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CUTIING . . 147
INDEX . 245
CREDITS. . . 250
While pr oduction of motion pictures has changed considerably since I
photographed Th e Perils of Pauline in 1914, some aspects - particularly
those involving st ory telling - arc still the same as they were half a
century ago.
Motion pictures arc faster paced for today's more sophisticated audi-
ences. Television dramas now introduce the characters , set the scene and
es tablish story line in a few minutes. To accomplish this, early films took
a reel or more . Today's uses of the moving ca mera - especi ally heli copter
shots - and wide-screen format s permit more continuous filming with
fewer editoria l cuts. Modern filmi ng trends are moving away from the-
atrical effects. and toward morc natura l lighting and ca mera treatment,
Involving the audience more deeply wit h the screen story. Th at is good!
Motion picture pr oduction was vas tly differen t in 1908, when it was
my good fort une as a boy of 14 to become assista nt - or "camer a boy" as
he was then called - to Fre d J. Balshofcr, a pioneer motion picture pro
ducer , direct or and ca meraman. Mr. Balshofer initiat ed many filmin g
techniques - such as strict adherence to di rectional continuity - which
have become accepted production standards. The followi ng year I went
to work for Edwin S. Por ter - who in 1903 had produced what is now
considered the first story film - The Great Train Robbery. Early audi ences
recognized t hese story pictures as res embling st age pl ays - because of
their continuity , which was a great advance over the animated movi e
snapshots presented until then.
This year marks the golden anniversary of the release of The Birth of
a Nati on, produced and di rec ted by D. W. Griffith, the acknowledged orig-
inator of screen syntax - as we now know it.
Yet, des pit e the influence on cinematogr aphe rs everywhere exerted by
these outstanding pioneers - and by many competent cinematogr aphers
and dir ector s of today and yesterday - not one of these masters of our
Mr. Miller is a three-rime Academy
Award winner for Cinematograp hy. He is
a past President of the American Society
of Cinematographers. and its present
Treas urer and 1\1useum Curator; Associate
Editor of the American Cinematographer
Manual and Chairman of the A.S.C. Pub-
lications Committee. Me. Miller is an hon-
orary member of Delta Kappa Alpha cin-
ema fraternity. and active in many tech-
nical and cultural areas of the motion pic-
ture industry.
craft has ever wri tten in clear words just how the ca mera can be used to
greater advantage in recording screen stories. The only way to learn to
shoot better pictu res was to serve an apprenticeship un der a competent
teacher - or to study films and try to figure out how they were made.
To my knowledge this is the first book that ha s attempted to trans la te
the many intangibles of film making into defini tive explanations. In my
opinion, no one is more qualified to wri te this book than Joe Mascelli.
Mascelli is a rarity. He combines the wide experi ence of a working camera-
man - who films both thea trical and non-theatr ical pictures - with a vast
knowledge of all ph ases of motion picture production, along wit h the
desire to instr uct and inspire. He is an astute student of motion picture
hist or y - particular ly cinematography - and has resear ched, st udied and
anal yzed the work of motion picture photogr aph ers, from Billy Bitzer to
Leon Shamroy. He has the unique ability to cl arify shooting techniques for
those who find the complexities of motion picture producti on mystifying.
I believe th at thi s book will be truly valu able to cinematographers of
limited experience , and particularl y to students studying motion picture
producti on . By under st anding and applying the principl es present ed in
this book, the reader will be able to visualize a story in motion picture
terms. For , above all, it is the power of visua lization th at makes the suc-
cessful ci nematographer.
Reading the script of THE FI VE C's was for me bot h interesting and
thought provoking. I hope you find thi s book as stimulating and tn forma-
uve as I have.
In 1928, when Eastman Kodak introduced 16mm Kodacolor - a well-
known physicist remarked : "It' s impossible - but not q u i t ~
On many occasions du ring the years devoted to preparati on and writing
of this book, I have felt that defining, explaining , clarifying and graphically
illustrating motion picture filmi ng techniques in an easy -to -understand
way - is i mpossible - but not quite.
Most professional s instinctively know the right way to film the subject
- hut seem unable to explain just how they do it . They have learned what
not to do, eit her from past experience or by serving as apprentices under
capable technicians. However - alth ough the)' arc employing the rules con-
stantly!- few can explai n the rules by which motion pictures are filmed .
Many camer amen - part icularly those shooting non-theatrical pictures
-cbecomc so involved in the technical aspects of movie making that they
tend to forget that the primary purpose of a motion picture is to tell an
intcrcsun q story! There is much marc to shooting motion pictures than
threading a roll of film in a camera, and exposing the picture correctly.
The aims of this book are to mak e the reader aware of the many
factors involved in telling a story with film. and to show how theatri cal
filming techniques can be successfully applied to non-thea trical pict ures.
There is no need for tremendous budgets to shoot a motion picture prop-
erly l The same profession al rules may be successfully applied to a docu-
mentary film report.
The definitions, rul es and recommendations in thi s book ar e not meant
to be absolute. Most of these precepts have gradually developed through
the years, and have become routine procedures. In a few ca ses, I have had
to di scover the hidden rul e by \v-hich cert ain types of filming is accom-
plished. I have also had to invent names - such as Action and Triple-
Take Technique - for definition and expl anation of shooting met hods.
The production of a motion picture, par ticularly a non-the atrical film.
can be a highly personal undertaki ng. It is up to the indi vidu al to accept.
change or twist the rul e to fit his particula r purpose. Filming methods are
continuously changing. The so-called "new wave" has shattered many
established techniques - with some suc cess. The coming generations of
film makers may find some of today's standard filming met hods stifling.
and even obsolete. Film production can use changes - but they should
be changes for the better. Changes that involve the audience more deeply'
in the screen story are constr uctive and always welcome.
It is impor tan t. however , that ambitious movie makers first learn the
rules before bre aking them. Learn the right way to film, learn the accept-
able met hods, learn how audiences become involved in the screen story -
and what viewers have been conditioned to accept through years of movie
going. Experiment ; be bold; shoot in an un orthodox fashion! But . first
learn the correct way. don't simply do i t a "new" way - which . very likely.
was new thirt y yea rs ago! - because of a lack of knowl edge of proper
filmin g techni ques.
Learn to know your audience. Place yourself in the viewer's posit ion.
Be truly objective in judging a new method or idea. Try it. If it plays _ if
it is acceptable - and the audience comprehends and enjoys it - use it .
If it simply confuses, teases or even dis tracts the audience from the narra-
tive - discard it!
Experiences in both theatrical and non-theatrical film making has led
me to the conclusion that the documentary - in-plant, militar y, ind ustri al
and educational - cameraman working with a sma ll crew, of ten on remote
locations, without a de tai led script or other benefits of a studio production
departmen t. must have knowledge and experience reac hing far beyond
that of a technical nature. He must of ten act as a camera man/ director
and later edi t his own film. His wor k ma y cover everything from conceiv-
ing and producing the pict ure - to putti ng it on the screen!
Thi s book will , I sincerely hope, provide such ind ividuals with grea ter
insight into the many ways in which a movie narrative may be filmed _
with the ass urance that the picture can be edited into an interes ting ,
coherent , smooth-flowing screen story.
The serious student should also consider a sixth "C" - Chea ting _
which can not be learned from this or any other book! Cheating is the ar t
of rearr anging people, objects or actions, during filming or editing , so
that the screen effect is enhanced. Only experience will teach the camera-
man and film editor wh en and how to cheat. The secret of effective cheat-
ing is in knowing how to make changes without the audi ence being aware
of the cheat. The only crime in cheating is in getting caught! A player's
height may be cheated hi gher in a two-shot ; or the corner of a lamp may
be cheated out of a close-up; or portions of the event may be cheated out
of the final edited picture- for a better screen result . The beginn er may be
either afraid to cheat, or he may chea t too much. The experienced tech-
nician knows exactly how far cheating can be carried before the viewer is
aware of a change.
This volume is not intended to be a means to an end - but a beginning !
My purpose is to make you aware of the many facets of movie making.
With that atti tude you may analyze any filming situation, and decide on
the best procedures for the shooting job at hand. What I hope to do is
help you t hink about motion picture production professionall y!
, .
J' .

Relea se

A motion picture is ma de up of many shots.
Each shot requires placing the camera in the best
position f or viewing players , se tting and action a t
that particular moment in the narrative. Position-
ing the camera - the camera angle - is influenced
by several fact ors. Solutions to man y problems in-
volving choice of camer a angles may be reached
by thoughtful analysi s of story requi rements. With
experience, deci sions can be made almost intui-
tively. The camera angle determines bot h audi-
ence viewpoint and area covered in the shot. Each
time the camera is moved to a new set-up, two
questions must be answered: What is the best
viewpoint f or filming th is por tion of the event?
How much area should be included in this shot?
A carefully-chose n camera angle can heigh ten
dramatic visualization of the story. A carelessly-
picked camer a angle may distr act or confuse the
audience by depicting the scene so th at its mean-
ing is difficult to comprehe nd . Therefor e, selection
of camera angles is a most impor tant factor in
constructing a picture of continued in teres t.
In most instances, theatrical film scripts des ig-
nat e the type of shot required for each scene in a
seque nce. Some studios prefer "master scene"
scripts in which all acti on and dialogue in an
entire sequence is pr esented - bu t camer a angles
are not indicated. In eit her case, the dir ector has
the prerogative of choosing his own angles in
accordance with his interp retation of the script.
Since the cameraman positions the camera , it is
he who usu all y makes final decision on viewpoi nt
and area, based on the director' s wishes. Dir ector s
vary in their ap proac h to the camera angle ques -
tion : man y will leave the fin al decis ion up to the
cameraman once their request is made. Other s
may be more camera-oriented and work more
closely with the camer aman in arriving at the
precise camera pl acement for each sho t.
When shooting from script , the non-theatrical
cameraman and director may work in the same
manner. If working alone, however , the camera-
man mu st call hi s own shots. When shoo ting doc-
umentary films off-the -cuff, he has the furt her
responsibili ty of breaking down the event into
individual shots , and deciding the type of shot
required for each por tion of the action. In eit her
case, the experience of the cameraman, his knowl-
edge of the problems and his visual imagination, '
will strongly influence the choice of camera angle.
Both theatrical and non-theatrical film makers
often employ a "Pr oduction Designer" to prepare
a "story board" - a series of sketches of key inci-
dents which suggest camera angle, camera and
pl ayer movement, and comp ositi onal treat ment.
These sketches may be ver y simple - the me res t
outlines; or very elaborate - in the case of high
Theatri cal film scripte designate t ype of shot requi red for each see"a in se-
quence. Prodecucn desunicr may ~ l I p p l l sketches thnt suyyest how camera will
be placed and moved. Director of photography is responsible fOT preci se place-
ment of camera.
bud get theatrical films ~ in which detailed color
renderi ngs of the scenes are closely followed by
direct or and cameraman in setti ng up the sho t.
A screen stor y is a series of continuouslu
changing images which portray events from a
variety of viewpoints . Choice of camera angl e can
position the audience closer to the action to view
a significa nt portion in a large close-up; farther
away to appreciate the magnificent gra ndeur of a
vast landsc ape; hiqltcr to look down upon a vas t
construction project ; lower to look up at the face
of a judge. Camera angle can shift viewpoi nt
from one player to another, as dr amatic emphasis
changes durin g a scene ; t ravel alongside a gallop-
ing horseman as he escapes purs uers; move into a
dramatic scene, as story interest heightens ; move
away from gruesome setting depicting dea th and
des truction ; see otherwise un seen mi croscopic
world ; observe the ear th from a satellite in orbit.
The audience may be positioned anywhere -
tnstantlu to view anything from any ang le - at the
disc retion of the cameraman and film editor. Such
is the power of the moti on picture! Such is the
impor tance of choos ing the right camera angle !
The documentary cameraman shooting off -
the-cuff has further responsibility of break-
ing event into individual shots, and decid-
ing type of shot (or each port ion of action.
Knowledge of editorial requirements is val-
uable when filming without a script.
The terms scene, shot and ~ e q l l e n e are some-
times misunderstood.
Scene defines the place or settin,q where the
action is laid . This expression is borrowed from
stage productions, where an act may be divided
into several scenes, each of which is set in a
different locale. A scene may consist of one shot or
series of shots depicting a continuous event.
Shot defines a continuous view filmed by one
camera without interruption. Each shot is a take.
When additional shots of the same actio n are
filmed from the same set-up - because of tech -
nical or dramatic mistakes - the subsequent shots
are called re-takes. If the set-up is changed in any
way - camera moved, lens changed, or different
action filmed - it is a new shot , not are-take.
A sequence is a series of scenes, or shots , com-
plete in itself. A sequence may occur in a ; ingle
setting, or in several settings. Action should match
in a seque nce whenever it continues across sev-
eral consecutive shots with straight cuts - so that
it depicts the event in a cont inuous manner, as in
real life. A sequence may begin as an exterior
scene, and continue inside a building, as the play-
ers enter and settle down to talk or perform. A
sequence may begin or end wit h a fade or dis-
solve; or it may be straight-cut with bracketing
seque nces.
Confusion arises when the terms scene and
shot are used interchangeably. Individual shots in
a scri pt are referred to as scenes. But , a master
scene scr ipt would require a number of shots to
film the entire event. In such cases, a single scene
number may be used and the sho ts design ated by
letters a, b, c, etc . While production personnel
may consider a single take as a shot, they refer to
the shot by scene number. For practical purposes,
therefore, scene and shot arc generally inter-
A shot - or a portion of a shot - is also refer-
red to as a cut. This term is derived from a portion
of a shot which is cut out and used separately -
such as a cut of a player's silent reaction removed
from a dialogue sequence.
The objective camera films from a sideline
viewpoint. The audience views the event through
This documentary shot - depicting con-
struction of a freeway - is filmed from
objective camera angle, sometimes refer-
red to as "audience point of view."
the eyes of an unseen observer , as if eavesdrop-
ping. Camer amen and directors sometimes ref er
to thi s candid camera treatment as the audience
point of view. Since they do not present the event
from the viewpoint of anyone wit hin the scene ,
objective camera angles arc imper sonal. People
photographed appear unaware of the camera and
never look directly into the len s. Should a player
look inadvertently into the lens, even with a side-
ways glance, the sce ne must be retaken - if objec-
tive angle is maintained. Most motion picture
scenes ar e filmed from objective ca mera angles.
Camera may act as eye of audience to
place viewer aboard airplane. If shot is
preceded lly close-up of person looking out
wi ndow - viewe r wi ll comprehend that he
is seeing what screen player sees.
be taken on a camer a tour of an ar t museum and
shown the paintings. Or, the camer a may dolly
slowly along an automobile assembly line, giving
the viewer a close look at the process. Involvement
is greatest when the viewer is startled or shocked.
A classic subjective camera example is the roller
coaster ri de in Cinerama. Pers onal reaction re-
sults not only from wide-screen tre atment and
stereophonic sound; but especially because the
viewer experiences the even t as if it were actually
happening to him. A like effect is achieved when
the camera films subjec tively from a speeding
bobsled. an airplane , an aeria l tramway, a funicu-
lar r ailroad , or similar vehicle; part icularly if the
view shown is precarious, such as a twisting
mountain road!
A ca mera may be dropped from a hei ght - on
a shock cord - to simulate what a falling per son
sees. A camera may be encased in a football and
spir aled through the air to the receiver.
The camera may fly in the pilot's seat of a giant
airliner as it makes a landing. It may r ide the
r apids on the prow of a boat ; roar down a ski
jump; leap over a fence du ring a steeplech ase;
dive under water; jockey for position in a horse
r ace; fall down a mountain - or go for a quie t
stroll in the park.
In all these inst ances the camer a act s as the
viewer's eyes. Eac h member of the audience rc-
celves the impression that he is in the scene - not
mer ely viewing events as an unseen observer . The
camera pl aces him in the midst of the setting, as
if he were riding the bobsled, flying the airplane
or jumping the hurdles. Subjective shots , such as
these, add dr amatic impact to the story-telling.
Abruptl y inserted in an otherwise objectively
filmed picture, subjective shots increase audience
involvement and int erest.
The camera changes places wit h a person in tile ,
picture. The viewer may see the event through the
eyes of a particular person with whom he identi-
fies. When subjective shots previously described
ar e preceded by a close-up of a person looking off-
screen, the viewer will comprehend that he is
seeing what the screen player sees. The shot itself
may be filmed in precisely the same manner , but
the viewer is no longer on hi s own - he has
- - ." - .
- - - .." ...
Tile scene followi ng drat of an indivi dual
looking ott -screen will be interpreted by
audience as what tluu: person sees. Ti le
mall aI,ove is looking up - at a bui lding
filmed from hi s poin t-oi-uieui. Upward or
down ward points of view of a player may
be simulated by similar camera angling.
.. .. _,
't --"'S!'lt" "I.
I " 'f"
. :A ,\ ..... ' "
Difficul ties do arise, however , when the ca mera
replaces a player who mu st relate wit h ot her
players in the scene. Whenever other players in
the sce ne look into the eyes of the subjective'
player they mu st look directly into the lens.
Th e unexpect ed appearance of a player looking
di rectly into the lens star tles the audience, be-
cause they suddenly become aware of the camera.
It is as if the people being filmed det ected the
eavesdropping camera. Such treatment can prove
very distr acting, and may disrupt the story-telling.
Viewer may trade places wi th person i n
picture if s110t above is followed by poin t-
of-view shot of OpeTation. P.o.v. shots are
best for training films becau se t hey place
viewers in workers' positi ons.
traded positi ons with the on-screen player to view
the event as he sees i t.
If an airplane pilot , jockey or mountain cl imber
is established in the scene, the following subjec-
tive shot is what that person sees. The spectator
may experience the same sensations, because he
is seeing the scene through screen pl ayer's eyes.
In the Following examples, the subjective shots
will be the same _ providing the viewer is looking
at inanimate objects , empty sett ings, or event s in
which people in the picture do llOt relat e direct ly
with the camera. A clock on the wall. an un occu-
pied room, an action ride, or people in the park -
will all appear the same, regardl ess of whet her
the viewer sees the scene directl y, or through the
eyes of a per son in the picture. Th e thrilling mov-
ing camer a ride is subjective, but sta tic
shots may be objective or subjective.,1 according to
the way they arc edited. Th e clock, the room, or
the park seene may be inter preted as objective,
unless a close-up of a pl ayer is shown looking:
off-screen. The audience will then understand
that what they see is what player sees in the scene.
Few shooting or editing problems are encoun-
tered when a subjective shot is inser ted in an
objective sequence ; whether or not a person , with
whom the audience can iden tify. is shown.
"Lady In T he La ue" used subjecti ve cam-
era, which traded ntacee with dctective-
ucro. He was seen hy audience on ly w hen
introduced, and when refl ected in mirrors.
The audience is shocked when it is abruptly
switche d from an unseen observer out side the
picture (looking at players who arc seemingly
unaware of the ca mera's presence), to a partici-
pant in the pic ture ( directly rel ating with the
players ). The viewer may wan t to become emo-
ti onall y involved in the story, bu t he m ay be un-
comfortably surprised when required to become
actively involved with the players !
A sudden switch from an objective to a sub-
jective look-into-the- lens shot is startling in a
dramatic film because the audience is unprepared
for such treatment. Viewers cannot Immediately
adjust to act ive par tici pation in the event. Wh en
thc ca mera returns to objective fllmtng, the audi-
ence will agai n have to re-orient itself. The sub-
[cc ttve treatment is rarely successful when the
audience is asked abru ptly to tr ade places wit h a
player , with all the other perfo rmers in the scene
looking directly at him.
If an entire sequence, or a complete picture is
filmed subjectively, other difficul ties arise. Sin ce
the camera replaces the player , it must behave
like the player , and sec what he sees through his
eyes at all time s. This necessit ates continuous
filming with a mobile camera, which looks about
as the player moves . sits , stands or looks at an-
other player . Normal editing techniques may Pl ot
be used, because filming cannot be interrupted.
The subjective player may be introduced in an
objective sho t; but when the camera replaces him ,
the audience mus t view euerut hinq subjectively,
as he sees it. While the person of the subjective
player is no longer seen , his reflection may be visi-
ble in a mirror , a window or a pool of water. The
camera must move to simulate the pl ayer's move-
...... ...............,...
Entire cast had to look directly into lens
wh enever relatinc wit h hero. The audi ence
did not see nero:e reactions . Only hi s voice
was heard,
ment s as he wal ks around. The player ( camera)
may en ter a room , look about, sit down , conver se
with another player , look at his own hand lighting
a cigarette , look down at an ash tray, turn his
head to look at a r inging telephone. get up and
wa lk out. The player, or players, in the scene must
look directly i nto the lens when looking into
the subjective player's eyes duri ng dialogue ex-
changes, or ot herwise rel ati ng with him.
W hen heroi ne m ade love to hero - she had
to periorm wit h tile camera lens!
Th e result of this continuous filmi ng treatment
is a great deal of useless footage between signi fi-
cant actions - which often can not be edited out
because continuit y would be disru pted. Subject ive
pla yer technique used in an entire theatrical pic-
ture, usu all y results in a dull effect, because it
elimi nates the player's face and does not show his
react ion s to other player's dialogue or actions . The
audience is teased because they actually see only
hal f of the normal interchange between players.
Whil e subjective treatment may be int eresti ng in
the beginning, it becomes boring, if extended.
Th ere are a few exceptions to the no-editing
rule. Th ese permtt or thodox editing of a subjective
sequence whenever the subjective player recalls
an event in a flashback. Subj ective flashb acks
may be pr esented in fragmented fashion, because
a person telling a story need relate only significant
hi ghli ghts, not every single move or action . A sub-
jective sequence may also be edited whenever a
Subjective camera is employed on rare
cccestcns in dramatic theatrical feature
films , In "Ship of Fools" narrator-plauer
( at right above ) relates wit h a fellow
pwyer; and directly Witll tile audience.
below, to comment on story.
player is mentall y or otherwise unbalanced be-
cause of drinks , drugs or illness. The audience
will under st and , in such cases, th at the player.
receives i mpressions, r ather th an a continuous
clear picture, of what is happening. The subjec-
tive player may. therefore, see events through hi s
mind's eye as a series of individu al images, in-
stead of a continuous happening.
Normal editing may be employed in these in-
stances, r ather than continuous camera filmi ng
otherwise required. A dir ect cut may be made to a
ringing telephone , rather than a pan to simulate
a head turning. A series of related or unrel ated
images, sharp or dist orted, may be shown as
individual subjective shots , r ather than as a con-
tinuous unbroken scene.
Subjective sequences , which may be edited , can
be successfully insert ed in objectively-filmed pic-
tures if they are prope rly introduced , so that the
audience comprehends what is going on . Such
scenes will work better with ina nimate objects,
empty setti ngs or other scenes not involving live
players. A story told in flashback may show an
old house, a climb up a staircase, entry into a
room and the discovery of a body. This would be
excellent if treated subjectively, because it does
not show oth er players who would have to look
int o the lens to rel ate with the subjective player.
Into-the-lens subjective filmi ng should be reserved
for mentally-unbalanced sequences to involve the
viewer more closel y with the subjective player' s
condi tion . These will be more effective if dis-
torted, blurred , or shaken. A fight sequence could
be very effective because the audience would - in
a sense - recei ve blows, and fall down and look
up int o the lights, etc.
The camera act.,> as the eye of the un seen audi-
ence. A person on-screen looks in to the lens to set
up a performer-viewer eye-to-eye rel ationship. A
typical exa mple is the television newsc aster who
spea ks directly into the lens. Eye contact creates
a per sona l relati onship between performer and
viewer, because each is looking directly at the
other. This treatment evol ved from radio broad-
casting, in which the announcer speaks directly
to the listener.
A personal relati onshi p may be set up in a
dr amati c film by having the narrator , or a per-
former , step forward , look directly in to the lens
and int roduce the event, the players or the setti ng;
or to explain or int erpret what is happening. This
genera lly works best at beginning and end of a
pict ure. Or , the story may be interrupted at inter -
vals to sum up wha t has transpired, or to intro-
duce a new story element .
The man or woma n promoting the sponsor's
product in a television commercial speaks directl y
in to the lens for greater attention, and to att ract
the viewer persona lly. The narrator in a television
or documentary film may step int o the foreground,
while the event tr anspires behind him, to explain
what is happening. He may interview people in-
volved, or simply step out of the picture and let
the event proceed . The players in this case per-
fonn as if the narrat or were not present - unless
they are called for an interview. A further refine-
ment of this technique presents the performers
"frozen" in their positions - perhaps in silhouette
- when the scene opens. They hold thei r attitudes
while the narrator introduces the story. when he
walks off, they come to life. They may freeze
again at the end, if an epilogue is presented. A
vari ati on may be used in whic h one of the players
comes forward to introduce the story. He may
also step forward at int ervals to recap what is
happen ing; and then rej oin his fellow player s and
continue wit h the performance.
Camera may act as eye of uns een audi-
ence. Newscaster looks directl y into lens
to set up perfonner-viewer eye-to-eye rela-
tionshi p. Each viewer feels that person on
mmion picture or television screen is
speaking directly to him. This subjective
treatment is ideal for documentary films
whene ver a personal relat ionshi p between
viewer and person on screen is desirable.
Such subjective treatment lends itself equally
well to mysteri es, hi st orical documentaries, mod-
em news stories, indu strial or mili tary subjects.
The weird happen ings in an ancient castle may
be described by the old caretaker , who then exit s
the scene as the pl ayers en act the drama. Gen-
erals in battle may be interviewed in a YOlJ -arc-
there treatment. Current events may presen t eye
wi tnesses, who tell thei r stories directly to the
television aud ien ce . An automotive engineer may
rela te hi s exper ience in developing a new car. An
astronaut may look directly into the len s, and
describe hi s feelings while orbiting the earth in a
space caps ule.
An off-screen narrator ta king the audience for
a typic al tour of a fac tory may logicall y stop a
worker on an assembly line, and question him in
Television interviews SiIOUld avoid the
"double-look" - at botu interviewer and
camera lell s. Pers on being interviewed
sh ould Icoh: Cit!H!T at reporter, or di rect ly
int o lens as ~ o o n as introdu ced. Bach-and-
fort h looks (Ire very distractiny.
behalf of the audience. A compa ny president , a
space scientis t, a test pil ot , ma)' all be intervi ewed
duri ng their work, and speak directly to the
au dience.
Wh en filming news intervi ews, care should be
taken to prevent the douhtc -toou, in wh ich the
person bein g questioned shifts his look back an d
Look into lens may be better handled if
reporter and person bein.q interviewed are
filmed oocr-the -shoutder, Aner introduc-
tion . camera may Cllt - or zoom in - to
d ose-up of individual looking iu to len s as
Il l' ~ questioned: by off-screen reporter ,
Opel/i ng remarks of reporter - when both
arc loohillH at each ether - may be filmed
later ill a point-of-view ctoec-un withollt
need for in ferviewee. Th is is a time-saver
iohen Ii/miny very im portant person s.
forth from interviewer to camera lens. Th e sub-
jective effect is weakened when audience atten-
tion is divided. The viewer is distracted whenever
the interviewee looks back and forth. The person
should be inst ructed be fore the scene is filmed to
speak directly into the len s at all times. A per-
former in a dramatic or documentary film will, of
course, be pr operly rehears ed. The look-iota-the-
lens may be better handled if reporter-interviewee
are positioned for an over-the-shoulder sho t. The
camera may employ a zoom lens, which may
close-in on th e interviewee as soon as he i s in tro-
duced and begi ns to t alk. Or , th e repor ter may
remain off-screen at the side of the camera, and
direct his questions so that the person answering
may speak more easily into the lens. Two-shot s,
in which repor ter- tntervtcwcc face each other in
proflle and sneak glances at the lens now and
then, should always be avoided!
To sum lip the eubicctioe camera:
It s employment from a par ticul ar player's view-
point, in which the viewer is asked to tra de places
with the screen performer, and relate wit h ot her
players, is questionable. An occasion al shot of this
Scenic shot may he ohjective or suhjective
- according to way sequence i s edited. I f
presented alone, scene will be seen subjec-
tively by vi ewer through camera lens act -
ing as hi s eyes. If scene is preceded by a
close-up of player looking off-screen, viewer
will accept it as point-of-view shot-and see
scene objectively from player's viewpoint.
type inser ted in an otherwise objectively filmed
picture is startling, because the players in the pic-
ture arc suddenly looking at the lens. A sequence,
or an entire picture, filmed in thi s manner can be
very annoying to audience. It s successful use in a
dramatic motion pict ure should be limited to flash-
backs or special effects. The subjective camera is
most effective whenever or thodox edit ing, rather
than continuous filming, can be employed.
Subjective sho ts from the audience viewpoint,
in which the camera acts as the collective eye of
the audience, can be successfully used in both
theatrical and non-theatrical films in a variety of
ways. The subjective treatment is excellent when-
ever the camera performs as a participant in an
event to place the viewer in- the-picture. Such
shots may be inser ted in to obje ct ively-filmed se-
quences, because the viewer trades places wit h
the performer momentarily, or employs the cam-
era lens as his own per sonal eye - and the people
in the picture do not look into the lens . This is the
important differen ce that makes the audience
viewpoint shot acceptable, and the particular
playcr viewpoint, in which the other players look
at the lens, nnaccepta hte.
While subjective shots in which the camera
takes the pl ace of an unseen audience have lim-
ited usc in theatrical films, they offer opportuni-
ties for experimenting in non- theatrical and tele-
vision films. Use of subjective shots for news
events and documentaries is successful because it
bri ngs the key persons into direct relationship
wi th the viewer, on a per son-to-pers on basis.
The subjective camer a must be employed wi th
discretion, or it may shock or in trude on the audi-
ence in a way that will destroy their emotional
attra ction to the subject. Properly employed, how-
ever, thi s technique may result in greater audi-
ence invol vement because of added per sonal rela-
tionship it sets up. A great deal of careful thought
should be given switches -from objective to sub-
jective filming, par ticularly if the camera replaces
a playe r in the picture . No difficulty will be en-
countered with subjec tive shots where the rela-
tionship is between a newscaster, an interviewee
or a performer and viewer ; or where the camera
acts as the collective eye of the audience.
Poi nt -of -vi ew, or simply p.o.v. , camera angles
record the scene from a particular player's view-
point. The poi nt-of-view is an objective angle, but
si nce it falls between the objective and subjective
angle, it should be placed in a separate category
and given special consideration.
A point-of-view sho t is as close as an objective
shot can approach a subjective shot - and still
remain objective. The camera is pos itioned at the
side of a subjective player - whose viewpoin t is
being depicted - so that the audience is given the
impression they are standing cheek-to-cheek with
An over-tile-shoulder dose-up prepares au-
dience for point-of-view close-up. Audience
sees each player from ovpoema player's
point of view.
the off-screen player. The viewer does not see the
eve nt through the player's eyes, as in a subjective
shot in which the camera trades places with the
screen player. He sees the event from the pl ayer's
viewpoint, as if standi ng alongside him. Thus,
the camera angle remains objective, since it is an
unseen observer no t involved in the act ion . An
on-screen player looking at the pl ayer whose view-
point is depicted , looks slightly to the side of the
camer a - not into the lens.
Poin t-of-view shots may be used whenever it is
desi r able to involve the viewer more el osely with
the eve nt. The audience steps into the picture, so
to speak, and sees the players and the setting from
the viewpoi nt of a par ticul ar player - by standing
beside him. This creates a st ronger identity with
the screen player in the ac tion, an d provi des the
viewer wit h a more in timate glimpse of the event.
Poin t-of-view shots often follow over-the-shoul-
der shots, when a pair of players face each other
and exchange dialogue. The over -t he-shoulder
shot sets up the relationship between the two
players, and the p.o.v. shot moves the au dience
in to the player's position . Each player may be
seen from the opposing player's point-of-view.
Any shot may become a point-of-view shot if it
is preceded wit h a shot of a player looking off-
screen . The audience will accept the following
shot as being from the player'S vic\vpoint. The
player may look at: another player , a group of
players, an object. a distant scene, a vehicle, etc.
Thus , an objective shot, which is - in essence -
the audience's own point of view, may become the
point of view of a particular player by inserti ng a
close-up of the player looking off-screen. Anyone
in the scene who looks at the player must look
sligh tl y to one side of the camera (which side is
dependent upon the action axis drawn from the
off-screen player to the on-sc reen performer ) .
It is easier for the audience to identify with the
hero in a dramatic picture, or the repor ter/narra-
tor in a documentar y film, if viewers see people
and objects as the screen player sees them, rather
than as a bystander on the sidelines. Obj ect ive
camera treatment is maintained in poi nt-of-view
shots, so that the audience is never startled - as
in subject ive shots, where the other players look
Viewer may interpret above scene - of aerial tanker boom making connection
fOT mid-air reiuelino - as either subjective or pomt-oi-uicw shot. This shot is
subjective, because viewer is made to feel that he is in boom operator's vicarious
position, perfonning the task. It would be a p.o.v . shot if preceded by a close-up
of the operator lookin,q off -screen. Subjective and point-oF-view shots involve
audience more intimately with event than do objective scenes.
directly into the lens. Yet, the event is presented
in an intimate manner , because it is seen from a
particular player's viewpoint. Switching back and
forth from objective to point-or-view camera an-
gles is not jarring because both angles are actually
There are two impor tant don'ts to be observed
when filming point-of-view shots ;
Don't show a player looking off-screen, then cut
to what he sees - and pan the camera around and
end up on the player. This will jar the audience,
because a person cannot see himself as he looks
about! What star ts off as a point-of-view shot be-
comes a straight objective shot, as soon as the
player is included.
Don't have a player point off-screen, to a wall
clock for instance, and then walk out in the same
direction. Always walk a player off-screen in a
direction different than to which pointed, unl ess a
direct relationship exis ts bet ween player's move-
ment and the obiec t.
A camera ang le is defined as the area and view-
point recorded by the lens. Placement of the cam-
era decides how much area " will be included, and
viewpoint from which the audience will observe
the event. It is important to remember the rela-
tionship between camera angle and audience.
Every time the camera is shifted, the audience is
repo sitione d, and observes the event from a fr esh
viewpoint. Three factors de termine the camera
angle :
The image size, the size of the subject in rela-
tion to the over-all frame, determines the type of
shot photogr aphed. The size of the image on the
film is det ermi ned by the dis tance of the camera
from the subject , and the foca l length of lens used
to make the' shot . The closer the camera; the
larger the image. The longer the lens ; the lar ger
the image. The conve rse is also true : the fur ther
away the camera; the shorter the lens , the smaller
the image.
Image size may vary dur i ng the shot by moving
the camer a, moving players, or employing a zoom
lens . Th e camer a may pan or dolly so that the
subject is br ought cl oser to or fur ther away from
the lens. The pl ayers may move toward or away
from the camera. The zoom lens may be varied in
focal length as the scene progresses. Thus, a long
shot may graduate into a close-up, a close-up be-
come a long sho t, in a single sho t.
Many camerame n and directors thi nk only in
terms of long sho t, medium shot and close-up in
a by-the-nu mbers progression. Such elementary
thi nking falls f ar short of the many types of shots
that may be filmed. Relative terms have different
meanings to different people. What one camera-
man would cons ider a medium shot, may be a
medium close-u p to another. Distance of the earn-
Th e ar ea covered is als o depe ndent upon lens focal
lengt h.
era from the subject , or lens focal length, do not
deter mine the type of shot filmed. The camera
distance, and the area photographed, would vary
greatly in filmi ng a close-up of a baby human and
a baby elephant! The shot should be defined with
regard to the subject matter, and its in/aye size in
relation to t he over-all picture area . A head close-
up would, therefore, depict a head - whet her of
baby human or of baby elephant - full -screen.
The sh ot defini tions which follow should not
be considered in absolut e ter ms. They should be
used to describe requiremen ts in general terms.
Image size may vary during a shot. These
playe rs may walh towa rd camera as scene
progresses. Or, camera may move closer
to them-or they may he filmed with a
zoom lens . A 10119 shot. may thus graduate
into a close-up in a single take.
Extreme long shots may depict vast area (rom great dis tance, to iniprees audi-
ence with grandeur or scope of undertaking. Such shot s es tablish geography of
setting. A wide-angle stati c shot is best, but a pan sliot may be employed if it
in creases in interest as pan progresses.
An extreme long shot depicts a vast area from
a great distance. It may be used whenever the
audience should be impr essed with the huge scope
of the setting or event. An extremely wide angle
st atic shot is usually more adap table for extreme
long shots than is a panning camera movement .
The pan shou ld be employed only when it in-
crease in in terest , or reveals more of the setting
or action, as it pr ogresses. The static shot should
be used whenever a map type shot , which estab-
lishes the geography of the locale, is desirable.
Extreme long shots are best filmed from a high
vantage point, such as a hi gh camera platform,
the top of a building, a hilltop or a mountain
peak; or from an airplane or helicopter. A lar ge
ranch, a farm, a city skyline , an industrial com-
plex, an oil field , a mountain range, a military .
bas e; or a mass movement such as a ca ttle drive,
a ship convoy or a moving army , may be very
impressive as opening shots to introduce a se-
quence or to begin a picture. Such massive shots
set the scene for what follows by putting the audi-
ence in the pr oper mood, and provi ding them with
the over-all picture before introducing characters
and establishing story line. Whenever possible,
An ex treme long shot of test base under constructi on ma y serve to introduce
sequence or begin picture. Such scenes estohlish. sctti nq tnul: open picture on
,qrand scale .
extreme long shots should be filmed to open up
the picture on a grand scale, and capture audience
in terest from the star t.
A long shot takes in the entire area of action.
The place, the people, and the objects in the
scene are shown in a long shot to acquaint the
audience with their over-all appear ance. A long
shot may include a street, a house. or a r oom, or
any setti ng where the event takes pl ace. The long
shot should be employed to est ablish all elements
in the scene , so that viewers will know who is
involved . where they are located as they move
about, and when seen in closer shots as the se-
quen ce progresses. Players' en trances , exits and
movements should be shown in long shot when-
ever their location in the setti ng is narratively
significant. Followin g the players around in close
shots may confuse the audience as to their where-
abouts in relati on to the setti ng and the other
players. It is therefore wise to re-establish the
scene in a long shot whenever consi derable
player movement is involved.
Long shots are gene rally loosely composed, so
th at players are given sufficient room to move
about, and the setting may be shown to advantage
in its entire ty. Whil e thi s may seem to dwarf the
Long shots establish area of action and
players' positions. Players' entrances, exit s
and movements should be covered in long
s1lot umencucr their loca tion in setting is
narrat ively significant.
Lon g shots der k! size of objects - such as
this jet airliner - and dwarf players, who
will be seen to adva ntage in latcr medium
shots and close-u ps.
players, the long shot is on the screen for a very
short time and players can be seen to individual
advantage in subsequent shots . Long shots lend
scope to a picture, because they play up the size
of the sett ing. Even a sequence taking place
wit hi n a house should ope n with an exteri or long
shot to es tablish the locat ion . Th is is particularly
impor tant when an entire film takes place in -
door s, in a series of rooms. Such a picture will
appear closed in and lac king in spaciousness.
Exterior long shots will open up the picture at
intervals and furni sh "ai r" for a breather.
Long shots are kept to a bare minimum in tele-
vision films because of limited size of picture
tubes, and inability to resolve a great deal of
det ail. In thi s case medium long shots. which
cover the players full length but do not depict the
setti ng in its entirety, may be substituted. Such
scenes are some times referred to as f1111 shots.
A medium sho t may be better defined as an
intermediate shot because it falls between a long
shot and a close-up. Players are filmed from above
the knees, or from jus t below the waist. Whil e
several players may be grouped in a medium shot,
the camera will be close enough to record with
clarity their gestures . facial expressions and
movements. Medium shots are excellent for tele-
vision filmin g, because they present all action
within a restr icted area in large size figur es. Me-
dium shots gener ally comprise the bulk of the-
atrical films, because they place the audience at a
middle distance, excellent for presenting events
aft er the long shot has es tablished the scene. Be-
ca use it has many narrative uses, a great deal may
Medium shots comprise bulk of theatrical
and television films, beca use they posit ion
audience at middle distance. This is excel-
lent for presenting events after long shot
has established scene.
The author confers with Producer-Director
Irvin Berwick on a two-shot for "Street Is
My Beat ,"
be depicted in a med ium shot. One or more play-
ers may be followed about, with a pan or dolly
movement, so that enough of the setting is shown
to keep viewers constantly oriented. The story
may move into medium shots after the long shot.
It may return to a medium shot after close-ups, to
re-establish the players.
The most dramatically interesti ng medium shot
is the two-shot, in which two players con front
each other and exchange dialogue. The two-shot
originated in Hollywood, and is known in Fr ance,
It al y and Spai n as the "Ameri can-shot." A famous
direct or has stated : "Regardless of the size of the
picture, whether it boast s a ca st of thousand s or a
modest number, the action always wind s up in a
two-shot featuri ng boy and gir l, hero and villain ,
or hero and his buddy."
There ar c nu merous variations of the two-shot.
The most widely used, but not always the most
pict ori all y int eresting. is th at in which both pl ay-
ers sit or stand facing each other with their pro-
files to the lens. Young people with clean-cut pro-
files and good nec klines will generally photograph
well. Older persons with jowls, puff y faces or
double chi ns shou ld seldom be filmed in profile.
The mai n problem with the profile two-shot is
th at neither player ca n dominate the compositi on
if each is equally well lighted. Dominance is
achieved through dialogue , action or favorable
lighting, which captures audience att en tion at the
expense of the less favored player. The player s
may move about , or even change positi ons as the
scene progre sses; and dr amati c interest may
switch from one to the other, if required.
Two-shots may be angled and played in depth,
so that nearest player is turned slightly away
from the camera and the farther player positi oned
so tha t he is filmed in a th ree-quart er angle. Or ,
one pl ayer may appear in profile and the oth er in
a three-qua rter angle or facing the camera. Tele-
vision employs an unusual vari ation of the two-
shot in which both players face the camera : the
nearer player looks off screen while the f ar ther
player looks at the nearer player's back. This
allows both players to be filmed facing the cam-
er a, in a single shot. Although it saves addition al
camer a set-up, it is dramatically inadequate be-
cause the players do not truly relate with each
Bob Jones University Unusua l Films stu-
dent came ra crew line up two-shot for
"Wine Of The Morning."
other. One is dr eamily looking away, while the
other seems to be tr ying to get hi s attention.
Two-shots may grow or progress out of medium
or long shots. A pl ayer may break from a group,
and join another player ; or two players may pull
out and move into a two-shot . Player and/or
camera movement should be employed whenever
possi ble to bri ng players together in a two-shot in
a casual way. Two-shots shou ld not be filmed with
both player s standing flat-footed toe-to-toe, unl ess
the scri pt requires such treatment. This may occur
in a dr amatic confrontation between hero and vil-
lain , in which neither will back away.
T ypical profile boy-girl seated two-shots.
Neither player dominates the scene from
composition or lighting standpoint. Each
player dominates in turn, as lie or she
speaks or periorms an action ll,at captures
audience attention. Eye appea l is lessened
in a profile shot .
Un _
Unique staging of two-shot by use of mir-
ror. Player on right dominates scene be-
cause of larger image size, bette r position ,
three-quarter angling and lighting. Player
in mirror captures audience interest be-
cause of reverse image, odd positioning
and rear look towa rd foreground player.
Although players' heights and positioni ng
vary in this shot, they are compositionally
balanced. Profiled player on left is higher
and well modeled with light. Player on
right makes up for his lowered position by
being angled toward camera, so that both
eyes and front and side of hi s face are
Profile two-shot with one player seated and
the other standing. The standing player
dominates the scene because he is compo-
sitionally stronger - on the right side and
higher in the frame .
Although positioned lower in frame, player
on left dominates this two-shot because he
is more favorably angled to lens, and hi s
features are sharply chiseled with light and
shadow. A face angled three-quarters to
lens diplays front and side, both eyes; and
finer modeling than one filmed in profile.
Player on left dominates scene because he
is slightly ang led toward camera, and given [)
more dramatic lighting. Player on righ t is
turned away from camera and is, there-
fore, compositiona lly less interesting.
''' "nn""""
Player on right dominates scene because of
more favorahle positioning and lighting.
Player on rioiu: is favored in this two-s hot
because of better position and lighting.
Two-shots may he employed in documen-
tary films - such as this shot of engineers
studying plans for construction project.
A close-up of a person is generally design ated
in the script according to image size. A medium
close-up films a player from approxi mately midway
between waist and sho ulders to above the head;
a head and shoulder close-up, from just bel ow
the shoul ders to above the head; a head close-up
includes the head only; a choker close-up inclu des
a fa ci al area fro m jus t below the lips to just above
the eyes . Many cameramen an d directors have
their own ideas of wh at area should be filmed for
a close-up. However >when a par ticul ar close-up is
no t speci fied, it is generally safe to fllm a head
and shoulder cl ose-up. (NOTE : The CLOSEUP
is so significant that it is cover ed in detail in a
separate chapter.)
Full -screen close-ups of letters, telegrams,
phot ogr aphs , newspapers, signs, posters or other
written or printed matter, ar c called inserts. For
reasons of economy, inser ts are usu ally filmed
after pri ncipal production shooting is completed.
When a ver tical subject does not fill the horizon tal
fr ame, so that portions of background or setting
may be seen, it may be best to film the insert
during regular pr oduction . Gener all y, inserts are
filmed so th at they overlap the frame slightly,
thus eliminating the background. Positions of
hands, or fingers , which may appear in the insert,
should match positions in the preceding shot.
Th eatri cal wide-screen projection may cu t off im-
portant portions of the inser t, or make them
otherwise illegible. It is important to bear this in
mind whenever filming a 35mm picture in wide-
screen ratio. The insert , in such ins tances, should
be photographed loosely, so that nothing of im-
portance is ncar top, bott om or side of the frame. *
Pr ofession al production personnel employ many
descriptive terms in scrip t writing and during
filming to identify further the type and/or con-
ten t of a shot. A moving shot may be designated
as a pan shot, if the camera revolves upon its
vertical axis to follow the action; or as a dolly ,
crane or boom shot, whenever the camera is
mounted on an yone of these camera pl atforms to
film the event. A moving shot may be fur ther
Camera is mounted on crane to follow
players across bridge. Dolly or crane
mounted camera may also be varied in
height; or moved toward or away from
subject as scene progresses .
*Man y theatre screens cut off the sides of "squeezed"
'scope-type films; and may cut the top or bottom, or
hoth, or "non-squeezed" Hat films shot in various aspect
defined by the type of shot at the beginning and
end of the move : such as dolly. from a medium
shot to a close-up. A shot in which the camera
tracks along to film moving players is called a
follow shot or a tracking shot. A low-shot is one
in which the camer a is an gled upward at the
subject, while a l/igh shot is just the opposite, with
the camer a looking down. A reverse shot is a
scene made from the reverse direction of a pre vi-
ous shot.
A cut -in shot is one that cuts directly i nto a
portion of the previous scene , generally a cut-in
close-up of a person or object. A cllt-away shot is
a secondary event occurring elsewhere - a few
feet away, such as in the case of a cut-away
close-up of someone just off camera; or mil es
away, if the story is switched to ano ther locale. A
reaction shot is a silent shot, ordinarily a close-up ,
of a player reacting to wha t anot her player is say-
ing or doing. Reaction shots are filmed as separ at e
scenes if observation only is involved. They are

- -
w .-,-.
Camera films follow shot or tracking shot
whenever it moves to folLOw action of trav-
u , ..... C,t, "',",' M
Number of players p}lOtograplled - such as
this three -shot - also defines type of scene.
'........ ,....
A pan sllot ( SllOrt for panoram) is em-
ployed when camera revotves upon its ver-
tical axis to follow action in lunizontai
plane, suck as airplane landing.
cut from port ions of a dialogue sequence when
two or more playe rs speak and listen alt ernately.
The lens used for a parti cul ar type of shot may
be mentioned, such as a unde-anqte, telephoto or
zoom shot. The number of playe rs in a scene may
also define the shot, such as a two-shot or a
t hree-shot , or sometimes a group-shot when all
players are included in a single shot.
Such descriptive terms are usuall y employed in .
combi na tion with the type of shot being filmed,
so tha t they aid in further identifying what is
required. A tr ackin g shot of several players may
be described as a wide-angle, low-angle dolly
shot. Definitions vary throughout the industr y.
Most impor tan t is that their meaning is the same
wit hi n the group producing the film, so that
everyone understands requirements thor oughl y.
All subject matter has three dimensions. Even
flat objects, such as paper, have thickness. Peo-
ple, furniture, rooms, buildings , streets, all have
height, wid th and depth . All are solid, whether
they have r ounded or flat surfaces, or combina-
tions of both. Their solidity is most pronounced
when viewed so that two or more surfaces are
seen. Whenever an object presents only a single
sur face to the eye or the camer a it is said to be
fiat - because its depth is not apparent. A building
viewed straight on shows only its height and
width, not its depth . It has the appearance of a
f alse front, or a cardboard cut-out. The same
building viewed from an angle, so that a side is
seen, appears three-dlmenslonal. A person viewed
in profi le lacks roundness. The modeling of a face
and a body is bes t judged from an angle which
presents hoth the front and side.
Three - dimensional solidity is most pro-
nounced when two or more surfaces are
photographed. Angling the camera in rela-
tion to the subject so that two sides and
top - or bottom - are viewed, results in
most effective rendition.
The cameraman must record a three-dimen-
sional world on a two-dimension al film surface.
The solution generally lies in angling the camera
in relation to the subject, so that a depth e ff ect
is recorded. There are many ways to achieve
depth in filming ; with lighting, camera and
Facial modeling is best when subject is
turned forty fwe degrees - so-called three-
quarter angling - to the camera. Front and
side of face, if properly lighted, will appear
round, and eyes are displayed fully .
Angle camera so that parallel lines dimin-
ish and converge - preferably toward the
right - so that viewers' eyes are carried
into distance. Shooting these box cars
square-on would result in flat cut-out ap-
pearance, ladling in solidity and depth.
player movement ; overlapping subject matter;
linear and aeri al perspective; use of shor t focal
length lenses, etc . The most effective method to
record depth, however , is by choosing the proper
camera angle. Angles are the most import ant
f actor in producing illusion of scenic depth.
Unless flat ness is required for narrative rea-
sons , the cameraman should always strive to
position the camera at an angle, preferably a
forty-five degree, or so-called three-quarter angle,
to the subject. Such angling will record people
with roundness , and solid object s wi th two or
more surfaces, and converging lines which pro
duce perspective - suggesting th ree dimensions.
Shooting square-on, so that only the front or side
Anglin g camera in relation to subject pre-
sents this war scene with greate r conflict,
becau se of diagona l pat tern of horsemen,
soldiers in foreground, guns and swor ds.
Position of camera in relation to subjects
and setti ng grea!ly influences composition
of scene.
coo........,.. ........ c.
Dyn amic angling of this jet fighter pre.
duces more dramatic effect IIl an would
have resulted f rom level angle shot.
of people or object s are filmed , should be avoided.
Move the camera to one side; move furniture ,
vehicles and pr ops; so that they are seen wit h as
many surfaces as possible. Angle the came ra so
that it looks down a street that converges into the
distance. Shoo t a room or set ting . so that two or
more walls are seen. There are a few exceptions
to thi s ru le, where a flat fr ont treatment of the
subjec t may be preferred, such as a public build-
ing, a stage, a courtr oom or a ch urch interior.
Most often, it is wise to angle the camera in rela-
tion to the subject for a well -rounded three-dimen-
sional effect.
\Vhile camera hetqht is as important as ca mer a
dist ance and subject angle, it is of ten di sregarded.
Theatrical camer amen are very careful about lens
height in relation to subject matter..Many non-
theatrical cameramen merely adj us t the tripod so
that the camera is at convenient height for looking
through the finder . They compl et ely overl ook the
subject's special requireme nts!
Arti stic, dramatic and psychological overtones
may be contributed to the story-telling by adjust-
ing the height of the camera to the subject. Audi-
ence involvement and reaction to the event de-
picted may be influenced by whether the scene is
viewed from eye-level, or above or below subject.
A level camera films from the eye-level of an
observer of average height , or from the subject's
eue-leuet. A level camera views a set ting or an
object so that ver tical li nes do not converge.
Shots filmed with a level camera are generally
less interesting th an those filmed from an up-
ward or downward angle. A level camer a is re-
quircd. however , whenever eye-level views are .
filmed, or vertical lines must remain ver tical and
parallel to each other. A level camera docs not
distort verti cals , so walls and sides of buildings,
or objects, will remain true.
Objective shots, which pr esent the view as seen
by an observer , should be filmed from the eye-level
of an average person - about five and one-half
feet high . It is impor tant , however , that close-ups
Ohjective shots - which present utting
and players as seen by a sidelines ob-
server - should be filmed from eye-level of
average person, about five and onc-noii
feet high.
of a person be filmed from the subject's eye-level,
whether standing or sitting, so that the audience
sees the person on an eye-to-eye basis. It is neces-
sary, therefore, when movi ng in from a long or
medium shot to a close-up , to adjust the camera
height to the particular subject being filme d.
Many non-theatri cal cameramen ignore the
seated person's lowered height, and continue to
shoot close-ups from a standing eye-level. A para-
dox about camera height is that inexperienced
cameramen tend to film from their own eye-levels
r at her than from subject's eye-level! This works
well for shots of standing people, but r esult s in
downward angling on seated per sons. A subject's
eyes, plus the intimate rel ati onship desired be-
tween viewer and screen pl ayer , are completely
lost from a high downwar d angle which recor ds
top of head, half -closed eyelids and a distorted
view of the player. Just as an individual may be
judged by "how he looks you in the eye," much of
the appeal of a player in a dramatic film, or a
person in a documen tar y film, is expressed
thr ough the eyes. It is imper ative that cameramen
understand this significance, and strive to posi-
tion the lens at the subject's eye-level when film-
ing objective close-ups.
Point-or-view close-ups are filme d from the
subject's eye-level when the pl ayer s who are relat -
ing with each other are approximately the same
height. They are filme d from the opposing playe r's
height when a difference in height exists, or when
one player is seated and the other standing, or
when an adult relates with a chil d. The camera
mus t be angled upward and downward on a pair
of back-and-for th p.o.v. close-ups, in these in-
stances. Such angli ng need not be precisely from
the opposing person's head position. The angle
A filmed from cameraman's
standing eye-level results in high down-
ward angle shot of top of head, half-closed
eyelids and distorted view of subject. A
much better shot results when filmed from
subject's eye-level.
may be cheated to prevent distortion , but it should
simulate the up-or-down look that occurs under
these conditions .
Subjective close-ups, in which the subject looks
directl y in to the lens, arc al ways filmed fr om the
eye-level of the person pho togr aph ed. A hi gher or
lower camera will cause the person to look up or
down in order to look into the lens - and thu s
creat e an awkward relationship with the viewer .
The person presented subjectively should always
be seen on a level eye-to-eye basis, as if the viewer
were sit ting or standing on the same eye-level
The impor tance of shooti ng close -ups at the
subject's eye-level ca nnot be over-emphasized, be-
cause so many non-theatri cal camer amen f ail to
lower the camer a, par ticu larl y when a person is
seated. Students may note how carefully close-
ups in theat rical fea ture pictures arc positi oned.
Slight varia tions from subject's eye-level are made
only when necessar y to correct facial faults ; such
as a turned-up nose, which may look better from
a slightly higher angle; or a weak chin , which
may be improved by a slightly lower angle. Men
may appear more virile when filmed from slightly
lower angles, with the camera looking up. Flabby
jowls or wide nostrils may be visua lly corrected by
a slightly higher angle, so th at the camera looks
e".,I 0 P,,, b>t
Level camera and simplest photographic
treatment are required for shooting tech-
nical films - such as this Electron Densit y
Profile Probe, which wi ll be launched into
space for study of ionosphere.
down. All these up-and-down angles are very
slight , however , and usually may go unnoticed.
While level angles ar e not as pictorially inter-
es ting or dramatic as hi gher or lower angles, they
are best for cl ose-ups of people and for shooting
gener al scene s which should be presented fr om
normal eye-level. Eye-level shots provide fr ames
of reference. They present an easily iden tifiable
viewpoint, because the audience sees the event as
if on the scene.
There are instances when level camera shots
are more dramatic th an angle shots. Shots of a
car, train , or other vehicle ru shing head-on toward
the camer a give the viewer a subjective impres-
sion similar to a player looking into the lens. The
speed, increase in image size and subjective treat-
ment ca n be highly dramatic.
It may be necessary or pre fer able in technical
films to present a flat , level, undi stor ted view of a
tool, machine or instr ument panel.
_.., ....' ...
A technical shot such as this scene of an
astronaut being tested in Gemini ejection
seat on inertia table - requires level cam-
era filming set-up square-on for engineer-
ing study.
A high angle shot is any shot in which the
camer a is tilt ed downward to view the subject.
High angle does not necessaril y infer that the
camera be placed at a great height. Actu ally, the
camera may be placed below the cameraman's
eye-level, to look down at a small object. Yet, it is
filming from a hi gh angle !
All angles are relative and shou ld be considered
in rel ation to the hei ght of the subject being
filmed . The camera may be positioned to shoot a
normal eye-level scene of a person looking out of
a window of a tall building. Any downward angl-
ing of the camera should be consi dered a high
angle shot, regardless of wheth er the camer a is
angled slightly to photograph the top of a pack-
age, or almost vertically downward to depict a
mountain climber's poin t of view !
A high angle shot may be chosen for esthetic ,
technical or psychological re asons. Placi ng the
camera higher than the subject and looking down
may result in a more artistic picture; make it
easier to keep ac tion occurri ng in depth in sharp
focus; or influence audience reaction.
Subj ect matter laid out in a pattern upon the
ground may look better from a hi gh angle. In-
cluded are : a vast garden with patterned flower
beds, winding paths and scu lptured hedges; a
walled enclosure; a race tr ack ; an airport ; a mi lt-
tary base; an industrial complex; a terraced cour t-
yard; a golf course; a construction site. High angle
shots hel p acquamt the audience with the geogra -
ph y of the setti ng. Looking down provi des a map-
like layout, allowi ng viewer to orient himself.
A film on industrial complex may open
u:ith high angle extreme long shot to estab-
lish story .
Action occurring in depth , such as a football
game , a military formation , a produc tion line or
an -tnimal migration , may be viewed in its en-
tirety from a high angle. A level or low angle
shot will only record fore ground action . The
camera may shoot across the entire ar ea of the
action , from front to back , only from a hi gh angle.
Raising the camera and shooti ng downward is
also useful whenever reduci ng the lens depth of
field aids in keepi ng sharp focus across the entire
picture area. A level shot may require filming ne ar
and far objects over a greater area than it is possi-
ble to carry sharp focus. A high angle may cover
Laying railroad rail bed is best viewed
from above. Hiqh side thr ee-quarter angles
-which causes construction area to dimin-
ish into the far distance - results in com-
position with greatest depth effect .
the same Iront-to-back area with less difference
between ncar-and-far focus .
IIigh angle shots reduce the height of a player
or object. A tall player would look down at a
shorter person or a child in a point-of-view shot.
The subjective camera ma y also pl ace the audi-
ence higher, so that it may look down on a player
to feel superior to him; and to achieve a certain
heavenly transcendence over bot h the playe r and
hi s situa tion. Such high-angling is excellent when-
ever a pl ayer should be belittled, eit her by hi s sur-
roundings or by his actions. An impor tant player
who loses pres tige or honor may thus be depicted.
as beaten down by ci rcumstances , or natural ele-
ments, or terrain , simply by positioning the cam-
er a high, employing a Wi de-an gle lens to look
down upon him, and reduci ng his image to lowly
insignifi cance in rel ation to the setting.
Subject matter which fonns a ground pat-
tern - such as this freeway under con-
struction - may he viewed with map-like
det ail from high angle.
Low camera angle should be used when
presenting symbol of law or authority.
Su ch scenes are best filmed by positioning
opposin g player i n lowl y posit ion.
Ship en tering harbor - {lImed from high
angle - may introduce travel film. Su ch
extreme long shots acquaint viewer wit h
geography of area.
Suspect's beaten appearance is intens ified
by highangle t reatment. High and low
camera angles are most useful for present-
ing playe rs as dominating or degraded.
- --......-
Above scene of aerial tanker refueling jet
fighters in flight is filmed f rom objective -
side li nes - viewpoint. Thi s shot may be
compared wit h scene on page 23 depicting
tanker boom from operator's viewpoint ,
Subjective or p.o.v. shot in volves audience
morc i ntimately in the screen event than
would objective shot filmed {rom imper-
sona l viewpoint. Documentary cameramen
sho uld employ subjective camera angles ,
rath er than st and-offisll, objective camera
angles, whenever possible.
High angle sho t of electronic microscope
would be poor cnoice for openi ng scene of
picture, because it is not immediately iden-
ti fiable. It may be used later, when viewer
is morc familiar with in str ument. Weirdly-
angled shots in techni cal films may be-
wi lder or conf use viewer.
Air craft configuration is best depicted f rom
high angle.
A hi gh ang le shot may be filmed to take
advan tage of particul ar framing - suc h as
this over-the-shoulder shot of statue of
President Lincoln.
The subjective camera, acting as the collective
eye of the audience, may look down from an air-
plane in flight. a tall building. a brid ge or a moun-
tain peak to view the terrain below, cit y tra ffic,
the top deck of an ocean liner , or a vast crevasse .
A hi gh, downward angl e should be used wit h
discretion on fas t-movi ng actio n, such as a horse
or auto r ace or chase , because movement will be
slowed down. The slow effect is greatest toward
or away from the camer a and less apparent cross-
...... __.....-
A low-angle shot is any shot in which the
camera is tilted upward to view the subjec t. A low
angle does not necessarily me an a "worm's-eye"
view of the setting or action. Nei ther does it imply
that the camer a be positioned below the camer a-
man's eye-level. A low an gle shot may be made of
a bug, a buildi ng or a baby. In some instances it
may be necessar y to place a player or object on a
pedestal, in order to enable subjec t to appe ar
higher in relation to the camera . Or, the camera
may be placed in a hole, or below a false floor , to
achieve the required lens height in relation to the
subject. Low angles should be used when desir-
able to inspire awe, or exci tement; increase sub-
ject height or speed; separate players or objec ts;
elimin ate unwanted foreground; drop the horizon
and eliminate the backgrou nd ; distor t composi-
tional lines and create a more forceful perspec-
tive; position players or objects against the sky;
and intensify dramatic impact.
Low angle shots of religious objects or archi-
tectur e, such as a crucifix or church interior, may
inspire awe in the audience, because the viewer is
placed in a lowly position from which he must
look up to the symbol of the Almighty. The same
effect is useful in filming important personages,
such as a President , judge or company executive.
Low angle shot of soldiers on {i ring range
produces diminishing perspective, converg-
ing lines and dropped horizon - all of
wh ich cont ribute toward unusual shot.
.-. .. ......,.
U. S. Army camera crew - filming in
Greenland - makes use of uniq ue snow
tractor camera car for high angle shoot ing.
High downward camera angles slow down
subj ect movement. Slow effect is greatest
toward or away from camera ; less appar-
ent cross-screen.
" Fflmed at less th an 24 f.p.s ., so that th ey will appear
f ast er when projected.
screen. Such scenes may not match similar shots
filmed at eye-level unless under-cr anked."
High angle shots are a welcome depar ture from
eye-level shots and provide contrast, variety and
dr amatic impac t even to commonplace scenes.
High angles should be considered to establish the
story. supply pictorial beauty , or influence audi-
ence reaction to the screen players.
Low camer a angles are also useful when one
pl ayer should look up to another player who domi-
nat es the story at th at point. This wor ks par ticu-
larl y well with point-of-view ShOlS, because the
audience will identify with the lowly player and
become emotionally involved wit h his plight. A
player who is knocked down in a fight , must stand
beneath a judge for sen tencing. If degr aded in
some manner - he would look up at his opponen t,
or symbol of authority.
The star, or domin ant character in a scene,
may stand out from a group if he is positioned
sligh tly forward of the others and filmed from a
low angle. This will cause him to tower over the
players behind hi m. This simple tric k will give a
pl ayer promi nence, and allow him to domi nate
the even t. Somet imes the effect is more dramatic
if the player steps forward during the scene to
coi nci de with an increase in dr amat ic action. or
significan t dialogue.
A low angle is excellent for cheating a cut -away
reaction close-up against the sky, or other nonde-
script background . Dropping the horizon out of
the frame removes all background identity and
permits filming such close-ups almos t anywhere
at any time . j ump-cuts or other editing problems
discovered when the film is later assembled. may
be easily solved by insertion of low-angle reaction
Q.. _ - ......, ..~ ...
Low-ancl e shot of this wou nded airman
allows camera to look up into tns face , and
also provides added stat ure hy causing [ig-
ures to loom upward in the frame.
close-ups wit hout requiring mat ching a st udio set,
or returni ng to a par ticular out door location site.
Low angles cause people, objects and structures
to loom up in the picture because they arc re-
corded with a broad base and a diminishing per-
spec tive. Employment of wide-angle lenses fur-
ther emphasize the optica l effect. When filming
playe rs, however, from a low angle with a "vide-
angle lens, care must be taken - or a caricature
may result .
Low angle sllot of advancing soldier in-
creases his sue. and causes him to rise
hi gher in frame as he approaches camera.
Wide-angle lens It'iIl increase this effect.
Three-quarter low angle shot of Marine
formation provides distin ct separation he-
tween rows of men - wi t11 front TOW ap-
pearing higher than rear row.
_ "-.... ... to .. t.""
Low angle shot of location interior allows filming unique ceiling. Not e how
priestl y official in left foreground is positioned mil ch ntaner than centered player
- and how rear player provides subt le accent to complete triangular composit ion.
Both natural and man-made st ructures may be
given increased height and dominance by shoot-
ing up at them. Skyscr apers, church steeples ,
mountains. may all benefit from such trea tment .
The distortion inherent in such filming is accept-
able, bec ause viewers have been conditioned to
seeing tilted photographi c per specti ves, and realize
that the converging lines are parallel. In reali ty, a
person looking up from close to the base of a tall
structure gets an impression similar to that pro-
duced by the camera.
Low-angle studio interiors are r ar ely filmed for
theatrical pictures, because sets are generally con-
structed minus ceilings, to allow overhead light-
ing. However , locat ion interiors of actual build-
ings may ut ilize ceili ngs if they provi de additio nal
dramatic effect to setti ng or story. Low-angle
shots of players against a sculptured church ceil-
ing, a wooden-beamed coloni al inn ceiling, or a
glass-domed libr ar y ceiling, would present them
agai nst unusually picturesque backgrounds , tying
them in wit h the setting.
A low-angle static shot of an advancing group
of players may provide a dr amatic introduction ,
if they enter from the bottom of the frame as they
approach the camer a. An adva nci ng army may
thus appear to rise up against a clouded sky as
they press forward, and grow in stature and num-
bers as they file past. An individual player may be
tr ea ted in this man ner either as an introduction,
or duri ng a sequence when he must approach
another player in a dominating manner. Autos,
trucks and other vehicles may be similarly han-
dled. Such low-angle treatment is most effective
if filmed as described in the next par agraph .
Shooting upward f rom a low angle at th ese
men quarrying rock, positions workers
agai nst shy wit h greater sepa rati on th an i f
filmed with level camera against cliff back-
Low angle shot of (ann tractor at work
causes it to loom la'rger and higher in t he
frame as it advances toward camera.
Low ang le positions subject against sky
and produces tilting verticals . Combined
with train movement, th is adds hazard to

