Learn 3D Modeling in Blender 2.8 (Episode 1 – Polygons and Primitives)

Have you ever been inspired looking at the cool 3d imageries from Pixar movies or mind-blowing VFX from Hollywood movies? If yes, then I welcome to understand the foundations on which 3D artists all over the world make these amazing graphics. That being said we need to understand the underlying fact that 3D is vast. Big Studios like Pixar have hundreds of people working for them and every top talent among them focuses on one specific task. And on top of that, they have world-class resources available at their service.

I am mentioning this only to provide you an idea of how big the 3D industry is and how it is there to learn.

That being said, everyone has to start somewhere and I hope this post will help understand the basics of 3D art. 3D Pipeline consists of many tasks such as modeling, texturing, rigging, animation, rendering, color grading, and so on. The one we are talking about today is modeling, which is the fundamentals aspect of 3D – nothing happens without modeling. In order to travel further down the pipeline, you need to have a well-working model with you.

Models are basically objects you have within your scene. Let’s say you are making an interior scene of the house. For that, you need to have models like tables, beds, plates, book racks – basically whatever lies within your house, including the house itself. Everything that’s inside the 3D art is the model. In order to start creating models, you need to have a deep understanding of how it’s formed. 3D software like Blender form models with the help of polygons.

What is Polygon?

Wikipedia defines polygon in this way:

Polygons are basically shapes that are connected via vertices using what’s called edges. The basics shapes that we learned during our childhood – most of them are polygons. Triangles, Rectangles, Pentagons, etc. are polygons. 3D Model is the complex product of the polygons that make up the shape we see. The specialty of the polygon is that polygons exist on a well-defined plane. If we connect two vertices together, then that makes up the line, the fact is we do not know the plane of the line because we do not have enough information. However, once we join 3 or more vertices together, then we have well-defined plane. These planes become much more relevant when creating 3D models. Although we are working on 3D, our computer is 2D, right? Hence the 3d image that we work on is the projection of the 3d model. But, as a 3d artist, all we need to understand is that polygons make up the 3D model.

Polygons are a super important topic to understand in 3D. Look at the rectangle, when we combine 2 triangles, it becomes a rectangle, right? A polygon can have either 3 or more vertices connected using edges. When we have 5 or vertices connected together, we call it n-gons. Ideally, we want to work with rectangles (or squares for that matter). The basic idea is to avoid n-gons and the triangle for modeling.

Here’s the thing:

When we create the model, most probably we need to animate it as well. Among all these shapes, only rectangles, and squares deform in a proper manner. We should definitely not need to know why it happens, all we need to know is the basic idea that is to use rectangles in most of our cases. This will probably come with practice – after spending quite some time in 3D animation, your intuition will say when to use n-gons (if that’s necessary)

What are primitives?

In geometry, primitives refer to objects which you can use to create other objects or shapes. Here’s the idea – while modeling you start with the primitive that closely resembles the shape that you’re making. For example, if you are creating a well – then it makes sense to start with a cylinder because that’s what it looks like in a close manner. Of course, real-world modeling looks a bit different. The basics always remain the same – you need to start with the primitive and then work on that. For example, human face closely resembles sphere, hence we start with sphere and tweak that in whatever we can to make it look like a face.

As I mentioned earlier, we do not just want it to look like the shape, we also want to make it functional so that there’s no problem in animating it later. For that, we need a good topology (more on this later).

Here are the few primitives that we use most of the time:

In Blender, there are few more primitives that we use. Here are a few of those: (a model is sometimes referred to as a mesh. The mesh is technically is a collection of polygons, since modeling is just the right arrangement of the polygons, it makes sense to refer to a model as a mesh.)

Let’s take this house as an instance.

This is mostly just a cube and plane. The wooden beams that I used are the cubes. The roofs, the walls, the door, and the window is just the plane. Of course, I have painted it using textures (texturing comes after modeling). Here are the objects or the sub-models that I used in order to create this model:

As a modeler, you need to develop an eye to watch how objects form and probably what’s the best way to get the job done. If you want to make a car, then you generally start with a cube – that’s because the body the car mostly resembles the cube. After that, you will use many modeling tools like extrude, bevel, and subdivide to create a car itself. Now important thing to note here is that model is a shape and not the final step. Sometimes, you may not your model to look like 100% the way you want you final product to look like – texturing can play a role in that. But the general rule is to work on it in a detailed manner so that other steps become quite easy.

