Norman: I want to take a few minutes and talk about some of the terms that you'll need to know, in order to get started with this course. As we move into each chapter, I'll often define some additional terms for you, so you don't get overloaded right now. But here are a few to get you going. First, the word, shot. Now this has a number of meanings in film land. The first one is in production. A single shot goes from the time the camera starts recording to when it stops. In editing a shot is defined as the footage between two edits.
Here there are three shots. One following the other. Shots of the same object will look different depending on how big that object is in the frame. The first shot in this sequence of shots is a wide shot, often abbreviated as WS. The third shot in that sequence is closer than the wide shot, we call that a medium shot, abbreviated as MS. If the shot was tighter still, then we would call it a close up, abbreviated CU.
The second shot in the sequence is between a wide and a medium shot and we call that a medium wide shot, often abbreviated as MWS. There are also a variety of other size shots, this one would be called an extreme closeup of his eyes, an ECU. There's also a size between a medium and a closeup which oddly enough we call a medium closeup, MCU. Each of these shots has a different impact on the audience as we shall see in the next chapter, which is why I'm getting very specific about them.
In addition, because movement is an important element in manipulating the audience, there are ways to describe shots that move. Here is a dolly shot, which moves with the subject in some way. Here the camera moves alongside the subjects. You could also dolly in front of, behind, or diagonally with your characters. You can also zoom into something or zoom out. Each of these moves creates a different feel in the audience and that's what's important to us.
We can also define shots by the height of the camera in relation to the subject. Here is a high angle shot which the camera is above the subject. A low angle shot looks up at a subject, and that feels very different doesn't it? Who has the power now? We can also move the camera side to side, and that's called a pan. Here we follow a woman down an escalator and pan the camera to keep her in the main part of the frame. Or we can go up and down, and that's called a tilt.
Here, the camera gently moves up to reveal more of the tower in the background and keep the boy in the frame. There are, of course, many, many more ways to describe shots. And we'll talk about some of them later in the course. But before we move on, let's talk about a few other things. Let's talk about one of the ways that people on set communicate important information to the editor. First, at the very beginning of that shot from Castle's we saw this. It's called a slate and it's used to create a sync point between the picture and sound, but it's also used to identify the take that we are about to look at.
Let's talk about what's on the slate, since it will help us to learn how the terms we've been talking about work in real life. Let's deal with the obvious ones first. At the top of the slate, is the name of the project we're working on, in this case the short film Castles. The slate also identifies the director, the camera person, and the date that it was shot. Next to the shooting date it tells us whether the scene takes place during the day or night, in this case day. This represents the time of day in the story, not when it was actually shot.
If this was shot at night but was lit to look like the daytime, then it should still say day. The same thing is true whether it's interior or exterior shot. Regardless of where it was actually created, if this was meant to be an interior, then that's what it should say. This is going to help whoever's doing the color correction later on. Now if there's synchronously recorded sound then that's also a good thing for us to know, so the word sync should be circled. If it's silent, then the letters MOS will be circled.
Up a bit higher on the slate, in the box labeled roll, the camera person will generally put the sequential video tape, film roll, or digital card number. Now let's talk about the two important numbers for us, scene and take. Every time the script moves to a new location or a new time, the script should be given a new scene number. In this case, this shot is for scene two. So what's that letter E all about? Well each time that you change the size of the shot, like when you go from a closeup to a wide shot, or change what's in front of the camera, you are creating a new setup, which is kind of short for camera setup.
And each time you create a new setup, you should label it with a new setup letter. Each time you roll the camera on that particular setup, that's called a take. In this case it's the second time that setup 2E was done. So this is called 2E take 2. The scene in Castles that this shot is from is scene 2. The very first setup that they did is generally the one that shows the entire scene and it's given the name 2.
This is a wide shot. The next shot that they took in the order of shooting was over Joseph's shoulder onto an architectural model, so this is called 2A. The next shot, which was also over Joseph's shoulder, but to a medium wide of his father, would be labeled 2B. They shot a close up of Mr. Dalton next. So that would get the next letter, 2C. It's actually very common for crews to shoot everything in one direction first, before turning around to get the setups in another direction.
So in Castles, they did then turn around and they went on to the medium shot onto Joseph. This would get the next setup letter, 2D. Then they kept shooting in that same direction, but came in for Joseph's closeup which they called 2E. Note that the size of this shot matches Mr. Dalton's close up. Shots that are meant to match each other are called complementary angles. Finally, we should talk about some editing terms.
Most particularly, how to get from one shot to another. The most common way is simply to cut from one to another. Here we have a cut to get us between the first shot and the second and another cut between the second and the third. In some cases you might want to dissolve between shots, this is a gradual change from one shot to another. Alternative ways to get between cuts are wipes, or transition effects. This one is called a squeeze and stretch. You don't want to use these a lot, but it is important that you realize that your audience will react differently for each of these three examples.
Armed with these terms we should now be able to move out into our exploration of how editing can help tell your stories.
Start with an overview of concepts like the rule of threes, review a sampling of footage from films past and present, and then dive into script analysis. Find out when and when not to make cuts, how to collaborate with clients and directors during recutting, and how to ground the emotional backdrop for your piece with music and sound. Norman closes with a look at adapting to different genres and filmic styles.
- Exploring the history of video editing
- Controlling what the audience sees
- Identifying the logline
- Performing script and scene analysis
- Coming up with an editing plan
- Cutting from on-camera to off-camera action
- Understanding the value of recutting
- Shaping moments with music
- Working in a specific genre
- Mixing editing styles together