978-1457663543 Chapter 4

Document Type
Homework Help
Book Title
The Film Experience: An Introduction 4th Edition
Authors
Patricia White, Timothy Corrigan
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CHAPTER 4
CINEMATOGRAPHY: FRAMING WHAT WE SEE
KEY OBJECTIVES
Outline the development of the film image from an historical heritage of visual spectacles.
Describe how the frame of an image positions our point of view according to different distances and angles.
Explain how film shots use the depth of the image in various ways.
Identify how the elements of cinematographyfilm stock, color, lighting, and compositional features of the
imagecan be employed in a movie.
Compare and contrast the effects of different patterns of movement on the film image.
Introduce the array of techniques used to create visual effects.
Describe prevailing concepts of the image within different cinematic conventions.
CHAPTER OVERVIEW
Chapter 4 is the second of four chapters that deal with elements of the formal and technical powers of film
form. It starts with a history of the evolving technologies of the cinematic image from the invention of photography to the
digital future. From there, it discusses attributes of the shot, point of view, and what happens once the frame begins to
move. It closes with a discussion of the different ways of thinking about our relationship to the cinematic image: as
presentation or representation, and as presence or text.
Cinematography is rooted in human physiology. In this chapter, students learn how to master concepts like depth of
field, framing, and various camera movements by associating them with physical movements. They also become aware of
how closely advances throughout film history hew to the technological developments that make formal innovation
possible. Finally, this chapter illustrates that what is outside the frame can play just as important a role as the image its elf in
enriching each viewer’s film experience.
TEACHING THE OPENING VIGNETTE
Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight (2015) offers students an excellent opportunity to consider framing,
especially in anticipation of the section in this chapter on widescreen processes, and the Viewing Cue that asks
students to identify the native aspect ratio of a film they are studying. To begin, an instructor may wish to show clips
from two or more films that were shot using the aspect ratio used by Tarantino, 2.76:1. A good choice might be the
title sequence from William Wyler’s 1959 epic, Ben-Hur, which was shot in what MGM called its Camera 65
technologywhich was sold a few years later to Panavision who renamed the format Ultra Panavision 70, the same
photographic process used by Tarantino. The image we see during the opening credits of Ben-Hur is of the ceiling of
the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo, specifically the depiction of the Christian story of the Creation of Adam. Note
how the camera frames the figure of Adam to the far left and of God to the far right, making full use of the
widescreen format. It might helpful to pause on the title, “Photographed in MGM Camera 65 - Photographic Lenses
by Panavision,” and ask students to reflect on how the text is centered in relation to the two Biblical figures.
Consider, too, how Tarantino frames the “Ultra Panavision 70” credit in the opening titles to his film. With
widescreen format, what artistic decisions must a director and cinematographer make in terms of what we see in the
frame?
TEACHING THE CHAPTER
We are part of an increasingly visual culture. Advances in digital image-making occur so rapidly it may be
difficult for students to appreciate how technological limitation as well as innovation helped shape the art and craft
of cinematography. Images today can be viewed the second they are captured and manipulated or even deleted just
as easily.
The physical movement of the camera and the ways in which an image is framed might be easier for students to grasp
at first. Students are also incredibly savvy about animation and special effects. The challenge lies in
persuading them that even the images they consider eye candy can be consumed actively and critically. In time, a
discussion of the “realness” or “fakeness” of each film image can become an analysis of whether these images
document a world or define it. Is seeing believing anymore? Was it ever?
From a Historical Perspective
1820s-1880s:
Have students construct zoetropes in class or make flipbooks.
1890s-1920s:
Screen the LumièresTrain Arriving at the Station (1896) and/or Edison’s The Kiss (1896).
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1930s-1940s:
Ask students to conduct an online search for Technicolor industrial films. Have them locate an
illustration of the human eye in cross-section. Ask if any photographers in the class could explain f-stops. Screen
excerpts from the cinematography documentary Visions of Light (1992).
