Author: Rob Taylor

Lesson 1 – Framing

Overview Most students watch Netflix, movies or television and don’t consider that there is a ton of thought behind every single shot. There’s an intellectual barrier that needs to be broken to realize that everything we watch is created and crafted. Students typically just point the camera at something and film it, hoping for comprehensive coverage of a scene. Begin to turn students into cinematographers with this lesson on framing. Explainer The frame is our canvas. The beginning of film composition starts with getting to know our frame. First off, how are frames typically laid out? Consider how smartphone...

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Lesson 2 – Shot Types

Overview Now that students are beginning to think of their video as a compositional art (rather than just pointing the camera at the action), they need to begin to understand the basic vocabulary of filmmaking. That’s shot types. Students already have a basic understanding of shot types—zooming in means emphasizing something, zooming out gets more comprehensive shots. However, it’s useful for them to begin to think of a scene like a baseball lineup, in which players are ordered to maximize effectiveness (for the non-baseball fans: the guy who gets on base the most usually goes first, the most powerful...

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Lesson 3 – Camera Angles

Overview After determining how zoomed in a shot could be, the next factor of composition is the levelness of a shot. When students film, they tend to just hold the camera comfortably at eye level, which leads to ordinary visuals. The objective of this lesson is to get them to consider camera height as a critical tool in framing a shot, and think about the emotional effect of looking up or down at a subject. Explainer I like to get my students thinking of their eyes as cameras. Of course, our eyes don’t have the ability to zoom in,...

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Lesson 4 – Crafting a Scene

Overview Thus far, we have focused on getting good shots. We haven’t focused on putting them together to create an engaging scene. The dialogue of an amateur film can seem robotic—whenever one person talks, they’re on camera. The other person responds, they’re in the shot. In this way, our cinematography and editing choices can “telegraph” a conversation, we know who’s going to speak because the camera ping pongs over to them. Actual conversations have a rhythm to them, and our objective as filmmakers is to allow our films to capture these rhythms. Sometimes, a person speaking isn’t the most...

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