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cinematographic techniques correlated to audience reaction?


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#1 Robert Woodruff

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 06:13 AM

"Extreme low angles can make characters seem threatening and powerful" (Gianetti, Understanding Movies), but do they? There must be lots of studies correlating cinematographic techniques to audience reaction. Are any available on line?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 10:53 AM

I haven't run across any major studies comparing audience reaction to cinema grammar devices.

As for the low-angle making someone look bigger and thus more imposing relative to a sitting figure, for example, that's just a logical assumption. Low-angles make objects look taller or obviously suggest the POV of someone in a lower position than the object.

Many compositional principles predate cinema. For example, obviously the larger figure in a frame has more visual weight and importance than a smaller figure, hence why powerful actors fight so hard over the relative size of their faces in the posters for a movie.

There are many cinematic devices where after 100 years, audiences "read" them more or less correctly through repetition. The cliche would be a watery dissolve to a character's past memory as you hear a harp playing... the majority of viewers know that a flashback is coming when they see that happening.
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#3 Zamir Merali

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 03:56 PM

No single technique has a certain reaction that it will produce in all situations. Low angle shots can make a person seem tall and imposing, but they can also make somebody seem small and insignificant. The classic example of this is in Citizen Kane. Low angle shots are used throughout, at the beginning Kane seems very tall and imposing in the news room with a low ceiling. However by the end, when Kane has lost everything and he is in the grand halls of his mansion, the low angle shots make him seem small and insignificant. Other tricks like pushing in, ECU's of eyes etc. are also only effective when used properly.
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#4 Matthew Buick

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 04:27 PM

I suppose that applies too to slow Steadicam shots around deserted places, builds up a sense of tension.
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#5 Dan Goldberg

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Posted 26 April 2007 - 10:15 PM

I think a lot of the time, these "techniques" have become adopted by everybody, that viewers begin to understand that a slow steadicam in a deserted area creates tension/suspense.

A camera positioned behind a hedge, watching a character makes us feel as if the characters being watched. Sure, these moves are engrained in filmmaker's minds. However, I don't think any study can actually define each technique perfectly, since directors are always shooting in different ways and trying to be unique, which is what I like to see.

Plus, that'd be pretty damn boring if you're watching a slow steadicam shot in a deserted area and KNEW beforehand that something wasn't right, or was about to go wrong, etc.
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