Engineeri ng progress report employs low

angle shot of dummy crew prepa red for
test launchinq of ex perimental: spacecraft
ejecti on seat - to depi ct clearl y cons truc-
tion and positi oning of components.
An angle-plus-angle shot is filmed with a cam-
era angled in relati on to the subject, and tilted
either u pward or downward. Such double angling
will record the greatest number of subject facets;
result in the finest modeling; deliver the most
forceful linear perspec tive; and produce a third
dimensional effect. Angle- plu s-angle shooting
eliminates the two-dimensi onal fla tn ess of straigh t-
on angling, and the dullness of filming wi th a
level camer a. Not only are the fr ont and side of
the subject depic ted, but the camera also looks up
or down to record the underside or top of the sub-
ject. The resulting three-dimensional modeling
and dimi nishing compositional lines present the
subject - whe ther per son , building, or machine -
in a realistically solid manner.
The camer a anglin g need not be very hi gh or
very low, or fr om a full three-quarter angle. Th e
Front view of building is flat, because it
records only height and width.
By presenting front and side of building,
three-quart er angle record s height, widt h
- and depth.
trick is to pr even t flatness at all cos ts, by angling
even slight ly to introduce di agon als in lines of
setting and background, and pl astic modeling in
players. Pl ayer s and objects will stand out more
prominently in the set ting, and the separa tion
between pl ayers and background will be greater
if the camera records the scene at an angle depict-
ing both front and side, and a tilt th at reveal s the
top or bottom of objects.
Very high and very low angles will pr esent the
most drastic effec ts, and should be utilized only
whe n highly dramatic results are required. More
subtle angling sho uld be employed as a matter of
course on every possible type of shot. Wide-angle
lenses will increase the angular effect by record-
ing a more forceful perspective. Player s shou ld be
positioned so that they pr esent a three-quarter
view to the camera, and travel in di agonal lines,
whenever feasible. Furniture and other props
should be cheat ed , if necessar y, so that they are
turn ed at an angle to the lens. Th e background
should be filmed at an angle, r ather th an flat-on,
to produce dimini shi ng compositional lines.
Linear perspective is greatest, and presents the
most in teresti ng series of converging lines when
the camera is placed very hi gh, and shoots down-
ward on streets, roa ds, indus trial complexes , pref-
erably with a wide angle lens. A three-qu art er low
Aerial view of bui lding also records top.
Three-dimensional effect is greatest when
camera is angled so th at front, side and
top - or bottom - of subject are seen.
angle shot is excellent for filming a moving col-
umn of soldiers, a long line of vehicles or a train.
Such movement should approach the camera, so
that it becomes larger as i t advances. Side three-
quar ter angling, plus the low viewpoint will pro-
duce converging lines, which are made more in-
teresting by player or vehicle movement.
~ : .. :-:.
Background sliould be angled to produce
diminishing compositional lines. Players
should travel in diagon al line. not straight
across screen. Flat-on angles, presenting
subject t ravel and background square to
lens, should be avoi ded.
Camera # 1 records background wilh grad.
ually diminishing lines; and running player
unth: graduaUy increasing image. Camera
# 2 records /UJ.t square-on background and
player unth: same size image.
A three-quart er low angle, employing a wide-
angle lens, adds illusion of tremendous speed and
power to moving vehicles. Starting from a mere
speck in the distance , an automobile develops long
sleek lines as it rapidly approaches, and becomes
larger an d higher in the frame. Such angling reo
quir es careful placement, so that most of the hori-
zon is close to the bottom fr ame line and forms a
solid base for the movement. This tre at ment may
AngIe-pIus-angIe camera set-up with low
three-quarter anqie. Infantryman looms up
ill frame and background falls away u nth
greater separation.
Low th ree-quarter angle on tast-movmo
subject adds to iUusion of speed and
power. Train image becomes larger and
hiqher in frame as it approaches camera.
Angle-plus-angle shooting present s mrer-
esting compositiona l lines. Downward an-
gling on this magnetic tape set-up records
equipment at side and rear of room ; and
console deck as weU.
also be applied to a long line of moving vehicles.
Those in the foreground will fill the frame from
top to bottom, while the remainder will gradually
diminish and converge in the distance.
Rooms with ornate ceilings , or patt erned floors ,
ma y be filmed with a slightly lower or higher
camera; that requires tilting upward or downward
- in addition to three-quarter angling , which re-
cords two walls. Double-angling in this manner
will present the greatest number of facet s to the
camera, and the greates t convergence of lines -
particularly if a Wide-angle len s is employed.
Trucking shots, filmed with a camer a tilted
slightly upward, will cause the background to slop
away from the pl ayer s. This is excellent for fre n-
zied cha se scenes where players are presented in
turmoil. Buildings or trees will not simply slide
past the player s - as in a level shot - but fall
away backward.
Angle-plus-angle shooting should be consi dered
whenever the greatest three-dimensional effect
and greatest convergence of lines are desired.
In Hollywood studio parlance a ''Dutch'' angle
is a cr azily-tilted ca mera angle, in whi ch the ver-
tical axis of the camera is at an angle to the
vertical axis of the subject. This results in tilting
of the screen ima ge, so that it slopes diagonally,
off-balance. Such slanted images must be used
with discretion, or they may detract from the
story-telling. They should be reserved for se-
quences when weird , violent, unstable, impres-
sionistic or other novel effects are required . A
player who h as lost hi s equili bri um, or is drunk or
deliriou s, or in a high emotional st ate , may be
shown to advantage in a til ted shot, or a series of
tilted shots, perhaps in pairs of opposing tilt s, so
~ p,,.,
Dutch til t angle may be employed to shoot
scene of distraught player in highly emo-
tional st ate. Seri es of such scenes may
utili::eopposing tilts for greater effect.
that the audience realizes he is behaving irrati on-
ally. These shots may be combined. with subjec-
tive point-of-view shots, in which the upset pl ayer
sees other players or events in a tilted off-balance
seri es of shots.
A man-made or natur al ca tastrophe , such as an
accident , fire, riot, fight, shipwreck or earthquake
may employ tilted camera angles for conveying
violence, or topsy-turvy, out-of-thi s-world effect s
to the audience . If preceded by ca lm, stat ic,
peaceful shots that lull the audience into believing
everything is all right, such scenes will be much
more effective. A qui et, statically-filmed, slowly-
paced sequence in an ar t museum , for instance,
could sudd enly be thrown into uncon trolled pan-
demonium by sudden insertion of a tilt shot of a
man r acing through a doorway and crying; "Fire !"
The remainder of the sequence could employ a
series of tilted shots , to portray the panic of the
trapped museum visitors. Editori al effects may be
enhanced by using opposing left and right tilts ,
in pair s, and player movement in opposite direc-
Dutch angle shots may also be employed in
montage sequences, for creati ng an over -all im-
pression of passage of time or space . Short shots
of clocks, calendars, feet walking, wheels turning,
ship's whi stl e blowing steam , ctc., may be angled
in a tilting manner. A series of tilted angle shots
may be used in research , indust rial , adver tising ,
Dutch tilt angle of building produces im-
pressionistic view; unusual treat me nt suit-
ahle for montage sequence. Scene should
be filmed with opposing t i l t ~ fOT editor's
choice. Th is is important when series of
tilt shots oppose one ano aler.
engineeri ng and similar documentary films that
require dyn amic depiction of a great deal of
action in small snatches, which show mere
glimpses of the events. Thus, the asse mbly of an
automobile, the manufacturing and packagin g of
a new product , or the numerous experi ments in-
volved in devel oping a synthetic yarn, may be
shown with unu sual treatmen t. Several , or all, of
these shots at tilt angle. will forcefu lly portray
the situa tion. Pairs of opposing tilt shots should
employ the same degree of til t in opposit e pattern.
Camer as should never be tilt ed just a little off
leve l, so th at the slightly slanted image seems
accidental. A tilt should be delibera te, with a defi-
nite slant of sufficient angle to throw the image
off bal ance, but not so steep as to appear on its
side. The ac tual angle will vary with subject mat-
ter and action. The ca mera need not be tilt ed
throughout the shot. It may star t level. and then
abruptly til t to depict a weird change in events, or
introduce sudde n unbalance in player involved .
Or , a tilted shot may ret urn to level when events
return to normal. The ca mera may, on r are occa-
sions, rock back and fort h during the shot , tilting
from one side to the other.
The angle of tilt is most important. An image
that slants to the right is active, forceful, while
one th at slants to the left is weak, static. A
slanted horizon, runni ng fr om lower left to upper
right , suggests ascent ; whil e one that slants from
upper left to lower ri ght sugge sts descent. The
angle of the hori zon is important in sho ts of
traveli ng player s, moving objects, or vehicles ;
especi ally if they advance from a dis tant point
towa rd the camera. or retreat from the lens to the
distance. They should climb up coming toward
t he lens, and climb down going away.
'Dutch angles ar e most effective if filmed from
a low camera set -up, which throws the images
backwards in a crazy slant. A wide-angle lens,
low-angle tilt , combined wit h a three-quar ter
camer a angle is strongest, because such angle-
plus-angle shooting with a shor t focal-length lens
Progressive series of images may depict
full shot of group; medium shot of two
players, and close-up of dominant player.
records the most violen t angling, the greatest
separation of subject and background, and the
most. forceful perspective. The effect is further
increased on moving action, because the wide-
angle lens enlarges or diminishes the moving
player, object or vehicle as it moves toward or
away from the camera.
The area photographed, or type of shot , and the
viewpoint, or angle of the camera in relation to
the subject, may be employed in various combina-
tions to produce a motion picture story with visual
variety, dr amatic interest, cinematic continuity.
Contrasting shots utilize pairs of different
size images in opposition; such as long
shot and cut-away close-up.
The area ph otogr aphed det ermines the subject's
image size on the film. The camer a may film long
shots, with tin y images; or close-ups, with large
images. Image sizes may be employed in a series
of sho ts to present the event in a progressive ( or
regressive ) . contrasti ng or repetitious mann er.
Progressive ( or regressive ) shots utilize a series
of images i ncreasing ( or decreasing) in size. Se-
quences may proceed from long sho t to medi um
shot to close-up ; or procedure may be reversed.
The sequence may begin and end with any type
of shot. Most important is the progressive change
in image size, from shot to shot .
Repetit ious shots employ same size images,
such as these close-ups . Long shots - or
any size image - may be used provided
they are simi lar in size.
Contrasting shots utilize pairs of different size
images in opposition. A long shot may be con-
trasted with a close-up, or the other way around.
Each pair of shots should have sufficien t differ-
ence in image size to provide suit able contrast.
For greater over-all effect, series of contras ting
pai rs may be used.
Repeti tious shots utilize a series of same size
images. A series of close-ups may depict reactions
of a crowd to a speaker. A series of long shots
may show several industri al sites. Any series of
similarly-sized narra tively-connected images may
be used.
Simil ar series or pairs of shots need not be used
throughout a seque nce. A sequence may begin
progressivel y, so that i t moves in from es tablish-
ing long shot to close-up. Then , it may move into
a repetitious series of close-ups - such as individ-
ual react ion shots ; and climax wit h a series of
back-and-for th contrasting shots. Movie makers
lacking imagination sometimes resort to a monot-
onous pattern of progressive long shot s, medium
shots, close-ups. A more vigorous representation
will result by integrating progressive, con trasting
and repetitious series of shots within sequences,
throughout a picture.
The viewpoint determines the subject's image
angle, or the camer a angle from which the audi-
ence views the subject matter . The viewpoint may
be prooresstue ( or regressive ) , contrasting, or
In a progressive ( or regressive ) series, each
angle is either greater ( or smaller ) th an the pre-
ceding angle. Angles may also progress in height,
going from low to eye-level to hi gh angle ( or
may regress in opposite man ner ) . Or they may
progress in rela tion to the subject, such as going
fr om front to side to rear angle. Any series of
angles progressing ( or ' regressing ) in orderly
fashion - in or out, up or down , or around , the
subject - is governed by this pri nciple.
Contrasting angles are pairs of shots employing
camera angles in direct opposition to each other.
A high angle may be followed by a low angle; a
low angle by a high angle; a fr ont angle by a
reverse angle ; a reverse by a fron t angle. To be
most effective, angles selected should be dr amat -
ically opposi ng in viewpoi nt.
Repetitious angles arc series of similar angles
applied to the same or differen t subject matt er.
A series of shots may be filmed fro m the same
angle at intervals, to show various stages of manu-
fact uring process. Or , similar angles may be ern-
played to film different people , obj ect s or actions.
The viewpoint remains the same, the subject mat-
tcr changes , as events progress; or di fferent sub-
jects arc depicted from similar angles.
Back-and-forth series of shot s sllOuld em-
ploy opposing angles. Camera di stance and
camera angles s}lollid be similar, in order
to produce uniform appearance.
M,.. " p"",
It is not necessar y to employ similar series of
angles throught a sequence . Angles may be varied
in the same manner as sizes of images. Treatment
of angles and images shou ld be integr ated, and
used in combina tions to provide visual vari ety: so
that the audience is brought in closer and closer ,
in dimi nishing angles; is moved back and fort h to
view contrasting images ; stays the same dist ance
from various people - or moves up and down,
round and about . in a series of camera moves
which place the audience in the best posit ion for
viewing: the action occurring at that moment in
the narrative. Recording the required seri es of
images from the proper camer a angles cannot be
successfully accomp lished in a haphazard man-
ner. Thoughtful planning , with definite editorial
patterns in mind . is required.
It is often di ffi cult to draw the line where a cer-
tai n type of shot ends and ano ther begins . How-
ever, it is necessar y th at a dctuutc change in both
image size and camera angle take place whenever
they are employed progressively or regressively. A
slight angle change with the same image size will
look like the figures shifted abru ptly. A slight
image change from the same angle will appear as
a sudden expans ion or contraction of the image.
The same procedure applies to contra sting
images and camera angles. Contrasts from one
extreme to the oth er should be marked. Half-way
changes in image size, in bet ween camera angles,
present only slight changes; not a r adical contrast
to each other.
A series of repetitious images or camera angles
means exactly that. Don't vary the images. Keep
them approximately the same size. Don't shift the
camera angle slightly, so that it views each sub-
ject from a different angle. Keep the camera the
same distance from each subject. Shoot each sub-
ject from the same angle. Use similar camer a
angles, or opposing ma tched angles, such as in a
series of repetitious back-and -forth over-th e-shoul-
der shots . or a series of obj ect ive or point -of-view
Image size and camer a angle shou ld be inte-
grated so th at they match . Progression in image
Same camera angle wit h slig'lt change in
image size - suets as between close-up
above and below - wi ll appear as slight
ex pansion of imaoe, rat her than definite
image change.
size should also employ camera angles th at move
around and shoot the subject from a side angle as
it moves closer. Contras ting pairs of shots may
utilize contras t in both image size and camera
angle to be more effective. Series of repet itious
shots should repeat bot h similarly-sized images
and similarly-angled camera set-ups , or repe at
similarl y-sized images with opposing mat ched
camer a angles.
The camera angle chosen for each shot is deter-
mi ned by how the players and the action should
This close-up depicts a definite c1wuge in
image size f rom first close-up .
be depicted at that part icul ar momen t in the nar -
rative. Simple progression from long shot to close-
up may not always provide the mos t suitable type
of sequence. For inst ance, subject matt er or dr a-
matic content of the stor y may require th at the
camer a first record a close-up, in order to isolat e,
emphasize. or in troduce a sma ll object. An ex-
treme long shot may be required to por tray scope .
grandeur, complexity; so th at the audience fully
apprecia tes the vas tness, beauty. or conflict in-
volved in the story. The over-all action of each
sequence should be broken down before shooting.
and the type of shot req uired for each portion of
the action determined in adva nce.
Establish the setting with a long shot , or an
extr eme long shot - if vast in nat ure. Move into a
medium shot to introduce the players as a group.
and use close-ups for indi vidual screen filling
shots of each. Employ long shots to show the
player s in rela tion to the background, and to allow
them space to move fr om one place to ano ther.
as the action progresses. Use medium shots , par -
ticularl y two-shots. to show impor tan t inter-action
bet ween pl ayers. Utilize cl ose-ups to emphasize a
par ticular act ion. or to isolate a player or action
by removing all else from view. Usc extreme
close-ups for full-screen shots of very small ob-
jects or acti ons. Progress inward as the action
develops. Move back to re-establish the over-all
scene, to depi ct new developments, to introduce a
On occasion it may be more dramatically
effective to open sequence with a close-up
- and then pull back to reveal content of
over-all scene.
new player or allow the players to move about. As
example, cont rast an extreme long shot of a mis-
sile launching with an extreme close-up of the
firing but ton 1Think in terms of dramatic impact
on aud ience as well as visual variety. Employ a
repetitious series of reaction close-ups of various
persons to the launching; or a repetitious series of
medium shots of personnel at tracking stations.
Don't attempt to tell the entire story in a single
shot! Remember that a sequence is a series of
shots , and each shot should depict its par ticular
portion of the story in the best possible way.
Think first of the area required for the par ticul ar
shot , and then of the best viewpoint.
The cameraman should ask himself : "How
much shou ld be included in this shot? Where
should the camera be positioned to view this par
ticu lar part of the action?"
The area and viewpoint should be considered
from both esthetic and dr amatic requirements.
Difficulties encountered by pioneers in crossing a
trackless wasteland may be most expressively
conveyed to the audience by an extreme long shot ,
which dwar fs the people against the rugged ter-
r ain. On the other hand, tech nical pr oblems In-
volved in soldering may best be shown by moving
in close and filling the screen with a single drop
of solder !
A single drop of solder being applied to an
electronic circuit may be as dramatic as
long shot of group of pioneers crossing
rugged terrain.
Think, first of the impression the shot should
make upon the audience. Should the screen event
influence their emotions, or should they be de-
tached from the proceedings so that they may
evaluate events wit hou t prejudice? A comp ari son
of pro totype aircraft may be best presented ob-
jectivel y with out trying to make up the viewers'
minds. Events must be individually evaluated,
and filmed accordi ngly.
Inclusion or removal of people, objects or
actions shou ld be justified by whether or not they
are essential to the story-telling. Onl y significant
por tions of setting, performers and events should
be depicted in each sho t. It should be remem-
bered, however, that on occasions a bl an k fr ame
is significant! What is depicted at any moment
should contribu te to the over-all story-telling.
While the point in the action whe re a sho t
should be terminated, and another type shot
begun, is usually an editorial decision; it must be
made by the cameraman or director, if not indi-
ca ted in the script - or if filming is off-the-c uff .
A shot should be held no longer than required to
make its point. When setti ng and playe rs arc
established and camera is moved in , the bul k of
the sequence should be ciinnnued in a variety of
medium, medium close and close shots . The over-
all scene should be r e-est ablished, however , when-
ever a wider expanse is required to move players
about, introduce a new player or allow the players
to exit.
Emphasize and isolate sign ificant players,
actions or dialogue with close-ups. Shif t the cam-
era on movement that may be overlapped from
shot to shot. Move the players out of and into
shots. Shoot cut-i n and cut-away close-ups wher-
ever possible. If in doubt about unusual camera
angles, pan or dolly shots , or any shots that may
cause editorial problems, shoot pro tection shots
for addi tional coverage. Don't be hi de-bound by a
by-the-n umbers 1-2-3 shooting pattern. Approach
each sequence with a fres h attitude; and strive to
treat the action in an individual manner. Employ
progression as a standard operating technique,
but always look out for dr amatic contrast or un-
usual oppositional treatment which can lift the
sequence out of the run-of-the-mill cinematic rut.
Many cameramen f all into this ru t because of
habit , or lack of imagination, or laziness. Employ
repetiti ous treatment whenever a matching pair
or series of similar shots - such as a series of
close-ups - must present the same size image
from similar or opposing viewpoints.
Change the camer a angle, the lens, or prefer-
ably both every time the camer a stops shoo ting
during a series of continuous shots. Adapt this
technique as a standard operating procedure
whenever filming continuous action that mus t be
presented without a break, wit hout cutting to
something else, or without opticals. Using the
same camera angle and same lens on consecut ive
shots will result in a jarri ng jump-cut, due to
changes in players' positi ons. This is tantamount
to stopping the camera in the middle of a sho t,
since nothing photogr aphic is changed; but player
movement which occurred during the shut-off
interval is missing. There should be a definite
change in image size and viewing ang le from shot
to shot. This may be accomplished if camera is
moved, if lens is changed, or if camera and lens
are both changed to meet requirements of the
new set-up . Moving the camera wit h the same
lens is better than changing lenses from the same
camera position. Most rewarding results will be
obtai ned when the camera is repositioned for the
Camera m ay move straight-in to shoot a
close-up of individual in crowd.
THE FI VE e 's
best possible ang le for each shot; and a focal
length lens that meets the technical and dr amatic
aspects of the scene is chosen.
Some inexperienced, unimagin at ive, or lazy
cameramen change the lens, and continue filming
from the same pos ition . This requi res only revolv-
ing the len s turr e t , so th at a different focal length
lens is shi fted into shooting position. If a longer
lens is brought into play, the screen effec t is that
of an optical pop-in, because a portion of the pre-
vious shot is suddenly magnified to fill the screen.
There are instances when pop-in treatment -
either switching to a longer focal length lens or
moving the camera straight in, preferably the lat-
ter - should be employed. It may be use d when
filming a single person in a long shot , such as a
master of ceremonies on stage. A long shot from
the back of the theater may be followed by a
close-up which moves straight into the subject. A
subject seen from a distance, such as a person in
a crowd, may be followed by a closer shot from a
similar viewpoint. A person centered in a group
A magnified or pop-in effect is similar to intermittent zoom minus actual
zooming - because camera is moved straight in for closer shots . This treatment
may be used when a player is centered, and relates with other players on each
side. Camera #1 films long shot, #2 medium shot and #3 close-up.
so that he must relate with others on either side ,
may be filmed in a closer shot with a straight-In
ca mer a move.
The point-of-view close-up which follows an
over-the-shoulder shot, is another instance where
the camera is moved str aight in. The reason for
filming over-the-shoulder of a foreground player
is to prepare the audience for the close-up that
follows - as seen from th at pl ayer's viewpoi nt.
A direc tor of photography on a theatrical fea-
ture picture would rarely shoot a close-up with a
telephoto lens from the lon g shot camera position .
The camera would be moved in closer , an inter-
mediate focal length lens employed, and a camer a
Camera should move in and around to the
side whenever two or more people relate
with others across screen.
angle and lens height chosen that would best por-
tray the player. The camer a is moved in, aroun d
to the side, and r ai sed or l owered for closer shots.
This results in decided cha nges in image size.
camera angle and lens height. Although there are
a few exceptions to this rule, it should be appli ed
whenever filming condi tions permit.
The zoom lens does not lend it self to thi s type
of treatment. Unless the camera is positioned on a
dolly boom arm, it cannot be lowered as the lens
is zoomed into a close-up. The zoom would only
be useful whenever the camera would be moved
straight in for a subsequent dose-up - when an
actor is centered and relat es with others on each
side of him. It will no t provide the best close-up
when the camera should be moved around to the
side - whenever pl ayers rel ate across the screen.
Camera # 1 films long shot. Camera # 2 is
moved in and to the side to film close-up
of lead player. Camera #3 films opposing
player from opposite angle. Thi s treatment
is recommended whenever players relate
across screen.
The camer a is generally higher for long shots
than it is for close-ups so it is usually necessary
to lower the camera when it is moved in. There
are instan ces, however , when the camera is posi-
tioned at eye-level for the long or medium shot. so
that it only requires being moved in and arou nd,
or straight in - in certain cas es, to film close-ups.
Or, the lens focal length need not be changed, the
move in is sufficient to alter the image size. There
are also occasions during filmi ng of documentary
or newsreel films when the camera must shoot
from a fixed platform, or other static position, so
Moving camera in and around to side
angle for closer sh.ot will help cover inad-
vertent minor mis-matches in players' po-
siti ons. A major mis-match, as shown here,
would require insertion of cut-away shot
of another individual in the scene.
"".. "" c,,, s""",,
Retaining same image size in consecutive
shots with slight change in camera angle
results in jump-cut, because players will
appear to jerk or shift across splice.
th at switching lenses from the same camer a
set-up is the only way to record different size im-
ages. The most impressi ve screen effects, how-
ever, occur when the camera is moved to a fre sh
viewpoint, the camera heiqht : is adj usted to suit
the subject , and the lens iocat Icnotli is chosen to
fit the individ u al shot.
While is it not absolutely necessary to change
the lens for each shot, it is wise to switch to a
lens focal length best suited for the par ticular
scene being filmed. Gener ally. this necessitates a
cha nge, since a wide-angle lens may be required
for a di stant shot , a normal lens for a mediu m
shot and a semi- telephoto or telephoto for a close-
up or extreme close-up. A normal focal length
lens may be used to film an entire picture, if the
camera has sufficient room to be moved about for
every type of shot. Such situations are un likely in
professional production filming, where a var iety
of different focal length lenses are available to
record the area and per spective required.
Moving the ca mera in and around to a new
angle helps cover in adverten t mis-matches in
player s' positions. A mi s-match is much more no-
ticeable if the camera moves straight in, since the
only ch ange is that of magnification . Thus, a
slightly different head positi on or changes in hand
or arm movement may be apparent to even the
casual viewer. Moving in and around, however ,
permit considerable cheating, because the audi-
ence views the players from a completely new
angle. All effor t should be ma de to ma tch player
positions, but small discrepanci es due to slight
mis-matching bet ween shots will be less appar ent
with a change to a new viewpoint . than with a
straight-in move.
The camera angle should not be shifted sli,qhtly
in con secutive shots of the same subject filmed
with the same image size. A two-shot of players
facing each other will appear as a j ump-cut if
filmed from a ma tched pair of camera set-ups ,
which are varied slightly to favor each player in
turn. Since the pair of images arc the same size,
and the angle is only slightly changed, the players
- rather th an the camer a angle - will appear to
shift. A defini te change in camera angle will
ass ure a smoother flow of images.
Each scene should be considered as par t of a
sequence. or series of shots; but must be given
individual attention based on story req uirements.
In additi on to es thetic, technical and psychologi-
cal fac tors that determine camer a angles, there
are dr amatic, editorial, natu ral and ph ysical
phases to be considered . These factor s need not
be individu ally cons idered for each shot or se-
quence. Many are handled intuit ively by experi-
enced movie makers. Rut all these elements
should be included in over-a ll planning of a sc-
quence. so that each series of shots will depict it s
portion in the bes t possible cinematic manner.
Many esthet ic fac tors should be considered in
selecting the right ca mera angle. All composit ional
elements: players, props , furniture, setting, back-
ground, vehicles, etc., should be studied wit h
player movement s and genera l action of the scene
in mind. Objects should be arranged to facilitate
suit able stagi ng and pleasing photogr aph y. To
achieve the des ired effect , some items may have
to be added or elimina ted. Filming fictional fea-
tures prescnt few es thetic problems, because sets
arc designed and built around the scene's require-
ments. Document ar y films, shot on act ual loca-
lions, oft en require mu ch improvising to stage the
Some documentary films require compro-
mising camera angles because of uncon-
trollable factors.
action, particularly in interiors of real structures.
Compromises in choosing ca mera angles may
have to be made.
When filming exteriors, advantages of fore-
ground frames, such as tree branches and arches,
should be considered. Whenever possi ble , angle-
plus-angle viewpoints should be chosen to r ecord
the best modeli ng, greatest number of planes, and
solid three- dimensional effects. Compositional
forms shou ld suit subject matter and aid in crea t-
ing proper atmosphere and mood.
Relationship between players and background
also warr ants fore thought. If the background is
important to the story - such as an oil field , an
assembly line, a waterfront - players should be so
positione d that the background is tied-in with fore-
ground action. Composi tional lines, forms and
movements shou ld all be exploited to facilita te the
story-telling. (See: COMPOSIT ION)
Few tech nical restric tions arc imposed on the-
atrica l cinematographers, either in the studio or
on location. On the other hand, because of budge t,
personne l, tr anspor tation and other limit ations;
most documentary cameramen have less camera,
Man y technical restrictions are placed on
documentary camera crews shooting on
location. Camera angles and st aging may
have to be compromised to meet limit a-
tions set by lighting faci lit ies and equip-
ment avai labi lity.
lighti ng and accessory equipment. Need for port-
abili ty, lack of tr aine d per sonnel , in adequate elec-
tr ical power , insufficient time, cost and difficulti es
of transporting heavy studio equipment - par tic-
ul arl y by air - all contribute to the technical
problems encountered by non-theatrical camera-
men filming on actu al locations. Lack of camera
dollies res tric ts filming to fixed tripods. The area
that can be adequ at ely illuminated is determined
by electrical power and lighting facili ties avail-
able. Th e amou nt of equipment that may be car-
ri ed to location generally precludes many camera
and lighting accessories, ordinarily avail able in
studios . All these technic al factors combine to
rest ric t the ca meraman in his handling of the
subject matter. So, camera and pla yer movement,
camera pl acement , area to be filmed, and over-all
camera treatmen t must be compr omised to make-
do with available equipment and conditions.
As explained in the discussion of camera height,
the audience may be emotionally affected by the
camera viewpoi nt. Up, down , Dutch til t, and sub-
jective angling of the camera may place the
viewer in other th an normal eye-level objective
viewing position, and strongly infl uence his emo-
tional reacti on to even ts depi ct ed on the screen.
Such abnormal viewpoints may br ing the viewer
closer to iden tification with the picture and the
screen player s. If disinterest is the effec t desired,
or the scene is too violen t to view close-up, long and
medi um shots will position the audience at a dis-
tance fro m the event. Closer shots actually help
to involve the viewer in the action. Subjective
angles tend to depict the scene as the screen
pl ayer sees it, and bring the viewer even more
intimately into the story.
Through distor ted subjective camera treatment,
the viewer may actually experience the intoxi-
cated, frenzied or insane attitu de of the player
through whose eyes he is looking. Thus, psycho-
logical reaction of viewer is based, to a great
extent, on camera angles and edit orial tr eat ment.
Th e principal psychological purpose of a motion
picture is to sway the audience to react in a de-
sired mood. Whether a picture's purpose is to sell,
- --
Murderer in mystery picture may startle
audience by suddenly revealing himself .
educate or entertai n , its success depends on how
thoroughly it interests the viewer in the picture's
story or message.
Choice of camera angle may be decided by
analyzing the purpose of the shot, and the effect
wanted on the viewer. Should the audience be
shocked at slum conditions depicted .. . sol d on a
new product ... angered by a corru pt polit ical
sit uation ... awed by a di spl ay of atomic weapons
.. . look with disdain upon a despi cable char act er
... be inspired by a religious message .. . be
shown the world as seen by a mental patient? All
these suggest specific ca mera pl acements, and
photogr aphic techniques designed to make the
viewers care about the subjec t matter. The audi-
ence is not only impressed by what appears on the
screen, bu t by players, object s or actions partially
or completely hidden, revealed in a sudden or
startling manner, or not shown at all!
The camera need not do all the work! The
viewer should be urged to use hi s own imagin ation
in understanding what is ha ppeni ng. The camer a
may create suspense by angling downward on the
murderer, showing a knife in his hand - but his
identi ty is not reveal ed. A reverse angle may
show the backs of villai ns as they conspire. The
camera may pan , tilt , zoom or move to reveal
suddenly a player , object or ac tion. Because it is
a direct link to the viewer's emotions, psycholog-
ical ca mera angli ng is one of the most powerful
story-telling weapons available to the cameraman.
If the story requires an exciting treatmen t of
the action, dramatic fac tors should be analyzed.
Ord inarily, the ca mera should not intrude on the
story-telling. Since i t is able to in terest the viewer
by content alone , inherently dramatic subject
matter requires litt le or no special camera treat-
me nt . For ins tance, a dramatic speech should not
be filmed with complicated lighting, tricky angles
or distracting background action , if full audience
attention belongs to the speaker.
Static. prosaic or commonplace subjects may be
enlivened, however , by imagina tive camera han-
dling. When the camera ma n is faced with dull
materia l. the audience should be aroused. On
other occasions, dramatic mat eri al may be further
enha nced by inspired camera treatment. Would
an extreme long sho t impress the audience with
the majestic grandeur of the sett ing? Would ex-
treme close-ups of key player s, obj ects or actions
bring greater audience attention? Would low-
angle filming increase tension, distort composi-
tional lines or exaggerate action ? Would hi gh-
angle filmin g add significance to players, setting
or action ? Would subjective camer a angles aid
audi ence identity with lead pl ayer?
Should the cameraman employ Dutch tilt an-
gles? Dolly shots? Dr amatic lighting ? Extreme
L ~
I ~
.. ... t f ~

Straightforward camera treatment is gen-

erally best for highly dramatic scenes.
wide-angle lenses? Agit at ed movement? Or ,
should the story be told in a straightforward doc-
umentary style, devoid of camera tricks and light-
ing effects; or fa ncy camer a angling which may
detract from the n arrative? Unor thodox camera
treatme nt should not be employed when it may
distract the audience from the picture to aware-
ness of camer a. On the other hand, audience emo-
tion may be r aised to a hi gh pitch by presenting
subject matter in a distinctive, dram atic manner.
The cameraman should study the event to be
filmed, along with the script ; and decide whether
forcef ul camera part icipat i on would be an asset to
the story-telling ; or whether the camera should
function merely as a detached observer.
Editorial requiremen ts oft en dictate the pre-
ferred camer a angles for a ser ies of shots. De-
tailed shooting scripts us ually speci fy type of shot
or camer a tre at ment. Many scripts , however , are
written in master scenes, in which the filming
trea tment is left to the direc tor and ca mer aman.
A camera man filming a documentary off-the-cuff
should shoot according to edit ori al requiremen ts.
While a few key scenes in a pict ure may be
treated individually, all scenes must be consid-
ered in relati on to other scenes in the sequence.
Documentary subjects filmed off -thecuff
must be pllOtographed with definite edi
torial pattern in mind. Over-all event must
be broken down into t ypes of shots re-
quired fOT each portion of action.
The cameraman must pl an the event as a whole,
and decide on its breakdown into individual shot s.
He must decide how much setting should be in-
cluded in the es tablishing long sho t; what por tions
of the action requir e medium shots; and where
the emphasis should be placed with close-ups.
Normal progressions from long shot to cl ose-
up s arc generally safe, but not always the bes t
technique. If the sequence develops into a series
of back-and-for th close-ups of various players,
progressive ca mera angles should switch to rcpeu-
tlous camera angles. If a great deal of player
movement is involved, or new elemen ts are intro-
du ced, it may be necessar y to return to the long
sho t to re-orien t the audience. The cameraman
should continually try to analyze the event through
viewers ' eyes. The audience should be shown the
player, object or ac tion which they are most inter-
es ted in seeing at that point. Thi s becomes of
vit al importance when narrative interest is di-
vided. The ca mera must conce ntra te on the more
int eresting of the two story elements. The film
editor should be supplied wi th every possible type
of shot consistent wi th time and budget lirnita-
tions imposed on the production.
Sun positi on , weather, terrain, influence choice
of camera angles on exterior filming. Outdoor
filming - particularly in color - depends upon the
sun angle. Except for special effects, such as back-
lighted scenes; the sun angle is best when the
scene is side or three-qu ar ter front light ed. Even
with careful plann ing to take full advantage of
the sun at various times of the day or season , this
restr icts choice of camera angles. Fronts of struc-
tures faci ng north , for instance are r ar ely directly
illuminated by sun in the nor thern hemisphere.
Weather can be a f actor , although overca st
light permits filming with equal ease from almos t
any angle. It may be necessary to shoot in a dtrec-
tion that avoids bald skies. Terrain, par ticul arl y
backgr oun ds, may force the cameraman to choose
camera angles that either include or eliminate
trees , roads, mountains , or other natural clc-
merits. Allowances for sun angles, weather and
topogr aph y are made in construction of outdoor
sets ; but uncontrollable clements in natural set-
tings often handicap the cameraman, so that he
must compromise ca mera angles to fit prevailing
conditions. Weath er maps in correspondi ng sea-
sons of past year s should be studi ed, if extensive
outdoor production filming must be accomplished
in unfamiliar locations.
Physical factors seldom inter fere with the
studio cinematogr apher's choice of camera angles.
The documentar y ca meraman, to the contrary.
has to work within physical limitations necessi-
tated by size and shape of rooms ; fixed dimensions
of settings ( without aid of "wild walls" which may
be moved at will ) ; ceilinged rooms ( par ticularl y
low ceilings) ; practical props, machines, structures
and objects that do not "break-away" for film-
ing , poorly painted walls ( especi ally light-tint ed
walls in color filming) ; and man y other physical
factors beyond his control. A very small room , for
inst ance, may be difficul t to light and impossible
to shoot wi thout an ext remely wide-angle lens
which dis tor ts the players. Actual interiors of air-
plane cockpits. automobiles, control rooms, engi-
neeri ng in stru ment ation tr ailers, blockhouses, and
simil ar "live" set s may provide little space for
camer a and ligh t placemen t. The choice of cam-
era angle in many documentar y int eri or s depends
more often on where the camera and light s can be
squeezed into posit ion, ra ther than the best angle
for telling the story.
Signs, plaques, label s and similar identifica-
tions should be filmed either straight-on - in the
mann er of titl es - or given a three-quar ter angle,
so that the lettering diminishes in size as it re-
cedes from lef t to ri ght. This is particul arl y im-
por tant if the sign is of consi derable length, such
as lett eri ng covering the front of a wide building.
It is of less import ance if it occupies lit tle area -
such as a sign on a door - and may be read at a
gla nce. The name on the front of a cour thouse ,
post office, school or other strueture is more
quickly legible if angled in thi s lef t-to-right di-
minishi ng manner.
A lengthy sign , filmed with a panni ng or dolly-
ing camera movement, must necessarily be filmed
so that letter ing enters from screen ri ght and
slides across the picture from right to left . Care
mus t be taken to angle the camer a in the manner
described above for st at ic shots . Square-on camera
angles may cause a skippi ng effect - in whi ch the
letter s break as they ch att er across the screen .
A sign , pos ter , newspaper headline, label or any
piece of printed matter , such as a letter or report,
...n.. -.._ _"' ._ ._ .. ... ..... ~
On occasion, major studio the atrical cine-
matographers have to shoot in crowded
quarters - such as thi s "submarine" set.
Lengthy signs on buildings are best filmed
so tllat lett ering dimini shes in size as it
recedes from left to right .
should be given an upbeat effect by postnontng
it in the frame so th at it slopes up-hill - th at is.
from lower lef t to upper right. This tre atment is
essential when two or more lines mus t be read.
because the eye ha s a tendency to drop down to
read the next line. If the pri nted mat eri al is slop-
ed downward (from upper left to lower ri ght )
the eye is forced to move up to read the next line.
Such unnatural eye movement will distress the
viewer. Applications of these reading angles may
seem like splitt ing hair s, bu t they are based on
established reading habi ts. It is unwise to cause
the viewer to strain or react unpleasan tly in order
to read poorly angled material. ( Se c: COMPOSI-
TION, Eye Scan)
Angling the camera for a par ticular effect
may introduce unforeseen photogr aphic problems
which may require compromising the set-up. For
example, an establishi ng long shot filmed with a
wide-angle lens, may include the desired wi dth,
but record too much foreground. Lowering the
eame ra will eliminate some of the foreground,
without disturbing the basic composi tion. Raising
the camera , so that the setting is viewed fr om a
high angle, should also be cons idered as a solution.
_............ -
Camera should not be drastically angled on
Hght interiors, filmed with wide-angle lens.
Distortion and linear convergence may be
held to minimum wi th slight angling or
shooting square-on.
If a Wide-angle lens must be employed to film a
tight area, the ca mera should not be dr asti call y
angled so that perspective distortion is increased.
The wider the lens angle, the greater the linear
convergence. In this case, the camera angle
should be as square-on as possible to prevent
weird foreshort ening. Pers ons in the scene should
not reach toward the camera to pick up objects -
such as a mech ani c reaching for a tool in the fore-
ground - or a hand may appear like a ham ! Tr y to
keep the players equi-distant from the camera
under such conditions, or the closes t player may
appear unduly lar ge in comparison wit h a player
standing a shor t dist ance away.
Extreme wide-angle lenses record the area from
fr ont to back of the setti ng so that it appear s
lengthier than in reali ty. Player or vehicle move-
ment toward or away from the camera will cause
the subject to grow progressively larger or regres-
sively smaller at an accelerated rate - res ulting in
the subject appearing to cover a greater dist ance
than exists. Such movement should be avoided,
un less desired for a special effec t.
Problems often arise in positioni ng the camera
because of physical limitations. Small , low rooms,
confined area s - such as the interior of a space
capsule may prevent the camera from being
Ti ght interior shots - such as this scene in
missi le capsule - provide little room for
camera and light placement. Choice of
camera angle on many documentary
scenes is often severely limited.
positi oned as far back as desired . Rather than
use of an extreme wide-angle lens - which gen-
erally seems to affor d the simplest solution - the
sequence may be broken int o additional shots, so
th at sever al normal angle shots arc filmed , r ather
th an a single wide-angle shot. Or , it may be bes t
to pan the camera with a normal lens to cover the
ar ea, r ather than record the entire width in a
sin gle static shot wit h an extreme wide-angle lens.
This is particul arl y important in industrial, scien-
tific and research films - where distorti on of tools
and equipment cannot be tolerat ed.
Camer a angles are rel ated to subject angles. A
tilt ed object - filmed with an equall y-tilt ed cam-
er a may be filmed to appear level on the screen.
Til ted ver ticals can often be st raightened, or ver-
tical lines may be tilted as desired, by anglin g the
camer a. For example, a three-quarter low angle
shot of a columned cour thouse may look better if
sho t with a slightly off-level camer a so that the
side of the building nearest the camer a is squared
0 ( to appear approximately parall el wi th the side
of the screen. Th is may look better than having
both sides of the bu ilding converge skyward. The
important point is not how the ca mer a shou ld be
angled - it is the screen appearance of the sub-
ject . Studying the image in the viewfinder with
various til ts will aid in deciding the best solut ion.
There arc no pat solu tions to every ca mera
angle problem. If the subject should appear as in
...s.... .....
Low three-quarter angle shot presents U. S. Air Force MACE - surface-to-air
missile - wit h lo';;er-left to upper-right. ascending flight line.
real life, i t must be present ed in a manner that is
acceptable to the viewer. If a special effect is
desired - anythi ng goes! Distorted. violent, trick,
gimmicky effects ar e easily achieved because it is
easier to break the ru les than to film t he subject
in a natural way! The most nat ural res ult s are
achieved when the subject is filmed in an undis-
torted manner with nor mal perspective effects.
This requi res avoidance of extreme wide angle
lenses, weird ca mera ang les and abnormal move-
ment of players or vehi cles. This does no t imply
that everyt hing should be filmed from eye level
with a normal focal length lens l Visual variety -
not weird variety - will keep the viewer interested
in the narrati ve.
Proper camera angles ca n make the difference
between audience apprecia tion and indifference.
Image size and image angle determine how much
of the subject matt er the viewer will see , and
from what viewpoint. Each time the camera is
moved, the audience is transported to a new vtcw-
point. Since the audience should neve r be moved
about needlessly, ever y change in camera angle
should count.
Whether working with a shooting script or off-
the-cuff, the camer aman should film the event
with definite editi ng pattern in mi nd. The seri es
of shots comprising a sequence should be recorded
with progressive, regressive, repetitious or con-
trasting treat ment - singu larly or in comb ina tion
-not with an oddly assorted hodge-podge of shots.
To be truly successful, a motion picture should
visually surprise the audience by presenting fresh
viewpoints, different types of shots, varied image
sizes, in an unpredictable pattern. A series of
close-ups may be followed by an extreme long
shot : or a sequence may open wit h a close-up
instead of a long shot. The camera should view
events now from this angle, now from that.
Images shou ld be scaled up in one shot, down in
the next. Players and / or camera movements
should be changed, switched, re versed not sim-
ply repeated in a similar pattern. Settings should
be viewed from the side or even the top, not al-
ways from the front. Visual variety should be the
keynote, so that the audience is kep t interested in
what is happen ing and what will happen next. If
films are composed and filmed in a long shot ,
medium shot, close-up , 1-2-3 manner, the audi-
ence will subconsciously expect a certain type of
shot, a certain angle, a cer tain scene length. As a
result , viewing the film becomes tedious. Viewers
should be shown some thing new or different at
every opportuni ty.
Non-theatrical cameramen should consider
filming marc over-t he-shoulder and point-of-view
camera angles , in order to involve the audi ence in
the subject. The story should not be filmed with a
stand-offish objective camer a. The viewer should
be brought into the picture intermittently and
stand alongsi de the players and view the other
pl ayers, the setting and the action from an inside
angle. The viewer may thus more readil y identify
with the people in the picture and become more
engrossed with the message.
The documentary cameraman has the advan-
tage over the theatri cal fiction feature direct or of
photography , in that he can employ the subjective
camera now and then , and allow the subject to
look directly in to the lens. The engi neer , salesman
or company executive may be presented wit h a
performer-viewer eye-to-eye relationshi p to rel ay
the picture's message more forcefully.
The mos t diffi cult camer a angle - and one
worthy of expe ri men ta tion - is the subjective
treatmen t in which the ca mera replaces a player
who mus t rela te with the other player s in the
picture - in the manner of Lady In The Lake .
This technique should be considered whenever an
un usual subject may be treated in a novel man-
ner that requires shocking or startling the viewer .
Or , whenever the mental condition of the playe r.
or an event told in flashback, would be enhanced
wit h a little differen t treatment.
Thoughtfu l usc of ca mera angles can add va-
riet y and impact to story-telling. Camera angles
designed to ca pture, sus tai n and point the way to
continued audience interest , should be selected.
rf rnla Co. Lockheed -Ca I (I
A professional sound motion picture should
present a continuous, smooth. logical flow of vts-
ual images, supplemented by sound, depicting the
filmed event in a coherent manner. It is the con-
tinuous aspect of a motion picture; it is Cont inuity
that decides success or failure of the production.
A picture with perfect continuity is preferred
because it depicts events realistically. A picture
with faulty continuity is unacceptable, because it
distracts rather than att racts. Thi s does no t imply
that action should flow smoothly acr oss every cut
in a motion picture. There arc times when an
impression or a disturbed men tal condition mu st
be so por trayed; so that the audience can be
emotionally aroused by incoherent images. These
are exceptions.
A motion picture is a record of an event , in
fact, fiction or fan tasy. The images should repro-
duce real life, or a make-believe world. Sound may
be dialogue and/or narrati on , accompanied by
appropriate music and sound effec ts. Visual and
audio elements of a motion picture should be
integrated, so that they complement each other
in affecting the audience.
Every motion picture should be based on a
shooting plan. The plan may be a few mental
notes, scribbled suggestions , an outline, a story
board, or a detailed shooting script. The better the
plan - or continuity - the stronger the chances of
success. A contimdty, or shooting scri pt, is a pre-
limi nar y motion picture on paper - a continuous
plan for photographi ng and editing the produc-
tion. Other than a simple news shot, a motion pic-
tur e cannot depict an event in a single scene. A
series of scenes - a sequence - are requ ired to
portr ay any action properl y. A sequence without a
time lapse should presen t the event in a con tinu-
ous, realistic fashion.
Motion picture sequences may be compared to
chapters in a book. A director , worki ng from a
det ailed scri pt, is forced to think of the picture as
a series of shots comprising each sequence ; and a
series of seque nces making up the complete pic-
ture. A cameraman shooting off-the -cuff must also
think in sequences, and individu al shots.
Action will flow smoothly from shot to shot only
when the over-all action of the entire sequence is
broken down in to particular actions requ ired in
eac h shot. Wit hout good continuity, a motion pic-
ture would be a jumble of unrel ated an imated
snapshots. Whil e these pictu res may have move-
ment in each indi vidual shot. they are not a series
of fluid, flowing. merging images. Bec ause of it s
jerky , jarring, mi s-matched images, poor continu-
ity distract s audience atte ntion from the subjec t
matter. Good continuity encourages the viewer to
become absorbed in the story-telling, wit hout
bothersome distractions. The prime purpose of a
motion picture , whet her theatrical fiction feature
or documentary fact film, is to capture and hold
audience attention - from opening sho t to final
fade- out. To accomplish this , the film must be pre-
sented in visual images, inviti ng viewer s to become
involved in the screen story. If viewers have to fig-
ure out where the camera has suddenl y shifted, or
why an unexpl ained change has occurred in pl ay-
ers' action, the spell is broken.
Motion pictures create and sustain illusions.
The illusion is shattered whenever viewers ' atten-
tion or interest is dist r acted . Smooth, fluid, real-
istic continuity can contribute more to a motion
picture's success than any other cinematic device.
A mo tion picture can create its own time and
space, to fit any par ticul ar story-telling sit uation .
Time may be compressed or expanded; speeded or
slowed ; remain in the pr esen t or go forward or
backward; or it may even be held constant for as
long as desired. Space may be shor tened or
stretched; moved nearer or farther; pr esented in
true or false perspective; or be completely r emade
into a setting that may exist only on film. Both -
or either - time and space may be eliminated,
recreated and presented in any manner that will
help the audience comprehend.
A motion picture may go anywhere - by
showing actual travel - or editorially, by
cutting from one locale to another.
A motion picture can go anywhere in time and
space at any moment. Thus , a story may suddenly
go back into history, or shift across the world; or a
scene may be speeded up; or a setting made to
appear fore -shor tened. Time and space may be
real or imagined, enlarged or reduced, torn
apart or tied toge ther. An event may be presented
in its entirety as it actually happened; or fr ag-
mented into bit s in which only highligh ts or im-
pressions are actually shown. Several locations
separated in space may be presented singly, or
combi ned on film to appear as a single setting .
Proper hand ling of both time and space will
enhance the visual and audio values of the mo tion
picture story. Abusing time and space req uire-
ments may shatter the audience's recept iveness
to the screen happenings.
Actual time moves forward only , chronologi-
cally. Motion picture chronology, however , may
present the story in reel - rather than real - time,
Motion picture time may be divided into four cate-
gories: present, past, future, and conditional. A
motion picture story may employ one or more of
these time elements, singly or in any combination.
The film may depict events as happening in the
present, and then switch backward or forward; or
i t may compress, expand or freeze time in any
An event - such as this Indian making a
sand painting - may be presented in en-
tirety, or by showing only highlights.
manner. However time is port r ayed , i ts h andling
must be easily comprehended by the audience.
Uses of real time, and employme nt of dream
time, are limi ted only by the imagination and
technical abilities of those producing the film.
However the time factor is employed, the film
story based on time continu ity is told with the
passage of either actual or f anci ful time.
Present-time continuity depicts the action as if
occur ring n ow. This is the most popular and least
confusing method of presenting the mat eri al.
Events transpire in a logical, straightforwar d see-
it-now way; so that, regardless of story develop-
ments, transitions, continuity lapses, the audience
is always watching the event in the present. The
viewer obser ving events this way has a stronger
feeling of par ticipati on in the screen happenings.
Neither he nor the screen characters know what
will come next. This keeps the viewer interested
in following the screen story to its conclus ion.
While most modern theatrical fea tures employ
present-time con tinu ity, use is also made of other
time and transitional techniques, as required. By
presenting the fac ts in a see-it-now manner, most
documentaries could benefit from present-time
continuity, which would enliven the material and
give it greater dr amat ic impact and audie nce
par ticipation . Rather than depict a labor atory ex-
periment as a past event ; a research project or
construction of a missile base as a historical docu-
ment; it may be more dramatically shown as
Stories based on present-time continuity
depict events as if occurring now.
Documentary films benefit from presenta-
tion in a see-it-now manner.
occurring now, before spectators' eyes. Thus, the
event is r e-lived as if happening in the present ,
r ather than in the past.
An event progres sing in one locale: such as a
construction project, an at hletic contest, a scien-
tific demonstration - any happening without
moving from place. to place - may be filmed with
present-time continu ity.
Past -time continuity ma y be divided into two
types; occurring in the past; a flashback, from
present to past.
Const ruction project may be filmed wi t h
time continuit y, because events are de-
picted progressing in a single locale.
Historical stories may he presented as past
happenings, or as flashback .
Even ts occurri ng in the past - presented in
their entirety or as prologue to a story tr an spiring
in the present - arc depict ed in a manner similar
to present-time con tin uity; except th at the audi-
ence should be made aware of the time element
involved. Historical stories h ave past-time con ti-
nui ty; but other th an the f act th at the audience is
aware that these events have alrea dy happened,
there is little change in presentation. The viewer
must be made to feel, however, that "this is what
h appened as it happened" rather th an "this is
what is happeni ng." The picture stor y will be
most successful when the audience is tr ansport ed
back in to the time period with a you-were-the re
One problem in presenting past events is that
the audien ce may be either aware of the outcome
if the story is historical - or feels th at the event
is over and decided. This would not be the case
if the story is begu n in the past - in order to bring
the audience up-to-dat e on developments - and
then brought in to present tense. While once-upon-
a-time treatment may be excellent for f air y tales,
such fantasies make the audi ence wor k harder to
become involved in the screened event; and be-
come identified with the players. For this reason ,
historica l screen subjects often fail to gain favor-
able response. Stories of pas t events succeed only
when players, story and setting "come alive" on
the screen in a way designed to capture both in-
Bob'000. u"."" " _u " ,",, ', I",.
Past events should he filmed alive on the
screen, as if happeni ng now.
teres t and full accept ance of the audience. The
events shou ld be depicted as if happening n ow!
A flashback may portray an event that occurred
hefore the present story began. Or , it may retro-
gress in time to depict a portion of the story not
previously shown . Or , it may repeat an earlier
event. Thus, a character may tell a story that hap-
pened years ago or explain an inciden t in the
present story; not shown to the audience. Sever al
characters may eac h tell his or her vers ion of
what happened.
Fl ashb acks are of ten employed to clear up a
plot point, by showing what actually happened in
a mystery story; or development of a mech anical
process. Or , flashb acks may provide background
material by showing wh at took pl ace years before
to bring about the present sit uation. Oft en, a story
is told entirely in flashbacks; or may even go so
far as to employ a flashback within a flashb ack,
in which a ch ar acter tells about ano ther charc ter ,
who - in turn also rela tes an incident!
There is no limit to the ways flashbacks may
be us ed in a dramatic film - providing the story
always returns to the present, and the editorial
pattern is carefully worked out so that the audi-
ence is not confuse d. This is particularly impor-
tant if several characters each tells his or her
portion of the story out of chronologica l sequence.
Fl ashbacks may be effectively employed in indus-
trial films, when comparing the old with the new.
Today's jet fighter aircraft may -
flashback to World War II prop airp lane-
or flashforward to future Space Liner .
Or , a completed project may be presen ted at the
star t of the story. How it was researched, designed,
and construct ed can be told in flashback.
Fl ashbacks have these advanta,qes. They permit
several characters to tell their por tions of the story.
They all ow narrators to regress in time , and pre-
sent historical or background materi al. Different
fact ual or fictitious aspects may be presented from
various viewpoints by flash backs. The story may
depic t an earlier peri od. Story-telling is not re-
strict ed to the present, but may move back and
for th in time to describe or expl ain even ts signifi-
cant to the nar rative.
Flashbacks have certain disadvantages. They
tend to break up chronological continuity and
confuse the viewer. They often demand greater
audience attention, par ticular ly if sever al flash-
backs are employed. Viewers may become "lost" in
a len gthy flashback, and become disoriented ; the
stor y may move backward instead of forward, so
that the normal progression of building toward a
climax is impeded. Sometimes, the audience
knows the outcome of the stor y in advance, be-
cause they have seen the end. The la tter problem
may be solved by beginning narrative just before
the ending; then going into the flashback to tell
the st ory up to the poin t where the picture began .
Then, the story returns to the pre sent for it s
Employment of flashbacks, or telling a stor y
entirely in flashbacks, should be carefully con-
sidered. Fl ash backs should not be used unless
their adva ntages in story-telli ng greatly outnum-
ber thei r disadvantages. Use of an occasi onal
flashb ack, however , ca n be a tremendous aid in
both theatrical and documentary films; when-
ever regressing in time supplies the picture with
a mi ssing ingredient , provides background mate-
rial, or allows a novel por trayal of events.
Future-time continuity may fall into two ca te-
gori es : occurring in the future; a flashforward
from pre sen t to future.
Events occurring in the future may be predicted,
projected or imagined . A stor y tr anspiring in the
future may thus inv olve a science-fict ion predic-
lion, an industrial projection , or epilogue of the
present story, or events imagined by a char act er
7 1
moves ahead into the fu ture to describe events
that will , may, or could happen - and then re-
turns to the present . A scientist will project how
present pollution of streams and ri ver s wi ll affect
our future wa ter supply. An air force officer
describes what may happen in a fu ture nuclear
war. A space scientist explains how a manned
sa tellite cou ld reach the moon. The difference
bet ween a flashforward and a story occurring in
the future, is that the former is a fr agmentary
leap ahead which re turns to the present, and the
latter is a fu turi stic story in it self .
The flas h for ward possesses few of the dtsad-
vantages of the flashback. If not proper ly pre-
sented, however , flashfor wards may confuse the
viewer. By jumping ahead of the present stor y,
the flashforward may add a future dimens ion to
a document ary fact film. Thi s technique shows
wh at could happen if a different course is fol-
lowed in research, development or desi gn of a
new missile, an electronic brain , or a color tele-
vision set.
A flashforward may be filmed and edited in a
follow-through con tinuity, similar to present-time
continuity. Or it may be depict ed in impression-
istic fragment s, as if in a dr eam or imagination.
Conditional time continuit y does not deal with
real time. It is the depiction of time as conditioned
by other elements, such as the mental attitu de of

