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English Level Two Unit Standard 12424. Reading Moving Images Closely. Elements and Performance Criteria element 1. Read moving images closely. Range: at least two texts chosen from categories such as - film, live drama, television, website, CD ROM. performance criteria.

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english level two unit standard 12424

English Level Two Unit Standard 12424

Reading Moving Images Closely

elements and performance criteria element 1
Elements and Performance Criteriaelement 1
  • Read moving images closely.
  • Range: at least two texts chosen from categories such as - film, live drama, television, website, CD ROM.
performance criteria
performance criteria
  • 1.1 At least one main idea in the text is explained with reference to at least one relevant section of the text.
  • 1.2 The significance of a main idea in the text is analysed with reference to at least one relevant section of the text.
  • Range: significance relates to social, historical, cultural, physical, political, or personal contexts.
  • 1.3 Three examples of language features are identified using appropriate terminology, and each example is described in terms of its effect.
  • Range: at least one verbal and one visual feature;
  • verbal language features could include - spoken or written words, sound, music, silence;
  • visual language features could include - lighting, costume, camera work.
  • 1.4 The relationship between one verbal feature and one visual feature in the text is analysed in terms of the effect.
  • 1.5 A technique used to shape the text is identified and analysed with reference to at least one relevant section of the text.
  • Range: techniques could include - treatment of time, act structure, contrast.
verbal features
Verbal Features
  • Imagery, eg. similes, metaphors, personification
  • Pun
  • Alliteration/assonance/onomatopoeia
  • Use of pronouns
  • Idioms
  • Imperative
  • Quotation
  • Statement
  • Rhetorical Question
  • Rhyme
  • Rhythm
  • Allusion/association
  • Dialogue
  • Script
  • Voice-over
  • Sound effects
  • Music
  • Silence
visual features
Visual Features
  • Dominant Image
  • Symbol
  • Composition
  • Contrast/juxtaposition
  • Balance
  • Graphics/pictures
  • Font style
  • Font size
  • Spacing
  • White space
  • Shape
  • Frame
  • Depth
  • Proportion
  • Angle
  • Colour
  • Light
  • Allusion
  • Sequence
  • Structure
  • Shot
  • Camera movement
  • Transitions
  • Texture
  • Mood
moving images
Moving Images
  • "Moving images" are literally images that move. The term "moving images" refers to the images that move in drama performance, and on the film, television, and computer screen.
  • A movie (or motion picture) consists of thousands of frames. When a film runs through a camera, each frame is exposed for a twenty-fourth of a second and records a fractional moment of movement. When the edited and completed film is projected at the same speed, our eyes are unable to distinguish between each frame, and so the individual frames or photographs appear to us as one continuous, uninterrupted movement. The terms "motion picture", "movie", and, to some extent, "moving images" reflect this phenomenon.
The more recent technology used to record and screen video or television is different from film, but many of the terms - such as "frame" as in "freeze-frame"- and production techniques and skills are common to both film and video or television. The language used to describe the processes of making film, video, or television is therefore very similar.
  • In the same way as we acquire and use spoken and written language without describing its individual parts, so we come to understand the visual language of moving images without being able to describe the particular elements that make a film or television programme and that enable it to communicate meaning. We interpret and make meaning from close-ups, high-angle shots, and fade-outs before learning their names. However, our understanding is enhanced by learning how the language of film and television works, by making our implicit knowledge and understanding explicit, and by acquiring the terminology that enables us to describe, discuss, analyse, and evaluate film or television.
There are a lot of what are sometimes called filmic terms, but they are not all peculiar to film. For example, some of the following terms are specific to film, but others are used elsewhere: narrative, characters, setting, production design, composition, shape, texture, space, depth, make-up, costume, music, sound effects, frame, shot, scene, sequence, movement, lighting, colour, script, animation, editing, and cutting.
  • When we read film or television closely, we also gain some of the tools that help teachers and students to present ideas and information using moving images in these media.
