For all you avid movie fans who have always dreamed about making a film yourself but never had the opportunity to do it, March On film is the perfect excuse to give it a try!
But if you’ve never made a film before sometimes the whole process can seem daunting, so we’ve collected a bunch of articles and film making websites that will be of help in getting to grips with how to go about making a short film.
1 : You don’t need expensive gear to make films, all you need is an idea, something to shoot on (you’d be surprised the results you can get from a smartphone) and some editing software, which you can download for free, to edit on. Once you have these three elements you’re ready to go!
2 : There is no limit on team sizes. One person can potentially do it all or you can have 100 people involved, some as cast some as crew. It all depends on what you want to do!
3 : Enjoy yourself! As we’ve said, Film making can seem daunting if you’ve never done it before but once you get started you’ll soon find that it’s a really rewarding process and you can have a lot of fun bringing that idea of yours to life.
So read the film making articles and links to websites that we provide in this section, figure out what kind of short you want to make, and then get filming. There’s no better way to learn how to do something then to jump right in and give it a go!
Good luck with your March On Film!
Becasue March On Film is about Filming your short in a fixed timeframe, having an organised schedule is of the essence. We'd advise dividing your schedule into 4 parts.
1: Organise your team! Ideally you should do this before the start date of the 1st of March
Whether it's only going to be 1 or 2 people, or you're getting the whole town involved. Organise who's doing what? People can either have single or multiple roles, but in general there are some key postions that you need to consider
2 : Producer/Director
3: Camera operator/cinematographer/director of photgraphy
4: Sound Recordist
On a big budget feature there will be many more roles than this but these are the basic postions that need to be fulfilled to make a film. Below is a link to a full list of roles
2: Write your Script ( We have more details on this below )
Timeframe : 1 Week. Try to aim to have this done in the first week. The quicker you have your script written the more time you'll have for filming.
3: Film your script ( We have more details on this below )
Timeframe : 2 weeks : Of course this can take as little as a day or even a few hours and really depends on how many locations and how vsiually complex a script you are filming.
4: Edit and deliver your film. ( We have more details on this below )
Timeframe : 1 week : But the more time you can leave yourself the better! Editing often takes longer than shooting so bear this in mind!
Links to examples
http://learnaboutfilm.com : Very Good introduction to the film making process
A Rough Guide to The Film Making Process
The filmmaking process is commonly divided into five phases: Idea and Development; Pre-production; Production; Post-production; and Distribution. Working according to these phases can help you do the job in a logical order, with as little complications as possible, since each stage of the process is based on the successful completion of its predecessor.
Phase 1: Idea and Development
Finding the initial idea for the film is the core of the whole filmmaking process. Inspiration is often elusive, not only to filmmakers but to other artists as well, and you might want to ask yourself a few questions in order to find what it is that you want to say to the world: What topics are close to your heart? On what topics do you feel you have a unique voice or a unique perspective? What new ideas do you want your audience to think about? What experiences and notions do you want to share with them?
Not every idea for a film is a good idea for a film, and indeed, most concepts won’t make it to the next level. But once you find an idea that excites you, you will need to develop it so it forms the foundation of your film. This phase of the process will help you understand exactly what you want to say and how you want to say it, and will make it easier for you to convey it to other people, on-set and off-set, thus making sure that everybody’s on the same page.
Working on paper can help you put things in order. Think about the structure of your film: it should have a beginning, middle and end. Think about your target audience, who they are and what you want them to feel after watching your film. In order to make sure you know exactly what your film is going to be about, try to describe the whole story in just one sentence, then in just one appealing paragraph – this will also help you when you search for funding.
Next, write your script using a script format; think about characters, dialogues, sights and sounds. An important tip is to have all details in the script, but not too many details: a good filmmaker should always know his strengths and weaknesses, and allow the professionals who work with him to make decisions in areas he’s not familiar with. You can also make a graphic storyboard.
You will often discover you need to do some research in this phase. If your film refers to times or places you don’t know personally, research all relevant historical and cultural aspects in order to make your film as reliable as possible. Spend time designing round characters, their lives and their motives.