Future events - such as flashforward de-

picting (irst moon landin g - may be pre-
dicted. Audience i s transported into future ,
and sees event as it could happen.
in the present story. The viewer is transported
into the future. so th at he is seeing the event "as
it will or could happen ." The even t is present ed
with present-time continuit y, as if happeni ng now.
The aud ience should be kept aware of the time
clement. so that they are not confused. A future
time continuity may involve space shi ps on rout e
to the moon ; the projected growth of a company;
or tomorrow's happenings, imagined by a player.
A fl asJiforward is the opposite of a flashback. It
.... _ ~ C o
Flash forward - such as this depiction of
interplane tary refueling - adds fut ure di-
mension to present-day documentary film
on space travel.
Conditional time depict s events as assumed
by mental attit ude of playe r through whose
eyes audience views happeninqs,
player viewing the event ; or the memory, imagi-
nation or thoughts of a person who may "sec" an
event in a distorted manner in his mind's eye.
Since conditional time is unreal , it is unlimited
by bound aries or man ner of presentat ion.
This does not imply that conditional time need
not make sense. The audience must comprehend
what is happeni ng. A switch to conditional time
mus t be properly es tablished or explai ned with
appropria te pictorial transiti ons and/or audio
effects. St ra ight cut s may be employed, viewers
must be made to understand why the se tt ing is
suddenly switched to a scene existin g only in the
player's distorted mind.
Time may be eli minated, fragmen ted., com-
pressed. expanded, distor ted, or combined in any
manner, so th at one or more event may be pre-
sen ted in a continuous mann er - impossible in
real life. Conditional time continuity may be em-
ployed to express a nightmare, delirium; drunken
or othe r distor ted thinki ng by a player . Or , it may
be used to portray a pl ayer's musin g, me mories,
or an imagined event.
Conditional time may be used for a single
scene , a sequence or an en tire pictur e. This tech-
nique may be compared to a stream of conscious -
nes s. in whic h unrelated real and fanciful events.
clear and distort ed thoughts - present . pas t or
future - arc all intermi ngled in j umbled conti-
nuit y. Event s may be depicted in slow nightmar-
ish mo tion. or in a seri es of flash shots , in which
images arc changed at high speed. Or , an image
may be frozen for a long int erv al.
Condit ional time may also be employed to intro-
duce a flashback in which a drowning pers on
views his entire life, depicted in a straightforward
continuity requi ring seve ra l reel s - in a few mo-
ments ! If conditional time is properly pr esen ted,
the audie nce will interpret and accept the sit ua-
tion under condi tions depict ed.
Telli ng the story as thc action moves from one
place to anothe r involves space conti nuity. An ex-
pedi tion document ary, an auto tr ip or a travel
picture are typical examples. To be acceptable, a
logical pattern of movement must be shown. It is
also possible - as wi th lime continu it y - to move
back and for th in spac e, 10 speed or slow tr avel ,
or to be inst antly tr ansported to another location ;
providing that the abrupt change in continuit y
is understood by the audience. Viewers shou ld
al ways be aware of location of action. and the
direc t ion of the movement. Th at is the only way
the audience will know "irom where the moving
players or vehicles arc coming, and to where they
are going."
Space is rarely portrayed i n a motion picture as
i t actually cxtsts , except in a single setti ng : and
then it may be condensed or expanded by physi-
cal. opti cal and editori al techniques. Illusions of
space may be created in various ways. Space may
Space continuity i ~ used to tell story which
moves from one place to anoth er.
s..,,, ~ Y
be st retched or shor tened through employment of
optical tr ansitions. This result can be att ai ned by
simply ski pping unimportant areas ; by altering
spat ial rel ationships; by ingenious editi ng and by
imaginative story-telling. A simple dissolve may
cover hundreds of mil es. Filming only areas of
special interest, or different types of terrain . may
give the audience the impression they are seeing
the entire trip alt hough only highlights arc
act ua lly shown. Choice of lens focal length may
dr astic ally change perspective, the distance be-
tween objects or the rela tion ship of the pla yers
and the background. Clever editing may convince
the audience that they arc viewi ng all the travel.
Inventive story construction may provide means
of moving about in space , so that a great deal of
territory is covered; whil e the viewer is unaware
that mu ch of the travel is really missin g.
Audiences have been conditioned to accept the
removal of needless tr avel, so th at a player may
be shown leaving his office on the tenth floor and
immediat ely dissolve to the street entr ance. There
is no need to show him walki ng down the hall,
taking the elevator , emerging and walking through
the lobby, etc. Or , space may be lengthened in a
subtle manner, so that the audience is not aware
th at part of the travel is repe ated ; for ins tance,
by overl apping severa l shot s of a walk down a
shor t flight of stairs to make the fligh t appear
longer on the screen.
, ,
u........ u,_
Subject travel need not be shown in it s
:ntiret y. Space may be shortened by depict-
tng onl y Ilighli ght s of a journey.
A film taking place in a single setti ng may be
told with time continuit y only. A constantly-mov-
ing film de pict ing a race, a journey or a chase
may be told wit h space continuit y onlv. Most
stories employ bot h time and space continuities
alternately. A picture may s tar t out with space
cont inuit y by tr ansporting the audience to a for-
eign land. Th en it settles down to tell the st ory
in time cont inuity. Even an expedition picture
must pause at the various locales and switch to
time continuity as the explorers make camp,
study native habits, and carry out their ass igned
duties. Time and/or space stories featuring sim-
ple, st r aightforward, chronological continuities
present few filmi ng problems. A complex picture,
in whi ch the st ory moves back and forth in time
and here and there in space, mu st be handled
carefu lly - so as not to confuse the audience.
Most important - the viewer mu st never be lef t
in doubt where the event is taki ng place, and what
is happening. Onl y suspense stories are designed
to confuse the audience , until explanation of the
mystery in the last reel.
Filming of any event which the cameraman
can direct or regul ate is known as controlled
action. In this categor y, the best examples are
theatrical motion pictures. Sequences are plan-
ned, rehearsed and staged for the camera . Each
scene is filmed from as many angles, as many
times as requi red; until a satisfac tory take is
recorded. All es thetic and technical elements in-
volved in filming the picture are under complet e
control of direct or and camer aman.
Event s which cannot be staged for the camera
constitut e uncontrolled act ion . A newsreel of a
Although parades cannot be controlled by
cameraman, camera angles should be care-
fully planned in advance. All shots should
be filmed from same side of action Q::l?S,
so that line of march moves in constant
Some scenes in engineering films - such as
this static test of rocket engine - cannot he
controlled. Multiple cameras should be use d
for complete coverage .
natur al or man-made disaster, such as a hurricane
or a fire, is recorded jus t as it happens. Wit hout
control over the subjec t, the cameraman is merely
an observer with a motion picture camera. At
worst , uncontrolled filming is a one-take affair.
At best , it is filming of previous ly-announced
events, such as parades, beauty contests, air
shows. The cameraman knows what will happen,
but has little or no control over action or staging.
Many shots and sequences in non-theatrical
films cannot be controlled by the cameraman,
and are best treated in newsreel technique. Engi-
neering trials, field problems, fligh t tests, missile
firings, military maneuvers, historical pageants,
and similar events must be filmed just as they
happen. When filming uncontrollable action, the
camer aman mus t adapt his effor ts to prevailing
conditions, to record best coverage available.
Standard filming procedures should be followed
as much as possible to obtain technically excellent
res ults. In completely uncontrollable filming situ-
ations, the cameraman may be able to choose lit-
tle more than the camera-angle and lens focal
length. Choice may be further limited by lighting
and space res trictions, and physical dangers.
A master scene is a continuous take of an entire
event occurring in a single setting. It is a complete
chronological motion picture - silent or sync-
sound - of over-all action, from beginning to end .
Dramatic theatrical features are generally
filmed with one camera; which records
master scene of overall sequence and later
closer cut-in medium shots and close-ups
of individual players.
If filmed with a single camera : por tions of the
ac tion are later repeated to obtain inter-cutting
closer shots.
If filmed with multiple cameras : inter -cutting
closer shots arc filmed eimuiumeonslu.
Theatrical films : Generally filmed with a single
ca mer a because the action is staged. and may be
repe ated any number of times; in order to shoot
medium shots , two-shots , over-the-shoulder sho ts
and individu al cl ose-ups required for inter-cutting.
Closer shots are set up and lighted to por tray the
playe rs best from that particular angle. Both
action and di alogue are overl apped for each shot.
Television fi lms : Dramati c television films are
generall y filmed in the same manner as theatrical
pictures. Situ ation comedies and similar "stage-
front" materi al - in which actors perform for
audience as if on-stage - are filmed wi th multiple
ca me ras, to record all angles simultaneously.
Non -thea t rical films : Controllable action, suc h
as staged sce nes , may be filmed in a theatrical
manner with a single camera and action repeat ed
for closer shots . Uncontrollable action , such as
field tests, may be filmed with multi ple cameras,
to record all angles simul taneously.
Non -theatrical films - such as this report
of Titan lII C checkout activiti es being
photographed by RCA cameramen - may
be filmed wil li single camera, when action
is under control of camera crew.
Non-theatrical films, which the camera-
man camlOt control - such as missile
launching or fl(qht of prototype airplane -
should be filmed with mult iple cameras, to
obtain uartaus shots required (or sequence.
Single cameras vs. multiple cameras : Th e
choice lies not only with nature of material , but
wit h people being filmed. Closer shots requi re
precise duplicat ion of action performed. and dta-
logue spoken in the master sce ne. Professional
actors are able to repe at their per formance any
nu mber of times for various shots required. Ama-
teur ac tor s. company personnel. people perform-
ing in a documen tary film, may not be able to
dupli cate their action or speech . Th erefore, it is
better to employ multiple ca meras whenever sub-
sequent matching of tnter-cut tlng scenes may be
a problem. There is no questi on about using mul-
tiple ca me ras to film one-time events th at cannot
be repeated - a missile launchi ng. a static rocket
engine tes t, an ad lib speech - so that all angles
arc covered. Sequences in a documentary film
utilizing amateur actors , may ofte n be advan-
tageously filmed with multiple cameras, to insur e
edi tori al matching.
Single camera should be used on any staged
action which ca n be precisely duplicat ed for cl oser
shots. Multiple cameras should be used for news
events, qui z shows, panel programs, round-table
discussions, quest ion-and- answer sessions, engi-
neering test s; or whenever people being filmed
may not be capable of exact repe tition of their
Round-table discussions, quiz shows , panel
pro,qrams - OT other question-and-answer
type sound sequences ~ should be [dmcd
with multiple cameras to record simultane-
ously overall scene, and close-ups of indi-
viduals as they speak.
performance. Directors of theatrical features often
use more than one camer a to film complicated
action sequences, hi ghly emotional scenes, or
tricky stunts which may be difficult to duplicate.
The master scene and inter-cutting closer shots
supply the film editor with all action and dialogue
in a sequence in duplicate - both in long-shot and
various kinds of close shots from different angles.
Thus , the editor has wide choices in cutting the
sequences, since he may "open" up the picture and
return to the long shot whenever he wishes to
re-establish setting or actors, or move actors to
new positions. Or , he may cut to a closer shot or
another angle when he desi res to emphasize a
par ticular player's act ion or speech , or a fellow
player's reaction. He may cut-an-action to move
players into or out of closer sho ts . Since the action
is covered in duplicate from several angles, edit-
ing decisions are facilitated. If unsatisfactory for
any reason, the sequence may be re-edit ed in an
entirely differe nt manner.
The editor may even "improve" an actor's per-
formance - if required - by inser ting a reaction
shot of an opposing pl ayer ; or go to another shot,
.......-e- ,
~ ~ ~ ~ . . . . . ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ : /::. X\__
Theatrical cinematographers employ multi-
ple cameras to film tricky stunts - such as
this simultaneous fall of six horses and
riders - so that the feat need not be re-
peated for additional coverage.
if a particul ar portion of a player'Sperformance is
weak. Or , dramatic emphasis may be shifted to a
player other than the one indicated in the script.
The editor will encounter few problems in match-
ing action and dialogue when per formed by pr o-
fessional actors. Or , when multiple cameras are
used to film uncontroll able action.
Th eatrical production personnel prefer the sin-
gle camera master scene technique because it in-
sures complete coverage without cos tly holdups
on the set, necessitated while editorial decis ions
are being made. Closer shots of por tions of the
action are easily repeated. Single camera coverage
permits filming the entire action in long shot ; an d
each cu t-in shot with individual attention. Dupli -
cating act ion from two or more angles permits
re-lighting for each camera set up, so th at bes t
photographic result s are obtained.
The single camera master scene technique is
preferred by professional actors , because it allows
them to carry out a complete performance wit hout
in terruption . It is often difficu lt - particularly
wit h high ly dramatic material - to obtain a satis-
factorily sustained performance, when filming
-. ,, ""P".
Professional p l y e r ~ prefer master scene
trcatment because it permits complete per-
formance without interruption. Later, cut-
in close-ups (below ) are filmed by repeat-
ing necessary portions. Action and dialogue
must he precisely matched wherever they
flow across cut from master to closer shots.
Hmo o p,,",
stop-and-go in small bits. Even though the scene
is repeated l ater in short pieces for closer shots,
the actors arc allowed one complet e run-through.
It is much easier to record a performance in this
way, since actors can re peat por tions of the mas-
ter scene , once a satisfactory long shot is obtained.
Precise repetition of action and/or di alogue in
closer shots is no t always ne cessar y, if camera-
men or director make a change after the master
scene is filmed. If the player is moved into or out
of position, and both ends of the cl oser shot are
mat ched wher e they cut into the master scene ,
the hear t of the individual shot may be cheated.
This is possible because either the master or the
cu t-in sho t is used - not both. Action an d di alogue
must overlap only wh ere scenes are inter-cut. It is
impor tant that pl ayer movement out of and back
in to the master match-c ut. This allows for second-
guessing when filming closer shots. Editors shoul d
be notified of any script changes.
Multiple camera master scene coverage ass ures
perfec t matching of ac tion and di alogue, without
regard to performer s' ability to repeat scenes
exactl y. Uncontroll abl e action may be covered
from all angles simultaneously. Lighting must be
a compromise and camera set-ups are bes t when
shooti ng more or less from the same angle with
different focal len gt h len ses. Amateur actors, or
company personnel, need no t be concerned with
repeating their performance, because every angle
is filmed in a single run-through . Salesmen , lec-
turers, company executives, enginee rs, may all be
Multiple cameras should he used to shoot
long shot and medium shot, or close-up, on
nncomrclicd action - such as flight test of
prototype airplane. All cameras should be
positioned on same side of action axis .
filmed in least time and effort. Yet , sufficien t cov-
erage is obtained for editorial purposes.
The several disadvantages in filming single
camera master scenes are fa r outweighed by edi-
torial benefits.
Single-camera theatri cal filming r equires pl ay-
ers to memori ze entire sequences; and to be cap-
able of deliveri ng their ltnes, making their moves,
hitt ing their marks precisely - and repeating their
performance a number of times for matching
closer shots. Long or complex sequences should
be attempted only by professional actors, capable
of sustained exact performances. Player and/or
camera movements must be precisely blocked out
and foll owed. Closer shots mus t be carefully plan-
ned. Once player positions are captured in the
master scene, they must be duplicated in medium
shots and close-ups. Looks must be correct; and
props, such as cigarettes, hats, papers, must be
held or pl aced in the same manner, in closer shots.
As previous ly explained, a limited amount of
cheating is permissible; but generally it is best to
adhere to the master scene as closely as possible.
Players' positions, movements and looks
must: be carefully blocked out in master
scene, so that they may be matched in
closer cut-in shots filmed later. Players
should move into and out of closer shots .
Th e single camera master scene technique does
not readily lend itself to improvising as shooting
progresses, because closer scenes may not inter-
cut with the over-all long shot. Radical changes in
positions, looks, moves, will result in j arring
jump-cuts. Since flawless master scenes call for
more rehearsals, they req uire more re-takes than
shorter, less complicated scenes. However , a mis-
take may be disregarded if the editor uses a closer
shot for that portion of the action.
In master scenes, the ratio of film exposed to
film used in finished pictures is greater than in
recording a series of individual consecutive shots.
For instance, in a scene las ting several minutes,
the film editor may use only the opening, re-estab-
lish once during the sequence, and return to the
master for the closing.
If editorial requirements can be pre-de termined
when filming, there is no need to shoot a master
scene all the way through on every sequence. Re-
quired por tions shou ld be filmed ; and remainder
of the sequence walked through for positions, and
movement s into and out of closer sho ts. If he art
of closer action will definitely not be used, there is
no need for these portions to be filmed in long
shot. Thu s, much shoo ting time, r aw st ock and
Master scene need not be filmed in its en-
tirety - if most of scene will definitely be
covered in finished film , with closer shots .
Doorway sequence may require entrance
and exit only.
processing can be saved. While all these costs may
be insignifican t in theatrical pictures, they are
worth consideri ng in limited budgets of non-
theatrical producers .
Multiple camera filming of staged action - such
as television shows - requi res much planning and
rehear sal, so that both players and camera crews
hit their marks on every posi tion. Camer a set-ups,
lighting and player movements must be blocked
out;to en able various camer as to record all neces-
sary shots in one run-through . Cut-in cameras
must use long focal-length lenses in order to
remai n out of line -of-sight of the wide-angle long
shot camera. Some cameras mus t be dollied, or
moved to other positions, during filming. Lenses
must be changed, cables kept clear , lighting
varie d, cameras moved - noisetesstu!
Because of many camera angles and various
player positions, lighting must be a compromise.
Fully-illuminated action may be most successfully
filmed in this manner. Low-key dr amati c lighting
can r arely be use d, since it must be precisely tai-
lored to each shot . Mult iple camera filming is
ideal for comedy, panel, quiz or similar shows.
Disadvantages of employing multiple cameras on
artificially-lighted interiors arc minimi zed when-
ever cameras may be operated from approximately
the same angle, with differen t focal-length lenses,
There are few disadvantages in filmi ng mul tiple
camera master scenes outdoors on uncontrollable
action - such as field tests or new equipment dem-
ons trations - except additional film and proces-
sing costs . Ordinarily, this is the only way such
events may be properly covered , so that the editor
can be supplied with all shots required to put to-
get her a satisfactory sequence.
The simples t method for obtaining shot-to-shot
continuity, par ticularly when filming without a
script, is by over lappi n,q the action at oeqinninq
and end of each shot. In this filmi ng technique -
commonl y termed cutting in the camera - the
cameraman thinks of three consecutive shots , re-
gardless of the number of scenes being filmed,
Action at the end of the first shot is repeated
at the beginning of the second shot; and action at
end of second shot is again overlapped at begin-
ning of the third shot, Triple-take technique is
very simple in operation, The cameraman need
refer only to ending of the previous shot; and
repeat a small par t of that action, to match be-
ginn ing of the shot being filmed, Then , the end
of the present shot is noted; so tha t it s final
action may be carried over to beginn ing of the
next shot .
Triple-take technique requires that action
occurring at end of first shot - such as
picking up cllfting fool ~ be repeated at
beginning of ~ e o n d shot.
Action continues into medium shot as tool
is brought into frame. Scene progresses
until machini st begins positioning cutti ng
edge of tool. Ac tion at end of mediu m shot
is repeated at lJe,qinning of close-up.
This link-chai n procedure produces a series of
interlocking images, planned to convey the im-
press ion of un int errupted action when edited.
Overl apping action ass ures perfect con tinu ity.
because scenes may be march-cut . The triple-take
automatically preserves cine continuity, since it
forces the cameraman to be constantly aware of
the action at the begi nni ng and end of each shot ;
and eliminates possibiliti es of jump-cut s caused
by missing or mis-matched action between shots.
While the middle portion of the scene is ver y
impor tant for story-telling purposes; star t and fin-
ish of each shot cause most editorial problems.
Therefore, it is not the heart of the action during
the shot that must be most closely observed; but
movements at beginning and at end of each shot
which must be matched to bracketing scenes.
Motion pictures are present ed in sequences, not
shots. While individual shots have their own
value, each must be considered a portion of the
sequence, serving only to advance the story. A
series of shots must be woven into a coherent
sequence, wit hout distracti ng j umps or breaks in
the continuit y. The audi ence should be barely
aware of changes in camera angle or image size.
As in life, the seque nces must appear as a conti n-
Il OILS flow of movement, from star t to fini sh .
While cheating of bot h time and space du ring
filmi ng and editing is permi ssible. it should not
be apparent to the aud ience.
The triple-take tech nique may be used only on
controllable action, which the camer aman may
start and stop at will. Whil e it generally requires
a single camera, multiple cameras may be used
on occasion to film additional angles , time-con-
suming or difficult action ; or scenes impossible to
repeat. Both thea trical and non-theatrical pict ures
may be filmed in this manner with the ass urance
that all shots will match-cut.
The tri ple-take techni que calls for thinking in
threes. As filming progresses, the cameraman
thi nks back to the last shot before filmi ng the
present shot; and also ahead to the next shot.
Fir st the cameraman should acquaint hi mself
with the sequence by having players walk through
the entire action from start to fini sh, with out
actually performing the task involved. If a me-
chanic is going to assemble a jet engine , he should
explain the work step by step - to acquai nt the
cameraman with the ope ration. Careful analysis
of work and mechanic's movements will sugges t
the types of shots required for the vari ous steps ;
camera angles that will best portray eac h par t of
the action; and where to cut the camer a, and
overlap the action.
It is usuall y best to begin and end the sequence
with a long shot. It is also advisable to re-establish
the long shot whenever the audience should be
8 1
Long shot should be used to establish geo-
graphy of setting. It is advisable to re-estab-
lisl1 long shot whenever audience should
be re-oriented, because of major changes
in players' position s.
with a long shot. It is also advisable to re-es tablish
the long shot whenever the audience should be
re-oriented. because of a change in the mechanic's
position in rel ati on to the engine ; or the introduc-
tion of new tools ; or for other narrative reasons.
If the camera stays in close, the audience soon
becomes "lost", and for gets location of the wor k
being performed. The camera should begin far
back for a full shot , from a hi gher angle. Then
the camera should move in , lower and around to
the side, for medium shots and d ose-ups.
By es tablishing and re-establishing wi th lon g
shots, depicting the heart of the action in medium
shots , emphasizing the important portions with
close-ups; good cont inuity will be achieved. Closer
shots will automa tically suggest themselves when-
ever the action becomes concentrated in a smaller
area. Moving in closer satisfies the audience's
curiosity for a more intimate look.
It is natural to view the scene firs t from afar,
and then approach the subject as interes t in-
creases. This is equally true whether viewing peo-
ple, places or objects. Players arc first shown in
long shot , in relation to the set ting; then in closer
shots ; and finally in close-ups, as they rel ate with
each other , exchange dialogue or perform some
action. Cities are first seen from a distance, then
Movement at end of previous shot should
be repeated at beginning of following shot .
Action should be carefully matched so that
film editor may cut on action .
explored street by st reet , and building by building.
Object s arc first viewed in relation to their sur-
roundings, or as par ts of a lar ger group, and then ,
perhaps ind ividually.
Obviously, it is bes t to cut after completion of a
movement - such as ope ning a door , sit ting in a
cha ir, picking up a tool, moving into a new posi-
tion , etc. The entire movement is then repeated
at the beginni ng of the next shot, from a new
camera angle. The film editor is thu s given a
choice in matching the shots, since he may cut
bef or e or af ter the movement , or cut on action
dur ing the move. Cert ain movements should not
be int errupted by cutti ng, because the natural flow
of ac tion may be disturbed. Usua lly, however , a
cut between shots can be carried by the movement
for a smoot her visual effect. The movement makes
the splice less evident, since the viewer is watch-
ing the action, and will be less aware of a change
in image size and/or camera angle.
The camera man shou ld overlap all movements
and not attemp t to decide on editing du ring film-
ing. Such decisions are best made lat er on the
cutting bench, where various possibilities may be
studied for best screen effec ts . The cameraman
should overl ap complete movements at end and
begi nni ng of consecutive shots.
Overlapping act ion - from one shot to
ne xt - should be performed in precisely
same manner, to assure a match cut.
For instance , an individual may sit down at the
end of a medium shot. He should agai n sit down
at the beginning of the following static close-up.
A wor ker may pick up a tool in a long shot. He
should again pick up the tool for the following
medium shot.
The ca meraman should be sure that the action
is performed in exactly the same manner each
time : si tting the same way, reaching wit h the
same hand, turning in the same manner , looking
in the same direction . If over lapping porti ons of
the action are not performed in precise duplicat e,
they ere useless. The editor cannot ma ke a match-
cut on mis-match ed action! Professional actors
underst and this problem thoroughly, and can be
relied upon to repeat their exact actions every
time. Amateurs or factor y personnel, lab tech-
nici ans, engineers - and others recruited to per -
form in a documentary Hi m - must be ins tructed
to repeat their actions in exactly the same way.
and obse rved closely to be certai n tha t they do so.
If there is no perceptible movement bet ween
people involved in the shot, or if an indivi dual is
performi ng a solitary task, it is best to "freeze"
him in posit ion at proper inte rvals ; and to move
the ca mera to a pre-determined angle before con-
tinuing filming. Such freezing and unfreezing
must be deftl y accomplished, since it int errupts
the natura l flow of ac tion; and may appear jerky
when edited. This can be handled most exped i-
ently if camer aman and players walk through the
entire action, so th at camera starts and stops
may be pre-determined; and ca mer a angles
blocked out for the various por tions of the se-
quence. Camera stops should 'lOt be made impul-
sively, and camera moves should not be decided
after the scene begins; otherwise confusion will
result. Player s may have to hold frozen positions
for an unduly long time , while awaiting deci sions
for the next move.
The triple-take technique requires the utmost
conce ntration by the camer ama n if he is filmin g
alone; or by the direct or ass igned to the task. The
cameraman, or direct or , should attempt to de-
velop a "stream-of-consciousness" thinking pro-
cess, which proj ects the fini shed sequence in indi-
vidual shots in the mind 's ci ne eye before filming.
Only in this way ca n the entire sequence be vis-
ualized, and player and ca mera positions blocked
out properly.
Whil e the tri ple-take technique is basical ly a
single camera method of filming, there are occa-
sions when a second camera may be successfully
employed to film an additional angle, or a cut-in
close-up. Two or more - ca meras may be used
for a particular portion of a sequence , to record all
shots required simultaneously. A tr icky, time-con-
sumi ng operation may be required in assembling
an intrica te machine par t ; a lengthy demonstra-
tion may have to proceed without int erruption ; a
rocket engine may be Itrcd only once. Under such
conditions, additional coverage is obtained only by
using another camera or two, to film extra shots.
The triple-take technique permits greatest free-
dom while filming, because ac tion may be broken
down into small par ts, and improvised if neces-
sary as shooting progresses. Only beginnings and
ends of shots require matching, so duplication of
the en tire sequence is avoided. Film waste is held
to a minimum, and a higher proportion of film
exposed to film utilized in the edited picture is
attained. Off-the-cuff filming of difficult or long-
dr awn subject matt er is more easily handled. be-
cause the cameraman need only concern himself
with three shots at any time. If all shots are prop-
erly overlapped and action matched, editi ng prob-
lems will be minimized.
If the subject makes a mistake, the cameraman
stops shooting, switches angles, and overlaps the
action transpiri ng just before the mistake occur-
red. The entire shot need not be retaken, because
footage up to the mistake may be saved, and only
the faulty action discarded. Only mis-played por-
tions of action need re-take coverage.
The triple-take technique allows filming the
sequence in consecutive continuity , as act ion
progresses. Many indust rial operations, military
tests, assembly "nuts-and-bolts" training films ,
progress reports - and similar docu mentary sub-
jects - will present few problems if filmed in this
way . A complex machine need not be assembled,
and dis-assembled and reassembled for close-ups.
A chemical, electronic or mechanical test , demon-
stration or experiment, need not be r epeated in it s
entirety for both long shots and closer matching
shots. If can be filmed under the cameraman's
control in chronological order as it is conducted;
providing the work can be stopped at any time,
and the personnel will per form as instructed, and
overlap their actions for var ious shots and angles .
Th rough the triple-take technique, the camera-
ma n gains opportunities of moving in and around
Assembly of a complex unit - such as
Explorer XII space satellite-may be filmed
with triple-take overlapping technique.
the subject , and shoo ting r equir ed scenes with
least inconvenience to those being photographed.
Filmi ng in continuity preserves n atur al flow and
rhythm of an event, and is almost always easier
for performing personnel un famili ar with pro-
fessional motion picture production procedures.
While the tr iple-take technique permits filming
perfectly matched shots, it may get out of hand
in complex off-the-cuff shooting. This ca n result
in a hodge-podge of odd camera angles , shots of
varied lengths, mis-matched cuts, poorly-chosen
medium shots and close-ups, and other un satis-
fac tory procedures based on spur-of-the-moment
deci sions. Cutting in the camera, and mentally
carrying both action and camera treatment, de-
mand concentration and ade quate planning.
Impulsive filming can create pitfalls. If the se-
quence is not properly planned, and the camera is
frequently moved merely to get away from the
previous angle, the shot ends whenever there is a
mistake; and the length of individual shots de-
pends on how far performing personnel can go
before they make a mistake!
If the camer aman concentrates on overlapping
movement from scene to scene, the principal
action of the scene may be deprived of proper
attention . The res ult may be per fectly-matched
footage with lifeless character.
Constant shifts in camera angles and changes
in image size may be more easily h andled out-
doors, where daylight problems are minimal. In-
terior lighting continuity, however, may be very
difficult to preserve, especially on location-filmed
documentary subjects, since lights may have to
be changed for each shot. Matching lighting be-
comes involved whenever camera is moved back
and fort h for long shots and closer shots of the
same general area.
If sufficient lighting units are available, the
long-shot ligh ting should not be disturbed. Closer
shots shou ld be illuminated wit h other units, so
that a re-establishing shot with the original light-
ing set-up may be made whenever req uired. If
the lights must be moved, their previous positions
should be chalked or taped on the floor ; so that
they can be returned to the long shot li gh ting
The cameraman, or director, filmi ng improvised
action wit hout a script to guide him, must be well-
versed in both filming and edit ing techniques. He
must thoroughl y underst and the ar t of cheating
from both shooting an d edit ing standpoints, so
that he instinctively knows how fa r he can go in
changing action, angles , pl ayer s' positions, pr ops
and other cinematic elements. Yet he must shoot
scenes that will match-cu t when edited.
The ma ster scene method with single camera
should be used whenever a sequence is filmed
from a shooting script ; whenever professional
ac tors are employed, whenever all production ele-
ments are completely under control; whenever
sufficien t time and unlimited film are avai lable;
whenever the director wants greatest range of
choices in editing the sequence; and whenever all
of the action should be covered in long shot.
On the surface, disadvantages of filming mas-
ter scenes may appcar to outweigh advantages;
but a properly-executed master scene, with com-
plete coverage in matching closer shots , provides
Properly filmed master scene, with match-
ing medium shots and close-ups, provides
iilm: editor with greatest variety in assem-
bling sequence.
the film editor with the greates t possible variety
in assembling the sequences. The master scene
method is truly professional and should be used
whene ver filming fr om detailed shooting scri pts.
The master scene method with multiple cam-
eras should be used whenever the action is not
under the cameraman's control; whenever an
event cannot be in terrupted; whenever it is desir-
able to stage a sequence in its entirety only once;
whenever amateur ac tors or worki ng personnel,
who cannot duplicate their actions, are filmed ;
whenever long shot and closer sho ts must be
recor ded simultaneously.
The triple-take technique with single camera
should be used whenever it is advantageous to
film an event in a stop-and-go pa ttern; whenever
inexperienced personnel perform a series of
actions which are best filmed individually, whe n-
ever film cos ts are a factor ; wh enever shooti ng
off-the-cuff on an improvised basis; whenever the
cameraman can control the event, start, stop and
repeat an y port ion at will ; whenever it is di fficult
to ligh t, stage, or otherwise shoot the entire event
in long shot; and whe never the came raman and/or
director havc sufficient editorial ability to cut the
picture in the camera.
The triple-take technique may also utilize mult i-
ple cameras for any portion of the action that
Triple-take technique should be used when-
ever filming industrial operation; which
may be started, stopped and repeated - for
overlapping action from shot to shot.
the action may be staged in its entirety in long
shot - such as the beginning and end of a se-
quen ce - and the in-between ac tion is best filmed
in an overlapping manner. This means shooting
partial master scenes, or certain por tions of the
lon g shot action with a single camera set-up. The
remainder should be picked up with triple-takes.
This will save considerable film.
Or , a master scene may run until the actors
fluff their lines, or miss a cue. Then a switch made
to triple-take overlapping filming- returning to the
master, perhaps, for re-establishing the over-all
setting, or for an exit at the end of the sequence.
Many poss ible combinations to meet prevailing
condit ions can be worked. When in doubt, a
master scene may be attempted, with the assur-
ance that a switch may be made to the tri ple-take
techni que, if required. The cameraman need not
feel committed to one method or the other for the
enti re filmi ng. The event should be analysed in its
en tirety. All factors in volved - people, types of
action, length and complexity of event, lighting,
editorial requirements, time available, budget, etc.
- should be considered. Size of camera crew and
availability of camera equipment may also be lm-
por tant, if multiple cameras are required .
Since the cameraman using the triple-take
technique has already cu t the sequence in the
camera, li ttle or no choice i s left the film editor.
The editor may eit her use a shot or discard it ; or
he may dissolve to cover a jump-cut created by
eliminating foo tage which is undesirable. Other
choices are the use of protection or reaction shots
which the cameraman may have seen fit to film.
The master scene technique offers the editor
unlimited selection to cut the sequence in any
number of ways , because each portion of the ac tion
is covered in l ong shot as well as medium shots,
close-ups and additional angle shots. In eit her
case, the cameraman should fu rnish the film edt-
tor wi th sufficient cut-in and cut-away close-ups,
to help shor ten the sequence, or to cover contt-
nutty lapses.
In the final analysis, the triple-take technique
allows more leeway du ring filming; but the master
scene technique provides greater editing freedom,
The direction in which a person or a vehicle
moves, or the di rection in which a person looks,
can cause the most vexing problems in motion
picture continuity. If a complete production could
be photographed in a si ngle shot there would be
no directional problems !
A mo tion picture is made up of many shots,
filmed from different camera angles and put to-
get her in a sequence - a series of shots - which
becomes a chapter in the story . In turn, a series
of sequences is combined to make up the com-
plete n arrative. If an es tablished move or look in
a particular direction is unaccountably changed in
consecutive shots, the picture's continuity will be
disrupted, an d the aud ience will be distracted or
even confused.
An unexplained change in screen di recti on can
result in a serious mis-match , in which players
arc suddenly looking away [rom r ather than to-
ward , each other ; an d vehicles suddenly reverse
their screen movement, and appear to be going in
the opposite direction!
Even veteran directors working from a detailed
shooting script will often rely on the director of
photography for screen direction , so that actors
and vehicles are sure to look and move in the
correct direction. A cameraman shooting off-the-
cuff can get into serious directi on al trouble if he
fa ils to pay particular attention to this highly
important filming problem. Once i t is thoroughly
understood and given proper attention, direction al
continuity can be easily mastered. There is no bet-
ter way for a camer aman to win the respect of a
film editor than by delivering footage whi ch will
"cut together" wit hout the need of optical {lop-
overs, or ot her rever sing edi ting tricks - necessary
for salvaging carelessly-filme d footage.
A motion picture lives in a world of its own.
There is only a single viewpoint: the lens of the
camera. How the camera sees the subjec t is im-
por tant - not how it appears in ac tuality. In cer-
tain instances, it is necessary to film the subject
tatn instances, it is necessary to film the subject
traveling in the wrong direction, so that i t will
appear correctly on the screen1 Action is judged
only by its screen appearance; by the way it
should look - and not the way it actually appears
while being filmed.
There are two types of screen directions:
DYNAMIC (Bodies in motion)
STATIC (Bodies at rest)
Constant ; either lef t-to-right or right-to-left
Contrasting; both left-to-right and right-to-left
Neutral; toward or away from the camera
Constant screen travel depicts subject motion
in one direction only. A series of shots of a person
walking, a car driving, a plane flying - should
move in the same direction to show progression.
If a shot suddenly depicts the person or vehicle
movi ng in the opposite direction to that previously
established, the audie nce will receive the impres-
sion that the moving subject has turned around,
and is returning to the starting point!
Once screen direction is es tablished for a par -
ticular travel pattern it should be maintained.
This holds true for two shots, a series of consecu-
tive shots, or a single shot inser ted at intervals in
the narrative. The narrative may be concerned
QM P,"' __ ABC_TV
Subject should move in a constant direc-
tion - either left-to-right or rightto-left -
to show progression.
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Established screen direction should be
maintained throughout a travel sequence,
regardless of camera angles.
Contrasting screen travel may be used to show subject going and returning.
Left scene depicts qroup traveling from Group at right is returning home - in
hame to town. opposite direction.
solely with act ivity inside a train, but whenever
the moving train is shown - it must move in a
constant direction. The train may enter from
screen left , move across the screen in a left-to-
right direction, and exit screen ri ght. Camera an-
gles may be varied, long shots of the train may be
in termingled with cl ose-ups of its dri ve wheels -
but direction of movement must not be changed.
When cutting from an exterior of the moving
train to an interior shot , the camera should shoot
from the same side of the train for a smoother
transition. Later, the camera angles may be varied
as the interior sequences continues. If, however,
the camera were to cut abruptly from an exterior
shot of the tr ain moving in one direction to an
in terior shot showing the people (and the view
through the window) moving in the opposite di-
recti on it would create the impression th at the
train were suddenly going backwards !
Contrasting screen travel depicts subjec t mo-
tion in opposite directions when necessary to show
a person or vehicle .Going and returning; or when-
ever two subjects must be shown moving toward
each other. In order to establish and maintain
both directions of travel , think of screen travel in
terms of "comings and goings" (a descriptive
phrase used by early film makers) which must be
strictly followed. The subject may go and re turn
- perhaps fr om his home to town and back again.
Both travel directions should be decided before
the scenes are filmed, so that whenever the sub-
ject appears walki ng or rid ing, he comes and goes
in opposite directions. Home to town may be
established as left to right. Town to home would
be filmed right to left.
This would apply regardl ess of camera angles,
whether long shot or close-up - or if only player's
horse's feet are shown! The audience will be ori -
ented that town is toward the ri ght and home is
toward the left .
Later, a group of men may be shown leaving
town an d going ri ght to left . The audience will
automatically assume that they are headed for
the subject's home because they are riding in that
direction. Travel direction for both coming and
going must be consistently the same, however
many times the action return s t o the same locale .
This is just as important in documentary films
showing airplanes leaving their base and return-
ing. Or , in depicting raw materials arriving at a
plant and finished pr oducts being shipped out to
market. Camera angles and types of shots may be
varied, but the subject must come and go in
an established directi on al pattern, maintained
throughout the picture. An oriented audience will
be confused if travel movement is switched.
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Audience will assume that group of men
shown leaving town, traveling right to left,
are headed for subject's home - because
they are riding in that direction.
Contrasting screen travel is also employed to
depict opposing subjects moving toward each
other. Opposing screen movements are generally
edited in an alternating pattern, to portray mov-
ing subjects that will meet or clash. The her o
leaves his ra nch , r idi ng left to ri ght. Next, the
heroine is shown leaving town, right to lef t. The
audience will correctly ass ume that they are rid-
ing toward each other , and will mee t. This effect
is achieved through opposing movements, and
also because the audience is properly oriented
through earlier es tablishment of directions - town
toward ri ght and ranch toward left. By judicious
use of opposing screen travel, the audience will
always assume that the two opposite moving
images will meet - unless otherwise informed
through dialogue or other means.
Contrasting screen direction may empl oy mov-
ing opposition to buil d suspense, predict a clash,
or con tribute dramatic impact to the narrative.
Suspense can be built by showing hero and villain
approaching each other for a show-down. A clash
can be pre dicted by showing Indians and cavalry
galloping toward each other. Dramatic impact can
be increased by introducing two football teams
trotting on to the field from opposite directions.
While individual shots may not be suspenseful,
clashing or dr amatic in themselves, they will help
buil d toward climactic meetings. This can be ac-
complished with visual simplicity, without need
for for ceful dialogue or narration. A camer aman
filming on his own , or a director shooting from a
detailed script, shou ld use contrasti ng directional
continuity. Thus, the film editor is supplied with a
dr amaticall y-fashi oned series of scenes, filmed to
fit a definite editi ng pattern.
Series of opposing action shots, such as Indians
and cavalry, should be filmed with progressively
closer shots as the action reaches its climax. Such
Contrasting screen travel may be used to show opposinq subjects moving toward
each otner. Moving opposition -edited in alternate pattern-may predict a clash.
closer-and-closer shots may be cut shor ter and
shorte r , so that the sequence builds fr om lengthy
long shots to shorter medium shots. to clipped
close-ups and a frenzied finish . Th e viewer s' emo-
tions are excited by the acceleration editing pat-
tern; and involved even more deeply as the cam-
era moves into the cl ashi ng climax.
Neutral screen direction depicts moving sub-
jects tr aveling toward or away from the camera.
Since neu tr al movemen ts are non-directional ,
they may be inter-cut with scenes showing move-
ments in eit her direction. Th e following are neu-
tr al screen movements :
Head-on and tail -away shots, in which the sub-
ject moves directly toward or away from the cam-
era. Such shots are neutral only as long as the
moving image re mains centered in the fr ame. An
entra nce or exi t will denote directi on. Th e fr ont
or rear of the moving subject should be depict ed
for an absolutely neutral effec t. If one side is seen ,
such as the side of a horse or a car, the direction
of travel will be indicated. A head-on shot may
begin neutral and then exit one side of the picture
to mat ch-cut wit h a following directional shot. Or ,
a tai l-away shot may enter one side of the picture
and then become neutr al as it moves away fr om
the lens. Such shots may be used deliberately to
switch screen dir ection, by pr esentin g a tempor ar y
Head-on shots - depictin g subject moving
toward camera - are neu tral in screen di-
rection .
neutral condi tion between two shots moving in
opposite directions.
Head-on and tail-away shots , in which a per son
walks or runs directly toward the camera and
cover s the lens, so th at the screen is bl acked out -
or , walks directly away from the camer a so that
the lens is uncovered and the setti ng is revealed -
have limited use for chase seque nces, or for pro-
viding fade-in or fade-ou t effects .
Tracking shots , in which the camer a moves
direct ly ahead, or directly behind the player or
vehicles, are ne utral if the subject does not enter
If head-on subject exi ts frame - proper
exi t side is important to preserve estab-
lished screen direction. Rider, above, m ust
exit right side of frame in order to travet
left-to-riq!lt in next shot , below.
Subject movement is neutral when camera
tracks directly ahead of walking players.
Travel movement is neutral when filmed
from hi gh downward angle so, t hat subject
exits bott om of frame .
or exit the fr ame. Either a fr ont or rear view is
depicted. If a side or three-quar ter angle is filmed,
one side of the subject is favored, so that the shot
will in dicate directi on of tr avel.
Tracking shots : Cam era
# 1 films front three-quar-
ter anole depicting walking
player moving le ft to right.
Camera # 2 films neutral
head- on shot; Camera #3
films neutral tail -away
shot. If player walks into
or out of neutral shots; he
must enter from left of
Camera #3, and exit right
fOT Camera #2 to preserve
l ef t -l a-ri g ht directional
High or low angle shot s in which the moving
subj ect travels directly toward and under or over
the camera, so that it exits ei ther bottom or top of
the fr ame. A car filmed from a hi gh angle may
tr avel directl y und er the camer a. A train or a
jumping horse may tr avel directly over the top of
a low-angled camera.
Directi onal travel is neut ral when two or
more players walk abreast toward camera,
and then split up to exit both sides of
9 1
Directi onal trav el is neutral when several
players enter frame (ram both sides of
camera and join up going directl y away.
Shots of groups of people , or two or mOTe
ve hicles, traveling abreast - which advance to-
ward the camer a and split up to exit both sides of
the fr ame. Or, enter from bot h sides of the fr ame
and join up going directl y away from the camera.
An army may ma rch toward a centered camer a;
and half the men may exit lef t, and the other half
may exit r ight. A crowd may enter from botn sides
of the picture, and rush away from the camera.
To provide visual variety. A constant left-to-
right or right-to-left series of shots may be broken
up with neutral subject movement. A head-on
shot may be used to open a sequence by bri nging
the moving subj ect from a dist an t point toward
the audi ence. A tail-away shot may be used to
close a sequence , or a picture, by having the sub-
ject recede from the camera by walking, riding or
otherwise moving away. Such shots present mov-
ing images which i ncrease or decrease in size as
they advance or ret reat from the viewer , and thus
effect a greater depth than cross-screen shots.
Head-on and tail-away tracki ng shots offer wel-
come changes from the usua l three-quarter side
angle. High or low angles, in which the moving
subject goes under or over the camer a, furni sh
contrast to eye-level shots .
To providc greater audien ce impact. Head-on
sho ts place the viewer dead center , with the action
advancing toward him. An on-r ushing train or a
jumping hor se, which exits at top of frame, will
jar the audien ce into increased involvement wt th
the screen action.
To distract tile audience. A sequence depicting
subject travel in a cons tant directi on , is often
filmed with one or more shots moving in the
opposite directi on, This may be due to careless-
nes s, light conditions, backgr ounds, poor planning
- or it may be intended by the director or camera-
man. A neutral shot ins ert ed between shots mov-
ing in opposit e directions will distract the audience
momentarily. Head-on , tail-away, or fr ont or rear
tracking shots will allow the editor to reverse com-
pletely the original screen movement ; without the
abruptness of a direct cut from a shot moving in
one direction, to another shot tr aveling in the
opposi te directi on .
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Neutral/l ead-on shots provide greater audi -
ence impact than angled t ravel shots, be-
cause subject increases in size as it ad-
A simple method for es tablishing and main-
tai ning screen direction is by use of the action
axis. Subject travel may be considered as a line on
a map. or an imagin ar y line made by an individ-
ual walking down a hall ; or a vehicle dri ving on a
road . or a plane flying through the air. This tra vel
line is the action axis .
If all camera set-ups are positioned on one side
of this line, screen direction will remain the same
thr oughout a series of shots . regardless of camer a
angle. The subjec t may travel cross-s creen , or to-
ward, or away from the camera . Direct ional move-
ment will be cons tant when the subject moves in
a constant directi on : and cont rasti nq when the
subject moves in opposite directions. The rel ati on-
shi p between ca mera and subject movemen t re-
mai ns the same , providing the camera never
cr osse s t he ac tion axis.
A picture shot from script should have all it s
tr avel mapped out before production begins. A
cameraman shooting off-the-cuff should take par-
ticular care to establish and maintain screen
direction , so th at all travel will match-cut. If tr avel
shots are not filmed according to pre-conceived
plan, the resulting series of scenes may be a
hod ge-podge of opposing movements, which will
prove difficult to edit. Mat ching movement is just
as importan t in two shots of a person walking
down the street , as in a long series of scenes.
Once the Icf't-to-rt ght or right-to-le ft direction al
movement is es tablished, it can be maintained
thr oughout a series of shots , by remaini ng on the
same side of til e action axis . A new location will
require drawing a new axis, and remaining on the
same side as the origin al axis to preserve estab-
lished travel directi on . Many camera men and di-
rectors think of the axis as a directional left-to-
ri ght or ri ght-to-left movement , r ath er than an
imagin ar y line. Whil e this is the same, it compli-
cates the work: because the tr avel movement
must be considered every time the camera is
moved to a new set-up. If the camer a is always
positi oned on the same side of the axis, the proper
travel directi on will be filmed automatically.
Girl t ravels along path: to hou se left-tv-right .
All came ra set-ups should be positioned on
same side of travel axi s to depi ct progres-
sion in a constant directi on.
Tail-away shot of girl walking up porch
her entering f rame from screen
left - to preserve established left-to-right
travel direction.
An exception to crossing the action axis occurs
when two or more pla yers wal k abreast or ride side
by side. The camera may track directly ahead or
behind the moving players, to film neutr al shots.
Or , it may track alongsi de to shoot a three-quart er
front angle - which will depict tr avel direction.
Whenever the players look at each other, an axis
may be drawn through them ( based on two-shot
axis explained in St atic Screen Directi on ) .
Camera :If 1 films head-on shot of walking
player. Player exits screen right to estab-
li sh left-to-right directional travel.
Exception to crossing action axis occurs
when two players look at each other as
they walk or ride. Two-shot static action
axis should be drawn through moving
players. Camera may he positioned on
either side of travel axis to shoot opposing
shots of moving players - in the same
manner that they would be filmed. standing
The camera may then be switched to the opposite
side of the travel axis, to film the players from an
opposing angle. Although consecutive sho ts of the
playe rs may show them moving in opposing screen
direc tions, the audience will no t be confused. The
camera may be safely switched to opposing angles
when filming walking players, or players seated in
a vehicle . It is bes t to es tablish the moving players
or vehicle in a long or medium shot; and the n
move in for a two-shot from the same side of the
axis . An opposing two-shot from the ot her side
may then be filmed, based on the axis drawn
through the players. Individual opposing close-ups
may also be filmed, i f des ired. The camera shou ld
return to a two-shot from the original side of the
axis, before filming a final long shot or medium
shot. Thus, shots moving in the opposite direction
- filmed from the other side of the travel axis _
are sandwiched between two series of shots mov-
ing in the established direction.
Cam era #2 shows player in front three-
quarter angle as he enters f rom screen left ,
crosses screen and exit s screen right. This
angle is excellent for tracking a moving
player or ve hi cle.
Camera # 3 records player moving left to
right acros s screen. Shot may be static, OT
camera may be static for entrance, pan
player for Sh OTt di stance, and hold stati c
[or exit - screen right .
Camera # 4 films rear three-quarter angle
of player, who enters left , exits right.
Camera # 5 depict s player entering frame
sc reen lef t and walking away from lens in
tail-away shot, as he en ters building. Player
may be film ed wi th any or aU of these
camera set-ups: wi th ass urance he will
travel left-ro-right - regardless of whether
static or movi ng shot; long shot, medium
shot or close-up; or whether player is mov-
ing toward or away from camera.
Camera should remain on same side of
t ravel axis to show player leaving building
f OT ret urn to starting point. Player moves
in contrasting right-to-l eft screen direction.
Head-on or tail-away shots may be filmed
in same manner.
Preser ving the directional movement on curves
requires careful camera placement . Curves can be
tricky because the camera may shoot across a
curve , and place the lens viewpoint on the oppo-
site side of the axis. If this occurs, it is the same
as placi ng the camer a on the wrong side of the
line. A subject moving left to ri ght would be filmed
across the curve movin g right to left. This would
be all right if a long shot is filmed in which the
entire curving movemen t is included , so th at the
subject is shown turning in front of t he ca mera -
and then resuming the proper left-to-right direc-
tion - exiting screen righ t. A closer sho t of the
moving subject filmed across the curve would
depict opposite screen travel.
A long shot , or a pan shot. in which the subject
is seen in a long curving movemen t. may show
an opposite movement during the shot; but it
should ri ght itself and curve bac k, so that the
origi nal direction is agai n filmed when the subject
exits the fr ame. A moving subject may be filmed
moving in opposite directions as it follows the
curve. providing it en ters and exits the frame cor-
reedy, A camer a set- up on a curve - filming the
Constant care i s required when {t Imin g
curving movement . If camera vieurpoi nt i s
allowcd to cross t ravel axis, camera photo-
graphs moving subject from opposite side
- moving in the wrong direction. View-
point should cross a:ris only when subject
movement curves back and rights itself.
subject entering and exiting the same side of the
fr ame - should be avotded. It will not Inter-cut
wit h other sho ts moving in a cons ta nt direction.
A curve may be utilized, however. for a delib-
erate switch in screen di rection when required ,
The switch may serve as an editori al transition
between two series of tr avel shots moving in
opposit e directions; yet intended to depict con-
s tant screen directi on , In this case, the en trance
would be correct, but the subject would curve
around and exit the same side of the fr ame; and
int er-cut with the followi ng sho t going in the
opposit e direction . Th e audience will accept this
natural change in screen direction,
Curves may be an asset or a liability, Curves
offer the cameraman an opportunity for filming
beautiful curving movements offering varie ty from
straight-line tr avel. Film a correct entrance, a
complete curving movement . and a correct exit -
to maintain established direc tional continui ty, A
closer shot records a portion of the movement
across the curve, It will depict the subject moving
in the opposite directi on , Do shoot across a curve .
however, to film the subject moving correctly, and
then curving around and exiting the wrong side -
if a change in screen direction is required,
. ... ._- ...
' 0 ' , , .
Cu rve may be used to switch travel dircc-
non delibe rately . Camera # 1 is set up on
wrong side of travel axis - so that its view-
point crosses axis optica lly, and film s mov-
ing subject witlt correct left-to-right move-
ment at beginning of shot. Subject t hen
curves in front of Camera # 1, and travels
in opposite di rection - rig/It to le ft. Subject
exus left, and will mat ch-cut with: subject
traveling riqht-to-leit ,
. r .
. .
. ~
. ,
, O '
, .
, .
, ,
Camera # 1 is positio ned on proper side of
travel axis - to film subjec t moving left to
rictu: Camera # 1 . ~ viewpoint crosses axis
optica lly, and films suhj ect from wrong
side - moving in opposite direction. Cam-
era # 2 [dnis entire curving movement, so
that subject is shown tu rning and moving
eorrectly when crossi nq camera and exits .
A curve may be ut ilized , however, for a delib-
erate sunich in screen directi on when required.
The switch may serve as an edi torial transition
bet ween two series of travel shots moving in
opposite directions; yet intended to depict con-
stant screen direction . In thi s case. the entr ance
would be correct, but the subject would curve
around and exit the same side of the frame; and
inter-cut with the following shot going in the
opposite direction . The audience will accept this
natural change in screen direction.
A person or vehicle turning a comer may be
filmed head-on , so th at the movin g subject turns
in front of the camer a. If filmed tail-away , how-
ever. the tum will require two shots - to depict
the subject going away from the camera, turning
the comer and bein g picked up in a head-on shot
around the comer. The axis should be dr awn
around the comer, and the camera positioned on
the same side for both shots. In a tail-away shot
the lens may view the tum across the axis, as on
a curve. This ca n be hand led editorially by cutti ng
on the turn . The moving subject may begin the
turn in the tail-away shot, and be picked up
around the corner in a head-on shot. The reverse
tr avel at beginn ing of turn is of no consequence.
A corner may be used in the same manner as
a curve, to switch directional movement deliber-
ately. If a change in directi on is desirable for
editorial or ot her reasons, the moving subject
should be allowed to exit the fr ame as ....-i ewed
from across the exi t, so that subject moves in the
opposite direction to that established. This will
wor k best on wide turns, where the moving sub-
ject will tr avel enough distance to establish the
new direc tion before it exits.
Cam era # 1 pans to follow player around corner. Camera # 2
films tai l-away SliD! ioith: player en tering (rom screen riqht, to
establish right -ta-left travel . Camera #3 films rear three-quarter
angle - witll player moving right to left. Camera # 3's viewpoint
crosses axis, and film s player moving in opposite direction after
rounding corner. This may be used on wide turn t o swi tcll direc-
tion deliberately. Optical axis cross may be avoi ded by cutting
film on turn to Camera #4, iohich shoots ( rom th ree-quarter
angle. Camera # 5 films head-on shot . Player must exit screen
left , to preserve original ti qht-to-leit t ravel movemen t . These
camera set-ups may be used in vari ous combinations .
,"' '' V
~ ~ ~
" .
'. .
Established directional movement need not be
maintained when subjects go through doorways.
Many cameramen and directors feel that this
creates a "new deal" because the movi ng subject
enters a new setting. If the movement is filmed
cross-screen, it will appear smoother if the camera
remains on the same side of the axis on consecu-
tive shots - filmed on opposite sides of a door. If
the moving subject exits one room in a tail-away
shot, and en ters another room in a head-on shot;
the directional movement may be switched with-
out difficulty. Rooms and doors in actual buildings
and studio sets should be checked, to be cer tain
that sufficient room is available for positioning
the camera properly on cross-screen exits and
entrances. Whenever difficulty arises, it is fairly
simple to bring the subject into the new setting in
a head-on shot , and switch directi on if desired.
For precaution, players' exits should be filmed
before breaking down in terior long-shot lighting
and moving in for close-ups. This is also impor-
tant in exterior shots where lighti ng changes con-
stantly as filming progresses. Don't discover after
a series of medium shots and close-ups are filmed
that an exit is required , and the long shot mus t be
filmed again . When in doubt , it is best to shoot an
exit immediately after filming the entrance. It is
better to discard the shot if not needed - than to
set it up again.
At times, i t is expedient to have the subject
move in the direction opposite to that es tablished;
because of light, background or other production
f actor s. This may be done if both the camera
viewpoint and subject movement are transposed,
so that they remai n the same in rel ati on to each
other. If the subject movement is reversed, or if
the camera is switched to the opposite side of the
axis , the screen movement will be in the wrong
direction . Both elements must be changed, so
that when the movement is reversed, the camera
is photographing it from the opposite side: res ul t-
ing in preserva tion of the original travel direction.
Since doorways create a new deal, direc-
tional continuity mayor may not he main-
tained. Neutral tail-away (Camera # 1)
and head-on (Camera # .4) shots may be
used - with proper entrance and exit, to
maintain screen direction - or wrong exit
(Camera #4), to create a new directional
movement. Three-quarter side angles may
be used (Cameras #2and#3) - if play .
er i s filmed cross-screen, and directional
continuity i s maintained.

Action axi s may be cheated - to take ad-
vantage of sun angle, background or ter-
rain - providing both subj ect movement
and camera position are reversed . Subject
may move in opposite direction, if camera
is moved to opposite side of axi s. Thus ,
subject movement and camera set-up rela-
tion ship remains the same.

