The OFFICIAL site of your IB Film language. Accept no substitutes.

1. Long Shot/Wide Shot/Full Shot/Establishing Shot
  • Shows: long shot/wide shot/full shot of the main character
  • Raise the Red Lantern, Zhangh Yimou - uses shot to establish setting
  • Extreme Long Shot - person is very tiny in the frame; another good example of an establishing shot
  • Establishing Shot - tells you where you are most of the time
  • Also used to show mood (e.g. warm, calm)
  • Wide Shot
    • There Will Be Blood - Paul Thomas Anderson
    • used to show the action and the reaction of the subject in the shot
    • Very well composed shot; Rule of Thirds
  • Rule of Thirds: put your most important subjects in the corners; e.g. man in one corner, plume in opposite corner

2. American Shot
  • became very popular in Hollywood, that's why it's called an American shot
  • Shows: actors from knees up
  • La Dolce Vita, Federico Fellini - knees in water
  • Not too far away that you just get the setting, not too close so you lose the environment
  • Gives a closer look of the characters while still showing part of the setting
  • Gives you a sense of action but is also close enough to show their faces
  • Can be a bland shot, might be one we should stay away from

3. Medium Shot
  • Often used to show a clear view of an interaction between people
  • Often see two people together or one person from the other person's point of view
  • Makes audience feel like they're in the interaction / part of it / close to it
  • No exact framing -- you can pull back a bit too like in the Pan's Labyrinth shot
  • Acting is a huge part of film -- expression, body language, etc.
  • Color also plays a huge part, e.g. in showing tone.
  • Lighting -- warm, soft, cold

4. Close Up
  • Amélie-- (Mr. Gran is a fanboy!)
    • There are a lot of closeups in this movie because director wants us to feel close to the main character.
    • Not so much about what's around her, it's what's going on in her head.
  • Of Things
    • Used as plot devices
    • Foreshadowing, it's a clue (e.g. in Strangers on a Train - Alfred Hitchcock has a close-up of a lighter)
  • Extreme Close-up

5. Bird's Eye
  • Angle -- from the top angled down. Not about height, angle
  • Can be used to give a good view of a scene
  • Do the Right Thing - Spike Lee. Great way to see the street
  • The Empire Strikes Back- Irving Kershner.
    • Uses shot to show the void below him, show what's at stake.
    • Also establishes that Vader has the power (Vader is above, Luke is Below)
  • When camera shows a person above others, it is an easy and a powerful way to communicate a power relationship in film

6. Worm's Eye
  • Angle -- from down to up
  • Also used to establish power relationships
  • Blade Runner - Ridley Scott. Uses scene to emphasize his power.
  • Can be used ironically as well
    • The Life Aquatic With Steve Sizzou - Wes Anderson
    • main character thinks he's powerful
    • could also use lighting to establish his power
  • Citizen Kane -Orson Wells
    • he's a very powerful character

7. Canted Shot (Dutch Angle) / Oblique Angle
  • John's Adam- HBO.
    • background is slanted
  • Take camera, tilting it to the side, film at a different angle
    • tilt is a different shot
  • Show that things are getting tense and uncomfortable

8. Camera Height
  • Blade Runner - Ridley Scott. Character is very high up
  • Talk about the height
    • don't just film from a normal perspective/point of view
  • Perception

Shot Types = Proximity Video
  • close up - subject is close
  • medium - medium distance
  • long shot - longer distance
  • implied distance
  • Significance
  • Viewer identifies with the lens. You as the filmmaker control the camera, you help control how people think through the camera.
  • Close up - moment in a scene that demands the greatest dramatic impact
  • Convey information, elicit emotional response, communicate character state of mind, significance
  • amount of background info, subject info, size or portion of human figure, implied significance of subject, psychological subject info, physical subject info
  • Extreme Long Shot - dominated by background info, specific subject info takes up very little screen space, subject too small to be recognized. Handy for establishing general locals, depicting a character dwarfed by enviro, depict large-scale action as collective subject
  • Long Shot - who what where, establishing shot at end or beginning, balance subject info with background info, who's in the scene, where everyone is, action, what's going on, physical and psychological detail to be recognized
  • Full shot - from head to toe, background reduced, subject conveys more physical and psychological detail, grows larger to dominate frame, show significance
  • Medium Long Shot/american - knees up. between full and medium for way it looks and used
  • medium shot - just enough room for 2 or 3 characters. subject big enough, background reduced to insignificance, dominant and significant subjet. editing bridge between long shot and close up
  • close up - pure subject, basically no background. face emotions extremely important
  • extreme close up - filling frame with just a fragment of face or object revealed in great physical detail. used for cinematic functions. anticipates use of an object. generate suspense. also gives object symbolic value
  • Psychology - if you construct a film with audience's psychology in mind, you'll make a much greater film. Tell a story from a point of view that will be engaging and interesting to your audience --psychology of it!

