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TitlePicture composition for film and television
PublisherFocal Press
ISBN 139780240516813
CategoryArts - Film
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size9.1 MB
Total Pages281
Table of Contents
                            Picture Composition for Film and Television
Copyright Page
Contents
Preface
Chapter 1. Invisible technique
	Learning the ropes
	A moving photograph
	Continuity cinema
	The shot
	The creation of ‘invisible’ technique
	Standard camerwork conventions
	Realistic representation
	Mechanical reproduction
	Framing a shot
	Composition
	Does the shot work?
	Intuition
	‘I see what you mean!’
	Why composition is important
	Control of composition
	Visual design techniques
	Cultural influences
	Changing fashions
	Summary
Chapter 2. Alternative technique
	Jump cuts
	Alternatives
	It’s magic
	Realism and imagination
	The film moment is always now
	Why people dislike the rejection of standard conventions
	Storytelling
	Don’t wake me up
	Definition of alternative conventions
	Conventions
	Summary
Chapter 3. The lens, the eye and perception
	Introduction
	The imprint of the lens
	The eye and a lens
	Size constancy
	How do we understand what we are looking at?
	Characteristics of perception
	Summary
Chapter 4. The lens and perspective
	Perception and depth
	Depth indicators and their relationship to the lens
	Focal length
	Angle of view
	Depth-of-field
	fno
	Zoom
	Focus
	The structural skeleton of a shot
	Horizon line and camera height as a compositional device
	Controlling space with choice of lens angle/camera distance
	The internal space of a shot
	Production style and lens angle
	Estimating distance
	Accentuating depth
	Summary
Chapter 5. Visual design
	Introduction
	Movement
	Sound
	Controlling composition
	Design techniques
	Grouping and organization
	Balance
	Figure and ground
	Shape
	Line
	Rhythm and visual beat
	Pattern
	Interest
	Direction
	Colour
	Scale
	Abstraction
	Understanding an image
	Summary
Chapter 6. Frame
	Composition and the frame
	Frame – an invisible focus of power
	Static viewpoint
	A hard cut-off
	Limited depth and perspective indicators
	Monochrome
	The edge of frame as a reference
	Frames within frames
	A second frame
	Frame and divided interest
	Summary
Chapter 7. The shape of the screen
	Aspect ratio
	The shape of the screen and composition
	Viewfinder as an editing tool
	Could it have been different?
	The invention of a world format standard
	Widescreen returns
	Design of the TV aspect ratio
	HDTV
	The need for a universal video format
	16:9 television widescreen
	A reasonable compromise between competing aspect ratios
	The divine proportion
	Widescreen – the shape of a banknote
	Summary of film and television formats mentioned
Chapter 8. Widescreen composition and film
	Finding ways to compose for the new shape
	Widescreen advantages
	Selling off the redundant format
	Pan and scan
	Cinematographers alarmed
	Boom in shot
	The growth of multiplexes
	Common topline and super 35
	Summary
Chapter 9. Widescreen composition and TV
	Introduction
	Letterboxing
	Aspect ratio conversion
	Protect and save
	Shooting for two formats
	Composing for 16:9
	Fidgety zooms
	Transitional period
	The viewer takes control
	Inserting 4:3 material into a 16:9 production
	Compilation programmes
	Distortion and definition
	Widescreen equals spectacle
	Screen size
	Endnote, or in a different aspect ratio, NDNOT
	Summary
Chapter 10. Past influences
	Intuition
	Early influences
	The Rule of Thirds
	More recent influences
	Summary
Chapter 11. News and documentary
	Fact and fiction
	Realism and fantasy
	Film as illusion
	Objectivity
	Record versus comment
	Operational awareness
	Realistic camerawork
	Technology as an aid to ‘realism’
	Documentary programmes
	Professionalism
	Engaging the attention of the audience
	Summary
Chapter 12. Composition styles
	Visual styles
	Style and technique
	Technological development
	Staging the artistes
	Studio or location shooting
	Shot structure and editing
	Stylistic flourishes
	Multi-camera live television conventions
	The introduction of the zoom and television picture composition
	Portable cameras
	Customary technique
	Genre
	Summary of the history of style
Chapter 13. Lighting and composition
	The key pictorial force
	Gradations of brightness
	Contrast range
	Exposure
	Characteristics of light
	Lighting technique
	Past influences
	Controlled lighting and composition
	Naturalism and found light
	Television lighting
	Any two from cheap, good or fast – but not all three
	Expressing an idea through an image
	Decorative lighting
	Summary
Chapter 14. Colour
	How the eye sees colour
	White balance
	Colour correction
	Colour as subject
	Monochrome
	Colour and composition
	Colour symbolism
	Summary
Chapter 15. Staging
	Introduction to staging
	Where shall I stand?
	What is staging?
	Staging people and staging action
	Figure composition
	Working at speed
	Summary
Chapter 16. Movement
	Camera movement
	Invisible movement
	The development shot
	Accentuating the effect of camera movement
	Summary
Chapter 17. Shooting for editing
	Invisible stitching
	Selection and structure
	Basic editing conventions
	Selection and editing
	Telling a story – fact and fiction
	News – unscripted shot structure
	Variety of shot
	Recap on basic advice for shooting for editing
	Interviews
	How long should a shot be held?
	Basic editing principles
	Types of edit
	Emphasis, tempo and syntax
	Multi-camera camerawork
	Dance and composition
	Summary
Endnote
Bibliography
Index
Color Plates Section
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Picture Composition for
Film and Television

Page 140

groups of the long exposure film. The accidental quality of these snap-
shot compositions was considered by many to be more realistic and
life-like than the immobile studio set-ups. Painters were attracted by
the sense of movement that could be suggested by allowing subjects to
hover on the edge of the frame (Figure 10.3).