Cheating the action axis on outdoor shots must
be handled carefully, so th at sun angle and shad-
ows do not disclose the cheat. Considerable cheat-
ing may be done outdoors around noon, or on
close-ups when reflectors or booster li ghts are used
to illuminat e shadow areas on faces. Long shots,
made early or lat e in the day , may show long
shadows in a direction opposite to that already
established. A late afternoon shot, for instance,
may depict the pl ayers wal king westerly into the
sun with long shadows toward the camera. A
reverse cheat filmed elsewhere would have to be
shot in the morning in an easterl y direction , to
match established sun angle and shadow pattern.
A moving subject should enter and/or exit the
fr ame un der the following conditions;
Whenever a series of moving shots are filmed
against different backgrounds. An entr ance-and-
exit provides the edit or wit h progression from one
shot to another. Pl ayer s walking from one room to
another - or cars in a chase sequence - should
exit one locale and enter the other. It is impossibl e
to depict progression if the movin g subject is
already in the center of the frame when the scene
starts , and does not exit the fr ame during the
shot. A series of different shots cannot be edited
in sequence , because the moving subject is con-
stantly center-screen - panned or tr acked for
a while - and left there when the shot ends. The
moving subject would be suddenly somewhere else
in the next shot, against a different background!
This is particul arl y undesirable when the sub-
ject - such as a moving car - is filmed in the
same mann er ; wi th same image size and same
image angle, in both shots . In the resulting jump-
cut, the subject seems to remain the same; but the
background abruptly changes. Non- theatrical cam-
eramen occasional ly try to save film by shooting
a movin g subject in a pan shot, minus entrance or
exit. The camera should be started before the sub-
ject enter s the frame, and cut after the subject
exits . Entrances and exits should be shot "clean" -
not just as the subject enters - and cut just before
a complete exit . Cutting the film is the editor's
function - not the cameraman's.
An exit made close to the side of the camera
should be followed by a shot showing the subject
entering the fr ame in a similar way. If the subject
enters the far side of the frame in the next shot,
the audience will be dis tracted; because the dis-
tance is too great to cover between straight cuts.
Exits and entrances through doors should be
carefully matched when straight cut. Two or more
players should follow in the same progression , if
filmed going through doorway outside to in side
a building; or from one r oom to another. This may
seem obvious, bu t during a long interval between
such camera set-ups , a mis -match may occur,
unless no tes are carefully taken and observed.
Exit made close to side of camera -
should depict subject entering frame i n
same manner. Exit to screen lef t would be
followed by entrance from screen right.
Movin g player shou ld not exi t close to side
of the camera, and enter next scene at far
side - and walk cross-screen. Off-screen
distance is too far to travel between con-
secutive shots.
A moving subject should n ot enter or exit the
frame under the following conditions :
A series of consecutive shots against the same
background may be int er-cut if the moving subject
remains center-screen. Since the background re-
main s the same , there is no progression - other
than that shown within the shot. Thus, a medium
shot or close-up may Int er-cut with a long shot,
while the subject remain s centered. In this case,
it is best editori all y to have the subject enter the
fr ame in the first shot of the series ; and exit the
frame in the last shot - to provide progr ession
with brac keting sequences.
Individual shots of moving action - such as a
man on horseback or a ca r in motion - may be
filmed center-screen without an entrance or exit ,
if edi ted in alternate patt ern with other scenes.
Progression will be shown by the changing back-
ground in different shots . It is advisable to make
occasiona l entrances or exits for visual variety,
but it is not necessary for editorial purposes, be-
ca use moving shots arc cross-eut with other scenes.
When in doubt, an entrance and/or an exit
should be shot to provide editor with cine choice .
There arc differences of opinion regardi ng di-
rection in which a player should tum hi s head,
following moving action in reaction close-ups.
This often results in shooting it bot h ways.
The playe r should follow the moving object
with his head, as though it were behind the cam-
era . The player may be considered a member of
the audience, viewing action on the screen. An
airplane, flying left-to-right on the screen , would
be followed by the viewer turning hi s head in the
same direction. Since the camera is shooting a
rercrse shot, thi s results in a right-to-left screen
movement in the reaction close-up. While this
may seem illogical, it is correct!
Before close-up is shot , directional movement
of the matching scene must be confirmed. Player
should follow the action as if it were occurring
behind the ca mera . Oft en , better reaction results
if somebody walks, or runs - behind the camer a,
so pla yer has moving target and speed to follow.
Player observing moving action should
turn his head as if following movement
occurring behind camera.
Reaction shots may also be used to di stract
the audience, so that screen movement may be
switched to the opposite direction . In this case,
the player woul d follow the movement occurring
in the second seri es of shots. A sequence may
begin left-to-ri ght and la ter move r ight- to-left . If
a turn around is not shown, the change may be
covered by cutting to a head-on or tail-away shot;
followed by a reaction close-up of a player sup-
posedly watching the moving action going in the
new direction. The neutr al shot will ai d in br eak -
ing up the directional pattern established, and the
reaction shot will dis tr act the audience by "ex-
plaining" the directional switch. Such reaction
shots may be filmed after the picture is completed,
if necessary to polish the sequence. They may be
filmed against sky or trees, wi thout a backgroun d
matching problem.
Established scre en di rection should be pre-
served, if at all possible; or explained, if necessa-
rily reve rsed. Con trasting screen directions cannot
be changed wit hout confusi ng the audience. Once
a directional pattern is set , it should be rigidly
maintained. Const an t screen direction, is often
altered inadvertently; or by production factors
which do not permit strict directional continuity.
Whenever possible, a switch in constant direc-
tion should be shown on the screen - to inform
the audience of the change. Cutti ng from a person
or vehicle moving in one direction, to a shot de-
picting the movement in the opposite direction,
will confuse the audience. The switch in screen
direction may be explained in the following ways:
Show the person or vehicle turning around.
Shoot across the action axis on a curve or
corner, to allow the moving action to exit the
wrong side of the pict ure.
Inser t a reaction close-up of an observer view-
ing the movement in the new direction.
Use a head-on shot which exits the wrong side
Established screen direction of moving
suhject may he reversed hy inserting a cut-
away close-tip of someone supposedly ob-
serving the directional change.
Screen direction may be reversed by filming
" ead-on neutral sliot, which shmos subject
exiting wrong side of f rame. This wi ll serve
to introduce Jlew series of travel SllOtS mov-
illg in opposite direction.
of the picture, to mat ch-cut with the moving per-
son or vehicle going in the new direction . A tail -
away shot would only distract the audience mo-
men taril y, and is not nearly as effective because
it does not exit the scene.
Effectiveness can be gained by cutting to the
interior of a ca r, trai n, boat or airplane ; and then
cutti ng to the ex terior moving sho t going in the
opposite direct ion. If only one shot is used , it is
best to cut to a head-on view of the players. If a
series of shots arc used , the ca me ra angle may be
worked around so that the final shot has the play-
ers faci ng in the new directi on - which will
match-cut wit h the ext erior scene .
Travel over great distances should employ di a-
gram map di rect ion with East always on the right,
and Wes t always on the left. That is how a map
is est ablished in the human mind. Since North
and Sout h are usually depicted as up and down ,
such directions are difficult to handle on a hor -
izontal scree n. If possible, northbound travel
should be staged on a line ascending fr om lower
left to upper ri ght; southbound tr avel, on a line
descending from up per left to lower ri ght. This is
in keepi ng wit h the accepted compositional con-
cept of up or down movements.
An airliner flying from Paris to New York
should be shown heading screen left , or West. A
shi p saili ng from Hawaii to con tinental United
States should be depict ed moving left to right ,
heading East. The initial shot of the airliner pilot ,
ship captain, or passengers, should show them
facing in the est ablished tr avel direction. This
preserve s continuity of the action axis. Later , the
ca mera may move around and show crew mem-
bers or passenge rs from eit her side .
This may seem unim portant to inexperienced
di rectors or camera men, who question the validity
of this proven theory. "Why can't the moving car,
plane or ship be seen from the ot her side , going in
the opposite directi on, and still be tr aveling cor-
rectly?" It ca n! But , why not take advantage of a
pre-established concept, already planted in the
audience's mind? This will make it as easy as
possi ble for viewers to underst and happenings.
Moving an airplane, ship, train or car in an
opposite map direction sets up - in the viewer' s
mi nd - a subconscious disturbance, which warns
him that the movement is wr ong. Th e viewer will
be momen tarily distracted, It is wise to keep the
audience properly oriented , by est ablishing and
maintaining map dir ection on all tr avel shots.
Shooting through the open side of three-walled
studio set s helps maintain dir ectional continuity
of players moving about the set , or going from
room to room. Filming in multi-floored, complex,
natural location in teriors wit h a maze of rooms,
hallways and stair ways of ten complicates direc-
tional continuit y. If much room-to-room, f1oor-t o-
ftoor or stair travel is invol ved; it is smart to keep
all camera set-ups on the same side of the build-
ing - so that the lens viewpoint is always in the
same general direction , and the ca mera never
crosses the action axis.
Travel in any direct ion , even up and down
stairs , should always match , and players will
always move in a similar direction , in any par t
of the building. If physical or ot her limit ations
prevent positioning the camera on the same side,
head-on or tai l-away shots of the player s should
This ocean liner is traveling from Hawaii
to continental United t a t e ~ - west to east.
T rai n going from Chicago to Los Angeles
should move right to left - east to west.
be shot; but they should enter or exit the f r ame
on the side whi ch preserves the established travel
directi on. Thus, travel toward the front of the
buil ding may always be fr om left to ri ght - for
instance - and towar d the rear, fr om ri gh t to left.
All scre en travel must be thoroughly analyzed
before a foot of film is exposed. If shoo ting from
a script , mar ginal notes should be used. Outlines ,
or diag rams , are mos t im por tant if filming off-
the-cuff. It is essential to work from a definite
Jet airliner is {lying toward screen right -
west to east - New York to Paris.
pl an - so that both constant progression an d con-
trasting movements will be photographed in es tab-
lished directions. Establi shed direct ion should be
maintained throughout the filming.
While preservation of directi on al tr avel conti-
nuity may seem like a Simple task , it h as pitfalls.
Long shots may be photogr aphed one day, wi th
in ter-cutting close-ups made several days later.
Or , an en tire series of traveling shots may be
The f ollowing sequence fr om Martin Rackin's pr oduc-
ti on of STAGECOACH (released by 20 th Century-Fox)
illustrates how Dyn amic Directional Cont inuity is
established and maintained.
Stage coach is established m oving left to
right in a front three-quarter angle,
Stagecoach continues traveling left to right
in cross screen shot.
Pl ayers are filmed from exterior camer a
angle, from same side of travel axis.
Interior shot shows players from similar angle .
Reverse shot of opposite players is {tImed
(rom same side of action axis.
Coach continues on its way. Ve hicle enters
scree n left, and exits screen right.
Pursui ng Ind ians move lef t to right.
Driver is filmed in three-quarter angle
medium shot from same side of axis.
Stagecoach must exit screen right to pre-
serve estahlished travel direct ion.
Coach {tImed in three-quarter angle.
Three-quarter angle shot shows attackers.
Cut-away shot reveals U. S. Cavalry cctn-
ing on scene.
Shot of troopers maintains direction.
Indians are driven off, and cauolru escorts
stagecoach t o destination.
Stagecoach enters town - still traveling
lef t to ri gh t.
Coach pulls up to depot - left to right.
filme d at one time in both directions. The camer a-
man, or the director , who becomes overl y con-
cerned with background, sun angle or camer a
angle, may forget est ablished screen directi on.
The actio n axis is some times overlooked, in
order to film a pict ori all y beautiful individual shot.
This oversight can be avoided if all sho ts in a se-
quence arc thoroughly mapped, and the action
axis es tablished to f avor the best camera angles,
sun angles and backgrounds .
There is no need to sacri fice a particul arly good
shot in order to preserve directi onal continuity.
Sequences involvi ng a great number of shots may
be best planned by working backwards, and study-
ing the terrain where the climax will be st aged. A
par ticular location site or building may r equire
filming from a cer tain angle, which will decide the
screen direction for the entire sequence. If this is
overlooked, a switch in screen direc tion may be
made when the location is reached. The moving
subject may be picked up in a head-on shot and
simply panned around in the new direction. Or,it
may be shown exiting the wrong side of the frame
a shot or two earli er, and switched to the new
direction before it arrives, so th at subject is mov-
ing in the proper direction for entering the setting.
The entire terrain covered by tr avel shots
should be studied for sun angles, camera set-ups
and backgrounds , at the time of day that the vari-
ous shots will be filmed. Only then can the cam-
eraman be positive that he can keep obst acles at
a minimum, while filming the entire sequence.
Tr avel sequences which include interior scenes
of cars, buses, trains or air planes, must be care-
full y planned wit h both in ter ior and exterior cam-
era set-u ps in mi nd. A studio film may involve a
mock-up of a vehicle which has an open side -
requiring that all action be staged against one side
only. Or filmi ng in an actual air plane may permit
lit tle room for camer a angling .
A tr ansition from ext erior to interior - or inte-
rior to exteri or - par ticularl y the for mer, should
be filmed from approximately the same camera
angle - as if the camera moved through a window
or side of the vehicle to look inside. The original
tr avel axis is maintain ed for a smooth match-c ut.
Interi or shots may be filmed from vari ous angles.
- -
_e-..,. . .. , _ ......
This sequence - depicti ng landing 01 1 OmallQ Beach of Allied troop s on D-Day
- demonstrat es riqlu-to-le it progress ion ( in this in st ance dramat ically st ronger
tha n left to rig /It ) throughout a series of shots - from landing craft being
beacued, to offlcers and men moving up int o battle positions.
Static scree n di rection is concerned with the
way in which players face and look on the screen.
The screen treatment of motionless bodies may
seem incongruous, but even action pictures pre-
sent the players at rest, or at least in a static
position while they talk or perform.
The princi ple of the act ion axis is just as im-
portant in filmi ng st at ic set-ups of players as in
shooting tr aveling shots of moving subjects.
Est ablished directional continuity must be main-
tained , not only when player s move about , but also
when they are at rest , so that direction in which a
player moves, and direction in which he looks,
match throughout a series of consecutive shots.
The position in whi ch a player faces may not
necessarily be the same direct ion in whic h he
looks. A player may face the right side of the
screen, but his eyes may look over his shoulder
toward the left. It is impor tant, therefore , to refer
to matching the look: when discussing static
screen direction, r ather than simply matching
facing positions. A single player - or two or
more players - must look in the same direction
on each side of a match-cut, so that the edi ted
shots will present a consistent appearance. A
player may not look left in one shot, and then
suddenly look r ight in the nex t shot - unl ess he
is shown shifting his look.
The action axis could be disregard ed on static
set-ups if mo tion pictures were filmed stage
front - with the camera viewpoin t always from
the audience angle, and the player s and setting
visible only from one side. A camera placed any-
where in the audience, shoo ting fr om any angle
and distance, would record per fec tly matching
shots; since the lens would remai n on one side of
the axis , and the players would be seen from the
audience viewpoint only, never from the opposite
side . Most live television shows and many filmed
television plays , par ticularly situation comedies ,
are presented in this manner, so that they may be
filmed continuously with mu ltiple cameras.
" This applies only t o dramatic or other story type tele-
plays where the players relate onl y wi th each Of her across
a stage. It does not apply to a live or filmed television
show , whe re the master of ceremonies faces front and
relates wit h the audience.
Modern motion picture prod uction techniques,
however , requir e filming with a single ca mera
shifted between shots , so that each por tion of the
action is presented from a different camera angle.
In spite of the moving players and repositi oned
camera, it is necessary that mat ching shots be
filmed with a one-sided viewpoint. The axis is a
means of remaini ng on one side of the players, so
that the players' positi ons and looks appear con-
sistent from shot to shot as the sequence pro-
gresses, regardles s of the playe r or camera move-
ment involved.
The acti on axis is established by drawing an
imaginary line through the two players nearest
the camera on oppos ite sides of the pict ure. Th e
camera viewpoint and t he players' look s mu st re-
main on the same side of this imagi nary line in
consccuttoe matching shots. A sequence of shots
may be filmed by placing the camera anywhere
within the 180 degree arc which may be descri bed
on one side of the players.
The camera may be placed ncar or far , film
any number of players or a single individual, but
it must not cross the line. The camera may not
be moved 180 degrees from one set-u p to another.
It may be moved within 180 degr ees, a complete
semi-circle , on one side of the axi s only, every time
t he camera is positioned for a mat ching shot. If
the camera crosses the line and views the player s
from the opposite side , the y will be tr ansposed on
the screen so that a player seen on the right will
suddenly appear on the left. A close-up of an indi-
vidua l player filmed from across the line will be
recorded with a "fake reverse" or a look in the
op posite direction to that previously established.
A close-u p filmed in this man ner will appear on
the screen as if the player is looking away from,
rather than toward, t he ot her player.
Note that the came ra ang le, or point of view,
must ce cross the axis. The camera itself may
cross over, however, to film a player in the rear of
the set , provi ding that the camera angle is in keep-
ing with the es tablished action axis. This amounts
to drawi ng a new action axis parallel to the orig-
inal axis; and posit ioni ng the ca mera on the same
side. A simple method for shooting across the axis
is to remember that the ca mera may move across
Camera # 1 films two-shot - girl on left ,
boy on right. Camera # 2 51100tS close-up of
boy over girl's shoulder. Camera #3 shoots
close-up of girl over hoy's shoulder. Cam-
era # 4 crosse s axis and films over wrong
shoulder of boy - thus tran sposing players:
boy is now on left and gi rl on right.
Camera # 1: Two-shot - girl on left , boy on
to film any shot th at it could shoot from the ori g-
inal axis with a telephoto or zoom lens. Thus the
ca mera ac tually crosses the axis optica Uy, r ather
than physically, and the viewpoint remains the
same. The shor ter focal length lens simply allows
the camera to move in closer and film the same
shot that could have been photographed. with a
longer focal len gth lens.
The reason for the camera rcmammg on one
side of the axis when filming two or more pl ayers
is readil y understood, since it is apparent that
crossing the line will result in tr ansposition of the
scene. The player on left will suddenly appear on
ri ght - the player on right will appear on left.
Such an obvious mist ake should be avoided.
Mistakes do occur, however , in filming individ-
uui opposing close-ups of two pl ayers because the
look may cross the axis. This may happen in a
close-up in which the playe r is facing the camera.
Such oversights can be prevented by positioning
the off-screen playe r on the proper side of the
camera, to preserve the established two-shot rela-
tionshi p. The on-screen player will always look on
the proper side of the axi s if thi s is done . If the
on-screen player simply reads his lines to an
imaginary off-scr een player he may look on the
wr ong side of the camera and be filmed with a
look in the wrong directi on .
Littl e or no difficul ty will be encountered with
a three-quarter angle, since the position the player
is facing will generally govern the look. A fiat-on
p.o.v. angle may result in a wrong look, because
the eyes may inadver tently shift to the wrong side.
Camera #2: Over-shoulder close-up of boy.
Camera #3: Over-shoulder close-up of girl.
Camera #4: Ouer-umm q-shoul der close-up
of girl. Players are transposed .
The eyes govern the look. A perfectly centered
person faci ng the camera may look either right or
left, up or down, or straight in to the lens -without
moving his head! Or , the head may be turned in
one direction and the person look over his shoul-
der in the opposite di rection. It is most important
that the look be correct , so that opposing pl ayer s
relate with each other smoothly in a series of con-
secutive shots. Any change in look must be shown.
It must not occur between sho ts , so that it is sud-
denly opposite to the look shown in the previous
shot. Matchi ng players' positions and looks is an
absolute requ isite if a series of consecutive shots
mus t be match-cut , so that an en tire sequence is to
appear as continuous action.
Particular attention must be di rected to high
and low camera angles, which may be required to
film back-and-forth poin t-of-view sho ts of grown-
ups and children ; or , if one player is seated and
the other standing. The look must always be to
the side of the camera, but it should be directed
slightly above the lens by the player looking up,
and slightly below the lens by the player looking
down. Considerable cheating can be employed in
positioning the camera for height; but care must
be taken not to cross the action axis by looking on
the wrong side of the camera.
Player movement into or out of a cl ose-up must
also be properly handled, or the axis may be
Un;vo,H, 0' so. C"'" . C"O'" ""'"
Player may be given reference point for
look by holding fist at side of camera.
11 1
Camera #2 films girl f rom boy's point-oi-oiew.
Camera # 1 films boy from girl's point-of-view.
Girl's look has crossed axis, and created
new look in opposit e di rection.
crossed. This is par ticularl y importan t when the
camera is very close to the line - such as in the
filming of a point-of-view close-up where a pl ayer
is looking close to the side of the lens. Cross-
screen movements will give little trouble, because
they point obviously toward right or left. Head-on
movement sometimes appears neutral to the
player , camer aman or director ; and it is very easy
to make a mistake. and look in one direction and
then exit in the opposite direction! To preserve
screen direc tion in close-ups, where the player
enters or exits the scene close to the side of the
camera, movement should always occur between
the lens and the ac tion axis.
Camera sct-ups for opposing p.c.v. close-
ups should he very close to side of players,
so that looh is to side of len s.
A player may turn hi s head from one side to
the other , and look past the camera lens - to
rela te with players on either side of him; or to
look from an on-screen player to an off-screen
player . The tri ck in sweeping a look past the lens
is to avoid looking directly into the lens. The look
must pass just above or below the lens, dependi ng
on whether the camer a is below or above the
player's eye-level. A professional actor will have
Camera #2 films girl.
Camera set-ups for opposing three-qua rter
angle close-ups are made from inipersonul
objective angles.
no difficulty in sweeping his gaze past the came ra
without actually looking into the lens . Wit hout
careful instruction, an amateur may "sneak" a
look into the lens, out of the corner of his eye!
Inexperienced ca mera men and directors oft en
hesit ate to allow a player a sweeping look; because
they fear the look may be into the lens, or the
shot will not match bracke ting scenes. The pl ayer
may turn and look on both sides of the lens any
time he is posi tioned between two or more players ;
or , any time he switches his gaze from an on-
scree n player to a player or action off-screen. For
instance, he may turn to wat ch a player ent er a
Camera # 1 films boy.
Player in close-up relating with off-screen
player must exit scene between camera and
actiQ1l axis. Thi s is particu larly important
in p.o.v. close-ups becaus e player is work-
ing close to the axis and filmed almost full
face to the camera.
Examples of cross: Camera set-up :H1
depicts player wi! 1I knife on screen left -
girlorl screen rig/It. Camera set-up #2 has
crossed axis, and transposed players on
room. or a car arrive. A new axis is created when-
ever a player switches his look at the end of a
shot. The next shot mu st be based on the line
dr awn between the player and the subject with
whom he rela tes. This is import ant whenever a
player looks at an off-screen player , who is then
shown in a cut-away react ion close-up.
Whenever a person looks above or below the
lens, the resulting look is neutral. A neutral look
must he used with discreti on , beca use it suddenly
brea ks up the normal nght-and-lcft looks and
Neu trat took - above or below lens - may
PUZz.le audience, un less player is looking
up or down at another player, obj ect or
acti on. Neut ral look breaks up nonnal
right or lef t directi ona l look toward oppos-
ing player. Up or down look sliOuld be to
side of camera, to preserve direction.
thrust s a puzzling non-directional look at the audi-
ence. Th e neutr al look is so close to a look directly
into the lens th at it may be mi sinterpret ed. Cam-
er amen and direct ors sometimes resor t to a neu-
tr al look, to cover an inadvert ent mi s-match due
to wrong player or ca mer a movement. The neutral
look is rarely successful if both players are the
same height ; since they must look at each other in
opposing close-ups, and cannot look up or down.
It can be used if one player is seated, or if a
player is knocked down during a fight, or if a
player is at another level - such as the top or bot-
tom of a stai rcase or a mountain. A player looking
up. in such inst ances, would look just above the
lens. One looking down , would look just below the
lens. Even in these cases, however , the up or
Camera viewpoint may cross action axis to
film players in rear of set . Camera # 1
film s (lIll shot, Camera :: 2 may be posi-
tioned across axi s to film medium shot of
rear p l y e r ~ Thi s is same as drawi ng par-
allel a.\is or shooti ng across original a:ris
wit h longer iocel l enqt h: lens.
........ ~ ..... -
down look should be to the side of the camera, to
preserve the ac tion axi s. The neut ral look should
be used only in emergencies when retakes cannot
be filmed, or when a camera man or direc tor must
film a player looking up or down to match stock
footage which has not been chosen, or whose direc-
tional look is unknown. If only a shot or two are
involved, it is best to shoot the scenes twice , with
both a left and ri ght look - rather than a neutral
look - so th at the film editor may have his choice.
Mat chi ng the look on statically-positioned pla y-
ers present s few problems, because the action axis
remains fixed. When players move during a scene,
the action axis moves wit h them, and must be re-
dr awn at the end uf each shot . Thus, the action
axis may be further defined as a line dr awn
thr ough the nearest player s on opposite side of the
frame each time the camera is cut.
Opposin y dose-ups of pl ayers with lamp -
or ot lier object - between them , should not
include portion of object , because it will
appear on right in one close-up and on left
in opposing close-up . Object sl,ould be
cheated out of close-ups or moved closer to
onc player so t llat i t appears in one close-
up onl y.
Thi s is necessary because the pl ayers may
change their posit ions. or camer a may pan or
dolly so as to origina te a new look in a directi on
different than that with which the shot began.
The players, the camera , or both , may cross the
axis while filminy is in progre ss because the audi-
ence observes the moving cha nge in their posi-
tions. However , the player , or the camera , may not
cross the axis between camera set-ups, because
player positions woul d be changed unaccountabl y,
and the following shot would not match.
AnytIli ng may happen du ring a scene - nothing
must be altered bctuxen scenes. Drawing a fresh
axis at the end of each shot will automatically
maint ai n mat ched looks, because the camera will
always be positioned on the proper side of the line.
To avoid a jump-cut , care must be taken to dupli-
ca te players' positions.
When consecutive shots are filmed in chronolog-
ical order , it is fairly simple to match the look on
moving players. Difficulties sometimes arise when
sever al cut-in sh uts must be matched to a master
scene. Matching the look on closer shots may be
tricky if a great deal of player and/or camera
movement occurred in the master. Since the action
axis moves with the players, and can be altered
by camera movemen t crossing the original axis, it
is necessary th at the axis be drawn through the
players at the particular point in the master scene
where the closer shot will be cut in . If all player
and camera movement is blocked out and filmed
with the aid of chalk or t ape mark s on the floor ,
returni ng to any position and duplicating the axi s
at that point, is fairly simple. The Polaroid camera
is a valuable aid in matching preci se positions and
looks. Stills may be shot duri ng the master scene
to aid the players and the camer aman. Particular
care should be taken in shooti ng close-ups which
may call for the player looking in one direction at
one poin t in the master, and in an opposite direc-
tion later for a separate cut-in shot. Alth ough such
close-ups are filmed at one lime, changes in direc-
tion should not be disregarded .
Multiple cameras should rema in on same
side of axi s throuqucut scen e. Opposin.q
angles, above. will ill ter-cut . If players
move about - such as in fight scene - so
tllat cameras shoot from both sides of new
axi s, below, players will appear t ranspos ed
iotien: film is int er-cut .
Opposing clos e-ups of players should not
be filmed with microphone. cryslal ball,
bowl of fruit , or other object. on table be-
tween them , wllicll will appear on right in
one close-up, and on left in ather ( above ) .
Obj ect should be excluded or positioned
closer (below) to one player, so tluu: it
appears in his close-up o n l ~

Action axis for cut-away shot is drawn
from on -screen to off-screen player. Cam-
era # 1 films on-screen player. Camera #2
films off-screen player. Loohs will oppose
each other umen and off-screen
players arc filmed [rcnn. same side of axis.
Hmo. p,.,
An individual - sitting a t a desk , working at
a machine, or operating an instr ument pa nel _
shou ld be filmed wit h a cons istent look in a seri es
of consecutive shuts. The fact that he is alone and
not relating with anyone else in the scene makes
no difference. The pr inc iple of the action axis
holds true when filming an indi vidual becau se the
look must be consistent on each side of a cut
un less the player or the camera crosses the axis
duri ng a sho t and begi ns a nFW look. A worker
operating a machine should not be shown first
from his left side and then from his right , unless
he necessarily turns during the shot.
Player looking screen right turns his head to observe ot her player entering room.
Action axis is drawn between en-screen and off-screen players.Camera should be
positioned on same side of axis for cut-aioau close-up so that both players look
toward each other.
The featured person should first be considered
in rel ation to h is work , so th at the axis is drawn
in the direction he is facin g. If sitting at a desk
signing papers , fur instan ce . he may be filmed in
a front three-quarter an gle fa cin g screen lef t . The
axis would be d rawn through him in the direction
he is looking. The camera may be posit ioned any-
where wit hin a 180 degree arc on the ri ght side of
the line. An over-the-shoulder shot - such as sign-
ing papers or reading a repor t - would be filmed
Mat ching players' look s on master scene
and cut-in shots is easier when players re-
main i n static positions. Looks must be
caref ully noted if master scene contains
cons iderable player an d/ or camera move-
men t.
over the le f t shoul der. If the camera were to shoot
over his right shoulder , it would cross the li ne and
suddenly present the player tr ansposed - facing
in the opposite directi on - on the scree n. The
came ra may be moved to the front for a head-on
sho t. but the look should still be toward screen
left. If the camera were moved too far . it would
cross the line and t ran spose the player - because
he would be faci ng screen right.
The person may turn hi s head in any di rection
during the scene. The ca mer a may dolly across
the axis during the scene. But , any shot that ends
with a new look requires a corresponding axis for
filming the follo wing shot. Such a situation may
arise if another per son were to en ter the scene,
and stand or sit in a pos it ion that would create a
new axis. It is wise . however , to remain with the
or iginal axis when filming one person in a static
position, particularl y for a short sequence involv-
ing only a few shots.
Before the lon g shot is filmed. it is best to check
whet her the individu al is right- or left-handed .
Other wise , the close-up may require shooting over
the wrong shoulder to avoid hi ding the acti on.
A right-handed person. for example, shou ld be
filmed over hi s left shoulder ; so that the audience
may see what he is signing, or view what he is
doing with hi s ri gh t hand. Shooting over his r ight
shoulder would obscure the ac tion if it covers the
ac t of signing his name.
. "7"':'
1.. \
Camera set-ups are positioned on same side of a:ri s, and players' looks are pre
ci sel y matc hed in tllese objectively-filmed opposing cut-in closer shots .
u........... .. c. .. e-...Doo<
Man at desk may be filmed with neutral
head-on camera (or subjective into-the-lens
shct , or for objective shot, in which he
swe eps looh left and right.
Person looki ng throuqh window should
hare acti on axis drawn ill di rection of look .
Bolli interior and exterior camera set-u ps
should film from same side of axis .
Multiple camera filming of machine opera-
tion should be based on acti on a d ~ drawn
in direction of toorkcr's loou, Cameras # 1
an d #2 fil m worker with same direc tional
look. Camera #3 crosses axis and films
opposing look .
yo" ...", .. So . Col, . c...",. 0 . ..
Camera # 2 films over left shauider, Man is
still facin g screen left .
Uno",,, . O . c.",. Coo,,,, . 0'0'
Camera # 1 fi lms three-quarter angle of
man { acing screent left .
Empl oying multiple cameras to film an indi-
vidual at wor k requires ca reful placement of all
cameras on the same side of the axis. so that the
person is not tran sposed in some of the shots. A
machine operation, engineering lest or field tri al ,
should be filmed so th at the featured individual
looks and wor ks in a single direction.
Even when sho t with a neutral camer a shooting
straight on , the look should be on the proper side
of the lens, to preserve the action axis. Cameras
may be positioned behind. in front of and at the
----- 'WIII- .........

Camera # 3 is positioned across axis -

[i. lms over right shoulder. Man is trans-
posed - now faces screen tight .
side for all types of single shots - but should not
be placed on the opposite side of the axis. Then ,
the entire operation would be reversed. Carefu l
camera positioni ng is required if the event in-
volves a lar ge ar ea - such as a rifle r ange. Al-
though far apar t, the ri flema n and tar get form the
axis. The target may be filmed head-on - fr om the
rifleman's point-of-view - but all ca mer a positions
on the r ange should be from the same side of the
axis, so th at the gun always points in the same
direction on screen.
Handling the action axis when filming a
speaker - such as a master of ceremonies, an
ins tructor , a lecturer - talking to an audience,
differs from shooting a play or television show
performed for an audience.
The ac tors rela te with eac h other across a stage
in a play. A speaker relates direc tly with the audi-
ence, when addressi ng them. An instructor speaks
to his class, as if engaged in a two-shot with each
individual. Therefore, the speaker and each rncm-
ber of the audience should have opposing looks,
the same as in a two-shot. Diffi culty in mat chi ng
opposing looks may arise beca use the aud ience is
spread out in a row. so th at the speaker must look
both right and left to relate with members. The
audience forms the base of a triang le with the
speaker at the apex.
There arc two ways to film a speaker and an
audience. Either method ma y be employed indi-
vldually or in combinat ion.
The action axis may be drawn down the center
aisle. If there is no aisle, a center line may be
dr awn. The camera may be positioned on one side,
shooting towar d the cent erli ne. This is the sim-
plest met hod for presenting master of ceremonies ,
Neutral head-on .dlOt of in stmctor and
class. Instructor may look either le ft or
riqht, Individual shots of students should
be imer' Cllt in an opposing manner - when
inst ructor looks left . student looks riqht ,
wilen ill strllctor looks right , student looks
left . This is similar to a three-shot which
breaks up ;rito two two-shots - uruh indi-
vidual opposin.q close-lips.
teacher or lecturer - and audience or cl ass - with
opposing looks, as in a two-shot. Profile close-ups
of speaker and members of the class may thus
be filmed. Three-quarter angle and point-of-view
close-ups - similar to those in a two-shot - may
Speaker and audiellce are de picted witll opposing looks. Camera positi ons were
set up on same side of cen terline axis. Speaker may also be filmed with ne utral
head-on camera and look either left or right . Film should be edited in an oppos-
ing manner, so speaker alld members of audience appear to look at each other.
In theat er scene (ilmed from riqht : side of
centerline axis, band conductor faces
screen left. Rewrse shot of audience
should IJe [dmcd. from sam e stde of axis -
for OPPOSillr/ 1001,. In an exfe1/(kd sequence,
the camera may he posit ioned (or neutral
shots or shots looking ill either
directioll . Speal,er 011 staqe s}lOuld 1)(' inter-
cut witll shots of members of au-
dience for smoot her con tin uity.
also be filmed with the ass urance that the spe aker
will always look in one directi on and members of
the class in the opposite directi on. Long and me-
dium shots of the auditorium or class ma y be
filmed from the rear toward the stage, or from the
stage toward the audience - with the camera close
to the axi s, or from the comers of the room - for
angle shots, with the same opposing looks. This
method is recommended for classroom or shor t
theatrical seque nces. Such treatment may become
monotonous when dr awn out, because it lacks
visua l variet y.
The alternate method is to dr aw the action axis
across the aud ience , parallel to any TOW of seats,
or base of the tri angle. The ca mera may be posi-
tioned anywh ere within tile t riangle formed by
the speaker at the apex and a row of people along
the base. This is similar to a thr ee-shot. This per-
mits freedom to shoot speaker or audience looking
in either direction. The spe aker may be filmed
straight-on and sweep his look past the camera ,
so tha t he looks both right and lef t at the ent ire
audience. Member s of the audience on one side
will look left ; on the other side they will look right.
Edit ori ally, it is wise to inter-cut the shots, so that
a look by the speaker is followed by a look by a
member of the audience in the opposite direction.
Or, if several close-ups of the audience follow one
another with opposi te looks, the fina l audi ence
shot should oppose the next shot of the speaker .
This should make for smoother continuity. as the
opposing-look treatment is employed for matching
consecutive shots of speaker and audience.
Master of ceremoni es may relate wit h performers on stage and also relate di-
rectly wit h audience. He may look left and riqht; Mem bers of audience may look
in either direction. Consecutive shot s of M.C. and audienc e should oppose each
other for smootli effec t.
~ P /
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ \
~ ~ ~ ~
~ t M ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~
Since stage speaker relates directly wi th audience. theater sequence should be
filmed wi th centerline axis for opposing speaker-audience treatment - similar to
filming two players in opposing dose-ups . Camera # 1 shoot s toward stage for
long shot of audience and speaker on stage. Camera # 2 films opposing long shot
of audience from same side of theater. Camera #3 films speake r faci ng screen
left . Came ra # 4 films audience facing screen Ti ght . Camera # 4'5 viewpoint may
cross axis optically - to film close-ups of individuals. Camera #5 films indioid-
uals on opposite side of theate r wi th screen right look. All camera set -ups shoot
toward cen terline. to present: speaker wit h look toward screen le ft ; and members
of audience with opposing look toward screen right .

0 -

Theater sequence may be filmed with parallel axis ( line running parallel with
TOWS) . Camera # 1 films speaker. who may sweep his look left and right - to
relate with members of audience on both sides of theater. CameTa # 2 shoots
members of audience on left side of theater. with look toward screen right .
Camera #3 shoots those on right side. with look unoard screen left. Shots of
audience and speaker should be tnrer-cue wi th opposing looks fOT bes t pictorial
effect . Camera # 4 films neutral shots from rear of theater. Centerline axi s and
parallel axi s may be combined in leng thy sequence - fOT visual vari et y.
Medium shots of several peopl e or individua l
cl ose-ups sho uld look in accordance with thei r
locations. Those seated on the left side of the
auditorium should look right ; those on the right
should look left. Thus, each member of the au di-
ence and the speaker are engaged in a two-sho t,
with opposing looks. Or , the speaker and an y two
me mbers of the audience at opposi te sides of the
room, may be cons idered engaged in a three-shot
whi ch becomes two two-shots. The speaker turns
from one to the other, so that his look creates a
new axis for the fcl lowlng two-shot.
Neut ral shot s may be inserted between shots
of speaker and audience - whi ch do not present
opposing looks. Neutr al shots al so break up the
back-and-for th opposing treatment of directional
shots. The speaker may switch hi s look in a neu-
tral sho t from one side of the auditorium to the
other ; an d the scene may cu t wi th me dium sho t
d ose-up of audience member s with oppos ing look.
Individual long shots of ei ther the stage or the
audience should be filmed head-on for a neu tral
treatment ; or . from the same side of the center-
line for an opposi ng effect. Long sho ts toward t he
stage and toward the audience filme d fr om oppo-
site sides of the ce nterline shoul d he avoided . be-
cause speaker and audi ence will face in the same
direction - not toward each other!
The centerline tre atment is bes t for simple
seque nces , as in a classroom. The parallel treat-
ment, or a combination of both treatments , may
he em ployed whenever greate r free dom in posi-
tioni ng camera or mo re visual variety is desired.
Eit her , or both, these trea tmen ts may also be
employed to film any type of play , demonstrati on ,
or staged action: where peopl e on stage do not
relate wit h the audience. Such filming is less com-
plicated , because the people on stage rel ate only
wit h eac h othe r , and the audience merel y observes .
Opposing looks are not required .
The important point to remember is that the
camera mu st rem ain on one side of the centerline
axis whenever opposing looks are requ ired. Or, it
may rem ain neutr al for head-on shots. The cam-
era may not cross the centerline axi s in consecu-
tive sho ts - because looks will be in the same
direc tion , rather than opposing.
In a lon g sequence. the camer a may go any-
where . if mi s-mat ched shots are spaced a scene
or two ap art when ed ited. This can be handled
because an audit orium is a fixed situat ion wi th a
definite front and ba ck, and the people are seated
and faci ng in one di rec tion only. The viewer \vIll
not be confused, no matter wh at type of shots are
screened. or hocv they arc edited. Resul ts arc pic-
torially more effective , and easier to view when
oppos ing looks arc presented so that speaker and
audience relate in consecutive shots.
Three-shots requi re special consideration in
accordance with their stagi ng. There arc two types
of three-shots: with on e dominant pl ayer who
rel ates wit h two oth ers , who are close toge ther;
wi th three players who are spread ap art and take
turns in domi nating the scene.
The first t ype occurs wh en a minister rel ates
wi th a bride and groom; a teacher speaks to two
pupils; a barten der serves a couple. Under these
conditions the dominant pl ayer should be posi-
tioned on one side of the screen, and the ot her two
pl ayers on the opposite side. The supporting play-
ers are treated as a unit , and the set-up is handled
_ .... 0:- _ _
Came ra shoots three-shot wi t h players
spread apart, and equally dom inant ill
turn. Camera may cross axis optically to
film rear player - who may relat e with
eit her foreground player - hy
his look {rom one to other,
in an opposing manner - for example, wit h the
dominant player facing screen right, and the oth-
ers facing screen left. Over-the-shoulder , objective
or point-of-view close-ups may all be filmed - wi th
the same trea tmen t as a two-sho t - wit h the earn-
era positioned on the same side of the act ion axis
drawn through the two players nearest the cam-
era, un opposite sides of the screen. The support-
ing player s may be filmed together or in individual
close-ups - both wi th the same screen left look.
When the dominant player - on the left - looks
Minist er dominates m arrurqe scene - so
that it may he fUmed (rom both centerline
axis (above) , and a parallel axis (below).
Minister 100l1s toward right, at DTOom, at
heuinJ1inq of shot (Iwlow), to preserve
screen rioht. look fur smoother transition.
Then, lIema!! sivitcn his looh to bride .
at the player in right bac kground, the look creates
a new axis between them. The camer a may now
be positioned helween the two players on the right,
to film a front- face dose-up of the dominant
pla yer. It is imp or tant that the look be directed
screen r ight - toward the far player - so that a
smooth cut results from the side angle to the in-
between rear angle. Many director s and film edi-
tors prefer a strong speech or action, which de-
picts a definite connection between the dominant
player and the fa r player. An action - such as
serving a drink - is preferred, so that the two
sho ts may be cut on the move, with an action
toward the right to preserve the dominant player's
ri ght look. In weaker sit uations, the camera should
not be brought completely around between the
supp or ting players - i t should remain on the
same side of the original axis.
The second me thod - with players spread apart
and each dominant in {u rn should be filmed
wi th a single axis. Thu s two players will be in the
foreground and one in the background. If the
camer a should cross the axis, one of the fore -
ground players will suddenly appear on the oppo-
sit e side of the screen and the rear player on the
ot her side ! The camera may cross optically to film
the rear player in close-up, and he in turn may
relate with each of the players in separate shots.
Each two-shot may be handled individually with
over-the-shoulder , point-or-view or objective close-
ups, as des ired .
when two players arc close together , they
should be treated as a single unit. Ei ther or both
should be filmed from the same side of the axis ,
so that they present the same look toward the
opposing player. A three-shot wi th a dominant
player and two supporti ng players may thus be
treated as a two-shot. since the domi nant player
and the supporting players arc at opposite ends
of the axis .
Whe n three players arc spread apart and each
dominates in turn as he speaks or reacts, each
must be treated individually and present an op-
posing look to the player he is relating with at the
time. The three-shot thus becomes a ser ies of two-
shots - with each two-shot creating its own axis
as players switch their looks.
Camera # 1 tums ,side angle - bartender
turns toward player in right background.
Action axis for itncc-etiot . Camera # 1 snoots
across JJ(lralld axis (similar to tlieatcr, with
M.e. fadll!! camera and members of audi-
ence 011 either side of centcr) . Camera #2
may make optical cross to film close-up
of yiTl - umo may look in either direc-
tion 10 relate with hoy on left in oppos-
i tl g close-lip (filmed by Camera #4),
or with hoy on right ( Camera #3).
Three-shot may be broken: up into
two-shots and opposing close-ups.
Cut to Camera #2 may lw made when her-
tender turns toward player ill riyht hack-
IJround - creating new ax"is
scated aro und table be
crl y estchlished, so tlwt audience is not
coniueed cohen camera moves in (or mc-
dium shot s ami cloec-upe. should be
drawn bct ioecti players retauun nJi th each
other, so tliat tilell are prese nted "lt1th
opposing look s in indivi dual d ose-ups .
The ca mera ma y move around to film individ-
ual close-ups of playe rs across the table from each
other; because the look of an on-screen playe r
Diffi culties may be involved when filming a
group of players scaled at a ta ble, par ticularl y a
round table. !I. closed cir cle of players , looking in-
war d toward each other , requires filming scenes
th at arc staged with the editori al pattern in mi nd.
Such scenes should be well established, so that the
viewer is not confused when two or more players
- shown in two-shots or individual close-ups -
speak to off-screen players.
The axis should be dr awn through the two
players ne ares t the camera on opposite sides of
the screen. The ca mera rna)' cross the axis to film
a far player - or severa l players - by dra wing a
parallel axis. An individual player may look at an
on-screen or off-screen pla yer by dr awing the axis
from one to the other, so that they arc filmed from
the same side with opposing looks. If a nu mber of
close-ups follow one anot her . it is best to pull hack
at intervals and re-establish the scene.
T hree-shot in II' hiell one ncrson dominates.
maq he (i 1l1wd f ro m si de (/1/ nle; wit lz domi-
nant player [ocinq riohi; (lnd su pporting
((10 1111 fdr . Camera 1 ent i re
croup. Cam{'f (U :: 3 and =4 may film op-
posin g close-ups, \ VJiCI/ bartender looks or
serves drink - to ptaucr in right back-
around, new action axis is created. Cam-
era :#2 films bartender 100hillg riolu to
nrescrnc oriainat Iootc .
Rurtender may lat er lum to player on le ft
as sce ne
If thrre-shot is broken int o t wo-shots - centered player will appear on right in oll e t w O ~ J l O t and left in other,
toward an off-screen pla yer crea tes a new axis.
A player rn a)' look in one direction . and relate
with a player who is shown with an opposing look.
Th en the original player may swi tch his look and
rel ate wit h anot her player on the other side of the
table. No confusion will arise in the viewer 's mind
if the scene is es ta blished and each set of players
arc shown wi th opposing looks.
Shooting a three-shot - followed by a pair of
two-shots which places t he middle player on one
side of the screen in one shot. and then on the
opposite side in the followi ng shot - is not advis-
ab le. It is bet ter to break llP suc h shots into two-
shot and close-up ; or into individual clos e-ups .
Oft en, it is impossible lo shoot a reverse close-
up of a player because of space limitations on a
location interior , or the absence of a background
on a two or three wall set. In such instan ces, the
player may be posit ioned agains t another wall,
providing camera an gle and player's position and
look mat ch the original set-u p. Fir st , the ca mera
set -up shoul d be plotted in the original posi tion .
Then. hath ca me ra and player should be turned
around - as if both were 0 11 a turntable - so that
the rel ati onshi p is unchan ged . In th is way, the
ca me ra and the player's look remain on the same
s ide of the new line as they were in the ori ginal
ax ts.Theopposmg off-screen player should be post-
tioned on the pr oper s ide of the camera to ex-
change dialogue. Th e ba ckground may require re-
dressing - with a pict ure - to suggest anot her
wall . if it appears in other shots .
It is often neeessar}' to mat ch stock shots with
production scenes. A stock library shot of a large
audie nce may be used wit h product ion scenes of a
spea ker on stage. Or , a pic ture may be made up
almos t en tirely of s tock shots wit h freshl y filmed
cut-away reaction shots , or ot her scenes needed
to provide cont inui ty or tr unsntons. In either case,
it is wise to study the stock shots before filmin g
the production scen es, so that properl y oriented
opposing or matching looks may be recorded. It is
advisable to project the stock shots; or to study
the m on a film viewer . and make a det ailed listing
with small diagrams depicti ng the an gle and look.
If possible, short length s of film should be s tudied
on the set when shooting the inter-eutting scenes.
The best way to assure mat ching is to make a
ment al pan fr om the look in t he s tock shot to the
shot abou t to be filmed. This will automatically
suggest the correct look. If an audience is looking
sc reen righ t, the mental ca me ra is panned to show
- in the mind's eye - the opposing look of the
spe aker , as well as the proper opposing ca me ra
angle. If a missile or an airplane soars into the
air, the reaction shot is filmed by having the player
I; t' , 'a.._ .
Three-sho t should be followed hy two-shot and close-up of sinqle player; or individual dose-ups of each player.
Camera # 1 films girl. Camera #2 cannot film hoy because of absence of set .
Bom camera and boy are turned clock wi se. so that boy may be positioned against
available wa ll and (ilm('d from original opposing an gle . Player's position may be
c1leafed, providing original player-camcra relationship is maintained.
imagine he is seeing the ac tton happenin g be-
hind the camera. If a take-off or landing of an
airplane mus t mat ch a st ock fiying shot , the plane
must take off or land in the same direction. If a
close-up of the pilot is filmed for insertion in a
stock flying shot - the pilot should be faced in the
direction of travel.
Because of matching probl ems they may cause,
rever se shots seem confusing on occasion. Posi-
tioni ng a camera on the opposite side of a set or
room - or otherwise t urning a camera aroun d so
that it points in the opposite directi on - deserves
serious considerat ion , beca use iL may transpose
the player s. Reversing the ca mera also i nt roduces
a new - and sometimes completely differ ent back-
ground. Th is rna)' confuse the viewer because
playe rs' must be re-oriented in relation
to the setting.
Matching and editorial problems can be elimi-
nated if the princi ple of the action axis is fol-
lowed. Opposing over -tile-shou lder and point-of-
view close-ups, and head-on and tail-away travel
shots, ar c filmed from diametricall y opposite rc-
verse angles. Yet , through use of the axi s, the
players' looks and the subject's travel direction
rema in consistent. Accordi ngly, the simple expe-
dient of the acti on axis will automatica lly insure
success on reverse shots.
111e camera angle may be freely reversed in
theaters, churches, courtrooms, or in vehicles -
autos , buses , trai ns. airplanes - because the
ple are positi oned in fixed scats. Such setti ngs
have in common distinct ly different fronts and
backs - stage, altar or judge's bench; or fron t and
rear ends of vehicles.
Seat ed persons may be photogr aphed from the
front. rear or side. The viewer becomes immedi-
ately aware that the camera - not the people - has
changed positions. Even un der these condit ions ,
however. it is wise to stay on the same side of a
centerline axis whenever possible - so th at a uni-
form directiona l look is presented in all shots . The
camera should shoot ei ther ne ut ral straigh t-on
front or rear views ; or shoot toward the front or
had of the scul ng or vehicle - from the Same
side of the axis. Or . a neutral shot may be insert ed
between scenes fllmed with opposi te looks, due 10
crossing: the axis.
Reversing the ca mera may be safely accom-
plished without confusion in any setting or room
with a distinctive feature - such as a stai rcase. a
large doorway, a fireplace, bookshelves , etc. A
nondescript room. with similar walls , undistin-
guis hed furnitu re. dr apes, or oth er accoutre-
men ts, may confuse the viewer. \ Vhile a reverse
shot in this sit uation may depict the act ors from a
new an gle. it will present a similar background.
Camera sct-un muu he reierecd in any see-
finn witll fi xcd scots - such: as airplane or
lrai". Nelltral head-on or tail-away sllots
may be filmed. l( camera is positioned, on
on e side of til e ce nterline - it sl10uld re-
mai l/ on si de for reverse shnt , to
presrroe direcf iollal look .
Rererse camera set-up for l U r ~ o n crossing
room S/lOlIld be based on mental pall .
Camera # 1 films player, who ri ses iroru
desk and exits screen rig!l !. Camera #2
films reverse angle - as i f panned around
~ as player ent ers screen left. unns other
player s 0 11opposit e side of r oom.
It is usually safest 10 es tablish th e overall sc uing.
In th at wav. the audience will know the geograph y
of the room, a nd will readily comprehend the
change to a reverse angle.
A reverse where a player, or group of players.
wal ks toward the cu mcr u and exit - and arc then
picked up in a reverse shot entering and walking
away from the ca mera , to cross the room - should
be based on a men ial pan . Th is would show th at
i f the subject exi ts righ t. he sho uld enter left.
Travel in a constant direction will show progres-
sion only when it is filmed fro m the same side of
the ac tion axis . Thi s is th e same as filmin g head -
on and tail-a'vav shots fur a tr avel seque nce.
If a group of players remains fixed, and the
camer a films them first from one side of a room
and then the opposite side, a different situation is
presen ted. The pla yers ma y look off-screen to
observe a new player entering the room. Then , the
camera may be placed behind them on the oppo
site side of the room - to show the player coming
through the door toward them.
The players l ooking off-screen crea te a new axis
between them and the player entering. If the cam-
era remains on the same side of the axis for the
reverse shot, players' directional look will be the
same in both scenes. The camera may be posi-
tioned to shoot the ente ring player between two
other players - from a reverse an gle - providing
the new player wal ks toward the group's look.
A reverse may be accomplished with a player's
off-screen look - which allows the camera to be
turned around to show what he sees. A player may
look pas t the ca mera toward the opposite side of a
room - and the ca mera reversed to show the
scene from his point-of-view. This should be filmed
from the same side of the axis if the player rel ates
with another player, so th at they prese nt opposing
looks. This is equivalent to a pair of objective or
point-of-view d ose-ups filmed as part of a two-shot
- except that it covers a wider area .
1\10st i mport an t. in reversing the camer a , the
viewer should not be confron ted with transposed
players agains t new backgrounds. The scene
should be estab lished so th at the audience is im-
mediately aware of the type of setti ng - church ,
Came ra mall he reversed: wifllOlIl enrounterinq ]JfQ!JlCJrl S - when ever it can he
re-positi oned on same side o( Cl c/irJ/l axis . CaJrlf' TII # 1 l l m ~ group of people _
u /no turn to observe playe r enlcrilltJ mom. Ih is is drawn from player in group
nea rest cumera to new playe r. Camero # 2 films reverse slwt, as player enters
and joi ns group.
bus, auto. Or , the camer a should be positioned so
that a distinctive scutng feat ure is seen in a n
over all view. Thu s, later rever se will no t ca use
confusi on .
Direction al continuity must be main tained
throu ghout a 5Cqucnce depicting continuous
action , without a lime lapse. Player movement s,
posil ions and looks must match on each side of a
st raight cut. Movemen t of players into or out of
various set-ups mus t be filmed with entrances and
exi ts whi ch ma tch the es tablished direction al con-
unuuy. All player s - whether on or off screen -
must be presen ted in both cut-in and cut-away
shots with properl y matching looks. which leave
no doubt in the audi ence's mind where players
ar e posit ioned, and to whom they are rel at ing. The
action axis must be redrawn at the end of any
shot where player and/or camera movement has
caused it to change from the original axis.
The action axis encourages rat her than stifles
the use of camer a angles. By use of this principle,
camera and subj ect s are fre e to roam the set , or
look in any din..ction - with out fear of the wrong
directi onal look. There arc no restrictions on ei ther
camera or pla yer movement. Tile most i mportant
(act to remember is t hut player movement or
pl ayer l ooks 11I11St be me same oil cucn side of (/
match-cut. Therefore , the movement or look a t
beginning and end of each shot must he noted, and
new axis dr awn through players at the end of shot ,
if it differs h om axis wh ich shot began.
Camera I grou p uho turn to observe
p{(lIw r ellteri,, !'1 room . Camera # 2 i s posi -
tioned IWf wl 'l' ll pillyers A and B (or revers e
angle . Entcrino player should wa llo towa rd
players B. C and D, t o prenent walk and
looh toward scree n right - t o
players' look t oward sc ree n le ft , fllm t'd by
Camera # 1.
AIlHt11l 1lg may chanqe durillg a sllOt: the players
may reverse di rection or ch an ge looks or positi ons;
the playe rs may cross the axis ; the ca mer a may
pan or dolly in any direction : the ca mera may
cross the axis; both ca mera and players may
move in any manner in any direction , in any
com bin ation . No/hing be ctumqe d between
snots. the players may not cha nge direction of
movemen t or change looks or positions; the cam-
era muu /lut cross the axis esta blished by the
players at the end of the last shot. All this applies
10011 l1/alj m oti vat e cam-
er a. Camera # 1 fi lm s pla!!eT, iouo t u rns to
looh across room, !I (' t i oll a d s draw1I he-
tuecn /I/nl/I' I' an d {fir! 01 / opposite sid(' of
1"0011I. Cumcm #2 filll/s reverse shot f rom
snmr sick of llriS - i ll {/ si nulcr mallner 10
oppm i ll .ll anqle d ose-lip, c.\("('pt for u-tder
only to match-cuts, in which the action is con tinu-
ous from shot to shot. It docs not apply to scenes
co nnec ted by dissolves or other optical effects ; or
to scenes edit ed int o ot he r scenes occurring el se-
where. or to cases whe re both centerline and par-
allel axes ar c used. Wh enever the ac tion is in ter-
ru pted edi torially or optically, it is possible to
assume th at ch anges Illay have occurred i n the
mcanumc. Established scre en direction should be
preserv ed in a series of shot... - such as a chase _
which arc edited alte rn ately with other shots,
sin ce, for practical pu rposes, these scenes arc ca n-
tinu-urs. In t he final analysis , directional conti-
nui ty consi st s of remaining on the same side of
eit her moving or st atic players or vehi cles . so that
the established movement or look is mai ntained
in consecutive shots.
Ordinari ly. motion picture con tinuity should
flow in an uninterrupted seque nce of images. It
may not always be practical or desirable to depict
an en tire mot ion picture story in a continuous
manner. TIlls may en tail meaningless passages ,
which would detr act from the story-telli ng. and
slow down - rather than accelerate - the narra-
tive from Introductor y openi ng scenes through
developing: sequences and on to the cl imax.
Real, by-the-clock, time may be used in a con-
tinuous sequence. However , cu t-in or cut -away
shots pcruu t removal or incl u... ion of action ; wit h-
out the audience realizing that time has been
compressed or expanded . Since motion pictures
are an illusion , no fixed rules can be lai d down for
depi cting time or space.
Regardl ess of how these clements arc handled ,
the audience should r ecei ve the distinct i mprcs-
eion of viewi ng event s in thei r en tirety. Even com-
pilation films should prcselll a continuous pictu re
whenever a series of con secutive sce nes are to be
pr esented. Such an illus ion must be pro perly con-
veyed , or the st ory-telling spell may be broken .
Whenever a lillie lapst! or a dltwye of loca le must
be explai ned, eit her withi n a sequence or between
sequences. various tra nsitional devices may be
employed to bridge time or space.
These method s may be used. indi viduall y or in
combinat ion . to bri dge time and space.
The simples t met hod for uchleving smooth pic-
torial tr ansitions is by use of int roduct or y titles :
Dissoine lllal! be Ilw,a to cover lime lapse
- as df'pic tt'd in of Navaj o
women cordino awl spi nui ll!l w(J ol to be
woveII into blanuets.
first scene is balanced by a gain in image density
in the second scene. Dis sol ves arc used to COVeT a
time lapse or a ch ange in locate , or to soften a
scene change that would otherwise be abrupt or
jarring. Consecutive titl es arc generally dissolved
so that one blends into the oth er . Scenes that
would appear as jump-cuts because of sudden
shift ing of the center of in terest, may be dissolved.
Length of dissolves may be vari ed to mat ch dr a-
matic tempo.
Ma tched dissolves , in which the two conn ected
scenes arc similar in form, motion or content, may
be utilized to effeet a smoot her tr ansi tion ; or to
prese rve the narr ative flow, by making the image
stating place and /or time to set the stage. Place
name and calendar time. such as Omaha Beach,
]l1II i' 6. 1944 . would introduce a sequence show-
ing the invasion of Europe by Allied Forces in
World War II. Dateless elapsed lime may also be
conveyed with the title : Five Years Later. A map
may show progress at intervals dur ing a journey,
or location of the event that follows. The scene
may 0IK' n on a place name at port of ent r y, air-
pore or train or bus depot. Or. it may open on a
newspaper. clearly focusing on date.
Pictorial transitions may employ any of the
following optical devices :
A [ade-m, i n which a black screen gr aduall y
brigh tens in to an image. is used to begin a story or
sequence. A fade-out , in which the image gr adu-
ally darkens to black, is used to end a story or
seqU(.'ncc. Fades may be of any length required to
fit drama tic tempo of the act ion.
While fades are generally employed in pai rs -
fade-out followed by fade-in - this is not a strict
rule. An individu al sequence, sever al sequences ,
or a complete picture, may be bracketed by fades.
This will the various narrative un its.
Sequences separated by fades arc similar to chap-
ters in a hook; or act s in a play. Fades between
sequences occur ri ng in the same locale, indicate a
passage of time, such as from one day to the next,
or weeks or months later . Or. fades ma y be used
to indicate a swi tch to another setting. Fades
should be used sparingly. or they may produce a
choppy or episodic effect , which disrupts the nar-
rauve flow. Fades should be used only at begin-
nin g and end of a picture, unl ess the subject mat-
tcr is divided into distinct time intervals, or nar-
ra uvcl y separa ted in space.
A di ssol ve blends one scene into another. Tech-
nicall y, a dissolve is a fade-out superimposed upon
a fade-in , so that a loss of image density in the
change less abrupt. Simil ar forms , such as flowers
a nd jewels ; like motions, such as wheels and pro-
pcl lers: si mi lar content , such <IS a match flame
and a forest fire : arc effective combi na tions.
Matched dissolves should not be lOO trick y. Nor
should they draw att ention away from the narra-
live. Unless thei r images stem from story, mat ched
shots shoul d no t he used for transition dissolves.
Distorted in which the blending im-
ages shimmy, ripple, shiver , shake. twist , turn , go
in and out of focus, or are otherwise blurred ; may
be employed to denote a sudden switch to a pla y-
er 's suhconsctous. ret rospective, mcntally-unbal-
anced. drunken, doped. or other abnorma l state of
mind. Such dissolves. often accompanied by eerie
sound. may be used to intr oduce a flashback.
A pair of dissolves should genera lly be used 10
brac ket a flashback, flashforward or other abnor-
ma l condition. A return dissolve may not be rc-
qutrcd in situations where the audience compre-
hends the change; or it is desirable to startle or
shock the viewer. If the same person , or group.
tells several stories and always returns to the
same setti ng, the audience may only need a dis-
solve i nto the story, and will not be confused
when the flashback ends and is st raight-cut to
present narrative. Or, a player describing a weird
experience. may be stra ight-cut to the presen t wit h
a sudden shock; as if waki ng from a nightmare !
Froz.en dissotves, in which both the last fr ame
of the first scene and the first fr ame of the second
scene arc frozen during the dissolve, may denote
time standing st ill bet ween scenes. A highly pic-
tori al variation of the frozen dissolve may employ
matched paintings or drawin gs. The movi ng
photogr aphic ima ge is frozen , and dissolves to a
painting ur dr awing. Thi s in turn . dis solves to
another painting or drawing; which then dis-
solves to a Frozen photogr aphic image; which
then moves and continues with the story. The
match between picture and painting or drawi ng
is accomplished by photographically enlarging the
film fr ame, and either paint ing or tr acing the
image. Such optical effect s mu st be handled by
an optical camera/ enlar ger set-up , equipped for
holding precise regis tration through various ste ps.
If the story involves a news event . such as a
tri al; the image may be froze n by a still pho to-
gr aph er's flash bulb. The froze n frame is then
dissolved to the still picture. revealed as part of a
newspaper story - when the camera pull s hack .
In their simplest forms , wipes are moving opti-
cal effects in which one scene seems to push an-
other scene off the screen. The wipi ng motion may
be vertical. horizont al or angular. Demar cation
between the two scenes lIlay he a distinct line , or
a soft blend . Wipes are also avail able with ci rcu-
lar , expanding. con tract ing . swinging. spin ning,
rolling or tvvisti ng motions. Or , they may be
shaped like st ars. flames, light ning, keyholes ,
hearts. spades. diamonds, clubs, etc.
Wiping patterns may he continuous, or broken
up into sever al sha pes with in the fr ame - such as
a ser ies of expand ing circles which merge to re-
veal the nevv scene. Wipes are mec hanica l transi-
tions. Other than the simple vert ical. horizontal
or angul ar traveli ng varieties ; wipes arc rarel y
employed in dramatic films. Wipes \vere fre-
quently used ill ea rly sound pictures , par ticularly
in musicals. They are now used mai nly in trai lers,
advertising films and television commercials.
Since wipes require the production of a dupli-
cat e negat ive. or dupe reversal fihn, their use is
ordinarily limited to 35mm motion pictures. A few
I Gmm labs have available printers which will
print simple tr aveling wipes from "A & B" rolls.
If elaborate wipes are required, the pic ture should
be shot in 35mm, and a 16mm rccIuction int er-
negative made.
A montage tr ansition is a ser ies of shor t scenes
- connected by s traight cu ts, dissolves or wipes -
used to condense time or space. This r apid edi ting
techn ique may depict port ions of the story - when
events need not be shown in det ail - but must be
included for continuity, editori al or narrative pur-
poses. Since the aud ience receives the impress ion
that a journey. indust rial operation , or any
lengthy, complex event , is being shown in en-
... . ....., c.
11 Ll
\ I
Mont age dClli ct s series of short lime. These r cpresc ntuti uc
shots sho w desisni. cumputi ng , t eMi 1I,q, shi{l pill[J of space capsules.
tirety - rather than in pieces - the visual effect is
often psychological.
The research. design and development of a
complicated electronic system; a new missile; or
a giant dam may be depicted in a series of short
scenes of drawings being ske tched ; blueprints
being processed; computers working ; models be-
ing tested; electronic brains flas hing data ; engi -
neers in conference; componen ts being assembled,
transported to the site and pl aced in position ; and
finally. views of the completed unit in oper ation.
While some of these individual shots may have
little connection with the event, combined they
create a cumulative effect of extensive effort. A
montage assembled in this manner may compress
mon ths of time , or mil es of space into a few mo-
ment on the screen. Some of the scenes may be
stock shots or scenes filmed for some other pur-
pose ! An engineer could be working on almost any
project ; a conference could suffice for any narra-
tive purpose; scenes depicting office wor k, tr ans-
portation, computing , ctc. . could serve for many
different subjects .
A short montage may show an expedition trav-
eling to a remote land by modern modes of tr ans-
portation. Upon reaching its destination, the ex-
pedition may resor t to du gout canoes. Then the
narrative proceeds to tell the story in a strai ght-
forward manner. In this case, the montage sets
the stage for the mai n event.
Superimposed images may be used in a mon-
tage to con nec t two or more ideas. Circus or con-
cert posters may be changed conti nuously over
shots of speeding trains. Newspape r headli nes
may spin into focus over a tri al sequence, to
show day-to-day developmen ts bef ore r eaching the
final verdict. Ticker tape may move across the
screen. over scenes of frenzied stock market activ-
ity. A rising gra ph line may be laid over scenes of
a new product moving off the assembly line, being
shipped. displayed for sale. Progress repor ts on
tests of new equipment may be moved across the
screen against scenes of field trials. The oscillo-
scope pattern ma de by a heartbeat may be super-
imposed over a patient undergoing a heart test.
Several separate shots may be lndtvidunlly po-
sitioned within the frame, in any number of pat-
tern!'>. The frame may be divided into four or more
parts . or a center image may be surrounded by
severa l others. The shots may change simult ane-
ously , or in a round-t he-clock ma nner , to depict
various spor ting acti vities, indus tri al operations;
or summing up of a test, report or sales cam-
paign. A many-imaged montage may be used for
a title background to in troduce the subject. Sev-
er al imag-es may also be combined within a single
fr ame, when import an t to show what is happen -
ing in severa l places simultaneously. The effect of
rapid decompression upon a pilot in a test cham-
ber may be shown wi th instrument readings.
Stock shots are often used in a montage, be-
cause of budget limi tations; or need of depic ting
his torical, foreign, or other scenes which are im-
passible or impractical to film. If montage shots
are filmed, it is wise to work closely with the film
editor, to establish an over-all tempo for all action
scenes. A metronome may be employed whil e
shooting, if a preci se bea t is essen tial for match-
ing ac tion in all scenes. A hand may punch a
time clock, punch out a pattern, punch a button
to opera te a punch press - all these act ions will
convey greater impact if punched to a definite beat.
Subject movement, or camera movcmcnr-cwhcther
pan, tilt or dolly - shoul d be similar or contrasti ng
throughout a series of montage shots, for most
effective result s. Many other fact ors - camer a
angles, lighting, camera speed, editing pattern ,
etc, - should also be considered in planning a
montage sequence.
Pic tori al transitions may be used in many novel
",'ays. While simple titles announcing time and
place may suffice when introducing a new se-
quence. creative thi nking will usually develop
more int eresting visual methods. By studying
story, selling, people , props; and looking abou t
fo r a moving tr ansition stemming fr om the narra-
tive, various sequences may be tied together.
The two key shots depicting beginni ng and end
Pictorial transitions may corer time lapse
(rom Marl /0 (illisll of prouwt - ."/lcl!
th is model of freelcay to COIll-
pie/ ' ruad complex [I' operation.
C d. Do . '" _
of a part icular int er val arc most impor tant. A
dinner part y may he dissolved from soup to nuts.
A baby's toddli ng steps may dissolve to a man 's
sturdy stride. A miniature airpla ne model dis-
solves to the actual full-size aircraft. A roari ng
fi re dissolves to dying embers . A liny flame be-
comes a raging forest fire. A few raindrops f alli ng
into a puddle may dissolve to a roaring flood.
Raw material can become the fini shed produc t.
whatever may be consumed or changed by time,
may be filmed to cover elapsed time.
Repeti tious action may be removed fr om a
lengthy industrial process by dissolving highlights
of one repeated ope ration to those of the next step.
Dissolves arc pa rtic ularly useful ,vhen the en tire
processing lakes pl ace on a machine - such as a
turret lathe - which requires few changes in
camera angle or image size. Progress of tool cut-
ting met al may be shown at inter vals without
jump-cuts, by uti lizing dissolves or wipes. Any
repet itious mechan ical operation; such as tighten-
ing a series of similar bolts, t hrowing a number
of switches. or performi ng other routine tasks.
ma y all be covered by dissolvmg from the begi n-
ning to the end of the act ion. Years of wa tching
motion pict ures, have cond itioned audie nces into
accepting suc h time bridges as continuous action .
A person may walk out of his office, and then be
dissolved LO the st ree t entr ance as he leaves the
building. Or , he may en ter an elevator and be
wiped to the desi red floor . Any insignificant time
interval may be effectively covered in this manner.
Flashb ack tra nsitions may employ historical
events to pinpoint the time. Newspaper headlines
PEALED! - all convey eas y-to-recognize periods.
Spac e may be bridged by cutti ng or dtssolvlng
to signs. names on door s, plaques on buildings,
city names on rail , bus or airpor t terminals. et c.
The identif ying name will immediately Inform the
audience of the new loca le. A journey may be
dissolved fr om beginni ng to end wit h two simple
shots, showing departure and arrival.
Wipes should be cons idered whene ver scree n
movement would be enhanced by pushing one
scene ahead of t he next in the direction of travel.
,. ,
Series of left.torigllt vertical wipes may
depi ct l O ~ ioumeu by train, plane. ship.
This is excellent handling for train shots , because
the length of the train keeps it moving across the
screen for a consi derable period. A series of shots
showing different modes of travel may be continu-
ously wiped. A player may also be wiped as he
walks, ride s or drives fr om one setting to another .
Lengthy tra vel may be depicted by a mon tage
of scenes showing spinning car wheels, cha nging
odometer figures, thick line moving on a map,
passport s being stamped, ho tel labels being slap-
ped on luggage. travel folders cascading down ,
road signs flickering by. changes of terrain, ticket s
Well-known l;ymboh may be used to intro-
duel? cOlllltrics Of cities - such as pyramid
and sphinx for Egypt -
Acropolis for Greece, or AIIlens -
being punched; arnvmg and depar ting bu ses,
tr ains, airplanes and shi ps. These act ions may be
individual, or superimposed over the traveler's
face, or over other scenes.
Well-known symbols may be used to depict
countr ies or ci ties. Big Ben is England, or London
in particular ; the Eiffel Tower is France, or Pari s;
the Statue of Liberty is the Unit ed States, or New
York; the Coliseum is It aly, or Rome; the Sphinx
or the Pyr ami ds is Egypt; the Acropoli s is Greece,
or Athens; cable cars denote San Franci sco; the
Liber ty Bell says Phil adelphi a; the Capitol or the
Whit e House is Washi ngton.
Camer a movemen t may also be utili zed to
switch from one setti ng to another. The camera
may til t up to the sky, di ssolve to another sky,
and then tilt down to reveal a new scene. Or , the
tilt may be downward to wat er or ocean waves,
and upward to the new location .
Through repetiti on , many pictorial transiti onal
devices have become hackneyed. A fresh photo-
gr aphic treatmen t, a novel product ion tech nique,
or a new twist by a crea tive ca meraman, director
or writer will enhance the production and stimu-
late continued audience interest.
.........." ...,
cable ca r for San Franci sco .
jumping about from place to place . Th e entire
sound track of a compilation film may be transi-
tional. to cover t he lad of ptctortal continui ty. A
documentary film may use si mple narration to link
sequences; movi ng about in time an d/or space.
A monologue may move the story forward or
backward , to a different lime or place. A tape-
recorded con fess ion , being played back by the
police, may cont inue narrating events as the pic-
lure dissolves to a flashback of the cri me being
committed. A shot of an archeologist, readi ng an
ancient manuscript, may di ssolve bot h sound and
picture to ori gin al dictation and \....nung of the
document. A company executive Illay read an en -
gineeri ng field report aloud to his colleagues. As
he cont inues reading, the picture dissolves to the
activities bei ng described. A scientist may imagine
life on eart h a thousand years from now. The pic-
ture lllay dissolve forward in time as he talks.
Picture and/or dial ogue may dissolve. Th e per-
son speaking may dissolve to another person who
continues the speech. A playe r's voice may be
heard as he wri tes a letter . Both picture and sound
may dissolve to the recipient reading the letter
aloud. Or, the voice of the original ~ r s o may
cont inue as the picture dissolves to the recipi ent
silently reading the letter. A business repor t may
be used to bri dge several persons in different
places; by depicting the announcement being dic -
tat ed. and then dissolvin g to report being read
aloud by other people in turn .
Dissolves are not always necess ary . Dialogue
may activate a straight cut to another shot, such
as a player exclaiming : "We' d better fly!" and then
cutting to a plane in flight. The foreman of a j ury
may decla re : "Guil ty!" Shots follow of barber ,
butcher and baker shout ing: "Inn ocent!" Since
such shots may be locat ed anywhere , dial ogue
reactions of various individual s may pr ovide a
dr amatic met hod. for moving t he st ory across
straight cuts. A missile count down could include
ten individual shots of engineers in various loca-
tions on range, or even throughout the world,
each counting down until "one" is reached - and
the chief engineer orders : "Fire!"
Monologues may bridge an individual player's
movement fr om one setting to another . A lawyer ,
pr acuc mg a jury address in his offi ce, may be
shown act ually delivering his speech, by dissolv-
~ to .1 court room. Or , he may continue talking
as he walks in his office - out of the picture; and
into the pic ture - in the cou rtroom. Such tr ansi-
tions are best made wit h close-ups. so that the
fea tured individual fills the fra me du ring the
switch from one setting; to another. The camera
shou ld eit her cut to. or move into, a close-up at
the end of the first scene. Then i t should pick up
the next scene with a cl ose-up, and eit her cut-back
or pull -back to reveal the new locale . Str aight
Cmmt-douni may be IlSt'd as soun d t ransi -
tion , hy cutting from ("ont rol room to t rach-
ill .q stat ions, with encineer in each speak-
ing one number un til "Fire" is reached und
missile is launched .
picture cuts. which transport the moving player
from one sett ing to anothe r, would have been con-
sidered poor editorial techniq ue a few year s ago.
Wi th toda y's faster-paced stor y-telling, locales can
be switched abr uptly un t hout. opnc als, pr ovided
the audience compreh ends wh at is happening.
Non-essential act ion may be skipped, and sig-
nificant highlights shown, by bri dging scenes with
di alogue. narration and/or sound effects. Abuilder
discussing blue-prints or model of a new house,
could dissolve into ac tua l construction - as he
continues the description. The scream of an on-
looker at a traf fic accident could be blended into
the wail of an ambulance siren . A highway engi-
neer proclaiming: "We' ll blast !" could pound hi s
fist on a conference table as the picture abruptly
shows tons of earth exploding!
Telephone conversations provide excell ent
means for switchi ng the story to another locale,
Radio and televi sion may also be used as sound
tr ansit ions. Th e program may be shown originat-
ing- in the stu dio; then cut to reactio ns 01" people
listeni ng or wat ch ing in their homes, on the
streets , in their ca rs. Hcact lons to a presidential
address. stock mar ket reports, or a news flash ,
may switch fr om one person to another - regard-
less of thei r locations.
Familiar songs provide excellent opportuniucs
for establishing l oc a ti on . Well-known Irish,
French , Italian or Russian folk music, or other
An enqineer may pound desk , and exclaim
"We'll 1Jlu.q! - followed by explosion
national airs may be used to introduce a country.
America n ci ties may be iden tified by popular songs
spcctf'yt ng locales : Sl lllffi c Off to Buffal o, Cluca qo,
San Francisco and Meet lvle il l St . LOllis . States
and regions may be Idcnuflcd with Catdcm ia,
Here I Comet, The Eyes of Texas, Dixit' , Okla-
homu! and similar Favori tes. Available songs can
cover most situations; wa rs. military groups,
occupations. courtshi p, marriage, flying, Sailing,
motoring. cowboys. etc. A switch to a new setting
may be quickly established by including a few bars
of an appropri at e tune. Music bridges simplify
identification when a diff eren t loca tion is shown,
wit hout need of int roduct ory titles , or other ex-
planatory inser ts.
Music is also useful for time lapses. Songs such
as It' s Three O'Clock In The Morning, may be
used to climax a long f'venj ng of dancing or night
d ubbing; an d, the New Year is almost always in-
troduced with Au ld Lang SYI/t'. Music of a part ic-
ular period may aid in establishing a flashback.
./01111 Brown's Body will idcntify the Civil War , and
0 1'('1" There ! - World War I. Usc of rnuslc must
always be cleared with copyright owne rs.
Sound effects, unaccompan ied or blended with
music an d/or dialogue , offer a varie ty of possi -
bilities for imaginative sound transitions. Success
of a ven ture. growth of a project. t ransfer from
one time or place to another , may all be expressed
by sound effects. A gushing oil well rumbles into
a squi rting champagne bottle. A splashing \va tcr
fa ucet blends into a wa terfall . Typewri ter . tele-
type or stock ticker clatteri ng dissolves into a
maclunc gun firing. Baby birds chirping sof tly
merge into a baby crying. The cllckcty-clac k of a
train becomes a repetitious phrase or slogan. A
human cr y becomes a waili ng whistle. Train and
boat whistles suggest travel over land and sea.
Sounds may be faded in or out ; dissolves
(blended, segued or mer ged ) ; or distor ted (echo
chamber); made fas ter or slower. mult iplied, com-
bined. etc. Both pic ture and sound may thus be
similarly treated for special effects or tr an sit ional
bridges. A distor ted dissol ve - which introduces a
flash back - may be accompanied by distorted
music and sound effects. Narration may be dr am-
at ized by use of echo chamber .
It is often better to prepare the audience by
int roducing the sound be fore the picture appear s.
Since the ca r t akes longer th an the eye to note
what is t ra nspiri ng - hearing should be given a
head st art. A sou nd can be heard bef ore its
source is sigh ted . An ambul ance siren can wail
long be fore the vehicl e ap pr oaches the camer a. A
ship's fog horn ca n be heard before the vague
outline of th e vessel can be discerned in the mist.
Factor y din is heard before machines are shown.
Musi c or sound effects may in troduce a flash-
back. The sound m ay be "heard" by the mind's
ear before the image is recognized. A tinkling
piano may be he ar d in the di stance and gr aduall y
brought up to full volu me . Then, setting and peo-
ple are revealed . French taxi horns may be heard
before the flashback dissol ves to a Paris street
scene. A se tting m ay bring back memories in
which the sound precedes the images evoked. A
veteran pilot wa ndering around an airplane grave-
yard may seem to "hear" the roar of airpl ane
engines. This in troduces a flas hback of a bombing
mi ssion. Or, an ac tual sound - such as a train
whist le - may trigger remembrance of a vacation
inciden t.
Pic tori al or sound tr ansit ions shoul d be han-
dled in keepi ng wit h the even t being depicted.
Materi al s on hand will often suggest a tr ansitional
device. Pro ps forei gn to the setting sh ould not be
introd uced. A grandfath er cloc k would be ou t of
place in a scien tific labora tory. Players , story, se t-
ting. action . avail able props , should be imagin a-
tively blended into an appropriate tr ansition -
seemi ng to grow out of the event. Elabor a te props ,
or fal se ac tion - staged on ly to in troduce a tran-
sition - should he avoided. Any tr ansit ion that
attracts undue a ttention to itsel f. distracts fr om
the st or y. Transitio ns should supply logical means
to an end : devices f or interlocking seq uences, cov-
ering time lapses , changes of locale.
Continuity is mere ly common sense in coordi-
nated action. It requi res thinking in sequences -
inste ad of individu al shots , Careful planning, con-
Dire ctional con tinuity should he cs tob-
lisJw(/ awl maintained , eocn on uncontrol -
lable act ion - such (IS aerial: fHght test -
bV choice of camera set-ups 011 correct side
of act ion axis.
ccntrauon while filmin g, an d avoidance of pit f alls
build bet ter continuity - whe ther shooting from a
prepared sc ript or off-the-cuff. Good continuity i s
expected by th e audience. By drawing attention to
itself , poor continuity detract fr om the n arrative.
No thi ng shou ld interfere wit h the illu sion through
which the audience becomes involved in the stor y.
Thes e s teps arc advisable for better continuity:
Learn ho w to anal yze and handle ci nematic
time and space. Es tablis h and main ta in dyna mic
and s ta ti c di rectional continuity by proper employ-
men t of the action axis Recognize differences be-
tween controlled an d unc on trolled action . Decide
when to shoot single or mult iple camer as for bes t
result s. Choose between mas ter scene an d tri ple-
take techn ique s; or utilize a combination of both ,
to fit the filming situation. Overlap and match
action f rom sh ot to shot . so that it can be edited
in a continuous manner. Allow the cdltor suffici-
ent overlapping foo ta ge to facilitate cutting on
action. Film pict or ial a nd sound transiti ons to
bridge time and space.
A mot ion picture is a const antly-ch angi ng series
of images . By keepin g the images as close as pos-
sibl e to real-life action. good conti nui ty should be
assured. Tlii nhiny conti nuously will make th ought-
fu l contimuuj .
Lock heedCalifornia Co.
Fil m editing may be compared with cutting,
polishing and mounti ng a diamond. A diamond in
the rough st ate is barely recogni zable. The raw
diamond must be cu t, polished and mounted so
that its inherent beauty can be fully appreciated.
In the same way , a film story is a jumble of odd
shots until , like the di amond , it is cut , polished
and mounted. Both di amond and film are en-
hanced by what is removed! Wh at remains tell s
the story. The many facet s of the diamond, or the
movi e, are not apparent until the fmal cut.
This ch apt er is no t in tended for film edi tors.
It is ai med at the n on-theat rical cam er aman
filming wit hou t benefits of a shooti ng script , a
script girl or a direc tor to guide hi m. It is aimed
at the camer aman / director wh o may edit hi s own
films. It is aimed at produc tion personnel who
want to appreci ate the editor's problems. Everyone
involved in filming a motion pict ure shoul d under-
stand the editoria l rcqutrcrncnts , and should con-
sider each shot from that standpoint. Every edit-
ing decision possible should be left to the editor .
Only good edit ing ca n bri ng life to a moti on
picture! The various sho ts are just so many odd
pieces of film until they arc skillfully assembled
to tell a coherent story. Cutting takes up the sl ack
in the film, by removing all superfluous footage :
fa lse s tar ts, overlaps, unnecessa ry en tr ances and
exi ts, extra sce nes , duplicated action, bad takes.
What is left must be woven into a continuous
narrative, to present the screen story in a manner
that captures audience interest and holds aucu-
tion from opening scene to final fade-out.
The film editor s trives to impart visual variety
to the picture by skillful sliot selection, arrange-
mellt , and timinq, He recreat es, r ather than re pro-
duces , the phot ogr aphed event to achieve a cum-
ul ative effect ofte n greater than all the ac tions in
the individu al scenes put together. It is the film
editor's responsibility to create the best poss ible
motion pict ur e from available footage. Oft en , a
good film editor ca n turn in a picture superior to
the director's or the cameraman's original con-
cept. Only afte r care fully consider ing the combi-
nati ons of shots possible an d t he effects desired,
does the film editor assemble the scenes.
A theatrical feature, sho t by experienced pro-
duction per sonnel, is filmed with editorial require-
ments in mind. Serious consideration is given
screen direction , players' positions and looks , and
match ing action and dialogue from shot to sho t.
A theatri cal film edit or \vi ll generally encounter
few ed itorial problems that he cannot solve. He
is more concerned with dr amatic values , rather
than corr ecti ng shooti ng error s du e to mis-match -
ing or other wron g fllmtng techniqu es.
Much of the film edi tor's wor k on non-thea tr ical
films , parti cularly those filmed wit hout a script ,
consists of covering or otherwise correct ing
.._. _!!',...,
A theatrical [catu re is shot with editorial
rcoui rcmems i n mi nd. Pl ayer s' posit ions,
look s, dialoglle and acti oll are matched
from shot to shot ,
s!looti ng mistakes. Mis-match ed foot age, missing
scene s, cuut ng on camera movement , coveri ng
jump-cu ts . a nd solving ot her shooting proble ms
may be tr aced to us e of poorly applied filming
tec hniques . Second guessing by the narration
writer . direct or or producer . may also requi re
editorial co rrect ions to comply with th e re vised
con cept of the manner in whi ch the story should
he presen ted. By tran sposi ng shots , us ing opt i-
ca l". and employing some scenes in a way no t
in tended when filmed , an editor with a br oad
kno wledge of documentary production problems
will usc edi ting tricks to aid in sa lvagi ng the show.
An experienced film edi tor can ofte n ch eat-cut
a picture wit h such imagi nation that the com-
pleted film depict s a screen story that was con-
ceived and created on the cuniug bench. ra ther
than in the camera. However , t he cameraman
should not let the editor's skill be come a crutch
when shooting. He sho uld not depend upon the
edi tor to "doctor" avoidable ftlmmg mi stakes . In
the normal course of his work a film edi tor must
cheat a great deal. Rut he should not be expected
to save every pict ure in the cutt ing room. A com-
pe tent cameraman should thoroughl y underst and
fllm editing from a uis uul, rather than a technical
st andpoint. He need not know how to assemble
A & n rolls . or even make a splice. hut he should
be able to break down an even t into a series of
shots that ca n be cut in to a presen table sequence.
The non-theatrical cameraman should be fa-
mili ar wit h cuulng problems. l ie is either hi s own
editor , or mu st make editing decisions during
shooting stages. Many camernmcn , working for
small producer s , do thei r own cutt ing. Some be-
come adept at edi ting, but u good cameraman is
Non-I lwcltrind films - lmrticularly HIOSt.'
shot ldtllOld a script - should he fihnt'd
ver!J careiullu, othencise, ullsal isfuclory
suoounq tcclmioues nlllY cause editinq
rarely an exper t film editor. While theatrical mo-
tion picture prod uction demand s utmos t speciali-
zation . the non-theatrical field of ten requ ires
dou blin g or tr ipli ng specialt ies , so that a camer a-
man /director / edi tor combin ation is not unusual.
Th e camer am an . worki ng thi s wa y, ca n develop
a greater appreciation of morton pict ure editi ng
problems than one wh o merely shoots what is
req uested by a director. lie ha.. a greater op por -
tu nit y. ther efore. to become proficient in shoot ing
scenes that will cut together. since he is closer to
the over-al l producti on of the picture th an is the
cameraman l l l l n ~ a t heatrical feature. lie soon
lea rns t hat ce rt ain act ions must be carefully
observed to make them match in consecuti ve
shots. Certain ca mera and pla yer movements will
cut together and oth ers may not. Cut-in and cut-
away close-ups and react ion shots can save the
picture whe n j ump-shots sho w up in a sequ ence.
Changtng the camera an gle an d /or the lens every
time a new shot is filmed provides best coverage.
CONTI NU ITY CUTf l NG, in which the story-
tell ing is dependent upon 1I!r/l cll ill ,lj coneccmivc
scenes; and CO!'.IP1LATION CUTTING, in which
the story-telling is dependent upon the narration,
ami the scenes merel y ill ustr ate wh at is being
Continuity cutti ng consists of matched cuts. in
which cont inuous action flows fr om one sho t
to another; and ClII-tllt'a1p,. in which the action
shown is II ot a por uon of the previous shot. A
continuous sequence, or series of matched cuts ,
muy consist of various types of shots filmed from
di ffer ent an gles. The event depicted, however ,
should appear as a continuous series of moving
images . whenever action continues , the players'
movements. pos itio ns and looks should match
through shots spliced together . A mis- match.
caused by change in body posit ion or a switch
i n di rectional look. will result in a iump-cut . This
occurs becau se the pl ayer will appear to jerk or
jump across the splice bet ween shots.
Whenever the camera is moved .<; / migl' f ill from
a lun g or medi um shot to a closer set -up. a mis-
mat ch becomes most dis cern ible. A minor mis-
ma tch , such as a slight diff er ence in head post-
lion. may go unnorfccd if the ca mera is shifted
to a slightl y different a ngle . as it is moved in for
closer shots. It is always wiser, therefore, to move
the camer a closer and to one side of the subject .
rather than s traight in. Whenever a sho t incl udes
a port ion of the previous sce ne - such as when
cutting from a long shot Lo a medium shot -
players' positions. bod y movemen ts and looks
shou ld be duplicated as closely as possible. An
arm sho uld no t he shown raised in the long shot,
and the n appear lowered in the following med ium
shot. A head shoul d not he depict ed turn ed in a
differ en t direction, so that the pl ayer's look dues
not match the previous shot. Such discernible
differences in screen images will jar the audience.
When the camera is moved back, or Cll t back,
The non-sueom col cameraman/di recto r/
editor must make editing decisions duri ng
filming. By necessity, he is closer to over-all
pictu re produ cti on tlum is the t!leatrical
di rector of photography. Ti le oii-the-cuii
canwramlln u ~ t lie particularly adaptable
to [i l miu.'} 1H1C01ltrollcd acti OIl.
, .......c. ..,..... c.
from a closer sho t to a longer view, it is necessary
only to match the ac tion sho wn in the previous
close-up. because eve rythi ng else was outside the
fr ame. Cuut ng from a long shot to a close-up and
t he n cutt ing hack 10 the long sho t ag ain permi ts
considerable chea ting. The audie nce , bei ng mo-
mentarily dist racted , will accept any change in
the last lon g shot as having occurred while the
close-up was on screen.
Cur-aways need not mat ch previous scen es.
because they are not a par t of t ile main el'l ' /I I ,
Cu t-aways are shots of secondary actu.n - dtrcct l v
. I(
.", !
. ,

