Lights, Camera, Action!

Reflection: Learn How To Read A Movie

According to Roger Elbert, filmmaking takes more than just picking up a camera. To him it’s all about what you do with the camera that makes a film special. In his article, How To Read A Movie he discusses how important angles are. Angles are essential because they can influence a positive or negative influence on the scene. He also reintroduces us to the “Rule of Thirds” in filmmaking. Just like photos, the Rule of Thirds is when the subject is in 2/3 of the video. However, Elbert goes even further by explaining that wherever the subject is located can suggest different things to the audience. For example, if the subject is located center-right it looks the most ideal, if it is dead center the object seems objectified.

Another piece of information I learned is if the subject is located on the right it has a positive influence. If it’s located on the left it has a negative influence. He breaks it down further by dividing the camera lens and explaining what has more dominance. The angles that are more dominant include: right over left, ┬átop over bottom, foreground over background (unless the camera is diagonal, movement over stillness, etc.

The second portion of this assignment involved observing three different videos. The videos I chose were: The Shining (zooms), Tarantino (from below), and camera and angle techniques. The first two were absolutely mindblowing! I’ve previously seen The Shining and I thought nothing of the zooming technique, but after it was pointed out in this video I feel like it made the movie. It gave it the eerie aesthetic. When watching the video, I also noticed that it had a lot of the dead center camera shots that Elbert discussed. I also enjoyed the Tarantino video because I’ve seen some of his movies and I never noticed his from below shots. His technique is a very good example of Elbert’s ‘godly’ effect. Elbert suggested that filming fro below made the subjects look like gods. After observing Tarantino’s video I agree with him! The last video I observed was based on camera and angle techniques. It demonstrated how action shots are normally taken. It also reinforced Elbert’s main idea, that it’s all about the angles!

Based on all this new information I think that all of the suggested techniques work! The Rule of Thirds in cinema is definitely aesthetically pleasing to the eye. I also feel that the different dominances are also correct because very rarely can a shot from below be more appealing (unless your Tarantino). A technique I wasn’t sure about was zooming. The first week of class a suggested technique was to move your body rather than zooming in. So, I was surprised when it was suggested. However, in The Shining it worked out perfectly!

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