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Film Terminology. A basic overview of the language of the cinema. Literal translation: “staging” What appears in front of the camera: set design, lighting, character movement and placement, etc. Mise -en-scene often has a part in developing the mood and tone of a scene.

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film terminology

Film Terminology

A basic overview of the language of the cinema.

mise en scene mez an sen

Literal translation: “staging”

  • What appears in front of the camera: set design, lighting, character movement and placement, etc.
  • Mise-en-scene often has a part in developing the mood and tone of a scene
Mise-en-scene (mez an sen)
story versus plot there is overlap between the two
Story versus Plot(there is overlap between the two)
  • Story
    • All the narrative events that are explicitly presented on the screen (what we actually see)
    • All the events that are implicit or that we infer to happen (things we know but don’t see)
  • Plot
    • The structure for presenting everything we see and hear in a film
example of story versus plot
Example of Story versus Plot
  • Rocky (1976)
    • Story
      • Rocky, the underdog, overcomes great odds to find love and self-worth in going the distance with the champ.
    • Plot
      • The champ, Apollo Creed, needs a new opponent when his scheduled opponent pulls out due to injury. In a decision of promotional genius, Creed gives a title shot to down-on-his-luck journeyman Rocky Balboa on the country’s 200th anniversary. Rocky goes on to shock the world by going the distance with Creed in a competitive fight.
cinematography behind the camera
Cinematography(behind the camera)
  • Types of camera shots
    • Extreme Long Shot/Establishing Shot (ELS)– a great distance from the subject; often used to introduce the viewer to an environment (gives context)
    • Long Shot (LS) – see the character’s full body
    • Medium Shot (MS) – between the long shot and the close-up; shows a character from the waist up
    • Close-up (CU) – usually shows the full head or focused on a character’s face
    • Extreme Close-Up (ECU) – very close shot of some detail
cinematography cont behind the camera
Cinematography Cont.(behind the camera)

Placement of Shots:

High-angle shot – the camera above the action; can imply the observor’s superiority to the subject being filmed

Low-angle shot – the camera below the action; can imply a feeling of helplessness in the presence of something superior

Eye-level shot – the camera’s at eye level; an attitude of neutrality

Dutch-angle shot – camera is tilted so that’s the frame is not level; an impression of imbalance

Bird’s-Eye-View shot – shot taken from a very high point; implies the observer’s omniscience

camera movement
Camera Movement
  • Pan – a horizontal movement of a camera on a tripod; replicates a person turning his head
  • Tilt – the vertical movement of a camera on a tripod; looking up or down
  • Dolly–camera fixed to a wheeled support that can move in (dolly-in) or move out (dolly-out) or track (tracking shot) a subject alongside, above, beneath, or ahead of it.
  • Crane Shot – camera is fixed to an elevating arm mounted on a vehicle
  • Editing – the basic creative force of cinema; creates assumptions in the viewer, helps tell a story, provokes an idea or feeling
    • Shot – an uninterrupted run of the camera; can be long or short
    • Cut – a direct change from one shot to another
    • Montage – a sequence of shots that shows a condensed series of events
    • Jump Cut – an instantaneous advance in the action
    • Fade-in/Fade-out – transitional devices that allows a scene to open or close slowly
    • Dissolve – a transition where one shot is superimposed over another and gradually takes over
    • Wipe – a transition where one shot wipes across often indicating a change in time or place