T heat rical motion pictures generally em ploy co rll i nuit y ('tilti ng. An event is
depi cted in a sequence - a series of ccnsec unue shots - in whic h plnye rs' move-
menU, positions, Woks and di alogue match across shots spliced together.
or indirec tly related to the main action - u sed as
a react ion, a comment or a distraction. However ,
cut -aways sh ould be establi shed when they appear
as part of the original lon g shot an d later moved
oft-screen. wh en the camera is moved in t o film
the principal players. A lon g sho t m ay depict
several pl ayers. La ter , the action may be covered
with a two- shot. The off-screen players' reactions
are directly t ied in with cu t-away close-ups. In
this instance , i t is importa nt tha t each pl aye r be
shown with th e proper r ~ l or left look. to match
Wi len the camera is hronqlit in for a close"
up, it sho uld be moved around to the side
- not moved st raiqht in, if the pluyers rc-
late to each ot her acro ss tile screen. Body
movements and loohs should be dupli cat ed
as closely as possibl e ; hu t a minor mis-
mat ch will not he di scerni ble if ca m era i s
shi fted to a slightly different angle .
..,,; ," "" ,., ""'"
hi s es tabli shed off-screen posi tion in rel ation to
the prtncipal playe rs. The wrung look will give
the impression th e player is now on the side
opposile tha t sh own in the es ta bli shing long sh ot.
Cut-aways need not be matched or establis hed
if they arc scenes of players not shown in a previ-
ous shot. A series of man in the st reet cut-away
close-ups may be used to comment on a verdict
handed down in the previous courtroom scene.
Unless alternatin g righ t and left opposin g looks
arc desi red for grea ter pict or ial effect , a look in
eit her dir ec tion would suffice for these shots.
A cut-away close-up may be used to distract the
audie nce to cover a di rect ion al change in travel
continui ty, a time l ap se or a jump-cut. These
need not m atch . Nor need they be presen ted wi th
a particu lar look, since they are shots of (mt-
eidcr , not included in th e general scene.
A clos e-up of a pe rson tu rnin g hi s head m ay be
Inserted between two sh ots of a veh icl e movi ng in
oppos ite dir ections. A lengthy oper ation, such as
the wo rkings 01' a pmver shovel. may be shortened ,
a nd the miss ing portion covered by in se rti ng a
close-u p of a sidewalk superintenden t looking on.
An inadvertent jump-cut or a [urn p-cut ca used by
"_"" ""'d.
Since cut-oioau close-ups are never a part
of the main event , they need not match
previous scen es. Howeve r, if previously
e st abli shed, and later m oved off screen,
they should be shown wit h t he proper right
or left wok to match t heir off-screen posi-
tion in relation to principal players.
I '
A "man in tile street" cut-away close-up
may be used to comment on a verdict.
Unless alternating right-and-left opposing
loolls arc desired [or a series of such. close-
ups , a looh in either direction Ivill sufJicc.
By inserting a cut-away close-up of an
onlooker, len{}thy sequence of power S}IOVc!
action, as above , may he effecti vely short-
ened. Hcnwval of repetitious footage may
then be accomplished 'without jump cuts.
removing unwanted footage may be covered by
dis tracting the viewer wi th a cut-away cl ose-up of
a spectator or bystander .
Newsreels and documen tary-type films of sur-
veys , reports , analyses, records, history or trav-
el ogs , generally use compilation cu tti n g because
of the animated snapshot n ature of the visuals.
These arc connected by continuous narration. The
sound track holds th e narrative together and pro-
pels the scenes , wh ich may make little sense if
shown wit hout audio explanation. Compilation
cutting presents few ma tch ing problems since the
individual sh ots simpl y illustrate what is being
hear d and need have nu visual connection with
one anot her. Compilat ion type films have no set
f or m other than guing from the general to the
par tic ular. Long: shot may f ollow long sh ot , and
close-ups whtch have no connection with the
bracketing shots may be inserted. Every rule in
the editing book may be broken if the narration
makes sense and presents a coherent story. The
sh ots themselves may move about in time an d
space i f they are satisfactorily n arra ted.
St or y films which utilize continuity cutting may
also employ compilation cutting occasionally,
such as a series of in troduct or y long sh ot s, a
montage sequence which conden ses time or space,
01' a series of dis connected shots to present an
impression, rather than a reproduction of an
Photographs below and on facing page by NASA ,
Progres s reports and ot her documentary
films employ compilation cutting, T he uari-
0 1lS shots arc cunrwcted hy narration . "The
Gemini Titan II LallI/el i Veh icle arrives at
Cape Kennedy where it i s unloaded from
the specially m odified 'Guppy' aircraft."

"The Gemini Spa cecraft is mated to adap-

ter section of Titan 11 Launch Vehicle ."
';:'Iliji- ,
'- 0= I L

- I
.a:x.- . yf - . ......... I
. r :I:. . . Co, , 00. '
0. ... .... " .. _ _
s , . ,r ';- " . ..
.. .. o; .. 'to
-. \ !
' ,;(. J
"Gemini Titan II Vehicle Fuel sections
slunon: just prior to er('c:lion and. assembly."
isr-. ",,:"'-; ..";:.v $, ., _1 _
" It is transported from the C/"!ckout Build-
ing to tile Launch Pad ."
"Work on erection and asse mbly of Booster
secti Qn conti n lles through tile night."
"Gemini Ast ronauts walk toward elevator
widell will take t hem to Gemini Spacecraft ,"
=- --.- .:.

.. ...

"Fin'! TI le Fi n ' Inm on pushed - and -"
"- the Tit an If liits majesti cally off launch
pad ami heads tov Data space. of
coordi nated efforts reslil t in success. "
should be employed in a compilation film when-
ever two or more consecutive shot necessitates
matching acti on.
Cross-cutting consist s of parallel editing of two
or more events in an auemaunq patt ern, In studio
parl ance. this is known as the "meanwhi le back at
the r anch" treatme nt. Cross-cutung may be em-
ployed for any of the followi ng purposes ;
To heiatucn interest by depicting two or more
separa te segments of the st or y in an alternate
manner. Aud ience in terest may be revived by
"Engineers in control room Us/en in tently
to comudoion, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1- "
event. Such compiled sequences, par ticul arly i f
used for introduction or tran sition purposes. may
employ explanatory narration.
Compilation films may utilize cont inuity cut-
ting whenever a sequence of shot is required (0
depict a portio n of t he star)'. A series of un-
matc hed shots may int rod uce a sequence which
tells a Itul c in itsel f which requires mat ch-
ing of consecuti ve scenes . Continuity cutting
"The Titan ll , willi on board
the Gemini Spacecraft. is rcadu for launch-
i llg. Va /kal service stmct ure in for e-
ground is hcino 100vercd to its horizontal
position. Umb ilical lower, u/hic h: provides
power and va rious other remote (UIICti01l S
to booster and spacecraft. prio r to launcu,
is shown immediately t o lef t of uehicle."
I S4
cross-cutting to a rela ted event whenever interest
in the subject being depict ed lags.
To provide conitict by editing of two actions
which will come together in a smashing cl imax.
Opposing armies may adv ance toward each ot her
in a gradually fast er-paced , closer-and-closer series
of altern ating shots until they cl ash .
Cro ss.(;uttin.q may he IUl'd to provide con-
fli ct by alternat e editi nq of t wo actions -
such as Confederate soldie rs advancing on
Yankee position - with gradlla lly [est er-
paced, closer and closer sertes of shots.
To increase tension by alternate edi ti ng of two
events which have a di rect he arin g on each other.
Ednors of two ri val newspapers may be shown
planning and carryi ng out campaigns backing
politica l opponents.
To l,eigllt t'n by keepi ng the audience
in a sta te of anxiet y as events move toward a
cl imax. Scenes of the police searching a building
for a time bomb may be cut bad and forth with
close-ups of the bomb ticki ng in a closet.
To make compariso ns among people, objects . Of
events. Cross-cu tti ng may alternately depict each.
phase of an engineering les t between two com-
pc u tors ma nufacturing similar items.
To depict contrast amon g people, countries.
cu lt ures, products. met hods or eve nIs. Contrast s
may be shown between old an d new methods of
farmi ng, manual and automa ted manufacturing
procedures , life in the tropics and the Arctic.
.,"" ,......
Contrast hct urccii tier('d dwellin.qs of
Pueblo Indians and metropolitan area of
American dtll -mmi he r-ross-r ue.
. . ." " " ... ..
The uses of cros s-cuutng ha ve one common
charact eristic : Any evcnt happen ing arnnoheve
may be connected with any other event. Cross -
cutting may presen t :
Events occurrmq sinudtaneouslu, but sepa-
rated in space, may be depicted by alternately
showing the progress of each. Typ ical examples
would incl ude the cl assic last-minute rescue in
\vhtch the hero f aces to save the heroine in dire
dist ress , and the chase seque nce which alternately
shows progress of purs ued and purs uers. Two or
Event s occurring simultaneously, but sep-
arat ed in space, may be cross-cut back and
fort h . The progress of a jet flglller may be
tracked by a ground control stati on as air-
nafr approaches its target.
~ ' '''''. ''' ~ .....

I S6
more Iucets of a dramatic st ory may be shown
alterna tel y to inform the audience of sign ificant
interdependent events as they occur. Documentary
fllms may be cross-cut to depict. for example : the
W;:l Y people live in various countries all over the
world: sever a l me thod s of produci ng steel . or how
an electronic cen ter controls an automated assem-
bl y-ltne oper ation.
Etcn!s se para ted i ll time may be cross-cut to
present a back-and -fort h comparison of present
eve n ts with simil ar eve nts that have happ ened in
the pas t. or may occu r in the future. Methods of
Events separated in time may also be
cross-cur (or Jlllrposes of cOfltmst or com-
parison . Civil W ar iflfantry may be com-
pared Wit/I World War II soldiers,
modern wa rfa re could he compared with those
used in the War Between The Stat es, and then
compared with futuris tic space warfare. Curren t
news events may be cross-cut wit h historical
happenings of a similar n ature.
The first sho t in a se ries of cros s-cuts should
be treated as an es tab lishing shot an d allowed
sligh tly greater sen-en length t han the Fol lowing
cross-cu ts. This will give the audience a fr ame of
reference wi th which to compare the cross-c ut
event. Introduc tor y cross-cut shots should not be
thrust on th e screen without iden tificat ion. unless
audience confusion is an important story factor .
In most cases. the audience should be immedi-
ately aware 11'1/(11 is ha ppening. and u-iro is in -
vclvcd. and wueve the cros s-cu t (' \'(' 1lI is occ urrin g:
- if that is a perti nent s tory poin t.
Cros s-cut ting shou ld no! be regarded as a
strictly theatrical fict ion -fllm edit ing device. It
may be us ed advan tageously in doc umentary fa ct
films. particularl y when it is employed to cO/ meet ,
COl/lTC/sf or compare two or more actio ns or events.
Parallel editing of two or more events provides a
welcome departure from straightforward story -
telling . because it heigh tens audience in teres t and
moves the story about in time and/or space.
Many film editors prefer to make their cu ts on
movements , so that the act ua l switch from one
shot to another is masked by the action, and not
as apparen t as the cu t between two s ta tic shots .
Such actions as : opening a door , taking a dri nk,
si tti ng in a cha ir . climb ing or descending sta irs,
picking u p a telephone. or simply walki ng from
one positi on to another; may all he cut on move-
mcnt at the discretion of the film editor. The
decision for cu tti ng 0 11 ac tion should be lef t to
the editor, and "01 made by the cameraman.
While many moving actions appear at thei r best
when carried La complet ion in a single shot.
others may be spli t and carried across two sho ts
more effectively. An editor may, for i nstance, cut
from a medi um shot to a cl ose-up as a player sits
in a chair , bu t he may prefer to allow a player to
finish his drink in a sing le close-up.
The cameram an shoul d never Cll t duri ng an y
sig nificant movemen t. All movin g ac tion should
be filmed to complet ion. The end of the ac tion
should be repe ated so that it overla ps at the begin-
ning of the next shot. The film edit or may then
decide where to make t he cut. Mar ry non-theatrical
cameramen pride themselves on thei r abil it y to
cu t on acti on in the camer a . Such close overl ap-
ping may save film, but it severely handicap s the
edit or .
The film editor sho uld always be provided with
o ~ editors prefer to Cll t on action when-
ever a play!'r moves into a close-no. or sits
into a cha ir. Hou-cucr , it may be preferable
for player to finish a drink in a Sifl gle closc-
up. The cnmrraman sholluI film all mmnnq
action 10 completion, and repeat tile end
action at the beqi nning of the next shot.
The film editor decide s whetll er or not to
cut on action,
as much overlapped movement as possible in con -
secut ive shots, so that he can st udy the action and
make th e most effective cut.
Cut-in close-u ps should he made of all leng thy
movements, such as cl imbing or descending stai rs,
or walking great dista nce. That way, the editor may
shorten the long or medium shot by cutting to the
closer sho t, and eli minating as much of the move-
ment as desired. Closer shots ma y also be used La
lcnothcn the longer shots , if necessary, by repeal -
illg a portion of the movement wit hout the audi-
ence being aware of the repetition. Always move
players into and Ollt Df close-ups to allow cutting
on action . The ca mera should be started beiore
a player enters the frame and stopped utter he
leaves, to pr ovide "clean" entra nces and exits.
Sta tically positioning a playe r in a close-up
forces the film editor to usc the en tire length of
the movement in the lung shut in order to arrive
at the point where the player is shown in close-up.
However , if the player moves into the close-up.
the editor may cut the pr evious scene shorter by
moving the player into the closer shot - without
the audie nce being aware that pan of the end
movement in the long shot is missi ng.
Cutt ing is closely rela ted to cont inuity. A mo-
tion picture is a custom-made jig-saw puzzle in
which film makers fashion the individu al pieces,
Each piece requires specia l attention, so that it
will merge harmoniously with pieces surround-
ing it. In order to fit properly, pieces may have
to be made to fill out incomplete sections. All the
pieces must be provided. made to fit properly and
for m a continuous, mat ched picture. Th e puzzle
will be much easier to fit toget her if the various
pieces fall into place without difficulty. If the
individual shots were filmed with the editing pa t-
tern in mind , a film edit or can assemble a per-
fec tly matched sequence. A well -constructed
screen sto ry ca nnot be assembled from shots
filmed haphazardly,
The cameraman must film series of shots
that match visually and technically. Action mu st
match across st raight cuts; exposure, lighting,
color and ot her technicali tics must match from
shot to shot. Unexplained gaps in con tinu it y or
technical variations will distr act the audience and
des troy the illusion necessary for effective presen -
tat ion. Whil e editorial and tech nical cheating can
repair some mis-matching. the camer aman shou ld
deliver visu ally-perfect scenes, regardless of the
number of shuts required.
The ex perienced film editor , whenever possible ,
inser ts dist racting cut-away close-ups or uses
othe r editing devices to salvage scenes whic h do
not match in dynamic or static directional con-
tin uity . In extreme cases, an editor may have a
shot optically "flopped" to reverse screen direction
or a player's look. He may optically "blow up" a
shot to pr oduce a mi ssing close-up from a two-
shot. Th ese despera te measures arc resort ed to
on ly when all else fails . Generally, they are appli-
cable only to 35mm films, since 16mm optical
work int roduces additional gra in pa tterns, which
can expose the trick. A film edit or may do li ttle or
nothing, however, to correct technical errors
which result in mi s-matched visual or audio con-
tinuity. Editorial effor t needl essly expended in
attempting to salvage poorly-filmed footage could
be better used in a more fini shed editing job - if
the scenes were properly filmed! Ther e is r arely
excuse for pictorial or tech nical mis-matching,
which make problems that the film editor cannot
solve satisfactorily. Fil mino all scenes witll due
consideration qiten (I ll editorial fact ors in ootied
is tnc best soluti on to cutttno probtems.
The director, with the help of the script girl, is
responsible for matching action from shot to shot.
However, if the ca meraman is worki ng alone as a
ca meraman/ director , matching can be a vexing
problem , especia lly when shooting without a
script. The easiest solut ion is carefully planni ng:
the places in the sequence where the camera will
be shifted to new angles, and though tfully an alyz-
ing what the action "ill be at that time. If match-
ing involves move ment. make sure that the move
is duplicat ed at the beginni ng of the next shot, so
th at the film editor may cu t on act ion if he wishes .
Players' looks and positions should be carefu lly
duplicated in subsequent shots to preven t jarring
jump-cuts. Professional actors can usu ally be
relied upon to repeat a move or action , or match
a look countless limes. or hit a mark. in precisely
the same manner. Amateu rs wi thout ac ting exper-
ience should not be given a floor mark. because
they may madvcrtcntlv gl an ce at it when moving
into postuon . Rat her than a floor ma rk; an engi-
neer. technici an or compa ny executi ve should be
given a corner of' a de sk to lean against . or to feci
for with a ha nd 0 1' foot , as he re ach es hi s position .
It is too much to expect a professio nal per-
formance from all amat eur actor. no matter how
brilliant he may be in his par ticul ar Hel d . Move-
mcm a nd ..hou ld be res tri cted when dea l-
ing with non-actors. so th at they may concen tra te
on thei r action and dcllvcr v. If motion or speech
would be difficult to duplicate for the various type
shots requi red for a matched seq uence. usc of
mult iple cameras should be considered.
The cameraman should "protect" a series of
continuous shots hy filmi ng every pos sible cut-in
and cut-away close-up th at could be used to cover
any jump-cut s which mi ght crop up in editing.
An extremely close cut-In cl ose-up. in which littl e
more than a face is shown. can be very useful for
covering mi s-matched ac t ion between a pair of
uncontrollable or complex action shots , such as a
fight or any othe r movement that is di fficult to
duplica te. Such tight dose-ups eli mi nate the need
for exactly match ing posit ions or body move-
ments, and m-cd show only the correct directi onal
look. They may he filmed in pairs. so that bot h a
left and a right look ar c provided the cutter for
inserti on anywhere in a sequ ence where the
players' looks vary as ac tion progre sses .
Compositional clements - players. furnit ure .
props . background objects - should remain in
the same relati ve area of the fr ame in a series of
ma tching scenes. Shift ing of compositional cle-
ments wit hi n the frame belwee n shots may con-
fuse the viewer. For inst ance. a ta ble lamp
appearing; in the background on the left of a
player in the long sho t. should not sudden ly
appear on hi s right because of a vast change in
ca mera an gle. Players and obj ects will be pos i-
tioned correctly if the princi ple of the action axis
is followed ; but t he of players. furni -
rure. props and background clements must be
carefully noted when changing; angles for con-
secutive shots . On occasion it may be necessary
to remove or cheat an object's pos it ion 10 make it
nppeor correct in a series of sho ts. This is most
likely to happ en in close-ups. wher e an intrudi ng;
por tion of a lamp sha de or a corner of a pict ure
frame appears in the picture. A lamp may seem
too close to a player because of a change in lens
focal length betwee n long shot and d ose-up. Or. a
\ Vllen the camera switches 10 a new angle
to film a close-up. it may become necessary
to cl leat or completel y remove an object ,
such as I/Ie corner of a lamp. Snch clleat-
ing will 1I0t be apparent if deftl y per -
formed. The otnect enoutd IJe replaced if it
appears ill a s nbs coucn t wider annie shot .
picture which seemed fa r away from a player
suddenly appears behind him when the came ra
is moved around for a cl ose-up . If the object Call-
not be removed because it will be obvious ly
missed . it should be cheated so that i t looks right.
If the seque nce requires a rc-cstabl tslung shot.
however. the object mus t be moved back ( 0 it s
or iginal posi tion.
Changing both the cumrrn unoie an d the i mage
size will aid in obta ining smooth cuts betwee n
shots. because the c umcrn viewpoi nt is shifted as
the image size tncreuses or decreases. Shift ing the
viewpoin t , r ather th an mov ing st r ai ght in or oUI,
will cover minor mis-matches and changes in fur-
nit ure, props or background objects. The scen e is
thus viewed from a completely new angle.
Moving and sta tic shots may be intcr-eut only
under cer tain conditions. A series of moving shots
will generally inter-cut wit hout di fficult)" if the
tem po of the camera movement is prope rly mai n-
tam ed. Th e series may he the same subject filmed
fr om various camera distances and angles . or of
di ffere nt subjects filmed in a repetitious manner .
'- -
l\JovemellL may be i ntroduced in a st ati c
limy shot, and then film ed U1111 a conl i nu-
ou slu modny ca mera. Any movement may
be picked lip 011 tue move u'ith a panmno
or t rtl Ck iJl fl camera, and illler-cut u1111 a
Slllf ic lonocr d e w. Covnnuous movement
"/(/y (low across slatic and movi ng .dlOtS.
Movement may also be introduced in a stat ic
establishing sho t and 111'11 filmed wit h a continu-
ous ly moving camera. Two actors may walk down
a st ree t in a st atic lon g shot. The medium shot
th at follows may be filmed wit h a connnuously
movi ng camera. Individual close-ups of each ac tor
may also be shot wit h a moving camera. The
sequence may end wit h a s ta tic long shot as the
ac tors enter a building. In this case, static shots
would be cut directly and effectivel y wit h moving
shots, bec ause the movement wa s begun in a
static scene an d picked uJl 0/1 t ile lIWI! (' , with a
moving: ca mer a.
Thi s trea tment wou ld als o work in reve rse. by
opening wit h a walking medium shot of the play-
ers filmed wit h a conti nuously mov ing camera,
and then cutti ng to a s ta tic long shot to show
their progress down the street. More moving shots
may be made if desi red. and the seq uence ended
with a static sho t as they enter the building. Con-
ti nuous player or vehicle move ment may IJc car-
ried across bot h static and moving sho ts. A series
of continuous ly movi ng: shots. of the same or dif-
ferent subjects . may also be in ter-cut succcssfullv.
A conti nuously moving subject may be filmed
A contillllol/.,ly mOl 'iny camera shot may
film ttw from va rious an gles and
T ill' camera may track alon g-
side, ill front of. or behind the player; iitm-
in9 a series of moving .\ 110 15 thm may he
h iler-n il . Plauer movement should he pre -
ci sel y du plicated ill various type shot s .
from various dista nces and angles. Or. the ca mera
may employ repe uuous movement. such as a pan
or dolly. on static subjects. The moving earn -
era may film a moving car fr om the fron t. rear
and side in long shot , medium shot and close-ups.
Or. the camera may dolly toward a building ,
down a ha ll, through a room: Of toward several
similar objects. such as various types of rools. for
comparison. The shots may thus be direc tly Of
indirectly connected wit h ea ch other. Similar
camera mov ement is used to t ic subjects toge ther.
However. Intcr-cunt ng stanc fi nd moving shot s
of sfat ic subjec t matter is gen erally difficult .
because the switch from a st atic shot to a moving
shot ( or vice versa ) is abru pt a nd j arrin g due to
lack of subject movement. As example, a st atic
d ose-up of a dial on an instru ment panel ca ll/101
be successfully edit ed into a continuous pan shot
of the entire panel. In order to cut it into the
moving pan , the close-up would have to be filmed
with the same camera movement. Since it would
sweep past the dial and provide only a fleeti ng
glance at the reading ; such a panni ng close-up
would defe at the purpose. It would be bes t in this
case to shoot both shots with a static camera; or
to pan to the point where the clos e-up will be
cut in. Then, st atic footage should be filmed , and
panni ng cont inued.
A pan , tilt Of dolly shot of a static subject. pre-
ceded or [olloued by a static camera shot, shou ld
always be filmed with a stat ic camera at the begin-
ning and end of the shot. Th us, the cut will be
across static frames, with the movemen t sand-
wiched in between. It is very jarring to cut from a
stati c shot of a st atic subjec t to a moving shot that
begins moving immedia tely; or to go from a con-
tinuously moving shot of a static subject to a
static shot.
A moving shot should always be considered in
relation to the br acketing shot s that precede and
follow it. Shots of moving subject matter will gen-
erally offer little or no edit ing difficulties, because
player or vehicle movement can be carr ied across
either static or moving shots. Moving camera
shots and static camera shots of stati c subject
matter may result in editing problems, because
the abrupt introduction or cess ation of image
tnter -cuninq of sial ic and movi ng shot s of
sl(/tic mattcr ma.lJ bc di fficult. It ts
best 1/ot to P ClII across an instrumerlt panel ,
and then film a slatic close-up of a sing le
dial. The pan shot should pause at the
point where the d o se-lip xoculd he inserted ;
or t ile pan shot be eliminated, and
hat h long shot: an d d ose-up filmed wit h (I
slatic camera.
movement across a cut "ill jar the viewer . How-
ever , a combi na tion of a slallc shot of static
subject matt er, and a moving shot of a moving
subject will Int er-cur if properly motivat ed. These
combinations occur in cut-away shots. such as a
cut from a st atic shot of the heroine tied down to
the railroad tr acks to a continuously movi ng shot
01" the hero riding to her rescue! This situ ation
fu rther reinforces the editing rule that i t is pos -
sible to cut away La all ylhing happening all yu'liert'
at any time.
The screen length of a pan , tilt, dolly or other
moving shot should be considered in relation to
its editorial value. The screen length of a moving
shot is based upon the time the camera is in
motion, while the screen length of a sta tic shot is
based on subject action. A moving shot must be
used in its entirety ( or any continuous porti on )
because it is difficult , if not impossible, to cut
during camera movement. A static shot, on the
other hand, may gene rally he trimmed shorter or
cut into sever al shots . This applies par ticu larly to"
A con tinuausiu movin,q silo! of a movi ng
veliid e, such as uus f 104 jet fighter, may
be trimmed to any desi red length. since it
depicts movement.
sta tic subjec t matter or action performed by
actors in more or less sta tic positions. It docs not
apply t o moving shots of tr avel act ion, such as a
vehi cle or player in motion , which may be cut to
any desi red sho tlength.
For example : a stat ic long shot of a wor ker
assembling a power tool may be edited in several
ways. It may he used in its cnurcty . it may be cu t
into several shots . or it may be used as establish-
ing or re -estab lishing shots to open and close the
seque nce. Medium shots and cl ose-ups may be
inter-cut at any point. A moving shot, such as a
dolly in or out , or both, would be very di fficu lt to
i nt er-cut with ot her shots except where the cam-
er a ts at rest . Th e editor may be forced to leave
in a lot of super fluous footage, simply to arrive
at a medium shot or close-up wher e the camera
pa used in i ts tr ave l. Thus. useless action , which
would be trimmed ou t in a static sho t, may have
to remain in a moving shot - to preserve t he
movement . or to avoid a cu t during movement.
Paradoxicall y. sfmigl l t c/lfs arc always ( asia
than mo ving shots. because they come to the
point immediatel y. A moving shot, such as a
long pan or dolly sho t ofte n contains much useless
footage included simply to all ow the camera to
"go somewhe re ," The camera should record sigllifi-;
ca nt acti on en route - ' lOt at it s destin ation.
Many cameramen and directors mistakeubj be-
lieve that a moving sho t con tr ibutes flow to the
story-telli ng and s peeds the screen ac tion . In
many instances. movement the screen story
becau se it takes longer to come to the point !
Unless the camera move is dmmatically mcti-
vatcd, it is much better to shoot several stat ic
shot s that may be straight cu t. r at her than a long
movi ng sho t which drags from one signi fican t bi t
of ac tion to anot her. Even when a moving shot is
satisfactory from an editorial standpoint . it may
be difficult to insert between static shots.
Moving sho ts. timed to a sync- sound or narra-
tion tr ack, will generally present no problem
because the movemen t is jus tified by len gth of
sound tr ack involved. Silent sho ts. ho wever. are
often poorly timed because the came raman may
pan. tilt , or dolly too fast or too slowly. A lon g.
lingering pan of a machi ne mil Ylook fine in the
ru shes. but when the ed itor tries to fit the sho t
into the picture he may find that i t is wort h ten
seconds in story value, and runs thirty seconds. A
long. slow doll y may be wor thless because it can-
not justify its screen length in rel ation to the
over-all seque nce. Such shots may also alt er the
If the camera doWes in from this long
sliot 10 a ctose-np of Ihe man at the center
control panel . til e fil m editor may be forced
t o leave CI areas deal of excess footage in
the pic!lIre. Ihe s liol can not be cut
during the move. A moving sllot should
fi lm action ell route, nol just at
it s destinatiOJl .
Si lent doff" particll iar ly of st al ic
subjccts, arc O(l CIl too 101lY becau se thei r
s, rN' 1I lell gtll ('(lI Ill O! he [ustiiicd editori-
ally. Silent dolly suots shoul d always be
limed 10 narration, o r - i f sllOo/inn wi t h-
o ut a scri pt - several shots should: be made
at different Or, t ile dolly suot
.should: be protect ed with a static shoe.
tempo of a sequen ce. an d mav not work wit h
static shots. or 'lith other moving shots made
with different liming.
Use of moving shots, particul arl y silent shots
of docume ntary subject matt er filmed wit hout a
script, requires consider able forethough t This is
especially impor tant on static subjec t matter
wher e the camer am an desires 10 inject move-
ment hy panning, ur dollying. The value of
camera movemen t. in relat ion to the story- telli ng
and editorial problems invol ved , should be seri-
ously considered. Ca me ra movement should be
employed only where jus tified - providi ng it s
screen length docs not restric t the film editor.
A st (/I i e sho t of a player moving into the frame ,
such as sitt ing into a close-up, should be filmed
with a locked ca me ra . not one th at moves about
nervously at the beginning of the sho t un til the
cameraman is satisfied with the fr aming. The
editor may experi ence difficulty in match-cutti ng
such sho ts to a preceding scene filmed wit h a
locked camera. CUll ing on act ion may appear
1\ player ioho moues into a datie close-up
should In.' fUmed with a lock ed camera.
Camera movement at tlt e beginning of
suc li a dow'.u p mnlj prel !C'llt til e editor
(Tom cut tlnq on action, !weal/s l! he will
nave to cut to the player i n postuon ai tcr
til e camera settles clown.
jerky if i t occurs ac ross two stat ic sho ts , such as
a medi um sho t and a close-up - if the end of the
Ilrst shot or the beginning of the second shot,
particularly the latter . is filmed with a slightly
moving camera that tends to correct the fr aming.
It is much bcucr to be sl i,q1ltl.'l off cen ter in
fr aming than to move the camera. Sneak frami ng
is parti cularly disturbing in a close-up where the
player enter s the frame and post tlons himsel f. In
some Ins ta nces sli ght pa nni ng; mot ion is tolerable.
but if the camer a moves about wit h a panning
and tilting moti on to frame the player correctly
as he enters , the editor may have to discard the
ent rance and cut to the player in pos ition a fter
player and camera have settled down. This elimi -
nates cu tti ng on the move, and necessitates us ing
the complete movement in the preceding eli ot to
the poin t where it sett les down. Then. the finally-
positioned player will match-cu t in both shots.
Proper rehearsal , enabli ng; actor to hit his mark,
can eliminate snea k framing and allow the cam -
er aman to lock the ca mera. This is a particular
fault of documentar y camera men who shoot with
an un locked pa n and t ilt head to allow for an y
contingencies. Th is newsreel technique ca nnot he
tolerated in production filmtng. Such loose cam-
era operation may complicate cutti ng on ac tion
and result in a less fluid Iilm .
"Protection" or "cover" shots arc ext ra scenes
filmed to cover any unforeseen editin g problems.
or to replace any doubtful scenes that may present
edit ori al diffi cul ties because of wrcog timing.
exce ssive length. possible mis-mat ching, lengthy
pan or dolly shots , etc. They may be additional
shots not indi ca ted in the script or duplicat e
scenes filmed in a novel mann er . A part icul ar
scen e may be editorially doubtful when filmed if
there is a question concerning its cutting. Si nce
editorial decisions arc often difficult to make
durin g shooting . and since the choice shou ld he
lef t to the editor , it is wise to shoo t protecti on
shots if the director or cameraman fee ls th at a
sce ne run s too shor t or 100 long : the camera is
pa nned or dollied too slowly or too fas t; a possible
mis-mat ch may exist in looks or screen tr avel ,
player , prop or came ra an gle is cheated too mu ch ;
the background docs not match that previously
es tablished; player's clothing . moveme nt. position
or look may be wrong: or the scene may be un-
acceptable for technical reasons.
Pan sllot acTOSS tlle se Environmental Re-
searcll Satelli tes sllould be protected u.zth
a static shot , in case the movin g camera
shot runs roo sllort or too long, or is otller-
w i ~ un suitable editorially.
Cert ai n production si tua tion s au tomatically call
for protection shots because it is difficul t, if not
impossible, at time of filming to pinpo int the film
editor's fu ture needs. A pan, tilt, or dolly shot may
be filmed seve ra l limes at various speeds , for
ins tance, to give the cu tter choi ces. Pans and til ts
of s tatic scenes may be made in both directions
and the choice left up to the editor. Lengthy pans
or doUy shots may also be protected with a pair
of static shots of each end of the scene, in case
the editor mu st cut the footage short and cannot
cut in the mi dst of camera movement. Dutch
angle shots may be tilted both left and right ,
parti cularl y if several are filmed, so that the
editor may usc them in an opposing pattern or in
any contr asting combination. Reaction close-ups
should be filmed for insertion in lengthy scenes,
particular ly if filmcd entirely from one an gle, such
as an industrial operation. In this way. un neces-
sary footage may be removed wit hou t a j ump-cut .
It is wise , particul arl y if filming off-the-cuff, to
shoot "all-purpose" reaction close-ups in which the
pl ayer looks in all possible directions . These may
be cut in anywhere they arc needed. and are par -
ticularl y useful if they are filmed eit her to elimi-
nate the background, or to place the player agai nst
a neutral background.
Cut-in reaction close-up is recemrnendcd
for filming a worker periorminq a length y
mechanical operation. Thi s technique pro-
vide s the editor wi th means of removi ng
unnecessa ry footage without a jump-cut .
Matching problems concerning players' looks,
or travel or clothi ng. often arise when matching
scenes arc filmed after long intervals. or insuffici-
ent notes are taken dur ing the shooting session .
Although time-consuming and expensive, it is
wise, if the camera man or direct or has the least
doubt of mat ching scenes, to sh oot the scene both
ways. Whil e shooling scenes both ways should be
discouraged whe n no doubts exist, film and the
fewmoments involved in re-shooting a scene from
the same set-up, cos t much less than later re-
takes. Differences among pr oduction personnel
concern ing cheating of players' positions . camera
angles , furnit ure or props can bes t be settled by
filming the scene both ways : in a s tra ightforward
manner , and with t he desired cheat. Matchi ng the
original backgr ound for added cut -in close-ups or
cut-away reacti on shots filmed lat er , when the
film i., being edited, may produce problems ,
especi ally when original footage was shot on a
dista nt location.
If, at time of filmi ng, there are reasonable
doubts about lat er need of addit ional shots , the
original sequence may be protected by shooting:
against easily-duplicated backgrounds , such as
sky. trees, neutr al walls or drapes. Low-keyed
backgrounds are easier to match because litt le or
nothing is seen behind the actor in a close-up. A
difficult background match may be attained by
filming the added cl ose-up as tight as possible,
even a choker close-up, to eliminat e most or all
of the background.
Prot ection shots generally involve shooting a
cover sce ne "j us t in case" the original scene may
not work for any reason. Protection shots, may,
however , consist of added sce nes not called for in
the script. These rnay aid the editor in unforeseen
ways. Exa mples of added protection sho ts arc :
long shots of buildings; ex treme long shots of
Factories , ind ustri al complexes or other vas t areas;
close-ups of signs, plaques, markers; scenes of
general activity, which may serve many edi torial
purposes; inser ts of wheels turning, gears grind-
ing, liquids flowing: in fac t, any thing of particular
or neutral nature th at could serve to introduce ,
establish or bri dge sequences. Th e cameraman
should always be on the lookout for such shots ,
and be aware of their possible editorial usc. A
simple protection shot, filmed on impulse . may
prove of value in solvt ng an editoria l problem.
Dissolves were origina lly employed by thea trical
film producers to indicat e time or space tran sit ion;
change in a playe r's mental condition ; or means
or blendi ng shots in a mont age. Recent abuses of
dissolves have been caused by indiscrimi nat e use
in live and taped television, and in documentary
compilat ion films. Th e abrupt cuts ber,veen badly-
staged or poor ly-edited material, sometimes "sof-
tened" by dissolves. could h ave been prevented by
thoughtful ca mera work and direction. Expert-
enccd theatrical film editors have actually speeded
s tory-telling by eliminating dissolves wherever
possible, pa rticularly in television films. Some
documentar y editor s, on the other hand, have
increased usc of dissolves to a point where they
have become a cinematic "crutch" to cover jump-
cuts. insufficien t coverage. direc tional changes,
missi ng sce nes , sloppy editi ng and othe r ci ne
Dissolves should be used to blend credi t titles,
to provi de time or space transitions. or to denote
a flash back. They may be further employed in a
montage or a television commercial to blend a
series of shor t scenes of varied subject matter into
TOw s,.to""
Di ssol ves sho uld not be used i n con ti nuit J.!
sequence where COll t i ll UOll S act ioll (1.ows
across cc usccenee sh ots.
smoother visual continuity. They should 1/ot be
used because they arc so re adily available wit h
A & B roll pri nting! There is no good reason for
using a dissolve in a continuity type pic ture
simply because the sequence was badly staged ,
and cannot be edit ed sau sf'acumly wit h str aight
cuts. Because of the nature of the material , there
may be greater [usuflcauc n for dissolves in docu -
mentary compilation-type pict ure. If the producer
would make the edi tor justify each dis solve he
utilized , fewer would be used . Dissolves shoul d be
used only where properly mo tivated. Most often .
poorly-filmed sce nes ca use the editor to say :
you can't sol ve it , dissohV' it!"
l\.l at ch-cutting sync-sound scen es is inherently
more di fficult than cuutng silent sce nes. Action
onl y need be matched in silent scenes. If the
ac tion depicted in the edited pictu re conveys the
mconmq of the origi nal event , the res ult will gen-
erally be sa tisfac tory. Shots may be switched ,
seq uences conde nsed or expanded, ac tion "doc-
tored" an d reactions inser ted. Silent picture edit-
ing is limit ed only by the experience and ingenu-
it y of the film editor. The edited vers ion of the
filmed event will be acceptable if it appear... to
Act ion only need he matched i ll a series of
silent SCC'IWS, such as thi s sequence of a
Gem ini bcinq fittt'd in to a space-
craft cjt'l:mm for emergency cqress
t ram ino ,
depi ct the original ac tion . It need not fa ithfully
reproduce the original event as it ac tually occ ur-
red ' n time and/ or space. In other words, as long
as the sc ree ned pic ture loohs right the audience
will accept and believe H. This allows the film
edit or much latit ude in cutti ng sile nt pictures.
Narrated sound pictures offer considerable lee-
way in their editing, since they are basicall y silent
pictures sup plemented by descri ptive narr ation ,
music and effec ts. However . lip-sync-sound pic-
ture s , in which dialogue tell s the story , mus t be
cu t to the sound track. Since the audio record is
anchored to the picture . the editor is limited in
juggling the visual images . ln so doing, he may
alter or completely ru in the mean ing of the dia-
logue . Cutti ng to sync-sound compels the edi tor to
accept wha tever is available for the par ticul ar
sec tion of sou nd tr ack in question. His only choice
is eit her to usc the shot or discard i t. It is possible,
of course, to juggle the sound track it self by
t ransposing words and using other editorial tricks ,
but this need not concer n the cameraman.
Match-cuut ng di alogue scenes require that
player ac tion or movement across str ai ght cuts
Sync-sound sequences mll st be cut to the
sound trach. BOrll acti01l and dialogue
must match across straight curs. The edi-
tor cannot search for t he frames where
posi ti ons and looks arc duplicated.
Cu tti no on action - .wch as player sittinq
into close- up - precis e dup lication
of dialogue all d movemc-lI t, as perfonned
ill the wider shot.
match precisel y. The editor can choose any poin t
in a silen t sh ot where the turn of a hea d or th e
wave of a h and matches the end of the previou s
shot. Match- cutting di alogue shots offers no such
choice. The editor must CIlt to the sound track and
accept whatever action i s por trayed . Stri ct visual
and audio continuity must be maintaine d durin g
filming, so that hoth dia loque and action arc
matched across straight cuts. Unless players' posi-
tions and looks arc dup licated when camer a is
moved, a jump cu t will result.
Dialogue scenes arc almost always filmed from
a prepared script , so th at continuity of dial ogue
is easily main ta ined . Since, however , the em-
phasis is generally on what a player says , r ather
than on what he docs, the cameraman and/or
direc tor must tak e great care to match player
movements , posit ions an d looks. Dialogue scenes
should be carefully rehe arsed wit h emphasis on
what a player docs , and where he stands or
moves as he speaks his lin es. This is particularly
impor tan t if the mas ter scene technique is used,
and players m ust r epeat thclr actions and di a-
logue in closer shots. If bot h action and dialogue
do no t match preci sel y, the film editor will have
difficul ties in match-cutting the sequence. Such
action mis-match es may for ce the editor to cu t to
reaction shots of the lis tening act or , or resort to
cut-away reaction closcups of other players, be-
cause they offer the only solution to covering a
jump-cut. If the triple-take technique is us ed, and
the sequence i s filmed shot-far-shot, bot h action
and dialogue should be overlapped to insure
mat ch-cutting.
Sound an d pi cture should not be edited in a
parallel manner , in which the audio and vi sual
elements begin an d end together in each indi-
vidu al shot. Sound should fl ow across scenes to be
most effective. Fil m edit or s generall y prefer to
contin ue the sound track of the pl ayer speaking
over reaction shots of one or more of the li stening
players. This result s in a back-and-forth tre at ment
in which the speaking pl ayer s t ake turns talking
and listenin g to each other . It avoids the abrupt
editi ng that would re sult if the pl ayer 'S im age and
hi s speech star t and stop simul taneously. The
camera should r arely remain on the spea ker for
the durat ion of his speech , unless wh at he says is
more import an t than rea ct ion of liste ning pla yers.
The editor should have players' speeches as
well as reaction shots of all concerned, so th at
he may edit the sequence as he sees fit. Such
silent reaction shots also allow consi derable edi-
torial cheating if di alogue mus t he removed, or
additional "wild" (unsynchront zed) lines inserted
lat er . This alteration in dialogue will not res ult
in a jump-cut, because the audience is watchin g
reactions of listeni ng players, r ather than the
''' ''"" . ",,,-
Isioloquc and reaction of each player
should he filmed in cruiretu lvhen shooting
pai r of over-t he-shoul der close-ups . Each
should speak, list en and react to fell ow
H" .. ,"" p",,,
actor who is speaking. Thus, a player's speech may
be shortened or stret ched. regardless of where a
change in dialogue is required. The edi tor uses
the last few words of di alogue over the listening
player's reaction shot. Then the editor subtracts
original dial ogue or in sert s unsynchronized wild
lines, as required. After the dialogue change is
made, the editor may return to the original sync-
sound picture and soun d track.
Over-the-shoulder close- ups , in which two play-
crs talk back and fort h to cad other, should be
filmed in their entirety on eac h player. Thi s pro-
vides r eaction shots of bot h players as they
aClually listen to each other's speeches. Each actor
on-camera speaks his lines, listens and reacts to
his fellow playe r; who has hi s back to the camera
in over-the-shoulder close-ups, or is off-camera in
p.o.v. close-ups. While this techn ique may apjX!ar
wasteful of film, it provides matched reacti on
shots to thoughts expressed and results in better
interpl ay between actors, because the actual di a-
logue is heard over the actor's reacti on. Fil m
saved by shooting a few all-purpose silent reaction
shots for insertion anywhere needed may harm
the actor's performance. Also, the film editor will
be severely restricted in mat ching suitable reac-
tions to the par ticular dial ogue.
Reaction shots of listening audience may
be inserted in a sync-sound sequence of an
executi ve addressing a group. This penuits
th e edit or t o usc higillights of the talk,
wi t/Wilt audience bcinq aware th at por-
tions have been removed.
The camera shou ld never be stopped in the
middle of impor tant dialogue. Alth ough the cutter
may h-ive no interest in the picture at th at point ,
he may wa nt to continue the sound track over
reac tion, or other shots. If a particularly long
speech is involved, and the script definitel y states
that the picture is not requi red: the camera should
be cut, but the entire speech should be recorded.
All camera cuts should be predetermined by the
sound tr ack conten t, and marked in the scri pt.
Jump-cuts may be avoided whenever portions
of a long speech arc pres ente d, such as a newsreel
of an important person addressing a large grou p,
by cuttin g to reaction shots of the listening audi o
ence. The screened picture may present only high-
lights of the speech , wit hout the viewer being
aware that lar ge segments are missing. The only
wa y the camera may remain on the speaker, and
avoid jum p-euts caused by removal of por tions of
the speech, would be by dissolving ea ch time a cut
is made to smooth the change in the speaker's
appeara nce or posit ion.
All footage submi tted to a film edit or must
meet three requirement s :
The technical clements of a film - such as
photographic treatment, lighting, color , exposure,
sound, et c. - shou ld he un iform in production
quality. No noticeable visual or aud io differences
should be apparent when the picture is assembled,
and a properly timed and balanced release pri nt
made. A mis-match or dist racting change , unless
deliberatel y inserted for a special effect, may dis-
turb the audience. A poorly recorded stre tch of
sound, a perceptible change in lighting, un bal -
anced color ; or any other tcchntcal discrepancies
are unacceptable. Excellent craftsma nship is
taken for gr anted in professiona lly-produced the-
atrical films. If serious non-theatrical film makers
expect their films to rece ive proper audience atten-
tion , they should strive for profession al qualit y.
The assembled picture should unreel in a series
of moving images . pleasing to watch and easy to
understand, unles s the film maker desires - for
story purposes - to shock or distract the audience ;
or otherwise create a violent or unplea sa nt audi-
ence reacti on. Scen ic composit ions. player and
came ra movements. light effects. choice of colors,
camer a treatment and other pictorial aspects of
set tings. costumes. ba ckgrounds and pr ops should
all be integrat ed on the basis of their cumul ative
result when the scenes are finally edited. The good
cameraman strives to produce the most beautiful
moving images possible. However, it is of ten bet-
ter , under doc ume ntary conditions, to present a
realistic rather th an a pictori ally beautiful picture.
This docs not imply that beauty and reali sm can-
not be combined; or that non-theatrica l films must
be photogra phed in a du ll, unimagin ative, me-
chanical style. It simply mea ns that documentary
subjects should be representational ra t her than
dressed up for picture purposes . Engineering .
milit ary, educational, business. indust rial, in-pl ant ,
and other non-t heat rical films shou ld be as beau-
tiful as possfblc, withi n reali sti c confines. Pictorial
No noticeable vis ual or audio di fferences
should: IIC apparen t hi a professional film.
Lighting. color, ex posure. sound, eec.,
should be uniform in production qualit y i n
a properly timed and balanced release
print, Teclmical discre pancies are distract-
in g, and brf'ak til e story-telling spell.
-_..... _-
Non-t hea trical films sho uld he as pictori-
ally beautiiul ti S possible uruhin realistic
confines, This documcnt anj shot of radar
operators is enha nced hy dramat ic lighti ng.
elemen ts involved should be handled in an esthet-
icall y sui table fas hion , wit hout stealing the show
from the subject. The primary aim of a documen-
tary is to "sell" the subject. not the phot ography.
Technicall y perfect, excellentl y-composed shots
have littl e or no meaning if the picture is pre-
sen ted in an illogical, unin terest ing or incoherent
manner. Th e audience should nei ther be confused
nor have to st rai n to follow subject themes, unless
plot devi ati ons will help for narrat ive purposes.
St ory problems are not the mai n concern of
camera men shocung fr om pr epared scri pts . But
the non-t heatrical ca mcr aman/ dtrcc tor, shooting
on his own Crom an outline , or a few notes, must
be sure that his Coot age can be assembled into a
story-telling moti on pict ure. This calls for thor-
ough under st anding of story values , audience
reacti on and editorial requi rements. Even the sim-
plest document ary film must capture the audi-
ence' s interes t and hold its atte ntion as the film
unreels. ACter the the me or plot is introduced and
developed, the narrative must build in interes t as
it pr ogresses. Each shot should make a point. All
scenes should be linked together so th at their
combined effect. rather than their individu al con-
tents, produces the desired au dience reactions.
Tilt:! audience should become inuolued in
people and events depic ted on screen.
Film editors have a motto : "Make them l augh or
make them cry, but make them care !"
The all-important goal is to make the audien ce
care about the people and events depicted . This
means identifying wit h the performers in a ficti on
film, and being concerned in what happens to
them. It also implies caring about the subject in a
documentary film, and bei ng interested in the
message. theme. problem. propaganda, enginee r-
ing lest. sales pitch . project report, or whatever
subject matter is bei ng depict ed .
A film editor always strives to be on the player,
object or ac tion in which the audience is most
interested at th at particular moment in the stor y.
The cameraman should always keep this edit ori al
requ iremen t uppermost in his mind during pro-
du ctio n, so that he will automat icall y move in an d
make close -ups of importan t ac tion , film the most
mea ningful portion of the over-all event, and fol-
low the mos t significant of several ac tions occur-
ring simultaneously. What the audience would be
most in terested in viewing should be considered.
A ca mer aman thinking in thi s vein will shoot a
picture more likely to capture and hold audience
atte ntion. To succeed in filming a narratively in-
teresting pict ure, the cameraman must create a
make-believe screen world in an acceptably real.
istic fashi on . This is accompli shed by us ing the
motion picture ca mera as a story-telli ng tool , no t
merel y as a record ing instru ment.
A cameraman can learn much in the cutting
room, ei ther by observa tion or preferably from
comments of an experien ced film editor , wh o can
provide constructi ve cri ticis m of coverage. This
procedure can be most hel pful in filmi ng off-
the-cuff material. Such filming requires shoot-
ing individua l sho ts plan ned to mat ch -cut and
height en interest as the event progresses. The
camer am an should learn how to break down an
event into Individual sho ts , first by deciding w /l at
type of shot is required for eac h particul ar portion
of the event. Then he sho uld consider W/liel l par-
t icul ar camera angle and player an d/or camera
movement , if any , should be used to portr ay best
the particul ar portion of ac tion being filmed.
Next , he must decide where to inser t signifi cant
cut-in and cut-away clos e-ups. These may be used
to involve the audience more closely wit h the
events depict ed ; to di str act the viewer , if req ui red
to cove r a jump-cut or di rectional change ; or to
shor ten or lengthen scenes. Next, he shou ld antici -
pa te whe t! it will be necessary or expedien t to
provide re action shots for story-telling or editorial
purposes. The cameraman should understand why
'-""" _ c......... co
Malian pict ure production personnel dis-
ClUS story hoard for new film. A ioell-
scri pted, careiullu-planned. motion picture
- with a definite editinq patt ern - will
generally cut togeth er witll minor, easy-to.
solve editorial problems.
it is important to supply protection shots, and wh y
he should HIm additional cover shots whi ch may
be helpful to the edit or. He should als o learn how
to film scenes so as to provide the editor with the
greatest n umber of ed itori al choices . This call be
accomplished by overlapping actions from sho t to
shot, filming clean ent rances and exit s, placing
pauses in moving camer a shots whenever pus siblc
to permit cutting-In st atic scenes , and ot her shoot-
ing tricks acquired as he becomes more proficient
in thi nhiny editorially befo re and as he films .
The cameraman should realize the trnportancc
of in teg rat ing es the tic , technical and narrative
elements in a unified styl e, employing the camera
in a way that will heighten audience interest.
While film editors' criticisms will not correct past
mistakes , they will provi de a reservoir of cine
knowledge for future use . Understanding difficul-
ties involved in matchi ng, timing and arranging
scenes, will give the cameraman editorial insight
on his next shooting assignment, and en able him
to appreciate the editor's problems, and provide
properly-filmed footage .
A motion picture is conceived in the camera
and assembled in the cutti ng room. The better the
conception, the better the assembled picture. A
well-scripted mo tion picture, minutely planned
and carefully broken down wi th a definite editing
pattern in mi nd , will generally cut together with
minor, easy-to-solve edi torial pr oblems. A film
shot off-the-cuff , on the ot her hand, requires
expert handling and should be pho togra phed :
with a ri gidly-followed definite shooting plan; or
with techniques that allow the film editor a
wide r ange of selections in assembling the footage.
Even when filming from a script or shoo ting plan,
it is wise to give the editor cine choices.
Experience d directors and cameramen provide
their editors with more than sufficient cover age to
allow every possible editing choice. Budget and
time limitations on thea trical feature films us-
ually govern the number of camera set-ups that
may be made, the number and kind of shots that
may be filmed, and the addi tional protec tion cov-
erage that may be provided. There is no excuse,
however, for shooting scenes that do not cut be-
cause of poor filmi ng techn iques. Ed itorial con-
sideration, before and during product ion , will r ~
vent many problems. The editor can assemble
the picture onl y from the footage provided. If
he needs unfilme d scenes, or finds it impossible to
splice scenes that cannot be logically matched,
the director or the cameraman failed to film the
required scenes, or filmed them in adequately.
Experienced film editors may perform wonderful
feats in salvagi ng poorly filmed footage but they
cannot work cine miracles.
The film editor cannot " : change screen di rec-
tions or pl ayers' looks; change tonal values or
colors of cos tumes or sets ; change composition;
cbange ligh ting; ch ange camera angl es; speed up
or slow down actors' and /or came ra movement ;
insert non-exist en t close-ups ; provide action in
sta tic scenes; cover jump-cut s without reaction or
protection shots; successfully remove footage from
the middle of a sho t, unless cut-in or cut-away
close-ups are provided; match consecutive sho ts
if players arc out of position, looking the wrong
way or otherwise changed ; correct visu al or audio
technical imper fections, beyond salvaging in film
pr ocessin g or sound dubbing; assemble a motion
picture fr om shots filmed in a haphazard manner.
Onl y the cameraman - if he is worki ng alone,
or with the aid of the director and script girl, when
filming from script - can see that all these rc-
quirements are met during filming. Thus, the
editor is furnished action-matched footage, suffi-
cien t coverage and properly-staged sho ts, which
permit every possible cine choice. A qualified cam-
eraman does not attempt to "cut the picture in
the camera" to the point where the edit or has
little or no choice in assembling the film. Whilc
the cameraman can greatly influence how the
picture is presented, preroga tive to make all edit-
ing decisions should be reserved for the editor .
" Except opt ically by flopping the picture, en-
l ar gin g portions of the shot to f ull fr ame,
skipping or repeati ng f rames, or maki ng dis -
solves to connect scenes that would be abrupt
or mrs-matched if straight-cut.
17 1
TRW Syst ems

