Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Composition & Framing Can Help You Tell Great Stories with Your Cinematography. Here's How

Composition & Framing Can Help You Tell Great Stories with Your Cinematography. Here's How

Effectively telling a story through cinematographic choices can seem
intimidating if you're just starting out. Luckily, if you know the
basics of composition and framing, telling great visual stories becomes
significantly more attainable.
Simon Cade of DSLRguide recently put together a fantastic tutorial (and blog post)
that focuses on how you can use composition to tell better visual
stories. Not only does he provide good visual examples for everything
that he's talking about, but he gives some excellent insights into how
and why to use each of these techniques. Check out the tutorial below.

While most of these concepts are ones that we've talked about extensively on this site (contrast, composition, framing),
it's really helpful for aspiring cinematographers to be able to see
them all explained and demonstrated in one video. Internalizing all of
these concepts allows us to build a toolkit that we can easily apply to
whatever we're working on.

One of the key pieces of information that was only briefly touched
upon in this video, however, is that storytelling through cinematography
is essentially the art of visually depicting change. If your characters
go through a major change during the script, let the your
cinematographic choices reflect that change. Let's say that a character
starts out timid, shy, terrified of the world around him. You could
start with framings that minimize character size while emphasizing and
enlarging the environment around him. Wide angle lenses are fantastic
for this purpose. Then, as the story progresses and the character
becomes more confident, your framings and lens choice begin to mimic
that change. Instead of wide angles, you choose longer focal lengths
that isolate your character from his foreground and background, and
frame him so that he is larger or equal in the frame than the other
characters around him.

The other key insight from this video is that none of these rules, if
you even want to call them that, are set in stone. As we've seen, rules
are meant to be broken, and in fact, many of our greatest filmmakers
disregarded these conventions in their own work. The important thing is
that you make informed cinematography choices based on what's happening in your story and what your characters are experiencing emotionally.

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