see every bit of the action. In Figure 2-1, this would be the soldier taking the
weapon apart under the guidance of his squad leader.
(2) The shot breakdown, long shot, medium shot, and close-up are
transitions 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.
other means of accomplishing this and they will be mentioned later.
(3) 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 try such a technique.
(a) To illustrate, say you are shooting a training sequence for the
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
over-turned lamp and table.
Immediately the viewer assumes 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.
reversal technique is generally used to obtain a special effect only; it should not
(b) 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
there is a logical reason when you deviate from the normal pattern. Remember that
in most cases, the audience wants to see the action as if they were actually there.
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 cannot 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