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Car Travelling down road- continuity question


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#1 Sam C Roberts

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 07:17 AM

OK this should be an easy one to figure out but obviously I am having trouble with it.

 

I am doing a movie where the main character is driving a car down a country road. Every once in awhile she stops and interacts with people but she is heading "home" (ie: a certain destination)

down this road throughtout the film.

 

So, so far I have shot the car moving from west to east in every scene with the car moving from left to right in the frame. The camera is facing north and the driver's side of the car is furthest away from the camera in relation to the passenger's side.

 

For one of the last scenes I need her to pull over and enter a cornfield which is on the north side of the road. My question is, all things being equal (forget about where the sun is for now) for continuity, if I move the camera to the north side of the road and shoot facing south with the car moving now from west to east but still moving through the frame from left to right with the driver's side of the still car furthest from the camera, will I have a continuity problem?

 

Even though the road has no yellow lines, she can't pull over from the south side and park on the north side (cornfield side) because that puts the driver's side of the car closest to the edge of the road which I don't want.

 

Thanks,

Danny


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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 08:09 AM

It might be a good idea to think about actually showing the transition from looking north to looking in another direction, on screen. Perhaps you could do this as a dolly or crane shot. I suspect it's more of a crossing-the-line issue than a continuity one, and it tends to be easier for the audience to work out the geometry of the scene if you actually show it in a camera move.

 

P


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#3 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 09:12 AM

It might be a good idea to think about actually showing the transition from looking north to looking in another direction, on screen. Perhaps you could do this as a dolly or crane shot. I suspect it's more of a crossing-the-line issue than a continuity one, and it tends to be easier for the audience to work out the geometry of the scene if you actually show it in a camera move.

 

P

 

Exactly.  As I was reading, it sounded as if you were crossing the line and I was already getting a bit disoriented.  The initial image I had in my mind when you first mentioned "I am doing a movie where the main character is driving a car down a country road" was a high-angle shot, just as Phil mentioned.

 

I would consider cutting away to a high-angle tilt shot of the stopped car as she gets out with the camera facing west (the back of the car, if I follow your camera orientation.)  Worst case scenario, you could always frame the sun out to avoid any conitinuity issues and it will also help the audience to have a better sense of "direction" in all respects.


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#4 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 11:08 AM

If you're asking if you can cheat the actual direction of travel as long as the screen direction remains the same, then, yes. Walter Murch, in his rules of editing, says that 2-dimension issues trump three-dimensional reality.

If you're asking if it is OK to change the screen direction of travel, sure, you don't have to be too pedantic about it, but it helps to cut to a neutral angle shot between the different conflicting directions, unless you want to make a bold jump. "E.T." has a sequence where the older brother heads out on his bicycle to look for Eliot and Spielberg deliberately makes a dramatic cut of his bike crossing the frame opposite to the screen direction of the previous shot, sort of a criss-cross movement.
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#5 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 03:54 PM

An example of a neutral shot of screen direction in this case would be a frontal or rear shot of the car as it pulls over and comes to stop by the cornfield. Camera on the side of the road, facing east or west. Then you can cut to the reverse of the car facing camera left (camera facing south). Another example would be a head on close up of the actor from a hood mount as they pull the car over. You could even combine the two, CU and then rear shot of car stopping. That would sufficiently disorient the viewer so that the cut to the opposite side of the line would work.

The purpose of the neutral shot is to disorient the audience just enough that they have to reorient themselves in relation to the screen geography, but not so much that they're completely lost. You're tricking them into believing that this is all happening in the same space and the same direction. You help them do this by establishing geographical details in the previous shots so that they connect it all subconsciously later. There's an analogy with bees where apparently if you move their hive a few feet or a few miles, they can reorient and find it again. But if you move it a few hundred feet, they get lost and eventually die. I have no idea if this is true or not, but I think it's interesting.

If you move the camera by a foot or two, no one will really notice the difference and it's essential the same shot as far as the audience is concerned. If you move it by 15-20 degrees off axis from the previous shot, it's not a big enough change of perspective and usually doesn't cut. We need at least a 30 degree change of perspective in order to force our brains to reorient to a new environment. A 180 degree perspective shift can be really confusing unless it is also combined with a radical change in shot size.
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#6 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 19 September 2014 - 07:17 PM

Cant you just shoot the car parking camera facing North as usual.. then cut to a straight on tighter shot..  of the subject getting out..  ?


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