In the next tutorial, we’ll discuss the modeling basics like translate, rotate, and scale and discuss vertices, edges, and face and how we can manipulate them.

Assignment: Study about the polygons as much as you can, learn about the vertex, edge, and scale (that will be a lot helpful in the next post).

Learn 3D Modeling in Blender 2.8 (Episode 0 – Why Blender?)

When it comes to 3D software, there is a myriad of options to choose from. Some of the most popular software are Autodesk Maya, 3Ds Max, Blender, Houdini, Cinema 4D, and so on. The primary reason I choose Blender (to be honest) is because it’s free. It’s also relatively lightweight compared to other 3D applications, which in no way makes Blender less powerful. In fact, Blender can do any 3D tasks imaginable. Of course, it may not be the best and the most efficient to do every 3D task (considering 3D itself is vast), but once you get the hang of Blender, all you can do is love it more because it’s FREE.

Now after the release of Blender 2.8, it’s almost like using a new advanced software than 2.7x series.

The most highlighted one is the Eevee renderer. However, there’re so many minor improvements that makes a 3D artist to use Blender at least once to see if they like it. Software is only part of the equation, though. 3D itself takes time to learn, hence we created this mini-series to help you learn to model while learning blender as well, which drastically decreases the time it takes to learn.

Does Software Matter?

My personal belief is that software matters a lot when you’re doing a complex task like 3D. But when there’re identical pieces of software that both do the same jobs in their own way, then it’s upon user’s preference to choose the software that they like.

As of today, there’s no reason not to try Blender. All I can say is try for once.

3D is a vast field. It covers areas like modeling, texturing, rigging, rendering, animation, compositing, and so on. In big studios like Pixar, there are people who do specialized tasks like modeling. One person may model a part of something. That’s how big the 3D industry is. Although I can empathize as a person working on a small studio or some planning to set up a small studio (just remember every studio starts out as a small studio), then it’s better to be a generalist than to specialize in one core area and that’s where Blender comes in the most.

Firstly, it’s FREE.

That alone should make Blender a natural choice for most people.

Screenplay - The Foundations of Screenwriting

Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting – Book Summary

A screenplay is the story told with pictures, in dialogue and description and placed within the context of dramatic structure.

Chapter 1 – What is a screenplay?

A screenplay is not a novel and for certain it’s not a play.

If you look at the novel and try to define its fundamental nature, you’ll see that the dramatic action, the storyline, usually takes place inside the head of the main character. A play is different – the action, or the storyline, occurs onstage, under the proscenium arch, and the audience becomes the fourth wall, eavesdropping on the lives of the characters, what they think and feel and say.

Film is a VISUAL medium that dramatizes a basic story line.

Screenplays have a basic linear structure that creates the form of the screenplay because it holds all the elements, or pieces of the story line in place.

3-Act Structure

The word “structure” has basically 2 meanings:

  • “to build or put something together”
  • the relationship between the parts and the whole

A story is the whole and the elements that make up the story – the action, characters, conflicts, scenes, sequences, 3-acts, dialogue, action, events, music, location, etc. are the parts – and the relationship between the parts and the whole make up the story.

Act – I: “Set up”(app. 1- 30)
Act – II: “Confrontation”(app. 30 – 90)
Act – III: “Resolution”(app. 90 – 120)

Act I – “Set-up”:

Act – I is about the context. Context is the space that holds something in place.

  • Sets up the story
  • Establishes the character
  • Launches the dramatic premise.
  • Illustrates the situation
  • Creates the relationships between the main character and the other characters who inhabit the landscape of his/her world.

Act II – “Confrontation”:

In the second act, the main character encounters obstacle after obstacle that keeps him/her from achieving the dramatic need.

Dramatic need: “what the character wants to win, gain, get or achieve during the course of the screenplay”.

All drama is conflict. Without conflict, you have no action; without action you have no character ; without character, you have no story and without story , you have no screenplay.

Act III – “Resolution”:

It’s important to remember that resolution is not the ending; resolution means solution. Ending is the specific scene or shot or sequence that ends the script.

