Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Storyboarding Q & A : 1
I wanted to ask you about emphasis and intensity and how those determine both the shot selection you use in a scene/seq. In your view are these basically the same thing(emphasis.intensity)?
In my opinion emphasis and intensity are two very different things, and the shot selection can vary widely between the two. Emphasis brings attention or focus to a specific thing or situation in the shot/scene. Intensity is the level of emotional reaction to that situation. If I wanted to emphasize a man lost in the desert, I would go with a wide shot and shoot down on him to show he is small and the desert is large-- If I wanted to emphasize someone lost in a labyrinth, I would go close and tight as if the walls were closing in. If I wanted to increase the intensity for the man lost in the desert, I may go close to see him sweaty and gasping for water, and shoot up at him to show the sun beating down over his shoulder. If I wanted to increase the intensity of the man lost in the labyrinth, I would stay close and tight also, because it supports the situation.
Of course, none of this is set in stone; there is a great shot in The Shining where Wendy and Danny are in the hedge maze. The camera is shooting straight down on them and pulls way back to show they are surrounded by maze in every direction. This is for emphasis because it shows the vastness of the maze compared to the characters (and is also a story point, making it believable that Jack could get lost as he does later in the movie).
Would you say that the tighter the shots get in a scene or the more an angle is tilted or contrasted with lighting the more intense/emphasis you gain and thus you have your turning point in a scene? Would you say this is a general principle but not a rule for most scenes in a film?
It depends on the story. A tighter shot or a tilted camera is usually more intense, but will only be effective in cases where it supports the story. Otherwise it feels arbitrary, and if done too often can desensitize or disconnect a viewer. Quicker editing or a handheld camera can increase the intensity as well, but again should only be done to support the story. Rhythm, color, shape, line, space and movement all work to raise or lower intensity. So I would say it is a general principle but not a rule.
If you could talk about this and your process as far as tackling a seq/scene/shots and how those shots are determined. are the shots based on the intensity of the scene or the mood/feeling of the character? or are these the same to you?(feeling/mood of character/intensity/emphasis of scene).
Sequences/scenes are like mini movies -- they should (but don't always) have arcs and visual progressions to them. Every scene in a film should: 1) Tell us something about the character, or 2) Move the story forward. When I tackle a scene I think of it in those terms. When I read the script, I ask myself ' What is the high point (climax) of the scene?' because that's where I need to progress to visually. The shots should support the story in the best way possible. The mood/feeling of the character will most often determine the intensity but not always. It goes back to supporting the story. The protagonist may be cool as a cucumber during a high speed chase, but that doesn't mean the chase should be staged flat and unexciting. For example, when Hannibal Lecter escapes from his cage in Silence of the Lambs, he is calm. The shots are intense, but he is not. It is the contrast that makes the scene interesting.