Join Ashley Kennedy for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding coverage, shot composition, and camera movement, part of Avid Media Composer: Narrative Scene Editing.
There are several important conceptual things to understand before starting to edit our first scene. The first thing I would like to address is scene coverage, which explained simply, is the practice of covering a scene multiple times from multiple angles. This results in the maximum amount of seamless editing possibilities because of the complete overlapping coverage of the same exact action. You can literally piece together these moments in time, or shots, from each of the camera angles to reconstruct reality. Now scene coverage allows us as editors to have the most possible options when constructing our narrative.
Now these building blocks, or shots, not only have a different look, but most come with an implication, emotion, or intention. You can truly use shots as items in the recipe of film language. Let's take a look at some common camera angles. Now, long shots typically mean that the editor wants to show the subject in its environment, either to show the relationship to the surrounding space or in a relationship to other subjects in the frame. So in general our long shots are generally are tools to give physical or emotional context.
Medium shots are, for lack of a better word, normal. Most shots in films are typically medium shots of one type or another as they show the subject as the prominent part of the video frame, but they also give a basic context for space and environment. Obviously, the closer you punch in, the more emotional impact the subject makes and the less the surrounding environment means. Close-up shots show the subject as the dominant part of the frame. We use close-ups when we want to focus on a subject either physically or emotionally.
Coming in that close on the subject means that your focus shifts away from any inclusion of the environment, and you're often zeroing in to hide in some type of emotional intensity. In general, editors start by editing a scene in some type of long shot to give the scene context. Then punch in closer to medium shots and then use close-ups when necessary. However, these rules can always be amended to fit the specific scene. There are also a couple of other shots I want to talk to you about. Point-of-view shots give the viewer an intimate seat in the film, since you're basically being shown what it's like through the character's eyes.
Point-of-view shots are most often used me when you want to deeply connect the audience to the character, usually during points of searching and discovery within the narrative. Cutaway shots give the viewer important information about the relationship between the subject and some other thing, or person, in a scene. If the editor chooses to cutaway to another shot you can better believe it represents something significant to the scene. Okay, so that's a basic rundown of the intention and emotional impact of shot composition. Now each of these shots can be stationary, or they can have movement.
Lens and camera movement typically promise the viewer that they will get a new piece of information or a new understanding by the end of the movement. Otherwise, it's an unmotivated move and can cause confusion. You as the editor must make the decision about whether reconstituting the frame by way of lens or camera movement is a better way to tell the story than by simply cutting from one shot to another. Let's take a look at some lens and camera movements that we will be exploring in this course. Zooming is increasing or decreasing the focal length of the camera lens which enlarges or decreases the closeness of the image.
A focus shift is when you adjust the focus from one focal plane to another. A pan is a side to side motion of a scene from a fixed point and a tilt is an up and down motion of a scene from a fixed point. This is a tilt. And a crane shot is when the camera is lifted and moves through space. Now there are countless more types of shot analyses that we could do involving framing, shot angle, focal depth, and so on.
And well we won't have an opportunity to go through them all. Hopefully, this short explanation has made you realize that it isn't just what looks good, instead we has editors use these visual cues as parts of the recipe for designing an effective and emotionally appropriate scene.
- Evaluating the goals of the project
- Working with digital scripts
- Understanding coverage, shot composition, and camera movement
- Editing dialogue
- Adding cutaways and reaction shots
- Building a montage scene
- Editing a flashback
- Laying in off-camera audio
- Adding effects
- Color-grading a scene
- Receiving feedback and refining the rough cut