Singular, Multiple, Objective, Subjective…
Subjective vs Objective Camera
Where is the Camera = Who is the camera? Eg – Do we want to watch someone drowning or experience drowning?
Passive, Invasive, Tentative, Free Will/Autonomous, Locked/Anchored to someone?
In relation to subject/characters.
Camera Distance to Subject
Camera’s Proximity to Action. Camera’s Relationship to Character = Audience’s Relationship to Character. The difference between a Long Lens far away and a Wide Lens close.
Wide, Long, Tele
Depth of Field
Optically and Location Wise.
Who gets to be in focus and when. How much is in focus, for what effect?
Are we watching through foreground? Is the action Foreground or Background. How obscured or clear is our view to the action?
How tight to camera, for what effect? Do characters ever look at the camera directly?
Angle to Subject
Do we see characters front on, or not, when and for what effect? How clearly do we see them, do they reveal themselves? Are there some characters we only see from behind, in profile, or only see part of? Are there characters that we never see at all and appear in sound only?
Over Shoulder – Or Clean
In over-shoulder shots how much the shoulder takes of the frame. Do we treat all characters equally?
Matching Shots vs Not Matching
Shot Reverse Shot, do everyone’s shots ‘match’? Is one character given more importance?
When and why, lateral vs in/out. Stillness is a choice too. Is the movement motivated by a character’s movement or purely for dramatic effect.
Handheld vs Supported. For what effect/moments. A mix or one. Are the transitions between movement options smooth or noticeable.
When are we closest and widest. What are the extremes?
Is Zooming during the shot something you want to do or not? How fast/far, what is the effect?
Opening vs/and Closing Frame
What do they say? What was the journey? Circular?
‘This is the story you’re about to see.’
Central, side, balanced or not, comfortable or uncomfortable
How much space is above the character’s head
What we do and don’t show in frame, is there something we never/always see?
Multiple Shots per Scene vs Single Shot
How much choice do we want/need later? What are the benefits/downsides of either approach? Could the whole project be one shot?
Do we return to a concept or frame. What are the triggers to recall a previous moment, concept, image, info. Is there a pattern set up then broken? For a great example see Stranger By The Lake by Alain Guiraudie – specifically the car park wide shots. Transition between
Planned, Harsh, Smooth – Pure visual satisfaction and/or symbolic meanings. A juxtaposition of themes, visuals, sounds? Some nice examples can be found in Caché by Michael Haneke.
Collage or Consistent
Is the visual language a deliberate collage of different styles? Or very consistent? Could it change and for what effect? Single vs 2 or More
When, if, what does it give us/cost us. Implications for lighting and camera placement. Abstraction of Images – Do we, to what level?
Symbolism and Motifs
Subtle or overt.
Introduction of Characters, Spaces, Props
The first time we see something or someone. How can we use the camera to create a first impression. What do we want the audience to make of it/them? Do we plan to subvert this first impression later? How completely do we allow them to see the person/place? Is some element slowly revealed and what does this gain/loose us?
Eyes and brain adjust, we don’t notice very incremental change. Can we harness this? Frog in Hot Water. See True History of The Kelly Gang by Justin Kurzel – specifically the aspect ratio.
Physical Intensity for Audience
Do we ever want the audience to be forced into a physical engagement with the image? Eg, super glarey, strobe effect, struggling to see in the dark.
Of the editing planned vs the frame. Pace of things taking place, pace of edit. Do these align or contrast? How does the shot influence how movement is perceived.
What is the essential information for an audience to understand – for everyone, for sure, by when? What is bonus info, only for those watching closely? What can we assume people know at each moment and what is the new info for each new shot, scene, sequence. Visually, is existing information treated differently to new information?
Telling of Information
Being told something clearly/directly vs joining the dots. Having a full understanding in the moment vs retrospectively. What is the camera’s role in this?
Can the camera be used to direct the audience’s attention towards something, in the deliberate effort to have them miss something else?
Returning to a Moment
Can a moment be returned to from a different point of view? How does the camera see it this time? Do we see more at the beginning or end than we saw last time? Does a new angle show something we previously didn’t see?
Intended Length of Shot
How long is this shot designed to be held? Will this be comfortable or uncomfortable for a viewer. What is the intended effect on them? For an example see Lady Macbeth by William Oldroyd. Specifically the shots/editing of the murders, one of which has a shot designed to hold for an uncomfortable amount of time.
Sound and Score
In the storytelling, for both emotion and information. Where might it make sense for sound to do the heavy lifting? At these points should the visuals elevate in unison with sound? Are there points where the sound will provide a counterpoint for the images. What are the intense moments for sound and what are the right visuals to accompany? If there is old info repeated verbally or a scene were what is said is completely obligatory, is there a way to do without sync sound/blatant exposition? Eg music over, looking from a vantage where we don’t see the words? Now the scene becomes about body language/ visual storytelling
Sound Only/Complete Lack of Visuals
Are there moments where the story is told through sound only? Are there still visual accompaniments or just black/something else. For an interesting example Google the short film Pitch Black Heist by John Maclean.
After a big moment, plot or emotional, what do we see next? Whatever comes after an importance scene will affect how the audiences processes/feels about the important scene. How much they remember, what importance or weight they give to it, how much they think the film cares about it. Can also be used honestly or as a rouse.
Is there one? Eg will some shots be planned to have titles over? When does the story ‘start’? Does a title come along further into the film? If so what is that image, or the images surrounding it.
Are there filmmaking or other heroes we would like to acknowledge visually. How subtle or overt would we like that to be?
Is there one image we feel visually sums up what the film is about?
What we do and don’t show in frame, is there something we never/always see?
What scale screen might this be seen on and have we taken that into account?
Camera In The Story
Do the characters acknowledge the camera, move the camera themselves, have feelings towards the camera? Does the project explore the role of the camera/being watched/recorded/ observed – as a theme? Is the camera a prop or does the camera represent someone/something?
Colour Contrast Colour Range Colour Bias/Temp/Tint Colour Meaning
Do we assign certain colours to certain concepts, emotions, characters.
Colour in the Lighting vs Colour in the Set Contrast In General
And how best to achieve it, in lighting or post. Always test, especially if you are relying on a result.
Contrast On Faces
How well or completely we see characters. What impression it gives us of them.
Direction of Light
For Landscape, for faces, for seasons. Observe it day to day to figure out what creates what effect.
Quality of Light
So Many Possible Textures
Amount of Light, Exposure
In general and the extremes.
How much and when. Who gets it who doesn’t.
Traditional and Homemade. Anything you can see through you can put in front of a lens.
Haze and Atmos
Level of it, when.
Lens and Camera Characteristics
Enhance or Suppress Imperfections/Limitations?
What kind and when?
Frame Rate/Off Speed
Is there a role for slow motion or sped up footage? Will you achieve it in camera or post?
Are there sequences that would benefit from a staccato or streaky feeling? (Requires movement in the frame or of the frame to be visible.)
A technical and creative consideration. Are you bound by any requirements or free? Choose an existing one or invent you own?