Basic camera technique & movements in film

 

The camera angles in a film are one of the most important rules you need to know about filmmaking. Whatever field you’ll take on the film and television industry, whether it’s producing, directing, acting, scriptwriting, etc. It is important for every filmmaker to learn the technical terms of any type of shot.

Why is it so important?
First of all, it will help you to develop your camera techniques.  But more importantly:
this is the way all the film casts communicate. It will save you a lot of time (and embarrassments) to know them.

 “There is only you and your
camera.
The limitations in your
Photography in your self, for
what we see what we are.”                                                                                                   Ernes Hass

The Important rules you must know:

180-degree rule

This is a rule you will hear lots of your crew member talk about in a film production.
Here’s the deal:
The rule helps you not to mess up the direction of characters in the film while they are relating to each other. For example, if you have a scene with two characters talking to each other, not following this rule, might make them look like they are talking to themselves.

So what’s is the 180 rule?

The 180-degree rule is an imaginary line that connects between the two (or more) characters in the scene. The camera has to stay on the same side of the line during the whole scene. Crossing the line will mess up the direction the characters are looking at.

Click here to watch illustrates of the 180 rule

30-degree rule

To make your video editor’s life easier, your camera angle should move at least 30 degrees between each shot of the same subject being shot. For example, if you are shooting a car and you want to shoot it from a different angle,you should make sure your next camera angle will move for at least 30 degrees from the previous shot,
otherwise a “Jump Cut” will appear
A jump cut is when two shots don’t attach together smoothly.

Click here to watch illustrates of the 30 rule

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Use Camera movements to built emotion 

There are some camera movements that can make the atmosphere in the film a lot stronger. The camera movement is very important to set the emotion of the scene and it something you’ll have to practice a lot. A bad camera movement can really ruin the scene atmosphere. You have to be careful not to use them too much as many beginner directors tend to do, as it might make the audience lose focus. Use them only when it’s necessary to the scene. Remember! a good camera work doesn’t call attention from the audience.

If you decide to go on camera movement, I would recommend shooting the same shot in static camera, just to be safe. Sometimes a movement shot will look great in your head, but in the editing room, it won’t feet and then you’ll be lucky to have the static take too.

As an exercise, I would advise you to shoot a scene with all the movements I’m going to introduce you now and then shoot the same scene again with static cameras and see what kind of scene you are getting each time.

Zooming In

It is a process in which the cameraman changes the lens length from long
(Wide Angle) to close-up. This movement tells the viewer that what is happening now is important. Usually, we use it when the character becomes emotional or to highlight what is being said.

 Zooming Out

Same as Zoom In but inverted

Pan Left \ Right

While the camera is sitting on a tripod, we set in motion its lens to the left or right. It means that the camera is scanning the scene horizontally. If you’ll nod your he’d left and right, you will see how pan left and pan right looks like. If the director wants to see more of the right, he will ask the cameraman to Pan Right. These movements often are done relatively slowly unless doing what is called:
“Swish Pan” which is a very fast pan that creates a blurred background. This camera movement also very good to immolate point of view

Tilt Up, Down

While the camera is stable on a tripod, move the lens up or down, so the camera is scaring the scene vertically.  If you’ll nod your head up and down, you will see how tilt up and down looks like. If the director wants to see more of below the frame, he will tell the cameraman to tilt down.
Usually, we use it to show the size and power of a person or an object in relation to the viewer, So the viewer feels as if he is looking up. The same thing when you want to emphasize the lack of power Tilt down will show the bottom part of a photographed object.This camera movement also very good to immolate point of view

Here is a scene from one of the funniest films I know- the movie Top Secret – from the masters of parody- Jim Abrahams and David and Jerry Zucker– to show you a small Til up

Click here for an  illustrate that describe it the best

Enhance your camera movements 

The movement we saw up to now are very simple, but there is a way to make them look much more powerful. The Dolly is kind of a cart that you put on tracks and put the camera on it and it creates smooth motion. It makes the viewer less passive while watching and feel more active.

Dolly In/Out

Also known as” Dolly Zoom”. Dolly in means to get closer to the object and Dolly Out means to get away from it. It is quite similar to Zoom In and Out, but there is a big difference:
On a Dolly shot the ratio of the photographed object and its environment will remain similar, so the visual effect will be a lot stronger in the “Dolly shot”. The way to do this is by pulling
 the camera backward or pushing it forward while pulling the zoom on the lens to the opposite direction. It will always look better then zoom in because zoom in calls for more attention from the audience, while the dolly in is more subtle. 

Track Left/Right

is byTry them both and see the difference. t

Move the camera on the dolly to the right or the left. This kind of movements is good to create at the viewer a feeling of more activeness.

 

Make your movement look professional

It is very important that your camera movements will be smooth and substantial to the story, otherwise, they will attract too much attention and it will interrupt the viewer to Be “sucked” into the atmosphere of the film. The viewer might be too aware of the fact that he is watching a movie, and once that happens, you lose him.