What’s the solution of your screenplay?

Does the main character live or die? Get Married or not? Win the race or not? Escape safety or not? Win the election or not? Leave her husband or not? Return the home or not? Act – III is the unit of action that resolves the story.

What’s a plot point?

A plot point is defined as any incident, episode or event that hooks into the action and spins it around in another direction. A plot point is always the function of the main character. Plot points serve an essential purpose in the screenplay; they are the major story progression and keep the story line anchored in place.

Plot points do not have to be big, dynamic scenes or sequences; they can be quiet scenes in which a decision is made.

Dramatic Structure: Linear arrangement of the related incidents, episodes, or events leading to a dramatic resolution.

Chapter 2 – The Subject

Every screenplay has a subject – it is what the story is about.

You need a subject to embody and dramatize the idea. A subject is defined as an action and a character. An action is what the story is about – a character is who the story is about. Knowing your subject is the starting point of your screenplay.

When you can articulate your subject, in terms of action and character, you’re ready to begin expanding the elements of structure and story. It may take several pages of the free association writing about your story before you can begin to grasp the essentials and reduce the complex storyline to a simple sentence or two.

Subject:
Action:Physical
Emotional
Character:
Define the need
Action is the character

Ask yourself what kind of story you are writing – Is it an outdoor action adventure movie? Or, is it a story about a relationship, an emotional story? Once you determine the kind of action you’re dealing with, you can move into the life of your character.

First, define the dramatic need of your character. What does your character want? What’s his/her need? What drives him to the resolution of the story? You must define the need of your character.

Know your SUBJECT !!

Chapter 3 – The Creation of Character

What is character but the determination of incident? And what is incident but the illumination of the character? – Henry James

Henry James says that incidents you create for your characters are the best ways to illuminate who they are – that is – reveal their true nature, their essential character. How they respond to a particular incident or event, how they act and react, what they say and do is what really defines the essence of their character.

Character is the essential internal foundations of your screenplay.

Before you can put one word down on paper, you must know your character. How do you determine whether your character will drive a car or ride a motorcycle or take the bus or subway, and what kind of paintings or posters hang out in his/her apartment?

Who is your main character?

The way you drive your story forward is by focusing on the actions of the character and the dramatic choices he or she makes during the narrative story line. You can have more than 1 main character, of course, but it certainly clarifies things if you identifies single hero or heroine.

First, establish the main character. Separate the components of his/her life into two basic categories:

  • interior
  • exterior

The interior of your character takes place from birth up until the time your story begins. It is a process that forms character.

The exterior life of your character takes place from the moment film begins to the conclusion of your story. It is the process that reveals the character.

Character:
Internal:takes place from birth – story
Emotional life – forms character
External:
from the start of the movie to end.
Physical Life – reveals the character

Character Biography:

The character biography is an exercise that reveals your character’s interior life, the emotional forces the emotional forces working on your character from birth. Continue to trace your character’s life until the story begins.

Writing is the ability to ask yourself the questions and wait for the answers.

The exterior aspect of your character takes place during the eventual time of the screenplay, from the first fade-in to the final fade-out. The best way to do this is to separate your character’s life into 3 basic components – their professional, personal and private life. (These areas of your characters’ lives can be dramatized over the course of the screenplay)

Professional: What does the protagonist do for the living?

Personal: Relationship / Love / Family

Private: What does your character do when s/he is alone?

Action is Character

Film is behavior. Pictures, or images reveal different aspects of character. Whereas character reveals the deep-seated nature of who people are, in terms of their values, actions and beliefs, characterization is expressed in the way people live, the cars they drive, the pictures they hang on the wall, their likes and dislikes, what they eat, and other forms of individual expression.

Form your characters by creating a character biography, and then reveal them by showing who they are in the professional, personal and private life.


Exercise:

Choose a character and write a character biography. Free Associate. Just throw down some thoughts, words or ideas. Write in fragments. You may want to start from birth, but you don’t have to follow the character’s life in a linear form. Let your creative consciousness dictate the flow of character.

As you have completed the character biography, think about your character’s professional, personal and private life. Focus on the relationships that occur during the screenplay.

Know Your Character !!

Chapter 4 – Building The Character

Building character is part of the mystery and magic of the creative process.