Phase 2: Pre-Production
Many consider the pre-production phase the most important phase in the filmmaking process. In pre-production you plan all the logistical and creative aspects of the production, while trying to think about all possible problems and tackle them in advance. For that reason, a good, comprehensive pre-production can save you a lot of time, money and effort.
Casting takes place in the pre-production phase, and as the face of your film, the actors you choose are crucial for its success. Schedule auditions, cast actors for all parts and conduct rehearsals. Actors should also have the time to make researches of their own, get to know their characters and understand them.
Planning your schedule is a major part of pre-production. Try to estimate how many days of production you’re going to need in order to get all the wanted audio and visual materials, and plan your days in the most cost-effective way possible. Budget should also be taken under account when planning the production itself and it’s important to keep track on expenses at all times.
Other topics that need to be settled in the pre-production phase are finding locations, designing and constructing sets, planning basic camera movement and coming up with Plan Bs in case things don’t go as planned (e.g. weather problems).
Phase 3: Production
The production is the execution phase of the filmmaking process, during which all the audio and visual materials are being gathered. On this phase shooting and recording take place. A large part of the filming crew participates in this stage, making sure that the script is being followed accurately and that the materials are of the best possible quality.
The camera makes its first appearance during production, and it is important to know exactly what to shoot and how. Shooting must be based on the script and storyboard in order to ensure that the right materials are being recorded; the previous phases should eliminate any need for improvisation. When recording it is also important to keep lighting – both natural and artificial – in mind, as it will help you convey the film’s atmosphere to the audience.
The audio recording of the film must take place on a silent set, since every unwanted noise may be recorded on the sensitive microphones. When starting to record, everyone on set should know they need to be silent. The cast should also know to speak up and speak clearly so that their words are easy to follow.
Phase 4: Post-Production
The post-production phase includes editing all the materials that were gathered during shooting, thus assembling it into a fluent, consistent film. This is also time to insert the overlay of adjustments and effects that creates the full cinematic experience you have envisioned. Post-production usually takes longer than the production itself!
Needless to say, the raw material of a film is not ready for distribution. Editing is the process of going through the footage, cutting and re-arranging it, discarding what is not needed and making sure that what remains tells the story clearly. To do so, choose the best takes and use the script and notes you took during the shooting.
In addition, during the post-production phase special visual and sound effects are added and the film’s soundtrack is edited. Color corrections are made and sometimes a narration is added. This is the time to title the film. Although all those things may seem as “final touches”, they have a great influence on the film’s atmosphere and message.
This is a short article in which to deal with a big subject: how to write a good script for a short film. Rule number one: there are no hard and fast rules. But, if your aim is to get your film funded, there are definitely some guiding principles that will help to ensure that your project is taken seriously.
Why Am I Making this Film?
No-one makes a living out of writing or directing short films. Most people see short films as a tool for learning and testing ideas, or a way of demonstrating that they have the talent to do something else. Generally that ‘something else’ is to make features. Whether you are working alone or as part of a team make sure that the project you are developing plays to your strengths and is achievable within your budget. Don’t make an intense character study if you’re scared of actors or develop an action story that will require stunts, car chases and special effects if you know you will only have £5K to make it.
What is a short film?
The most important thing to say is that a short isn’t a feature film and that it is generally a bad idea to try to squeeze a story you are developing (or have written) as a feature into a short.
Most festivals will accept as a short anything that is under 30 minutes, but many programmers and curators also say that they find it difficult to place longer short films (ones over 20 minutes). If your film is over 20 minutes long it may well need and be able to cope with more characters and a secondary story strand....
Finding the Story
Any kind of dramatic story requires 3 basic elements:
· A world
· A character
· A problem
Short films are no different; you just have less time to establish and develop each element. Most successful short films focus on ONE moment or event in the life of ONE main character. Because of that it is unusual for a short film to take place over a long period of time – it’s usually just looking at the immediate build up to and/or consequences of that one event.
