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Information about filmlanguage

Published on February 18, 2008

Author: Paolina


Film Language:  Film Language An Introduction Reading a Film:  Reading a Film A film is a TEXT, just like a book, magazine or play. Film makers combine sound and images in order to create meaning. Film makers try to manipulate our response (the intended reading), but every person’s reading of a film is different. This is why we all have different favourite films, and scenes from films! Favourite Scenes:  Favourite Scenes What is your favourite scene from a film? Why do you like it? The Plastic Bag:  The Plastic Bag From American Beauty (2000). Ricky and Jane watch a video Ricky has made of a plastic bag being blown by a breeze. How can a film of plastic bag be interesting? Slide5:  “So Much Beauty” Film codes and signals :  Film codes and signals In the spoken or written language that we use, words often have hidden meaning, or a 'signal' behind the literal meaning of the word. These are known as the denotative (literal) meaning and the connotative (hidden signals and implications) meaning of the word. Slide7:  The sun is literally a yellowish ball in the sky, but the word ‘connotes' to us meanings such as warmth, cheerfulness, life, etc. Slide8:  A teddy bear is a stuffed, brown plaything but it ‘connotes' comfort and childhood innocence to us. Conventions of Meaning in Film:  Conventions of Meaning in Film Films use the same signals or coding systems For instance, if we see a picture of a wooden thing with branches on screen, our mind thinks 'tree'. If the tree is a gnarled, large, spiky and leafless image, shot in black and white, we read the signal of disaster, threat, maybe horror. Conventions of Meaning in Film:  Conventions of Meaning in Film A close-up shot of a person’s face signals 'this character's reaction is very important'. Conventions of Meaning in Film:  Conventions of Meaning in Film The codes films use do not only have to be visual. The use of sudden loud music signals 'something dramatic is about to happen – pay attention!' Areas of Study:  Areas of Study In order to study how filmmakers create meaning, it is necessary to split the subject into topic areas: 1. Cinematography 2. Sound 3. Editing Slide13:  Cinematography Cinematography:  Cinematography Cinematography, English render of the French "cinématographie", is the discipline of making lighting and camera choices when recording photographic images for the cinema. Etymologically, it means "writing in the movement", from the Greek words "kinema" meaning movement and "graphein", meaning writing. (Wikipedia) Cinematography:  Cinematography Shot types Camera Movements Mise-en-scene Shot Types:  Shot Types Long shots Medium shots Close-up shots Special shots Long Shots :  Long Shots Very long shot (VLS) Used to establish a location or show action from a distance. People, if any, are small in the shot. Often used at the beginning of scenes for the establishing shot. Long Shots:  Long Shots Long Shot (LS) Closer than a VLS but people are still whole in the frame. Used to show characters in their environment. Often used at the beginning of a scene to establish location. Has a depersonalizing effect on the film. Long Shots:  Long Shots Medium Long Shot (MLS) A “knees upwards” shot. Useful for showing character detail (costume etc). Useful for showing several characters interacting. Still shows the character in their environment. Medium Shot:  Medium Shot Medium Shot (MS) The “bread and butter” of film storytelling. A “waist up” shot. A balance of character detail and their background. Close-up Shots:  Close-up Shots Medium Close-up (MCU) Head, chest and shoulders Shows characters’ facial expressions and their immediate surroundings Too many close-ups can make a film claustrophobic. Close-up Shots:  Close-up Shots Close-up (CU) Head or head-and-shoulders Very revealing of emotion, expression, skin, hair, etc. Used to foreground an important character, object or reaction. Often used as a cutaway from the master shot. Close-up Shots:  Close-up Shots Big Close-up (BCU) Where the head is partially “cut off” at top or bottom of screen. Often focuses on the eyes, lending emotional depth to a scene. Flatters talented actors. Close-up Shots:  Close-up Shots Extreme Close-up (ECU) Camera Movements:  Camera Movements Tracking Shot:  Tracking Shot A shot which follows the subject in its direction of travel. Creates a sense of movement and fluidity, and foregrounds the importance of the subject. To achieve a smooth movement, the camera is usually mounted on a dolly or else a Steadicam. Tracking shots can also move “backwards”!:  Tracking shots can also move “backwards”! Dolly:  Dolly A camera dolly is a specialized piece of film equipment designed to create smooth camera movements. The camera is mounted to the dolly and the camera operator and camera assistant usually ride on it to operate the camera. The dolly is operated by a dolly grip who is a dedicated technician trained in its use. The dolly is used to create smooth tracking shots. Steadicam:  Steadicam A stabilizing mount for a motion-picture camera, which mechanically isolates the movement of the camera from that of the operator, providing a very smooth shot even when the operator is moving quickly over an uneven surface. Editing:  Editing Definition:  Definition Film editing is the connecting of one or more shots to form a sequence, and the subsequent connecting of sequences to form an entire movie. Film editing is an art form. A film editor works with the layers of images, the