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Differences between "OBJECTIVE,SUBJECTIVE & P.O.V SHOTS" ?


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#1 manigandan srinivasan

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Posted 31 December 2011 - 04:15 AM

Hello, i am confused completely about the Differences between "OBJECTIVE,SUBJECTIVE & P.O.V SHOTS" ?

i am reading "The 5C's of Cinematography". In this Book from pg no:13-23 MR.JOSEPH.V.MASCELLI Talks about the 3 Types of camera angles. i couldn understand the basic differnces betwn the 3 types of angles. since so many practicing dops here i thought you ppl can help me understand this in simple explanations with maybe some clear examples.
Kindly Help me with this :)
Thanks in Advance! :)

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#2 Deji Joseph

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 05:36 PM

wider shots like masters relay more objective information like location of actors to give a geography of the scene, closes ups are more subjective because the audience is focusing solely on the emotions of the character, POV are mostly objective shots from a characters point of view. Hope this helps

Dj
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 01 January 2012 - 09:40 PM

I don't have the book available here to check how he defines the terms, but generally a subjective shot either places the camera where a character would be watching from (so a POV shot is a subjective shot) or it places the audience in an immersive viewing angle that places them inside the action even if it is not specifically the POV of a character -- a low angle shot chasing a speeding car would be considered "subjective" for example because it gives the viewer the sense of participating "inside" the scene rather than watching it from an objective -- i.e. "outside" angle.

In general, I think of subjective directing as telling the story of the scene through the emotions of a single character, experiencing everything, and learning everything, with the character, being unable to see or learn things that the character isn't able to see or know about. Objective directing would be the opposite of that, the camera work is more observational of the characters and can see things that the characters cannot, or see things from a perspective that they cannot. If the main character enters a dark house with a hidden killer in it, you may shoot a roving shot that is the POV of the character as they explore the dark house, peering around each dark corner -- they would be a subjective shot. But of you then cut to the killer hiding in the foreground waiting to jump out at the main character seen in the far background, that would be an objective angle (unless you were switching to telling the story from the killer's point of view...)
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#4 M Joel W

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 02:04 PM

I agree, but think of it a bit more broadly:

The screenwriter starts out with a story (a series of events), from which they have to make a plot (the employment and arrangement of those events). When we first pick up a camera or write a story, we try to present everything that happens over the course of a story and it's usually very boring and there's no suspense or surprise, just a straight sequence of all the pertinent events. Then as we progress as storytellers we omit what's superfluous or implicit between scenes, omit events wholesale to allow for surprise or ambiguity later on, choose from which perspective scenes happen and how much we know relative to one character or another (some films will have the main character present in every scene, most won't), choose to show things in a linear fashion or non-linear fashion and/or with varying degrees of objective truth. You can motivate non-linear storytelling plenty of ways: Tarantino motivates it through authorial presence (his movies are obviously crafted by an outside voice, his own); in Memento, Nolan motivates the non-linear story through the subjective experience of a crazy person.

So objective/subjective/authorial storytelling starts with the script. How much do we know relative to each character? How much is the writer guiding us or do we have a lot of freedom as audience members?

No shot is entirely objective. Just by selecting a moment time and space that choice favors whatever is present there. But an objective shot is one that lets the viewer see everything without a lot of stylization. A long take tableaux or a big crane move following everything somewhat transparently would be relatively objective.

Then there's indirectly subjective storytelling. This is where the camera evokes what a character thinks or feels. You could have a shaky cam, a Vertigo zoom, a zoom at all (zooms are complicated), a push in, a pull out, a very wide lens, a very long lens, edits on eyeline, a close steadicam follow, inserts motivated by a character's thought, a canted angle, whatever. Indirectly subjective shots are shots that are stylized or motivated explicitly by one character's subjectivity.

POV shots are directly subjective. You literally see what a character sees. (An OTS shot is somewhere in between; it's very subjective but not literally a POV so it's strongly indirectly subjective. Eye lines are HUGE in film and are overlooked, especially by naifs life me.)

Authorial shots (frequently inserts--or camera motion NOT motivated by a diegetic character's subjectivity) are indirectly subjective from the director's perspective. Maybe even a "director's POV" shot. This is complicated territory.

So that's objective/subjective/POV (though I prefer objective/indirectly subjective/subjective since then you can discuss sound and dream sequences, too). But it starts at the script stage. And while I agree with the examples above, you can have a movie with multiple subjectivities (a horror movie where different characters die and you identify with each one prior to that, a screwball comedy or thriller, a story told from multiple perspectives, etc.) and that's very different from something that's straight objective.