\ --
The cl ose-up is a de vice unique to motio n pic-
tures . On ly motion pictures allow large-scal e por-
trayal of a portion of the action . A face, a small
objec t, a small -scale action , may be selec ted from
the over-all scene, and shown full -screen in a
dose-up. Or din ari ly, a play, an opera or a ballet
must all be viewed from a fixed distan ce. Monon
picture close-ups make possible depiction of de-
tailed por tions of such performances.
The close-up may tr ansport the viewer into the
T he moti on picture camera m ay depict a
small scale acti on full-sculc . Fi ngers pro-
vide viewer with cl ue to size of ohject s .
scene: el iminate <Ill nan-essentials, for the mo-
men t ; and i,wJ/ale whatever ,',' iynificant in ci dent
shou ld receive narrative emphasis. A pr operly-
chosen, expertly-filmed, effectively-edited close-up
can add dramatic impact and visual clarity to the
event. When improperly used, the close-up can
confuse the audience and detract attention thus
neutralizing its cinematic effectiveness .
Close-ups are among the most powerful story-
telling devic es available to the film maker . They
should be reserved for vital spots in the story, so
that thei r intended visual impact upon the audi-
ence is ass ured .
Close-ups shou ld be cons idered from both visua l
and eduoruii standpoints. A the atrical dir ect or of
pho tography is primarily concerned wit h the vis-
ual aspects of close-ups. Ordin aril y, the choice of
a close-up in a feat ur e film is made by the writer
or director for valid story reasons.
The scrlptl css non-theatrical camer aman/ direc-
tor , who is required to make editor ial decisions
dur ing filming , sho uld thoroughl y under stand the
use of close-ups. Close-up choice when filming off-
he-cu ff may be influenced by editori al, r ather
han visual reasons. For example, cu t-away reac-
ion close-ups may be filmed in anticipat i on of
cutting probl ems that may arise later . The em-
ployment of a close-up to di stract the audience in
order to cover a jump-cut is as important edit or -
ially as its use for visual dr amat ic emphasis.
Close-Ups may be designated in the script
according to image size. Or , t hey may be l isted
as close-up or CU. and size lef t to the di scret ion
of director or ca meraman. In terpret ation of ac tual
area filmed for a close-up var ies greatly, but is
almost always considered in rel ation to the subj ect
matter. Thus, close-ups of people. animals or ob-
jects woul d require different tr ea tments .
The followi ng are acceptable designations for
close-ups of people :
Medi um Cl ose-Up: from approximately midway
between waist and shoulders to above head.
Head and Shoulder Close-Up: from below the
shoulders to above head.
Head C/(J,';(! Ul' : head only .
Medium Clo se-LI p
Heud an d Shou lder Close-up
Head Close-up
Choker Closl'-up
Choker Close-Up: below lips to above eyes.
A close-up of a perso n. unless specified, may be
regarded as a head and shou lder close-u p.
Tiny obj ects or areas , or small por tions of large
objec ts or are as , may be filmed in extre me close-
up so that they appear greatl y magnified on the
screen . Insects , small machine parts , calibrati ons
on an ins trument dial ; or a small ac tion - such as
applying a drop of solder to an electronic par t -
are ver y effec tive wh en ph otographed full -screen
in extreme close-ups. Por ti ons of a person's head,
such as ear , nose , lips or eyes , may be featured
whenever the connected sens e warrants ult ra-
dramatic significance.
Action oc cupyinq ti n y areas - such. as ap-
plication of drop of solder to an elect ronic
part - is very e ff ective when filmed (ull-
screen in extreme close-ups .
A typical motion pic ture shot, with no counter-
part in still photography, is the close-up of a per-
son as seen oocr-tnc-enouldcr of ano ther person in
the foreground. Such over-the-shoulder close-ups
provide an effecti ve transition from objecti vely
filmed shots to poi nt-or-view close-ups. The
camera is thus moved around from an objective
angle to an interme di ate angle wh ich introduces
the p.u.v. dose-up that follows. Th e over-the-
shoulder close-up may be eliminated if the play ers
arc shown in obj ec tive close-ups on ly. The cu t to a
p.o.v. close-up, however , becomes much smoother
if preceded by an over-the -shoulder close-up.
Over-the -shoulder close -ups should be fllmcd in
a similar manner on a pair of players , so that they
present a uniform appearance. While it is not
absolutely imperative that camera di st ance, cam-
era angle and image size be precisely matched -
they should approximate each other. An exact
match is sometimes difficult, especi all y between a
man and a woman; because of the differences in
body contour, head size and height of pl ayers. A
high hai r-do on a woman player may also influ-
ence image size and fr aming. Most importan t - a
back-and-fort h series of over-the-shoulder close-
ups must appear about the same to the viewer.
The fore ground player nearest the camera -
The over -the -shoulder close -up has no
cou n terpart in st il l photography. It is
purely a motion picturc dcuis:e used to pro-
'vide effective t ran si ti on (rom objectively-
filmed shot s to point-of-view closc-ups.
Ovcr -thc-shoulder cloec-upe shou ld bc
filmcd in opposing pairs . Both d ose-u ps
should appear uniform in size and angling.
It is not absolutely impcra tive that cam era
distance, cam era angle an d image siz e he
pre cisely matched - but they should ap-
proximatc ea ch ot her.
over whose shoulder the opposing player is being
filmed should be so angled and framed that his
back and side are seen from a rear thre e-quarter
view. His cheek line, but not his nose, should be
seen, so th at hi s faci al features are not identifi -
able. No par t of the nose should extend past the
check li ne. If the nearer player's features arc vis-
ible, the scene is a two-shot , rather than an over-
the-shoulder dose-up.
If the two players are f'aclng each other, the
farther player will be shown in a three-quar ter
angled close-up. The foreground player may be
treated in either of two wavs : his entire head and
a portion of his shoulder may be included, or the
side 0[' his head f ar thes t from the camera may be
T ile foreqr01md player. in an cncr-thc-
shouidcr sllot, slwuld 1)(; angled so tlUl.t his
hade and side (Ire seen from {/ rear three-
quarter allnle.
I '
T he camera is i n suffici entl y annled on this
ovcr-shc.shculdcr close-up. Note the tip of
the nose extending heyond t he clreeh: line ,
If the nearer player's features are vi si hle,
the scene bec omes a two-sh ot.
cu t off sli ghtl y so rhn t a portion of hi s head only
is seen . The first method is preferred because it
permits better framing. When players are closely
grouped, or a l arger cl ose-up or a more compact
shot - such as in tclcvlslon fllnung - is desirable,
the second method may be employed .
Over-the-shoul der cl ose-ups are designated in
the script - or referred to while filming - by speci-
fyi n g the camer a set-up in rel at ion to the ch a r -
acters. The shot may , for example , be Ol'(' 1" Harry's
shou lder. 011 Helen . The opposin g match ed close-
up wou ld be 0/'(' 1" Helen's shoulder. Oil Harry.
Wilen players are closely grouped; 01" II
tamer, more com pact ooer-the.vnouuier
is desired - such as in t el evi sion
fi.lminy - tile side of the near player's !lead
mill! he CIlI. off ,
A cut-in clOS"-II!' is a magnified portion of the
preceding larger scene. It is always a pari of the
main action . The cut-i n close-up continues the
main action with a screen- fi lling close r vi ew of a
sign ifica nt player . object or small-scale action.
Tid:; object ivel yfilmed cut-in close-up is a
mal/n i (i l' d por tion of the prccedinu wider
scen e, e'li-i" cloee-up must maid, play-
ers ' lind loohl; , hecausc tiley con-
tilll/ e the action across a stra(qht cut.
Camera is mOlwd in and aro und to film the
- because are relati ng
across t il e serl ' ('11 - IlOt !itraiyht i n.