  • Presenting material using video, computer graphics, CD-ROM, or any other form of interactive audio/video technology, including digital technology, is an excellent means of exploring visual language. This, in turn, enhances viewing skills and abilities.
the grammar of film and television
The "Grammar" of Film and Television
  • Grammar provides us with the knowledge and understanding to analyse and describe how both written and oral language work. Similarly, by knowing the "grammar" of film, we can explore, identify, learn about, describe, and use features of visual language that create particular meanings and effects in moving images in film and television.
  • Film is not a language in exactly the same way that English is a language. In a movie, there is nothing that corresponds precisely to a word, for instance, or a question. Nor is the order of events in a film the same, or as strictly regulated, as the order of words in a grammatical sentence. However, it is possible and sometimes helpful to argue that written language and film are similar in the following ways.
Letters are the smallest distinct forms of written language.  A film\'s smallest unit is a frame, which is like a still photograph. Letters make up words in written language. Several frames make up shots in films. Words make up sentences in written language. Shots make up scenes. Sentences make up paragraphs in written language. Scenes make up sequences. Paragraphs make up stories. Sequences make up a film. The nature and length of sequences in television programmes are often different from those in feature films because they are segmented for ad breaks. We discuss segments on page 178 under Conventions of Narrative.
  • Writing is often made more interesting and suitable for its purpose by using a variety of letter forms, words, sentence and paragraph lengths, and structures. Similarly, variety in the use of frames, shots, scenes, and sequences usually results in a more interesting and appealing film.
  • Although we might be most immediately conscious of the visual aspects of what we see on a screen or a stage, the visual images and sound in film or television complement each other and work together to communicate meanings. A simple way of confirming this is to view a film or television sequence without sound or to view it with a different and inappropriate soundtrack. The soundtrack should tell us something about a scene that the visual images themselves don\'t. Sirens wailing or dogs barking might indicate onscreen or offscreen criminal activity, danger, or death. A clock ticking may indicate the passage of time and raise suspense. The cry of a morepork may emphasise the eerie nature of the night.
  • Dialogue, sound effects, and music all contribute significantly to the story-telling process in film.
  • is not just a matter of the words that are spoken but also of how they are said. Dialogue reveals a range of emotions and communicates the relationships among characters as well as contributing to the narrative. The Oral Language section includes a discussion of intonation and how it reflects speakers\' attitudes. This information tells us that listeners are skilled at detecting shades of meaning from pitch and intonation. The skilled performer therefore ensures that dialogue is delivered so that it conveys the nuances that meet the purposes of the film.
  • During filming, the sound recordist records dialogue as well as natural sounds or sound effects. If a performer does not at first achieve the right emotion or emphasis in delivering the lines, the speech can be "post-synched": the performer will rerecord the lines in a sound studio while listening to the originally recorded lines on headphones. The newly recorded version is then synchronised with lip movement on the screen.
sound effects
Sound effects
  • include all onscreen and offscreen sound except dialogue and music. Such sound effects as footsteps or food being chewed may be made by the actions of onscreen characters, but they may need to be enhanced or even replaced with new prerecorded sounds. The sound heard when a baby dinosaur hatched in Jurassic Park was produced by a sound effects artist squeezing an open bottle of detergent and adding that to the soundtrack in post-production. Stroking a pineapple recreated the sound when Laura Dern petted a dinosaur in the same movie.
  • as in atmospheres, refers to environmental sounds such as dogs barking, birds singing, the wind blowing, or rain falling.
  • Effects, known as FX, are all the other sounds not made by the characters, such as car horns blowing, tyres screeching, or aircraft engines roaring.
  • The function of music in a film is usually similar to the design elements of a set - not drawing attention to itself for its own sake but establishing or reinforcing the mood of the film or enhancing its meaning. Some older films use music quite obtrusively at almost all dramatic or poignant moments. This convention is now used infrequently, but it is sometimes used in deliberate parody of the genre. Music may also be integrated into the action of the film by such strategies as having a character turn on a radio or tape or play a musical instrument. The specially composed music for The Piano is one of many instances of music as an integral part of a film.
