Lyceum Alpinum Zuoz - Workshop Level I - FILMING
In the Beginning there was Cinema
The word "cinematography" was created from the Greek roots κίνημα (kinema) i.e. "motion" and γραφή (graphé) "representation by means of lines" or "drawing", together meaning drawing motion.
In the 1830s, moving images were produced on revolving drums and disks, with independent invention by Simon von Stampfer (Stroboscope) in Austria, Joseph Plateau (Phenakistoscope) in Belgium and William Horner (zoetrope) in Britain.
William Lincoln patented a device that showed animated pictures called the “wheel of life” or “zoopraxiscope”. In it, moving drawings or photographs were watched through a slit.
On June 19, 1873, Eadweard Muybridge successfully photographed a horse named "Sallie Gardner" in fast motion using a series of 24 stereoscopic cameras. The cameras were arranged along a track parallel to the horse's, and each camera shutter was controlled by a trip wire triggered by the horse's hooves. They were 21 inches apart to cover the 20 feet taken by the horse stride, taking pictures at one thousandth of a second. Although it was never played back at speed to create motion, this was the first step towards motion pictures.
Nine years later, in 1882, French scientist Étienne-Jules Marey invented a chronophotographic gun, which was capable of taking 12 consecutive frames a second, recording all the frames of the same picture.
The late nineteenth century to the early twentieth century saw the beginning brought rise to the use of film not only for entertainment purposes, but for scientific exploration as well. French biologist and filmmaker, Jean Painleve, lobbied heavily for the use of film in the scientific field, as the new medium was more efficient in capturing and documenting the behavior, movement, and environment of microorganisms, cells, and bacteria, than was the naked eye. Furthermore, the introduction of film into scientific fields allowed for not only the viewing "new images and objects, such as cells and natural objects, but also the viewing of them in real time", whereas prior to the invention of moving pictures, scientists and doctors alike had to rely on hand drawn sketches of the human anatomy, and the microorganisms it is composed of.
How many Photos in a second?
Frame rate, also known as frame frequency, is the frequency (rate) at which an imaging device produces unique consecutive images called frames. The term applies equally well to film and video cameras, computer graphics, and motion capture systems. Frame rate is most often expressed in frames per second (FPS) and is also expressed in progressive scan monitors as hertz (Hz).
The human eye and its brain interface, the human visual system, can process 10 to 12 separate images per second, perceiving them individually. The threshold of human visual perception varies depending on what is being measured. When looking at a lighted display, people begin to notice a brief interruption of darkness if it is about 16 milliseconds or longer. Observers can recall one specific image in an unbroken series of different images, each of which lasts as little as 13 milliseconds. When given very short single-millisecond visual stimulus people report a duration of between 100 ms and 400 ms due to persistence of vision in the visual cortex. This may cause images perceived in this duration to appear as one stimulus, such as a 10 ms green flash of light immediately followed by a 10 ms red flash of light perceived as a single yellow flash of light. Persistence of vision may also create an illusion of continuity, allowing a sequence of still images to give the impression of motion.
Early silent films had stated frame rates anywhere from 16 to 24 FPS, but since the cameras were hand-cranked, the rate often changed during the scene to fit the mood. Projectionists could also change the frame rate in the theater by adjusting a rheostat controlling the voltage powering the film-carrying mechanism in theprojector. Silent films were often intended to be shown at higher frame rates than those used during filming. These frame rates were enough for the sense of motion, but it was perceived as jerky motion. By using projectors with dual- and triple-blade shutters, the rate was multiplied two or three times as seen by the audience. Thomas Edison said that 46 frames per second was the minimum need by the visual cortex: "Anything less will strain the eye." In the mid to late 1920s, the frame rate for silent films increased to between 20 and 26 FPS.