In is an ongoing, never-ending, continuing practice. In order to really solve the problem of character, it’s essential to go into your characters and build the foundations and fabric of their lives, then add ingredients that will heighten and expand the portrait of who they are.

Four essential qualities that seems to go into making a good character:

  • the characters have dramatic need
  • they have an individual Point-of-View (POV)
  • they personify an attitude
  • they go through some kind of change, or transformation

1. Dramatic Need:

A dramatic need is defined as what your main characters want to win, gain, get or achieve during the course of your screenplay. The dramatic need is what drives your character through the story line. It is their purpose, their mission, their motivation, driving them through the narrative action of the story line.

In most cases you can express the dramatic need in a sentence or two.

It is usually simple and can be stated through a line of dialogue, if you choose; or it does not have to be expressed at all. But you as a writer, must know your character’s dramatic need.

There are times when the dramatic need will change during the course of your story. If your character’s dramatic need dos change, it will usually occur at Plot Point I, the true beginning of your story. If you like, you can establish dramatic needs for other characters in the screenplay.

The dramatic need is the engine that powers the character through the story line.

2. Point-Of-View

17 Lighting Terminologies That Every Filmmaker Should Know

17 Lighting Terminologies That Every Filmmaker Should Know

Here are a few of the lighting terminologies that every filmmaker and cinematographer should know about.

Key Light:

The dominant or main light in the scene. The “key” illuminates the surface. Generally, the key light is the brightest light in the set-up.

Fill Light:

While key light lights up the subject, it also casts the shadow. Sometimes, we may want to keep the shadow – but most of the times, we need to get rid of those shadows. The fill light fills in the shadow, not lit by the keylight.

Lighting is sometimes described in terms of the “key/fill” ratio.

Backlight:

Light that hits the person or object from behind or above.

This might interest you: 21 Days Videography Training in Nepal

3 Point Lighting:

The above 3 lights (key, fill and backlight) together form the 3-point lighting set-up, which is the standard method used in the movies and shows. Even in photography, 3-point is among the first lighting set-ups that beginners photographers learn.

3 Point Lighting - Key, Fill, back Light
Source: https://biteable.com/

Kicker:

A kicker is the light from behind that grazes along an actor’s cheek, on the fill side. Often a kicker defines the face well enough that a fill is not even necessary.

Sidelight:

A light that comes from the side, relative to the actors. Sidelight makes the subject look dramatic.

Topper:

Light directly from above. The word can also be referred to a flag that cuts off the upper part of a light.

Quality of Lighting:

In terms of the quality of the lighting, there are 2 terminologies that we need to know:

Hard Light:

Light from the sun, or small lighting source that creates sharp well-defined shadows. Hard light makes the subject look dramatic (hence, used as a sidelight). The hardness of the light depends of 2 factors:

Light Source Size – smaller the source is, harder the light will be.

Distance from the subject – farther the subject is from the source, harder the light will be.

Soft Light:

Light from a large source that creates soft, ill-defined shadows, or no shadows at all. Soft light illuminates a larger part of the subject – hence used in commercials and such.

Ambient Light:

Light that just happens to be in a location; soft-overhead light that is sort of there.

Practicals:

Actual working light, table lamps, floor lamps, sconces and so on. Practicals are lights within the frame.

Upstage:

Part of the scene on the other side of the camera. Downstage is the side the camera is on.

High Key:

Lighting that is bright and fairly shadowless, with lots of fill light.

Low Key:

Light that is dark and shadowy with little or no fill light – use mostly in dark scenes.

Bounce Light:

Light that is reflected off something – a wall, ceiling, a white or neutral surface, a silk, etc.

Available Light:

Whatever light already exists at the location. Maybe natural light (sun, sky, overcast day) or artificial light (street lights, overhead fluorescents)

Motivated Lighting:

Where light in the scene appears to have a source, such as a window, a lamp, a fireplace and so on.

10 Composition Techniques (for Filmmakers & Cinematographers)

10 Composition Techniques (for Filmmakers & Cinematographers)

The composition is an important aspect of getting cinematic footage.

Whether you use a $100 DSLR camera or a $60,000+ ARRI Cameras – does not matter, if your composition sucks, then your footage will not seem cinematic. The composition is much more important than anything else. If you shoot the crap, it’s just the crap (with a higher dynamic range 😃)

What is Composition?