1950s-1960s:
It may help to place 3-D in the context of gimmick cinema (like William Castle’s The Tingler [1959])
and to discuss these innovations as the film industrys response to the threat posed by television.
1970s-1980s:
Consider showing makingof footage or stills from Star Wars (1977) in class. Show how the
Steadicam moves smoothly over the surface of the model-scaled Death Star’s surface to capture Luke’s point of
view from his X-wing fighter. Or show scenes from Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess (2013), shot using Sony
AVC-3260 vacuum tube video cameras that were cutting edge during the early 1980s, when this period film takes
place.
1990s to the Present:
It can be difficult to talk about our current digital moment critically.
It surrounds us! To
illustrate in class the advantages and disadvantages of the shift to digital images, you may want to consider this
observation Adam Cook made about Transformers: Age of Extinction for the movie site Daily Notebook:One of
the first scenes takes place in an abandoned moviehouse. After coming upon a dusty poster of Howard Hawks' El
Dorado, a character remarks that he ‘loves that one’. This nostalgic scene was endearingly clumsy and cheesy and I
found myself moved by it. It opens up a mini-thread of the film elaborated on in a scene that takes place in
Monument Valley, where the good robot Autobots hop around on the sandstone buttes we inevitably associate wit h
John Ford's mise en scène. Wahlberg and the transformers project footage onto the side of one of the landforms, a
private screening. This almost criminal butchering of a sacred cinema landmark doubles for me as offensive and
beautiful, a strange thing to articulate, but something that characterizes all of Bay's work. He links the dated
technology of celluloid and that abandoned cinema to the traditional values of the American middle class, both of
which he sees as threatened by rapid advancement of tech and its irresponsible harnessing by the powers that be.
The film seeks to reconcile these values with technology, a harmony of man and machine that has defined the
franchise.” (https://mubi.com/notebook/posts/dialogues-talking-robots-or-michael-bays-transformers-age-of-
extinction) Ask students whether they agree with the assertion that celluloid somehow represents traditional
American values now superceded/threatened by technology. Another useful resource is Hito Steyerl’s essay in e-flux
journal, “In Defense of the Poor Image.” She says, “The poor image has been uploaded, downloaded, shared,
reformatted, and reedited. It transforms quality into accessibility, exhibition value into cult value, films into clips,
contemplation into distraction. The image is liberated from the vaults of cinemas and archives and thrust into digital
uncertainty at the expense of its own substance. The poor image tends toward abstraction: it is a visual idea in its
very becoming.” (http://indexofpotential.net/uploads/46385/Steyerl,%20Hito%20-
%20The%20Wretched%20of%20the%20Screen.pdf) Invite students to share their own favorite “poor images.”
From a Formal Perspective
Aspect Ratio:
To help students distinguish aspect ratios, screen the same sequence from a movie in both the
letterboxed and full-screen versions. Discuss what gets lost in the latter version of the film. Or try to track down
both
versions of Martin Scorsese’s New York, New York (1977) to see the effects of panning-and-scanning an image composed
and shot to take advantage of a widescreen aspect ratio.
Masks:
One way to explain masks is to make analogies to present-day masking techniques that draw viewers’
attention to something in the frame using binoculars, or maybe a car’s rearview mirror.
Another approach to explaining how masks work is to discuss how Renaissance perspectivediagonal lines
converging at a vanishing pointcan also direct our attention within a frame. (The Lord of the Rings trilogy relies on
related techniques to make the hobbits appear smaller than other actors and objects on the screen.) Ask a
colleague in art history (or a student who is well versed in the subject) to speak to the class on the topic or provide
examples of specific works of art that demonstrate the technique.
Camera Distance:
Consider getting students on their feet and having them act out the different camera distances
and
shotslong, medium, and close-up.
Camera Angles:
Again, asking students to get up and demonstrate where cameras would be positioned for low-
angle, high-angle, and crane shots of the classroom can add a kinetic memory to their comprehension of new
vocabulary.
Depth of Field:
It might help to relate deep and shallow focus to how the world looks to people without their
glasses on. For example, a rack focus could be someone with bifocals switching from the bottom to the top of the
lens. Consider bringing in a couple of pairs of drugstore reading glasses or magnifying glasses and passing them
around the room.