  • Silence can be the most powerful aspect of sound in a film. It can enhance suspense, fear, or horror. A voice, a sound effect, or music after a silence can surprise or shock the audience, either heightening or relieving their anxiety.
  • is a term used not only in static images but also in film and television. It includes all the elements that contribute to the appearance of a frame - the way people and other objects appear and are related within the frame for dramatic effect in much the same way as in a still photograph or static image. All the following elements contribute to the composition of the frames that make up a film.
different kinds of shot
Different kinds of shot
  • Shot is a very important ingredient of composition. The term "shot" refers to the appearance of what is in each frame. This is determined by how far the camera is placed from the subject or by using an adjustable lens to achieve the effect of distance. The shot is also determined by the camera\'s angle and movement relative to the subject shown in the frame. Each shot, like each word in a written text, has a purpose. The choice of shots is determined by purpose and, therefore, by genre, topic, and audience. A feature film, for example, uses different shots and also uses the shots differently from those in a television talk-show.
  • A wide shot or WS, called a long shot or LS in the American film industry, shows a comprehensive view from a distance. This might be similar to what we would see if we looked out over, say, a field. If a person is in such a shot, their whole body is visible from head to foot, and they may even look small and far away. A WS or LS is most commonly used as an establishing shot. An establishing shot provides important information about the setting, environment, or context in which subsequent events will take place. It is often the first in a scene or sequence. The size of the images on a television screen is considerably smaller than film projected onto a movie screen. Wide shots featuring broad landscapes or large crowds are generally less effective on a television screen than on a movie screen.
A medium shot or MS is midway between a WS (or LS) and a close-up. An MS of a person is usually shot from the waist up.
  • A medium close-up or MCU is closer still. An MCU of a person shows from mid-chest to head.
  • A close-up or CU of a person shows head and shoulders. A big close-up or BCU, sometimes known as an extreme close-up or ECU, of a person shows the head, usually from the bottom of the chin to the mid-forehead.
  • Close-ups are not simply complements to medium and wide or long shots. Their power of emphasis gives them a special place in film. They can show whatever is most significant at any given moment and focus our attention on it. A CU or BCU may reveal human emotions, such as sadness as revealed through signs like tears, or anxiety as shown by constant wringing of the hands. They may reveal private information, as in a BCU of a letter, emphasise such other symbols as police identification, or increase tension by focusing on a door handle turning.
  • A shot framed from a particular character\'s point of view is called a subjective shot. In a subjective shot, the audience sees almost exactly what the character sees. Subjective shots can also reveal how a character is seeing, as in an out-of-focus shot from the point of view of a character who is injured, just waking up, or drugged.
  • Another kind of subjective shot is when a character looks directly into the camera and talks to the viewer, who, no longer an unacknowledged observer, is drawn into the action. This technique is sometimes used for comic effect in feature films, and it serves a particular purpose in television commercials, where the second person pronoun "you" is used in conjunction with a subjective shot to address the viewer personally and individually.
Similar to the subjective shot is the over-the shoulder shot, filmed over the character\'s shoulder from behind. This shot often looks towards another character and is usually followed by a reverse-angle shot showing the face of the person whose back was to the camera.
  • A shot that shows two people, very common in film drama, is sometimes called a two-shot.
  • Different camera angles
  • Another important element of composition is camera angle. Normal shots are taken from eye level. In a high-angle shot, the camera looks down at the subject. Such a shot can make a person seem small, insignificant, unlikely to win, vulnerable, or helpless. A low-angle shot, which looks up at the subject, can have the opposite effect, making the character seem large, important, likely to win, powerful, and in control.
Different lenses

