Pick one scene from a film or television show of your choice that has a clear beginning, middle, and end. The scene should be no more than 4-5 minutes.
Then illustrate the scene using the attached storyboard. Describe how style functions in each shot. DO NOT summarize narrative detail. Use at least five pages of storyboards (at least 30 panels). Sketch each shot by hand—please do not insert any screen shots from the actual film or television show. You can write the descriptions under each panel, or, if you need more room, just number each panel and include a separate sheet with the descriptions. No essay is required for this assignment—just your shot descriptions, which should be as precise as possible.
If you encounter a series of shots that form a relay—for instance, an exchange of identical shot/reverse shots—then sketch the shot/reverse-shot and note how many times it repeats back and forth until the next shot setup. Do sketch that shot/reverse-shot exchange again if it is repeated later in the scene.
Here are the key terms for mise-en-scene, cinematography, and editing that you should use to describe each shot:
MISE-EN-SCENE 1) SETTING
Does the mise-en-scene appear to be REAL or ARTIFICIAL? Is it difficult to determine if the scene is shot ON LOCATION or on a SOUNDSTAGE? How are DÉCOR and PROPS arranged? What is the relationship between CHARACTER and SETTING? Does the character predominate or does the environment have more visual weight than the character or characters?
2) COSTUME & MAKEUP
How are the characters dressed? What is the general attire? Does any character stand out in his or her choice of clothing or accessories? Does any character stand out in his or her choice of hairstyle or makeup? Does any character change his or her appearance during the scene?
QUALITY & RATIO—Is the lighting HARD with ATTACHED and CAST SHADOWS or SOFT with DIFFUSE/FILTERED LIGHTING?
Does the scene tend toward SOFT, LOW-CONTRAST, HIGH-KEY LIGHTING with an emphasize on BRIGHT HIGHLIGHTS, or does it tend toward HARD, HIGH-CONTRAST, LOW-KEY LIGHTING with an emphasis on shadows and deep tonalities of light and dark, perhaps even CHIAROSCURO LIGHTING?
SOURCE & DIRECTION—Does the scene rely on balanced 3-POINT LIGHTING (KEY/FILL/BACK) or does it tend toward FRONTAL LIGHTING, SIDE LIGHTING, BACKLIGHTING (EDGE/RIM LIGHTING), UNDER LIGHTING, or TOP LIGHTING?
Is the light NATURAL or ARTIFICIAL? Is it LOW-KEY, HARD LIGHTING achieved through the use of FOCUSABLE SPOTLIGHTS or HIGH-KEY, SOFT LIGHTING achieved through the use of FLOODLIGHTS/SPOTLIGHTS or REFLECTORS?
4) STAGING & PERFORMANCE
Is the acting theatrical (IMPERSONATION) or cinematic (PERSONIFICATION)? What is the actor’s appearance? How does he or she use facial expressions or body language to communicate character psychology? How does the actor function in space? How does the actor relate to the camera?
How are shots COMPOSED? What is the organization of objects and figures in the frame?
Is SCREEN SPACE balanced? Do the shots rely on BALANCED COMPOSITION, using the RULE OF THIRDS (TOP/MIDDLE/BOTTOM & LEFT/CENTER/RIGHT) and IMPLIED DEPTH (FOREGROUND/MIDDLEGROUND/BACKGROUND)?
Is there extreme balance (BILATERAL SYMMETRY) or relative balance/symmetry achieved by a WEIGHT/COUNTERWEIGHT balance (through the RULE OF THIRDS or by allowing EYE ROOM for looking or LEAD ROOM for movement), or does the shot break the rule of thirds and create imbalance/asymmetry through COMPOSITIONAL STRESS and NEGATIVE SPACE?
Are the shots more like a FRAME with FIXED or CLOSED FRAMING or are the shots more like a WINDOW with OPEN FRAMING where characters have more mobility and freedom? Do the shots make use of ON-SCREEN or OFF- SCREEN SPACE?
How does POINT OF VIEW (POV) change in the scene? What is more prominent—SURROGATE SINGLE CHARACTER POV, SURROGATE GROUP POV, or OMINISCIENT CAMERA-NARRATOR POV?
What is the degree of MOVEMENT? Are the shots FRAMES with objects or figures moving across the frame, from one plane of space to another, or on- or off-screen, or are they MOVING FRAMES/WINDOWS with noticeable CAMERA MOVEMENT/REFRAMING?
SPEED OF MOTION
Is SPEED OF MOTION normal (24 FPS), FAST MOTION, SLOW MOTION, or RAMPING/VARIABLE MOTION? Is there a FREEZE FRAME?
Does the film rely on FAST FILM STOCK (light-sensitive, grainy film with FAST SHUTTER SPEED) or SLOW FILM STOCK (fine-grain film with SLOW SHUTTER SPEED)? Is it a BLACK & WHITE film or a COLOR film?
What are the DEPTH CUES? Do the shots preserve PERSPECTIVE—the optical
illusion of depth via LINEAR PERSPECTIVE (parallel lines converging at a distant VANISHING POINT) and SIZE DIMINUTION to suggest VOLUME (mass and movement) and arrange PLANES OF SPACE (FOREGROUND, MIDDLEGROUND, & BACKGROUND).
