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Sunday, June 22, 2014

••◊ Screen Direction and Cinematography

This week's entry once again has photography yielding to wordsmith-ing.  This last week I attended the Directing Motion seminar by Vincent Laforet as a representative of Video Gear, one of the local sponsors.  It's an excellent seminar and well attended, as well as a real eye-opener on the vast knowledge I have yet to know exists.  That's one thing about film making; you never know it all.  It's a constant stimulating kick-your-butt challenge which means it's not for everyone.  There's a reason those who seem to achieve mastery get paid so much. 

This last year I concentrated on understanding more about lighting: the gear, techniques, terminology, intention...etc.  Vincent's seminar is aimed at directors and talks about how to use a camera for storytelling, which involves movement, composition intent, and coverage.  It's the DP's job to light the set, but often left to the director on how a scene is covered.  As a budding DP I see increased value in my skills if I can provide guidance in how to cover a scene and help the director.  I don't want to direct; or as I keep telling my director colleagues - I don't want to deal with actors!

One major difference I now see between amateur directors and experienced directors is the power of intention.  Experienced directors move the camera because of known intent - they know that it will move the story forward and make you feel something about a character.  Amateur directors move the camera because they think the shot will look cool since so-and-so did it in one of their favorite movies.  I'm certainly not an experienced director by far, but I am going to make an effort to expand my skill set into the power of intention.  Lighting-wise I'm reasonably familiar with intent.  Not a Hollywood level DP, but familiar enough for the size of projects I do work on.  Camera movement seems like a good growth opportunity for me.

A few of the things I learn that immediately come to mind are...
1.  Dolly trucking shots often use vertical lines to increase the awareness of parallax.
2.  When running out of time in a scene, consider a "one shot wonder" that starts wide/medium and goes in close.
3.  Always consider the intent of the language of the script, as well as the immediate emotion when gathering coverage of a scene.  It will help minimize the amount of camera moves.
4.  A moving camera often follows a character like a magnet being attracted to steel.

If and when I get the money together I'd like to get the seminar DVD's just as a reference, that is if my director friends don't get them first.  It seems to be difficult to find books and other media on cinematic language and camera movement.

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