The composition is about arranging the elements in the frame (or viewfinder) so that it makes sense to the viewer.

How we compose the story will eventually define the story. Especially in movies, composition alone can evoke certain emotions – hence an important tool for cinematographers.

If you want your footage to look cinematic, then you have to learn to follow the composition guidelines (although you might want to break it later on)

Remember that these are not the rules (and just the guidelines)

Even rules are meant to be broken, it does not hurt to break the guidelines. However, you can only do that when you know the purpose of the composition. Every form of composition serves a purpose and not every kind of framing works best for every kind of shots.

Hence, it’s absolutely essential to learn the purpose of the composition techniques and why does it exist. There might be 1000’s of composition techniques, some of them are more important over others. Here are few of those:

1. Fill the Frame

It’s the mistake most of the beginner cinematographer’s make – not fill the frame with the subjects.

When you don’t fill the frame with the subjects and the related objects, your composition will feel dead or dull. The subject should not necessarily be a person or objects, it can be a theme, a landscape or something that reveals a part of the story.

That being said, when the composition contains unnecessary details (or distracting elements), it takes the focus away from our subject. Look at the picture below 👇

What do you see? A lot of things, right?

That’s an example of a composition where the frame is not filled with the subject.

Maybe the subject in this picture is the man who is looking at something (to the left). What is he looking at? That area should have been there in the frame. Rather than keeping the distracting elements in the right, the photographer should have clicked with the person on the right side of the frame, and a little bit of looking room on the left side. As far as possible, fill the frame with subjects …

… that brings the life to your cinematography.

2. Rule of Thirds

Imagine dividing your frame into 3 rows and 3 columns.

Rule of third states that when you place your subject at or near to the four intersecting points, your subject will get enough attention from the viewers. And, it will also feel natural composition to the viewer. Here’s an example: 👇

In this example, had we placed the girl at the center of the frame, it would not seem more balanced. Keeping the subject in one-third of the left or right ensures the composition is balanced. In this case, the photographer keeps her in the right third because she is looking at the left. This way, there’s also a looking room which makes it feel natural.

3. Symmetry

Symmetry breaks the rule of thirds. 😃🤔

Symmetry is one of those powerful ways of showcasing the subjects in the frame, which makes the composition lively. It’s not always applicable though. In order to create symmetry in the frame, we need to find such places (like bridges, symmetrical landscapes and such).

Even when there is a camera movement, we can still keep it symmetrical moving the camera to the front or the back. This way, symmetry is preserved even when the camera moves …

… camera movement is an important aspect of cinematography.

4. Creating Depth

We see depth in the real world. For example, I am seeing my hands which are typing before the laptop, and then the books, the table and such

This is how we see the world.

But when beginners filmmakers (or cinematographers) capture images, we tend to forget about the depth of field. Sometimes, all we want to do is place the subject and create a Bokeh effect behind him/her. That’s fine (in most cases)

Nevertheless, maintaining the depth in the composition brings the place to life. It almost feels like we are at the place experiencing the moment.

Hence I try to add as much depth as possible without hindering any other guidelines mentioned.

In this example, the lights add depth to the scene. Had we taken the picture from the side (90 degrees), the depth would not have been visible.

5. Leading Lines

Adding leading lines is a powerful method to draw the viewer’s attention to a point. As the name suggests, the line (imaginary) leads the viewer to a certain point (most probably – subject). Leading lines can be anything – mountains, field, bridges, etc. The line is imaginary – the basic idea is that the line should lead within the frame and take the audience somewhere.

Here’s an example 👇

Had we just clicked the picture of just the subject in this picture, it might have been OK. But, keeping in mind the leading lines, it added a new dimension to the picture. Similar is the case in cinematography. Here, the leading lines also add a sense of depth.

6. Diagonal Lines

Diagonal lines are much similar to the leading lines. The only difference is that the lines are diagonal (means the lines goes from left to right or vice-versa).

Diagonal lines also add a sense of depth in the frame.

7. Pattern / Repetition

Pattern (or repetition) is a composition technique that works well for cinematography (more than photography). Patterns are so natural. In fact, nature is filled with patterns.