Because of the need to establish an instantly recognisable world in order to get on with exploring a character’s problem, it can be useful to set your film around a familiar event or ritual: a wedding, a birthday party, the first day at school, tea with stuffy relatives, Christmas Day etc. With a setting of this sort you can take for granted the audience’s familiarity with the situation and you have immediately placed your characters into a story world full of barely suppressed emotions, which is always useful for generating dramatic tension and story events. The other advantage to choosing a setting of this sort is that it gives the story a finite time frame. Another popular setting for the short film is the journey. Most short films focus on a pivotal, significant event in the life of the main character so that the story inevitably takes the character on a metaphorical emotional journey and it can work well to use a literal journey as its setting.
The Character & the Problem
The most important questions to ask yourself when you begin to develop your story are:
· Who is the main character?
· What is his or her problem?
· How will the audience recognise the problem?
· Are the stakes high enough?
· Am I telling the story from the best point of view?
The audience must be clear from the outset who the film is about, and they won’t be if you aren’t. Your main character is the one who has the problem and if there isn’t a character in the story with a problem then you don’t have a film, or at least not one that will work as a dramatic narrative.
What is driving your main character through the story must be one of the following:
· A want
· A need
· An obligation
And in all cases it must be clear to the audience, even if it isn’t to the character, what this is. But what must also be present in the story - and apparent to the audience - is something that is making it hard for the character to pursue his or her want, need or obligation. The fact that something is making it hard is what turns it into a problem and, like we said before, no problem, no film.
Making Problems Manifest to the Audience
The way in which you turn a character’s inner problem into the heart of your film and make sure that the audience can SEE it is one of the most important ways that you can demonstrate your skill as a filmmaker and not just as a story-teller. When we’re reading books we can be inside a character’s head but when we’re watching films we need to see characters DOING things that show us what they are thinking and feeling.
Are the Stakes High Enough?
Ensuring that there is something at stake in the story means that the audience can understand what the character stands to lose if he or she does not solve the problem. If the story hinges around a life or death situation then it is clear what is at stake but if it is simply that the car breaks down think about how you set the film up so that the audience knows why it really matters that the character completes this particular journey.
Am I Telling the Story from the Best Point of View?
Think about the story of Cinderella and imagine if you told it with one of the ugly sisters as the main character. You could still make a good story but it would not have a happy ending (in one of the earliest versions of the story the sisters have their eyes pecked out by blackbirds at the end!) and therefore would have a very different meaning – it would function more as a cautionary tale than as a feel-good fairy story.
What Does My Story Mean?
You probably don’t set out to write a film with a theme or even with a conscious awareness of what your story means but every story communicates some meaning to the audience. Once you are sure how the story begins and ends then you have a clear indication of its meaning and this will help you make important choices as you refine and develop your script particularly in relation to...
The Tone of the Film
Tone is intimately connected to genre and though genre is less of an issue in shorts than in features it is still important to think about what kind of film you are writing in broad terms.
To summarize so far...
A good short film needs a story in which something happens that has a discernible effect on the main character. All successful short films focus on one moment/event. That moment is likely to be:
one of universal significance-- a moment that is of significance to the protagonist (whether s/he knows it at the time)-- one that produces a situation in which the stakes are high for the protagonist.
FILMING AND EDITING YOUR SHORT FILM
productionThe 'Grammar' of Film
This list is an introduction to film making techniques and includes some of the most important conventions for conveying meaning through particular camera and editing techniques (as well as some of the specialised vocabulary of film production). You would have come across all these techniques in Films you’ve seen but may not have had a vocabulary for what they were. When making your film try to use these technical conventions to help you figure out how best to take your script from the page to the screen!
And remember, conventions aren't rules: expert practitioners break them for deliberate effect, which is one of the rare occasions that we become aware of what the convention is.
Camera Techniques: Distance and Angle
Long shot (LS). Shot which shows all or most of a fairly large subject (for example, a person) and usually much of the surroundings. Extreme Long Shot (ELS) - see establishing shot: In this type of shot the camera is at its furthest distance from the subject, emphasising the background. Medium Long Shot (MLS): In the case of a standing actor, the lower frame line cuts off his feet and ankles. Some documentaries with social themes favour keeping people in the longer shots, keeping social circumstances rather than the individual as the focus of attention.
Establishing shot. Opening shot or sequence, frequently an exterior 'General View' as an Extreme Long Shot (ELS). Used to set the scene.
