Jump to content




Photo

Lower corner composition


  • Please log in to reply
47 replies to this topic

#1 moho

moho

    New

  • Basic Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 29 September 2015 - 04:50 PM

Hello cinematographers ,

 

These days I am watching ( Mr Robot ) and I see the cinematographer always looking for lower corner composition and looking for space above heads . I know some of cinematographer or director are looking for psychology effects on their audiance . ( there are some frames from the series ) .

 

So my question is : What is the philosophy behind these compositions ?

 

I think the same Philosophy happening on ( Ida ) film too .

 

Best regards

Attached Images

  • first_co.jpg
  • 2nd_co.jpg
  • 3rd_co.jpg
  • 4th_co.jpg

  • 0




#2 Carl Looper

Carl Looper
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1367 posts
  • Digital Image Technician
  • Melbourne, Australia

Posted 29 September 2015 - 05:50 PM

There is created a disjuncture between what the camera seems to be looking at and what is otherwise happening within the composition - as if the camera wasn't particularly interested in the subject of the shot - as if that which otherwise does happen in the field of view was more a coincidence than intended.

 

A radical form of this (or indeed the opposite) might be where a camera turns up for a scene, but the characters don't.

 

A famous film (for which I can't recall the director or the title) ends with a scene at a coffee shop (I think) at which the protagonists (lovers) had previously arranged to meet, but neither of which turn up. The film concludes with just various shots of this meeting place, throughout the afternoon, where nothing much happens, eventually becoming night, and the end of the film.

 

C


Edited by Carl Looper, 29 September 2015 - 06:02 PM.

  • 0

#3 Robin R Probyn

Robin R Probyn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1045 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Tokyo

Posted 29 September 2015 - 07:29 PM

I think its more simply going against the conventional framing and compositional norms of cinematography .. as in  the images above  .. putting the line line the "wrong" side..  and leaving a lot of head room.. 

 

Personally I think if there is no real reason to do so.. its a bit of a gimmick .. to catch attention.. which it has in Mr Robot.. and Ida.. 

 

There was a phase of doing this in documentary interviews.. having the eyeline looking out to the near frame line.. as above images.. and key light on the "wrong" side.. to be "edgy and new".. but to me it was just very irritating and pretentious  and served no purpose to the program.. except to look bad I guess..

 

I just wonder if a program/film is good.. and there is not a reason for it..why do it.. it sort of pulls attention away from the action.. as people are thinking more about the odd framing than the content.. 

 

Just my opinion .. I don't think there is anything deep and meaning full   :)

 

PS Shooting an empty coffee shop to show that the two subjects of the film don't show up sounds a perfectly valid way to tell the story to me..  if it were all shot into the top 10% of the frame I would call it pretentious ..  :)


Edited by Robin R Probyn, 29 September 2015 - 07:43 PM.

  • 0

#4 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 18789 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 29 September 2015 - 07:49 PM

The excess headroom can suggest the smallness / lack of power of the individual and the oppressiveness of the institutions that surround them. Though "The Parallax View" did not have a lot of close-ups with unusual headroom, there are plenty of wide shots framed with the characters near the bottom:

parallaxview7.jpg

parallaxview6.jpg
  • 0

#5 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 18789 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 29 September 2015 - 07:59 PM

Jane Campion's first movie "Sweetie" was the first time I saw a movie where some close-ups were framed very low. It was sort of the opposite of the 90's trend of putting the top frame line through the forehead. But at least in the case of "Searching For Bobby Fisher" the cropped headroom was sort of justified in the visual emphasis given to the downward gaze of chess players, implying that the important action was happening on the table below their faces even when the chessboard was not in the frame.

With "Sweetie" the excess headroom in close-ups gave the image a distortion, suggesting an off-kilter reality in a similar way that tilted angles do.

So I'd say that two reasons to use excess headroom (besides for IMAX screen framing!) in general are to make someone look less powerful or less important and to give the impression of the environment weighing down on the subject, with a third reason maybe being that it's just weird and distorting/disorienting... So hopefully you have a dramatic justification for creating that feeling.
  • 0

#6 Robin R Probyn

Robin R Probyn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1045 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Tokyo

Posted 29 September 2015 - 08:22 PM

"dramatic justification for creating that feeling."

 

Exactly..    if not its a gimmick .. and wears off very quickly.. in my opinion anyway.. 


  • 0

#7 Stuart Brereton

Stuart Brereton
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 2575 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 29 September 2015 - 09:34 PM

I haven't seen the show, so I've no idea if there is a narrative or consistent thematic reason for this. If not, it's most likely just wanky 'hey look at me!' framing.


