Posted 20 January 2011 - 12:38 PM
Thoughts on insert shots in general or films that use them well?
Posted 24 January 2011 - 05:23 PM
The biggest factor in seamless cutaways, is not only your composition, but how well the action matches your wider shots.
Unfortunately, working with inexperienced actors usually results in very different action taking place in different takes.
I've even had actors a couple times trying to 'improve' their performance, from take to take, using totally different physical action, etc., every time. I've had to take them aside and explain what the hell I'm doing by shooting these different camera angles!
Anyway, a very important thing to do, is to storyboard your action.
That way you are making these decisions NOT during the chaos of filming.
Another thing to do (if you can afford it) is to shoot with 2 cameras from different angles. One wide or medium shot, one super close-up works best for me. That way you KNOW the action matches, because it's literally the same action!
It really is a hassle shooting with 2 cameras though, it takes a lot of pre-planning to light properly for both angles, and to keep each camera op from shooting the other!
I think it also pays to remember WHY there is a cutaway. It's better if they are motivated, not just random edits or whatever. Like, a character walks into a room, & reacts to something unexpected - you would cut to his/her view right after they look up.
Absurdly simple example, but you get my drift. There is a REASON you are cutting away - you're showing the audience WHAT the character is experiencing, & revealing more of what's going on, not just having them walk in, in a wide shot, and the audience sees everything right then... boring...
Posted 24 January 2011 - 08:09 PM
Another problem is that whoever is shooting them can be too literal about matching the wider shot -- by which I mean if I were shooting the insert, I'd shoot it a bit more like a product shot, adjusting the light and the depth of field to show the object in an effective way. But sometimes whoever is shooting the insert hears that the wide shot was done at f/2.8 and thinks that their macro shot needs to be shot at f/2.8 to "match" when you actually need a lot more light and a deeper stop to achieve a similar feeling of depth of field. I constantly tell people shooting inserts for me to feel free to take creative license to make the shot better, because I would if I were shooting it.
Probably the best shot inserts are in Ridley Scott movies, particularly his first three: The Duelists, Alien, and Blade Runner. Those movies are like textbooks for evocative use of inserts.
From a directorial standpoint, I like the way the Jane Campion uses inserts, like in "The Piano". And obviously, Terrence Malick is incredible in his use of cutaways. David Lynch too.
In terms of classical narrative directing, David Lean's use of inserts and cutaways are extremely precise and thought-out.
Posted 25 January 2011 - 09:55 AM
praised for their use of "pillow shots"
here is a montage of color
and a montage of black and white signage
there was another great one on youtube of
"trains and automobiles" which might
still be online--
and a good website with lots of great stills
apart from inserts, his movies developed a very distinct
cinematographic style--- influenced by actual
and stylized cultural mores in japan--