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Scenes with wide cutaways


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#1 Ckulakov

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 06:26 PM

Dear Filmmakers,

I need your clarification. Why would one shoot a interior scene in close-ups and then cut away into a wide shot outside the window with the subjects seen through the window. What type of visual storytelling is that and what is the DP trying to get across.

Also what would is the basic symbollic meaning of HARD vs. SOFT light when using light to tell the story.

Thank You

Edited by Ckulakov, 12 December 2005 - 06:27 PM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 06:58 PM

Well, a wide shot seen from outside of a window looking in may suggest someone's POV (ala "Rear Window") or it may be an emotionally distancing effect (sort of like a God's Eye POV, but not from above). It may be using architecture to suggest the "entrapment" of the characters in their environment, or it may suggest a warm & cosy interior surrounded by a cold & harsh world outside. Or it may suggest vulnerability (glass houses, nowhere to hide, etc.) or it may suggest protection (safe in their castle.)

Or it may just be there to tell the audience where they are...

Usually a soft or hard light is supposed to be suggesting a realistic source that would be hard or soft, rather than for symbolic effect, but it can be BOTH for a realistic effect and to suggest something.

The Japanese occupation scenes in "The Last Emperor" are generally hard-lit with strong blue accents to suggest a sort of moral ambiguity or the conflict between good & bad, as in Film Noirs / German Expressionism -- as opposed to the soft-lit childhood scenes.

Hard lighting tends to make a shot look sharper, crisper and therefore suggest harshness to life, living in the glare of the spotlight so to speak - unless it is used more to create big shadows, of course. The only time hard light may suggest happiness is on a sunny day, but even there are exceptions to that. Ingmar Bergman hates sunshine and says it makes him feel uneasy, hence why the opening nightmare of "Wild Strawberries" was shot at midnight in full sun during the longest day of the year in northern Sweden -- he wanted an unreal feeling of harsh sunlight in an empty street.
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#3 Ckulakov

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 07:04 PM

Thanks allot, this really helps.
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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 December 2005 - 07:35 PM

This sequence in "Tucker" sort of suggests a transformation of a character from a more shady figure to someone more sympathetic, as they move from a hard edge in Frame 1 into softer key light in the wider shot (Frame 2) -- same shot, just a dolly move to a new background and screen direction to also suggest a "change" -- and then the light is even softer in the close-up (Frame 3):

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Edited by David Mullen, 12 December 2005 - 07:37 PM.

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