Film Language 1
|311FLG1||Z||2||3 hours (45 min) of instruction per week, 23 to 33 hours of self-study||English||winter|
Name of lecturer(s)
Learning outcomes of the course unit
By the end of the course students will:
-understand how different tools may contribute to developing a film's language and dramatic potential
-recognize the expressive range of tools for visual dramatization
Mode of study
Prerequisites and co-requisites
Cinematographic Tools for Visual Dramatization
This directing seminar focuses on increasing the directors' awareness of how the camera contributes to the development of visual dramatization. The director's collaboration with the cinematographer revolves around decisions related to the use of expressive tools which constitute film language: Tools, or expressive means, such as Movement, Framing, Points of View, Angles, Shot sizes, Axis rules, Depth of Field, Resolution, Color and Compositional factors, including the Golden Ratio.
Each tool will be examined separately for its expressive potential with examples from different screenings. Several styles are examined in order to expand the directing student's awareness of the tools' expressive range. Movement is stressed, since film is above all else, a motion picture.
Preliminary Outline for Course Meetings:
- Introduction: Expressive Cinematographic Tools, Movement
- Framing theory
- Exercise – Movement and Frame
- Strategies of Film narration, Point of View Shots
- Composition and the Golden number
- Shot sizes and Resolution
- Exercise - Shot sizes
- Depth of Field and 3D look
- Color Wheel
- Axes and Angles, Nonstandard Lighting
- Exercise - Angles, Day for Night
- Camera Technique, Evaluation
Extended Course Description:
Lesson 1: Introduction, The Tool of Movement
Introduction. Historical development of Movement as the film's most basic means of expression. Types of Movement explored: movement within the shot, movement with the camera, movement of subjects in front of camera, movement of subjective look, movement of lights, movement of linear perspective, movement of colors, movement of movements, movement of time, movement of refocusing, imagined movements. Technology available for expressing different movements - never-ending story of new mechanisms developing. Screening of samples.
Lesson 2: Framing theory
Basic rules of framing. Picture inside the screen frame and picture outside from screen frame. Function of human memory in collecting experiences as a database for evoking imaginative and expected answers to the questions raised by framing. Frame as a practical tool at the time of shooting.
Lesson 3: Exercise: Movement-Frame
Preparation for „Catch the Movement“ exercise, consisting of 10 static tripod shots. Projection of Movement exercise, analysis of mistakes and good results.
Lesson 4: Strategy of Film Narration, Point of View Shot
Theory and expressive purposes of the Point of View Shot. POV of Character, POV of Narrator, POV of Camera, POV of Author, POV of Spectator.
Lesson 5: Composition and Golden number
Balanced and unbalanced picture compositions. Golden section Rules. Center of the Picture. Closed and Open Compositions. Dramatization created when compositions are unbalanced. Director and Cinematographer's work with golden number. „Talking“ pictures. Review of Historical Styles in Visual Art.
Lesson 6: Shot sizes and Spatial Resolution
Shot sizes in the syntax of Film Language. Variety of shot sizes. Graph of Informative and Emotional expression through shot sizes. How to clean up the shot to have only necessary information present? How to read informative meanings of shots? Picture resolution and Standard 35mm film format versus other formats. Digital equivalents.
Lesson 7: Exercise: Shot sizes
Practical exercise of short encounter on the stairs using Long Shot and Close Up systems. Screening and evaluations.
Lesson 8: Depth of Field and 3D look
Theory of Depth of Field. Lenses for normal uses and aberration. Basics of optical laws. 2D feeling, 3D feeling. Telephoto lenses versus wide lenses. Circle of Confusion. Perspective as tool for 3D look. Focus Puller and refocusing of lenses. Four basic ways how to keep a style of 3D look of whole film.
Lesson 9: Color Wheel
Aristotle, Newton, Goethe, Maxwell, Itten. Color Spaces and Color management. Color correction as Final Tool. Colorgrading „before“ Shooting. Color Correction Sandwiches. Color of costumes. Colors of set and props. Painters' methods to mix colors. Impressionistic, Expressionistic, Decorative and Symbolic way of using colors.
Lesson 10: Axes and Angling, Lighting
Ten basic rules how to cross the Line of the action without confusing spectators. Why spectators are not confused in the theatre and why it is very easy to confuse spectators in film. Breaking the rules. Using the camera to create angles. How to exploit a location's potential. Theory of backgrounds. Conventional „Hollywood“ lighting as used presently compared with the „Neorealistic“ lighting method which came into use after WWII.
Lesson 11: Exercise with Angles combined with Nonstandard Lighting - Day for Night
Practical exercise with portraits and line of action using different camera positions. Day for Night effect examined. Screening and evaluations
Lesson 12: Camera Technique, Evaluation
Review of various film Cameras and Digital Cameras
Recommended or required reading
ARIJON, Daniel. Grammar of the film language. First edition. Los Angeles: Silman-James Press, 1991. 624 stran. ISBN 1-879505-07-X.
KATZ, Steven D (Steven Douglas). Film directing shot by shot : visualizing from concept to screen. [1st ed.]. Studio City, CA: Michael Wiese Productions in conjunction with Focal Press, 1991. xi, 366 s. ISBN 0-941188-10-8.
MALKIEWICZ, J. Kris, MULLEN, M. David. Cinematography. 3rd ed.
BLOCK, Bruce A. The visual story : creating the visual structure of film, TV and digital media. 2nd ed. Burlington Oxford: Focal Press, c2008. 297s. ISBN 978-0-240-80779-9.
Assessment methods and criteria
Minimum required attendance to the class is + 70%
Pass grade is based based on the class activity and the practical exercises.
The course grade will be calculated as follows:
20% - Attendance and Participation
20% - Exercise in Movement
20% - Exercises in Shot sizes
20% - Exercise in Angles
20% - Final test on course material
Schedule for winter semester 2022/2023:
Room No. 3
start Oct 4
Schedule for summer semester 2022/2023:
The schedule has not yet been prepared