When sound film was introduced in 1926, variations in film speed were no longer tolerated as the human ear is more sensitive to changes in audio frequency. Many theaters had shown silent films at 22 to 26 FPS which is why 24 FPS was chosen for sound. From 1927 to 1930, as various studios updated equipment, the rate of 24 FPS became standard for 35 mm sound film. At 24 FPS the film travels through the projector at a rate of 456 millimetres (18.0 in) per second. This allowed for simple two-blade shutters to give a projected series of images at 48 per second, satisfying Edison's recommendation. Many modern 35 mm film projectors use three-blade shutters to give 72 images per second—each frame is flashed on screen three times.
Shot Types & Movements
There is a convention in the video, film and television industries which assigns names and guidelines to common types of shots, framing and picture composition. The list below briefly describes the most common shot types.
- The exact terminology varies between production environments but the basic principles are the same.
- Shots are usually described in relation to a particular subject. In most of the examples below, the subject is the boy.
Cinematography can not only depict a moving subject but can use a camera, which represents the audience's viewpoint or perspective, that moves during the course of filming. This movement plays a considerable role in the emotional language of film images and the audience's emotional reaction to the action. Techniques range from the most basic movements of panning (horizontal shift in viewpoint from a fixed position; like turning your head side-to-side) and tilting (vertical shift in viewpoint from a fixed position; like tipping your head back to look at the sky or down to look at the ground) to dollying (placing the camera on a moving platform to move it closer or farther from the subject), tracking (placing the camera on a moving platform to move it to the left or right), craning (moving the camera in a vertical position; being able to lift it off the ground as well as swing it side-to-side from a fixed base position), and combinations of the above. Early cinematographers often faced problems that were not common to other graphic artists because of the element of motion.
Cameras have been mounted to nearly every imaginable form of transportation.
Most cameras can also be handheld, that is held in the hands of the camera operator who moves from one position to another while filming the action. Personal stabilizing platforms came into being in the late 1970s through the invention of Garrett Brown, which became known as the Steadicam. The Steadicam is a body harness and stabilization arm that connects to the camera, supporting the camera while isolating it from the operator's body movements. After the Steadicam patent expired in the early 1990s, many other companies began manufacturing their concept of the personal camera stabilizer.
Types you need for your editing
Extreme Wide Shot (EWS)
In the extreme wide shot, the view is so far from the subject that s/he isn't even visible. The point of this shot is to show the subject's surroundings. The EWS is often used as an "establishing shot" - the first shot of a new scene, designed to show the audience where the action is taking place. It is also useful in scenes where the action is very spread out. For example, in a war movie an extreme wide shot can show the scale of the action. The EWS is also known as an extra long shot or extreme long shot (acronym XLS).
Very Wide Shot (VWS)
The very wide shot is much closer to the subject than an extreme wide shot, but still much further away than a wide shot. The subject is visible here but only just (in this case it's a boy leaning against the fence). The emphasis is very much on placing him in his environment. This often works as an establishing shot, in which the audience is shown the whole setting so they can orient themselves. The VWS also allows plenty of room for action to take place, or for multiple subjects to appear on screen.
Wide Shot (WS)
In the wide shot, the subject takes up the full frame. In this case, the boy's feet are almost at the bottom of frame and his head is almost at the top. Obviously the subject doesn't take up the whole width and height of the frame, since this is as close as we can get without losing any part of him. The small amount of room above and below the subject can be thought of as safety room — you don't want to be cutting the top of the head off. It would also look uncomfortable if his feet and head were exactly at the top and bottom of frame. As with many shot types, the wide shot means different things to different people. However the wide shot seems to suffer more from varying interpretations than other types. Many people take the WS to mean something much wider than our example, i.e. what we would call a very wide shot.
Mid Shot (MS)
The mid shot shows some part of the subject in more detail, whilst still showing enough for the audience to feel as if they were looking at the whole subject. In fact, this is an approximation of how you would see a person "in the flesh" if you were having a casual conversation. You wouldn't be paying any attention to their lower body, so that part of the picture is unnecessary. The MS is appropriate when the subject is speaking without too much emotion or intense concentration. It also works well when the intent is to deliver information, which is why it is frequently used by television news presenters. You will often see a story begin with a MS of the reporter (providing information), followed by closer shots of interview subjects (providing reactions and emotion). As well as being a comfortable, emotionally neutral shot, the mid shot allows room for hand gestures and a bit of movement.