  • 0

#8 Robin R Probyn

Robin R Probyn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1045 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Tokyo

Posted 30 September 2015 - 12:41 AM

Not a bad show from what Ive seen.. I just really hate this purposely having people looking the "wrong way" out of the frame..  put them in the middle if its a style.. but the 2/3 rule being used backwards purposely ... (unless there is some real reason to.. something in the back ground pertinent to the story.. sure fine.. break the rules..which I don't see in Mr Robot.. its used in all or any locations or times..)..  is really basic film school trying too hard territory ..  and even worse in talking head documentaries when there is absolutely not reason to do so at all.. but to be..  cut to extreme close up .. sip of Kilimanjaro coffee .. toke on Indonesian cigarette  ..  "cutting edge..  and ..  real.. "

 

Sorry bit of a pet hate.. rant over.. 


  • 0

#9 Carl Looper

Carl Looper
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1367 posts
  • Digital Image Technician
  • Melbourne, Australia

Posted 30 September 2015 - 10:50 AM



PS Shooting an empty coffee shop to show that the two subjects of the film don't show up sounds a perfectly valid way to tell the story to me..  if it were all shot into the top 10% of the frame I would call it pretentious ..   :)

 

Yes, In this film (and I wish I could recall more) it was quite brilliant. One expects the lovers to eventually turn up, as if what we were seeing was simply the film setting the scene for this meeting. The camera patiently waits for their entrance, but as time elapses the camera turns it's attention to trivial events on the street, that nevertheless become fascinating in their own right. It eventually becomes evening with people getting off buses (coming home from work) and disappearing into the darkness, and then the film ends.

 

I see this as related in the sense that the environment (the setting) which would normally function as a backdrop for something, becomes separated (wholly or partly) from what would be it's foreground, or the foreground (the lovers) become separated from what would be their setting (according to certain expectations).

 

Something similar occurs in surveillance camera shots, where the camera is steadfastly fixed to some scene, and within which a crime coincidentally takes place, wherever it might, in any part of the frame. Indeed because of this the police will have trouble reading people's faces, or number plates in the video. The surveillance camera (in real life) doesn't re-adjust it's framing to the activity in question. It doesn't zoom in on the requisite details. It just stares blindly at some scene. The interior shots in the OP have a sense of this: of a surveillance camera view of the world.

 

But I agree that when it becomes a style, it has the opposite effect - the gaze no longer maintains that sense of disinterest (for whatever reason might motivate it) because the effect itself becomes obvious as that which has gripped the camera's view of the world. The relationship between foreground and background no longer maintains that sense of the coincidental - becoming somewhat laboured - even more so when done in a lazy way.

 

C


  • 0

#10 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 18789 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 30 September 2015 - 10:58 AM

I don't have a problem with short-sided framing, even if nothing happens in the background it can suggest something back there might happen or that the character is being observed. There is some of that framing in "Manhattan".
  • 0

#11 Carl Looper

Carl Looper
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1367 posts
  • Digital Image Technician
  • Melbourne, Australia

Posted 30 September 2015 - 11:08 AM

I like it too. I think it's really quite interesting. Not in itself (empty style) but in how it might dovetail with whatever scene (or story etc) is being elaborated.


  • 0

#12 David Hines

David Hines
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 17 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Lima, Peru

Posted 30 September 2015 - 11:53 AM

I found the use of unconventional framing in Mr. Robot to be quite effective. It helped to create a sense of instability throughout the entire season. It did feel a bit heavy-handed at times, but overall, it fit the story, and wasn't distracting (aside from a few instances). Given that through the entire season the viewer is treated as a character, this kind of framing actually helps to engage the audience in the scene, forcing you to search for the subject. Though, I could see it becoming very tiring if they keep it up for the next two seasons.


  • 0

#13 Gregg MacPherson

Gregg MacPherson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1524 posts
  • Other
  • New Zealand

Posted 30 September 2015 - 03:15 PM

I don't have a problem with short-sided framing, even if nothing happens in the background it can suggest something back there might happen or that the character is being observed. ....


I think we can call those frames or compositions logical. But sometimes the logic is questionable, or at least, intriguing to think about.

After watching the Mr Robot TV series I was racking my brain trying to think if there was a functional, logical principal in play. Lots of "short sided" compositions that seemed to have no logic. I felt maybe they were doing it on a whim, by instinct. And they weren't consistent. I remember some notable scenes where the screen logic was completely normal.

I don't think, as David Hines, that I was made a character. I feel absolutely an outsider, looking in, a bit like a demi-god, listening to the intimate monologue. Is the long side supposed to be for me? One moment feeling like a demi-god, but the next, being told where to sit.

Are there functional principals in play?

Edited by Gregg MacPherson, 30 September 2015 - 03:16 PM.

  • 0

#14 Robin R Probyn

Robin R Probyn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1045 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Tokyo

Posted 30 September 2015 - 06:26 PM

I don't have a problem with short-sided framing, even if nothing happens in the background it can suggest something back there might happen or that the character is being observed. There is some of that framing in "Manhattan".

Hi Dave

 

Im interested by you saying.. the character is being observed in a short sided frame..personally that never crossed my mind.. what is causing that impression.. 

