Watching a movie with the sound off
This week’s assignment has two parts:
1) Watch a few minutes of a movie with the sound off, and jot down what you see happening on the screen, WITHOUT noting the camera angles
Here’s an example, from a short scene in a police drama:
- man drives up to house, gets out of car
- walks up to house, opens door, goes in
- takes off coat, pulls out gun, checks that it’s loaded
- opens door to basement
- walks down steps
- walks into basement room
- pulls bag off head of prisoner tied to chair in basement.
- holds gun to head of prisoner
2) Watching the same sequence, or another one, and this time jot down the location and camera angles (such as: CU for closeup, MS for medium shot, tracking shot (in which camera moves with subject), static shot (in which camera is locked down), over the shoulder, reverse, medium long shot).
Camera angles tend to switch frequently in modern films and TV shows, so you may have to pause the movie to catch everything.
Here’s the “camera angle” description of the above sequence. (LR stands for living room) Notice it takes 17 camera angles to describe a sequence of events that took less than 90 seconds on screen:
- EXT. RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD: Crane (aerial) shot: residential neighborhood, car pulls into driveway.
- EXT. RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD: LS: man gets out of car, moves toward camera
- EXT. RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD: LS (reverse of shot 2): back view of man walking toward house.
- EXT. RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD: MS (low angle): man pulls out keys, looks around furtively
- EXT. RESIDENTIAL NEIGHBORHOOD: ECU: man inserts house key in deadbolt lock
- INT. LR: MLS (medium long shot): man enters house
- INT. LR: CU: man’s face, sour expression
- INT. LR: MLS (medium longshot, knees up: Man takes off jacket, revealing holster and gun. Puts jacket on chair.
- INT. LR: : MS: Checks gun to make sure it’s loaded.
- INT. LR: CU of gun
- INT. LR: LS: Man walks toward camera.
- INT. LR: LS: (reverse of above): man reaches basement door, opens it
- INT BASEMENT: MCU: Man’s feet going down stairs, camera tracks along with motion
- INT BASEMENT: MS (high angle, looking down): Prisoner in basement, tied to chair, dark bag over his head.
- INT BASEMENT: CU: Prisoner’s head jerks up as door behind him opens. Man visible in door
- INT BASEMENT: MLS: Man walks to prisoner, pulls bag off of his head.
- INT BASEMENT: CU: Man holds gun to prisoner’s head, cocks it.