The Story Structure Graph

Every story, no matter how brief or long, has an exposition, conflict, climax and resolution. The story can be a commercial, a video game, a documentary, a television program, or a feature length film script. A story usually exists as words written on a page. This is fine if you're reading the story, but a different format is needed to visualize a story's structure. The structure of any story can be charted on a graph. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 This is a story structure graph....

Interaction of Color

In his famous color studies at Yale University, the artist Josef Albers demonstrated and defined what has come to be called color interaction. Albers' studies clarified theories about how colors appear to change their hue, brightness, or saturation when placed next to each other. His demonstrations, based on his personal work and the work of his students, developed into a set of rules that accurately predict how colors will interact. Making a color change its appearance requires two ingredients...

Controlling Tone in Production

If you are preparing a production, you have the chance to control the tonal range or brightness of your pictures before production begins using art direction. If you are arriving after preparation is completed, you'll have to rely on lighting for tonal control. 1. Find the subject. You must know where you want the audience to look. If there is no movement, they will usually watch the brightest area of the frame. 2. Don't confuse color with tone. You probably are shooting in color, but evaluate...

Depth of Field Lenses Effects on Space

Even though wide angle lenses have a greater depth of field, all lenses have the same depth of field when the image size of the subject is kept the same. This is an overhead view or ground plan of a wall, an actor (indicated by the dot) and a camera. The camera, with a 100 mm telephoto lens, is set up 14 feet from an actor in front of a wall, but the wall is out of focus and we want both the actor and the wall to be in focus. Without moving the camera we switch to an 18 mm wide angle lens that...

Anamorphic Lenses and mm Film

Standard lenses are called spherical or flat lenses. They are used to photograph the 1.33, 1.66, and 1.85 films, and all the television shows that you watch. Spherical or flat means that the lens's glass elements are round (not oblong or asymmetrical) and produce an image that is not distorted. (Spherical lenses are used on all still cameras.) In the early 1950s, Hollywood adopted a system that used aspherical or anamorphic lenses that purposely distorted the image. This system, first made...

Space

It not only defines the screen where all the other visual components are seen, but space itself has several subcomponents that must be explained. This chapter is divided into two parts. Part One defines the four subcomponents of space deep, flat, limited, and ambiguous. Part Two discusses aspect ratio, surface divisions, and open and closed space. The real world that we live in is three-dimensional, having height, width, and depth. But the physical nature of...

Lighting Filters

Colored filters can be placed on lights. Several manufacturers provide a wide range of colored plastic sheets called gels that are available in any imaginable color. Placing gels on lights uses the subtractive system. Whenever a gel is placed over a light, the output of the light decreases. The colored gel absorbs its complementary color and transmits its own color. Standard gels for photography usually are calibrated in degrees Kelvin, and will accurately and predictably warm up (with an...

Choosing Components

Once a point-of-view is established, the picture maker can select visual components that best communicate that point-of-view. The approach to choosing specific visual components can vary. Four methods are instinctual, arbitrary, researched, and analytic choices. There are many directors, designers, and photographers who control visual structure using their instincts. Instinct is an excellent way to form a point-of-view and make visual choices. Great instincts are an inexplicable, unique talent...

The Key Relationship

Before visual structure can be used correctly, some basic story structure concepts must be understood. This chapter will not attempt to explain story structure instead, it defines some terms that will help link visual and story structure together. The beginning of a story is called the exposition. Exposition can be defined as the facts needed to begin the story. These facts include (but are not limited to) the identity of the main characters, their plot situation, location, and time period. If...

Contrast and Affinity

There are several ways that rhythm can create contrast or affinity. Remember that contrast and affinity can occur within the shot, from shot to shot, and from sequence to sequence. A rhythm's tempo can range in speed from slow to fast. The tempo can be produced by stationary objects, moving objects, or the editor's cutting pattern. Almost any meaning can be associated with any tempo. A faster tempo may communicate happiness, excitement, or comedic intent. A slower rhythm may suggest calm,...

Simple and Complex Movement

In the real world, actual movement occurs in two and three dimensions. But the surface of the screen is only two-dimensional, so objects in the screen world actually can move in only two dimensions. There is no real movement in depth on a screen, because the screen is flat. In the screen world there are only a few two-dimensional directions in which an object can move horizontal, vertical, diagonal, or circular. These are called the simple moves. Objects in the real world can move in depth,...

Selecting and Controlling Visual Components

The process of selecting and controlling the visual components can be daunting. Although every visual component must be controlled, the structure of each component should be kept simple. To choose visual components, begin by answering these questions Where is the story's location Here are some examples that answer these questions and lead to a visual structure. 1. Story An honest, impulsive newspaper reporter infiltrates a secret society of assassins. The reporter tries to expose them, but...

