visual elements pres

Intro. to Film Studies
Visual Elements
• The basic storytelling tool for the filmmaker
• A single view from the camera
From one cut until the next –
may be a fraction of a second
may be five (or more) minutes long
• The camera pivots horizontally
left to right >>>>>>>>>
comfortable camera motion
<<<<<<<<< right to left
uncomfortable camera motion
• The camera pivots vertically
movement downwards –
comfortable camera motion
movement upwards –
uncomfortable camera motion
• A lens can affect the
way the viewer
perceives the item on
A lens can “soften” the
focus of the shot…
or it can make it
defined and cold.
Long shot (LS)
• A shot that shows the
object in its general
• Equal focus given to
object and
(more to surroundings?)
this is actually an ELS
Medium shot (MS)
• A shot that shows
only the object
• Focus on the whole
object (and maybe
American shot (AS)
• A special MS from the
waist up
• Usually indicates hero
(good guy)
• Comes from depiction
of hero in Westerns
Close up (CU)
• Only part of the
object is shown
• Focuses our
(usually face –
shows emotion)
• A lens effect that makes it look like the
camera is moving towards or away from
an object
Point-of-view angle (POV)
• A shot looking
through the
character’s eyes
• Draws the viewer
into the action
Reaction shot
• A shot of the person
who is not talking or
would not normally
be the focus in a
given situation
Bird’s-eye view
• A shot looking directly (or almost directly)
Used to show relationships between objects
High angle (HA)
• The camera looks
down at the subject
• Makes the subject
Flat angle
• The camera looks straight on at the
• Neutral portrayal of object
(sorry, no picture – it’s obvious!)
Low angle (LA)
• The camera looks up
at the subject
• Makes the subject
powerful (viewer
Oblique angle
• The camera pivots
longitudinally to tilt the
image on screen
• Creates diagonal
lines (tension)
Sometimes this
tension is ironic
• The camera angle
forces the image to
be surrounded by
lines or other objects
on screen
• May be used to
emphasize an object
or show that it is
Soft focus
• The focal distance of
the lens is set so that
objects at only one
distance are in focus
• Frequently used
• Focuses our attention
on part of the shot
Rack focus
• A soft focus where
the focal length
switches during the
Deep focus
• All distances are
in focus
• Requires a special
(expensive) lens
• Emphasizes back
and foreground
as well as object
This shot is not completely
deep focus, but it’s close
Packed screen
• A lot of visual
information on screen
can be used to
symbolize tension,
action, chaos, etc.
• Two people on
• Establishing shot for a
conversation (usually
a medium shot)
• Usually splits sides of
the screen
• One person on
• Focuses viewer’s
• Usually in series after
a 2-shot
(note camera position)
180º Rule
• The camera never crosses an imaginary
line between two characters
• Keeps the characters on the same side of
the screen to prevent confusion
Putting that all together
1-shot (close-up) on one character
1-shot (close-up) on other character
That’s All Folks!
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