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Why do DOPs compose shots like this?


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#1 Yash Lucid

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 04:34 PM

What is the main reason that shots are composed like this, with the balance of the space BEHIND the subject instead of AFTER their line of sight?

 

 

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#2 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 05:45 PM

Well they rarely do. Mr. Robot is quite unique (for an American series at least), in this style of framing. What it does achieve very effectively is a sense of disconnection between characters, which is obviously a major theme of the show.
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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 06:00 PM

With all compositional decisions, it is often a mix of reasons, some more instinctual and mood-driven and others more easily intellectualized, and influenced by personal aesthetic leanings.

 

Look at this scene in "Manhattan" where the main characters are "short-sided" with extra space behind their backs.  Being over-the-shoulders, it is a little less extreme than when singles are short-sided in 2.40 but you can still come up with some reasons for the framing.  Since the scene involves the man telling the woman that he is breaking off their relationship, having "happier" couples framed beyond them sets up some visual tension (plus it reinforces the notion that this couple who were having an affair are breaking up in a public space, and therefore feel restricted):

 

manhattan6.jpg

 

manhattan7.jpg

 

Often short-sided compositions, by having excess space behind the character, can create some feeling of paranoia as if something could or might happen behind them, or a sense of isolation by suggesting that the world is going on behind their backs without their involvement.  The imbalance alone can suggest an unbalanced emotional state.


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#4 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 09:11 PM

It's flattering to the DoPs to ask this question,  but these as-if unusual compositions may be rooted in the intentions of the director or the concept developer.

 

In the Manhattan stills.  Lets call each couple an element and observe that these elements have a visually logical screen left/right relationship.  A simple,  creative use of existing principals of screen language?

 

In the Mr Robot stills.  I can't remember that scene.  The ideas that may be discussed here are important...it's worth including a series/episode/time reference.....  But,  using those stills as stand alone references.  Our mind compulsively fills that negative space with something......Once done,  that imagined thing is "real".

 

I don't know if someone has already explored the theory,  but,  adjuct to that,  I have these thoughts.....  There are general principals,  or functional laws if you will,  that will exist within some boundaries,  and what seems like a violation of principal or rule,  may just be a creative use of the particular,  a use of rule that hadn't been thought of before.


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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 December 2015 - 10:22 PM

Truth is that sometimes it is just a taste thing -- I've shot scenes in restaurants, let's say, where a couple are sitting across from each other at a table against a wall -- if I put the extra space ahead of them in the close-ups, I might have a bare wall as a background, but if I put the extra space behind them, short-siding them, I'd have an active restaurant in the background, and more depth.  So when I show the director both options, they often pick the one with more depth and visual interest.


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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 December 2015 - 01:22 AM

I recently did this shot in "90 Minutes in Heaven" that I decided to short-side the framing, mainly because I thought it was more interesting that way:

90M27.jpg


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#7 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 05 December 2015 - 01:49 AM

Dave

 

Do you remember what you used to get that lovely soft light on his face ..


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#8 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 05 December 2015 - 02:44 AM

As I recall, the wide shot was lit from the side with a big HMI coming through some patio windows covered with Light Grid I think, but for the close-up, I flagged half of it off to make it less flat-on to his face (since he faced the windows) and added a Kinoflo upstage to wrap it so it became more 3/4 back.


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#9 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 05 December 2015 - 07:58 AM

Ok thanks.. lovely frame sir 


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