Cu i-in close-ups may be filmed from four cam-
era angles:
0 1)j l 'Cti r cl .'l. in which the camera films the close-
up from an unseen obse rver's viewpoint; not th at
of a player personally invol ved in the scene. An
objective close-up hri ngs the viewer closer to the
plnver. object ur act ion. withou t becoming person-
ally Involved.
S1I 1, jcctil-d y , in whic h the person being filmed
looks direc tly into (he camera lens. Thi s is em-
ployed on rare occaslcns in dramatic thea tr ical
SlI lIjprtitw - i ll which t he pla 11er
loob dircU [y in to the camera lens - are
rarel y ('m /lloy('11 in (l dramatic film .
Over-tile-shoulder claee-up - i n which the
camera films over tile sho ulder of another
pla yer - are yt' neraU" phataqrap hed in
mat ched pai rs .
films - so that a player or commentator may
explai n , describe or comment on the story as it
un folds. It is of ten used in feature comedies 10
allow a player to make an aside to the aud ience.
It i s most often encountered in television films
featuring newscasters, commercials and narrators
who appea r on camera to expla in the event to the
viewer . Subjective close-ups arc also employed in
non-theatrical films so that the head of a finn may
speak directly to the audience, or an engineer may
explai n the wor kings of a machine.
Cncr-t hc-ehoutdcv, in whi ch the camera films
the cl ose-up over the sho ulder of an opposing
player . Over-the-shoulder cl ose-ups are generally
filmed in matched pairs when two players con-
front each ot her for dialogue exchanges.
Point-oi-oiew, or si mply p.o.v., cl ose-ups are
filmed from the viewpoi nt of a playe r in the
scene. Th e came ra is positioned at the side of the
player ( as close to the action axis as possible ) so
that the audience vtcvvs an opposing player , or an
object or small-scale action , from his viewpoint.
When two pla yer s arc filmed in opposing p.o.v.
close-ups it is wise to position the off-screen player
at the side of the ca me ra , or hold up a dosed fist
at the point where the player should look. so that
the on-screen player's look will be correct. The
lool: must ( d w ( l J ~ be to the side of Oil' lens regard-
A poi nt-of-view d ose-up - in which ale
player is filmed f rom the pomt-oi -oiew af
an opposing player - is photoqraphed from
a camera position at the side of the oppo-
site player.
less of ca mera heigh t or angli ng. When player's
hcl ghts vary - such as one seated and the other
standing - the look must be che ated to the side
just ([1JOve the lens for the player louk ing up: and
to the side just In' {ow the lens for the playe r look-
ing down.
The players involved in over-the-shoulder and
point-of-view close-ups should first be iden tified
wit h a two-shot so that the audience is not con-
fused when the camera moves in for a series of
close- ups. Beth types of close-ups may he edited
in any desirabl e pattern, alt hough i t is best to
have opposing pairs of simil ar close-ups follow
one another .
Til e ott-screen player - ill a pair ot oppcs-
i no point-of-view close-ups - should sta nd
at tile side of tile camera to provide t il l'
playe r heinn filme d with the proper louk .
When filming point-of -view dose-ups of
two oppusiuy players iohosc hciyhts vary -
such as one standing and the other sitting
- the look must he to the side of tile cam-
era, just abo ve the lens, fOT the player look-
iny lip; /0 the side just below the lens, for
the player loohin{J down,
"" ,"".".
A two-shot should precede a pair, or series,
of over-tile-shoulder and poinc -oi-oicio
close-ups; so that audience may first iden-
tify ttur players involved.
The p.o.v. cl ose-up is the closest the objective
camera can approach a subjective angle without
havi ng the player look directly into the lens. The
look of the on-screen player is just sligh tly to the
side of the lens . The side selected will be deter-
mined by the ac tion axis a t th e end of the previous
shot. The viewer is given the impression th at he
is actually see ing the on-screen player from the
opposing: off -screen player's viewpoin t. Thus, the
p.o.v. close-up involves the audience most direc tl y
in the screen action.
To play up narrative highlights, such as im-
portant dialogue, player action or reaction . when-
ever dramatic emphasis or increased audience
attention is require d, the subject should be
brought cl oser to the viewer .
Cut-in close-ups he employed to
depict narrative uf the stury -
such as this player's reaction. Dramatic
cmphosis demanding increased audience
attentioll should he IJrouyht closer 10 viewer.
To isolate significant subject maUer and elimi-
nate all non-essential material f rom view. Audi-
ence attention thus may be concentrated on an
impor tan t action, a particul ar object or a mean-
ingful facial expression. Close-up treatment pre-
sents only what should be seen at the moment, by
removing all else.
To magnify small-scale action. A close-up may
visu all y clarify what is happening, if the action
i s too small for the audience to view - without
strain - in a medium or long shot. Th e audience's
curiosity sh ould be sa tisfie d by bringing them
closer, ot herwise the viewer may lose interest.
To provide a time lapse . The time in terv al re-
quired by len gthy actions m ay be shortene d by
inser tin g a cut-in cl ose-up. The close-up allows
Cut -in close -ups ('Ol/cell/rate uudi ence al -
le n/ioll on the important aclivlI 1J.1/
inq siqniiicant suhiect matt er, and elimi-
nating all non-essentials ,
A /('71I/I I, !! nian ujact urinn process - such
as larUe numbers of - ma y
be shortened Gild COlJered wit li clll in d OH '-
li P of umrker, Vic'it'a s will qet i mpression
flwf they see flu' ('lIti re cvell!.
Ma,qnifyi ny small scale acti on - sue" as
a hll 1J t erminal will visually
clarify wl1 at is happcnin y. Vi ewers ' i nt er-
est is hciqtuencd by brinyin,q t hem d oser.
removal of tedious or repetitious action . As in-
stance , a person may begin typing. A close-up
reaction shot of the player, and/or a close-up of
his Imgers striking the keys, rna)' be foll owed with
a shot of the finished le tt er being pulled out of the
typewriter. Or , a lengthy manufactur ing pr ocess;
a repa ir requi ri ng repeat ed operations. such as
inserting many holt s. or a familiar action that
need not be depict ed in det ail. nor shown in en-
tirely - may all be cons iderably shor tened and
covered wit h a cut-in cl ose-up or two . Th e audi-
ence will accep t the sequence as complete be-
ca use they receive the i mpression t hat they are
seeing the entire event and will not miss the
removed sections.
To distract the audience. A cu t-in close-up may
cover a jump-c ut caused by mis-matched or miss-
ing action. A long shot and a medium shot may
not cut together because of differences in players
positions , looks or movement. A close-up inserted
between the two shots will allow the jump-cut to
go un noticed, since any change could have occu r-
red uihilc the cl ose-up wa s on screen.
To substitute for hidden action which cannot
be filmed for phys ical reasons - such as opera-
tions concealed or inaccessible inside a machine,
a blas t furnace, or an electronic computer. As r aw
pellets are dumped in to a plastic moulding ma-
chine hopper , close-ups of control panel and
machine operator handling switches and observ-
ing dials and gauges , may be filmed to indicate
the plastic being moulded v... it hin the die. Th en ,
the finished part may be shown emerging. Thus, a
few seconds of exterior close-ups may be utilized
Hidden ac f i Ol I - such as operation of an
ekefronle compllt er may be covered by
cllll i" 9 to dMt'-UPS of flu! operator and
t ill: control tumf'! . or hy depicti ng opera-
tion of and clase-ups of dials,
counte rs, gallS!,,!; or other i nst ru me ntati on.
to cover severa l minutes of invisible mach ine op-
eration. The same d ose-up techniq ue may be used
on any subjec t that cannot be filmed because
there is no image for the camer a to record. These
may be the acti on of electronic cir cuit s; or events
too dangerou s to allow a camera in range.
A cut-in close-up sho uld al1l'a.'ls be established
in a preceding long shot, so that the audience is
aware of its location in relation to the over-all
scene. A cut-in close-up of a playe r, object or
actio n, not clea rly seen in the preceding long or
medium long shot , will confuse the audien ce.
One reason for presenting: a long shot is to
est ablish relative positi ons of players and objects
in the setling. Since a cut-in close-up is a portion
of the main event . it is important that the subject
or action shown be immediately recogniz able. The
audi ence should be properly oriented bciore the
camera moves int o a close-up. and later rc-ori-
cnrcd with a re-establishing shot ; if a great deal
of player movement occurs while the camer a Icl-
lows action in the closer shots. Player and / or
camera movemen t in a tight close-up may cause
the audience to lose track of the present where-
abouts of the depicted player in rel ation to other
.....-....c.... ....._
CUI-ill close-ups should alwa ys be cstob-
Iished i n til e preceding wider shot, so tll at
111(' vif ' wer is aware of the location of t ile
player i ll rdat ion to til e over-a ll scene.
T lli s is part icularly important u/he n several
player.\ are show n in a long shot .
players, Whenever a viewer has to pause to locate
a player in the set. narrative continuity is broken.
The close-up may be over before the audience can
comprehend its significance.
Properl y orienting and re-ortcntlng the audi-
ence is particularly impor tan t if the action
involves close-up s of complicat ed devices. For
example, a medium or long shot of a mechani c at
work on a jet engine will leave no doubt in the
viewer' s mind of the location of the parts shown
in a subsequent c1o..e-up.
18 1
The viewer ma y become confused if the camera
slays in close. and foll ows the mechanic as he
moves about various areas. A maze of wiri ng.
tubing, or engi ne parts may look like an Impcnc-
trable jungle ; conveying no specific area of action .
In such filming situation, it is wi se to pull hack
occasionally an d re-establis h the closer ac tion in
rela tion to the over-all object.
Following a player abou t a room in a tight
close-up may produ ce the same dis-orien ta tion
problem. If too litt le of the set is seen, or if the
player is no t shown crossing other players , the
audience will not know where he is located in
relation to other players , or setting. Lat er, a re-
es tablishing . Iong shot can suddenly show the
player on the other side of the room. Thi s may
completely mystify t he audience!
Th ere are rare occasions when a cu t-in close-up
is nut established in a preced ing shot. A close-up
is sometimes used as a sequence opener. Since it
is the fir st scene. it cannot he established. How-
ever. it should match cut wit h the Icllowt ng shot .
or be revealed as a port ion of the over-all action
when the camera pulls back 10 con tinue depicting
the event. Whil e the cut -in close -up is not tru ly
cut if/to the main even t in this inst ance. it should
be treat ed as part of the wider shot.
When stories require suspense or confusion. it
is permissible to avoid establishing cut-in close-
ups. The villa in may be shown hi a darkened
r oom in pursuit of the hero. A cut-in close-up
showing him moving about is in tended to be-
wilder the audience. and pr ovide additional
sus pense - becau se hi s proximity to the her o is
not discl osed . A player may hide hehi nd a pile of
crates in a warehouse, but his exact location is
not shown in the close- up. Because audi ence con-
fusio n is i nten ded. the camera may foll ow the
player in close-up.
A cut-away close-up is rel ated to. but not a part
of. t he previous sce ne. It depict s .w..-condaru action
happeni ng simultaneously elsewhe re. Whet her
cut-away close-ups are separated from the pri nci-
pal action by a few feet or by thousands of mil es;
A cut-aueuj clOS(' - li P may Ill' separate d
from til .. principal act ion by a few feet -
such as u player reucti"fI to ot her players
across t lte roo m - or by of m ites.
Cut-away d ose-lips. nol part of
seelie, he nu rrot iucuj connected .
they should always he - directly or indirectly -
connected to li lt' narrative.
Cut-away close-ups may be filmed from three
camera angles :
Objecti vel y. in which the audience views the
close-up from an imper sonal viewpoi nt. The
viewer is si mply brought closer to the subject
without being involved .
Sub jectively. in wh ich the person being filmed
looks di rectl y into the camera lens . Cut-away sub-
jective close-ups are r arely used in theat rical
films, bu t their employme nt in news reel , docu-
men tary repor ts and si milar explanatory films.
may capture greater audience attention . The nar-
rative may cut-away from a field test to an cngt-
ncer who may explain with charts . the operation
of a new drill ing rig . Thus , the viewer is directl y
involved. and feels t hat the engineer is reporti ng
to him personally. This is stronger treatment than
having the enginee r tal k to an interviewer, or to
an off-screen n arrator . An unseen speaker may
supply the questions whi ch the engineer may an-
swer directly into the len s.
Point- or-view cut -away close-ups are filmed
from the viewpoin t of a player in the scene. An-
other player , a clock or a small-scale action such
as cocking a gun, may receive increased audience
interest when shown from the viewpoint of a
player in the scene, rather th an objectively. Such
treatment creates stronger audience identity wi th
the player and greater involvemen t in the even t .
Cut-away dose-ups may be used in any of the
following ways:
To prese nt reactions of off-screen players. The
reaction of an off-scree n player may be more sig-
nificant than the act ion of the pri nci pal player
on-screen. How an off-screen player reacts to the
dialogue may be morc important, for in stance,
than showing the princi pal player speaking. Most
ofte n, the audience is morc In terested in various
players' reactions th an in the eve nt It self '.
To cue the audience on how thelf should react .
A cut-away reaction close-up of a player portr ay-
ing fear , tension , awe, pity or any ot her action,
will stimula te a similar feeling in the viewer.
This is a simple technique for inspiring a recep-
tive au dience mood.
To com ment on the principal Cl'cnt by showing
correspondi ng action. Related or unrelated visual
comment may be m ade by a cu t-a way cl ose-up
Reaction of an off-screen player - de picted
in a cut-au-au close-up - may he of more
interest to the audience t han dialogue or
ac ti on of a principal player on-screen.
Cut-away cl ose-up of player portra ying par-
ticular emotion may be used to simulate
similar f<,eliny in viewers.
inser ted to play up the main event. Symbolic cut-
away close-u ps of birds and an imal s may be
shown to commen t upon human be havior. Ex-
amples are : cu t-away from a woman applyi ng
make-up, to a peacock preening i ts feath ers; cu t-
away f rom a man eati ng; a meal slop pily, to a pig
wallowing in a trough . A series of man-in-the-
street cu t-away cl ose-ups ma y be used to comment
upon action , di al ogue or narration of the pri nci pal
Close-ups of birds or animals may he in-
serted i n a (ilm t o comment upon tuunon
hehavior . T his "smili ng" porpoise imita tes
human ch aracterist ics.
Cut-uwaij close-ups 111lly / Jl' e m ployed t o
t Ill:' (/ll dicIl U! wlli k (' Overi ll g a di-
rectional change i ll .K r C(' 1I travel .
event. Public reaction to a j ur y verdict , an elec-
tion, or a comment made by the narrator, may be
covered wi th a few fast -paced cu t-away close-ups
of seve ral people expressi ng approval or disap-
proval of the event depict ed : or dialogue or n arra-
tion; or speaking; a single word . suc h as "Guilt)'!"
To mot toatc a sequc1lce . Th e pri nci pal action
may be motivated wit h a cut-away close-up. A
screaming siren may motivate a scene showing
jet pilots scrambling toward their planes. A boat
whistl e could hurry passengers to board. A chec-
kered flag being waved could star t an auto r ace .
Pushing a button could begin oper ation of an
asse mbly line. The unique impact of such cu t-
away close-ups may open sequences eff ectively.
To replace scenes t oo gruesome or expe nsive t o
depict . War , accident or disaster scenes need not
be shown in their ent irety if they arc too revolting
for the average viewer. A shot of the reaction of a
byst ander to the event will put across what is hap-
peni ng. This can also he a practical solut ion to
budge t problems in filming auto accidents, ai r-
plane crashes or similar disast ers, too costl y to
stage. For instance , filmi ng of an auto crash may
sta rt by showing the ca rs approaching each other.
Then, a series of short shots of the dri ver s, point-
of-view shots of the adva nci ng cars , glass break-
ing, hand-held shots simula ting the cars twisting
and turni ng as if rolling over , etc., may follow.
s,"" " ' '' w..,
Tl i i s clIl -lIway clOS('-IIP shcnus I nd ia n, all
distant va nt ayc' point . o/)sermng m Ol'(' -
mrnt of ("(/t'cl! r/f t roop .
Th e ac tual cr ash may be covered by a horrified
bystander's facial reaction, acco mpa nied by a
crashing sou nd effect, which may he obtained
from a stock sound library.
To dist ract t he audience. Because off-screen
players, objects or act ions are fea tured. cu t-away
close- ups offer greater possibili ties for distr acting
the audience than cut -in close-ups. Since the
ca mera is not limi ted to on-screen action, it may
go anuiohere. A shot of an on-looker may be used
to cover a jump-cut in an excavating ope ration.
A deliber at e or inadverten t switc h in scree n di-
rect ion may be covered by a react ion cut-away
close-up of a person looking at the moving player
or vehic le, as if watching the change occur.
Cut -fl way close-ups need 110t be es tablished,
since thcy are not a part of the main event and
may occur anywhere. This ru le does not apply,
however, to player s previously shown in a long or
medium sh ot , or in a cut-ill d ose-up, who arc
moved off-screen and later appear in cu t-away
d ose-ups . Three players may be shown in a long
shot. Th e camer a may move in on the two pri n-
ci pal players as the y converse. 111c off-screen
player may then be depict ed in a cut-away close-
up. It is important to present such a cu t-away
Cut .away close-up of onlooker, above, conveys to uudience tllat Ill' is positioned
011 left side of street , watching stagecoa ch. Player ill cut-away must
/wve "looh" matcl li ny tliat previously established in wider shot .
close-up wi th the same look as pre viously cstab-
llshcd. If an opposite look is filmed, the aud ience
may be led to believe that the support ing player
has crossed to the opposite side of the princi pal
players . Beca use the look is wr ong, the audience
would be confused. If the camera is positioned
on the proper side of the action axis, the looks of
both on-screen and off-screen players will always
be correct.
A cu t-away close-up may also be established by
"planting" i t earli er in the sequence as par t of the
over-all scene , so that its location will be recalled
when shown. f or example, a player may be Illmcd
in a long shot , stan ding: in the corner of a room,
The audience will recall his presence lat er, when
he is depicted in a cut-away close-up.
Where possible , it is preferable to use a Clltin,
rath er than a cut-away close-li p. This will height en
interest , because it is more intimately involved
with the princi pal action , rather than with related
action elsewhere . Whil e the cut-in close-up goes
directly into the hear t of the es tablished scene, the
cut-away close-up nmncs the audience outs ide the
area depicted. Unless the cut-away close-up makes
a significant story point , it should not be em-
ployed. Othcrwt...c it may disrupt the narrative .
An exception would be the insertion of a cut-
away close-up intended to dist ract the audience,
in order to cover a jump-cut or some other edi-
torial necessit y.
In choosing between a close-up from an objec-
tive or a point-of-view camera angle, the player's
p.o.v. is usually bes t. This provides the audience
with a more intimate view, since the subject is
seen from the viewpoint of a player in the scene .
Cut-in close-ups should always match the looks
of the player s in br acketing scenes . Because cut -in
close-ups move into and continue the main action,
rules governing the act ion axis should be used tc
prese rve the players' looks throughou t a series of
consecu tive scenes . It is expedient to film al l
close-ups of each player at one time, when they
occur in the same area. If the look varies during
the long or mediu m shots , the cor responding look
must be filmed in the cu t-in close-up used for th at
part icular point in the sequence.
The look may vary duri ng an ind ividual close-
up. if another player is being observed as he
moves about off-screen. The look may sweep fr om
one side to the other when a /mch,qroll nd player is
positi oned bet ween. two ioreuround pl ayers at op-
posite sides of the frame . The rear player may be
shown in the three-shot , or in OJ. close-up looking
first at one , and then the other. The look may
also sweep across the screen when a player in a
two-shot is shown in a clo se-up , an d swi tches his
look from the opposing player with whom he is
relating , to an off-screen player no t previously
shown. Wh en crossing the camer a, the pla yer
must never took directly in to the lens.
To insure a matched pair of looks in opposing
point-of-view close-ups, each off-scre en player
should be positioned as closely as possible to the
side of the camer a. If physical limit ations - such
as lights or mike boom pre ven t thi s, a closed
r l' " ,
T hi s three-shot. de m onstrates how plosicrs:
looks ma y vary during a series of shots.
Wil e n filming a series uf Gut-in d ose-ups,
care must he taken t o sec look is correct
( VI' pu r t i oll of event hei nq film ed.
Plaijer in center l o h . ~ at player on right.
fist should be posit ioned at the proper pl ace to
provide the on-screen player wi th a reference
poin t. If the off-screen player sta nds too far frum
the side of the camera , the opposing on-screen
player will have to turn his head - spolllng the
poin t-of-view rela tionship of bo th pl ayers.
A cut-i n close-up filmed wlt h the IVTQng look _
right instead of left , or left instead of right _ is
editorially useless becaus e the player will look
away from, rather than toiuard, opposi ng player.
Cut-aw ay close-ups removed from the main
even t, or intended to confuse the viewer deli ber-
ately, may look in either di rection . A series of un-
related cu t-away close-u ps , such as various per-
sons in different setting s , may be more pictoriall y
eff ective if filmed with alternate ri gh t and left
Cut-away close-ups need m atch the look on ly
when their location is narratively sign ifica nt.
When an off-screen playe r is positione d on the
right of the pri nci pal players, he should be filmed
wtt h a look toward screen le ft .
Close-ups of player s talking to each other by
telephone should face in opposite direction , so
that they present opposing looks. This presents
the conver sation as if the pl ayers were st anding
together, an d t alking to ea ch other. The audie nce
is conditioned in to believing that opposing move-
ments will meet, an d that opposing looks infer
that the players arc relating wi th ea ch other.
Playcr on righ t returns her looh,
The look on cilt-away close-ups may be neg-
lected . be cause it is n ot con sidered as lmportunt
a matchi ng probl em ;"IS that encoun tered with
cut-in close-ups. Cut -away close-ups should be
given as much ed it orial attention as cut-in close-
ups , partl culc rly when the location of the player
shown is narratively slgntftcant.
A three-quar ter 10 front face ca mera angle is
almost invartably best for close-ups. A th ree -
quart er angle will show more facial face ts , be-
cause it depicts the front and side of the head.
At the sa me time. a fla t fron t p.n.v. cl ose-up can
Pl ayer Oil If'/ t [nob at player 011 rig/I I .
Player 011 left o o ~ to centered player.
be equally effccuvc, if lighted from a three-quart er
angle, so that the face is round ly modeled. While
profile d ose-ups offer pictorial variety. they re-
qui re ca reful treat ment to avoid a flat cardboard
cu t-out effect. The profile's single eye laclcs the
int imate eye -to-eye con Iact between player and
audience characteristic of three-quarter angle,
and particul arly pc- v.. close-ups.
Much of the theat rical cinematographer's repu-
ta tion is based on how he shoots close-ups. partic-
ularl y those of actresses . A great deal of time and
att ention are devoted to camera angle, image
size and lighl ing of theatric al cl ose-ups.
The non-theatr ical cameraman, however , may
be guilty of "stealing" close-ups with long tele-
pho to lenses from long-shot came ra positions!
Pla ljer a ll lig/l t IUO/I S 10 fi1(lIWr 011 left .
Cl:'lltered plaYl:'r loo ns at pf(l.tft'r (HI left
Players talking to each other hy telephone
should he photographed with opposite
looks . Opposing loahs infer that playen are
relat ing wi th each other.
While this may save additional camera set-ups,
and may be n ecessary when fIlmin g newsreels , it
usually results in poorly-angled, flat, inadequately-
lighted close-ups. Although such close-up filming
may be toler ated on uncontrollable action, i t is
inexcusable on staged sequences. For instance, a
pair of profile close -ups should not be filmed fr om
the same camera set -up as was a preceding sho t
of two players f acing each other. The camera
shoul d be moved in and around to shoot eit he r
objective or p. o.v. close-ups of each player.
In most objective close-ups, the camera shou ld
Front-face to three-quarter angling is in-
variably best for close-ups. Point-oF-view
close-ups are best if roundly m odeled with
cross-lighting. Objective close-ups present
more facial facets.
be posit ioned at the eye-level of the penon photo-
graphed ( or Slight ly high er or lower to solve par -
ticular faci al problem s ). Since the objec ti ve angle
is that of an imperson al observer , however , the
camer a may he posit ioned practicall y anywhere .
For example , if the lon g shot is filmed fro m a
low angle, cut-in close-ups should follow fr om
similar low angles. If the camer a looks down at
a crowd. a close-up could be filmed in like r: 'In-
ncr. The objec tive close-up should gene rally be
fil med from eye-level; but it may be shot fro m a
higher or lower heigh t to ma tch the camera trea t-
ment given a par ticular sequen ce.
Subjecti ve close-ups are best filmed from the
eye-level of the photoqraphed. In this way ,
the subject is 0 11 an eye-to.-eye level wi th the
camera lens , and - therefore -wit h eve ry member
of the audience. This rel ationshi p applies whether
the subject is standing or se at ed . II' the camera is
higher or lower , the subject must look up or down
to look int o the lens. The res ult ing expression on
the subj ect is distorted. and may discourage the
viewer from relati ng with him. Since the subjec-
uve camera acts as the eye of the unseen viewer ;
a hi gher or lower th an eye-level camera hei ght
places the audience above or below the subjec t.
This creates an awkward relat ionship.
Point-oi -oiew close-ups should be filmed wit h
the camer a positi oned at the eyc-lcvt'l of the
]Jltly cr , whose viewpoint is being de-
picted. Thus , wh en one player looks at another;
or when a pla yer looks off-screen at a player , an
obj ec t or an even t; the view is presented as seen
by the player involved .
Considerab le cheat ing is permissible in poi nt-
of-view shot s. TI1C came ra should be hiqher to
simulate an adult looking do wn at a child or a
standi ng player looking down at a seated player;
and lower to simulate a child looking up at an
adult or a seated player looking up at someone
standing. The camera position need no t be at the
exact height of the person involved. The up or
down viewpoi nt may be cheated in order to slIg-
gest difference in height. Or , it may be exa g-
gerated for psychological effe ct - so that the adult
appears tall er than act ually, to a small child.
Pairs of profile ctcse-ups should not be
filme d (rom same camera set -up as pre-
ceding tum-shot , This treat ment generally
results in close-ups umich: lack intimacy ,
because players' featu res are flatt ene d .
". ,1," R_c'," e",cl
OIJjective dose-ups are usual/II filmed from
eye-level of player photographed. Here,
camera is raised to cue-level of an imper-
sonal obseruer positioned alongside suhiect ,
Subjective close-ups are best [timed from
eye-level of persoll photolJraplled. Subject
should took directly intu lens - as if look-
ing at another person seated or standing
neaThy. Tili s results ill pcriormcr-vicurer
eye-tv-eye rclaticnshlp on same level. If
s11!Jject has 10 look lip or down - at higher
or lower camera - effect 1Ilafj be strained;
hecouse relationship is awIW.Janl.
Over-tile-shoulder close-ups arc filmed as closely
as pos sible to the cuc-tcvct of the player depicted,
and as determined by the height of the player in
the (orcgrfJIwd. When two people of equal height
arc filmed. little trouble will be encountered. If
Point -or-view cl ose-ups should he {tImed
7.villi ca mera positioned at eye-level or per-
son tohose viewpoint is Ik'ing depicted.
Dcnovnoord anulc on this space missile con-
trol panel - II sed for traill ing assronauis
- allows the audience to trade places u.ith
trainet", and view diuls [rom vantage point.
d ifference in height of players is involved, camera
he igh t will have to be adjusted to accomplish the
best foregroun d framing, together with proper
modeling and positioning of the featured player .
Diff eren ces in heigh t may somelimes be cheated
by having a shorter player stand on a blo ck, or a
t all woman remove her high heel shoes.
The CIlMEHA ANGLE Chapter thoroughly dis -
cusses uses of prnqrcssiuc. contrasting and rcpcu-
tirms camera angles an d image angles. A sequence
may progress into <'I close-up or a se ries of close-
u ~ or a dose-up may be con (rosin/ with a long
shot; or a series of repetitious similarly sized close-
ups of various players or objects may be presented.
A se ries of cl ose-u ps should be filmed with cor-
responding image sizes . prefer ably from similar
camera angles, so that thei r screen appearances
remain uniform. Back-and-forth close-ups of op-
posing player s in a two-shot sho uld be matche d
in image size and image angle. whether filmed
objectively or from each player's point-of-v iew.
Var ious size close-ups, and di ffere n t camera an-
gles may be used: but it is best to present a
matched pair before switching size or angle. If
different types of close-ups , or different angles,
arc mixe d, a hodge-podge of shots will r esul t.
III: ad s/lOuld 1I0t hoh around i n a
tiqlll ctose.up, so tllat cameraman must
CCJllti7IJIO Udy move camera to kee p it COT-
recti!! f ramed. Ccntrctlabte subject sJlOuld
he instructed to II01d Ilis position as lie
speaks or res ets. Uncomrellable subject
SllOllld be ph otographed unth shorter foca l
lengt h lens, so 11101 wider urea is covered.
This allows filmi ng witli a static camera.
Unless for narrative reasons , close-ups should
not be presented in a monotonous series; merely
10 maintain uniformit y of size and an gle. Each
player should be filmed wit h the same change in
image size. and from the same angle. so that the
film editor may utilize ma tched pairs of close-ups.
A series of repetitious cut-away close-ups of
unrelated players or objects . such as sever al 1I/ e/ll -
in-the-street close-ups, or close-ups of various
objects - such as tools or di als - should mai ntain
the same Image size , and similar or opposi ng
camera angl es . They may all face in the same
direction , Dr face each other in pair s of opposing
shot s with alt ernate r ight and left looks. Dutch.
angled close-up s, filmed for speci al effects, may
be given opposing ang led tilt s so that they pres en t
counterpoint pairs.
It is advisab le to make notes of lens focal
length, ca mera angle , particularly whether left or
right Dutch-t ilt angles, and distances betvvccn
camera and players or objects. It is bes t not to
trust to memory, especi ally if a long interval
occurs between the filming of matched close-ups.
Such dat a will also be important if re takes arc
0 _ ......... _
Point-oi-uicur close-ups .well as this
dose-lip of soldcr inq operation - are par-
ticularly i mportant in trai ning films. Cam -
era should be positi oned coer-me-s houl der
of worla.' r pertormlnq tli e tas k , th at
fe.wlling close-ups depict acti on as trairlee
would set' it if lie wert' doing the icb,
0._.... ....._
needed later. With these precautions, uniformity
of close-up image size and image angle can be
maint ained throughout <1 producti on .
Head movement is permissible in a moving
close-up. If preferred, the camer a may follow a
player wi th a pan ning or dolly movement. But. a
head should not be allowed to bob around in what
shou ld be a static cl ose-up. so that the cameraman
must pan and/ or ti lt to keep the head properly
framed. This may be observed in newsreels and
documentar y Illms , where an over-long focal
19 1
Player movement - begun in this shot -
may be completed in followin,q close-lips,
when players sit. at tanto, Player s should
du.pliccue their movements IJ!! sitting i nto
close-ups. This permit s editor to cut on
action with movement fluwinq across splice.
length lens - or a zoom le ns set at the telephoto
position - is employed to film an uncontrollable,
restless subject. In such instances, it is best to use
a shorter focal le ngth lens, and film a wider area
to all ow stat ic f raming.
A player may move from a long shot or medium
shot ill to a close-up. Such movement should be
du.pucotcd in both shots , so that the HIm editor is
provided with a cine choice. The ed itor may cut
on the move, or after the move, when the pl ayer
is in close-up position. If the player is positioned
in the frame for the close-up, rather than moved
in to position , the ed itor has no choice, He must
move the player into position in the wi der shot,
and then cut to the already-positi oned player in
the close-up.
To assemble a more fluid film , editor s prefer to
cut on movemen t, rather th an to a sta tic close-up
after movement is completed. While many move-
men ts should not be interrupted by a cut , a cam-
eraman sho uld leave these decision tu the film
edito r . Cutting on movement will often m ask th e
splice where the shots arc joined, so that the cut
is bar el y apparent. Allowing movemen t to begin
and en d ,uithiJi ea ch shot, often results in a "stop-
and-go" ap pearance . Movement will flow through-
out a sequence, or a series of shots, if cuts :11'e
made during movement. A player may begin to
move in one shot , and complete the movement in
the followi ng close-up . For example, a player
should sit into a stillic close-up, As he moves to -
ward the chair and begins to sit down, the move-
ment flows across the cut , from medium shot i nto
static close-up, as he settles in to the chair. Move-
men t into and ou t of dose-ups should , therefore,
duplicate acuon of preced ing or following wider
shots - so that overlapping movement results.
It may be d ifficult for a player to wove into
pr ecise position , for a static head close-up. A sim-
ple solution to filming a tight head shot is to keep
the standi ng player's feet st atic, bend the upper
body to the side, and then swing the body back
into ver tic al position. In that way, the head may
be moved into perfect framing when the player is
Whilc filming a move into a tight close-up may
be difficult to frame, a move Ollt of a close-up is
f ai r ly simple; and should always be filmed if the
pl ayer is picked up on the move in the next shot.
Should the player not be moved out of the close-
up, he must remain in h is close-up position for
next shot; and then be moved, duri ng following
medium or long shot , in or der to continue action.
The absence of moves into and out of close-ups
may severe ly handicap the editor, particularly if
he wishes to shorten the seq uence gracefully. A
good rule is to move players into and out of close-
ups whenever such movement may be ed itorially
useful. ( See : CUITl.\,1G, Cutting On Action)
The timing of players' movements in clos e-u ps
should mateh that in bracketing scenes , especially
if the movement flows across a cu t. Thi s is r ar el y
a problem in thea tr ic al films, where professional
players follow th e script and move about as di-
r ec ted . It can cause complications in n on-th ea tri-
cal films where in dustrial , resear ch , training or
sci entific personnel operate control panels, lab
apparatus or tes t equipmen t. Since greatly magni-
fied movements - such as throwi ng a switch ,
cC\lihl'<-l ting a meter or swinging a tool in to posi-
tion - <-l/l(lear highly accelerated on the screen,
the person performing a small action in a large
close-u p should move wi th deliberate slowness. so
that hands. fmgers or tools do not appear to flash
in and out of the shot.
It is impor tan t to stage bracketing wider scenes
with matching close-up tempo. Th is requires
thinki ng ahead to the cl ose-up. if the action is
filmed in continuit y. Cut ti ng-on-movemen t in
such cases will appear smooth only if precautions
arc taken to match the tempo of movement from
wider shots to close-ups. Fur example, a medium
shot of an airpla ne pilot in a cockpit moving hi s
arm with a tlW!iUII toward the instrument
panel ("(HI /w i be cu t-on -the-move with a close-up
of an alurncn-r. as his fingers slowly enter the
frame to set the instrument On ly the por tion of'
this dose-up alter his fingers have settled in posi-
tion on the calibration knob could be used
Differently-timed movements in wider shots and
close-ups prevent cutting on action , and force th e
editor to resort to statically-posit ioned close-ups,
after movement into the frame is completed.
Similar close-ups through out a sequence arc
almost always filmed at the same time in the-
atrical pictures, to avoid duplica ti ng camera se t-
ups. This may not be possible on a tec hnical filrn
where assembly of a complicated machine, for
example, may necessitate shooting in straight-
forward conti nuity as work progresses. When
lengthy fthning: requires moving the camera in
for close-ups , a nd then back again to origi nal
set-up , it is wise to m ark camera posit ion on the
floor and to record lens focal len gth , and other
tcch nl cnl data usef ul in duplicating shots. Posi -
tions of light s ta nds should be chalked or taped
on the floor , if they arc moved, so tha t they may
be returned to their first positions. Intricate light-
ing set-ups may require d iagramming, or they
m ay be photographed with a Polaroid camera to
insure precise duplicat ion . Technical matching of
wider shots and dose-ups can thus be assured,
regardless of time in tervals between dose-ups.
Movement ill cxtrerrle dose-ups must be
sloll 'cd down , or i t will appear lri,q!lly accci-
crated screened. If this HAder snot i s
folloR'cd 1m ti.rJ17t dose-up of technician's
tingers , as she positirms machine part for
calihratian, it must be Iilmcd wi/h mutcu-
i li ff slmucil tempo. If tempo varie.> greatly
between closc-u ps inul wider shot:s, it pre-
lwnt s ('u t ti ng 011 action.
Close-ups should not be filmed against "busy"
backgrounds consisting of detailed designs, shiny
surfaces. moving or similarly distr ac tin g objects,
unless the subject matter [usuflcs such treatment.
Possible except ions would include amusemen t
parks, which would provide the gaiet y of a ferris
wheel. merry-go-round , or other rides moving in
the background. Another exception is a television
commercial with multi-facet reflections, out-of-
f ocu s highlights , or other blurred vis ual effects in
the backgroun d. In a dr amatic picture, however,
players should not appear in dose-ups against
backgrounds which compete f or attention . Eve n a
lamp with an ornate sh ad e ca n be a provoking
Th rowing the backgrou nd sl ightly out of focus
is effective. but i t should be avoided if lights,
shiny objects, or highly reflective surfaces dist r ac t
the viewer's attention from the players, This can
be particularly disturbing in color filming, if shiny
colored objects - such as tinted light bulbs - show
up in the background. Wh en ever possible, back-
grounds should be nondescript. softl y-contrasti ng
" " . . .. P, od
Close-up camera angles rOT dramatic sequences should he staged against non-
competing backgrounds .
surfaces. Primary or advancing colors, such as
"hot" reds or or anges, should be avoided . Reced-
ing pastel hues in "cool" blues, or neu tral gr ays
with a pale color tint , should be favored.
All camera an gles should be pla nned for a
sequence: so that players in close-ups will not be
pos itioned against troublesome backgrounds.
Lamps, picture fr ames, trees , poles , por tions of
furniture, or other props; may crop up awk-
wardl y behind heads. Such objects should be kept
"way from players: or so positioned that they do
no t seem to pro tr ude from a head. Camera and/or
player movement dur ing preceding wider shot can
help maneuver players into suitable close-up posi-
tions . If a background obj ect , such as a par t 01" a
frame or a lamp, appears where not wanted,
camera angle may be changed , player may be
moved , or the offending prop may be re-posi-
tioned. If only a small portion of the object
shows , it may be bes t to remove it com pletely. It
should be r eturned to its original position , should
it appear in su bsequent wider angle shots.
Newsreel in terviews - or other doc umentary
filming - may r equi re shooting a close-up, or a
series of close-ups, unuunu: in troductory lon g or
medium shots. Part icul ar care should be t aken in
such si tuations to avoid backgrounds th at may
perplex or tease the audience. The viewer should
not be shown a section of unfamiliar background
in a close-up cons isting of portions of signs.
pla ce names, insi gnias, posters, etc. In trying to
solve 'what is missing, the viewer may pay Jess
att en tion to the subject. Wild designs in drapes
or wallpaper may dis tract ; particula rly when en-
l arged behind a clos e-up of a person. The most
suitable ba ckgrounds for such close-ups are neu-
tr al grays, pastel tin ts or simple drapes , or other
plain material.
If it is desir able to st ar tle, confuse or withhold
in formation from the audience, a close-up may
be employed as a dramatic device for in troducing
a sequence. An opener may show a gun firing in
close-up, followed by a long shot of the start of a
foot race! A man lost in the desert , a li ttle boy
tr apped in a crowd, or a needle movi ng toward
the Dcnoer area on an instrumen t dia l , may be
shown i r ~ t in close-up. Then the camera may be
moved back to reveal the over-all picture.
A close-up may also eliminate a por tion of the
setting, so that the player's identit y, location or
situation may be concealed un til the camera pu lls
back. A close-up may show a player sitting non-
chalantly on a container. In the following wider
shot he may be depicted as tride a keg of dyna-
mite! A close-up of a man behind bars may turn
out surprisingly to he a teller in a bank. A close-up
of a roari ng lion pulls back to show him caged.
Th us a close-up sequence ope ner may be u tili zed
10 surprise or shock the audience when the full
conte nt of the scene is discl osed.
In or der to moti va te subseque n t ac tion , a se-
quence may open wit h a close-up of an object.
Adose-up of a ringing telephone can reveal, in an
upward camera t il l. the person answering. A tape
recorder plavlng hack a confession may creat e
suspense, until the camera pulls back to show the
players Involved. A d ose-up of a gun may hide the
iden tit y of t he person holdi ng i t. unti l the camera
tills or pulls back to reveal hi m. If lime is signift-
cant to story, a sequence may open wit h a close-up
of a wall d ock. the n pa n to a long shot, La depi ct
the acti on . A close-up may also establish the lo-
cale. Examples : a drink being poured - bar ; a
tfay of food movi ng al ong - cafe teria; a slot
machine ar m being pulled - gambling hall .
Pairs of close-up s. similar in size, motion or
content, make excellent bridging devices. A pair
of close-ups may be optically blended or strai ght
cut to furn ish a pict orial transition between two
sequences, A sequence may end with a close-up:
and the next sequence bcqin wit h one. A player
may he di ssolved in a mat ched pair of cl ose-ups to
cover a time or space transition. Or , one player
ma y dissolve to another player in a different set -
ting; . In tha t case. the players should be similarly
sized and positioned to achieve a subtle blend of
images. Simil ar mot ions may be used ; such as a
lawyer pou nding his desk , and a j udge hammer-
ing hi s gavel. Similar obj ects , suc h as wheels,
typewriter keys . ash tr:lYs. may be filmed.
Sound will enhance a d ose-up transit ion he-
cause of it.. combt nunon audio-visual effect. A
line of dialogue. or a name mav be spoken and
repeated in a pair of bri dat ng close-ups, to tie
together diffe rent pt nvcrs or scntnus. Or. a ques-
tion may hi"' asked in 011 (' closeup and answered
in the next ; bv another plcvcr in a differ en t
Camera movement mav also he employed to
mOl 'C int o an d pull back from a pair of tr ansi-
tional . It may ma n >into a close-up of a
player or obj ect a t the end (If a sequence and
bccin till' 11I' Xt .sequence with a similar type close-
Screen-filling extreme close-ups of small
objects provide dramatic em phasis, Resting
elect ronic component on fingerti p supplies
cl ue to size.
up, and then pull bac k. The camera may tilt from
a player to his shoes, as he walk.. across a room
and through the doorway. Then it may dissolve to
the same shoes walking on the pavement ; and tilt
up to reveal the player going down the street.
( See: CONT INUITY, T ra nsitional Devi ces )
Properl y-planned, effectively-filmed. thoughful-
Iy-edtted close-ups are of pri me cinematic im-
por tance. Close-ups add spice, the ingredient tha t
enhances dr amatic flavor of the finished film.
Audience involvement is most successful when
viewers arc brought i nto the picture: when they
see players. objects and small-scale act ions in
large scrccn-fllltng cl ose-ups. A sequence may bl'
buill to move towar d climatic d ose-ups. A s('
qucncc m ~ open wit h a close-up th at surprises.
start les or "hocks the audience into attention
Close-ups provide dramatic pun ch . poin t up stan
highlights depict rela ted action ; commen t on
principal action. magnify the unseen ; provide
tr ansitions: emphasize narrati ve by isolati on oj
subj ect. and elimi nation of unwanted matter: or
dist ract the audience to cover j ump-cuts. Close-
ups should he made to count. The stronger the
motive for uslna a cl ose-up . the- more the cl ose-up
can help make: the story-tcllt ng trulv effective!
Good composition is arrangement of pictoria l
elements to Form a un ified, harmonious whole.
A camer aman co mposes whenever he pos iti ons
a player , a piece of furni ture. or a prop. Place-
ment and movement of players within the setting
should be planned tu produce favorable audience
react ions. Since viewing a motion picture is an
emo tional experience; the man ner in which scenes
are composed, staged, lighted , photographed and
edited sh ould moti va te audience rea cti on , accord-
ing to the script's int ent. Th e viewer' s att en tion
sho uld be concen tr at ed on the pl ayer. object or
action most significant to the story at that moment.
The camera mechanically records all properl y
exposed, sharply focused images with equal clar-
ity. Stimulation of audie nce response - the no,, -
mechanical factor - can be best conveyed by the
cameraman th rough direction of dramatic cm-
ph asls where desi rable. This is accomplis hed by
acce ntuati ng the moti ons and emotions , wh ich
make the story Ii uc in the viewer's mi nd .
Compositi on shoul d not be employed in a by-
the-numbers fa shion to record pictori ally beautiful
images devoid of ch aracter , me aning and move-
men t. Of all rul es by which motion pict ur es are
made, compositional princi ples arc the most pli-
able. The most dramat icall y stri king scenes often
result from ru le break ing. To break the ru les
effectivel y. however, it is first necessary to com-
prehend the ru les thoroughly. and to reali ze wilY
they are being broken.
There arc times whe n deli berately poor com-
positions wiII aid the story-telli ng. For instance. a
film on sl um clearance wou ld ac tually be en-
ha nced throu gh employ ment of unbalanced. clut-
tered , poorly composed scenes. Such scen es
\.... ould irritate the audience, and cxpress the need
for decent housi ng. Pictorial an d psychological
impacts upon the viewer would he doubly cffcc-
nvc. He would no t on ly want to see sl um condi-
tions corrected. he would also like to st ratghten
the scenes that subconsciously disturb him!
Composition reflects personal taste. A camera -
man wit h artistic background: inherently good
taste ; an inborn feeling for proper bala nce. form.
rhythm, space, line and tone : an appreci ation
of color values; a sense of the dramatic, may
create good compositions intuitively. Even a
mechanically-minded cameraman with limited
ar tistic inclination, can learn to apply the basic:
princ iples of good composit ion by devel opi ng bel-
ter underst anding of visua l and emo tional clc-
nu-ms involved in rec ording story-tclling images.
Still pllOfo,qruplls - wcll (/." these jet air -
craft ill fliuill - may euqqcst motion. Be-
cause tlIC!} dcot ni space relationships only,
HW,lf iJl' well composed ioithin singu-
Iar lramc 01 reference.
Still photographs freeze the decisi ve moment in
one stationary image. A s/ill photograph may suq -
geM motion, but i t deals in space relationships
only. It can , therefore, be well compused on ly
within its sin gular frame of reference. A motion
picture, on the other hand, is composed in both
space and time.
The time dimensi on is j ust as import ant as
lin ear dimens ions a nd placement of the pi ctorial
cl emen ts wi th in the f rame . A motion pic ture is a
progression of varied size images. Space and tune
relationships between various elements may re-
main the or chanoc as the picture Pt'>
j.!; resses. The of the various images may re -
main the same , or cuonqc from scene to scene; or
durinq a scene if the players advance toward or
recede frum tlw camera . or if the camera is do l-
lied, panned , tilted or zoomed. This constant ly-
changing image pattern tends to complicate mo-
tion picture composition.
To product' ;-1 successful photograph, a still
photographer must apply composit ional r ules cor-
rectly. A mutiun picture came-raman. h owever . can
simplv c-enter a moving image in his finder and
regardless of )loor composition, improper place-
ment III the fra mc, unsatisfactory backgroun d or
numerou s other pi ctori al fault s, holds the viewer's
attention through sheer nun.cmc n! alone ! If
abused, ho wever . movement -which should be the
motion picture's greatest asset - can very easily
become its greatest liability. Good malion picture
scenes arc the result of Ihollglltflll
and siyni(ict1nl 1II00H'IIH'rlls, of players and/or
c amera. Unsat isfactory scenes arc the results of
though tless ccmposiuons and meaningless player
or camera movements . which distract rather than
aid in the story-telling.
Altho ugh the cameraman should be pr im ar il y
concerned in telling the story with movement. he
must guard ag .unsr IllOI 'ement of a
subordinate player or unim por t an t object, which
may detract from the pr inci p al player , action or
ob ject. Such movement can be par ticul arl y dis-
tracung 10 qui et scenes that arc mo re or less static
In n a ture . Since the viewer's eyes is easily
attracted or di st ra cted by any moving ob ject, the
camer aman should guard agai nst undeeimbte
mo vemen t an ywhere in the sce ne.
Composi ng the scene is the cameram an 's Iunc-
lion. He must arrange the var ious pictor ial cle-
ments in to a sem bl ance of order before he can
F,W'II 011 sutnccs matter impossibie to pre-
{In'UTII/<, , tl/(' camcroman (an choose cam-
era Ullyle" u-liicli provide the best view-
pnill( - allrl IiiI' best comncsi tion,
Th e curved groupin g of these airmen, plan-
ni n.t) a ([inlt t , [ ornis a t ron niticr us l: lin e in
space - extended J)y right arm of 111' ofTi -
cor at left - which tends to kc cp vie ,I'l' rs'
eyes focused un map.
Bec ause composit ion involves ar tis tic taste,
emotional awareness , personal likes, dislikes, ex-
perience and backgroun d 01" the individu al cam-
er aman , strict rules cannot be applied. While
composing a sce ne is not a mechanical process.
certain mathematical and geometrical f actors
may help insure succes s. The pri nci pal difIicult y
in composing for motion pictures is dealing not
onl y with shape of peopl e and olJjects , but th e
.sf /{/ pe of moticne. A beautifully-com posed static
.scene may become a senseless shambles when
pl ayers . objects , veh icles, or t he camera move !
The motion picture cameram an mu st remember
th at rules of static composition cover still photo-
graphs, drawings , paintings, desi gn s . Because of
the static con ten t of many shots , still composi-
tional rules may he successfull y applied to mo-
tion picture scenes with f1ycd pictorial clements.
A scene may br eak all composition al rules and
st ill att ract the viewer's eye tu the significant
playe r or object in the picture, merely by move-
me nt ur sound dominating the f r ame. A poorly
positioned player, for inst an ce, may attr act attcn-
tion by rai si ng his voi ce . Even though obscure in
posi tion , a secondary action may att ract more
attention th an the pri nci pal ac tion.
This does not impl y tha t good
If .'werre should awe audience hy bcoiuu,
va slncs s or grandeu r of setting, a IOIl f] SIlO! ,
or ex l rcme l UIIY shot co nveyi ng proper
maud mid atmosphere - should. uc lised.
ligh t the pl ayer s and the se t; plot pl ayer and/or
camera movement, break docvn the sequence into
shots , and dcctda on the various camera angles
required to cove, the ac tion . Un til the scene is
composed, the cameraman is not sure ju st what
he is going to shoot. Even outdoors on uncontrol-
lable subject matte r , which can not be pre-
arran ged , the cameraman c an choose camera
an gles that provide him with the be st viewpoin t,
and conseque ntly, t he best composit ion
The cameraman sh ould ap proach composit ion
with the question : "What can I do with this su b-
ject matter that will aid in telling the story?"
Players' act ion s and setti ng of ten suggest a par -
ticular compositi on al tr eatment. Scr ipt and sub-
jec t should be analyzed to determine the audience
impact in tended. Should the viewer become'
moved to pity, tears or laughter? Should the
audience be awed by the beau ty, vastness or
grandeur of the subject ? Or should th ey be sold
on a particular product , proces s or technique?
Wh atever the script's in tent, the scenes sh ould be
composed to provide the proper pictorial as pec ts ,
and inspire the desired psychologic al response in
the viewer. Pic torial thin ki ng and appreci ation of
psychological compositional devices by th e cam-
era m an will produce inten ded mood.
should be disregarded . and ac tion and dr amat ic
dialogue su bsti tu ted to capture vi ewe r's a ttention.
The rules of good composition sho ul d be u ti lized
whenever possible , particular ly when the scene
consists of more or less siali c action - such as i ll
establishin g long shots . players at res t in key
pos itions duri ng dial ogue exch anges. and an y
time dramatic em phasis must be attrac ted to
dom in ant subj ec t mat ter. Est het ic values should
I/ O/ be neglec ted because of eye-and-car a u rae-
lion s of ,,11(;'(.' [ movemen t and mere sound. Pla yers
and objects sho uld be harmon iously arranged
wit hi n scuing. and moved about with ar tistic
effect.... st ri ving to capture pleasing pict ures at all
times; regard less of player and /or ca mera move-
ment, and the need for continuous composing as
the scene progresses.
These compos itional ele ments speak a univer-
sal language ' v-htch similar emotiona l
responses in almost every viewer. Properly inte-
gra ted and employed in an ar tistic, imagin at ive,
" .
A r(' ('(' r/ill y ('I /rV(' dis t ant space,
si nn: it /111' eye t mo the pict u Te.
\Vll clu' ver scenes should Ilc com-
POStr/ i ll r/cplll Iv im part t lrree-dimensicnat
4l1al i l !J t o fl9,
Lines //ot part/ lid tllllf si de ot tile
[rnme (orlllcll bl{ a Imilt/illrl - or
("O(/(III//s . 11"1'/',' or ollwr lines, as parI o f (l
re pel iti olt s {lal/ tTll . Ti, l' of ue rt icat
li nes nrc i ll };ccpi ll,tj ioitu / /1(' d iqllity of ti n-
nmdcrn CCIlI CI".
in telligen t man ner. they comprise a composi-
tional language which lTl ay convey the desired
mood . character and atmosphere.
Composi tional lines may be actual contours of
objects or imagi na ry lines in <; pace. People, props,
buildings, trees. vehicl es. furn iture - may all be
expressed in st raight. cur ved, vertical, hori zontal ,
diagon al or any combi nation of contour lines.
Whi le moving about in thc scenes, or followi ng
acti on , the eye also creat es tronsuionot lines in
space. Such imaginary lines, suggested by eye
movement or subject movement. may he more
effective than actual compositiona l lines.
For inst ance, the viewer's eye may travel in a
curved pattern, formed by the grouping of several
players. It ma y move in a diagonal line as it fol-
lows an airplane takin g ofT. Or in a vertical line
described by an ascending missile. The linear
composition of a scene is dependent , therefore,
not only on act ual contour lines but by transi-
tional lines created by eye movement.
For most effective composition , real lines
should not divide the picture into equal pans.
Neither strong ver tical nor horizon tal lines should
be centered. A telegr aph pole or the horizon,
should not be placed in the middle of the f rame.
The f rame should not be d ivided into two eq ua l
parts with a diagonal line fr om one corner to
anot her . as formed hy the side of a mountai n.
Unless formed by buildings . columns . tre es or
other lines. as par t of a repetitious pattern ,
stra ight lines should not par all el a ny side of the
fram e. A single stron g linc a t the side. top . or
bottom of the picture should be irregular. rather
th an abs olu tely vertical or horizontal. Silhouetted
lines . paralleling one or mor e sides of the frame
- such as a doorway - should be recognized. or
they may suggest image "cut -off" cnuscd by a
mi s-nhgncd filter holde r or matte box.
Viewer interpre t a tions of various compcsi ncnul
lines follow:
Straight lines sugg('s( masculinity, strengt h.
Soft ly curved lines sugges t femini nity. deli cat e
qua lities.
Sharply curved lines sugges t action and gaiety.
Long verti cal curves with tapering ends suggest
dignified bea ut y and melancholy.
Long horizontal lines suggest quiet and restful-
ness. Par adoxically, t hey may also sugges t
speed . because t he shor test dist ance between
two point s is a s traight lint' .
Parallel diaocnai lilies coll vergillg In dis -
ta llce t'onvey actioII and ellerY.lI - rl'i n forced
by gla re of sUII liy lIt on ll'elded rails.
T IIt ,Sf' figlUt's {firm tranei rional tines il/
spacr, \ /I!J.lI t'\ t i ll Y a Pi/((III/ i d - f'onl'f'yilu}
t o I'il' ll 'f'rs w lidiflJ of pll/ljl'T rcltll iol/ slli p.
Tall. ver tical li nes sug gest streng th and dignity .
Par allel. dtagonnl lines indica te ucucn . energy.
Opposing diagon als sugges t conflict. forceful-
Strong. he avy, shar p Hues suggest brightness.
laughter , excitement.
Sof t Itncs suggest solemnit y. tranquilit y.
Ir regular lines arc more interesting than regu-
lar lines. because of thei r visu al qua lity.
Various combinations of lines may influence
each other and convey different meanings. Un-
opposed vert icals, begi nni ng at the bott om or end-
ing at the top of the picture. appear to extend
beyond the frame. However . shor t secondary hort-
zontals. such as a roof. rna)' be used to contain
a vert ical composition with in t he frame, Short
horizont al lines arc useful as accent s to help a
ser ies of strong vert icals from becomin g monoto-
nous. Conversely, long hor izontals may also be
accented or broken up by short ver ticals. meet ing
at righ t angles or crossing, Curves require
st ronger straight lines for accents and cont rast.
A series of curves may weaken a composition
unless rein force d by vert ica l or horizont al accents.
A profusion of curves or diagonals may result in
con fusion. and should be used only to express
shocki ng exci tement or uncon trolled action.
Lines that lie flat on the pic ture surface, or
recede into th e distance, convey differe nt mean-
ings . Whenever a vert ical or horizon tal line be-
comes a diagonal, it appears to recede from, or
advance toward the viewer. A tiltin g shot of a
buil di ng indicates th a t it is f all ing backwards .
An angled shot of a st raight road creates the im-
pression that it is a di agon al, receding into the
distance . A geomet r ic cur ve creates a pa ttern that
lies flat on the sur face of the pi ct ure. A recedi ng
or diminish ing curve, however. suggests distant
space, since it carries the eye i nto the picture. A
diagonal line parallel to the picture's surface sug -
ges ts a moving. fall ing or oth er ac t ion line, such
as a falling tree. A diagonal recedinq into the dis-
t nncc. suggests a spacl' lin e. Pairs of such diago-
nals , such as rail road tr acks. seem to converge
and meet at infi nit y.
Meanings conveyed by lines arc also influenced
by such forces of Nature as gravity. Diagon al s arc
dyn amic. Usu ally they suggest inst ability . because
thcv are basicullv fal len ver ticals. A verti cal t ree
. .
becomes a di agonal when it fa lls. Lightning is a
strong. sharp, j agged dt agonal Hne. Ra in drops or
SII OW flakes form a scrtcs of softly fall in g lines.
Rivers or meandering streams cre ate curves as
thcv follow the con tour of the ear th .
Lines also (' xpress speed qualit ies . whic h can
add dra ma tic emphas is to t he picture. Str aight ,
ang ular or j agged lim's , such as ligh tning stre aks .
,L!; ive impression s of speed. forcefu lness 01' vitali ty,
Softly curved line s slow eye speed and create a
leisurel y or de liber at e pace. Most beautifu l curves
att r act lingering attent ion. Since they do not
impede progress , unbroken lines make faster
viewing tha n broken or erra tic lines .
All object s. whether nat ural or man-made , have
[ar nt. Physical Forms arc easy to recogni ze, Forms
creat ed by viewer's eye movement from one ob-
jcc t to ano ther are not alwa ys easy to recognize.
un less pointed out. Thu s . ma ny abs t ract forms
exist solely in viewer's minds in the space created
hy several physical ob jects.
Eye mov ement From one per son or object to
another may describe a triangle, a circle or other
form . ;\Ian y experienced camerame n subc onsci-
ously ut ilize ce rt ain composit iona l forms wit hout
ac tually an alyzing them. They ha ve learned
through experience that certain grouping s of
people. furnit ure. object s . vehicl es and structures
prese nt harmonious pictures. Transltiou nl lines
created hy the viewer 's eye mo ving fro m one
object to another ma y result in an cst hcucallv
pleasing effec t.
11lC following composit ional for ms shou ld he
consi dered as both physical forms and abstract
- ~ ..-
T ransitional li nes Wllic ll descrilx.' for ms i ll l1l'pt IJ - such (I S trianq/.e form ed by
I i ~ derrick loadiny Polaris missile i1110 nuclear submnrme - arc compositionullq
stron.qer tlian form s widell appear to lie on s urface of scree n ,
A reve rs e tri anoular {"()If/positioll - IdO, 1l1U' "( (If bottom - may also In' us ed to
compose l/i ft' f' people . \Vliile il mall IH' lI'('a l.:(' , in fo rm. it i s an ('xcel lt' nt choice
in this i"sIUlKt' , nec ouse sta lldi ll .lJ plmfl' n domi nate centered pla1Jcr. Co mposi-
tion wOll in lit' u'cakcncd if p lal}<'T al riylll were nbscnt,
forms existing in space. They should also be con-
sidered as cxtsnng in dept h. from front to back of
the picture . not solel y as fla t. two-dimension al
forms lyin?; on the surface of the picture,
A triangul ar form suggest s strength. st abilny.
solidit y of the pyramid. lt is a compac t. closed
for m which causes the eye to continu e from point
to point without esc.l pl'. A tall. thin tri angle is
rel ated 10 the vert ical. a nd is found in Nature in
evergreen trees. A short. squat tri angle is rela ted
to the horizontal and. because or its broad base.
posses ses greatest stabil ity. Mountai ns arc com-
posed of a series of triangles. Tria ngle composi-
tions arc very useful for grouping people because
a significant figure can dominate through added
height. It is much ea sier to compose in or
other odd numbers; becau se a single compos i-
tional element mav become the center or int erest
by rising up and crea ting an abstrac t tria ngular
composition wit h the lower positioned figures on
either side. A reverse tri angl e. with its apex at the
bott om. may also be used although it lacks the
stability of the pyr amid, which rests on its base.
In this fashion. two adults may he effect ively com-
posed wi th a child between them.
A circular or oval form also tends to tic in and
hold the viewer' s attent ion. A circu lar object. or a
gruup of figures or objects arranged in a circular
pattern . causes viewer's gaze to wander without
('scape from the fra me . A circle of light , such as
that produced by a spotlight. may he employed to
l' ncompass a player. Yet. the rest of the framed
area remains da rk; discour aging viewer's a t tcn-
lion from str aying from cen ter of Inte res t. Acircle
or oval lacks the broad base and stability of the
pyra mid or tr iangle. A base may be provided . how-
ever. hy a shadowed ar ea , a foreground frame. or
some ot her light ing or compositiona l device.
The cross is one of the tow compostnonu l forms
that may be centered. because its four arms radi-
at e in all direc tions equally. The cross inspires a
sense of unity and force. It is awesome and power-
ful because in many minds it symbolizes the
Almighty. The cross may be placed off center of
the picture; but it should not be placed too dose
to the side of the fr ame, or part of its r adiance
will be weakened.
Radiati ng lines are a vari ation of the cross ,
since they supply multiple arms from a centrally-
located hub. There are many excellent exa mples
in Nature - flower petals, tree branches, snow-
flakes, etc. Hadta u ng lines seem to expand and
att ract, especially if twirled . and their act ion
spreads joy and laught er. Whil e radtanna lines
may be ei ther s tr aigh t or cur ved , to be most effec-
tive, the cen ter of interest should be located near
the hub , Unli ke the cross, however, the hub need
not be ncar the center of the frame.
Various L-shaped forms suggest Informality.
and arc very flexible because they pr ovide base
and upright in combination . An L shaped compo-
sition i... useful for landsca pes, or establishi ng long
shots ; whe re a broad base crea ted by a shadow
area , a walk . a wall or a road, ex tends horizontall y
to one side of the fr ame wit h a tree rising in a
strong vertical. A solitary figur e at one side of the
fr ame rnay also Iorm an L wit h the ground or
floor . The L can pr ovide repose, throug h its base;
and digni ty. through use of fi gure or object rising
in the Frame. The s tron gest L composition results
whe n the upright occu pies the left or right ver tical
line crea ted by dividing the frame in thirds. An
accent at the opposit e bot tom cross lines will pro-
vide t he opposing compos itional weight required
for a balanced picture.
The words f or m and arc often used
Interch angeably. Sfll/ JJI' has to do with the spatial
IIS/wct .... of an object. its physica l shape as defined
hy its ("{", tour . Fur m may be pl /ysi caL or abst ract
as explained in the precedi ng pages . IHass is the
pi ct or i al U'c(ql1 t of an object. an area , a figure or
a /-: fOUP made up of any or all of these. Masses
arc eit her stnalc un its. suc h as a large body of
wa ter. a mountai n peak. a ship or an airplane ; or
a large head in cl ose-up. or a combinat ion of
several figures or objects closely grouped or in te-
gra ted so that they appear as a single composi-
tional un it .
Lines and forms ca n dominate a compositi on
by thei r esthetic or psychological val ue. They may
attract the viewer's ey,,' t hrou gh sheer beauty or
the viewer' s senses through their emotion al ap-
peal. Pictured masses, however. capture and hold
attention through the power of the ir heavy pic-
tor ial weight. They may also domi nate by their
isolat ion , unity. contr ast, size, stability. cohe sion,
lighting or color .
Strengt h is added to an isolated mass, if it is
separa ted from its background by contrast. light-
ing or color. Such treatment will cause a mass to
sta nd out from a contusi ng . conflicting or ot he r-
wise "busy" background.
A un ified mass is strengt hened when seve ral
figur es or obj ect s arc tied toget her. so th at they
combine into a domi nant group, Wildly scattered
groupi ngs should be avoided.
A dark mass will sta nd om against a ligh t
hackground, or a light mass agains t a dark aile -
through contrast. This is the simplest way to pro-
vide emphasis, and pull a figure or object away
from the backgrou nd.
- v
.t masw may h(" a single pict ori al d (' III (" 1I1 - .\ 1H'1I (1 .\ a mountain peak - or it may
of do.\ (' ly .t/roll ped fi gures Ihal appea r as {/ .\ i ll.qk couipoeitiouai lI II i f. A
torqe lIl ass captu res vicu'ers' all elltioll f ltrol/nl l tile power of In'(lVy pictorial
weigll f
A la rge mass will dominate the scene i f con -
trasted wi th one or more small masses . Size of
mass carl be increased in re la tio n to the frame
through careful choice of camer a an gle, len s focal
length and pl acemen t in the pi ct ure
A finely-composed mass with a he avy base,
presents an immovable appearance which will
dominate through stability. The pyr amid form ,
particularly with a dark foreground , is very effec-
tive whe n massed in to a domi na nt f ull-fr a me
pictorial clement.
A compact mass - withou t projections , jagged
edges or other pr otuber ance s - will dominate the
scene because of its cohesive ness.
Massive ligh ting effects, especially i f shot
agai nst a da rker background , will do min at e by
cre a t ing un ity and contras t. A burning forest, a
streak of sunligh t through ch urch windows , a
ftreworks di splay , or the backlighted rays of sun-
light on the wa ter arc all dominan t masses e re-
at ed by li gh t alone.
A pred om inati ng color , such as a large blue
shadow area or red-streaked clouds illumin ated by
a setting sun , may cre at e a m assi ve color effect .
Primary or highly-saturated colors arc most effec-
tive when used to dominate the scene.
Composi tion al movements arc a par tic ularly
importa nt aspect of motion picture photogr aphy.
Complete movements ma y be on ly SIIWlc stcd in
still phot ography. They m ay be both SII,q,qcstcd and
depicted in m oti on pict ures. Movements possess
es the tic and psychological properties, which may
cOI1\' ey varied pic torial and emotion al connot a-
tions to th e viewer. Move ment may be created by
the eye going from one point to anoth er wit hin
th e scene, or by foll owi ng a moving objec t. Such
eye movement result s in t ransit ion al li nes wh ich
are similar to composit ional lines. Movements
may change dur ing a shot, or a se quence of shots,
to m atch the changing char ac ter, mood or tempo
of the action. Meanings of various composition al
movemen ts ma y be described as f oll ows
Hori zonta l movements suggest travel, momen-
tum, displ acemen t. Lef t-to-righ t movement is
easier to follow, more natural, smooth er. Read in g
Asc{'nrlinu vertical movement suggeMs
freedom [ron: wei ght - as depict ed in ~ O t
o{ m issil e rising from launchi llg pad.
from left [ 0 right has pre-tr ained the au dience to
accept such movemen t ; and to follow it with lit tle
or no effort. Ri gh t-to-lef t is stronger , because it is
"again st the grai n ." Since lef t to right offers less
resist ance, i t sh ould be used f or travelogue pan-
n in g shots 0 1' simil ar e asy-going acti on. Right to
lef t movemen ts should be employed where a
str on ger , more dr amatic opposition must be de-
pic ted, such as the hero movi ng toward the villai n.
Ascendin g vert ical movemen ts suggest as pira-
tion , exaltation . growth , freedom f rom wei gh t and
J)escl'ndinq vertical movemcnt suggests
hrmnnese . dangcr or crushing power - as
porl rmwd III} thi s wa terfall.
Th is Dlle-fif tll model of proposed supersonic t ransport plane readied
for wi nd t umid test , ap pears (I S if i ll act ual (/if/Ill - Iwc(luse it is angled in
ascendi ng ti ne .
ma t te r - such as smoke ascendi ng from a ca ndle,
or a miss ile ri sin g. Since an upward movemen t is
uplifting. it may be employed for religious sub-
jects . Feeli ngs of ligh tness . free fligh t , happiness ,
elevation may be con veyed hy such mo vemen t.
A descendi ng vertical movement sugges ts hea v-
iness, danger, crushi ng power , such as portrayed
by a pile driver , an avalanche or a waterfall. Such
downwar d movements may portray doom, immi-
nent deat h or destr uction .
A di agonal movement is mos t dr a ma tic beca use
it is the stronges t. Diagonal movemen ts sugges t
opposing forces, st resses and st rains , Ixnver , over -
coming obstacles by Iorcc - such as in battle
scenes. Diagonal movement may be sugges ted
even in ma ny static scenes by a Dutch tilt angled
camer a, which creates sla nt ing dynamic lines.
Thu s, a statue, a buildi ng a domi na nt player , may
be given added dr am atic impact by diagon al treat-
ment. A toioer-tcit-to-uppcr-rtqut diagonal motion
should be used for an ascendinq move ment , such
as climbing a mountain. An upper-lett -to-lower-
rig/It diagon al motion should be employed for
desce nding muvement , such as lowering an objec t.
Zig-zag diago nal movemen ts - such as lightning
flashes - suggest swift ness and menace. Cross ed
diagonal" sugges t opposing forces, such as crossed
swords in batt le scenes.
Curved movements sugges t fear ; such as a
curve d snake, or fascination through fea r. Circu-
lar or revolving movements, however , suggest
cheerfuln ess , as found in amusement par k rides.
Revolving moveme nts also suggest mechani cal
energy; such as wheel s of in dustry or tr avel.
Pendulum motion suggests monotony , rele nt-
lessness, such as prison sc enes or the back-and-
for th pacing of ner vous person or caged animal.
Ca sc adi ng mution suggests sprigh tliness, ligh t-
ness or elastici ty such as a ball bounci ng, water
r apid s or a child skipping or playing hop-scotch.
Spre ading or radiating motions suggest cen tri-
fugal movement, such as concentric ripples on the
surface of a pool resulting fr um a stone thrown
into the water. Radia ting movemen t may also
suggest growth f rom the center ou tward. Spre ad -
ing motion suggest s panic, such as in a mob riot-
ing. Hadt ann g motion sugges ts radi o broadcast-
ing, or any acti vit)' ema na tin g outward from the
center of in tere st.
In terr upted movement , or movemen t tha t
ch anges di rec tion, a tt rac ts greater viewer in terest
th an con tinuou s movemen t or movement in a
con stant di rec tion .
Movemen t towa rd the viewer is more in terest-
ing beca use it increases in size. Receding move-
ment dec reases in size a nd los es viewer in terest.
N""" ~ ,.".,"
Ba lance is a sta te of equilibri um. If all f orces
are equal , or compens ate each oth er , they are said
to be "in bal an ce ." An ou t -of-bal ance figure or
object will u sually topple over. Physical balance,
theref ore, is in fluenced by the law of gravity, by
compensati ng f orces and the power of attraction.
Un balance upset s the viewer bec ause it di sturbs
hi s sen sibilities, an d crea tes unrest in the br a in .
Th a t is why some pictures may not "look right. "
A properly-bal anced composit ion is subcon sc i-
ou sly agreeable, be cause the vari ous element s arc
combined in an acceptable pic ture. On speci al
occ asions , the cameraman m ay wi sh to disturb
the viewer , and purposely presents an unbalanced
composi tion. Ordin arily, the scene should be pre-
sen ted so th at the laws of balance are observed.
Pictorial balan ce in moti on pic ture com position
can be either complicated or enhanced by player
and/ or camera movemen t. Moving players or ve-
hicles and the necessity for pann ing, til ting or
dollyi n g the camera, requ ire continuous compos-
ing as the scene pr ogresses . Mot ion picture s com-
positional balance is a series of pictorial eon/-
promises bas ed on Il ey positions of players and
pa uses in the ac tion wh en elemen ts are at rest.
St atic scenes re quire better bal ance th an moving
scenes , wh ere act ion will att r act the vie wer's eye ,
Lower- left-to-upper-right diagon al motion should be used for as cen di ng move-
m en t. An,qlin.1J thi s mobile-launche d j et {iqht er, so that it moves across the screen
in tll i s manner, resul t s i n a dynami cally effe ctive shot. I f this sho t were film ed
fro m the op posite side, it would depict t he ai rcraft with an opposing transitional
line wflich shoul d be us ed for descending motion

'. ' .
MOl'(' me llt toward V;('ll' {'r is more i ntrrcs tino , !lecausc it i n si ze as if
Mov ement of Ma rill es rus hi nq fo rwanl in tllis amphibious landinu i s
[urthcr reinforced /!y j et flY/ll er s flYllI II lo'wa rd t uo ca m era
rega rdless of composi tion al inadequacies.
Real /ik balance is conce rn ed with I'lt y...icul
uciqlu, Pictorial bal ance is concerned with p.<;ydlO-
logical 1('t'(qllt, whi ch is influenced by relative l'ye
at t raction of various compositional demen ts in
the picture. Each cle me nt att racts in accordance
with i ts size, sh ape, tonal value, color, movement ,
direction it faces. con t rast with it s surroundings
and placement in the fra me. Balance may be con-
sidered as a pair of bal ances or a seesaw. A large
static object on one side of the scene may thus be
counter-balanced by a small moiino object un t he
oppos ite side - suc h as a tiny car mov ing toward
a large mountai n - becau se they hoth have equal
psychological or pictor ial weigh t.
The loca ti on of a compositional d ement within
the frame influences its weight. A figure or objec t
placed. close to the cellter of the frame possesses
less composition al weight than one nearer the side
- because it exerts ltul e influence on the seesaw
and cannot lip it ct tbcr way. Therefore, a ltgh rcr
wei ght element may be moved fur ther away from
the cen ter ; while those of heavier weight should
he positioned closer towar d the center - to keep
them in balance. Placi ng a heavy weigh t element
too far to either side of the frame will unbal ance
t he composition an d cause it 10 topple visually.
The following compositional weight fact or s
T his scene i.s pictorially i nterc st i nc /JtTUllH"
(uel t ru ck ts i ll IJtldlgrolllUJ, framed I)/{
airplane ld"". It would lach interest if
s/w t squurr-on, wi t ll air craft and fu el tr uct:
ill Mfaiyilt tine-up ac ross screen,
shoul d be considered on the basis of all ot her
factors being equal :
A moving object possesses mor e weight than a
sta tionary object. This appli es regardless of size .
A relativel y small moving object - par ticularly i f
ligh t in tone, bright ly colored or contrasted
agains t the backgrou nd - will command grea ter
atte ntion than a lar ge sta tion ary object .
An object moving toward the ca mera becomes
progres sively larger , and thcrctorc carr ies great er
weigh t than a di mi ni shing object mo ving away.
The up per pa rt of a pictur e is heavier than the
lowe r part. because a hig her object appears hcav-
Ier than a lower one .
Since most viewers' eyes au tomatically move
toward the ri gh t. the righ t side of the fram e can
obviously attract and hold more attention than t he
left side. Thus. the left side of a picture can sup-
port greater pictor ial weight than the right side.
An isolated objec t possesses more \v'ei ght than
an obj ect crowded, me rged or sta cked with oth er s.
This applies wh ether lsol auon is ach ieved by pos t-
tioning, lighting, contr ast. color , or other fac tor .
An object will appear he avier if placed at the
side of the frame, si nce the cen ter of the picture

