Notice that this scene shows a soldier fieldstripping a rifle. This is basically what
the long shot showsthe man is leaning over the table with the rifle parts spread out.
If you're interested in this action, you would move in for a closer look and, as you
approach, at one point you would get an intermediate view of the action which is
pictorially represented by the medium shot. Then, when you finally arrive at the scene
of the action, you see it represented by the closeup. Each shot shows the action in more
detail until, in the closeup, you can see every bit of the action. In Figure 21, this
would be the soldier taking the weapon apart under the guidance of his squad leader.
(7) The shot breakdown, long shot, medium shot, and closeup, is a transition
intended to take the viewer from a distant point to the place where the action is taking
place and to do it in reasonable, believable steps. There are other means of
accomplishing this and they will be mentioned later.
(8) At this point you may be wondering if changes to the LS, MS, and CU sequences
can be made. Can you start with the CU? Yes, you can! After you have gained some
experience, you might use such a technique. To illustrate, say you are shooting a
training sequence for the military police. The first shot in the sequence might show a
closeup of a gun lying on the floor. Then the camera might back up and a medium shot
would show an overturned lamp and table. Immediately the viewer knows that some act of
violence has occurred. Where has this taken place? Up to this point, until he sees the
long shot, the viewer doesn't know. The LS establishes the fact that the action has
taken place in, say, the library of an old home, and perhaps the police are just entering
the room. Notice how the 1, 2, and 3 pattern (LS, MS, and CU) has changed to a 3, 2, 1
(CU, MS, LS) pattern. One word of caution: before you try this reversal technique, be
sure you are familiar with the normal pattern. The reversal technique is generally used
to obtain a special effect only; it should not be overdone.
(9) You may wonder if you can use a 3, 1, 2 order. The answer is that it
generally produces an incoherent sequence and tends to confuse the audience. This is not
to imply that it cannot be done. Almost anything can be done to the basic sequence, but
any variation of technique is dependent on the story. Be sure that there is a logical
reason when you deviate from the normal pattern. Remember, in most cases, the audience
wants to see the action as if they were actually there.
(10) There is one approach to cinematography that you must consider at all times.
Anytime you are taking motion pictures, you should feel that you are actually seeing for
your audience. The simple fact is that if you don't shoot a scene, your audience won't
see it. As soon as you stop shooting, your audience stops seeing; and if there are gaps
in the continuity, your viewers can not fill them simply by looking around. The audience
will see only what is on the screen. In the above mentioned mystery story, the culprit
may have left by an open window, but the viewer won't know this unless you show the
window on film. If the open window is important to the story, you must show it.
Otherwise, a vital part of the story will be lost. Rather than risk forgetting the first
important point in shooting successful motion