Composition is also affected by the lens and focus used. A wide-angle lens provides great depth of field and can capture wider spaces than a normal lens from the same distance. Foreground and background details may be separated by considerable distances, yet all the objects within the frame appear in sharp focus, although a wide-angle lens can distort the image of subjects very close to the camera. The wide-angle lens can capture action in the foreground and related or unrelated action in the background, both of which might be important.

Generally, though, the closer the subject is to the camera, the shallower the depth of field is. The long lens usually shows objects in the foreground clearly, but objects in the background are less sharply defined and may be blurred. Within a shot, the focus may be altered to reconcentrate the viewer\'s eyes on what is in focus by pulling or racking focus.

A telephoto lens shot has little depth, but the use of a such a long lens can bring the subject very close. This lens enables a photographer to capture easily frightened or dangerous wildlife in its natural habitat or the detail of sporting action in a way otherwise impossible.

A zoom lens or zoom combines the optical properties of normal lenses with those of wide-angle and long lenses, enabling movement from wide-angle to telephoto, or the opposite, within the same shot. The zoom can easily be overused and often is by amateur, student, or inexperienced film or video camera operators.

  • It is sometimes helpful to consider a shot in terms of movement, which occurs within a frame when the subject of the shot moves. The frame itself moves when the camera is fixed but pans by moving on its horizontal axis, for instance, as it pans across the horizon of a countryside location or follows a character walking across a playground. The frame also moves when the camera tilts up or down on its vertical axis or when the lens zooms in or out.
  • The camera itself moves when the camera tracks the subject. Sometimes, actual tracks are laid on the ground - hence the term tracking - or the camera may be mounted on a vehicle or trolley called a dolly, from which we get the term dolly shots. The camera may be hand held to follow the subject. Cameras may also move up or down while attached to a crane, producing crane shots, or they may produce aerial shots from an aircraft or helicopter.
let there be lights
Let There Be Lights!
  • Lighting, contrast, and colour all contribute to the impact of the composition within the frame. Lighting enables directors to show people or objects in the way in which they want them to be seen, highlighting particular people, emotions, moods, or objects. Every shot is lit by either natural or artificial light or a combination of both. Sometimes, one of the sources of light is visible in the shots and may be part of the action, such as car headlights, searchlights, a torch, or fire. However, it is more usual for the source of light to be off-frame.
  • Amateur video cameras have a key light on the camera to help illuminate the subject and prevent unwanted facial shadow, but this may cause the subject\'s face to look flat and untextured. Depending on the purpose and context of the shot, and how the shot should be lit to achieve appropriate emphasis, the scene may need to be lit from several different angles at the same time.
  • A silhouette or halo effect is achieved by lighting the shot from behind the subject. Silhouettes can make characters seem more mysterious and actions more dramatic. Shadows may increase the sense of depth in a shot, heighten suspense, obscure a character\'s identity, or make a shot look more abstract.
  • Underlighting or lowlighting, in which the light shines up from below the subject, can make people or things appear gloomy, grotesque, or unworldly. Sidelighting emphasises shadows, making people or objects appear gaunt or sinister.
  • Too much light on the film may lead to the shot being overexposed. Overexposure can be used deliberately to create an unreal or dreamlike effect. Underexposure can also be intentionally used to create the effect of darkness.
  • Colour is widely used in film and television for purposes similar to those on the stage. The lighting may be selected to emphasise a particular colour range in order to convey a mood or meaning. Blue light in film, in television, or on the stage might symbolise a mood of anxiety or depression, whereas bright white light may indicate happiness or innocence. Red light might be used to indicate danger or to enhance violent or bloodthirsty action. Film Stock
  • The choice of film stock determines both the lighting and the colour of the final film. Some film-makers still choose to shoot mainly or completely in black and white, especially to show tense, realistic action in particular periods, as in Schindler\'s List. More commonly, colour film is used, and the qualities of different film stocks are combined with lighting to give particular effects. In the classic western film, High Noon, for instance, the flat, washed-out lighting and the choice of a particular film stock together produced a grainy, newsreel quality, giving the film a realistic appearance. The sky\'s white, cloudless, burnt-out look helped emphasise the hardness of the townsfolk who refused to help their sheriff defend the town.
special effects
Special Effects
  • The visual language of film and television includes a wide range of special effects, or SFX. Increasingly sophisticated technologies enable producers to create a tremendous variety of effects that communicate mood, information, and meanings and can be integrated with the total composition to achieve the intentions of the film. Computer technology, especially the rapidly developing digital computer technology, is one area of innovation that has greatly increased the available choices of special effects. This has made the management of many special effects and animation easier. It has revolutionised the special effects possibilities, and we see the results on our television or computer games screens.
Some of the most common special effects are optical effects achieved during editing and processing. These include dissolves, fades, and wipes between one shot and the next, which we define in the following pages. Other optical effects are the superimposition of one picture on another or of titles and credits and double or multiple exposures. Some effects are created within the camera itself by the use of different filters. Stunt people, make-up artists, and model makers also create special effects.