Zooms in POV shots are directly subjective. This is the basis of a zoom: when you look at a detail in a scene, your eyes and brain discount the surroundings. The cinematic equivalent of this is a black frame or blur or something engulfing the entire frame except the detail. But now blow up that area of detail to the full size of the screen. You get a zoom. The eyes can't zoom and yet the zoom is arguably the most subjective camera move (if you can call it a move at all). It's also the most "reflexive" because it's used in news footage and because the eyes can't zoom but we can move in all the other ways a camera can move. Zooms not in POV shots may be indirectly subjective or authorial (Kubrick). Fincher, Kubrick, etc. are authorial directors, but Fincher is more transparent which is why Kubrick uses more zooms.

Just to give some context:

Welles is a tremendously authorial director with a somewhat distanced/objective/authorial camera. Lots of stylization, but a broader focus than one character's experience. Influenced by theater and radio.

Hitchcock is a subjective/authorial director. You usually have a range of narration (how much you know relative to each character, a choice made at the script stage) similar to the protagonist or protagonists, but you might learn about a threat to the protagonist(s) before he/she/they do…the infamous bomb under the table (or whatever, I forget the exact quote). So Hitchcock creates suspense with authorial inserts, character identification with indirectly and directly subjective cues. He loves POV shots and uses them better than any other director.

Spielberg is the master of indirect subjectivity. He is not a very authorial director, with Munich being his most authorial film. How you feel about a character is largely predicated on proximity--the closer the more empathetic. Spielberg is great at blocking so that character relationships are revealed through figure movement/relative proximity, but he's also great at placing the camera and moving the camera to add a visual emotional trajectory to a scene. Push ins, pulls outs, aperture framing and mirrors, etc. He's amazingly transparent for such a formalist. Underrated.

The Coens rely on multiple subjectivities. Essentially every Coen film is a screwball comedy/thriller hybrid (the two genres are very similar to start with) and that requires having emotional and narrative access to a set of characters with interrelated/conflicting goals. They are great with POV shots, too, but they follow more characters than Hitchcock (or Raimi).

The Wachowskis are all about transcendent experience and unity. So for them time/space/subjective/objective/etc. all comes together following the protagonist's enlightenment. See the Matrix or, better yet, their flawed/bizarre opus Speed Racer.

Genres are important in terms of placement of the audience:

Comedy requires safety parameters (establishing up front who can and cannot get hurt--you can't laugh if you play the pain!) and it's a predominantly omniscient genre with subjective access but still more of a focus on empathy than vicarious experience. The director must be subtle and transparently authorial. Inserts and reaction shots are the soul of contemporary film comedy. Superbad is one of the best comedies in recent years in that it provides subjective access but then cuts to authorial and objective shots to articulate the misunderstandings inherent to comedy and make the "dangerous" safe. It's superbly directed.

Horror modulates between subjective (POV) and indirectly subjective (shots motivated by suspicion or feeling, frequently pain, but not seen through a POV) during scare sequences with more conventional storytelling during story-driven and expository sequences. Like Hitchcock's bomb, shots of the killer outside the victim's subjective realm can be used for suspense. Better but more difficult is to use potential threats to build suspense, reveal the danger for surprise.

Screwball comedies and thrillers modulate between semi-subjective semi-omniscient storytelling, following a few parties toward a common/interrelated goal.

Tragedy is all about distance. But comic distance and tragic distance are quite different (and different from voyeuristic distance and Brechtian distance), though the same cinematic techniques can achieve both.

Brechtian critique is about a LOT of distance and distance that is not transparent. You could call Brechtian cinema objective/authorial. Maybe.

Musicals…are complicated.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 02:19 PM

I would say that a visual comedy like a Buster Keaton movie tends to be more objective than subjective (though of course there's a mix) since visual comedy often relies on setting up the interactions between the character and their environment -- the objective irony of many visual set-ups supersedes the emotional experience that the character is going through -- because that's funnier, the situation more than the emotion. Modern dialogue-heavy comedies are more character-driven however and thus less detached and ironic. It's the old rule that comedy plays better in the wide shot, drama in the close-up.

Kubrick I think of as more of an "objective" director -- characters are rarely divorced from their settings, which surround and oppress them, and intellectual themes are often more important than characterization and emotions. Most of Coppola's movies tend to be subjective, particularly a lot of "Apocalypse Now", but I think of "The Godfather" movies as being more objective, maybe because of Gordon Willis' more formal, proscenium framing -- in those movies, Michael is not really the central character so much as the theme of family, therefore we tend to watch Michael more than we experience situations from Michael's emotional state (which becomes increasingly opaque over time.)
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#6 M Joel W

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 03:16 PM

Agreed. Physical comedy plays best wide. Comedy is tricky since you need access to each character's subjectivity (so you know their goals), but you can't be too closely aligned with their experience or you feel the pain. You need access to intention but distance from pain. I guess comedy is primarily objective/very omniscient, but modern character-based comedy has more subjective access. I agree about the wider frame for comedy in that it's a) more objective and B) offers more distance. In an odd way, the Jackass movies seem to be the most direct descendants of older physical comedy--a lot of tableaux staging, wide shots, clearly articulated set up and pay off, etc. except pushing the boundaries of how much pain the audience can take. "Awkward" comedy like the British Office is interesting in that it's subjective and "dangerous" to start, but scenes resolve safely so it kind of becomes funny retrospectively. Comedy is a tricky genre.