W iff

Aerial Diffusion Graphic

This shot uses a FG actor and three BG actors. The camera dollies to the right. As the camera dollies or tracks from left to right, the FG actor passes the camera faster than the three actors in the BG. There's relative movement between the faster moving FG and the slower moving BG objects. An audience interprets the relative movement between the FG and the BG as a depth cue. The third camera move that produces illusory depth is a boom or crane shot. The camera is raised or lowered, usually on...

Found Footage

Found footage means that the production will use only existing archival photographs, film, or video that has been shot by other people. The first steps are to write the story, find a point-of-view, and design a visual structure that supports the story. A specific point-of-view must be defined so that the best selection of visual material can be made. Although some documentary filmmakers recreate historical events using actors, many documentaries use vintage photographs or archival film. Analyze...

Control of Color in Production

There are many ways to control color the color palette, filters, time and location, film and digital photography, and the laboratory. The best way to control color is to limit the color palette itself. The palette means the actual color of the objects (sets, props, wardrobe) in the picture. If you want your finished production to appear red and desaturated, then put only desaturated red objects in front of the camera. Give yourself strict rules about the color of your production and remove...

Visual Structure

The terms used to describe the three basic parts of a story's structure also apply to visual structure. Just as there's story exposition, there's also visual exposition. The story exposition defines the characters, the story situation, the location, and the time period. Story exposition sets up the basic story elements. The visual exposition defines how the basic visual components will be used to support the story. A story begins Once upon a time there was a happy family. This exposition could...

Uncontrolled Documentary

Shooting a documentary in an uncontrolled situation is a difficult job because it is impossible to predict what, if anything, will happen. A clear understanding of your point-of-view can help. When something happens in an uncontrolled situation, how do you want the viewer to feel emotionally about it You may need to develop different visual plans and have the ability to change plans quickly, depending on the situation. Examine your shooting location carefully before you begin and try to take...

The Visual Structure Graph

This familiar graph represents story intensity. It indicates the exposition, an intensifying conflict, a climax, and a resolution. A second graph can be added that represents the visual intensity. By placing a visual intensity graph directly below the story graph, the relationship between story and visuals becomes clear. The story graph indicates the story conflict intensity, and the visual intensity graph shows the amount of contrast or affinity in the visual components in direct relationship...

Using the Graphs

Drawing graphs is a simple way to quickly structure the visual components. The graphs can be used to plan structures for the visual components over the course of an entire story, a sequence, one scene, or even in a single shot. Different combinations of visual components are easy to draw and change as you find the best visual plan for your production. Try different combinations of visual components. The labels on the visual graphs can be changed, making component variations and alterations...

Basic Silhouettes

Lines 1 and 2 have affinity of quality of line, because they're both nearly straight. Lines 1 and 4 have contrast, because one is straight and the other curved. Certain adjectives and emotional moods often are associated with quality of line. Most of the other basic visual components don't have preexisting emotional characteristics associated with them, but straight and curved lines often do. Generally speaking, a straight line is associated with these characteristics direct, aggressive, bland,...

The Visual Story

CREATING THE VISUAL STRUCTURE OF FILM, TV AND DIGITAL MEDIA AMSTERDAM BOSTON HEIDELBERG LONDON NEW YORK OXFORD PARIS SAN DIEGO SAN FRANCISCO SINGAPORE SYDNEY TOKYO Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier Publishing Services Manager George Morrison Cover and Interior Design Leslie Haimes Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier 30 Corporate Drive, Suite 400, Burlington, MA 01803, USA Linacre House, Jordan Hill, Oxford OX2 8DP, UK Copyright 2008 Bruce A. Block. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights...

Affinity of

Night Shyamalan Written by M. Night Shyamalan Photographed by Tak Fujimoto Production Design by Larry Fulton The color red is used sparingly to represent death. All the other hues are desaturated or removed from the color palette. Directed by Frank Darabont Screenplay by Frank Darabont Photographed by Roger Deakins Production Design by Terrence Marsh In this movie, blue is the color of imprisonment and red is the color of freedom.

Rhythm of Moving Objects

An object must move in relation to the frame line to create movement. Most object movement does not create rhythm. There are two types of rhythm in moving objects primary and secondary. The movement of a whole object creates a primary rhythm. When a part of the whole object moves independently, a secondary rhythm can be created. There are four ways a moving object can create a primary visual rhythm Entering and exiting the frame Moving in front of or behind another object The movement of a ball...

Relative Movement

Relative movement occurs when the movement of one object can be gauged by its changing position relative to a second, stationary object. The black circle appears to move because its position changes relative to the stationary green circle and the frame. In the screen world, visual movement can be produced only when an object moves in relation to the frame line. When objects do not move in relation to the frame line, there's no movement. Photograph a moving car in the open desert. The desert...

Apparent Movement

When one stationary object is replaced by another stationary object, the change between the two objects may be perceived as the movement of a single object. This creates apparent movement. Film and video rely on this principle. When real world actual movement is photographed onto film or video, it's transformed into a series of still pictures. Film and video can play back these still pictures at 24 or 30 fps frames per second , and the pictures appear to move, but the movement is apparent, not...