  • Ingenious special effects have been devised in the interests of time, money, safety, and imagination, such as miniature or model figures that are shot to look full size. Science fiction movies often have examples of this technique.
  • At the heart of many special effects is the technique of stop-motion photo-graphy, in which shooting is interrupted often while the scene is rearranged. Animation is created when a drawing or object is changed slightly between every shot - around twenty-four times for each second of completed film. When the film is screened, the drawings or objects seem to come alive, changing shape and moving. Animation is the technology used in many imaginative children\'s films, including retellings of legends and fairytales. Watership Down and the video, The Magical World of Margaret Mahy, which contains short animated films of five of Margaret Mahy\'s most well-known stories, are good examples.
  • Animation may be chosen as the most appropriate way of conveying meaning when the purpose is to heighten the sense of magic or to keep a distance between the narration and the viewer.
cutting and editing
Cutting and Editing
  • Some "The Making Of ..." programmes about the making of television programmes and films provide valuable and interesting insights into many aspects of presenting and exploring the moving images of visual language in television and films. However, such programmes are not so useful when it comes to the essential aspects of cutting and editing.
  • is the post-production process in which the material is organised to achieve the purposes of the film-maker. During editing, the final film is brought together in the most interesting and dramatic way by selecting, arranging, and ordering the shots available. Editing determines how viewers interpret or "read" images and sounds. Editors seek to provide a sense of unity of time and place, to link, relate, and structure different elements of the narrative, and to achieve logic, rhythm, and pace in order to arouse interest and excite emotional involvement and response.
  • Important considerations are shot duration, or how long each shot in a sequence lasts, and juxtaposition, or how shots and sequences follow and are related to each other.
  • A cut is a change from one shot to the next. It may be from a wide shot to a close-up, from an exterior to an interior scene, from someone starting an action to completing it, or from one scene to the next. Cuts connect people, places, and objects. There might be a cut from the street to the inside of a car driven by one of the characters, or from a person going up in an elevator to being inside a room high in a skyscraper. Another cut may then be from the character in the car to the car\'s involvement in a chase or accident or to the person in the room jumping out the window. Such cuts also allow for the use of stunt people or dummies.
  • from one scene to the next is important. A cut makes the transition by connecting the last shot of one scene to the first shot of the next. Sometimes a transition is executed by a cut from a transition shot, such as a plane taking off or a building, to the first shot of the next scene. In a swish pan, the scene ends with the camera suddenly panning so fast that the image blurs. A cut to the next scene follows.
  • Overlapping sound can help to smooth transitions by anticipating a scene\'s visual beginning with its auditory beginning: a character may refer to the location of the next scene while a cut to it is made, and the conversation continues while the visual image of the new location comes into view.
offscreen narration or voice over
Offscreen narration, or voice-over,
  • usually by a character, can help keep the film together and maintain our interest while communicating a story economically. Offscreen sounds, such as crowd noises, an echo, amplified heartbeats, or a scream may increase anticipation, suspense, or excitement, revealing a private emotional experience and raising our level of involvement in the characters\' dilemma.
  • Other transitional devices include special effects like fades, wipes, and dissolves. In a fade-out, the image rapidly becomes black, and a fade-in of the next scene follows. In a wipe, one shot is covered up by another shot moving horizontally across the screen. In a dissolve, one shot fades out while the next fades in on top of it.
  • are common transitional devices. It might be a reaction cut, of one person listening to what another is saying or responding to what somebody is doing. Reaction cuts are popular in televised sports events, where the editor will cut to show the reaction of individuals, the crowd, or a player to such moments as a boundary in cricket or a match-winning netball shot. Cutaways can be used to link to what somebody is thinking, talking about, or seeing. Cutaways can compress time without losing continuity, and they can also be used to expand time in order to build tension or emphasise a dramatic moment.
  • Instead of a cutaway, a matched cut may be used, where no part of the action is omitted, although the camera angle or distance may change. In continuity editing, a sequence is cut together to preserve the continuity of the action without showing the whole of the action.
  • We don\'t notice most cuts because of our expectations and familiarity with the conventions of editing. Accordingly, the action usually seems to blend smoothly from one shot to the next.
  • When two shots are intentionally not matched, we have what is called a jump cut. We stay with the same subject, but there is a discontinuity of physical movement. The subject may seem to jump from one place to the next, or the same subject may remain on frame and the location will change. In this way, a lot of ground, time, and action can be covered economically at a swifter pace than when continuity is preserved, and a faster transition from one scene or sequence to the next can be achieved. But when a cut that should have been matched is not, the effect can be quite jarring and obtrusive. A compression of time which is too abrupt may confuse us.
  • cuts back and forth from one subject or event to the other. With this technique, the events appear to be happening at the same time. In parallel editing or parallel cutting, sometimes also called cross-cutting, the sequences or scenes are intercut so as to suggest that they are taking place at the same time. Parallel cutting might show shots of a villain being villainous intercut with shots of the hero or heroine coming to the rescue. Most chases use parallel editing, switching back and forth between pursuer and pursued. Phone conversations, too, are often parallel edited.