What is the DEPTH of FIELD? Is it SHALLOW-SPACE COMPOSITION with AERIAL PERSPECTIVE (little depth) or DEEP-SPACE COMPOSITION (extreme depth)? Is there SELECTIVE FOCUS, RACK FOCUS, or DEEP FOCUS (all three planes in focus)?
FOCAL LENGTH and PERSPECTIVE RELATIONS
Is the shot or scene filmed with a MIDDLE FOCAL-LENGTH LENSE (35- 50mm), a WIDE ANGLE/SHORT FOCAL-LENGTH LENSE (12-35mm), a TELEPHOTO/LONG FOCAL-LENGTH LENSE (85-500mm), or a variable ZOOM LENSE? Remember that a SHORT LENSE exaggerates depth & volume cues while a LONG LENSE magnifies the image, reduces depth & volume cues, and compresses space. Does the scene use one PRIME LENSE or does it use a WIDE-ANGLE, TELEPHOTO, or ZOOM LENSE for a narrative and/or stylistic effect?
What is the film’s ASPECT RATIO? 1.33:1 (4×3), 1.85 (16×9), 2.35:1, or another
ANGLE, HEIGHT, LEVEL, & DISTANCE ANGLE
Is it a STRAIGHT-ON/EYE-LEVEL SHOT, a HIGH-ANGLE SHOT, or a LOW- ANGLE SHOT?
Is the shot LEVEL (parallel to the horizon) or CANTED (a DUTCH ANGLE)?
What is the camera height relative to settings and figures?
EXTREME LONG SHOT (XLS): AERIAL-VIEW/BIRD’S-EYE SHOT, Human figure is barely visible, if at all;
LONG SHOT (LS): Human figure competes with background for visual attention;
FULL SHOT (FS): Frames human figure head to toe, full body shot; MEDIUM LONG SHOT (MLS): the AMERICAN SHOT, frames figure from
MEDIUM SHOT (MS): Human figure waist up;
MEDIUM CLOSE-UP (MCU): Human figure chest up;
CLOSE-UP (CU): Background eliminated as camera focuses on head/shoulders or hands, feet, etc.;
EXTREME CLOSE-UP (XCU): Portion of the face or tight shot of an important detail.
Is the ESTABLISHING SHOT of the scene an XLS or LS, or does the filmmaker begin with a CU or MCU?
Any camera movement alters camera ANGLE, LEVEL, HEIGHT, and DISTANCE during the shot.
PAN: camera moves panoramically side to side on tripod TILT: camera moves up and down on tripod
TRACKING/DOLLY/TRAVELING SHOT: camera travels on the ground on wheels
CRANE SHOT: camera moves above ground level
AERIAL SHOT: camera becomes airborne
HANDHELD SHOT: bumpy ambulatory camera movement
STEADICAM SHOT: smooth ambulatory camera movement—resembles a TRACKING SHOT
REFRAMING: slight pans, tilts, or other movements to compensate for figure movement
SEQUENCE SHOT/LONG TAKE: Extended movement through space and time, from a few minutes to the length of an entire film.
Notice the difference between a CAMERA MOVEMENT and a ZOOM ENLARGEMENT. Does the camera DOLLY-IN/DOLLY-OUT or ZOOM- IN/ZOOM-OUT? A DOLLY-IN usually represents a character realization or an intensification of affect while a DOLLY-OUT represents a slow disclosure of something.
What is the AVERAGE SHOT LENGTH (ASL) of your scene? Do you notice any shots that are longer? Does the filmmaker begin and end the scene with longer shots? Is the most crucial shot in your scene longer or shorter than the average shot? Does the scene involve a LONG TAKE? If so, what is the ASL?
Apart from simple CUTS, do you notice any other transitional devices from shot to shot—any FADE-OUTS, FADE-INS, DISSOLVES, FLASHES, or WIPES? How does your scene begin and how does it transition to the next scene?
In terms of CONTINUITY and LINKAGE, how do GRAPHIC RELATIONS function in your scene? Do you notice any COMPOSITIONAL MOTIVATION from shot to shot? Do you notice CUTTING ON ACTION, EYELINES, or any FORM/MATCH CUTS, especially as the film cuts to the next scene?
Again, for RHYTHMIC RELATIONS what is the ASL of the scene? Do any shots stand out from the others?
As for SPATIAL RELATIONS do you notice the KULESHOV EFFECT in action? Does the scene rely on standard COVERAGE with a BREAKDOWN of screen space until the characters move again, requiring a shift in the AXIS OF ACTION and a RE-ESTABLISHING SHOT?
And, for TEMPORAL RELATIONS, do you notice any manipulation of ORDER, DURATION, or FREQUENCY? Does the scene have any FLASHBACKS or FLASHFORWARDS? Does the scene use ELLIPTICAL EDITING to compress time or OVERLAPPING EDITING to expand story time?
Is there any use of DISCONTIUITY or BREAKAGE in the scene? Does the camera cross the AXIS OF ACTION and distort spatial continuity? Do you notice any JUMP CUTS or NONDIEGETIC INSERTS?