Close Up (CU)
In the closeup shot, a certain feature or part of the subject takes up most of the frame. A close up of a person usually means a close up of their face (unless specified otherwise). Close-ups are obviously useful for showing detail and can also be used as a cut-in. A close-up of a person emphasizes their emotional state. Whereas a mid-shot or wide-shot is more appropriate for delivering facts and general information, a close-up exaggerates facial expressions which convey emotion. The viewer is drawn into the subject's personal space and shares their feelings. A variation is the chocker shot which is typically framed on the subject's face from above the eyebrows to below the mouth.
Extreme Close Up (ECU, XCU)
The ECU (also known as XCU) gets right in and shows extreme detail. You would normally need a specific reason to get this close. It is too close to show general reactions or emotion except in very dramatic scenes. A variation of this shot is the choker.
Like a cutaway, but specifically refers to showing some part of the subject in detail. Can be used purely as an edit point, or to emphasise emotion etc. For example, hand movements can show enthusiasm, agitation, nervousness, etc.
There are a few variations on this one, but the basic idea is to have a comfortable shot of two people. Often used in interviews, or when two presenters are hosting a show. A "One-Shot" could be a mid-shot of either of these subjects. A "Three-Shot", unsurprisingly, contains three people. Two-shots are good for establishing a relationship between subjects. If you see two sports presenters standing side by side facing the camera, you get the idea that these people are going to be the show's co-hosts. As they have equal prominence in the frame, the implication is that they will provide equal input. Of course this doesn't always apply, for example, there are many instances in which it's obvious one of the people is a presenter and the other is a guest. In any case, the two-shot is a natural way to introduce two people. A two-shot could also involve movement or action. It is a good way to follow the interaction between two people without getting distracted by their surroundings.
Over the Shoulder Shot (OSS)
This shot is framed from behind a person who is looking at the subject. The person facing the subject should usually occupy about 1/3 of the frame. This shot helps to establish the position of each person, and get the feel of looking at one person from the other's point of view. It's common to cut between these shots during a conversation, alternating the view between the different speakers. In older 4x3 framing, the person facing away from the camera would typically be cut off just behind the ear. In 16x9 and other widescreen framing, there is more width available and more of this person can be shown (as above). This shot can be varied quite a bit to include the shoulder or back of the person facing the subject.
Common in interviews, this is a shot of the person listening and reacting to the subject. In fact, when shooting interviews with one camera, the usual routine is to shoot the subject (using OSS and one-shots) for the entire interview, then shoot some noddies of the interviewer once the interview is finished. The noddies are edited into the interview later.
Point-of-View Shot (POV)
This shot shows a view from the subject's perspective. It is usually edited in such a way that it is obvious whose POV it is
In this type of shot the subject is the weather. The sky takes up at least 2/3 of the frame. This type of shot is common in television programs where the weather is of particular interest, e.g. sports shows. Although the usual purpose of this shot is to show the weather, it is also useful as an establishing shot, for setting the general mood or for overlaying graphics.
A weather shot doesn't have to show the sky. Other shots often used to illustrate weather include:
- Puddles, drain spouts or any example of rainwater flow.
- Trees or anything else blowing in the wind.
- People sunbathing.
- Snowmen, snowball fights, snow sledding, etc.
The choker shot is very similar to the extreme closeup (ECU), and the two terms are often used interchangeably. A typical choker shows the subject's face from just above the eyebrows to just below the mouth, as pictured left. Our preferred definition for the choker is a shot half way between a closeup and an extreme closeup. As with all shots that are this tight (i.e. zoomed in this much), you really need a good reason to use it. Chokers should be used judiciously as not everyone will be flattered in such a revealing view.
A cutaway is a shot that's usually of something other than the current action. It could be a different subject (eg. a cat when the main subject is its owner), a close up of a different part of the subject (eg. the subject's hands), or just about anything else. The cutaway is used as a "buffer" between shots (to help the editing process), or to add interest/information.