  • Quick or fast cutting, based on short shots of only a few frames, gives the impression that action is happening at great speed, heightening the sense of action and excitement.
  • Quick cuts may be used to bring together events related in theme, but from different times and places. They sometimes involve different characters in what are sometimes called montages. Montages might flash images from a person\'s memory or condense a history of someone\'s life or the history of a war. We are very familiar with television commercials that use 30-second or 60-second montages of images to create an emotional mood and associate it with a product. Music can be the glue that unifies and holds such an advertisement together.
  • Montages can also be used to compress time and to show a process like the development or deterioration of a relationship very rapidly by quick cuts that compare situations and scenes.
  • Editing, then, is a vital part of exploring and using visual language and is essential to achieving the meanings and effects that are intended.
mise en sc ne
Mise en Scène
  • Whereas montage essentially arranges time, mise en scène arranges space. Literally translated, mise en scène means "put in the scene". Originally the term referred to the physical production of a play - its sets, props, and the staging of a scene. Over time, mise en scène has been adapted to describe filmic space - the manipulation of staging and action within a shot during filming as opposed to the manipulation of space afterwards in the editorial process.
  • Mise en scène refers to the various items contained in a film\'s scene and how they are presented. For instance, the court martial scene in Breaker Morant is composed along vertical and horizontal lines - the men sitting at the table, the line around the wall, and the men who are standing all conform to a pattern, reinforcing the situation and meaning.
  • Mise en scène includes all the elements in a single shot of film, including the action, costumes, framing, camera placement, and lenses. Mise en scène, with its deep focus, creates a richer space that closely mirrors the real world and engages the viewer deeply in the film\'s image, textures, and ambiguities. It can therefore stop the flow of time and hold it in an eternal present tense, preserving not only the image of things but also the sense of their duration.
  • The camera can enhance the impact of mise en scène by travelling through the set in such a way that the detail of the visual language is carefully revealed and communicated to the audience. An excellent example is in Colours - Red, where the camera explores the retired judge\'s house and rooms, conveying a very effective sense of space and time. The importance of mise en scène in conveying depth of detail and setting is acknowledged by its inclusion in the titles at the end of some films.
verbal features1
Verbal Features
  • Imagery, eg. similes, metaphors, personification
  • Pun
  • Alliteration/assonance/onomatopoeia
  • Use of pronouns
  • Idioms
  • Imperative
  • Quotation
  • Statement
  • Rhetorical Question
  • Rhyme
  • Rhythm
  • Allusion/association
  • Dialogue
  • Script
  • Voice-over
  • Sound effects
  • Music
  • Silence
visual features1
Visual Features
  • Dominant Image
  • Symbol
  • Composition
  • Contrast/juxtaposition
  • Balance
  • Graphics/pictures
  • Font style
  • Font size
  • Spacing
  • White space
  • Shape
  • Frame
  • Depth
  • Proportion
  • Angle
  • Colour
  • Light
  • Allusion
  • Sequence
  • Structure
  • Shot
  • Camera movement
  • Transitions
  • Texture
  • Mood
the language of film and video
The Language of Film and Video
  • Some explanations and definitions for film students.
  • STRUCTURE OF A FILMShotA single \'run\' of the camera. This is the basic unit from which a film is constructed. The length (or duration) of a shot depends upon:
    • its purpose ie. establishing a place; to show action; to show reaction
    • the pace (or tempo) of the sequence in which it occurs.
  • SequenceA group of shots depicting one action, or, which seems to belong with or depend upon each other. (Say 3 to 18 shots).
  • SceneA group of sequences, or, (for short scenes) a group of shots, which:
    • depict an event in the story. and
    • occur in one place.
  • A scene is generally a larger unit than a sequence (though) sometimes a group of shots can be classified as either).
types of shot
  • Long Shot [L.S.]A distance shot in which a setting, and not a character, is the emphasis. this is generally used to establish the place in which action will occur, hence the term establishing shot. Given its function, a long shot is often used at the beginning of a scene or sequence, and may be combined with a panning movement of the camera to show us a wider area.
  • Mid Shot [M.S.]A middle distance shot which focuses our attention on a particular subject. With a mid shot the camera is close enough to pick up detail, though still far enough away to be able to follow the subject as he/she/it moves. The mid shot, therefore, is commonly used to show action eg. as in a fight scene.
  • Close Up [C.U.]A close shot of an object or person, the aim being to focus our attention on a particular detail. Close ups of objects may serve as the inpoint to a new scene, depicting a new fact or location in the story. Close ups of a person have a number of different functions:
    • in an establishing sequence a close up of someone suggests that he/she is a main character
    • the first close up of a character (in a sequence of shots), establishes point of view eg. who is watching an event
    • a close up is most commonly used to show the reaction of a character, ie. a reaction shot.
camera movements
  • PanMovement from side to side from a stationary position.
  • TiltMovement up or down from a stationary position.
  • TrackingThe camera is not stationary but moves to follow a moving object or person. The camera is mounted on a moving device such as a rail platform, a dolly or a vehicle.
  • Zoom OutMovement outwards away from a subject.
  • Note: The speed of a camera movement (from very fast to very slow) can dramatically alter its effect.
  • MOVING FROM ONE SHOT TO ANOTHERCutThe ending of a shot. If the cut is a jerky movement, which seems a little inconsistent with the next shot it is called a jump cut.