Medium shots. Medium Shot or Mid-Shot (MS). In such a shot the subject or actor and its setting occupy roughly equal areas in the frame. In the case of the standing actor, the lower frame passes through the waist. There is space for hand gestures to be seen. Medium Close Shot (MCS): The setting can still be seen. The lower frame line passes through the chest of the actor. Medium shots are frequently used for the tight presentation of two actors (the two shot), or with dexterity three (the three shot).
Close-up (CU). A picture which shows a fairly small part of the scene, such as a character's face, in great detail so that it fills the screen. It abstracts the subject from a context. MCU (Medium Close-Up): head and shoulders. BCU (Big Close-Up): forehead to chin. Close-ups focus attention on a person's feelings or reactions, and are sometimes used in interviews to show people in a state of emotional excitement, grief or joy. In interviews, the use of BCUs may emphasise the interviewee's tension and suggest lying or guilt. BCUs are rarely used for important public figures; MCUs are preferred, the camera providing a sense of distance. Note that in western cultures the space within about 24 inches (60 cm) is generally felt to be private space, and BCUs may be invasive.
Angle of shot. The direction and height from which the camera takes the scene. The convention is that in 'factual' programmes subjects should be shot from eye-level only. In a high angle the camera looks down at a character, making the viewer feel more powerful than him or her, or suggesting an air of detachment. A low angle shot places camera below the character, exaggerating his or her importance. An overhead shot is one made from a position directly above the action.
Viewpoint. The apparent distance and angle from which the camera views and records the subject. Not to be confused with point-of-view shots or subjective camera shots.
Point-of-view shot (POV). A shot made from a camera position close to the line of sight of a performer who is to be watching the action shown in the point-of-view shot.
Two-shot. A shot of two people together.
Selective focus. Rendering only part of the action field in sharp focus through the use of a shallow depth of field. A shift of focus from foreground to background or vice versa is called rack focus.
Soft focus. An effect in which the sharpness of an image, or part of it, is reduced by the use of an optical device.
Wide-angle shot. A shot of a broad field of action taken with a wide-angle lens.
Tilted shot. When the camera is tilted on its axis so that normally vertical lines appear slanted to the left or right, ordinary expectations are frustrated. Such shots are often used in mystery and suspense films to create a sense of unease in the viewer.
Camera Techniques: Movement
Images and text (c) 2001 Daniel Chandler - no unauthorized use - this image is watermarked
Zoom. In zooming in the camera does not move; the lens is focussed down from a long-shot to a close-up whilst the picture is still being shown. The subject is magnified, and attention is concentrated on details previously invisible as the shot tightens (contrast tracking). It may be used to surprise the viewer. Zooming out reveals more of the scene (perhaps where a character is, or to whom he or she is speaking) as the shot widens. Zooming in rapidly brings not only the subject but also the background hurtling towards the viewer, which can be disconcerting. Zooming in and then out creates an ugly 'yo-yo' effect.
Following pan. The camera swivels (in the same base position) to follow a moving subject. A space is left in front of the subject: the pan 'leads' rather than 'trails'. A pan usually begins and ends with a few seconds of still picture to give greater impact. The speed of a pan across a subject creates a particular mood as well as establishing the viewer's relationship with the subject. 'Hosepiping' is continually panning across from one person to another; it looks clumsy.
Surveying pan. The camera slowly searches the scene: may build to a climax or anticlimax.
Tilt. A vertical movement of the camera - up or down- while the camera mounting stays fixed.
Crab. The camera moves (crabs) right or left.
Tracking (dollying). Tracking involves the camera itself being moved smoothly towards or away from the subject (contrast with zooming). Tracking in (like zooming) draws the viewer into a closer, more intense relationship with the subject; moving away tends to create emotional distance. Tracking back tends to divert attention to the edges of the screen. The speed of tracking may affect the viewer's mood. Rapid tracking (especially tracking in) is exciting; tracking back relaxes interest. In a dramatic narrative we may sometimes be drawn forward towards a subject against our will. Camera movement parallel to a moving subject permits speed without drawing attention to the camera itself.