Camera Angles
  • level and height of camera in relation to subject being photographed
  • most shots conform to eye level
  • diverging from normal view, filmmakers can communicate emotion, language, mood, state of mind
  • reference real life intuitive actions to visual information
  • viewer identifies with the lens
  • Low angle - camera lowered to shoot up at the subject. Position of power -- how do you perceive them? As powerful and threatening. Seeing and intuitively identifying, subject seems threatening and powerful. Also heroic, noble for people that are admired.
  • Extreme low angle - character in a moment of weakness/confusion.
    • Increase tension and suspense, so we can't see what's behind someone OR we can see someone but the subject can't
  • Context: our understanding of the character in a shot
  • High Angle
    • power in a situation
    • there are exceptions
  • Extreme High Angle ~ Bird's eye
    • positions camera directly above subjects
    • disorienting view point
    • used to shock people / present unfamiliar situation
    • Bird's eye is more from an angle
  • Dutch Angle / Oblique Angle
    • best for showing something strange
    • intuitively conveys that something strange is going on
    • audience POV feels off-balanced, which is how filmmaker wants you to feel


  • Black Arrow- Character movement
  • White Arrow-Camera movement

  • Frontal Lighting
    • Fully exposes
    • Make features less obvious, plain, flat
    • Eg. A plain character, not much dimension, featureless

  • Side Lighting
    • Best lighting if you have only one light
    • Contrast: light & dark
    • Shows good and bad
  • Top Lighting
    • Looks bad
    • Washes one out
  • Under Lighting
    • Like a flashlight
    • aka. Halloween lighting
    • Can show that something is not normal
    • Showing unnatural situations
  • Back lighting
    • Silhouette
    • Unholy or holy

  • Coldness (e.g. blue)
    • Dark, fear
  • Warm (e.g. yellow)
    • Love
The main things you need to focus on regarding light: the quality, color, and intensity of the light.

Familiar Image: conveys new meaning by showing something that we've seen before differently (e.g. by using different lighting).

We use light to create contrast.
Lighting Ratio: the relative ratio between light and shadow/the contrast.
  • Low Ratio/contrast : High key lighting.
  • High Ratio/contrast : Low key lighting. Usually associated with darker, more dramatic scenes.

Different types of light
  • Key Light: one side of light and another side of dark.
  • Fill Light: used to fill in shadows.
  • Hard Light: light that comes directly from the source, causing a define line between light and dark. Great for serious situations.
  • Soft Light: diffused light. Breaking up the light so that it hits the subject from many different angles.
  • Edge Light: Back light+key light together. It lets subject stand out from background.
  • Three Point Lighting: light from three different points on a subject. To make the subject make more 3-dimensional.

Light at a 45 degree angle is used a lot in films, because it looks very natural.

  • Continuity editing:
-180 degree rule: camera must stay on one side of the action; the camera never crosses the 180 degree line.
Viewer rarely feels confused.
-Tries to make it invisible
-Eye line match shot: Character in shot A looks off screen, character B doesn't.
*Point of view from different characters
-Method of cross cutting: established for smooth continuity.
-The editor chooses the takes that best show he emotion that is needed to be conveyed.

  • Discontinuity editing:
-Tries to catch the audience's attention
-Create alienation
-Noticeable, visible
-Usually used in horror films

  • Snapshots
-Actors vary their delivery of emotions, editors decide which take to use to convey different emotions.
-Coverage: the editor gets the same shot from a number of different angle, makes the editor job more complex and artistic

How not to Edit

1.Affinity: similarity between shots, audience wants to locate between shot
2.Thirty-Thirty rule (30/30): shot that follow another shot should not have a different less than 30 degrees. Focal length of less than 30%.
3.Moving Camera: the moving camera should not cut to a standing shot (can cut to another cut)

Diegetic and Nondiegetic:

Diagetic elements: elements inside the story's world
- Elements include: dialogue, thoughts, props etc.
- If the character can hear it, it is diagetic (includes off screen characters' voice)

Nondiegetic elements: elements outside the story's world
- Elements include: text, voice over/third person narrator, score music etc.
- Nondiegetic insert

- Most movies blend both elements with fluidity

Three Act Structure

Act One: The Setup
(Who do I care about? What's going on?)
Could be a mini movie that has nothing to do with the rest of the movie (Raiders of the Lost Arc).

^ Inciting Incident - An event that gets something started, what gets the story going.
Rising Action - Action that leads up to the climax of Act One; the first climax of the movie.
Climax - First climax of the movie.
Falling Action - Action that happens after the climax.
The setup for the second act, the transition.

Act Two: The Conflict
(How badly can things go wrong?)

^Reversal of Fortune
Low Point - Refusal of the Call
WTF :(
Rising action
Falling action
Setup for act three.

Act Three: The Resolution
(How do we fix it?)

Rising action
Resolution / Dénouement (Final shit)

Plot: What the character wants.
Theme: What the character needs.