Therefore, it is very important to practice as much as possible on these camera movements.

Your home work for today is to start paying attention to the camera angels and movement in the films and tv shows you are watching. Try also to take it a step forward and understand what are the emotion the director is trying to set with these angels.

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The Film Director’s Vision

Finding Your Director’s Vision

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In this post, I’ll teach you how to understand and develop your director’s vision. You will  see that it’s not that hard to take any script you want and make it unique and original. 

There is an old saying that if you can’t explain something to others, you probably don’t really understand it yourself. If you can’t you explain your vision in words, you don’t understand your director’s vision statement. Since The director is actually a form of a movie creative supervisor, the director’s vision statement is his leading tool of every production. The film director is in charge of all creative departments and they need to understand the way he has interpreted the script. 

When the director knows his film director’s vision statement completely, he can translate the script into visual shots inside the shooting script. Off course, the director’s vision doesn’t stop here. The vision has to be in the director’s thoughts during the whole process. 

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2 steps before working on your director vision statement

  1. The first time you read the script, you should notice what kind of images are appearing in your head while reading. Pay attention to sounds, locations, and emotions that are popping in your head.
  2. Watch different movies, paintings, read some books, listen to music, everything you think that will inspire you about this story. Do it with artists and arts you really connect to and not just the respected ones. Try to see what is it about them that connect you.

How to develop your director’s vision

The director’s vision will be expressed through the style of the film, the visual look, the editing and the sound design and music. The director is usually the one that is calling the shots for that kind of decisions. He does not have to be a specialist in all the filmmaking areas, but he needs to know the language of cinema to be able to express his point of view. Learn all the camera angles and movements  and all the types of  camera shots and learn their emotional strength. Every aspect of filmmaking can be a tool you’ll use to express your vision.

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Find your film director’s vision through movie’s theme

The film director has to be an expert on portraying a message. The first step should be to understand your theme or the premise of the 

The theme of the movie is, what this movie really all about in one or two sentences. It is the premise of the film.  For example the movie Back to the Future is dealing with changing your future, but it is not the main theme of the film. It is not the subtext of the film. The subtext theme is “true love is stronger than love out of mercy”. In Little Shop of horror, the story is the about a deranged and murderous plant, but the subtext of the story (The theme) is about capitalism in the modern world.

When you understand the film’s premise, you’ll understand the scenes. If you’ll know what’s the emotion behind the scene, you will know how to set the light for it. Even aspect ratio can deliver the director’s vision.

“The reason it’s important to have this (the theme) is because most of the time what a director really does is make decisions. All day long: Do you want it to be long hair or short hair Do you want a dress or pants? Do you want a beard or no beard? There are many times when you don’t know the answer. Knowing what the theme always helps you. “
Francis Ford Coppola

 

So this is what you’re probably asking now:

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How to understand your theme and vision?

The director’s vision should not be a political argument or a philosophical idea that you can copy. It should be a personal point of view of the director. Your point of view is something no one can copy and you also cannot be copied from elsewhere.

So how do you find your vision?

I’m going to explain it now:

  1. When you read the script for the first time you should write the thoughts that pop into your head while reading. You can write them on the script. Write everything you feel about each scene.

  2. Your next job is to understand why you were drawn to the script.
    It is usually the main character that attracts directors. As a director, you must decide what is you want to focus on the plot or the characters. 

  3. Think about the values in the script. Are their ant values you identify with? Go through the film’s script and check the values you most identify with. There are directors that write the biography of each character. It helps them to understand the character motive and its nature and basically what it represents in the film.

  4. Go through each scene and see what is the subtext of each one of them. Write them down next to the scene title
  5. Eventually, understand what you want to achieve from the viewer. Do you want his love (like comedies usually), or you rather impress the audience with a complex story.

Quick tip
The important things to pay attention to when you work on your theme throughout the film are the moral of the story, the smaller themes in the script and the subtext throughout the script

 

Sticking up to your vision

It is very important that once you find your vision, you’ll stick to it.
Sometimes you might find a lot of pressure to change things in a way that’s against your vision (usually from the production company),
you have to make the decision of how much you want to sell from yourself, in order to make that film.
Here is  to sum it up:

“Trust yourself so that the mistakes you make are the ones you’ve made and not something you’ve made because you were afraid to do what you wanted to do. Own your mistakes, then you can own your successes.
Try to be as good a listener as you are a speaker.
Don’t just put the emphasis on saying things. Listen!”
Jennifer Lynch

Learn more about director’s vision

To learn more about this subject. I really recommend reading the book The Director’s Vision: A Concise Guide to the Art of 250 Great Filmmakers. This book is about all the classic Holywood big directors and their visual styles. It is an excellent tool for insparatioin and to understand how to develop your uniqe director’s vision.