Hand-held camera. A hand-held camera can produce a jerky, bouncy, unsteady image which may create a sense of immediacy or chaos. Its use is a form of subjective treatment.
Process shot. A shot made of action in front of a rear projection screen having on it still or moving images as a background.
These tips will help you get the best results for easy filmmaking with phone cameras, Flips and similar basic cameras.
1 Keep the camera still
Shots that don’t move are easier to watch. They are less likely to ‘break up’ when you play them back. Hold the camera steady and use a tripod or rest it on something like a table or a wall.
2 Zoom all the way out
Zoom all the way out, and stay zoomed out (don’t touch the zoom button while you’re filming). Camera shake will be less obvious.
3 Get in close
Get closeups of the important things so you make sure the audience sees what you want them to see. Instead of zooming in, stay zoomed out and move closer to the subject.
4 Film separate shots
Instead of waving the camera around or trying to follow action, film each shot separately. Just show one thing in each shot.
5 Keep your shots simple
Simple shapes, strong colours, and shots that are square on, are best.
6 Vary your shots
Show different things in each shot.
7 Use different camera positions
Don’t shoot everything at eye level. Try filming upwards, downwards, and at different places around the subject.
8 Make sure your shots last the right amount of time
If you are going to edit your film, make your shots a few seconds longer than you need. If not, make them the right length – 3-5 seconds or so.
9 Watch out for the light
Basic cameras give terrible image quality in low light. Shoot where there’s plenty of light but not too much contrast. Shoot away from the light.
10 Mind the sound
If you can, add the soundtrack afterwards rather than using live sound. If you have to record sound, get in close. If there’s distracting sound, try to film with the camera pointing away from it.
http://learnaboutfilm.com : Very Good introduction to the film making process
Cut. Sudden change of shot from one viewpoint or location to another. On television cuts occur on average about every 7 or 8 seconds. Cutting may:
change the scene;
vary the point of view; or
build up an image or idea.
There is always a reason for a cut, and you should ask yourself what the reason is. Less abrupt transitions are achieved with the fade, dissolve, and wipe
Matched cut. In a 'matched cut' a familiar relationship between the shots may make the change seem smooth:
continuity of direction;
a similar centre of attention in the frame;
a one-step change of shot size (e.g. long to medium);
a change of angle (conventionally at least 30 degrees).
*The cut is usually made on an action (for example, a person begins to turn towards a door in one shot; the next shot, taken from the doorway, catches him completing the turn). Because the viewer's eye is absorbed by the action he is unlikely to notice the movement of the cut itself.
Jump cut. Abrupt switch from one scene to another which may be used deliberately to make a dramatic point. Sometimes boldly used to begin or end action. Alternatively, it may be result of poor pictorial continuity, perhaps from deleting a section.
Motivated cut. Cut made just at the point where what has occurred makes the viewer immediately want to see something which is not currently visible (causing us, for instance, to accept compression of time). A typical feature is the shot/reverse shot technique (cuts coinciding with changes of speaker). Editing and camera work appear to be determined by the action. It is intimately associated with the 'privileged point of view' (see narrative style: objectivity).
Cutting rate. Frequent cuts may be used as deliberate interruptions to shock, surprise or emphasize.
Cutting rhythm. A cutting rhythm may be progressively shortened to increase tension. Cutting rhythm may create an exciting, lyrical or staccato effect in the viewer.
Cross-cut. A cut from one line of action to another. Also applied as an adjectuve to sequences which use such cuts.
Cutaway/cutaway shot (CA). A bridging, intercut shot between two shots of the same subject. It represents a secondary activity occurring at the same time as the main action. It may be preceded by a definite look or glance out of frame by a participant, or it may show something of which those in the preceding shot are unaware. (See narrative style: parallel development) It may be used to avoid the technical ugliness of a 'jump cut' where there would be uncomfortable jumps in time, place or viewpoint. It is often used to shortcut the passing of time.
Reaction shot. Any shot, usually a cutaway, in which a participant reacts to action which has just occurred.
Insert/insert shot. A bridging close-up shot inserted into the larger context, offering an essential detail of the scene (or a reshooting of the action with a different shot size or angle.)
