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Chapter 7 DIRECTIONAL CONTINUITY

IMPORTANCE OF ESTABLISHING DIRECTION

The direction in which a subject moves, or the direction in which a person looks, cause the most vexing problems in motion picture continuity. If a complete production could be photographed in a single shot there would be no directional problems! A motion picture is made up of a series of shots, filmed from different camera angles and when put together in a sequence, forms a chapter in the story A series of chapters are combined to make up the complete narrative.

IMPORTANCE OF ESTABLISHING DIRECTION If an established move in a particular direction is unaccountably changed in consecutive shots, the picture's continuity gets disrupted, that distracts or even confuses the audience An unexplained change in screen direction can result in a serious mismatch Directors working from a shooting script often rely on the director of photography for screen direction, so that subjects look and move in the correct direction. On failing to pay particular attention the cameraperson may get into serious directional trouble. Directional continuity can be easily mastered if given attention

IMPORTANCE OF ESTABLISHING DIRECTION No better way for a cameraman to win the respect of a film editor than by delivering footage that "cut together" Mistakes call for optical flop over, or other reversing editing tricks - necessary for salvaging carelessly-filmed 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 subject is important - not how it appears in actuality. Action is judged only by its screen appearance; by the way it should look - and not the way it actually appears while being filmed.

SCREEN DIRECTION There are two types of screen directions:


DYNAMIC (Bodies in motion) STATIC (Bodies at rest)

DYNAMIC SCREEN DIRECTION


Constant; either left-to-right or right-to-left Contrasting; both left-to-right and right-to-left Neutral; toward or away from the camera

STATIC SCREEN DIRECTION (Bodies at rest)


Concerned with face and look of the static subjects on screen

DYNAMIC SCREEN DIRECTION - Constant Constant screen travel depicts subject motion in one direction only. Same direction is needed to show continued progression. If a shot suddenly depicts the person or vehicle moving in the opposite direction to that previously established, the audience will receive the impression that the moving subject has turned around, and is returning to the starting point! Once screen direction is established for a particular travel pattern it should be maintained. Camera angles and shot types may be varied but direction of movement must not be changed.

DYNAMIC SCREEN DIRECTION - Constant Established screen direction should be maintained throughout a travel sequence When cutting from exterior of a moving object to an interior shot, camera must shoot from the same side for smoother transition - deviate camera angle later to continue interior sequence In the following example the narrative is concerned solely with activity inside a train, but whenever the moving train is suggested - it shows a constant direction of travel. The train enters from screen left, moves across the screen in a left-to-right direction.

DYNAMIC SCREEN DIRECTION - Contrasting Contrasting screen travel may be used to show subjects comings and goings (descriptive phrase used by early film makers) May depict opposing subjects moving towards each other Depicts subject motion in opposite direction Occurs because audience is oriented through preceding shot establishing the direction Left scene depicts group traveling toward, group at right is returning opposite direction.

DYNAMIC SCREEN DIRECTION - Contrasting Moving opposition edited in alternate pattern may predict a clash. Opposing action shots are filmed with alternate pattern of progressively closer shots as the action reaches its climax. Such closer-and-closer shots may be cut shorter and shorter, so that the sequence builds from lengthy long shots to shorter medium shots, to clipped close-ups and a frenzied finish. The viewers emotions are, excited by the acceleration editing pattern and involved deeply as the camera moves into the clashing climax.

NEUTRAL SCREEN DIRECTION Neutral screen direction depicts moving subjects traveling toward or away from the camera. Neutral movements are non-directional - may inter-cut scenes showing movements in either direction Three types of Neutral Shots
Head-on and tail-away shots Tracking shots High or low angle shots

NEUTRAL SCREEN DIRECTION - Head-on and tail-away shots Subject moves directly toward or away from the camera. Such shots are neutral only as long as the moving image remains centered in the frame. An entrance or exit will denote direction. The front or rear of the moving subject should be depicted for an absolutely neutral effect. If one side is seen, such as the side of an actor or a car, the direction of travel will be indicated.

NEUTRAL SCREEN DIRECTION - Head-on and tail-away shots A head-on shot may begin neutral and then exit one side of the picture to match-cut with a following directional shot.

NEUTRAL SCREEN DIRECTION - Head-on and tail-away shots A tail-away shot may enter one side of the picture and then become neutral before it moves away from the lens. Such shots may be used deliberately to switch screen direction, by presenting a temporary neutral condition between two directional shots.

NEUTRAL SCREEN DIRECTION - Head-on and tail-away shots In head-on shots, on occasions a subject walks /runs/ moves directly toward the camera and covers the lens, so that the screen is blacked out

NEUTRAL SCREEN DIRECTION - Head-on and tail-away shots In tail away a subject moves directly away from the camera so that the lens is uncovered and the setting is revealed Frequently used for fast sequences, or for providing fade-in or fade-out effects

NEUTRAL SCREEN DIRECTION - Tracking shots Tracking shots, in which the camera moves directly ahead or directly behind the player or vehicles, are neutral if the subject does not enter or exit the frame. Either a front or rear view is depicted It is not a neutral tracking shot if a side or three-quarter angle is filmed, one side of the subject is favored, and the shot indicates direction of travel.