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Color:
The Wizard of Oz (1939) is an obvious candidate for color discussions. A look at how Traffic’s (2000)
various story arcs are delineated through the use of different color filters might also lead to interesting conversation.
Or,
show a hand-tinted silent, like The Great Train Robbery (1903) or one of Georges Méliès’ silent films that
appear in
Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (2011).
Pans and Tilts:
Demonstrate the differences by the movement of your head with your neck as the pivot.
Tracking Shots:
Move through the classroom, pausing for “close-ups” and so forth.
Handheld and Steadicam Shots:
Instead of the Goodfellas (1990) sequence, show the homage from Swingers
(1996), or the five-minute re-creation of the Dunkirk evacuation from Atonement (2007).
Animation and Special Effects:
CGI and rotoscoping will be the most familiar animation techniques. Consider
hunting down a movie with Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion animation effects or showing an old Disney or Warner
Bros. animated short. For other special effects that employ models or mattes, look at the end of Star Wars (1977),
when Luke destroys the Death Star. Great examples of handmade animation of paper and fabric can be found in the
work of Jodie Mack. (http://www.jodiemack.com/) Or demonstrate how even digital animation can be handmade,
using imagery that may be familiar to many students: Show a clip from Jon Bois’ YouTube series Breaking Madden,
which hacked the Madden NFL 25 video game “into a thing that no longer resembles football as we know it.”
(https://www.youtube.com/user/jonbois/videos)
From a Contextualized Perspective
A suggestion: it could be fun to track down and show footage from Raiders of the Lost Ark: the Adaptation (1989), the
shot-by-shot remake of Raiders of the Lost Ark that Eric Zala, Chris Strompolos, and Jayson Lamb began
shooting in 1982, when they were twelve years old, as an example of low production values.
Teaching Technical Vocabulary and Key Concepts
This would be another good chapter to teach vocabulary and key concepts by conducting cinematic “dictees” during
class: students watch a film clip, then alone or in groups describe it using as many terms from the chapter as they can. Ask
them to present their “translations” to the rest of the class. This chapter covers a lot of ground, so you may want to choose
only vocabulary relating to the shot, or camera movement, or framing, then revisit the same sequence but with another
emphasis.
As mentioned earlier, it can be helpful for students who have difficulty mastering the large number of
movement-related terms if they associate the vocabulary with physical motions. For example, students frequently
confuse “pan-and-scan” with “pans” and “panning.” Having students stand up and move their heads to familiarize them
with pans and tilts, or move about the classroom to re-create dolly shots, tracking shots, or various camera angles can
create helpful kinetic memories.
TEACHING THE VIEWING CUES
A Short History of the Cinematic Image, p. 135
Think about the cinematography of your class’s most recent film screening in relation to the larger history of the
image. Does the film include shots that seem like paintings, photographs, or other kinds of visual displays? Explain
how a specific shot or series of shots affects your understanding or interpretation of those images or the entire film.
This Viewing Cue works best as a journal-entry prompt and may serve as the basis for subsequent class
discussion.
Four Attributes of the Shot, p. 140
Watch the clip from Touch of Evil (1958) and make a sketch or sketches of each shot. Describe how the framing
contributes to the perception of the scene.
This Viewing Cue is best suited as a journal-entry prompt, or as a graded assignment. Or set up a site where
students can upload scans or hand-drawn work or sketches made with an animation program. Could they “sketch” the
shots using emoji?
Aspect Ratio, p. 143
Identify the original aspect ratio of the film you are studying in class. How is it appropriate or inappropriate to this films
themes and aims? If the film is exhibited in a different ratio, explain how that process affects certain scenes.
Track down a movie in both its widescreen and its full-screen versions (for example, Martin Scorsese’s 1977 film,
New York, New York) and show the same scene in each format. Ask students to discuss what visual and narrative
information is lost in the reformatting of the images. Or share reviews of screenings of P. T. Anderson’s The Master
(2012) projected in 65mm.