Buffer shot (neutral shot). A bridging shot (normally taken with a separate camera) to separate two shots which would have reversed the continuity of direction.
Fade, dissolve (mix). Both fades and dissolves are gradual transitions between shots. In a fade the picture gradually appears from (fades in) or disappears to (fades out) a blank screen. A slow fade-in is a quiet introduction to a scene; a slow fade-out is a peaceful ending. Time lapses are often suggested by a slow fade-out and fade-in. A dissolve (or mix) involves fading out one picture while fading up another on top of it. The impression is of an image merging into and then becoming another. A slow mix usually suggests differences in time and place. Defocus or ripple dissolves are sometimes used to indicate flashbacks in time.
Superimpositions. Two of more images placed directly over each other (e.g. and eye and a camera lens to create a visual metaphor).
Wipe. An optical effect marking a transition between two shots. It appears to supplant an image by wiping it off the screen (as a line or in some complex pattern, such as by appearing to turn a page). The wipe is a technique which draws attention to itself and acts as a clear marker of change.
Inset. An inset is a special visual effect whereby a reduced shot is superimposed on the main shot. Often used to reveal a close-up detail of the main shot.
Split screen. The division of the screen into parts which can show the viewer several images at the same time (sometimes the same action from slightly different perspectives, sometimes similar actions at different times). This can convey the excitement and frenzy of certain activities, but it can also overload the viewer.
Stock shot. Footage already available and used for another purpose than the one for which it was originally filmed.
Invisible editing: See narrative style: continuity editing.
Screen time: a period of time represented by events within a film (e.g. a day, a week).
Subjective time. The time experienced or felt by a character in a film, as revealed through camera movement and editing (e.g. when a frightened person's flight from danger is prolonged).
Compressed time. The compression of time between sequences or scenes, and within scenes. This is the most frequent manipulation of time in films: it is achieved with cuts or dissolves. In a dramatic narative, if climbing a staircase is not a significant part of the plot, a shot of a character starting up the stairs may then cut to him entering a room. The logic of the situation and our past experience of medium tells us that the room is somewhere at the top of the stairs. Long journeys can be compressed into seconds. Time may also be compressed between cutaways in parallel editing. More subtle compression can occur after reaction shots or close-ups have intervened. The use of dissolves was once a cue for the passage of a relatively long period of time.
Long take. A single shot (or take, or run of the camera) which lasts for a relatively lengthy period of time. The long take has an 'authentic' feel since it is not inherently dramatic.
Simultaneous time. Events in different places can be presented as occurring at the same moment, by parallel editing or cross-cutting, by multiple images or split-screen. The conventional clue to indicate that events or shots are taking place at the same time is that there is no progression of shots: shots are either inserted into the main action or alternated with each other until the strands are somehow united.
Slow motion. Action which takes place on the screen at a slower rate than the rate at which the action took place before the camera. This is used: a) to make a fast action visible; b) to make a familiar action strange; c) to emphasise a dramatic moment. It can have a lyric and romantic quality or it can amplify violence.
Accelerated motion (undercranking) . This is used: a) to make a slow action visible; b) to make a familiar action funny; c) to increase the thrill of speed.
Reverse motion. Reproducing action backwards, for comic, magical or explanatory effect.
Replay. An action sequence repeated, often in slow motion, commonly featured in the filming of sport to review a significant event.
Freeze-frame. This gives the image the appearance of a still photograph. Clearly not a naturalistic device.
Flashback. A break in the chronology of a narrative in which events from the past are disclosed to the viewer. Formerly indicated conventionally with defocus or ripple dissolves.
Flashforward. Much less common than the flashback. Not normally associated with a particular character. Associated with objective treatments.
Extended or expanded time/overlapping action. The expansion of time can be accomplished by intercutting a series of shots, or by filming the action from different angles and editing them together. Part of an action may be repeated from another viewpoint, e.g. a character is shown from the inside of a building opening a door and the next shot, from the outside, shows him opening it again. Used nakedly this device disrupts the audience's sense of real time. The technique may be used unobtrusively to stretch time, perhaps to exaggerate, for dramatic effect, the time taken to walk down a corridor. Sometimes combined with slow motion.