 

Thanks


  • 0

#15 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 18789 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 30 September 2015 - 06:36 PM

I think it's just the visual weight given to whatever is behind the subject's back by short-siding... The most common example is if there is a door behind them, you expect someone to come through it. So I think in a restaurant scene, the short-siding can give the impression that the character is trying to speak privately... but may or may not have someone listening in (unless there is just a wall behind them.) it's just a feeling it can create but there has to be some context. Truth is that sometimes you short-side simply because the background is more interesting, maybe if you don't short-side you just have a blank wall but if you do, you have some depth and sense of place that keeps the location present.
  • 0

#16 Robin R Probyn

Robin R Probyn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1045 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Tokyo

Posted 30 September 2015 - 07:05 PM

Ok thanks..  must admit Ive never thought of it like that in drama..   I first noticed and disliked the "wrong way" talking heads in interviews in doc,s .. which I still really cant find no justification for.. it was done regardless of subject and purely I guess to be "different" as a square wheel would be..  

 

Thanks for the insight..


  • 0

#17 Phil Rhodes

Phil Rhodes
  • Sustaining Members
  • 11232 posts
  • Other

Posted 30 September 2015 - 07:23 PM

I think this might be one of those things you can only get away with if you've got a preexisting reputation for genius. Otherwise, it's likely just to be perceived as incompetence.

 

Sad to say.

 

P


  • 0

#18 Carl Looper

Carl Looper
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1367 posts
  • Digital Image Technician
  • Melbourne, Australia

Posted 30 September 2015 - 08:26 PM

The camera's point of view is not like that of our eyes. It doesn't pan around a scene as we might move our eyes (and head) around a scene. Exceptions, of course, will exist and prove insightful and useful. Or in experimental cinema of course one might sustain such a method much longer than one might otherwise do. But in general it doesn't happen because if the intended result is to reproduce how we might see the world it ends up doing the complete opposite. When we move our eyes around the world, the world seems to stay put - we feel ourselves are the one's that are moving (our eyes around) rather than the world. But in the cinema, the same method (moving the camera around as far and fast as our eyes move around) leads to the opposite result - we would see the world is being moved around (all over the shop). In VR, of course, the image is moved around all over the shop, but in sync with our head motion, and our head motion (no doubt cued into our inner ear sense of balance) resituates the world as stationary and ourselves as moving around within that world.

 

But in the cinema the result of such a method is completely different. There is created a kind of zombie point of view. It has a certain mindlessness. Which, it must be said, can be occasionally useful - for example in a zombie movie.

 

The camera is not a surrogate for a human point of view on the world (except in the case of zombies) but some other point of view. The camera frame typically identifies with the world (architecture). It identifies with that which surrounds the actants within. It adjusts it's frame according to a different logic. And it's movements are not human. It is superhuman. It has the ability to jump from one location to another, and to be in the right place at the right time, or the wrong place at the wrong time, without any necessary motive, or sense of danger. It does not flinch as the train heads towards it's point view.

 

Because that is how it transfers a sense of personal self back to us, the audience. It is we who get to flinch. It refrains from doing so in order that we might do so. And the more so as the camera identifies with the world rather than anything in particular happening within that world. But the world it identifies with is not a mindless one. In the simplest case it will be a world that operates according to the laws of physics (an order). But it can behave according to any laws it likes, including capricious ones (such as in horror movies). Even in the experimental cinema it will be a certain capriciousness rather than the purely random. Even the Dadaists, trying to induce a pure randomness, would be fascinated by the opposite effect - a kind of weird intelligence that would emerge, despite all efforts to the contrary. Not a human intelligence but a kind of incomprehensible intelligence - as distinct from noise.

 

C


Edited by Carl Looper, 30 September 2015 - 08:41 PM.

  • 0

#19 Robin R Probyn

Robin R Probyn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1045 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Tokyo

Posted 30 September 2015 - 08:59 PM

I think this might be one of those things you can only get away with if you've got a preexisting reputation for genius. Otherwise, it's likely just to be perceived as incompetence.

 

Sad to say.

 

P

 

So I could be doing it after all .. 


  • 0

#20 Robin R Probyn

Robin R Probyn
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1045 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Tokyo

Posted 30 September 2015 - 09:05 PM

"Even the Dadaists, trying to induce a pure randomness, would be fascinated by the opposite effect - a kind of weird intelligence that would emerge, despite all efforts to the contrary. Not a human intelligence but a kind of incomprehensible intelligence - as distinct from noise."

 

​Im gong to try this out on the next director that wants me to zoom into a sign.. 


  • 0


Tai Audio

CineTape

Glidecam

Paralinx LLC

Pro 8mm

Aerial Filmworks

The Slider

rebotnix Technologies

Zylight

CineLab

Abel Cine

Technodolly

Ritter Battery

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Willys Widgets

Visual Products

Rig Wheels Passport

Visual Products

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

The Slider

Technodolly

CineLab

Zylight

Paralinx LLC

CineTape

Pro 8mm

Glidecam

Aerial Filmworks

Ritter Battery

rebotnix Technologies

Tai Audio

Willys Widgets

Abel Cine