  • Fade In or OutThe image appears or disappears gradually. It brightens to full strength over a full second, or darkens to fade out. The fade is often used as a division between scenes.
  • DissolveOne image fades in while another fades out so that for a few seconds the two are superimposed.
  • InpointAn image which starts the scene. Sometimes this inpoint is used to smooth the transition between scenes. As the word suggests the inpoint takes us in to the next shot or scene by making a visual link (a related object or shape) with the outpoint of the previous shot.
camera angles
  • In filming a shot a decision is made about the angle at which the camera is to be directed at a subject. High and Low angles may be used to influence our impression of a particular character.
  • A character filmed from a low angle will seem strong, powerful, tall, proud, etc... whereas if a high angle is used the subject will appear weak, insignificant, vulnerable, small etc... Our impression of a structure or object can be manipulated in a similar way.
  • A distorted angle may be used to make a scene more frightening, or to make the viewer feel anxious, or queasy (especially if fast or jerky camera movement is also used).
  • This is the process of assembling and splicing together the various shots which comprise a film. Underlying the process is a technique which can be called pairing, ie. a story is built up by alternating one set of shots with another.
  • There are common instances of pairing:
    • A conversation or confrontation between two characters. The shots alternate from one to the other, angles may be used to suggest inferiority or superiority.
    • Shots of a character are alternated with shots of what he/she sees. The first shot of the character is the P.O.V. (It establishes point of view ie. who is looking).
    • Cross-cutting. A sequence of shots in which the alternation is between two different locations (eg. A burglar creeping into a house in which an unsuspecting victim lies sleeping). The sequence builds to a climax and ends with the two things coming together.
  • The Editing Speed (or tempo) of a particular sequence is also an important consideration. Fast editing involves fast cutting. ie. The shots are 1 to 2 seconds long. Fast editing generates excitement and anticipation as for example in a chase sequence. Slow editing (ie. Shots are 3 to 10 seconds long), has the opposite effect, calming and relaxing the viewer. Accordingly slow editing is a characteristic of love scenes.
other terms
  • Soft FocusA slightly blurred shot to make the subject seem more attractive, romantic, nostalgic or dreamlike.
  • Hand Held CameraThe tripod and dolly are deliberately abandoned in favour of this method when a director wants to create a sense of anxiety or confusion, exploiting the unsteady movement of the camera. A hand held shot in which a character is approached from behind usually suggests that someone is being followed and is about to be \'pounced upon\'...
  • MontageThe editing together of a large number of shots with no intention to create a continuous reality. A montage is often used to compress time (a number of facts are established in one sequence). Films may begin with a montage which establishes a particular time and place. With the absence of a visual relationship between them, the montage shots are linked through a unified sound - either a voiceover or a piece of music.
how do we communicate by using visual language
How Do We Communicate by Using Visual Language?
  • Whether we listen and speak, read and write, or view and present, we participate in a very similar communication process.
  • When we receive communication, we (the audience) receive (medium) something (meaning or message) for reasons (purpose) by some means (mode of transmission, or form).
  • When we communicate, we (the originator) convey (medium) something (meaning or message) for someone (audience) for our reasons (purpose) by some means (mode of transmission, or form).
a framework
A Framework
  • When we "close read" or view any visual language text, we consider the purpose, the audience, and the topic similarly to the way we do this when we read written text or listen to oral text. During guided, shared, and independent reading of visual language, it is useful to ask the following questions:
  • What is the visual text about?
  • What sort of visual language is it? This question clarifies genres and forms and the "rules" that govern them.
  • How do we know what this visual language means? This question investigates the codes and conventions that are constantly developing and that help make meaning.
  • What visual language features are used?
  • What effects do these features have on the reader?
  • How are these features produced? This question refers to technology and the techniques and technologies that determine what can and cannot be shown.
  • What clues do the visual language features give the reader?
  • How can we tell who made this visual language? This question investigates who produced the text and why and the choice and evolution of production practices.
How do the visual, written, and oral texts interrelate and support each other?
  • Is this visual language meant to represent reality? This question refers to how "true" a text is and how we know. We sometimes refer to this aspect as representation.
  • Who is the visual language for? This question refers to who receives the text (the audience), how it is transmitted to them, and what they may make of it.
  • It is also helpful to ask: how might the knowledge and understanding reflected in the answers to these questions be useful when I present my own visual text?
  • Some of these questions derive from a framework developed by the British Film Institute and adopted and adapted in several countries around the world. Their questions are blended here with questions similar to those that students and teachers might ask of any writing, including students\' writing, as on page 160, and to those that listeners can usefully ask about any oral text.
film techniques and choice of shots
Film techniques and choice of shots
  • Depending on the “genre” of the movie, different techniques, shots and conventions are used to give the movie the right effect and therefore make it a “successful” movie.
  • “Conventions” are the things that you’d expect to see and hear in a movie. Some of these things are technique or shot choices, or sound technique choices.
  • Write down in a square on your page – as many different kinds of film genre that you can think of.