OOCllment ary s ubj ects - Slid, as t his high-

SIR'('<! . ~ J J a cane ule ejection seat t est wi lli
ins t ruvnentatcd dum mies - mmt be for-
mall y composed umcn t wo obiect are of
equ al in terest ,
is composit ionally weakest.
A large objec t in a static sce ne will carry more
weight , since it tends to dominat e the picture re-
gardless of position or other factors.
Regularl y-sh aped obj ects carry more weight
than irregularly-sha ped objects.
Peculiar . complex or intricate objec ts may ap-
pear heavier bec ause of the add itional interest
they gen erate.
A compact object; wit h mass concentr at ed
around it s center. will carr y more weight than a
loosely-joined objec t.
A ver tically-formed objec t will appear heavier
than an oblique object.
A bright object will posses s more weight than a
darker one. A high-key. ligh t-toned obj ec t appears
to adoance towa rd the viewer: while a darker ob-
ject recedes into the background. A black area
must, therefore , be larger than a white area to
counter-balance it. A bri ght surface appe ars rcl a-
lively l arger th an a dar k on e, because of irradi -
ati on effect.
Warm colors , such as red , arc heavier than cold
colors , such as bl ue . Brigh t colors convey more
wei ght than dark colors.
Formal com-posi ti on balance shou ld be used so depict quiet, rcsttul, st at ic scenes
-s suc h. as injured girl heing comforte d Ily /U" /Jl1rl'lItii . Simplcst cnmeTa and
liglitifl!J treatment. can be st co nvey peacel'ul eVf'TIt ....
FOHMAL, or symme trical balance
I NFOHMAL, or as ymmetr ical bal ance
FOR ,\ 1AL
When 1mlll sides of a composi tion arc sy mmet-
rical , or almost equal in attr anon. f ormal bal-
ance resul ts. For mal bal ance is usu ally sta tic, life-
less, lacking in force , con flict and contrast. A
form all y-bal anced picture suggests peace , quiet,
equality . Across , a cour thouse , or a pastoral scene
should be formall y bala nced because they are
gene rally pr esented to convey these qualities to
the viewer . Such scenes should be filmed almost
square-on , with l ittle or no camera angling, so
that pict or ial clements on each side are similar
In Image size. Formally balance d composit ions
should not be garish in handling - lighting, tonal
val ues. color s and contras t should be subtl e.
Formal bala nce is employed in the popular pro-
filc two-shot , in which two players sit or stand on
opposite sides of the frame facing each other.
Dominance switc hes fr om one player to the other
as each spea ks in turn . Since each player is equa lly
impor tant pict orially. it is dia logue, faci al cxprcs
sian or ot he r action which attr acts audience a t-
tention. It is possible to "unbalance" such formally
bal anced two-shots by favori ng one player with
2 10
Informal balance is used all dose-ups
because the subject: must he positioned
.slightly ott -center to provide more space
in the direction of looh.
brighter lighting, slightly bcucr angling, br ighter
color cos tume, better separation with the back-
ground or any of the other compositional tricks
described elsewhere in this chapt er. Thus. opposi-
tion, force and conflict may result from an other-
wise peaceful composition.
When both sides of a composruon are asym-
met rical, or differe nt in attract ion , informa l bal-
ance results . Infor mal balance is dynamic because
it presents a forceful arr angement of opposing
compositional clemen ts. In an informally-balanced
pic ture a domi nant figure or objec t provides the
center of interest. In contrast, or oppositi on, is a
secondary figure or object of equal composit ional
weight on t he ot her side. Compositional clements
of different shapes , sizes, color or tonal values, or
sta tic and moving subject matter, may thus bal-
ance each other because both sides of the picture
are equal in composition al wei ght. Asymmetrical
balance is employed subtlety on close-ups - where
a si ngle player nils the frame - by placing the
head slightly off-center , so that sligh tly more space
is provi ded in the di rection in wh ich the player
l ooks. By associ ation - with the off-screen pl ayer ,
object or ac tion wit h whom the player is rel ating -
the look carries sufficient weight to compensate
for the head's off-center position . The on-screen
player is thus balanced with an "invisible" off-
screen player!
The simplest method for crea ti ng asymmetrical
compositi ons is to think of a sre- satu or fulcrum,
with one side heavier than the ot her. The he avy
side is the figure or object, the center
of in terest in the scene. Thi s domi nant composi -
tional element must have an opposi ng clement on
the oppos ite side of the frame, to balance compo-
siti on of the sce ne.
A smaller opposing composition al element can
compensate for it s size by additional weight incur-
red through it s location , sha pe , bri gh tnes s. move-
ment or color value. Sin ce movement cre ates
greatest interes t in a mot ion picture sce ne ,
smaller moving figur es or vehicles carry greater
composit ion al weight than much larger sta tic ob-
jects, such as buildings , trees, or mount ains.
Thus, the ce nte r of interest may be a small boa t
moving toward a large har bor . Physical size
should not he the only cons ideration in ch oosi ng
a domi nant compositional element. Movement is
importan t. too.
The dominan t subject should n ot be pla ced in
the same hori zontal line with the les ser-weight
opposing eleme nt; but should be slightly hi gh er
""' .............,..
Formal balance is generally em ployed for
tum-shot: of boy und ,qirl. Audience interest
will shift from one player to other as ea ch
speaks in t urn - or perfonns sig nifi cant
acti on.
The player who should dominate the scen e
should not he placed In the same horizon-
tal line wit h Q lesser player. Positumino the
nUll at the right of the frame, alld hiqhcr
thnn the seated figure , provides a compo-
sitionallu strcncqe r tr eat men t .
or lower - prefer ably higher - so that it shows
heav ier weight in order to att ra ct att ention. There-
fore, a domi na ting pl ayer should appear higher
th an the suppor ting players. Or, if placed lower ,
or seated, dominate the scene by be tter li gh ting or
positi oni ng; such as being pl aced on one of the
four strong compositional points of the fr ame; or
even capture atten tion by the "looks" of the other
playe rs direc ted toward hi m. Being positioned
hi gher or lower will do the trick, but placing the
domi nant pl ayer at equal compositional he ight
wi th less important player may weaken the sce ne.
Position ing may also be accomplished in de pth by
pos itioning the selected player forwar d of the oth -
ers to make him appear high er, or positioning him
fur ther back so that he appears lower .
A simple method for creating in formal balance
is to compose wi th an odd number of players or
objects. An odd number of pictorial elements , par-
ticu la rly three , may be so positioned that a single
clement will dominate the re mainder. Also odd
numbers f aciUtate 1meDen arrangement of pic -
tor ial e lements; wh ich permi ts placing the domi-
nan t element at one si de of frame - or at top or
bo ttom of f ra me - thus creati ng a tr iangula r
composition. Dominance may be swi tched from
on e player to another as the scene progresses , by
ehangin).!; pos itio ns , or by une player sta nding -
if all arc seated - or by stepping forward . A lower
th an eye-level camera angle may be given the sig-
nificant player by placing hi m toward the right
side of the fr ame, f aci ng inward. The rig ht side
h as greater pictorial weight. The lef t side is more
This docs not imply th a t all arrangements
should consist of odd numbers of players with the
leading player at the apex of a tr iangular right-
handed composition ! Variations un this theme
should he used wh en ever practical. The dominant
player need not remain compositionally stro ng
through out the shot, or seq uence. He may achieve
dominance by movement, or by the movement of
other players, or the camera. He may thus capture
audience in terest only when it is requi re d - such
as when speaking an import ant li ne of dialogue
or performing a stgntflcant action .
Human senses rebel a t composit ions th at defy
the laws of gravity. Heavy compositional clements
reaching skyward shou ld possess a low center of
gravity, or they will seem about to topple. A tall
i 11
Ii f'
, i
' I "
I '
Gravity i11flupnces boloncc. Larg e strnc-
tures slmuld have heavy bases - such as
steps. Sllad07L'lf patterns of [oiiaoc aids in
hreah inq lip larue [orcorcnnid area ,
st ruc ture sho uld be supported by a broad base,
preferab ly dark-toned , to ai d in supporting its
top-heavy visual effect. A rel ati vel y large fore-
ground area should be dark shadowed - or illumi-
na ted with light filtered through tree branches -
to counter-ba lance buildin gs or ot her strong com-
postuona l clemen ts. Large areas of sunlightcd
pavemen ts should be a voided in such ins tances ,
either by elimi nation. or by lowering the camera
to for eshor ten the a rea from front to back.
Oravnv also influences movement: a balloon
ascends upward , all object falls downwar d, wa ter
flows down hil l (prefer abl y with upper- left -to -
lower-righ t movement), and a man cl imbs uphill
( prefer ably wit h lowcr- Ief'r-t o-uppcr -rtgh t move-
men t ) .
Unbalanced composnt on may he created by
defying the laws of gray it y through employment
of baseless pictures. A tall buildi ng j utti ng di ago-
nally through the fr ame; or tilt ed Dutch-angled
shots of pl ayers. objects or str uc tures depicted in
slanti ng di agon als. which create out-of-bal ance
pictures; may be used when the scri pt calls for
violence . fea r , panic or impressionistic effects.
A pic ture possesses unit y when all cinematic
clements incorporated in the scene arc per fectl y
AlOwl/nl1 at le ft of fra me , an d WIr er; t ile
11'0111(111 domi nates tilt' alJov(' shot because
she is more favora hl .IJ ' oward tile
camera , and bet ter i lluminated,
T liis fight scene iorms all inverted triangu-
lar composition - wit h s ubdued player at
lJOttom apex.
integrated . The desi red mood and atmosphere
should be conveyed by proper usage of line, form,
mass and movement ; lighting , player and / or
camera movement; tonal values; color combina-
tions; over-all photographic tr ea tment ; and edit-
ing. The man)' tech nical. esthetic and psycholog-
ical clements should be corre lated in order to eon -
Yey a unified emotional fcclmg. Mixture of cine -
mat ic effects results in a discordant clash , wh ich
will weaken the story-telli ng.
u-n... "",_
Low camera anoic and focusin g
mahe player in foreground stand out
agaill st su pportillg ill bach-
YfOlIUd , U:11O (in! lower ill frame.
An od d /lu mber of players, p referahly
three, may he i I/ f orm all y ba lanced w it h a
single ('enter of in terest - such as the
act ress in this three-shot, who is posi-
ti oned lowe r and better li ghted th an the
Ot1/t'T planers
DO's & DON' Ts
Do combine long horizonal Jines , static or slow-
panning camera, soft lighting, slow movin g or
static players, lengthy scenes , to inspire a quiet,
peaceful, re stful mood, Don't destroy the effect
by tilting the camer a upwar d, or by allowi ng fa st
player movement, or by editing with short, ch oppy
Gir l dominates t his scene because she is
lower , positioned on rig ht an d angled to-
ward came ra, composit ionally stronger.
CD''' ",'' CoI,'o ," " Co
T ile ascending motion of tt rese jet fight ers
is f ur tfwT 1)11 fI!lin{J a diagonal
[ormution: cr eates a lmvcr-left -to-
ll ppcr-riqJIl truneiuonnt tine in space ,
Do compose a series of tall ver tic al columns
fronting a courthouse in a dignified manner with
a symmetrical , static compositi on . Don't destroy
the effect by pa nning horizon tally across the ver -
tical columns.
Do increase the ac tion eff ect of moun t ain
climbers , racing cars, marching sold iers, by stag -
ing thei r movement so th at the viewe r's eye must
travel in a diagon al pattern .
Do record the graceful effect of a skier twisting
and turning downhill by following wit h a curving
camera movement .
Do employ sla nted Dutch camer a angles ,
dynamic compositions, dr amat ic ligh ting, and
rhythmic edi ting to create an unbal anc ed , tilte d,
unst able effect on anyt hing wei rd or violent.
Do n't employ unusu al ca mer a angles, distract-
ing back ground movemen t or off-bea t ligh ting on
a simple scene with important dialogue, which
req uires greater audio than visual attention.
Do str ive always to preserve unit y of style
throughout a sequence.
A picture shou ld feature one center of in terest.
Two or rnore equally dominant figures , obj ec ts or
actions in a si ngle scene compete wi th each other
for the viewer's atten tion , and weaken the pic-
ture's effec tiveness . A two-shot may appear to be
an excepti on to this rule - but i t isn't ! One pl ayer
at a time dominates a two-shot as he speaks or
performs a more significan t acti on. A single
player may also be favored in a two-shot in a
number of ways previously discussed . The eye
will thus be auracted 10 a single player either by
his speech or ac tions or by more f avorable compo-
siuonal. Hghtlng or came ra treatmen t.
The viewer's attention should always be at-
tr ac ted to the most signi fic an t po rtion of the
scene . Th is docs n ot imply th at foreground and
background act ion ma y not occur simultaneously,
or that several. or even hundreds of figures or
objects may not appear in a single scene. Back-
ground action should complement foregrou nd
ac tion. so that it pro vides the setting an d a trnos-
phe re for the principal players without competi ng
wit h them.
A dominant composit ional eleme nt need not
cons ist of a single figur e or object. It may be sev-
eral figures. or an y cl osely-knit combination of
figures or objects. which may be mer ged in to a
unified grouping. Groups of players , trees, buil d-
ings , or marchi ng sold iers. a squadron of air-
planes or several machines , mav be formed inlo a
si ngle compositional center of interest. Prefer-
w cmn dominates this infonnally bal-
anced two-shot because she is posi tioned
on rigllt, favorahll/ angled toward camera
and hetter lighted. Audience is also di-
ree fed toward girl by mali'S look,
Ill formal lml clllce h easiest to achieve ieitlt
an odd number of players, or pictorial ele-
JIIt'lIt S. ,Ut/lOllgl, the seamen are steeri ng
f i ~ rwd.ear .\" 1,, the officer st alldillg be-
f it'eell them ts OI'Vi(Judy i n commalid, he-
cause lie domi llafes the trianqular cam-po-
witio n, Ti le effect is f llrt licr enhanced Vy
till.' offi. ccr hcinu dressed in Iiol it -coior ed
cl ot hing - <vl/iell adds pict oriui interest .
entia l compositional treatment plays up signifi-
ca nt portions of the picture, There arc occasions
when sc reral scatt ered centers of interest arc
justified: such as in scenes of battle. riot , pa nic ,
catastrophe and other ac tions invol ving violent ,
u-...., c............
Viewers' cyes will be attracted to dominant
pla yer i n a t wo-sllot ioheneoer he i s .give n
compositionally stronger -potit uminq, bet -
fer anqlinq, m ore favorable li.qhting - or,
more dramatic speech or action ,
Scenes of riol, panic, catastrophe or other
violcnt happenings may employ several
scattered centers of interest such as these
people ruuuh!.t} in different dirccticms,
TIle left side of the frame can support
greater compositional weight , so this radar
operator is properly positioned on right in
opposition to the larger mass on left.
unbala nced, disturbing happenings. Members of a
unified group of players, for instance, may scatt er
in all directions in a mob scene; or, individual
airplanes in a squadron may peel off toward vari-
ous ground targets.
The center of in ter est should se ldom be ce n-
ter ed in the picture. A cr oss , a radio or television
Fmlllillf} of players in dose-up IIwy IJc
var ied if balanced Il,fluinst other olJjects.
/ Iioher pos/tirmed cundles all riqlit allow
( playa's //(,(/(1 Iouscr Ull left.
an tenna, or any other object that radiates equally
in all directions, wou ld be the rare exceptions . The
center of in ter est should preferably be at the right
dominant side of the frame. Making this a fixed
rule, however. will re sult in visual monotony.
A simple and effective method for positi oning
the cen ter of tr ucrcst in a dominant portion of the
picture, is to divide the frame into three equal
parts: firs t vertically. then horizontally. All iour
points where these lines cross arc composit ionally
strong. As a rigid rule , this may produce a series
of mechanically-positioned centers of interest -
always falling into similar places in the picture.
As a loose ru le it will prcucnt bisecting the picture
vertically, horizontally. or even diagonally -
which results in visually du ll compositions.
The horizon, for instance, sho uld no t be cen-
tered in the frame, because it will divide the pic-
ture into two equal parts. The sky may occupy
one- third or two-thi rds of the picture, but never
one-half of the frame . There arc situations when
the hor izon should be completely out of the pic-
ture, such as in a low angle shot against the sky ,
or a high angle shot looking down. Or , the horizon
may be a thin line running along the very bottom
of the frame - if the sky is featured, as in a sun-
set shot.
A telephone pole, a tree or similar object should
Scalcd player is center of interest in this simply composed. effectively angled
and '1uellliqlllcd scene. Position of pluyl'T , compo.sirion and lighting draw view-
en;' aucntion toward dominGnt sealed ((quTe . Supporting playe r on left is sub-
d w:d hy rmylcd away from camera Gnd less favorably illuminated.
no t be vertically centered, or it will divide the pi c-
ture into two equal parts in the same manner. A
diagonal line, such as the slope of a mountain,
should not run precisely f rom one corner of the
frame to the other, or i t will create two equal
parts . Dominant su bject matter should be posi-
tioned so that it faces inward toward the center of
the picture. Frami ng with a slight lead in th e
faci n g direction, will place it slightly to one side
of the picture.
The f ra me should be divided so th at prominent
lines - horizon, buildings, trees, columns, win-
dows, doors, l arge lamps - arc positioned to
attract the eye to a strong compositional point.
Odd-n umbered divisions, preferably thirds, arc
bes t . Cross poi nts shuuld be moved about, how-
ever, so that the center of in terest occurs at
irrcoular positions in the fr ame in various scenes.
Princi pal pictorial ele ments should not be com-
posed wi th monoton ous regul aril y. Many camera-
men discover what they consider a satisfa ctory
compos itional arrangement , and they stick wit h
it. This may result in a compositional similarity
from sh ot to shot, th ough subject matter changes.
Th rough va ri e ty in horizon placement , chang-
ing posit ion of cen ter of in terest , and diversif yin g
2 17
eO',"" e",,,
A player may remain subdued in the dark
recesses of a room - until moved into tile
l(qllt. L(qlttinrJ in contmeuno planes allows
the player to move about from dark to
light areas .
player and camera movement; compositions of
the various scenes will not appear repetitious.
Audience interest may be attracted or switched
during a scene by ;
The significant player , object or action may
capture and hold the audience attention by being
pusitioned in the most dominant portion of the
composition: or by moving in to the best position
as the scene progresses. Or, he may attract atten-
tion by being isolated From the other players, or
moving away from them during the scene. A
player may also move for better contrast with the
background . Or , a pl ayer may stand up or move
forward , thus increasing his height or relative
size in the frame. A sudden move on th e part of
a previously in active player may shock or sur-
pri se the audience, so that the player becomes the
center of interest in the sce ne. Or, a player may
ac t forcefully; such as pounding his fis t on a table .
Centered ploucr is at a-pe-e o{ a trianoular
composition, staocd in depth . He domi-
nates the scene until playcr at left , al-
tlwlIqh !wudeel and unseen, steps up . The
center o{ interest in a scene may change
tlnollg}, {orceful player movement. Thus ,
1Jicwt"r i n t n ~ t can be switched from onc
player to another, as dramatic interest
chanDes , Such Il(:tions are also reinforced
by looks uf other players.
striking another player. or dr awing a knife or gun.
A player may reverse his direction, so that it con-
trasts with the movement of other players. Or , a
player may assume dominance by moving in front
and obscuring other players. The princi pal player
may gain dominance through effective usc of
sound; by speaking louder or eve n shouting, by
silencing others so that he alone is heard, or by
speaking the most dramatic lines.
A p[(lyer may (/SS IIIII(! do minance of a
WOII/! IJY up, w hi le tlwy remai n
sea/r d.
Viewer' s eyes a re normall y att racted to the
most brightly ill umi n ated , t he ligh test toned . or
the mos t color ful area of a pic tu re. This eye
att r action may he exploited to make the lead ing
pla yer the center uf int eres t by lighter or more
colorful clothing. ur bet ter ill umi nation. Large
screen image is se ldom necessary . since even a
rel atively small object . lighter toned or more
bri ghtly colored t han surroundi ng objects . will
a ttrac t a tt en tion. This is due to the con tras t
for med with i ts surround ings. A bri ghter ob ject
advanc es from a darker backg round toward the
viewer. It is , therefore , im por tan t to sec t hat a
subordinate player or objec t does not Meal t he
scene unintentionally through these advantages .
Pl ayer or ca mera movement may be ut ilized so
that a principal player may move into a more
brightly lig-hted area . to incre ase dramati c em-
phasis dun ng a scene. Th us, the player may
remain subdued. even if costumed in light or
colorful clothi ng. until he moves In to the ligh t.
Such movcuu-nt ..hcul d lx- timed. of course. to
coincide wi th acuon ttl the audience.
Lighting in ccn tr a- at m; planes all ows the player
to move about from dark to light areas. Ou tdoors
thi s may lx- sha do\\ arcus created In' tree
br an ches, buildmus. etc. Light and dar k
Audience interest unll be n' n /ereel 011 pin y"r
tdcpllOllin,q . /JCC(1U ,q' illl ant's att ract
most at tent ion.
area s are for med throughout interior sets by sim-
ulating low key lighti ng from individu al lamps or
A ver y effective me thod for attract ing viewers'
attention to the cen ter of In te rest is selective
focusing . which presenls significant subject mat-
ter sharply, and the remai nder of the picture
slightly soft in focus. The human eye wt ll always
seek out the sharpest image , in preference to soft
or out -of-foc us images . A player , or object, there-
for e, wil l have the greate st eye attraction if it is
the sharpest image in the scene ,
Modern filming techniques req uire that only
pictorial matter of story-telling significance need
be sha rp. Unli mited depth-of-held is rarely neces-
sary in theatr ical motion pictures. Medium shots
and close-ups are generally sharp against a
shgh rly out-of-focus background in dramatic films.
The background becomes progressively softer as
the camera moves in for cl oser shots. Such grad-
ual fall-off in background sharpness will be barely
perceptible i f foreground action dep icted is int er-
es ting enough to hold attention .
Th e scannmo movement of viewers' eyes, as
thcv search the pict ur e for its mean ing, should
Match ed pairs of d ose-lips of opposing pla yers shoul d he similarly sized from
opposing camera angles. Lonlcs art: t hus on a lin e toward each other,
be given serious consideration by motion picture
cameramen. Studies have been made - many 'wit h
compl ex optical inst ru ments that measure eye
muvement - by adver tising and military agencies
to learn rnore about this in teres ting: phenomenon.
Adver tisers seck a sure-fi re me thod to di rec t the
re ader's gaze to product being promoted. Air
Force desi gners want to find the mos t practical
grouping for flight instrume nts in a jet fighter
cockpit , or a space ca psule.
The cameraman is concerned not only with the
eye scan witlzin the frame but - more import an t
- the movement from one frame to another when
the picture chanqce. For instance, in a two-shot,
and subsequent close-ups, the viewers' eyes are
directed first to one player and then the other in
a back-and-forth pattern . Positions of pl ayer s in
the frame; the ir relative heights, whether their
looks at each other are level, or up or down ; will
result in definite eye-scanning motions by viewers.
That is the reason individual pl ayers mus t be
given correct frami ng and lead in close-ups. Pro-
per fr aming places the player'S eyes in the proper
por tion of the picture, and the lead directs the
look off-screen to the opposite player , who in
turn will appear on the opposite side of the frame ,
wi th opposite lead. Viewers' eyes are thus kept on
a level; or may look up or down if one player is
hi gher , and be direc ted back and for th with each
cut. If pl ayers arc improperl y positioned in the
frame, viewers may be j arred in scanning, and be
momentarily distr act ed.
This also wor ks wit h long sho ts, followed by
closer sho ts . viewers' eyes may be led to the cen-
ter of interest in a long shot. This area should
then be presented in approximately the same por -
tion of the frame in the following closer shot.
Ot herwise, viewers' eyes will make a decided jump
to try to find the center of in teres t once more.
This eye positioning can be easily checked on a
Movtcla. or other editing device which permits
marking the film with a grease penci l. A mark
should be made on the portion of the fr ame where
the eye is attracted - either the center of interest,
or the place where a player in the scene is looking.
Then the film should be r olled a frame or two to
the next shot , and a similar mark made . In a
series of correctly-framed and composed scenes,
the eye will scan approximately the same area ; be
di rec ted toward the pro per portion of the frame
in the followi ng shot ; or will scan bac k and forth,
as in a two-shot.
While eye scan should be smooth and orderly
for most sequences, there are occasions when the
cen ter of at traction should jump about. A sudden
burst of activity, a new story development , a sur-
prising move on the part of a player, may cause
the eye to shift abr uptly to a new area of the
frame. Th is should be done whenever the script
calls for shocking the viewer into looking at a
AltllOUyh qoucrruncru. uqcnu and .quItm an are depic/cd in separate shots , their
gUJJS are fired on similar tine across screen. Viewcrs' eye SCalI u'ill shift hach: and
fortll alternately to follow tine of {ire ,
player , object, or action in another part of the
screen. A murderer may be introduced, a vehicle
may suddenly appear, or a twist in the story
brought on with this jarring treatment. It is wise,
therefore, to trap the viewer in to scanning a cer-
tain area, lead h im to believe that this is the place
to watch - then , in a sudden cut , reveal action
Eye scanning is most effective on a l arge
screen. It is less important on television and
small-screen IGmm projection because the eye
Printed matter should be angled to slope up-hill - from lower left to upper right.
Such angling permits viewers' eyes to drop down for next line. Downhill angling
forces eye to move up to read next line in unaccustomed manner.
A murderer should lie suddenly introduced
from screen left - to shoch viewers who
ohseroc his intended victim on right side of
picture, Abrupt eye scan from richt to left
corurihute to startling effect. Audience
will hf> slwcherl hy action after preceding
progressive regressive, contrasting or repetiti ou s
in tmagt- size However , the eye rebel s when im-
ages an: changed sliqhtly in size, or sliqhtllj in
angle - an effect similar to a jump-cut . This
occurs when dose-ups ar e pres en ted in a hodge-
podge of image sizes. rather than in pairs of
matched close-ups. filmed in series of opposing
angled shots, or, se ries of same size reaction
close-ups of several player s. Close-up images,
slighth smaller or larger than bracketing cl ose-
ups, create expanding and contracti ng effects
when scanned. This lack of uniformity in image
si ze is most disconcerti ng to viewers.
Erratic eye scanning. caused by scattered,
od dly -sized oddly-angled images, may be em-
ployed whe n unbalanced or we ird effects are
desired. Sce nes of panic , catastrophe or viol en ce
may he enhanced by being oddly-sized or oddly-
angled. or even Dutch-tilt angled. Viewers wi ll
thus he f orced to scan the screen with abrupt
hack - and -f orth . up - and -down or diagonal eye
movements. involving the audience more closely
wit h the screen action
The CAMF:nA ANG1.E chapter di scussion on
filming signs and printed matt er shoul d be re -read
f or its eve-scan ning ctfccrs.
u'"" " " C'" " ,"',"
T hi s scene is ('ompnslti.onally intcrestinc because lines of tunnel dimi ni slt t o-
lVard riqlit, and ircmc .i'ar piwwr in center of circular openino,
InWqc placemen t is the posit ion ing of subject
matter in the frame , or framinq . Mn nv scenes
involve player and/or camera movement, whic h
require continuous as the action pro-
gresses. A mov ing player should be given slightly
more sp ace in the direction in which he tra vel s
St aticall y-posit ioned , he sho uld be given slightly
more space in the direction in whic h he {oob
Amou nt of head room - distance be twee n tops
of pl ayers' he ads and top fr ame lin e - var ies with
combinat ions of players , backgrounds composi-
tional masses - such as frnmlng devices - at top
of pict ure. Head room that may be excesstve when
players ar e positioned too low "i n the fr ame, wit h
a plain background, may be jus t right if an over-
hanging tree branch stretche s acr oss top of pic-
tu re. Excessive head r oom will make the picture
look bottom -heavy . Insufficien t head r oom will
cause the picture to look crowded .
Pl ayers should not come into contact wi th the
fr ame by standing or sitting precisely on the bot-
tom Ir amc lin e: or leanin g, or in preci se line-up .
with the sides of the frame. The bottom fr ame
line should not cu t across a player' s joints; knees,
waist , elbows, shoulders , etc. Posi tionin g of pl ay-
ers par ticularl y in closeups . should be arranged
so that the frame line cu ts hctsoccn. body joints.
Care should be exercised in moving shots so that
a pla yer , or players, come to a key position wi th
fr am ing stmflar to th at used for static shots .
Careful framing of movi ng shot s - wh ere
pla yer's image size var ies throughout the scene
- is j us t as impor ta n t as composing stat ic shots.
The most trnpor tant player obje ct or action
should generally be positioned on the r ight. If the
domi nan t player needs to be positioned on the
left. he ma y be given preferentia l compositional
trea tment by bet ter ligh ti ng, more favor able body
,Ingling. stronger con tr as t or separatio n 1'1' 0111
background, or other methods. In a symmetri call y
composed two-shot , eac h pl ayer will dominate the
sh ot in tu rn as he speaks If i t is des irable to sur-
pr ise or shock the au d ience, a new pl ayer may be
suddenly int roduced from the left. Thi s will cause
th e viewer to sh if t a t tention abruptl y f rom right
to left. The villain may pounce on th e hero from
screen le f t , an important prop or significant
act ion may suddenly appear at the left of the
screen - by movin g in, or through camera movc-
mern - to gain attention . This is much more
succe ssf ul if it occurs duri ng a lull in the action ,
so that the audience is taken unawar e.
Leading lines should dimi nis h toward the right ,
to attract the viewer 's eye to the cen ter of in teres t.
La rge masses positi oned on the righ t , however,
may ovc l'lhi/li llce t he picture. As ex ample, an im-
port.ant player may s ta nd on the right and look at
a la rge mou ntain peak on the lef t. If the picture
is reversed, he ma v be "lost" on the left . and the
mou ntain woul d overpower the composit ion. The
cameraman should be aware of merits of various
frame position s, so that he can place dramatic
emphasis to bes t adva ntage.
A viewer inter pr ets the size of an unknown
objec t in a pict ure by cont rasting it wi th an object
of known size or with the bac kground ; or by its
a ppearan ce in rela tion to the frame. The viewer 's
experien ce fu rnishes a mental scale by which he
judges the relat ive size of known figures or objects
at var yin g distances from the lens. He has no way
of j udging the size of unknown objects un less fur-
nished wi th a cl ue - such as contras t with size of
L ol.<'c/" tuou eye-leud canu-rn onu f orwa rd
]Jos iti oninu C//Il ses In dia n IJI"(I{'e t o do m i-
n ate t ltis; , ~ I I t . Sc icct i oc focus in y also aids
il l capll u ill,C} a ud ic /l cc al/elltiol/.
a f amiliar objec t - or by its relationship with a
background of known dimen sions.
In thea trica l film s, it is often necessary to cheat
the he igh! 0(' a leading pl ayer. so that he ca n look
down at other players From a hi gher level. Th is is
uccompllsbcd subt ly - pa rticul arly in medium or
cl ose s hot s - hy having the player st and on a
block , or by posit ion ing hi m forward of the oth er
players and loweri ng the camer a so th at he ap -
pears taller. Some times motion picture art di rec-
tor s desi gn convc rcinc sets, with buil t-in iarccd
pcrspccuoc in which normal-sized players appear
in the foreground, and under-sized or even mi dg et
players a rc positioned in the dista nce ! The eye is
eas ily deceive d by the IIJlJll/ rent size of objects .
Rel ative size . dista nce, perspec tive , may all be
dis torted or exaggerated .
In non-thea trical films , however, the opposite
or dinarily applies. Falsification of any kind must
usuall y be avoided, and the true size of the objects
be shown . Tools , instruments, machines should
be filmed wi th an operator in position to show
their proportiona te s ize. H such ite ms ar c filmed
in close-ups aga inst a pl ain background . they
should be combined with obj ects of known size,
or a ha nd should be int roduced. Where this is not
possible , they sh ould be posi tioned aga ins t a
background of f am ilia r dimensions.
c...... o_
SPCH.:t' checks Ollt instrumentation and radio telemetru cirCll it beiorc
mountinq eq uipment in missile 1I0SI' cone, Through slunuinq of ha rdware during
of operations , story i s not interrupted: hy static display_
Regard less of thei r actual phys ical size, images
that crowd the frame arc considered larger than
images which arc rela tively small in relation (0
the frame. A tiny object may appear hu ge, if
crowded so that il s edges almost touch the edge
of the fr ame. A large objec t may appear small , if
filmed with a great deal of space around i t. A
mountai n may appear loft y, if il is positioned
high in the fr ame so that li ttle sky appears above
it. A relatively small number of people, objects or
machines may appear greater if crowded so that
they overlap the fr ame, suggesting there are
more outside the picture. Seei ng Ieu than the
whole - whe ther crowds, electronic circui ts or
mach ine gears - will rel ay the imp ression t hat the
en tire picture is too vast or complicated to capture
in its entirety. If filmed fr om a high angle, so
that personnel over flow the Framed area, a small
gr oup of draft smen at ,vork may suggest a large
organization. The same effect may be accom-
plished with small numbers of machines. com-
pu ters . file cabinet s. etc.
A figure or object may be made 10 appear taller
by angli ng t he camer a upward. particula rly if th e
image consists of ver tical par all el lines tending to
converge. A low angle, wide-angle lens shot of' a
tall buil ding will make it appc<'l l' even tall er . A
low angle subjective shot or a person from a
chil d's viewpoint. filmed so tha t he crowd s the
fr ame . will rouvt-v a similar heigh t effect.
Psychological aspects of image size and an-
gling, i n rel at ion to the frame, may produce
greater emotional response in viewers than ap-
pea rances alone. An extreme long shot. looking
downward from a high angle, on a tiny grou p of
pioneers inching thei r way across a vast rugged
landscape inst antly portrays the hardshi ps and
privations endured on a long. lonely trek. The-
atrical fil ms make extensive use of such contrast-
ing shots; not only for visual variety, but to pro-
voke the audi ence into greater involvement in the
story by ar ousing: emotions. Non-theatrical film
makers may also employ extreme long shots or
extreme d ose-ups for dramatic effects.
Pictures must he composed with definite view-
points in mind. A perfect composition arranged
for a particular camera angle may be very poor
when viewed from an oppos ite angle. Th is is
especi ally di fficult in motion pictures where a
sequence, or a series of shots, involve viewing the
scene from several angles. Composition and
ca mera angles should , therefore, be integrated so
th at players and pictoria l elements will be properly
composed as the camera is moved abou t to film
the various shots makin g up the sequence.
Generally. a good long-shot composition will
work well on closer shots. if' the camera set-ups
arc not dr asti call y alt ered. Moving in and around
the subject matt er need not change the player/
background relationship, if all shots in a sequence
arc carefully lined up in advance during rchcasal.
Player and/ or ca mera movement are most im-
portan t in inte grating composition and camera
angles , because such movements may develop into
assets or liabili ties.
An exce llent st atic composition may deteri ora te
into confusion as players or camera move during
the action ; or when player/background relation-
shi p is drasticall y changed from one set-up to
another. On the other hand, players and/or
camera ma y move in harmony as the ac tion pr o--
gresses, so that the scene is continuously com-
posed and the player/ backgr ound relationshi p
const antl y revised to meet any compositi onal
problems that may develop. Such pla nned move-
ment will allow moving the players out of awk-
ward pictori al situa tions , so that they are lined
up properly when the ca mera moves in for rne-
dium shots and close-ups . Side angles and over-
the-shoulder close-ups may sudde nly introduce
ta ble lamps, furnit ure or other objects. whic h dis-
tract from main action. or merge with player' s
So" ' " . . ....
Switching camera analc [rom above shot to
scene beloio results ill bcttcr com position .
Faces of Indian woman and child are seen .
Hauds arc not hidiny work, and pattern of
run is clearly slunon, Side anolc also re-
suits in ('cHl vCTgi ng lines and overl apped
pcndticmcd i n depth - rather than
across screen,
s, "" F ,."
features. Consideration should be given to cheat-
ing such it ems , or removing them temporari ly.
Continuous composition , which kee ps the play-
ers properly framed as they move during the
scene , is no t difficul t to maintain . It requi res con -
stant vigilance, however. to sec that: pl ayers are
given proper leads at all times; player/background
relationsh ip is pictori all y pleasing; and pauses at
key positions arc parti cularly well composed. Th is
can be best accomplished if players arc firs t
pl aced in cad i key position and carefully com-
posed for the best pictorial effect; and then moves
in between key positions arc worked out.
Perspective is appeara nce of objects as deter -
mined by the ir rel ative di st an ce and positions, or
as influen ced by atmospheric conditions.
There are two type s of per spective :
Linear perspective produces convergence of
parallel lines in any pl an e at an angle to the
viewer. Par allel horizon tal lines. such as rail road
tr acks , appear to converge at a distant point on
the hori zon . Parallel ver tical lines, such as the
sides of a ta ll building, appe ar to conver ge if a
Players should firs t be composed ill key
positions . T Ji e11 moves between key posi-
t ions should he worked out .
P{l/"(Illd horizontal linr - ,well as rai l road
tmch s - appear to conucroe 011 dis nmt
viewer looks up or down. Ill usion produced by
geometrical linear perspec tive help the viewe r
judge dist ance of an object of known size. The
appear ance of depth and solidi ty in a picture
depends much on linear convergence, created by
diminishin g sizes of figures and objec ts as di s-
tan ce increases.
Aerial pers pective is a gradua l f(ql/ tcll in g and
softeni ng of distant out door ob jects, ca used by
AII .fJW shot of this j avelin rocket presents
i1lteres t i n.q com pos ition due to depth effect
,,,odl/ced by conuer qma lili es .
Aerial vcrxvccuvc suppli es translucent '!uulify to this wi ldUfe scene. The more
dis tan t fo liag' is l iotr ter (Ind provi des 1/ soft bachground for th e sharper , darker
flyu re o( tiu: doe and trees.
Int ervening haze. While weather conditions infl u-
e l11,;C aeri al perspec tive even on a clear day,
appeara nce of dis ta nt obj ects is governed by the
amo unt of atmosphere throug h wh ich the viewer ,
or the camera lens , must look.
The following staging techniques an d camera
treatments may be employed Singly or in combi-
nation to incre as e perspective e ffec ts:
Choose camera angles which portray the great-
est number of pla nes or facets of the subjec t.
Shoot angle-plus-angle so t hat the front, side an d
lop or bottom of an objec t are recorded for great-
est solidity.
Choose a combin auon of camera angle and lens
foc al length which produces the greates t linear
convergence willwlI t distortion , Select the short-
eM foca l len gth lens ( not necessaril y a Wide-an gle
lens ) that will record a reali stic linear perspect ive
with con vergin g lines to lead viewers' eyes into far
. .
reaches of the scene. Extreme wide-angle lenses
should be used only for special effects where
greater than normal conve rge nce is desi red. The
finest modeling of the players and se tt ing, an d the
gre ates t au dience involvement results when the
came ra is brought as cl ose as possibl e, to record
Ae rial -perxpcctive ~ l l p p l i s depth to thi s out door sce ne because the di stant moun-
tain i s lightened and soiter in contrast to the trees closer to the camera.
the sce ne wit hnut dlstoru ng the images.
Position players. props , furni ture and ot her
objects so t hat they ]Jartiall y over la p. Overl apping
conveys spat ial rel at ionshi ps simply a nd eff ec-
tively. Isolat ed figures and objects may he any
distance from the camera. Clues to which arc
nearer are furnished by thei r known size. Since
sizes of unfamiliar figures arc difficu lt to judge.
positioning questi on abl e objects behind oth er ob-
jects - 50 th at the)" overlap - leaves no doubt in
viewer's mind of which is closer.
Move playe rs and/ or ca mera to cover and un-
cover other players . objects or furniture in the
selli ng. Have players move between, rather than
in front of , other players. Or , have playe rs move
betwee n or behi nd furn iture, lamp fixtures , desks
or other objects; so that they are partially covered
at int ervals in thei r tra vel from one posi tion to
another in the setting. Move the camer a, so that
it shoots through or past foreground objects. as i t
follovvs the players or moves about the set. Over-
lapping on movement in thi s fas hion introduces
motion parallax, a variation in image travel of
objects at different distances from the lens. Thi s
conveys position and di st ance of various players
and objects in the scuing to the viewer.
Move the players or vehicles toward or away
from the camera , rather than straight across the
...... _.... ~ ...,.."
Greatest lineCl r conuerstence n s l l l t ~ when came ra is cent ered amidst H'nes of
ho rizontal lin es rccedinq into dist ance . DeptIJ witl/ oul diMorti on i s achicocd in
thi s view of underground missile silo -
screen . An i mage t hat in creases or !lC(I"C{I,w ' .<; in
size as it travels. conve ys a feeling or spat ial depth
and distance. An image th at moves ac ross the
screen remains the sa me size th roughout Irs
tr avel. Even when a player or vehicle must move
across the screen. t ry to angle the ca mera slightly:
or stage the movement so that it is n ot precisely
a t righ t angles to the lens . Always strive to imparl
a cha nge in image size - even if slight - so that
the moving pl ayer or vehicle advances or recedes
when tra veli ng across the fr am e.
Avoi d filmi ng in fla t ligh t, indoors or outdoor s.
Over-all shadowless illumin ation produces a fla t-
ness of field minus projections and modeli ng,
lacki ng text ure, and prcvcn uug se para t ion of fig-
ures and objec ts. Ut ilize s ide Iigh tin1-: . or a ny
ligh ting wh ich produc es shadow a reas t hat impart
three -dimensional mode ling to figures a nd seulng.
Light a n in terio r scene so th a t the picture pre-
sents a contrasting series of pl anes . wi th vunous
degrees of light a nd shade , Such differen ti a l ltgbt-
ing imparts a front-to-buck quali ty to players and
sc ui ng. WIH'1l film ing ou tdoors , try to incl ude the
li1-: hlcr d ista nce background for addition a l ncrta l
perspect ive, A similar effec t may be achi eved
indoors by ligh ting the background just a t rifle
"hotter." in order to can y t he viewer's eye' into
fa r reaches of the settin g,
- 0.1/11 th i s Set' I IC of a magnetic t apt' IiIJrary . T he f urthe r viewers ' <'!les m uM
t ravel into scene , the grcal er the ue ptll efk,,!. Camera should he centered for
ttne type of shct , xn t lm t ti nes co nverqe at {,(, l l le/' of picture.
Theatrical mot ion pict ure produ cers transport
cas ts. camera crews an d equ ipme nt thousands of
mil es so tha t stories may be staged agains t a u-
thentic backgrounds. Dram at ic feature films em-
ploy interior and exterior backgrounds to advan-
tnge as s tory-telling aids.
For the most part. non-theat rical cameramen.
fihni ng on loc ation. do not t ake su fficient advan -
tage of back grounds . In many cases, they dclib-
cra tclv eliminate or misuse them . For ins lance.
backgrounds arc often ignored in Factories be-
ca use light ing or sound present technical prcb-
lem s. Backgrounds may he wrongly treated on
outdoor locations, because the di rector and/ or the
cameraman do not understand the im portance of
backing up players and action.
whenever possible. the bac kgro und should be
tied in so that it mav contribut e ac uvitv. authen-
. .
lici t)' or reali sm to the story. Indust rial subjects
may he set against mach ine... ; farm subjects
against growi ng crops; l y i n ~ films staged with
airpor t background ac t ivit y. Camera angles shoul d
be chosen and act ion staged so that the players
move aga inst backgrounds that spell out the par-
tlcular ac tivity whet her oil field. giant steel mill .
23 1
G O M t-' U::i l I l UI'l
Ann/e-plus-anqle filmi ng produces Li near pal/I' rn in thi s scene, Effect
is enhanced hy semi-silhouette foreground o/)ject , well-liyl l ferl players and light-
ing in contraetino plant's .
amusement park, as sembly line or whe at har vest.
Thus , foregrou nd act ion ... tied in wit h the ba ck-
ground, provide grea ter scope, addition al pictori al
i nteres t and a !JfJlI -{/ re- t l Il'Tf' feeling.
Documen tar y films shot on actual locations CHI
be made more effective by proper regard for story-
tell ing backgrounds. Finding suitable sites for
staging the ac tion will add realism by backing
players wit h wh atever machinery. acti vit y or
sce nery is avail able. The backgrou nd should con-
st antly. yet subt ly. remind the viewer th a t th e
story is taking pl ace on the waterfront. in a s teel
mill . in a nuclear power plant.
Backgrounds arc jus t as important indoors as
outdoors , anti shou ld be carefully scouted on
interiors where there is a choice of staging the
act ion. For inst ance , it is not fitt ing to stage a
fact or y production sync-sound sequence i n a qui et
area against a nondescript background. This treat-
ment det racts from. rather than contributes to, t he
story. In thi s approach , the tru e mean ing of loca-
tion filming is lost on the viewer. It is no t enough
to film es tablishing long shots of the actual se t-
ting, and then re tire to plain sett ings for the heart
of the story - jus t because it is easier to handle
that way. Such scenes may be filmed anuwhere!
There is no need for expens ive tr avel to location :
then shoo t agai nst walls, or trees and sky.
Far m IJllcky rollml makes scene imme-
diatel y iclen li/ia1Jlc' to audience. Sta ge
action again st backqround which m ay
contribute ., Iory ual ue to f/Uivity being
depict ed,
Tilt' camera s/lOtlid shoot IJlroUg11 f or e-
ground - such as t hi s oil well -
wIH'nf'Ver l'0.\ .\ihle. Such trealment adds
aepl1l ('ffeel., ami s uitable atmosphere-
On occasion, it may be best to isolate the play-
ers against the sky or other nondescript back-
ground. if ac tion or dialogue demand s concent ra-
tion without d istr act ing c le men ts. This becomes
increasi ngly impor ta n t as the camera moves in
closer: and a small group of players. or even a
single player, must command the audience's com-
plete attention. The background should never be
Figure at side of [rame may prot-ide simple
I.-slmprd compositi on Icceuse it supplies a
uerticul: in combinatio n wi th a ground
basc . Forcuround soldier and ten t provi de
e.n:elle ,,' frame for di stant camp scene .
Staye mouinu c:li rm sn th at i t is an.qled in
relat ion to call/ era. rurminq soldiers
in image size as tlley advance t o-
iuard audience.
more Interesting than the player'S acuon or dia-
logue, or it will steal the show. The background
should balance wit h the foreground by remaining
in place belusul the ac tion . It should not intrude
on the foreground players or action. or dist ract
the audi ence in any way by its make-up, move-
men t or color.
Players should be positioned so that there is
Actio" lit> and camera allYit's
dIOse" to (lI/Ull" or t/lTOll gl,
foregrou nd ubjt'l"t s. Playa s sllOuld more
IJt '! lt 'l 'I'/I . or PI'('" behind other players. and
pause ill po.silion.s lI "/ii cli present the/ll
O!'crlappiny OIl(' another. i ll
c1l'pl// (IIu/ .\"/(/91119 ac tioll i ll tl li s manli er
ld ll pn.'scllf pla ,t/lT \', .we'lli ny . o!Jjl'ct s, ioitli
solid. tlnee-diinensumal appcunmce.
dis tinct se para tion be tween foreground ac tion and
backgrou nd. A figure or obj ect. simil arl y toned or
colored. merging wit h the background. will Hallen
the pict ure. Separuuon and iso lation wit h
effects. contrasting tones or dist inct color is most
helpful. This is part icularl y important in close-
ups . where the pl a yer's head should stand out
from th e backgrou nd . Of ten , movi ng the came ra
a few in ches, hight'I' or lower , or to one side , will
achieve a bcucr background rel ationshi p by pre -
venting a n a nnoyil11-: li ne or shape from ptcrctng
a player's bodv or head . or by removing the ('d1-:e
of an object or a portion of a light fixture, a
wind ow or some other disturbing clement. Any
moving or distracti ng object. or color ful act ivity
which Illay a tt ract unwarran ted aucnuo n. should
he cbnun atcd.
A f ra me may cons ist of any foreg round pic-
torial cl ement which su rrounds the pic ture par-
ti ally or completely. Frames avail able or con trived
for th e purpose l11 a)' he : arches, windows , awn-
mgs . doorways . st ree t lamps. bell towers , sign
Sprca dina t rl'l' hrcnclr (Ufl/is/u's pictorial
iorcoround (mille (or riders,
Int erior [ 1"11 111 1' - s lIci/ as tuis window
m ay /J(' used to depict I' x tl' rior scene.
pos ts , portholes . iron gri lles . fences, porches . col-
umns , bridges. or a portion of larger objects. such
as an air plane wing. a tree br anch or a ca nnon
barrel. A frame supplies a pict or ial foreground
elemen t , contain s the ac tion. and prcvent s vtcw-
cr's cycs from wanderi ng off screen.
The frame shou ld not be composed evenl y on
all sides. unl ess it is rou nd or absolutely symmct-
neal. Frames arc much more photogenic if shot
from a three -quarter angle, rathe r than squa re-on .
A slight angle will show the frame' s depth , add
solid ity a nd prevent a card board c ut-out a ppcar-
Farcqrcurui palm Ir(' (' f r ames dlstutu: hlli lJ-
;11.1/ . mut also ,WY,lj(' st s warm dill/all'.
ancc. Hack-cross or P \ T !l complete back lighting
will add to the effect by sending a sun-s plashed
pallertl of light toward the camera. which repea ts
the ( r :1I11('"5 outline on the foreground. Long lead-
~ shadows . adding depth to the se tting a rc a lso
supplied. Bad: lighti ng will also edge-light the
frame and separ atc it from the mo re dist ant view
by uutli ning: i t. This will Impart a luminous . eth-
ereal qu ality 10 foliage and other tr anslucent ob-
jects, The fr ame itself can often act as a gobo -
to shiel d the lens from direct rays of the su n.
A frame must be appropri ate , and yet no t de -
tr act from the ma in subject. Determi ning a propcr
frame is not difIi cult. Usually improper frames
arc artifici ally con trived. Keeping a fr ame sub-
dued can ofte n cause trouble. Elabor ate. or othe r-
wise dist racting fr ames, should be avoided. Th e
suIJj{'Cl is the picture; the frame is only a compo-
sitiona l aid.
There should be distinct separa tion among
fr ame. main subject and back ground. Merging
ca used by similar tonal values. similar colors or
similar light effects will destroy the separation
necessary for di stinctive pictorial effect. A fr ame
should not be shot in a fl at from light, or it will
include the same tonal val ues as t he main scene
Underside of tliis pin forms t'.n xllcnt
[ramc for dodwd boat,
Na rrowi ng screen width u-itli door wa y
[rnme produces ('onfin ill,1j {'(fc, {t to convey
ft'dings of younger wife U/IOUt ail in.tJ nus-
and merge with it. Frames should be filmed in
silhouette . semi-silhouette or partial shadow. I f
Front light is unavoidable. or desi rable for color ;
employ a tree branch . a goho or a "cookie" to add
a shadow pattern . and thus br eak up and tone
dovvn the frame era. A foregrou nd player , in pro-
file or looking int o the scene , will add the human
clemen t; and direct viewers toward main action .
Par uall y-tll urmn utcd foreground fr ames arc
more effective in color than in black and whi te.
....... -...n_
co< _ ...
W arell ouse doorn'ay fra mes sl li p loadin g
opcra tio rl
A frame in pa rtial sil houette will contain soft un-
der exposed bluish hues. which offer subtle color
cont ras t to a correc tly-exposed. warmly- illumi-
nated subject and background. Exposu re should
be based on pri nci pa l subject - not the frame.
When a full surrounding fr ame is mi ssing, a
parti al frame cons ist ing of top and one side ,
should be used . A part of a tree branch, or other
object , should /lot he included. A frame should
show sol id connect ion. It should not merely han g
in space. Too little of a fr ame may tease the
audience , if they cannot ded uce wh at it is .
Par tial frames ar c a great compositional aid in
breaking up la rge expanses of empty foreground,
or bald skies. A low \vall or a shadow pattern cast
by tree leaves. wit h a suggestion of a tree at the
side . will enhance a du ll sun-lit pavemen t. Oth er
props. such as wa gon wheels. par ts of awni ngs.
lattice wor k and grilles \viII be useful on occasion .
Frames shou ld he sharp. An out-of-focus fore-
ground object . occupying a major portion of the
picture. can prove very disturbing. By spl it ting the
focus. or employing the hyper-focal di st ance se t-
ting. both the fra me and the main object can be
kept equa lly sharp. A sliq lltly soft-focus frame is
permissible. if sufficient dept h-of -Hel d is not avai l-
able. providi ng the fr ame is underexposed or in
silhouette. Since it possesses a much greater
depth-of-field than a normal objective. a wide-
angle lens will prove useful. However. a telephoto
lens may some ti mes be necessary. in order to film
a nearby foreground fra me. and en large more
di stan t subjects . If the subjec t is too small . in
rel ati on to the frame it self. it can be made to
appear lar ger by moving the camera back; em-
ploying a longer focal leng th lens . and recording
the full -scene frame with re latively large images
of the main subject.
Wildly moving frames - such as tree br anch es
in a hi gh wind. flap ping awnings or danci ng
leaves - sho uld he avoided. because they may
detr act from the main subject. Camera movement
toward , away (ro m. or acTO.'; .'; a frame is permis-
sible; providi ng the fr ame itsel f remains s ta tic. A
slow pan or doll y sho t en ding in a well-com posed
fr ame as t he came ra slowly moves into posi tion.
Iollowmg moving action . can be most effect ive. A
dolly rnay pu ll back in a tracking shot, and go
through a doorway or arch to fr ame the scene. A
Tail of tanker ai rcraft provi des frame for
long SIIOI of plane. Subjects uiit h long, low
silhouette - such ~ je l airplanes - are
more easi ly composed wi t h aid of [ore-
around frame , which covers excess sk y.
Metul ann and hose line - (or welding
steel rails - moue appropriate frame for
trach layinu operation .
movi ng camera, mounte d on a car or train may
frame a d ista nt tunn el opening, which gradually
becomes large r. revealing more an d more of th e
view until the f r amed scene finally op ens wide on
the screen. An annoyi ng ,shippi ng effec t may re-
sult fro m pann ing across a frame wit h strong
verticals clo se to t he camera.
The wing and landing gear of a giant airplane
- frami ng boarding passengers - in st an tly spells
fast travel to far places. A bridge - framing a
distant city - may provide the means of ca rryin g
the audience across an expanse of water , into the
heart of the scene. A ca nopied boat de ck may
frame a welcomi ng h arbor , as a ship makes port.
Silhouetted fac tor y ch imneys belchin g smoke -
f r ami n g a dista nt swin ging crane - may su gges t
industry. 1\ long, low overhanging branch , together
with a winding wh ite fence f raming a farm
setting - may convey rest ful country a tmosphere.
An arch , frami ng an old Spanish miss ion , pic-
tures old-world architecture in both clo se-up and
long shot. A series of arches, receding into the
distance , creates a pleasant rhy thm t hrough rep-
etit ious diminis hing lines; which provide st rong
converging linear pe rs pe ct ive and thi rd-dimen-
sional qu ali ty.
Dynamic composition, in which f orceful pic-
toria l elemen ts evoke a sudden change in a sta tic
set -up, shoul d be employed when abrupt or sur-
prising effects arc desired. In this way, quiet
scenes may spring in to vigorous life, or moti on less
clemen ts may a bruptly become dramatically ac-
tive . 1\ restful dis ta nt scene may be interrupted by
a nearby figure or object popping up. l'<-lil ing down
or r unn ing or svvingi ng through the frame. Th is
start ling compos itional effect is a f amiliar cl assic
in weste rn pict ures . wh ere many India ns suddenly
appear f rom behin d rocks !
Vehicl es r nav he dy namically ut ilized in many
ways: a n auto may swi ng into a country roa d
f rom th side of the f rame; a t ruck may zoom up
into the picture from the bott om of the frame, an
air pl an e may drop jarringly do wn into the picture
from the top of the frame, and bounce on to a
qu iet ru nway as it roar s aw ay f rom the camera.
1\ distan t peacef ul vis ta framed thro ugh a bel l
tower m ay star tle eyes an d cars of the audience,
in a cl ose-up as the bell swings in to view and
clangs loudly. 1\ lon g sh ot of oil derricks may he
sudden ly in terrupted by a close-up of a pump a nn
swingi ng up in to the f rame. Dyn am ic composi-
tion s ar e mos t effect ive when the audience is en-
couragcd to concentrate first on a quie t dis tant
scene for a second or two. Then the su dden ly
A qu iet street scene may be ab ruptly inter-
rupt ed by a t rolley m oving into th e fram e.
moving object or vehicle moves in to the scene
close to the camera. Treat ment of this type re-
quires the utmost di scre tion . so th at it is limited
It) propcrlv-mouv.ued d ramat ic si tua tions. A long
culm mnv have lull ed the complacent
audience , who now need a force ful and sur prisi ng
cinematic device to recapture t hei r aucnuon.
Suspenseful composit ion - in which sign ificant
ac tion is h idden. absen t , or prolonged by the man-
ncr in wh ich it is sta ged - ca n be a valuable
s tory-telling aid . While the villa in may be movin g
behind a pile 01' boxes in order to pounce on the
hero. the audience is shown only a slow pa n of
the boxes, wit h no indic at ion of where the ac tion
is about to tak e place. Or. becau se the runway is
too shor t. a rescue airpl ane mu st lake off and elml'
into a " alley to pick up f1 yin:.: speed. A suspenseful
tail -away sho t may he filmed from behind so that
the ai rcraft takes off , and falls out of the frame.
For a few agonizing seconds . the audience sees
bl ank sky. Then the pla ne cli mbs back into view!
Variations of bl an k screen sus pense may occur
in a figh t seq uence between two armed men. They
fall out of the frame as they figh t, but the camera
docs not follow them down - it remains on the
empty fra me for a few seconds. Then a shot is
heard. The audience is kept in sus pense until the
viclor rises . Sus pense is pro longed in the classic
shot where the her oine is un decided whether or
not to board a train and leave the hero. The
ca mer a is swit ched to the opposi te side of the
tr acks, and the en t ire t rai n goes by befo re the
audience will kn ow her deci sion , by her prese nce
or absence on the pl atform.
An indust rial film may kee p the audience in
sus pense by showin g raw mat erial en tering the
feed end of a machine, an d foI1O\vs manufac tur-
ing procedure, so that the product is kept secret
until it emerges . Cam er a angles may be employed
to keep the identity of a se lli ng a sec ret ; such as a
foreign-appe ari ng locale in an Ameri can cit y -
u ntil revealed as a surprise .
Whenever suspense of a "cliff-hanging' variety
is the keyno te of the sequence , all possible met h-
ods of handling the subje ct r naucr should be con-
stde red. so that the aud ience is kept in doubt as
long as desired. A simple switch in camera angle.
player movement or unconvention al stagi ng is
gener ally all that is requi red.
Cat alog pictures ; shots of tools . machine s . pack-
ages. ins trumen ts - eit her singly or in groups -
seemingly defy laws of good composition. Non -
theatrical film makers , particularly producers of
indust rial , mili tary and tr ai ninJ..: films. ar c con-
cerned wit h ca talog-type layouts dcptc n ng the
par aphernalia Involved in as sembly, repair or
other work . Sim ilar type shots cons isti ng of groups
of bu ildings , cnginccri ng test equipment, lnburu-
lory layouts. rows of dra ft ing tables . lines of ma-
chi nes. inst ru men t panels . and myriad other ob-
jects. may lack a cen ter of in teres t.
Cat alog shots need not be static. They may he
pa nned, dolli ed , zoomed . or other wise given move-
ment . They should be Inserted wi thout interrupti ng
the film's flow. A picture on opcrauon of a turret
lathe should not suddenly sto p to show a static
catalog sho t of accessories required for perform-
ing a par ticul ar job. Equipment needed should be
shown in course of the work.
There arc occasions . however. when one or
more objects must he positioned and photo-
graphed to resemble the st ill photogr aphs foun d
Diaqonat and c:ircular may be used
for composmq object s for display. Pair of
shots of similar objects should be filmed i1l
opposing compositi onal patt ern s.
FUn/It in this SAC B-52 fly ing commmut poM {ON inunnd ill a si mplc
ci rc ular composit ion - t o rei nforce t heir /lui /II of
in a catalog. Rath er th an standa rd commercial
cat alog views, patterns of lines, shapes or forms
con vey ing all esthetic or emotional impac t on the
viewe r ma ke mor e plea sing a nd effect ive sho ts. A
single cen ter of interest may often be composed by
form ing a pattern . For ins ta nce, a group of lat hes
ma y be shot from a hi gh an gle, so that they form
a rhythmical rcpc uucn of di agon al lines sugges t-
ing action , purposefulness, urgency. The li nes in
this case should travel lower left to upper left , to
impa rt an asccndtnq spi ri t of accomplishment.
Runni ng upper left to lower right would result in
an opposi te pattern . with a down beat effect.
Composition al rules should not be discarded
without serious considera tion of the various way s
in which the items may be positioned. A package
should face inward toward the center of the
frame, wit h slightly more lead in the facing dir ec-
tion ; and so angled that the front. side panel and
top are seen. Three packages may be posit ioned to
form a t riangle. Tools, boxes, ca ns. gea rs , small
parts may be grouped in composi tional form s.
such as trian gles, circles. ovals or various L com-
bi nations. Items may be lined up in diagonals.
r athe r than straig ht across the frame. Two con-
secutive shots may be composed, facing each
other in opposing diagonals. Items may also be
stacked in pyr amids, or grouped in ovals around
a cent ral object. Whenever possible, shoot angle-
plus-angle slightly from the side, so that groups
Series of similar olJjects ehouid he lined up
in diagonal pattern rather than Mraight
acros s - (or !/lorc dy namic shot.
of obj ec ts fa ce one side, rather than fla t fron t.
Informally-balanced pictures or formally-bal anced
pattern pictures which convey a feeling of unity,
rather than a scattered effect , are preferred.
When filming a series of pattern pictures for a
montage sequence, the cameraman's prime con "
sidcrations should be arrangement of the various
shots in comp ositi onal opposition for greater
forcefulness , confl ict or contrast. A di agonal line-
up facing left may be opposed by a right; a high
angle by a low angle , etc. It is wise, if bot h time
and bu dget permit , to film such scenes both ways.
With this precaution, the film editor has a choice
on a left or right, a high or low, or a camera
movement in either direction . Often a pan, tilt or
dolly shot may be opposed by a similar shot in
the opposit e direction . The order in which the
shots may be us ed should be left to the editor .
Variety is the spice of mo tion picture composi-
tions. A film should maintain untry of st yle in
integr ation of its technical, es thetic and psycho-
logical elements. At the same time, it should
pres ent a variety of compositions, camera angles
and image sizes , so that players and settings are
not depicted in a monotonous pattern. Similar
composit ional trea tme nt of the vario us settings or
similar st aging, player moveme nt or camer a
A dominant player muy he centered in a
composit ion on rare occasions . such as tile
oboue scene , u-nere tile girl's ncad eces as
(/ Ilu/J and surrounding pluyers' look s nuli-
at/' toward tier.
H. ,,"" . '0'
A domin ant dwractcr consoling a di s-
tressed player i s bes t composed wit h a
head resti ng on a shoulder to form a pyra-
mid composition.
movemen t should all be avoided.
A cameraman may easily slip into a rut , par-
ticularly on shor t schedule, low-budget films. He
may be tempted to stay wit h a compositional rou-
tine and stock ph otogr aphi c treatmen t - safe,
easily-handled and - since it has long been re-
peated - apparently effective. Slightly different
tre at ment, whenever possible, may add interest.
plaNers in dept ti - rather than
ucrcss the [rume - so tllat viewers fee l
IIlt' y art' if! t he midst of the setting, not
till:' C'l-'('1I1 from ufal.
Tllis three-shot torms a tria ngle in depth,
Thi s is /Jasically a two-sllot - with the
judye in the far background form ing the
apex uf a t rian gle .
Cre ate compositi ons in depth , r ath er than sim-
ply positioning players or objec ts across the screen
equi-distant from the camera . Ut ilize every pra c-
tical depth device to build a three-dimensional
illusion on the motion picture's two-dimensional
flat screen. Shoot angle-plus-angle. Position vari -
ous pl ayers throughout the setting. so that they
An ,qli ng the camera on this jet engine
repai r operatioll - rath er than sflvoting
square-on - creates converging lines.
overlap. Move players and camer a back and for th,
toward or away from the viewer. Choose camer a
angles and lenses which produce conver ging lines
and interesting perspective effect s - light in con-
trasti ng planes, with less light on foreground
objec ts - so that silhouette or semi-silhouette
effects result . Shoot deep settings wheneve r possi-
ble, so that distan t background may be seen.
Employ foreground fr ames or set pieces , so that
the camer a shoots illTOUgh or across objects, to
record the players and their action in the middle
distance. Select int er esting backgrounds that tic
in and back up player's action. Posit ion the
ca mera so that it is in the midst of the setti ng,
player s and act ion; r at her than back out of r ange,
and simply looking on from a distance. Avoid
shooting across unobstructed empty space to
record players or objects , st anding as if posing
for an elementary school class picture. Arrange
players , objec ts and set pieces so tha t both front
and side views arc seen, not simply the irons: or
the side. Always work for rounded, well-modeled
views of players. Int egrate composition and
camera angles so that players, and their relation-
ship with their surroundings and the background,
are well composed in all shots comprising the
sequence. Use forethought and Imagt nauon !
Strive to overcome any tendency to restri ct
depth, because it is easier to light , carry focus and
""", " " Pm"
Althouqh III esc scenes - jet {ilJltlcrs. almve,
and train u.lrecis, iJelow - arc dissimilar
111 sul)ject malter, tlu-'y h07.Jt' one common
quality. Both arc composed in depth , with
repetitious circular paucrne rcccdinq into

Profile tu-o.shots arc (lat lwcl/use subjects
are {tImed 8qUl/rC-on, aIJovc, and display
lillie modclino or roundness , Over-the-
shoulde r dose-up, hclour, presents players
in depth, toitli foregroulld player overlap-
pil/.] rear player.
s tage action in a limited area. AhNllfS think in
depth. Avoid flat angles, flat lighting, cross-screen
movement and positioning players and stagi ng
action in a lined-up straight -across fash ion . Re-
member that depth on the screen hegin s with
composition; and is enhanced by camera angles,
which produce three-dimension al solid effects,
The secret of good composition can be ex-
plained in one word : simplicity. A complicated or
clutt ered composit ion, even though i t obeys all
rules of good composition, will no t be as effective
as a simple one. Simplicity does not imply stark-
ness. A simple composition is economical in use
of line, form, mass and movement; includes only
one cen ter of interest; has unified style which
harmoniously integr ates camer a angles, lighting,
tonal and color values .
The test of good composition is wh ether anything
can be removed fr om the picture without destroy-
ing it s effe cti veness . Any clement in the frame
no t req uired for story-telling pu rposes, attracts




'.- . ,.
" ...
4 ...
Extreme long shot - depicting of setti nq - dn'arfs these rider s ayahlst
arid, ru yycc/ terrain and mountainous 1Jae/l,1]round.
unwarran ted audience aucmlon. Such dist ra cting
pict orial clements may steal the scene from pr in-
cip al subject matter. A si mple compositio n is im-
mediatel y recognizable and re adily assimilated by
the audience. The viewer should not have to
search the framed ar ea to discover the shot's
meaning. This is most important in motion pic-
tures , which arc seri es of indi vidual scenes. A
person may study a still phot ograph until he is
satisfied that he comprehends it. A movie scene
appears for a lim ited time, and is then removed.
Confusing or puzzling compositions irritate the
viewer . and may cause him to lose interest.
Simplicity does not depend on the number of
scenic clements; or the area included in the pic -
turc. A table-top sho t depicting half a dozen ob-
jects may prese nt a cluttered composition; while
an extreme long shot of an advancing army may
convey a unity of forc e and power immediately
recognizable. because of it s Simplicity. If a vas t
number of compositional clements must be pho to-
graphed, they sho uld be harmon iously grouped.
Think of composition as the pleasant arrange-
ment of players and objects in the se tt ing. or as a
di vision of space. Don't be awed by compos iti on.
Become famili ar with the various characteristics
of lines , forms , masses and movements. Consider
compositional weight s , so that the frame may be
Man's conquest of the skies is simply depicted in this scene of soarino aircraft
over a snow-capped mountain.
properly balanced . Understand differences be-
tween formal and informal balance , and when to
usc each fur proper aud ience response. Remem-
ber that the viewer must be affected both pic-
torially and psychologically , to convey the script's
in ten t to arouse his emotions. Never allow more
than one center of interest on the screen at one
time unless a disturbed, or scattered effect is de-
si red . Frame mov ing players or vehicles carefully,
so that they always have the correct lead, Con-
sider all camera angles required to film the entire
sequence when composing the master scene, not
just the long shot. Utilize perspective effects.
Compose in de pth for a three-dimensional screen
appearance. Employ foreground frames to en -
h a nce the cor npost ttou . and be certain t hey are
appropriate, a nd do not detract from the main
subject. Util ize backgrounds, by connecting them
to the principal action. Consider the viewers' eye
scan from shot to shot. \Vork for visual variety,
by changing compositional effects often. Elimi-
nate frills, gimmicks and complex arrangements.
Make Keep It Simple the working slogan for
interesting compositions.
See Act ion Axi s
54 56
54 56
.. 68
.. .... . 73, 74
_______________ ... 6873
... 17 2195
. .. ... 194 195
. 193, 194
.......... 187 192
... .. ..... 193
._ _ 185
______ 174
___ _____.. 182185
_____ . 177182
..... 174
Ti lt. Dutch Angles
Viewpoint .
CENTER OF INTEREST _ .. 214 2 19
How t o At t ract .._ 2 18
How to Posi tion __ .. 2 16,217
How to Swit ch 2 18
Light i ng. Tonal Valu es & Color 219
Posit ion, Moveme nt . Action
&. Sound
Selective Focusing _
As Sequence Opener..
Back ground fo r .
Camer a Angles
Camera Set Ups
Choice of .. ,.... ,
Ext reme ...
For Player Foll owi ng
Movi ng Act ion .. _ 102
For Transition . 195
From Editoria l Sta ndpoi nt .. 173
From Opposi ng Angle s 190. 191
From Visual St andpoi nt . . 173
Head 174
Head Movement 19 1
Head & Shoul der .. 174
How t o Posit ion Player in 192
Image Size ._. 187 192
Look _. ._. 185187
Mediu m ... _. ._._ .... 174
Over-the-Shoulder 175, 176
Player Movement Into & Out of.. 192
Reaction .. 179
Repetitious . 190. 19 1
Size 174
Tempo ._ . 192. 193
To Di st ract Audience . ... 180
To Eli minate Non-Essent ials 179
To Isola t e Sig nif icant 179
To Magn if y ,. .. . . 179
To Provide Time Lapse 179
To Sub st it ute f or
Hidden Act ion . 180. 18 1
Types of . 177
Ti me
__.. .. 210
___ __ ... 136
__ ___ . 19. 20
I nf or mal ..... _
With Odd Numbers
Acts as Eye of Unseen
Acts as Eye of Viewer
Cha nges Places With Person
i n Pict ure 14. IS
Movement .. _. 160. 161
Mu lt iple _. 76 78. 80
Set -Ups fo r Close-ups _ _... 193
Shots . tcosa _. 163. 164
Single __ 76. 79
Singl e vs . Mult i ple .. . 76
Types of .
Time & Space
Angl e Plu s Angle .. _... 4447
Area .__ 50
Camera Height 35
ero se-ups 32
Cont rast ing .. 50 . 51
Descri pt ive Shots . 32.33
Dramat ic Fact ors ._ .. 60
Dutch Tilt Angles 47. 48
Edit ori al Factor s 61
Esthet ic Factors 58
Extreme Long Shot . .. 25. 26
For Printed Matter ., _, 62
For Sign s 62
Hi gh Angle 37
How t o Cha nge . 54
How t o Depict ... .. 52
How t o Employ . 49
How to I nt egrat e With
Compositi on 226. 227
How t o Select 51
Insert s _ ,. 32
Level Angle .. 35
Long Shot ,.. . 26. 27
Low Angl e _ .. 41
Medium Shot .. .. 27. 28
Natural Factors . 61
Objective .. 13
Physical Factors .__.. 62
Point -of -View .. 22
Prob lem 63
Progr essive 50
Psychological Factors 59
Repet iti ous 51
Scene Requir ements _ 58
Subje ct Angle .. 34. 35
Subj ect ive _ 142 1
Subject Size... .. ... ... .. 24
Techni cal Fact ors . .... 59
99. 100
._.. 130, 131
... ....... 132 135
... . 130
________________.. 99
........ . ......... 50
__ . _ 74
... . ._. 157
. 52 54
.. 193 . 194
.. .. . 207
__ .. 2 10
Influe nce __ _ 212
Re-Posit ioning f or Cheat
Dyna mi c
Sta t ic __ ._ _
Rever se Shot s
Stock Shot s
Through Doorwa ys
Controll ed
Cutting On .
How t o Depict .
Ty pes of __
Uncontrol led
ACTION AXIS .. 93136
Ent rances and Exi ts .. . .. . 100
Exception _...... 93
f or Dynamic Screen Di rection . .. 87
for Map Directi on ... . 103
For Off-Screen Preyer .. .. 118
For Static Screen Direction 109
fo r Three Players 126
How to Chea t f or
Dynamic Scree n Di rection ... .. 99
How to Cheat f or
Stat ic screen Direct ion 130. 131
How to Cross lI S
How to Est abli sh ( Dynamic) __94, 95
How to Est abli sh { St at ic) 109. 110
How to Re-Posit ion Pl ayer__130, 13 1
Loc at io n Int er ior s .. ... __. ._ . 103
Look on Bot h Sides of Lens. .. 112
Matching Looks
Group Around Table .. 129
Mast er Scene ... _. ll6
Single Player ll O. 118
Speaker &. Audience 122 126
Moves With Moving Camera 116
Moves With Moving Players _116
Neut ral Look 116
On Corne rs . 97 . 98
On Curves 96. 97
Forma l
Gravit y
See Camera Angles
Phot ographed
For Close-Ups
Conti nui ty _. 72. 73
32, 33
___ __ ____ 165, 166
___ ______ 137 , 138
Const ant 87 . 88
Cont rast i ng ... 89. 90
Importance of Est abli shi ng .. _ ... 86
Map . 103
Neut ral _ ... .. 90 92
See Cont i nuit y
How to Use
Types of..
ED1TlNG . .'- 146-171
Camer aman Can Learn From
Fi lm Edit or 170, 171
Cheat-Cut 148, 189
Cutting on
Camera Movement 160. 16 1
How t o Elimi nate Jump-Cut s 167 168
Prot ect ion Shots 164, 165
Reaction Shot s . . 179
Shot Arra ngement __ 147
Shot Selection _ 147
Sound Flow . . 167, 168
Sound Problems ..... 166. 167
Ti ming .. ... 147
Est het ic ... 169
Narrative 169, 170
Tech nical . . . 168
FADES .. _._.. 13 7
Mast er Scene . 7580
Mul tiple Cam er as.. _ _ 76. 85
Si ngl e Camera . .. . 76, 78, 86
Tr iple-Tak e Technique . 8085
Master Scene V$ . Triple-Take _85, 86
Advanta ges . 70
Disadvanta ges 70
ENTRANCES & EXITS _ __100, 10 1
EYE SCAN _219222
___.. 154157
How t o Est abli sh 181. 182
How t o Use 179. 180
Objective 177
Over -the-Sho uld er 175. 176
Poi nt-of -vie w .... 178. 179, 182. 183
To Magnify Smal l Acti on .. __ 179
To Play Up Hi ghli ght s _ 179
To Prov ide Time l apse 179, 180
To Substitut e for
Hidden Act ion .... .. 180, 181
CUTTING ...... 146- 171
Cam eraman Can Lear n From 170-171
& Composition .. 159, 160
Compi lat ion ... 152
& Continuity .. 158
Cont i nuit y 149
Cross 154
Dissolves _ ._165, 166
Edi t ori al Requireme nt s 168-170
Loose Camera Shots . . 163
Moving & Stat ic Shot s .. 160- 161
On Act io n... ..... ...... 157
Protect ion Shot s 164, 165
Sound Editi ng Problems __166, 167
Sou nd Flow _ 167,168
Timing Movi ng Shots 161 163
Types of __ 149
Do Not Esta bli sh 184 , 185
For React ion of
Off -Screen Player 183
How to Use .__183 , 184
Obj ect ive _ 182
Point -aI -View . .. 182 , 18 3
Subj ect ive 18 2
To Comment 183 , 184
To Cue Audience . 183
To Dist ract Audrence . 184
To Motivate 184
To Replace Grue some or
Expen sive Scenes 184
COVER SHOTS 164 . 165
Event s Occurring Sim ult aneously 156
Event s Separ at ed in Space _ . 156
Event s Separat ed i n Ti me __156. 157
How t o Use 156
To Depict Cont rast 155
To Heighten I nt erest 154
To Hei ghten SUSpense 155
To Increase Tensi on . .. 155
To Make Cc rncanscns: . 155
To Provide Confl ict ... _ . 155
___ _196-244
_ 159
__23 1-234
__ 238. 239
___ _214-219
____ ___.__ 214
___ 237. 238
____ ,_.. 21 0
203. 204
__ _234- 23 7
24 1. 242
__ __226, 227
200. 201
205. 206
2 12
.... 2 27.230
198, 199
242, 24 3
Picture . 198
,..... , .. 238
2 10
& Cutti ng_
Cat alog Pict ures .
Cente r of Inte rest
Do 's and Don' t s
Dynamic .
Eye Scan. ..
Format Balance .
For ms . .. _ .
Frame,; .
How t o Com pose in Depth
How t o Integrat e Wit h
Camer a Angles
Ima ge Size
I nf ormal Balance
li nes
Wit h Odd Nu mber s
Persp ective
Rules _
Simp li city
St il l VS. Motion
Suspensef ul
Types of Ba lance ....
Umty .
Var iety .
Bndgi ng Ti me & Space 136
& Cutt ing__ _ 158
Condit ional Time . 72, 73
Cont rol led Acti on 74
Establi shi ng Di rect ion 86
Map Dir ect ion .. __ . 103
Maste r Scene . 7580
Master Scene vs. Triple-Take__85, 86
Screen Di rect ion. Dynamic .. _.__ 87-92
Screen Direct ion, Sta ti c .... 109- 136
Space .. 73 , 74
Ti me . .. 68- 73
Ti me & Space .. __68, 74
Transitional Devices ..... 13 f). 14 5
'rnpte-Take 8083
Types of Act ion _ 74
Uncontroll ed Act ion 74. 75
CONTINUITY TI ME . ..... .... 6873
Future Time _ _ . 71, 72
Past Time 69 -71
Present Time 69
Time & Space _. 68, 74
Influ ences Bal ance 212, 213
For Inf orma l Balan ce 212
CLOSEUPS ... 175, 176
Aer ial 228
How t o I ncrease Effect s 228230
li near 22 7
How t o Use _... 140 142
To Bridge Space . . 136
To Br idge Time 136
Wit h I nt roduct ory Tit les _ 136, 137
OF I NTEREST _ _ 2142 19
80 -85
138 140
Wit h Maste r Scene
With Triple-Take Technique .. _
& Stat ic Shots, How to
Inter-Cut 160, 16 1
How to Time.. 161163
How to Time to Sync-Sound
or Narration 162
vs. Straight Cuts .. 162
Camera 160, 16 1
Int o & Out of Close -ups__. . .. 192
Compositional 205, 206
MASSES . 20.4, 205
Adv antages 77, 78
Disadvantages 79, 80
For Staged Act io n 76
For Uncont rol led Actto n .. 76
Techniq ue 76
vs Triple-Take Technique 85 -86
Wit h Mu lt ip le Cameras 76 -80
With Single Camera _ . 76-80
See Look
... 210
. 203, 20 4
234 -238
___ . 237
With Odd Numbers _
Can Aid Story-Telling .__
Distinct Separation
Necessary . 235, 236
Focus Requirements _ _ 236
Move ment 236, 23 7
Part ial 236
Pictorial Requ i reme nts 23 5
223. 224
....... 224, 225
. 211
Disadvantages .__
Ent er or Exit Both Sides 91, 92
Exit Top or Bottom of Frame __ 9 1
For Greater Impact 92
For Reversing Screen
Direction 102, 103
For Visual Var iety _ 92
Head-On & Tail -Away _ 90
High or l ow Angt e .. 91
How to Track 90, 9 1
lens Covered & uncovered.. 90
To Distract Audta nca . . 92
Toward or Away From Lens ..... 90 92
When to Use . 92
Multiple Cameras 76 -80
Single Camera 7686
... ... 168
. . . 167,1 68
____ ___ _______99 , 101
_____ ______ ___ _97, 98
On Corners _
On Curves _
For Background ctieet .. 130, 131
Constant .. . 87, 88
Contrasting 89, 90
Dynamic .. . 87 108
How t o Plan 104107
All Purpose .
For over-tne.s nou toer
Close -Ups
For Switching
Screen Direct ion 102
_______ 114, 11 5
LONG SHOT.. __26, 27
LOOK 110-136
How to Match _ .. 110
How to Mat ch for
Speaker & Audience 122-126
How to Match wit h
Single Player 118-121
How to Match on
Master Scene.. _ 116, 117
How to Match on
Movi ng Player s 116
Match ing on Group at Tab le 129, 130
Mat chi ng on Stock Shots
& Production Scenes 130132
Neutral .. . 114, 115
On Both Sides of Lens 112114
LOOSE CAMERA SHOTS _ ... 163 ,164
LOW ANGLES 141 144
CLOSE-UP 194. 195
SOUND FLOW . . 167.168
How to Int roduce 142 145
How t o Segue 144
Monol ogue ... 143
Narr ation 142. 145
To Br idge Movement .. 144,145
To Bridge Space . 144, 145
To Bridge Time 143. 144
With Music . 144
Wit h Rad.c & Television 144
Wit h Sound Efleet s .. . 144
Wit h Telephone . . 144
TAllAWAY SHOTS . _. ........ ... .. ... 90-92
__ ,. 136
How to Bridge _
How t o Bridge 136
Appropriate 145
Mont age 138140
Pict orial 136-142
Sound . 142145
UNITY __. 213
160, 161
.. 198
_____ ____ _ 34. 35
SPACE, HOW TO BRI DGE . ,.. . 136
Mat ching look 110-112
Mu lti ple c amer as.. 76. BO
Single Camera 76
73. 74
.... 9699. 101
. ... 109 133
How to Reverse
Neut ral
St at ic .