When the frame cuts a figure there is the implication that the frame
position is arbitrary, that the scene is endless and a portion of the
event just happened to be cut by the frame at that point by chance.
The accidental character of the boundary was indeed arbitrary in
many snapshots but, as a conscious compositional device, it had
been used centuries before in Donattelo reliefs and in paintings by
Mantegna and it is to be found, as a considered design element, in
Japanese painting (Figure 10.4).

In an outside broadcast event the viewer may be aware that they are
being shown selected ‘portions’ of the event and that the frame can be
instantly adjusted by zooming in, to provide more detailed informa-
tion or by zooming out, to include more of the televised event.

Photography developed a compositional style of the instantaneous
framing of an everyday event. The most effective ‘freeze frame’
images of arrested motion use the tension created by subjects moving
apart from each other, and the relationship of subjects (often on the
edge of frame) in opposition to their environment. The considered
‘spontaneity’ of advertising imagery is an artifice carefully crafted to
make use of naturally occurring events and presented in an attempt
at innocent simplicity and naturalness. The sophisticated technique
used to create a seemingly accidental, non-designed image is a long
way removed from the typical ‘holiday’ snapshotter who haphazardly
puts a frame around an event and rarely achieves a print with the
impact of the controlled image made by an experienced photogra-
pher. The quality of ‘random chance’ in a composition therefore
contains many formal devices that an experienced photographer
will employ and exploit.

In copying from photographs in the mid-nineteenth century, artists
attempted to correct this lack of order, the unnaturalness of the snap-
shot and the lack of pictorial logic, according to academic composi-
tional principles. The distortion of perspective that sometimes gives
the snapshot its special power and the accidents of composition were
ironed out when painters translated photographs into paintings. Some
painters, however, recognized that the ‘non-style’ of snapshot compo-
sition had a vitality lacking in conventional groupings and gave it
artistic respectability by using in many of their paintings the charac-
teristics of the arbitrary frame and perspective of short exposure
photography (see Figure 10.3).

More recent influences

If photographic imagery provided an alternative to an over-intellectual
approach to composition, many late nineteenth-century and early
twentieth-century painters also challenged the received conventions
of academic subject and design. Part of their traditional role of pro-
viding a visual record of faces and places was also being eroded by the
growth of photography.

Past influences 125

(a) Golden rectangle

(b) 4 x 3 TV aspect ratio

Figure 10.2 The ‘Rule of Thirds’
proposes that a useful starting
point for any compositional
grouping is to place the main
subject of interest on any one of
the four intersections made by
two equally spaced horizontal and
vertical lines. Dividing the frame
into areas of one-third and two-
thirds is a method of constructing
a golden rectangle (1.618:1) and
these intersections were often
used to position key elements of
the composition

Page 141

The predominant style of painting in the mid-nineteenth century
favoured realistic illusionism. Photography, in providing an accurate
imitation of external realities, reinforced this existing fashion and to
some extent supplanted the social role of the artist as the only supplier
of visual copies of nature, people or places.
In the 1840s photographic portraiture challenged the traditional

painted portrait. This was followed in the 1850s, as the emerging
technology allowed, by a fashion for landscape photography.
Increasing film sensitivity during the next three decades permitted
shutter speeds of up to 1/l000th second to be used and enabled fast-
moving objects to be frozen. Artists discovered that their customary
methods of depicting objects in motion were false even though they
appeared to correspond to normal perception.
The increased shutter speeds of the 1860s and 1870s allowed snap-

shot compositions of normal everyday street activity, subjects that had
rarely been thought suitable for painting. This type of urban realism
not only displayed a new type of composition, utilizing the accidental
and random design of people and traffic, frozen in motion, but also
provided new viewpoints of these events, such as the high angle shot
from the top of a building looking down on to a street. When, in the
late 1880s, Kodak announced ‘You press the button – we do the rest’,
a flood of new ‘image makers’ were unleashed, unfettered by academic
art training or academic precepts.
Realism was considered by some to be the new enemy of art and it

was thought to have been nurtured by the growth of photography.
Those artists who considered photographs to be no more than ‘reflec-
tions in a looking glass’, had to consider what personal aesthetic qua-
lities they brought to their own paintings. In many cases they moved

126 Picture Composition for Film and Television

Figure 10.3 Place de la Concord
(Vicomete Ludvic Lepic and his
daughters) (1875), Degas

Page 280

Plate 6 This vegetable pack shot
framed up in monochrome is
disorganized and messy because
the colour component of the shot
is unable to be utilized

Plate 7 A tighter shot that relies
on colour for its composition
could be framed if the colour
values were available in a colour
viewfinder

Page 281

Plate 8 Rembrandt’s self portrait –
as the Apostle St Paul. Courtesy of
RIJKS Museum, 2002.

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