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Picture Composition, 2nd Edition

Book Description

Behind each shot there lies an idea or purpose. When setting up a shot, the camera operator can employ a range of visual techniques that will clearly communicate the idea to an audience. Composition is the bedrock of the operator's craft, yet is seldom taught in training courses in the belief that it is an intuitive, personal skill. Peter Ward shows how composition can be learned, to enhance the quality of your work.

Based on the author's own practical experience, the book deals with the methods available for resolving practical production questions such as:

Does the shot composition accurately reflect the idea that initiated the shot?
Will the content and method of presenting the subject accurately convey the idea?

Major innovations in television and film production since the previous edition have affected the styles of composition, such as wide-screen and the use of mini DV cameras. These new technologies and their implications for picture composition are addressed in this new edition. A new colour plate section is also being included to update the section on colour.

If you are a practising camera operator, trainee camera operator, student or lecturer on a television or film production course, or simply a video enthusiast wishing to progress to a more professional standard you will find this book essential in enhancing the quality of your work.

Table of Contents

  1. Front Cover
  2. Half Title
  3. Title Page
  4. Copyright
  5. Contents
  6. Preface
  7. 1 Invisible technique
    1. Learning the ropes
    2. A moving photograph
    3. Continuity cinema
    4. The shot
    5. The creation of 'invisible' technique
    6. Standard camerwork conventions
    7. Realistic representation
    8. Mechanical reproduction
    9. Framing a shot
    10. Composition
    11. Does the shot work?
    12. Intuition
    13. 'I see what you mean!'
    14. Why composition is important
    15. Control of composition
    16. Visual design techniques
    17. Cultural influences
    18. Changing fashions
    19. Summary
  8. 2 Alternative technique
    1. Jump cuts
    2. Alternatives
    3. It's magic
    4. Realism and imagination
    5. The film moment is always now
    6. Why people dislike the rejection of standard conventions
    7. Storytelling
    8. Don't wake me up
    9. Definition of alternative conventions
    10. Conventions
    11. Summary
  9. 3 The lens, the eye and perception
    1. Introduction
    2. The imprint of the lens
    3. The eye and a lens
    4. Size constancy
    5. How do we understand what we are looking at?
    6. Characteristics of perception
    7. Summary
  10. 4 The lens and perspective
    1. Perception and depth
    2. Depth indicators and their relationship to the lens
    3. Focal length
    4. Angle of view
    5. Depth-of-field
    6. fno
    7. Zoom
    8. Focus
    9. The structural skeleton of a shot
    10. Horizon line and camera height as a compositional device
    11. Controlling space with choice of lens angle/camera distance
    12. The internal space of a shot
    13. Production style and lens angle
    14. Estimating distance
    15. Accentuating depth
    16. Summary
  11. 5 Visual design
    1. Introduction
    2. Movement
    3. Sound
    4. Controlling composition
    5. Design techniques
    6. Grouping and organization
    7. Balance
    8. Figure and ground
    9. Shape
    10. Line
    11. Rhythm and visual beat
    12. Pattern
    13. Interest
    14. Direction
    15. Colour
    16. Scale
    17. Abstraction
    18. Understanding an image
    19. Summary
  12. 6 Frame
    1. Composition and the frame
    2. Frame – an invisible focus of power
    3. Static viewpoint
    4. A hard cut-off
    5. Limited depth and perspective indicators
    6. Monochrome
    7. The edge of frame as a reference
    8. Frames within frames
    9. A second frame
    10. Frame and divided interest
    11. Summary
  13. 7 The shape of the screen
    1. Aspect ratio
    2. The shape of the screen and composition
    3. Viewfinder as an editing tool
    4. Could it have been different?
    5. The invention of a world format standard
    6. Widescreen returns
    7. Design of the TV aspect ratio
    8. HDTV
    9. The need for a universal video format
    10. 16:9 television widescreen
    11. A reasonable compromise between competing aspect ratios
    12. The divine proportion
    13. Widescreen – the shape of a banknote
    14. Summary of film and television formats mentioned
  14. 8 Widescreen composition and film
    1. Finding ways to compose for the new shape
    2. Widescreen advantages
    3. Selling off the redundant format
    4. Pan and scan
    5. Cinematographers alarmed
    6. Boom in shot
    7. The growth of multiplexes
    8. Common topline and super
    9. Summary
  15. 9 Widescreen composition and TV
    1. Introduction
    2. Letterboxing
    3. Aspect ratio conversion
    4. Protect and save
    5. Shooting for two formats
    6. Composing for 16:9
    7. Fidgety zooms
    8. Transitional period
    9. The viewer takes control
    10. Inserting 4:3 material into a 16:9 production
    11. Compilation programmes
    12. Distortion and definition
    13. Widescreen equals spectacle
    14. Screen size
    15. Endnote, or in a different aspect ratio, NDNOT
    16. Summary
  16. 10 Past influences
    1. Intuition
    2. Early influences
    3. The Rule of Thirds
    4. More recent influences
    5. Summary
  17. 11 News and documentary
    1. Fact and fiction
    2. Realism and fantasy
    3. Film as illusion
    4. Objectivity
    5. Record versus comment
    6. Operational awareness
    7. Realistic camerawork
    8. Technology as an aid to 'realism'
    9. Documentary programmes
    10. Professionalism
    11. Engaging the attention of the audience
    12. Summary
  18. 12 Composition styles
    1. Visual styles
    2. Style and technique
    3. Technological development
    4. Staging the artistes
    5. Studio or location shooting
    6. Shot structure and editing
    7. Stylistic flourishes
    8. Multi-camera live television conventions
    9. The introduction of the zoom and television picture composition
    10. Portable cameras
    11. Customary technique
    12. Genre
    13. Summary of the history of style
  19. 13 Lighting and composition
    1. The key pictorial force
    2. Gradations of brightness
    3. Contrast range
    4. Exposure
    5. Characteristics of light
    6. Lighting technique
    7. Past influences
    8. Controlled lighting and composition
    9. Naturalism and found light
    10. Television lighting
    11. Any two from cheap, good or fast – but not all three
    12. Expressing an idea through an image
    13. Decorative lighting
    14. Summary
  20. 14 Colour
    1. How the eye sees colour
    2. White balance
    3. Colour correction
    4. Colour as subject
    5. Monochrome
    6. Colour and composition
    7. Colour symbolism
    8. Summary
  21. 15 Staging
    1. Introduction to staging
    2. Where shall I stand?
    3. What is staging?
    4. Staging people and staging action
    5. Figure composition
    6. Working at speed
    7. Summary
  22. 16 Movement
    1. Camera movement
    2. Invisible movement
    3. The development shot
    4. Accentuating the effect of camera movement
    5. Summary
  23. 17 Shooting for editing
    1. Invisible stitching
    2. Selection and structure
    3. Basic editing conventions
    4. Selection and editing
    5. Telling a story – fact and fiction
    6. News – unscripted shot structure
    7. Variety of shot
    8. Recap on basic advice for shooting for editing
    9. Interviews
    10. How long should a shot be held?
    11. Basic editing principles
    12. Types of edit
    13. Emphasis, tempo and syntax
    14. Multi-camera camerawork
    15. Dance and composition
    16. Summary
  24. Endnote
  25. Bibliography
  26. Index