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.

This is coincidence of tone.

This is noncoincidence of tone.

In this case, the picture is a close-up, and the subject of the close-up is a face. In the first picture, the subject is clearly revealed by the tonal organization. The tonal scheme allows the viewer to see the face. The subject and the tonal organization coincide, so the first picture is coincidence of tone. In the second picture, the subject (the face) is not revealed. There's no light on the face, so the subject is obscured. This is noncoincidence of tone. The tonal organization of the shot hides the subject (the face) from the audience.

This picture is coincidence of tone. The subject is "a person." The lighting scheme coincides with the subject, and the person is revealed.

Even though the first two pictures are both silhouettes, one is coincidence and the other is noncoincidence. The actor standing in the doorway of the third picture may be in silhouette like the second, but the subject is not a face. The subject is "a person standing in the doorway." Even if the person was well lighted, the audience couldn't see the face, because the actor is too far away. This last picture is coincidence because the tonal organization clearly reveals the subject.

This picture is noncoincidence of tone because the person, who is still standing in the doorway, is not revealed. The subject is obscured by the tonal organization, so this shot is noncoincidence of tone.

This shot is noncoincidence due to brightness.

This shot is noncoincidence due to darkness.

Both shots are noncoincidence of tone. The subject can be obscured by any portion of the tonal scale.

Recognizing coincidence and noncoincidence of tone can be confusing, unless you have clearly identified the subject. Physically hiding the subject behind another object isn't noncoincidence of tone. The obscuring of the subject must be accomplished through the control of tone.

Films use coincidence of tone because the subject is clearly visible. The audience knows where to look because the subject is easy to see. Comedy usually uses coincidence of tone to help add clarity to the jokes. How you handle any genre and use coincidence of tone depends on your story and your personal preferences.

This close-up of a face is noncoincidence of tone. A key ingredient in horror, mystery, and suspense films is the audience's inability to see the subject. If the subject of the shot (the attacker, victim, witness, confidant, etc.) is hidden, it makes the audience anxious. The subject is on screen but hidden by the tonal structure.

Noncoincidence, because it hides the visual subject, often makes the audience more aware of the sound. When there is less to look at, the audience will pay more attention to dialogue, sound effects, or music.

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