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Grammar of the Shot, 4th Edition

Book Description

The newly-revised and updated fourth edition of Grammar of the Shot teaches readers the principles behind successful visual communication in motion media through shot composition, screen direction, depth cues, lighting, camera movement, and shooting for editing. Many general practices are suggested that should help to create rich, multi-layered visuals. Designed as an easy-to-use reference, Grammar of the Shot presents each topic succinctly with clear photographs and diagrams illustrating key concepts, practical exercises, and quiz questions, and is a staple of any filmmaker’s library.

New to the fourth edition:

  • an expanded companion website at www.routledge.com/cw/Bowen, offering downloadable scenes and editable raw footage so that students can practice the techniques described in the book, and instructional videos showcasing examples of different compositional choices;
  • new and expanded quiz questions and practical exercises at the end of each chapter to help test readers on their knowledge using real-world scenarios;
  • updated topic discussions, explanations, illustrations, and visual examples.

Together with its companion volume, Grammar of the Edit, the core concepts discussed in these books offer concise and practical resources for both experienced and aspiring filmmakers.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Half Title
  3. Title Page
  4. Copyright Page
  5. Table of Contents
  6. Introduction
  7. Acknowledgements
  8. Chapter One – The Shots: What, How, and Why?
    1. What to Show Your Audience?
    2. Choosing Your Frame
      1. Aspect Ratio
      2. A Brief History of Aspect Ratios
      3. Further Exploration: Why Do We Like Widescreen So Much?
    3. An Introduction to Shot Types: The Basic Building Blocks of Motion Pictures
      1. The Long Shot/Wide Shot
      2. The Medium Shot
      3. The Close-Up
    4. The Extended Family of Basic Shots: The Powers of Proximity
      1. The Extreme Long Shot/Extreme Wide Shot
      2. The Very Long Shot / Very Wide Shot
      3. The Long Shot / Wide Shot/Full Shot
      4. The Medium Long Shot / Knee Shot
      5. The Medium Shot / Waist Shot/Mid-Shot
      6. The Medium Close-Up / Bust Shot
      7. The Close-Up
      8. The Big Close-Up (UK)/Choker (USA)
      9. The Extreme Close-Up
    5. Why Do We Even Have Different Shot Types?
    6. Pulling Images from the Written Page
      1. Script Breakdown for Cinematographers
      2. Shot Lists
      3. Storyboards and Animatics
    7. Phases of Film Production
    8. Let’s Practice
    9. Chapter One – Final Thoughts: The Pictures Speak
    10. Related Material Found in Chapter Seven – Working Practices
    11. Chapter One – Review
    12. Chapter One – Exercises
    13. Chapter One – Quiz Yourself
  9. Chapter Two – The Basics of Composition
    1. Simple Guidelines for Framing Human Subjects
      1. Headroom
      2. Subjective versus Objective Shooting Styles
      3. Look Room/Nose Room
      4. The Rule of Thirds
    2. Camera Angle
      1. Horizontal Camera Angles
        1. The-Degree Method
        2. The Clockface Method
        3. The Camera Position Method
          1. The Frontal View
          2. The/4 Front View
          3. The Profile View
          4. The/4 Back View
          5. The Full Back View
      2. Vertical Camera Angles
        1. The Neutral-Angle Shot
        2. The High-Angle Shot
          1. The High-Angle Shot of an Individual
          2. The High-Angle Shot as a POV
          3. The High-Angle Shot of an Environment
        3. The Low-Angle Shot
          1. The Low-Angle Shot of an Individual
          2. The Low-Angle Shot as a POV
          3. The Low-Angle Shot of an Environment
    3. The Two-Shot: Frame Composition with Two People
      1. The Profile Two-Shot
      2. The Direct-to-Camera Two-Shot
      3. The Over-the-Shoulder Two-Shot
      4. The Dirty Single
      5. The Power Dynamic Two-Shot
    4. The Three-Shot
    5. Chapter Two – Final Thoughts: Wrapping Up the Basics of Composition
    6. Related Material Found in Chapter Seven – Working Practices
    7. Chapter Two – Review
    8. Chapter Two – Exercises
    9. Chapter Two – Quiz Yourself
  10. Chapter Three – Composition: Beyond the Basics
    1. The Illusion of the Third Dimension
    2. The Use of Lines
      1. The Horizon Line
      2. Vertical Lines
      3. Dutch Angle
      4. Diagonal Lines
      5. Curved Lines
    3. The Depth of Film Space: Foreground, Middle Ground, and Background
      1. Foreground
      2. Middle Ground
      3. Background
    4. Depth Cues
      1. Overlapping
      2. Object Size
      3. Atmosphere
    5. The Camera Lens: The Observer of Your Film World
      1. What Is a Camera Lens?
      2. Primes vs Zooms
      3. The Prime Lens
      4. The Zoom Lens
      5. Lens Perspective
      6. Lens Focus: Directing the Viewer’s Attention
      7. Pulling Focus or Following Focus
    6. Chapter Three – Final Thoughts: Directing the Viewer’s Eyes Around Your Frame
    7. Related Material Found in Chapter Seven – Working Practices
    8. Chapter Three – Review
    9. Chapter Three – Exercises
    10. Chapter Three – Quiz Yourself
  11. Chapter Four – Lighting Your Shots: Not Just What You See, but How You See It
    1. Light as an Element of Composition
    2. Light as Energy