Think about the mountains – All the mountains are similar to each other. When we shoot one mountain and pan the camera to show the other – audience feels the pattern in this case. It seems a powerful tool to capture certain scenes.

If you find the places with patterns or repetitions of certain elements, try to incorporate that within your camera viewfinder.

8. Framing

Framing is about surrounding your subject with interesting elements.

It brings a new dimension to the story – revealing something essential (or hiding something important). Just like the frame we hang in our homes, we cover our subject or the action with something interesting. These can be anything – any objects within the viewfinder can act as a frame.

Framing makes the scene even more interesting. Especially when we find something that relates to our story. Keep in mind that the frame should not be a distracting element to the story. In fact, it should bring something to the story and the scene.

9. Dominance

Remember the first picture that I showed to you. See the picture once again and answer this question – “What’s the dominant part of the shot?”

You’ll find it very difficult to answer that.

Because the shot is composed in a way that reveals everything while the audience is confused about what’s the dominant subject.

That’s what every director needs to consider. Whether it be film or photography, you’re directing the audience’s attention. The audience does not know anything about the scene until you show them. This is where filmmaking can be utilized to the fullest as well – you can direct the audience’s interest in a way that’s rarely possible in any other art forms.

10. Focus

Needless to say, that focus is important. Simple, yet super essential. Because if the subject is not in focus, then every other composition techniques will seem worthless. Hence, always keep your subject – the thing that you want to show, in focus.

As a viewer, we only think about one thing at a time – it’s upon your job as a filmmaker and cinematographer to make me think about the story. Focus helps a lot in this case.

It’s also about getting rid of the distracting elements.

In Conclusion

Well, that’s it …

These are the important composition techniques – we need to tweak, and twist them to tell our story, and make every scene valuable. Once again – these are just the guidelines and not the hard and fast rules. These are meant to be broken – once we understand the purpose and motivation of every composition techniques.

If I missed anything, let me know in the comment section below 👇

6 Basic Camera Shots Every Filmmaker Must Know

6 Basic Camera Shots Every Filmmaker Must Know

A Film is made up of scenes – a scene is made up of shots.

Shots, when combined (or let’s say edited) in a meaningful style make up the whole movie. Filmmaking is a language – and it has its own grammar. Filmmaking is spoken in terms of the scenes and shots.

A scene comprises of many shots.

Think of a scene like a sentence. What is a sentence made up of – words, right? True. But just randomly throwing out the words does not make the meaningful sentence. In order to make a sentence that makes sense – we need to learn how to put words together (which I am doing right now 😃)

In a similar way:

For a shot to make sense, we need to combine the shots (in fact, different kind of shots) in a proper way so that it makes sense to the viewer – and also moves forward your story.

… before that, we need to learn what each shot means to the viewers.

Let’s have a look at the various kind of shots and where it might be appropriate:

#1 – Wide Shot

Wide shot, as the name suggests is the shots that shows the wide range of the view. It’s generally used as an ‘establishing shot’ – which basically means to educate the viewer on the place or the environment that the action is taking place.

Wide Shot – Reveals the Whole Scene

It usually encompasses all the elements within the scene. It closely relates to the way we see the acts in the stage. We can see everything that’s going on within the scene.

Usage:

  • used as an establishing shot.
  • to show the high-level view of the action.

#2 – Long Shot

… also known as Full-body shot.

Long shot indicates that we can see the person from head to toe. In fact, it does not have to be a person, it can be an object as well. For example – we can capture the long shot of the car or building.

Long Shots can comprise of 2 person – also known as Two Body shot

These shots can be important when shooting actions where the character is moving. These shots provide a sense of location to the audience (although might not reveal every elements of the scene)

Usage:

  • Shoot the movements (when camera is moving along with the subject)

#3 – Medium Shot

Medium shot, as the name suggests is the half-body shot. It is generally used when the character is doing things. Maybe he is holding something, talking or reading something.

Medium shot is ideal for interviews (or people talking in general), where body language is still important and it also reveals expression of the character (something a long shot shot does not)

In these kind of shots, we are closer to the action – hence we become more involved in what the character is saying or doing – without focusing on a specific character’s emotions or any other particular details.