story, the music, the rhythm, the pace, shapes the actors' performances, "re-directing" and often re-writing the film during the editing process, honing the infinite possibilities of the juxtaposition of small snippets of film into a creative, coherent, cohesive whole. Main types of editing:  Main types of editing The predominant style of film editing practiced by most Hollywood editors. The goal of continuity editing is to make the work of the editor as invisible as possible. The viewer should not notice the cuts, and shots should flow together naturally. Hence, the sequence of shots should appear to be continuous. A series of shots that are edited into a sequence either to suggest a symbolic meaning (Russian montage) or, more often in the Action/Adventure film, to condense narrative. It is usually used to advance the story as a whole (often to suggest the passage of time), In many cases, a song plays in the background to enhance the mood or reinforce the message being conveyed. Continuity Editing Montage Examples of Symbolic Montage:  Examples of Symbolic Montage Two signifiers are juxtaposed in order to suggest a third meaning. In film, the juxtaposition can occur by cutting between two contrasting or apparently unrelated images. Symbolic Montage - Examples:  Symbolic Montage - Examples In The Godfather, during Michael's nephew's baptism, the priest performs the sacrament of baptism while we see killings ordered by Michael take place elsewhere. The murders thus "baptize" Michael into a life of crime. At the end of Apocalypse Now the execution of Colonel Kurtz is juxtaposed with the villagers' slaughter of a water buffalo. Conventional Montage Sequences:  Show a lot of things happening at once Remind everyone of what's going on And with every shot you show a little improvement To show it all would take too long That's called a montage Oh we want montage Conventional Montage Sequences The Montage Song from South Park Examples of Montage Sequences:  The training montages in the Rocky series of movies Dirty Dancing Flashdance Ghostbusters Scarface's montage showing Tony Montana's rise to power, set to the song "Scarface (Push It to the Limit)" In Trainspotting, when Renton moves to London. In nearly all of these examples, the montages are used to compress narrative time and show the main character learning or improving skills that will help achieve the ultimate goal. Examples of Montage Sequences Shot Transitions:  Shot Transitions CUT WIPE FADE DISSOLVE Cuts:  Cuts An abrupt, but usually trivial transition from one sequence to another. A cut from one shot to another within the same place and time. Straight Cut A cut which “jumps” to a different place or time Jump Cut Fades:  Fades The process of causing a picture to gradually darken and disappear. Often known as a "fade-out." “Fade to black” is a common way of ending a chapter or episode in a film. Dissolves:  Dissolves A type of fade in which one shot “fades” into another. Dissolve transitions are generally used to show the passage of time or cover an awkward shot change. At the mid-point of a dissolve both shots can be seen equally well. Dissolves can be used to create a slower pace in a production. Wipes:  Wipes A gradual spatial transition from one image to another. One image is replaced by another with a distinct edge that forms a shape. A simple edge, an expanding circle, or the turning of a page are all examples. Using a wipe, rather than a simple cut or dissolve is a stylistic choice that inherently makes the audience more "aware" of the film as a film, rather than a story. Types of Wipe:  Types of Wipe An iris wipe is a wipe that takes the shape of a growing or shrinking circle. It has been frequently used in animated short subjects, such as those in the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoon series, to signify the end of a story. When used in this manner, the iris wipe may be centred around a certain focal point and may be used as a device for a "parting shot" joke, a fourth wall-breaching wink by a character, or other purposes. A star wipe is a wipe that takes the shape of a growing or shrinking star, and is used to impart a sense of "extra specialness" or "added value." An example of the "star wipe" can be seen in the Guiding Light opening sequences of the 1980s. This convention was considered overused during that time period and is now generally thought to be somewhat out-of-date. A heart wipe is a wipe that takes the shape of a growing or shrinking heart, and is used to impart a sense of "love" or "friendship." The heart wipe is still used in wedding, graduation, and bar mitzvah videos, among others, as it has now passed from stylistic into the realm of standard convention, though many people consider it tacky. A matrix wipe is a patterned transition between two images. The matrix wipe can be various patterns such as a grid, stars, etc. A clock wipe is a wipe that sweeps a radius around the centre point of the frame to reveal the subsequent shot, like the sweeping hands of an analogue clock. Because of this similarity, it is often used to indicate that time has passed between the previous shot and the next shot. Film Sound:  Film Sound Introduction to Film Sound:  Though we might think of film as an essentially visual experience, we really cannot afford to underestimate the importance of film sound. A meaningful sound track is often as complicated as the  image on the screen. The entire sound track is comprised of three essential ingredients:  These three tracks must be mixed and balanced so as to produce the necessary emphases which