    3. Color Temperature
      1. Color Balance of Your Camera
      2. Natural and Artificial Light
      3. Correcting or Mixing Colors on Set
    4. Quantity of Light: Sensitivity
    5. Quantity of Light: Exposure
    6. Quality of Light: Hard versus Soft
      1. Hard Light
      2. Soft Light
    7. Contrast
      1. Low-Key Lighting
      2. High-Key Lighting
    8. Color
    9. Basic Character Lighting: The Three-Point Lighting Method
      1. Contrast Ratio or Lighting Ratio
    10. Motivated Lighting: Angle of Incidence
      1. Front Lighting
      2. Side Lighting
      3. Lighting from Behind
      4. Lighting from Other Places
    11. Set and Location Lighting
    12. Controlling Light: Basic Tools and Techniques
    13. Chapter Four – Final Thoughts: Learning to Light … and Lighting to Learn
    14. Related Material Found in Chapter Seven – Working Practices
    15. Chapter Four – Review
    16. Chapter Four – Exercises
    17. Chapter Four – Quiz Yourself
  12. Chapter Five – Will It Cut? Shooting for Editing
    1. The Chronology of Production
    2. Matching Your Shots in a Scene
      1. Continuity of Performance
      2. Continuity of Screen Direction
    3. The Line: The Basis for Screen Direction
      1. The Imaginary Line: The-Degree Rule
      2. Jumping the Line
      3. The-Degree Rule
      4. Reciprocating Imagery
      5. Eye-Line Match
    4. Chapter Five – Final Thoughts: Be Kind to Your Editor
    5. Related Material Found in Chapter Seven – Working Practices
    6. Chapter Five – Review
    7. Chapter Five – Exercises
    8. Chapter Five – Quiz Yourself
  13. Chapter Six – Dynamic Shots: Subjects and Camera in Motion
    1. The Illusion of Movement on a Screen
    2. Presentation Speed: Slow Motion and Fast Motion
      1. Slow Motion (Overcranking)
      2. Fast Motion (Undercranking)
    3. Subjects in Motion: Blocking Talent
    4. Camera in Motion
      1. Handheld
      2. Pan and Tilt
        1. Shooting the Pan and the Tilt
          1. The Start Frame
          2. The Camera Movement
          3. The End Frame
    5. Equipment Used to Move the Camera
      1. Tripods
      2. Dollies
        1. Crab
        2. Dolly/Track/Truck
        3. Zoom
      3. SteadicamTM and Other Camera Stabilization Devices
      4. Cranes and Booms
    6. Chapter Six – Final Thoughts: Movies Should Move
    7. Related Material Found in Chapter Seven – Working Practices
    8. Chapter Six – Review
    9. Chapter Six – Exercises
    10. Chapter Six – Quiz Yourself
  14. Chapter Seven – Working Practices
    1. 1. Storyboards and Shot Lists
    2. 2. Slate the Head of Your Shots
    3. 3. Help the Boom Operator to Place the Microphone
    4. 4. Use of Two of More Cameras
    5. 5. Be Aware of Reflections
    6. 6. Communicating with the Talent
    7. 7. Safe Action/Safe Title Areas
    8. 8. How to Manually Focus a Zoom Lens
    9. 9. Always Have Something in Focus
    10. 10. Control Your Depth of Field
    11. 11. Be Aware of Headroom
    12. 12. Shooting Tight Close-Ups
    13. 13. Beware of Wide Lenses When Shooting Close-Up Shots
    14. 14. Try to Show Both Eyes of Your Subject
    15. 15. Be Aware of Eye-Line Directions in Closer Shots
    16. 16. Place Important Objects in the Top Half of Your Frame
    17. 17. Keep Distracting Objects out of the Shot
    18. 18. Use the Depth of the Film Space to Stage Shots with Several People
    19. 19. Ensure an Eye Light
    20. 20. Be Aware of Color and Contrast Choices Made Throughout Your Project
    21. 21. Allow the Camera More Time to Record Each Shot
    22. 22. Follow Action with a Loose Pan and Tilt Tripod Head
    23. 23. Shooting Overlapping Action for the Edit
      1. Continuity of Action
      2. Matching Speed of Action
      3. Too Much Overlapping Action
    24. 24. Frame for Correct Look Room on Shots that Will Edit Together
    25. 25. Shoot Matching Camera Angles When Covering a Dialogue Scene
    26. 26. A Three-Person Dialogue Scene: Matching Two-Shots Can Be Problematic for the Editor
    27. 27. Beware of Continuity Traps While Shooting a Scene
    28. 28. Ways to Cross the-Degree Line Safely
    29. 29. The Long Take
    30. 30. Zooming During a Shot
    31. 31. Motivate Your Dolly-In and Dolly-Out Camera Moves
    32. 32. Use Short-Focal-Length Lenses to Reduce Handheld Camera Shake
    33. 33. Allow Actions to Complete Before Cutting the Camera
    34. 34. Shooting a Chromakey
    35. 35. Shooting B-Roll,nd Unit, and Stock Footage
    36. 36. Shooting a Talking-Head Interview
    37. 37. During Documentary Filming, Be as Discreet as Possible
    38. 38. Use Visual Metaphors
    39. 38. Aim for a Low Shooting Ratio
    40. Chapter Seven – Review
    41. Chapter Seven – Exercises
    42. Chapter Seven – Quiz Yourself
  15. Chapter Eight - Concluding Thoughts
    1. Know the Rules Before You Break the Rules
    2. The Reason for Shooting Is Editing
    3. Your Shots Should Enhance the Entire Story
    4. Involve the Viewer as Much as Possible
    5. Take Pride in the Quality of Your Work
    6. Practice Proper Set Etiquette
    7. Know Your Equipment
    8. Be Familiar with Your Subject Matter
    9. Understand Lighting – Both Natural and Artificial
    10. Study What Has Already Been Done
    11. Conclusion
  16. Appendix A – Helpful Resources for the New Filmmaker
  17. Appendix B – Crew Members Commonly Needed for Motion Picture Production
  18. Glossary
  19. Index