Ambiguous time. Within the context of a well-defined time-scheme sequences may occur which are ambiguous in time. This is most frequently comunicated through dissolves and superimpositions.
Universal time. This is deliberately created to suggest universal relevance. Ideas rather than examples are emphasised. Context may be disrupted by frequent cuts and by the extensive use of close-ups and other shots which do not reveal a specific background.
Direct sound. Live sound. This may have a sense of freshness, spontaneity and 'authentic' atmosphere, but it may not be acoustically ideal.
Studio sound. Sound recorded in the studio to improve the sound quality, eliminating unwanted background noise ('ambient sound'), e.g. dubbed dialogue. This may be then mixed with live environmental sound.
Selective sound. The removal of some sounds and the retention of others to make significant sounds more recognizable, or for dramatic effect - to create atmosphere, meaning and emotional nuance. Selective sound (and amplification) may make us aware of a watch or a bomb ticking. This can sometimes be a subjective device, leading us to identify with a character: to hear what he or she hears. Sound may be so selective that the lack of ambient sound can make it seem artificial or expressionistic.
Sound perspective/aural perspective. The impression of distance in sound, usually created through the use of selective sound. Note that even in live television a microphone is deliberately positioned, just as the camera is, and therefore may privilege certain participants.
Sound bridge. Adding to continuity through sound, by running sound (narration, dialogue or music) from one shot across a cut to another shot to make the action seem uninterrupted.
Dubbed dialogue. Post-recording the voice-track in the studio, the actors matching their words to the on-screen lip movements. Not confined to foreign-language dubbing.
Wildtrack (asynchronous sound). Sound which was self-evidently recorded separately from the visuals with which it is shown. For example, a studio voice-over added to a visual sequence later.
Parallel (synchronous) sound. Sound 'caused' by some event on screen, and which matches the action.
Commentary/voice-over narration. Commentary spoken off-screen over the shots shown. The voice-over can be used to:
introduce particular parts of a programme;
to add extra information not evident from the picture;
to interpret the images for the audience from a particular point of view;
to link parts of a sequence or programme together.
The commentary confers authority on a particular interpretation, particularly if the tone is moderate, assured and reasoned. In dramatic films, it may be the voice of one of the characters, unheard by the others.
Sound effects (SFX). Any sound from any source other than synchronised dialogue, narration or music. Dubbed-in sound effects can add to the illusion of reality: a stage- set door may gain from the addition of the sound of a heavy door slamming or creaking.
Music. Music helps to establish a sense of the pace of the accompanying scene. The rhythm of music usually dictates the rhythm of the cuts. The emotional colouring of the music also reinforces the mood of the scene. Background music is asynchronous music which accompanies a film. It is not normally intended to be noticeable. Conventionally, background music accelerates for a chase sequence, becomes louder to underscore a dramatically important action. Through repetition it can also link shots, scenes and sequences. Foreground music is often synchronous music which finds its source within the screen events (e.g. from a radio, TV, stereo or musicians in the scene). It may be a more credible and dramatically plausible way of bringing music into a programme than background music (a string orchestra sometimes seems bizarre in a Western).
Silence. The juxtaposition of an image and silence can frustrate expectations, provoke odd, self-conscious responses, intensify our attention, make us apprehensive, or make us feel dissociated from reality.
Soft and harsh lighting. Soft and harsh lighting can manipulate a viewer's attitude towards a setting or a character. The way light is used can make objects, people and environments look beautiful or ugly, soft or harsh, artificial or real. Light may be used expressively or realitically.
Backlighting. A romantic heroine is often backlit to create a halo effect on her hair.
Text. Titles appear at or near the start of the programme. Their style - typeface, size, colour, background and pace - (together with music) can establish expectations about the atmosphere and style of the programme. Credits listing the main actors, the director, and so on, are normally shown at or near the beginning, whilst those listing the rest of the actors and programme makers are normally shown at the end. Some American narrative series begin with a lengthy pre-credit sequence. Credits are frequently superimposed on action or stills, and may be shown as a sequence of frames or scrolled up the screen. Captions are commonly used in news and documentaries to identify speakers, in documentaries, documentary dramas and dramatic naratives to indicate dates or locations. Subtitles at the bottom of the screen are usually used for translation or for the benefit of the hearing-impaired.
