In the previous articles, we have learnt a lot about camera movement, its angles, and scales. We now have an understanding of the establishment shot and why a filmmaker uses it often. The importance of camera angles and how the camera moves, how only a little zoom can intensify the plot for the audience, are some of the topics that have been discussed. Today we are going to talk about two of the minor details filmmakers keep their focus on.
In a complex art form like filmmaking, little details are very important. These are the things that make your film stand out from the rest of the stories. A slight change of angle, a defocus, or a mere zoom in can explain a lot to the audience. An intuitive audience always looks for something in-depth. This is why David Fincher plays a crucial trick with his form of progressing through little details. In this article, we are going to discuss shot framing and shot focus. Let’s get on with it, shall we?
What is ‘Shot Framing’?
Framing is a term that often relates to both art and science. Where you are going to place your subject in the frame is known as shot framing. It requires a thick understanding of geometry, if not in-depth. Shot framing mainly focuses on the importance of the subject in the frame. Shot framing can accommodate multiple subjects in a frame, and the approach to treating each subject in the frame with legitimate essence is the key.
Types of Shot Framing
There are a few numbers of shot framing. Beginners should learn about these to carry on with the little details in their frames.
Single Shot: When there is only one subject featured in the frame, the shot is known as a “single shot.” Now, remember, if the camera focuses on one subject and defocuses on the other subjects, that will not be a single shot. This is why we used the word “featured.” If you follow the over-the-shoulder doctrine, then there will be only one subject in focus, but that won’t be called a “single-shot” as there are already two subjects in the frame. For example, take a look at this shot from the movie “The Shining.”
Two-Shot: When a frame contains two characters in it, the shot is known as a “two-shot.” Two-shot often helps two performers to perform in a single take. This is a good way to stage a nice comedy or drama. For example, just have a look at this Tarantino epic “Pulp Fiction.”
Three Shot: By now, you have already understood that when there are three characters in a frame, the shot is called a “three-shot.” It is mostly used in adventure films where a group of characters are established in one single frame. For example, have a look at this frame from Harry Potter.
The Over the Shoulder Shot: The OTS is one of the most used shots in filmmaking. It is a shot where subject A is placed right in front of subject B, and the shot takes place behind subject B, focusing on subject A while leaving behind a glimpse of subject B’s shoulder. Hence, the over-the-shoulder shot. These kinds of shots mostly take place during conversation scenes. It helps create an understanding between the characters. For example, take a look at this shot from Harry Potter.
Just like in the over-the-shoulder shot, here the camera is placed with subject B’s hip in the foreground, placing subject A in the plane of focus. For example, this shot from Minority Report can explain this kind of shot.
Point of View Shot: The Point of View shot, also known as the POV shot, is a shot from which the story is being delivered to the audience. Point-of-view shots can be tricky at times. The best way to conduct a point of view is to have a clear mind and emerge through improvisation. The movie Hardcore Henry had some of those.
Now, we are going to talk about the last topic of this long segment, i.e., shot focus. Let’s get right into it.
What is ‘shot focus’?
One of the most overlooked parts of filmmaking is the focus. Filmmakers can be cautious with many things like camera angles, camera movement, even positioning too, but there are times when focus shifting fails to make an impact on the audience. Shot focus, commonly regarded as the depth of field, can leave an overtly expressive story for each shot.
Depth of field is a subject of understanding the bond between the character and his surroundings. It is a tricky section of the camera where you have to learn about its aperture. A slight change in aperture can give you a wonderful line in the course of your storytelling.
Types of shot focus
Deep focus: This is a sort of focus that allows the cinematographer to establish everything in the frame without thinking about the foreground, mid-ground, or background. This kind of focus is mostly used for wide-angle shots. It is a way to show the subject’s shallowness. For example, look at this frame from 12 Angry Men. The whole film was mostly shot in deep focus.
Shallow focus: When in frame, one part of the image is in focus, and the rest of it is in defocus; the shot is called shallow focus. This focus uses a shallow depth of field by expanding the aperture or focal length of the lens. In order to isolate the subject, one can also place the camera closer to the subject to increase the shallow depth of field. For example, look at this frame from Zack Snyder’s Army of Thieves.
Soft Focus: Soft focus gives everything in the frame a slight blurry effect. That is to say, there will be a blur or glow around your subject. Nothing in the frame will be visually sharp. This shot is mostly used in dream sequences. For example, look at this frame from Harry Potter.
Rack Focus: Rack focus, also known as “focus pulling,” is a term used for the scene when the focus shifts from one subject to another in a continuous shot. It is mostly used to draw the attention of the audience to the little details of the frame. For example, in Avengers, there was a scene in the bus when Peter Parker felt the goosebump. The focus changed from his arm to his face. Look at this frame.
Tilt Shift: It is one of the most technically advanced focusing methods. Normally, the lens and sensor stay parallel to one another. In tilt-shifting lenses, it allows the lens to tilt or shift in different directions irrespective of the position of the image sensor. It helps to have panoramic shots or blur a particular field in the frame. For example, look at his image.
So, this is all for now. We can later discuss it in detail. Every shot focus has some gruesome technicalities that need to be understood pretty well. It is a process for a filmmaker to learn each day and grow. Whatever idea you are trying to implant, remember, with solid technical knowledge, it can be better in many ways.
See More: ‘Camera Shots’ And Types of Camera Shots In Filmmaking, Explained