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Camera Distance, p. 144
Look for a pattern of framing distances in the next film you view for class. Do there seem to be a large number of long
shots? Close-ups? Explain how this pattern reinforces themes of the film.
The sequence toward the beginning of Film in Focus movie Vertigo, when Gavin Elster asks Scottie to follow
Madeleine, could offer opportunities to discuss how the positioning of the two men within the frame suggests a power
differential between them and stands in contrast to the subsequent scenes of Scottie trailing Madeleine at a distance
through the streets of San Francisco.
Movement, p. 153
Examine this clip from Rear Window (1954) and describe the moving camera (tracks, pans) and/or mobile framings
(zooms) that are used. Why is a moving frame of a single shot used here instead of a series of shots?
The provocative aspect of this clip comes at its end. Several times throughout the film we are treated to a
mobile reframing of the various denizens abutting the courtyard of Jeff’s apartment building. Our presumption that
the camera is contiguous with his point of viewis foiled time and again as the camera slips back across his
window sill, revealing that he is looking in the other direction or even sleeping. This time, Stella is the person
looking out the window. Ask students if her gaze matters and what other times we see hew looking. Perhaps this
camera movement is foreshadowing how she and Lisa will later take on an active role in investigating what
happened in the Thorwald apartment across the way.
Movement, p. 153
Examine this clip from The Battle of Algiers (1967), and describe the cinematography techniques it uses that are
reminiscent of newsreels. How do these choices contribute to the movie’s effects?
A good option here is to show the “March of Time” sequence from Citizen Kane, and to discuss how the
sequence faithfully models RKO’s (and later 20th Century Fox’s) theatrical newsreel, “The March of Time,
including a voice over that accurately mimicked the overly dramatic narration of Westbrook Van Voorhis. Note the
way the cameraman attempts to capture rare footage of Kane using a long lens, which results in a very shaky image.
Both the March of Time sequence and The Battle of Algiers both have the appearance of documentary but are in
fact staged. How does the obvious manipulation of fake footage in the March of Time” sequence reflect on the clip
from The Battle of Algiers?
TEACHING THE FORM IN ACTION
Color and Contrast in Film, p. 150
Students may not have been alive when black-and-white televisions were still prevalent, but they should be familiar
with adjusting the color and contrast of an image on a flat screen television, tablet, or smartphone . Pairing Flowers and
Trees (1932) and Up (2009) can point out the role technology plays in manipulating color without the distractions of
live-action subjects. Or look at the cartoonish DeLuxe color of The Girl Can’t Help It (1956)
alongside director Frank Tashlin’s earlier animated shorts for Warner Bros., such as Swooner Crooner (1944).
Alternatively, distribute black-and-white copies of a frame grab to each student and ask them to hand-tint the image.
Gather, display, and discuss the effects of variations in hue on the viewer.
TEACHING HISTORY CLOSE UP, p. 156
In his memoir, Animated Life: A Lifetime of Tips, Tricks, and Stories from a Disney Legend (New York, Taylor
& Francis, 2013), Floyd Norman writes that he was never ill at ease being the only African American at Disney’s
animation department (he even took some measure of pride in being referred to by some of his colleagues as “The
Lone Negro”). Since he began at Disney in 1956, the studio has made some progress in its efforts to b ring racial
diversity to its offerings, with films such as Mulan (1998) and The Princess and the Frog (2009). Yet the studio’s
legacy in animation is still burnished by its use of negative black stereotypes in films such as Dumbo (1941) and
Song of the South (1946).
Discussion Question
: What positive representations of race, gender, and disability have been the focus of recent
animated films and animated television shows, Disney and other?
TEACHING THE FILM IN FOCUS
From Angles to Animation in
Vertigo
(1958), pp. 162-163
Hitchcock takes full advantage of the framing opportunities that the widescreen aspect ratio called VistaVision
afforded him. The framing of each image only reinforces the framing of Scottie that propels the plot. Revisit
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Scottie’s nightmare, the (false) Madeleine’s plummet from the church tower, and the stepladder scene in Midge’s
apartment.
