mise-en

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Mise-en-scene
from French mettre – “to place, put”
• refers to the visual arrangement of items
on screen
BUT, mise-en-scene also takes into
account how those items affect the
atmosphere of the shot
Dominant (Focus of the shot)
• The thing the director
wants you to see first
on screen
How is the shot
arranged so that you
look “where you are
supposed to look”?
Subsidiary Contrasts
• Everything else on
screen after the
dominant (items in the
background)
Does any other visual
material add a further
level of information to
the shot?
Camera Distance and Angle
• Distance of shot (long,
medium, etc.)
• Camera angle (low,
high, flat)
How do the camera
distance and angle
influence your opinion
of the objects on
screen?
Composition
• The visual
organization of all
objects on screen
(similar to elements of a
good shot, but for a still
image)
Note horizon,
placement, sizes,
positions, etc. of
objects.
Framing
• The tightening of the
frame around an
object (using lines,
doorways, walls, other
objects, etc)
Framing can
emphasize an object
or make it appear
threatened.
Character Placement
• The arrangement of
characters on the
screen (position, size,
etc.)
Staging Position
• The characters’
reactions to the
camera
Is the character
looking at the viewer?
Looking away? How
intimate is the viewer
able to get with the
character?
Density
• The amount of visual
information on screen
High density can
symbolize chaos.
Low density can
symbolize calmness.
Depth
• The number of
different distances at
which objects are
placed on screen
Lighting
• High light/Low light
• Source of the light
• High or low contrast
lighting
The use of light can
affect your perception
of the objects on
screen.
Lens/Filter
• Lens – a covering of
the camera to add
effect to the visual
• Filter – a covering of
the light source to add
effect to the visual
The lens or filter is
used to alter the
lighting or exposure of
the shot.
Color
• Note the dominant
color and any use of
contrasting or
symbolic colors
Form
• Either open or closed
Closed form – objects
on screen are not
affected by their
surroundings
Open form – objects on
screen ARE affected
by their surroundings
Lines
• Horizontal lines –
movement and fluidity
• Vertical lines –
confined or stagnant
feeling
• Diagonal (oblique)
lines – tension
These visual principles, with appropriate
modifications, can be applied to any visual
analysis. Of course, while we are actually
viewing a film, most of us don’t have the
time or inclination to explore all elements of
mise-en-scene in each shot. Nonetheless,
by applying these principles to a still photo,
we can train our eyes to “read” a movie
image with more critical sophistication.
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