Color Systems

There are two basic systems for organizing and mixing color additive and sub-tractive. Although these two systems share terms and certain characteristics, each must be considered separately. The additive system of color involves the mixing of colored light. Colored light is mixed by taking a light of one color and a light of another color and beaming them onto a common surface. Where the two colors of light overlap or mix, a third color is produced. The additive system is used most often in...

Control of Movement in Production

The importance of continuum of movement in a shot or series of shots can be planned in a storyboard. The arrows in each storyboard picture indicate the movement of an object in the frame. In Storyboard 1, notice the curved curvilinear tracks and the affinity of continuum of movement. The viewer's point-of-attention will be left off in one shot and then picked up in the next shot in the same quadrant. Combining all the pictures into a single frame reveals the linear motif created by the tracks...

Controlling Line and Shape during Production

Tomorrow you're going to direct a scene, and you've decided to emphasize lines and shapes. How can you control them on the set 1. Squint. Most lines in the modern world are vertical and horizontal because they're created by architecture. Doors, windows, and walls tend to be vertical and horizontal. The same thing often is true with furniture. What is the linear motif of the shot Use a contrast viewing glass or learn to squint properly so recognizing the lines in...

Continuum of Movement

Point Attention

The Principle of Contrast amp Affinity can be used with continuum of movement, allowing control of the visual intensity generated by the audience's eye movement as they watch the screen. Like any visual component, affinity of continuum decreases the visual intensity, and contrast of continuum increases visual intensity. Continuum of movement occurs within the shot and from shot to shot. Using contrast of continuum of movement requires knowing what area of the screen the audience is watching, or...

Induced Movement

Induced movement occurs when a moving object transfers its movement to a nearby stationary object. The stationary object then appears to move and the moving object appears stationary. The black circle is moving to the right, but, under certain conditions, the green circle will appear to move left. Usually the movement will transfer to the smaller and brighter object. Moving clouds over a stationary moon is a good example of induced movement. If the cloud speed is correct, the moon will appear...

The Basic Components of Color

Talking about color is difficult because words can never accurately describe a color. Commercial paint stores use names like King's Ransom, Liberty, or Sorrento to describe colors in their catalogue. Interior designers use words like mushroom or peach, which may generally describe a color, but still aren't very specific. Sometimes colors are given names like sea-calm or romance, which tell more about the emotion the color hopes to evoke rather than a description of the color itself. Ultimately,...

The Subtractive System Color Wheel

The subtractive color wheel looks similar to the additive wheel but the primary colors are different, as shown here. The primary colors on the subtractive color wheel are magenta, yellow, and cyan. Combining two primary colors produces the other colors needed to complete the color wheel. YELLOW CYAN GREEN CYAN MAGENTA BLUE Mixing magenta, yellow, and cyan pigments together equally produces black. Colors opposite one another on the subtractive color wheel are called complementary colors. On the...

Coincidence and Noncoincidence

Coincidence and noncoincidence of tone refers to the relationship between the tonal organization of the shot and the subject of the shot. Coincidence of tone occurs when the tonal range reveals the subject. Noncoincidence of tone occurs when the tonal range obscures the subject. The subject can be a face, an entire person, a group of people, or any object that is the subject of the shot. To determine if a shot is coincidence or noncoincidence, the picture maker must identify the subject. In...

Rhythm of Stationary Objects

Visual rhythm is created by placing stationary objects in the frame. This is called composition. Simply stated, composition is the arrangement of objects within the frame. Shot 1 is an empty frame. It is the visual equivalent of white noise. This shot has no visual rhythm because there isn't any alternation, repetition, or tempo. An object a dot has been added, and now the empty frame has a visual rhythm. Shots 1A and 1B both have rhythm, but Shot 1B appears more intense than Shot 1A. The...

Color Schemes

Since color has so many variables, it's impossible to review all the possible color schemes, but the color wheel is a good place to begin, because it already has organized the hues into a simple circle. Following are some possible color schemes using hue. A monochromatic color scheme involves finding a single hue for an entire production. Warren Beatty's Reds and Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather use only the hue of red. Almost all the color in these films is...

Photochemical Timing

The lab can also time, or color correct the film. The term timing refers to early 1900s lab technicians who, using clocks, would control the black and white film's image by the length of time it was left in the chemical solutions. Modern photochemical timing uses computer-controlled additive color printing machines to color correct films. Color timing is used to correct or smooth out the continuity of brightness and hue from shot to shot. Timing can also add overall hue changes, making scenes...

The Additive System Color Wheel

A color wheel organizes colors and shows their relationship to each other. The additive system color wheel is shown here. The primary colors in the additive system are red, green, and blue. Combining two primary colors produces the other colors needed to complete the color wheel. Remember, the additive system is the mixing of light. Magenta is similar to purple, but more reddish. Cyan is like turquoise, but more greenish. When the additive primaries are mixed together equally, they produce...