Usage:

  • used to shoot the general actions.
  • ideal when ‘body language’ and ‘expressions’ both are important

#4 – Close-Ups

Close-up shot refers to the shot that covers face of the person.

… also sometimes referred to as ‘head and shoulder’ shots.

Close-ups are generally used to emphasize the emotion of the person (or character). Since we are seeing the face clearly, the details of the face are clear – for example, how his/her eyes react to a certain situation.

These kind of shots are ideal when the character is moving.

… or when the character is doing some action. Since we cannot see below his neck – we do not know what his hands or legs are doing – hence any sorts of movement happening would not be perfect for close-ups.

Usage:

  • To emphasize on the emotions of the character.

#5 – Point-Of-View Shot

Point-Of-View shots are the shots as seen through the character’s eyes.

The character is going through some dramatic situation – and sometimes it’s better to make the audience look through the character’s eyes to help them feel the situation – for example, the height of the building. In case, our character is afraid – it’s not enough to use medium shots or close-ups of their expression – the audience needs to see what the character is seeing.

Seeing through character’s point of view helps us empathize him/her.

These kinds of shots add much value to the scene.

Since we want the audience to travel through the protagonist’s life, it’s better to make them live the character’s life – and POV shots are powerful medium to do so.

Usage:

  • To help the audience see through the character’s eyes.

#6 – Over The Shoulder Shot

Mostly used for conversation purpose, OTS shot is a variation of the close-up shot. In this shot, we shoot over the shoulder of one actor to the medium close-up of the other actor (the one who s/he is looking at)

These kinds of shots add depth to the scene – foreground becomes the actor who is not talking. Next, it helps our audience know that we are not shooting the character in isolation – there’s someone else in the scene whom a character is talking to.

Usage:

  • Used in conversation-style shots to make audience feel like the scene is not shot in isolation.
  • Used when the character is looking at something – for example – reading books

How to Combine The Shots?

A shot is a building block of a scene.

How we combine the shots together to build a scene determines what kind of emotions will the scene provoke and what does the scene contribute for the whole movie.

The general rule of thumb is to start with an establishing shot (or a master shot).

It provides the context, or the environment in which the action is happening. And afterwards insert the other shots of the scene so that the scene makes sense to the viewers and also it helps move the story forward.

In Conclusion

Camera shots are an important part of filmmaking.

The shots are the building block of the scene. Similar to the fact that a scene does not work in isolation, the shots don’t work in isolation as well. Every shots you take is adding something to the scene – which means that you need to have 100% clarity about the scene before you even touch the camera.

I plan to write next about the camera movements, please be tuned.

Cinematography – Theory and Practice – Book Summary

It’s the summary of the book – Cinematography – Theory and Practice.

Chapter 1 – Writing with Motion

The term “Cinematography” is from the Greek roots meaning ‘writing with motion’.

When we create a film project, one of our primary tasks is to create a visual world for the characters to inhabit. The visual world is an important part of how the audience will perceive the story; how the audience will understand the character and their motivation.

Random choices do not help you tell your story.

Conceptual Tools of Cinematography:

  • Frame
  • Lens
  • Light and Color
  • Movement
  • Texture
  • Establishing
  • POV (Point-Of-View)

Frame:

Choosing the frame is a matter of conveying the story, but it’s also the question of composition, rythm and perspective.

Lens:

Every lens has a ‘personality’ – a flavor and an infection it adds to the image. There are many factors: contrast & sharpness for example, but by far the most influential aspect of a lens is focal length: how long or wide the lens is.

Light and Color:

Light and color enables cinematographers to make film reach at a gut, emotional level.

Texture:

Changing the color and contrast of the picture, desaturating the color of the image, filters, fog and smoke effects, rain, using unusual film stocks, various printing techniques, and so on.

Movement:

Movies are one of the few art forms which employ motion and time, with the like of dance.

Establishing:

Establishing is the ability of camera to reveal or conceal information; letting the camera reveal the information is usually more cinematic way of getting information to the audience than dialog or voice over.

Point-of-View:

Having the camera see something in much the same way as one of the characters would see it: to view the scene from character’s point of view.

Chapter – Camera Movement

  • Camera placement is a key decision in storytelling. More than
    just “where it looks good,” it determines what the audience sees and
    from what perspective they see it.