NEUTRAL SCREEN DIRECTION High or Low angle shots In such shots the moving subject travels directly toward and under or over the camera, so that it exits either bottom or top of the frame. Examples - A car filmed from a high angle may travel directly under the camera. A train or a jumping horse may travel directly over the top of a low-angled camera.

USE NEUTRAL SHOTS

To provide visual variety - A constant left-to-right or right-to-left series of shots may be broken up with neutral subject movement. Head on or tail away are a welcome change from usual three quarter angle High or low angle furnish contrast to eye level shots Head-on shot is used to open a sequence and bring subject from a distant point toward the audience Tail-away shot is used to close a sequence by having the subject recede from the camera Such shots present moving images which increase or decrease in size as they advance or retreat from the viewer, and thus effect a great depth than cross screen shots.

USE NEUTRAL SHOTS To provide greater audience impact Head on shots place the viewer dead center, with the action advancing toward him.

USE NEUTRAL SHOTS To distract the audience A sequence depicting subject travel in a constant direction, is often filmed with one or more shots moving in the opposite direction by inserting a neutral shot that allow the editor to reverse movement completely without the abruptness of a direct cut from a directional shot

ACTION AXIS Once the left-to-right or right-to-left directional movement is established, it must be maintained throughout a series of shots, by remaining on the same side of the action axis. A new location will require drawing a new axis but requires to remain on the same side as the original axis to preserve established travel direction. If the camera is always positioned on the same side of the axis, the directional continuity will be filmed and maintained automatically.

ACTION AXIS Once the left-to-right or right-to-left directional movement is established, it must be maintained throughout a series of shots, by remaining on the same side of the action axis. A new location will require drawing a new axis but requires to remain on the same side as the original axis to preserve established travel direction. If the camera is always positioned on the same side of the axis, the directional continuity will be filmed and maintained automatically.

ACTION AXIS

A picture shot from script should have all its travel mapped out before production begins. A cameraman shooting off-the-cuff should take particular care to establish and maintain screen direction, so that all travel will match-cut. If travel shots are not filmed according to preconceived plan, the resulting series of scenes may be a hodgepodge of opposing movements, which will prove difficult to edit. Matching movement is just as important in two consecutive shots of a person walking down the street, as in a long series of scenes .

Camera 3 films neutral tail away shot

If player walks into or out of neutral shot must enter from left of Camera 3 and exit right for Camera 2 to preserve left to right directional travel

Camera 1 films front three quarter angle depicting walking subject moving left to right

Camera 2 films neutral head-on shot

ACTION AXIS A simple method for establishing and maintaining screen direction is by use of the action axis. Subject travel may be considered as an imaginary line made by the subjects travel This travel line is the action axis. If camera set-ups are positioned on one side of this line, screen direction will remain the same throughout the series of shots, regardless of camera angle. The subject may travel cross-screen, toward, or away from the camera directional movement will be constant when the subject moves in a constant direction; and contrasting when the subject moves in opposite directions.

Camera 1 films head-on shot of walking player Player exits screen right to establish left to right direction travel

Camera 2 shows player in front three quarter angle as he enters from screen right. This angle is excellent for tracking a moving player or vehicle

Camera 3 records player moving left to right across screen. Shot may be static or camera may be static for entrance, pan player for short distance and hold static for exit screen right

Camera 4 films rear three quarter angle of player, who enters left, exits right

Camera 5 depicts player entering frame screen left and walking away from lens in tail away shot, as he enters building. Player may be filmed with any or all of these camera set-ups with assurance he well travel left to right regardless of whether static or moving shot; or whether player is moving toward or away from camera

Camera 3 should remain on same side of travel axis to show player leaving building for return. Player moves in contrasting right to left screen direction. Head on or tail away shots may be filmed in the same manner

Directional travel is neutral when two or more players walk abreast toward camera, and then split up to exit both sides of frame

Directional travel is neutral when several players enter frame from both sides of camera and join up going directly away

Exception to crossing action of axis occurs when two players look at each other as they move. Two shot static action axis should be drawn through moving players. Camera positioned on either side of travel axis to shoot opposing shots of moving players in the same manner that they would be filmed standing still.

The following sequence from Martin Rackins production of STAGECOACH (released by 20th Century Fox) illustrates how Dynamic Directional Continuity is established and maintained. Stage Coach is established moving left to right in a front three quarter angle

Stage Coach Continues traveling left to right

Reverse shot of opposite players is filmed from same side of action axis

Players are filmed from exterior camera angle, from same side of travel axis

Coach continues on its way. It enters screen left, and exits screen right

Interior shot show players from similar angle

Red Indians move left to right

Driver is filmed in three quarter angle from same side of action axis Three quarter angle shows attackers Stagecoach must exit screen right to preserve established travel direction Cut-away shot reveals U.S. cavalry coming on scene Coach filmed in three quarter angle

Shot of troopers maintains direction Indians are driven off, and cavalry escorts stagecoach to destination Stagecoach enters town still traveling left5 to right Coach pulls up to depot left to right

DYNAMIC SCREEN DIRECTION

This sequence depicting landing on Omaha Beach of Allied troops on D-Daydemonstrates right to left progression throughout a series of shots from landing craft being beached, to officers and men moving up into battle position

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