed for making a film:
• a camera
• a story and an idea • friends
The following are important for the story: it should have a beginning, a middle and ending, it should be interesting and clear, and as short as possible. This does not mean that the story itself must be short, but that you must tell it in the shortest possible manner, because long usually equals boring.
However, you must never skip over important segments of the story.
The person who decides which part of the story is important and which is not, where the camera will be placed, will there be action and what sort of action, and what will the actors be doing is called the director. This is the most important person in the film crew. The second most important member of the crew is the person holding the camera and filming – the
cameraman or director of photography. But decisions cannot
be taken by two persons, because each sees things in a different way. So it must be clear to all who is the director. The director makes the decisions and the others are there to assist and advise the director. But the ultimate decider is the director. If you re filming with friends, in order to avoid disputes you should agree who will be the director before you start, and then there can be no quarrels. For your next film the person who handled the camera in the first film can now become the director.
Shooting films is like playing a game.
Even we adults, when we film, are to some extent playing a game. Whenever a row breaks out, the game comes to a halt. And no enterprise is possible where people are quarrelling. To avoid this, make sure that no quarrel can ever arise: one person is the boss and the others must do as the boss says. In your next film change roles, so that someone else can be the director. Let us now list the members of a film crew.