Animation. Creating an illusion of movement, by inter-cutting stills, using graphics with movable sections, using step-by-step changes, or control wire activation.
Subjective treatment. The camera treatment is called 'subjective' when the viewer is treated as a participant (e.g. when the camera is addressed directly or when it imitates the viewpoint or movement of a character). We may be shown not only what a character sees, but how he or she sees it. A temporary 'first-person' use of camera as the character can be effective in conveying unusual states of mind or powerful experiences, such as dreaming, remembering, or moving very fast. If overused, it can draw too much attention to the camera. Moving the camera (or zooming) is a subjective camera effect, especially if the movement is not gradual or smooth.
Objective treatment. The 'objective point of view' involves treating the viewer as an observer. A major example is the 'privileged point of view' which involves watching from omniscient vantage points. Keeping the camera still whilst the subject moves towards or away from it is an objective camera effect.
Parallel development/parallel editing/cross-cutting. An intercut sequence of shots in which the camera shifts back and forth between one scene and another. Two distinct but related events seem to be happening at approximately the same time. A chase is a good example. Each scene serves as a cutaway for the other. Adds tension and excitement to dramatic action.
'Invisible editing'. This is the omniscient style of the realist feature films developed in Hollywood. The vast majority of narrative films are now edited in this way. The cuts are intended to be unobtrusive except for special dramatic shots. It supports rather than dominates the narrative: the story and the behaviour of its characters are the centre of attention. The technique gives the impression that the edits are always required are motivated by the events in the 'reality' that the camera is recording rather than the result of a desire to tell a story in a particular way. The 'seamlessness' convinces us of its 'realism', but its devices include:
the use of matched cuts (rather than jump cuts);
changes of shot through camera movement;
the use of the sound bridge;
The editing isn't really 'invisible', but the conventions have become so familiar to visual literates that they no longer consciously notice them.
Mise-en-scene. (Contrast montage). 'Realistic' technique whereby meaning is conveyed through the relationship of things visible within a single shot (rather than, as with montage, the relationship between shots). An attempt is preserve space and time as much as possible; editing or fragmenting of scenes is minimised. Composition is therefore extremely important. The way people stand and move in relation to each other is important. Long shots and long takes are characteristic.
Montage/montage editing. In its broadest meaning, the process of cutting up film and editing it into the screened sequence. However, it may also be used to mean intellectual montage - the justaposition of short shots to represent action or ideas - or (especially in Hollywood), simply cutting between shots to condense a series of events. Intellectual montage is used to consciously convey subjective messages through the juxtaposition of shots which are related in composition or movement, through repetition of images, through cutting rhythm, detail or metaphor. Montage editing, unlike invisible editing, uses conspicuous techniques which may include: use of close- ups, relatively frequent cuts, dissolves, superimposition, fades and jump cuts. Such editing should suggest a particular meaning.
Talk to camera. The sight of a person looking ('full face') and talking directly at the camera establishes their authority or 'expert' status with the audience. Only certain people are normally allowed to do this, such as announcers, presenters, newsreaders, weather forecasters, interviewers, anchor-persons, and, on special occasions (e.g. ministerial broadcasts), key public figures. The words of 'ordinary' people are normally mediated by an interviewer. In a play or film talking to camera clearly breaks out of naturalistic conventions (the speaker may seem like an obtrusive narrator). A short sequence of this kind in a 'factual' programme is called a 'piece to camera'.
Tone. The mood or atmosphere of a programme (e.g. ironic, comic, nostalgic, romantic).
Formats and other features
Shot. A single run of the camera or the piece of film resulting from such a run.
Scene. A dramatic unit composed of a single or several shots. A scene usually takes place in a continuous time period, in the same setting, and involves the same characters.
Sequence. A dramatic unit composed of several scenes, all linked together by their emotional and narrative momentum.
Genre. Broad category of film. Genres include drama, comedy, horror, romance, action, thriller, sci fi etc. or any mix of these.