Remember -- a picture is worth a thousand words.
I've also been looking at a lot of indie video (mostly horror and scifi) that thinks it's the bee's knee's, and is trying to get distribution (a whole other Oprah) but is actually framed so poorly in the camera you want to click YouTube off after five seconds.
Quite frankly, it's pissing me off.
We live in an era where highly sophisticated technical devices and software are available to the average consumer for a very reasonable price. We also live in an era where we have a tremendous visual library at our fingertips ready for us to draw upon (pun intended).
Never before have we handed over the keys (equipment and know-how) to creating professionally-looking film and video to so many folks... and they don't know what to do with it.
You've seen the videos I'm talking about - movies made by folks who purport to be horror fans, yet when they shoot a scene it's framed so... blandly, that the horror and fear they are trying to invoke in the viewer just isn't there. The monster is walking around in a medium shot fully lit, instead of skulking in the shadows looking up and readying to strike its prey. It's not funny. It's not an intended effect.
It's just really bad.
And no, I'm not talking about kid's videos either. I'm talking about adults who have purchased very good equipment and don't know how to use it to communicate visually... at all. The best analogy would be a radio announcer who's calling the baseball game and saying everything...
in. that. same. monotone. voice. that. never. rises. nor. falls.
It's boring. Boiling water is more exciting to watch.
And then there's the indie film
(To borrow from Hitchcock) Film is reality with all of the boring bits cut out. The audience doesn't need "reality" - they need and require entertainment. They need visual storytelling that keeps them interested even when there are only two people in the room.
So how do you do that? How do you frame your camera so you have something visually interesting going on even when the scene is just two people talking in a room?
I'm going to show you a quick technique that works every time. It's easy to learn, subtle (or not) and can help you when you're stuck in staging a scene. It shouts "This is important" to the viewer even when the action within the shot is static. What I'm talking about is called FINDING THE TRIANGLE.
Below are some examples of commercial illustration by Mort Kunstler. It's all pulpy and all 'designed' to be exciting, but the same technique Kunstler uses to design these pictures is the same technique you can use when framing your shots. It works.
Note the angle and how it gives the scene an air of urgency and importance. Now imagine these ladies coming directly at you as they drag the wounded pilot away.
That would be pretty damn exciting.
But how does it work for long shots where the action is shot from further away with a longer lens? Take a look:
He could be a butler walking in to serve food and our eye would pick him out first because of the visual storytelling at work here.
Triangular composition = more entertainment value within the frame. In this case we instinctively know this guy is important.
It also (especially) works for more intimate scenes:
The Yellow triangle of the woman (and the fact she's in the foreground) tells us she's important.
The (Red/blue) triangle formed by her leg up against the wall (Hello, Mrs. Robinson!) points us to the man in the background... He HAS to be important too...
And the angle he's sitting at (Blue) suggests the money on the table is important...
Now imagine how boring this would be if we were shooting this scene on set and moved the camera right, to frame this scene with the actress on the left side of the frame and the guy on the right.
No triangle. You'd be left with a rectangular (static) composition. A visual story that had little to tell and all of it monotone.
Here's another to get your eyes accustomed to looking for the triangle - even in the most unlikely of compositions:
Or our hero in the foreground who's framed so that he has his own triangle concentrating on his face.
Or the edge of the table providing the base of a triangle focusing on the lady's beautiful legs thrashing in the background (part of that larger triangle from earlier but framed in such a way so that you could go to a closeup of her face or her legs thrashing and cut back to this shot with a minimum of fuss (camera movement, lighting adjust) ...
and still have a shot that's visually a winner.
And that's what your audience wants - a winner. Whenever they pick up your comic or your movie or your web video - they're rooting for you to be a winner. A visual storyteller who will entertain them.
Your job is to find the right angle of approach.
So tell me how many triangles there are in this composition:
Courtesy: Accidental Mysteries