in turn create desired effects. Topics which essentially refer to the three previously mentioned tracks are discussed below. They include dialogue, synchronous and asynchronous sound, and music. Introduction to Film Sound The Human Voice Sound Effects Music Film Sound - Codes:  Film Sound - Codes Film sound is comprised of conventions and innovations. We have come to expect an acceleration of music during car chases and creaky doors in horror films. Yet, it is important to note as well that sound is often brilliantly conceived. The effects of sound are often largely subtle and often are noted by only our subconscious minds. Diegetic and Non-diegetic Sound:  Diegetic and Non-diegetic Sound Sound whose source is visible on the screen or whose source is implied to be present by the action of the film:  voices of characters  sounds made by objects in the story  music represented as coming from instruments in the story space ( = source music) Any sound presented as originated from source within the film's world  Can be either on screen or off screen depending on whatever its source is within the frame or outside the frame.  Sound whose source is neither visible on the screen nor has been implied to be present in the action:  narrator's commentary sound effects which is added for the dramatic effect mood music Non-diegetic sound is represented as coming from the a source outside story space.  Diegetic Sound Non-diegetic Sound The Human Voice:  The Human Voice Dialogue Dialogue authenticates the speaker as an individual or a real person rather than the imaginary creation of a story teller. As is the case with stage drama, dialogue serves to tell the story and  expresses feelings and motivations of characters as well. An example of diegetic sound. Voice-Overs Serve to create a bond between character and audience, tell the story and place a film with a genre. An example of non-diegetic sound. Slide48:  When voice texture fits the performer's physiognomy and gestures, a whole and very realistic persona emerges. The viewer sees not an actor working at his craft, but another human being struggling with life. It is interesting to note that how dialogue is used and the very amount of dialogue used varies widely among films. For example: In the film 2001 little dialogue was evident, and most of what was used was banal. In this way the filmmaker was able to portray the “inadequacy of human  responses when compared with the magnificent technology created by man] and the visual beauties of the universe.” Sound Effects:  Sound Effects Synchronous Sounds Asynchronous Sounds Synchronous Sound:  Synchronous Sound Synchronous sounds contribute to the realism of film and also help to create a particular atmosphere. For example: The “click” of a door being opened may simply serve to convince the audience that the image portrayed is real, and the audience-may only subconsciously note the expected sound. However, if the “click” of an opening door is part of an ominous action such as a burglary, the sound mixer may call attention to the “click” with an increase in volume; this helps to  engage the audience in a moment of suspense.  Asynchronous Sound:  Asynchronous Sound Asynchronous sound effects are not matched with a visible source of the sound on screen. Such sounds are included so as to provide an appropriate emotional nuance, and they may also add to the realism of the film. For example: A film maker might  opt to include the background sound of an ambulance's siren while the foreground sound and image portrays an arguing couple. The asynchronous ambulance siren underscores the psychic injury incurred in the argument; at the same time the noise of the siren adds to the realism of the film by acknowledging the film's (avowed) city setting.    Film Music:  Film Music Background music is used to: add emotion and rhythm to a film. Usually not meant to be noticeable, it often provides a tone or an emotional attitude toward the story and/or the characters  depicted. foreshadow a change in mood. For example, dissonant music may be used in film to indicate an approaching (but not yet visible) menace or disaster. aid viewer understanding by linking scenes. For example, a particular musical theme  associated with an individual character or situation may be repeated at various points in a film.  Mise-en-Scene:  Mise-en-Scene Mise-en-Scene:  Mise-en-Scene The things in the scene - these are literally the things put in the picture for you to look at. All or some may be significant, but nothing is accidental - remember, this is not reality but a representation of it. location set design costume properties ambient lighting artificial lighting production design colour design Slide55:  Camera Angle, Shot, Movement and Position Establishing shot; master shot; close-up (and variations); long shot; wide shot; two-shot; high angle; low angle; aerial shot; point of view; pan; crane; tilt; track; dolly; zoom/reverse zoom; framing; composition; hand-held; steadicam. Editing Sound and vision editing – cut; fade; wipe; edit; FX; dissolve; long take; superimpose; slow motion; synchronous/asynchronous sound. Sound Soundtrack; theme; tune; incidental music; sound effects; ambient sound; dialogue; voiceover; mode of address/direct address. Special Effects Graphics; captions; computer generated images (CGI); animation; pyrotechnics; stunts; models; back projection. Mise-en-Scène Location, set studio/set design; costume; properties; ambient lighting; artificial lighting; production design period/era; colour design.

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