Discussion Question 1:
What is the importance of camera angles, if not the effectiveness of animation, on the effect these
three scenes have on the viewer?
Discussion Question 2:
How does the framing play off the angular nature of San Francisco’s streets, Spanish
mission architecture, and the Golden Gate Bridge?
ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS
Alternative Activity
FILMS CITED
Alice (1988)
Alien (1979)
All That Heaven Allows (1955)
Alvin and the Chipmunks TV series (1983-1990)
Amelie (2001)
Andrei Rublev (1969)
Atonement (2007)
Avatar (2009)
Babel (2006)
Bambi (1942)
The Battle of Algiers (1966)
Ben-Hur (1959)
Bend It Like Beckham (2002)
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Blonde Venus (1932)
Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
Carrie (1976)
Cars series (2006-2017)
The Celebration (1998)
Chicken Run (2000)
Citizen Kane (1941)
Computer Chess (2013)
Contempt (1963)
Coraline (2009)
Creed (2015)
The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Days of Heaven (1978)
Death in Venice (1970)
Despicable Me series (2010-2017)
Duck Amuck (1953)
The Earrings of Madame de . . . (1953) Eat
Pray Love (2010)
El Dorado (1967)
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Everest (2015)
Far from Heaven (2002)
Fish Tank (2009)
Flowers and Trees (1932)
Floyd Norman, an Animated Life (2016)
The 400 Blows (1959)
Frances Ha (2012)
The Freshman (1925)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Ghostbusters (2016)
Ginger & Rosa (2012)
The Girl Can’t Help It (1956)
Goodfellas (1990)
Grand Illusion (1937)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
The Great Train Robbery (1903)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) The
Hateful Eight (2015)
The Heiress (1949)
Hey, Hey, Hey, It’s Fat Albert (1969)
House of Wax (1953)
Hugo (2011)
The Hurt Locker (2009)
Inception (2010)
Intolerance (1916)
Jaws (1975)
The Jungle Book (1967)
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
King Kong (1933)
King Lear (1910)
The Kiss (1896)
L’Argent (1983)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Little Big Man (1970)
The Little Mermaid (1989)
Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-2003)
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Madagascar series (2005-2018)
The March of Time series (1935-1951)
The Matrix (1999)
The Master (2012)
Metropolis (1927)
Midnight Cowboy (1968)
Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Napoléon (1927)
New York, New York (1977)
The Night of the Hunter (1955)
Nosferatu (1922)
O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000)
Our Hitler (1977)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Pariah (2011)
Paris, Texas (1984)
The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928)
Performance (1970)
Persona (1966)
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Personal Velocity (2002)
Pi (1998)
The Piano (1993)
Pleasantville (1998)
Ponyo (2008)
Rebel without a Cause (1955)
Raiders of the Lost Ark: the Adaptation (1989) The
Red Shoes (1948)
The Revenant (2015)
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Run Lola Run (1998)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
A Scanner Darkly (2006)
The Seashell and the Clergyman (1928)
The Secret of Kells (2009)
The Seven Samurai (1954)
Shane (1953)
The Shining (1980)
Shrek (2001)
The Shop on Main Street (1965)
Side by Side (2012)
Silly Symphony series (1929-1939)
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
The Smurfs TV series (1981-1990)
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)
Star Wars (1977)
Star Wars: Episode IIAttack of the Clones (2002) The
Star Wars series (1977-2017)
Swingers (1996)
Tangerine (2015)
The Third Man (1949)
Time Regained (2000)
The Tingler (1959)
Tokyo Story (1953)
Toy Story (1995)
Toy Story 2 (1999)
Traffic (2000)
Train Arriving at the Station (1896)
Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
Tyrus (2015)
Up (2009)
Vertigo (1958)
Visions of Light (1992)
Waking Life (2001)
Waltz with Bashir (2008)
The Wedding Singer (1998)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)
Written on the Wind (1956)
Zentropa (1991)

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