True story










Science fiction






Martial arts/Asian action

Silent movies

Western war

Romantic comedy

seven fundamental types of shots
Seven fundamental types of shots:
  • close-up/extreme close-up - the subject framed by the camera fills the screen. This connotes intimacy.
  • medium close-up - close-up of one or two (sometimes three) characters, framing the shoulders or chest and the head.
  • medium shot - frames a character from the waist, hips or knees up (or down). The camera is sufficiently distanced from the body for the character to be seen in relation to his or her surroundings.
  • medium long shot - halfway between a long and a medium shot. If it frames a character, the whole body will be in view in the middle ground of the shot.
  • long shot - subject or characters are at some distance from the camera. They are seen in full in their surrounding environment.
  • extreme long shot - the subject or characters are very much to the background of the shot. The surroundings now have as much if not more importance, especially if the shot is in high-angle.
  • shot/reverse-angle shot - also known as shot/counter shot, it is most commonly used for dialogue. It consists of two alternating shots, generally in medium close up, frame in turn the two speakers.
  • Tracking or Dolly Shot?
  • A shot where the camera is physically moving and following (tracking) a character or object.

Each shot reflects a decision on the director\'s part.

  • The director has framed a shot in a specific way.
  • For instance, a character’s point-of-view becomes the camera’s eye.
  • Sometimes a director will make use of what is called subjective camera. Here the camera seems to assume the point-of- view of a particular character, and thus leads the audience to identify with this character. Thus, high- or low-angle shots are used to indicate where the character is looking. Also if they are a tall character or short character
  • Panoramic shots suggest a character\'s view of a landscape; and tracking shots signify that a character is in motion.
  • There are many kinds of cuts. Here are just a few:
  • jump cuts - where there is no match between the two spliced shots.
  • match cuts - the exact opposite of jump cuts.
  • montage cuts - a rapid succession of cuts splicing different shots together to make a particular meaning or create feeling such as vertigo, fear, etc.
  • compilation shots - series of shots spliced together to give a quick impression of a place or a quick explanation of a situation, or a character\'s impression of an event.
  • cutaways - shots that take the spectator away from the main action or scene--frequently used as a transition before cutting into the next sequence or scene.
  • cross-cuts - used to alternate between two sequences or scenes that are occurring at the same time but in different spaces.
  • When a camera records images, it produces shots, which are spliced together by cuts in a process called editing.

A Close Up shows a person\'s head and shoulders.

You can now see the expression on the face, which helps you to know what they are thinking and feeling.


Big Close Up.

This shows just the face. You use this when expressions and emotions are important.


Extreme Close Up.

This shows a person from just above their eyebrows to just below the mouth, or even closer. You can use it to show strong emotion, or to make a person look powerful or threatening.


A Wide Shot.

In this sort of shot any people are very small. It\'s often used as an \'establishing shot\' at the beginning of a film to show us the setting.

It can also make a person look lonely or vulnerable.

(Also known as a \'Very long shot\').


A Long Shot.

A person can be seen from head to foot. You can usually see what they\'re wearing and get an idea of the sort of person they are, but you can also see what\'s going on around them and what they are doing.


A Mid Shot.

This shows a person from roughly their waist to their head. Now you can recognise them, but you may also be able to see what they are doing with their hands.

(Also known as a \'Medium shot\')

exploring visual language in developing technologies
Exploring Visual Language in Developing Technologies
  • Written language was the only strand of language able to be recorded, read and reread, stored, and studied, through printed text and pictures, until the relatively recent development of the still camera, movie camera, tape recorder, video recorder, and computer. These technologies enable us to record, store, revisit, and study both visual and oral language.
  • A video recorder and a television set, a video camera, and a computer are very useful for the teaching and learning of visual language.
  • Technology now enables us to record and play back at varying speeds and to freeze visual language so that students can identify, describe, discuss, analyse, and evaluate the language features used in a very short section of what they view. Thus they gain experience in interpreting visual language through close reading.
Computers and applications software programmes enable users to carry out different communication tasks that require, for example, a database, a spreadsheet, a wordprocessor, a simulation, or a drawing and to explore many of the conventions of print described in this book.
  • Computer programmes provide a range of graphics, including line graphics, animated graphics, and 3D graphics, as well as the variety of interactive computer and video games that many students know. Games can assist students to explore visual language by using such technologies to view, interact with, and present ideas. Students can describe the games\' narratives, including their own interactions, change their narratives, describe their visual features, and create their own games.
  • Experiences in exploring visual language can contribute to meeting objectives at several levels in Technology in the New Zealand Curriculum.
Computers also provide access to e-mail: local, regional, national, and international communication via the Internet and the World Wide Web. These are valuable resources for exploring oral, written, and visual language.
  • Exploring the language of the Internet reveals that Internet users in conversation with each other have developed their own conventions. They refer to "speaking" on the Internet rather than "writing". The conventions of grammar, punctuation, and spelling applied to other forms of written language are usually not observed because of the speed and immediately interactive nature of what some have called "e-discourse". This tendency not to extend the usual courtesies of written conventions to the Internet conversationalist has created difficulties for some users. They may need to be reminded of the importance of appropriateness to the purpose and audience, in, for instance, Internet conversations between a student and tutor, where the written conventions are likely to be used.
Internet users have developed another dimension of oral language to make up for the lack of visual contact when "speaking" to each other. They use text as visual language. A joke might be followed by Chuckle Chuckle! They use the upper case when SHOUTING. They use about 50-60 symbols that need to be read sideways and communicate all sorts of facial expressions and gestures, for example, :) or :( .
  • CD-ROM not only provides interactive opportunities for computer users but also extends to multimedia viewing, presenting, and interaction through its ability to integrate moving images with sound and with computer text and graphics.
Developments in audiographics and multimedia digital technologies are rapid and continuing. Knowledge, understanding, and use of the terminology accompanying such developments are essential to help students explore all aspects of language. Technological language is in itself a fascinating topic suitable for a special language study, and surfing the information super-highway and entering cyberspace can be a good means of exploring language.
  • However, there are many ways in which technology can be used to explore not only visual but also oral and written language without expensive high-tech equipment. The office fax machine, for example, can provide excellent opportunities for young students to explore and learn about the conventions of different written genres quickly and interactively.
  • "English and Technology" (number five in the 1995 eTV series Getting the Message) shows teachers and students using technology in the English programme, including exploring language.