I guess you're right about Kubrick. His movies are all so different, though. I suppose he's mostly objective, but his use of the zoom and careful control of the frame puts him in a very different category from Preminger. Kubrick's movies feel more authorial and less formally transparent to me.

I'm not sure what to think about Coppola. The Conversation is an interesting film; probably it's about the failures of subjectivity so it's subjective/restricted (in terms of range of narration), but I need to rematch it in the context of its forebears (Blow Up, etc.) to really say. The Godfather movies do seem objective but I haven't really considered them in this context before. I think dramatic stories that are more objective/omniscient than traditional dramas (in terms of storytelling) are generally tragedies and the Godfather seems to fit that description in terms of both story and form, so maybe The Godfather is a modern tragedy.

Lars von Trier is one of the trickier directors. He'll give direct subjective access (Dancer in the Dark), he'll make a completely Brechtian movie (Dogville), and he'll swear he hates animation and artifice (Five Obstructions), but then make one of the more over-the-top operatic movies I've seen (Melancholia, which is excellent). I've always assumed the final image in Breaking the Waves was meant to be disingenuous, but I don't think the ending of Melancholia is disingenuous at all, and that makes it very hard for me to figure out what's going on in either movie.
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 03:30 PM

I guess you're right about Kubrick. His movies are all so different, though. I suppose he's mostly objective, but his use of the zoom and careful control of the frame puts him in a very different category from Preminger. Kubrick's movies feel more authorial and less formally transparent to me.


Kubrick has these dramatic bursts of subjectivity though, the Stargate sequence in "2001", the handheld fight in "Barry Lyndon", some of the Steadicam work in "The Shining", though often it's less about showing a scene from the character's point of view as much as it is about putting the audience into the scene as if they have become a character or participant. Those zoom shots in "Barry Lyndon" are almost the director's POV... ;)
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#8 M Joel W

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Posted 02 January 2012 - 04:28 PM

Kubrick has these dramatic bursts of subjectivity though, the Stargate sequence in "2001", the handheld fight in "Barry Lyndon", some of the Steadicam work in "The Shining", though often it's less about showing a scene from the character's point of view as much as it is about putting the audience into the scene as if they have become a character or participant. Those zoom shots in "Barry Lyndon" are almost the director's POV... ;)


I completely agree (and really like Barry Lyndon). I think the same thing might be true about the zoom out at the end of Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and maybe the zoom as a director's POV has something to do with the popularity of zooms in the 1970s in general. But I need to watch more movies before making that generalization.
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#9 manigandan srinivasan

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 01:29 PM

I am basically confused inside these three types of shots
In 5c's it is said

Objective Camera Angles: The objective camera angles films through the sideline view point.The audience views the event through the eyes of an unseen observer,as if eavesdropping.The dop's and directors call this candid camera style has Audience pov.the players should not look at camera directly when objecting angle is maintained.

So, has the author said above. an objective angle is what the player inside the scene cant see (ie) that view point can never be seen by the player its for audience & like by audience. So why cant i call a over the shoulder shot has an objective shot. Even in an o.t.s shot the layer is not looking at camera & that view point cant be viewed by player ???? Why is O.t.s consider has a subjective shot ? For that matter a mid shot,mid long shot (as long has player dosen look at camera) can also considered has an objective shot ??
And, what way a "P.O.V" is different from a "Subjective shot" ?

I cant get this clearly its confusing so kindly help me :)
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#10 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 01:48 PM

POV shot is from a character's actual point of view, as seen through their eyes, it's not subjective in the sense that it's not how the director themselves see it. I suspect the "objective" idea is that it's dispassionately observing, whereas the "subjective" is where the director is putting some sort of story telling spin into the shot, so that it's becoming involved in the action or in revealing the action.
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#11 M Joel W

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 02:19 PM

POV shot is from a character's actual point of view, as seen through their eyes, it's not subjective in the sense that it's not how the director themselves see it. I suspect the "objective" idea is that it's dispassionately observing, whereas the "subjective" is where the director is putting some sort of story telling spin into the shot, so that it's becoming involved in the action or in revealing the action.


