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KEY VOCABULARY (in no order at all! Image Analysis Vocabulary is also helpful here.)

Thanks to revisionworld

Mise-en-scene - The arrangement of everything that you see in the frame or scene - light, actors, set, colour, camera angle and movement.

High angle - Camera is above the actor's eyeline.

Neutral angle - Camera is level with the actor's eyeline.

Low angle - Camera is below the actor's eyeline.

Bird's Eye - Camera is vertically above the subject

Pan – this is a slow movement which scans a scene horizontally. The camera is often placed on a tripod, which acts as a stationary point and then follows the object across the scene.

Track - When the camera is moved forwards or backwards.

Tilt – this is a movement which scans vertically.

Dolly – this is sometimes called a tracking shot: the camera is placed on a moving vehicle (the dolly) and follows a moving figure or object.

Zolly or reverse zoom - Tracking forward while zooming out, or tracking backwards while zooming in.

Crane – this provides a swooping action as the camera is placed on the end of a platform or jib. These are perfect for action scenes where a lot of swift movement is required.

Zoom – this mechanical lens allows the camera to move close to or away from the object/action without moving itself.

Aerial – this is an exciting shot usually taken from a helicopter. These shots are often used at the beginning of films to establish and set the scene. They can create a sense of drama and exhilaration.

Hand held – this was first used effectively during the Second World War by news reporters and then later adapted for documentary producing a ‘fly on the wall effect’. Hand-held camera actions are sometimes jerky and give a realistic effect

Ambient light - Natural light.

Ambient sound - Natural sound.

Foley sound - Sound effects.

Dialogue - Speech.

Score - Musical soundtrack.

Synchronous sound - When we see the source of the sound on screen.

Asynchronous sound - When we are looking at one thing and listening to another.

Diegetic sound - Sound which should be there as part of the narrative's world (or diegesis) - for example, when a gun fires, we should hear the bang.

Non-diegetic sound - Sound which logically makes no sense. For example, there are no musical soundtracks or voiceovers in real life.

Shot reverse shot - A series of over-the-shoulder (OTS) shots which are used to present a conversation.

Establishing shot - A shot, generally a wide shot and usually at the start of a scene, to show where the action is taking place.

Master shot - A shot which shows the relative locations of all participants in a scene.

Follow the action - Composing shots by simply tracking or panning after whatever is moving (usually the actor) in a scene.

TASK: Scene breakdown

Find a piece of film, 1 to 2 minutes long, that you think is well made. You're going to analyse it, using as much of the vocabulary above as possible. You can EITHER:

TASK: Shot reverse shot

A lot of films and TV shows are basically a series of conversations. We film conversations using a technique called shot reverse shot - you'll see several examples in the extract from Suits above. On the right, you can find a basic intro to the compositional theory of filming dialogue and some more advanced stuff about lens choice - but don't worry too much about lenses at the minute. While you are more than welcome to borrow equipment and go pro, you can also do this perfectly well with your phone!

To an extent, shooting dialogue is about observing the 180 degree rule. Basically, make sure you stay on one side of the actors and all will be well.

More detail, and examples, in the video on the left.

You need a script to begin with. Use this or write your own. If you want to write your own, use a screenwriting app like Trelby (PC only download) or Writer Duet (online, any platform, requires sign-up.)

Your workflow could be:

  • Read through your script with your actors

  • Mark up your script - make notes on it with ideas for shots, edits, locations, clothes, sound and so on

  • Storyboard - it might help to sketch out some of your shots, particularly if they are more ambitious than simple stationary shots

  • At a bare minimum, you need to film the whole conversation three times; from the master shot position, then from the perspectives of both participants. Record sound on another device - a phone or sound recorder.

  • Your editor can start editing now. Start with sound. Find the best recording of the dialogue and use that to build from. We match shots to sound, not the other way round.

  • The most basic way to do this is to keep everything synchronous. That is, we are always looking at the person who is talking. More imaginative editors will quickly want to go beyond this and to start mixing the shots up in a more dynamic way while the sound bridges over them. If you want music, put it in now. We don't add it at the end!

  • They will also want some cutaway shots - maybe to the character's hands, or to something else in the room. If you need to get extra shots (called pick-up shots) go get them.

  • Put your cut together, export and seek advice from your teacher.

  • If all is well, put a titles (name of film, actors, name of director) at the beginning and credits (crew names) at the end. You might as well stick your logo on there also.

  • Export, upload to YouTube, embed on the video portfolio page of your website.


Let's see what you can do now you've had some practice - go and create the Apple Ad!

Additional Resources

Good video essay

How do youtubers do it? (A bit sweary...)

Really basic shot-reverse shot

More sophisticated s-rs

Reaction shots - the secret of s-rs 

Continuity - it's important

The Match Cut - the secret to slick editing

Think about continuity

Advanced level - colour correct your footage!

Boring Teacher Stuff

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