Monday, October 22, 2007
Composition, part 3
Some of you may remember the composition posts from Current Flavor. I found these images from The Royal Tenenbaums in a folder and thought it to be a good time for another post.
I'm fascinated by Wes Anderson's use of flat space in his films and his ablility to create dynamic and excitng compositions using flat space (at times combined with deep space) that engage the eye as well as direct the viewer's attention.
Here are a few examples of such shots. I've added arrows to indicate flat space elements and diagonal points of interest.
Generating Interest with LINE:
LINE is one of the building blocks of visual structure and can be broken down into horizontal (least intensity), vertical (more intensity) and diagonal (most intensity). Here are the examples:
Mostly flat space shot of Margot; notice how she generates the strongest diagonals in the shot (phone cord, angle of neck/head, leg), creating an area of interest for the viewer that contrasts with the flat space surrounding her. Those familiar with the rule of thirds will see she's placed right on a dividing line.
Same scene, but this time it's Ethel's posture that's creating the interest. She is engaging Margot at this point. Ethel is active, Margot is passive. The body language says it all here and again they are surrounded by flat space elements.
Generating interest with SPACE:
This is sort of anti-rule of thirds. In this scene there is confrontation between the three characters. They are all squashed into the middle third of the frame, cramping it and raising the intensity. All the characters are vertical lines (not that intense), so it's the deep space and the arrangement of the characters that create the intensity. I like the camera placement here too; it's just above the eyelines of the characters; just high enough to be interesting and to keep us with the characters. Any higher and the shot would start to lose intensity.
Deep space again. Note the perspecting heads leading the eye to Eli. They are all perfectly placed, and for all intents and purposes, TOO perfect. But that is part of the director's style and the shot is richer for it. his face is also at the vanishing point of the shot and all other perspecting lines lead right to it.
I like these shots for how elements are grouped together. The first one is especially interesting to me, with the choice to put the homeless guy up there in the right hand corner and the caution cone and sawhorses in the left corner with Margo and the car being a bridge between the two.
Could this shot work without those other elements? Sure. But it's those extra bits that add interest and texture.
These bottom two shots speak for themselves - showcases for the awesome and hilarious art on Eli's walls. Anderson knew this was going to get a huge laugh; the characters basically have no dialogue here other than "what?" "did you say something?" and "No, I thought you said something".