Thursday, 10 April 2014

Yr2 Week 20 (Fri 21 Mar - Producing and Directing)

In today's workshop, we looked at Continuity Editing, a means of ensuring consistency, as well as definition, to a space or sequence in a film. Some of the rules involved here include:
  • The articulation of space:defining the size of an area in a scene. This is usually done by starting with a wide shot, and then cutting in closer and closer.
  • Consistency of screen direction: what direction is a scene going in. It would be disorienting if we were going left, and then we had a shot from or going to the right.
  • 180o and 30o degree rules: where the characters are on screen with relation to each other, usually screen left or screen right.
  • Match on action: simply matching a continuous action between shoots i.e. picking up a glass, opening a door, fiddling with a pen etc.
  • Shot/reverse shot: Self explanatory, usually used during conversations.
  • Eyeline match: ensuring the eyelines are consistent when characters are looking at each other or at something.
The noted film critic Stefan Sharff also referred to the concept of 'syntax', a 'language' in film, which relied on the 'correct arrangement' in order to be made sense of, much like how words form sentences to transfer concepts and information. Editing very much allows one to construct a 'language' or rather, present an idea or scenario though this type of construction from different shots. Such meanings/effects could include creating surprise, suspense or tension in the audience.

Other principles and ideas linked to continuity editing include as follows:
  • The Kuleshov effect: this idea very much emphasizes the power of the edit, cross cutting between the image of a man and several different objects to create a different meaning/reaction each time with necessarily drastic changes between shots.
  • Separation: Characters don't share the screen, thus creating a sens eof unease and tension between the two, a sort of literal 'distance'.
  • Parallel Actions: Two narrative 'lines' going on simultaneously. For example, during the climax of D.W. Griffith's Way Down Fast (1919), we have both the chase down the ice flow, and the deadly waterfalls up ahead. The cutting between the two helps increase the tension and urgency.
  • Dialetic Montage: a conflict of ideas that is then resolved (i.e thesis/antithesis=synthesis). In the Russian silent film October, we see the jeering bourgeoisie and the struggling common people. In the end, the bridge is raised, and the pro-people leaflets are tossed into the river by the rich.
  • Familiar image: self explanatory, this is used as an anchor/familiar point of reference for the audience in a scene, often in repetition as reinforcement.
  • Multi-angularity: again, self explanatory, this can allow for a lot of exploration of a space, as well as for contrasts within. in the French film Muriel, we see this used in he opening in an antique shop to contrast the two women and their surroundings, playing off their new clothing and appliances with all the old antiques, reflecting the dual nature of French society at the time.
  • Orchestration: While this one may seem like a no-brainer, sometimes, the rules above are not always obeyed, and there can be a deliberate reason for this type of 'orchestration'. The Japanese film maker Yasugira Ozu was renowned for not really caring about continuity editing, and as a by product, often shots overlapped, share identical screen placement and orientation and cross the degree rules. However, after a while, one could get used to it, and it could be used to great effect, such as when two men discuss a wedding over beer, because the are in the exact same place on the screen as one another, it creates a sort of dual-personality/inner debate kind of effect.
Wow, was that ever a mouthful, but a lot of these are rather interesting concepts, and today served as a reminder  of just how flexible and adaptable the medium of film can be, and how sometimes, breaking the rules could produce interesting effects and tricks upon the audience.

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