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Trouble to explain a shot


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#1 Henry Weidemann

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 03:00 PM

I have only shot some crude movies as a one - man operation so far and the same problem comes across every time: I can't explain (in this case to myself) why I decide to do this or that specific shot like I finally do it. I can't explain it intellectual but intuitively I know that it is the right decision. It's the same when I watch a movie: I intuitively feel that the cinematographer did a great job and that this or that shot is brillant but again, I can't explain why, I just know that it's great.

Now I am afraid that when I shoot a movie with a bigger crew I will have problems to get the credit from the director because I will have trouble to explain to him why I would do it like this although I feel that it's right. Can someone please give me an advice how to overcome this lack?

Edited by Henry Weidemann, 26 January 2009 - 03:02 PM.

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#2 James Martin

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 03:44 PM

Read a few books on the topic, they will help you explain why something works or doesn't.

Probably the biggest things are lighting and composition, check those first. I can recommend some titles if you wish.

But if it helps, Roman Polanski has said that he does not know why he places a camera where he does, only that that is where it must go.
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#3 Henry Weidemann

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 04:12 PM

Thanks for the quick answer James. Well, if you can recommend me some books that would be awesome! I just received "Masters of Light", maybe this helps me getting a bit closer to the problem. I also think that a sort of book is helpful that does not explain the effects of light in a cinematographic sense but in a more general coherence such as Goethe does it with his theory of colors.
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#4 Alex Hall

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 04:38 PM

I would recommend two books to you. The first is "The Visual Story" by Bruce Block; this book explains how to create a visual structure in film and it is really helpful. It's a quick read and very informative. The second is "Film Directing Fundamentals" the third edition by Nicholas T. Proferes. Both of these books will help you develop a vocabulary to describe why something works. These books were assets to me, might help you also. Hope this helps. Cheers
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#5 James Martin

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 06:37 PM

Thanks for the quick answer James. Well, if you can recommend me some books that would be awesome! I just received "Masters of Light", maybe this helps me getting a bit closer to the problem. I also think that a sort of book is helpful that does not explain the effects of light in a cinematographic sense but in a more general coherence such as Goethe does it with his theory of colors.


There's a book by Dave and Maria Varia called Lighting for Film and Digital Cinematography, it has an incredibly useful section on analysing lighting used in other people's films and why it is used, the effect it has etc etc...

I will try and think of some others to which are useful.
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#6 Mike Lary

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Posted 27 January 2009 - 07:50 PM

I second the recommendation for "The Visual Story". That is by far the best book I've read in regards to understanding film language and shot motivation.

Another book I found very useful is "The Elements of Cinema Toward a Theory of Cinesthetic Impact" by Stefan Sharff.
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