For the most part that's how I think of it and why I think "objective" (proscenium or on the sidelines) "indirectly subjective" (not a POV shot, but motivated by a character's feelings and closer to the action and/or somehow stylized) and "directly subjective" (POV or dream sequence) makes more sense in terms of classifying the same three shot types. No shot is totally objective and it's ultimately a matter of what's appropriate for the scene, so an OTS shot should be more subjective (especially if you're following with the character's eyeline or doing a steadicam follow with them) than a really wide shot because you're closer to the action and following a character's eyeline, but on the other hand dirty shot/reverse is a predominantly objective editing pattern (especially with longer lenses) and that's OTS, too. So maybe I misspoke--I was mostly referring to OTS follows like in Black Swan being very subjective shots (maybe not a great example, also not my favorite movie).

None of this matters at all except to the extent that it helps directors and dps classify the shots they choose and articulate their motivations. If it's all inherent to how you're thinking you don't even need to articulate it. I doubt most directors approach this really academically while they work, but if you want to stand back and emulate your favorite director it's nice to have a vocabulary to discuss things or if you're talking with your dp it can help, too. And chances are some of them do approach it academically. I suspect the Coens do.

The one place where I disagree with Brian's statement is that I don't think the director is usually putting his or her spin on the shot (though they can be, especially in the case of shots like the aforementioned Barry Lyndon zooms) so much as articulating a diegetic character's emotions through an indirectly subjective shot, especially in the cases of transparent directors like Spielberg.

This isn't something to get hung up on, just something to consider while storyboarding. And helpful for picking functional equivalents when one shot doesn't work.
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#12 manigandan srinivasan

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 12:59 PM

Thanks for the time to explain :) :)
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#13 Mei Lewis

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 05:30 PM

There's an interesting article on the finale of The Sopranos that discusses POV and meaning in depth:
http://masterofsopra...ion-of-the-end/
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#14 Paola Rodriguez

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 09:28 AM

I read the five C's of cinematography as well. This is what the author says in few words:

1. OBJECTIVE: Viewer/camera is out of the action but it's a witness.
2. P.O.V.: Viewer/camera is part of the action PLUS viewer/camera is positioned close to a character.
3. SUBJECTIVE: Viewer/camera is part of the action PLUS viewer/camera IS the character's eyes.

Hope it clarifies easy & fast what the difference is.
:-)

Edited by Paola Rodriguez, 09 February 2013 - 09:33 AM.

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#15 Ram Kumar

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 01:01 PM

disadvantages of subjective and objectives?


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#16 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 October 2013 - 01:16 PM

I think people covered what objective and subjective bring to a movie in the previous posts -- it's up to the director to decide which it is an advantage or a disadvantage to use one or the other technique for the scene.

 

As a very broad generalization, I think of it in terms of the more you go into a character's head psychologically (the subjective reality), the harder it is to step back and see the broader intellectual or social context (the objective reality), and vice-versa.  And some stories by the nature are experiential, confined to a limited viewpoint -- "Das Boot" doesn't jump to the perspectives of the Allied fleet being hunted by the U-Boats, for example.  On the other hand, "Das Boot" also doesn't limit itself to one character's experience, the whole crew to some extent is the main character.  So there are many levels to being subjective versus objective.  


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#17 Samuli Kristian Saastamoinen

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Posted 31 August 2014 - 02:10 AM

Hello,

I am very interested in this topic. M Joel W, your specification "objective / indirectly subjective / directly subjective" is really good. How did you come up with this idea? It is your own invention or is there a book, where this specification is explained?


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#18 John Miguel King

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Posted 31 August 2014 - 03:00 AM

I'd suggest doing some parallel reading of this. It might just help in seeing the conversation from a less formulaic approach, as it frames it within other forms of narration. Perspective is a fundamental element of style.

 

Barry Lyndon, for example, plays the perspective game in a masterful way. It just would never be the same movie without the third person narrator. It'd be a realist bore fest!

 

http://en.wikipedia..../Narrative_mode


Edited by John Miguel King, 31 August 2014 - 03:03 AM.

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#19 Ayaskant Baral

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Posted 31 August 2014 - 04:26 AM

I read the five C's of cinematography as well. This is what the author says in few words:

1. OBJECTIVE: Viewer/camera is out of the action but it's a witness.
2. P.O.V.: Viewer/camera is part of the action PLUS viewer/camera is positioned close to a character.
3. SUBJECTIVE: Viewer/camera is part of the action PLUS viewer/camera IS the character's eyes.

Hope it clarifies easy & fast what the difference is.
:-)

Like your precised definitions.I think the definitions for P O V and SUBJECTIVE should interchange their position because Point Of View is related to character's vision.We show, what the character sees.


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#20 Samuli Kristian Saastamoinen

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Posted 31 August 2014 - 06:16 AM

I agree. I think that POV-shot is the only fully subjective shot (besides fantasy and dream sequences). The camera replaces the eyes of the actor/actress and shows what he/she sees. But I like the definition "indirectly subjective", because in cinematic narration there are many ways to create "the feeling of subjectivity", although the shots may be "objective" by nature.

John, thank you for the wikipedia-link to narrative modes.


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