The Filmmaker’s Eye by Gustavo Mercado

The Film Makers Eye

The Filmmaker’s Eye, by Gustavo Mercado, published by Focal Press.

Although not listed on my reading list, I came across this title on Amazon and reading the description, I thought that it might make useful additional reading.

The book looks at different shooting techniques for film making such as long shots, medium shots, close-ups, macro-shots, doll shots, crane shots, sequencing, etc.  Probably most of these techniques I will never have the opportunity to use or reason; but it was interesting learning a little bit about them.  The book examines how they are best used, the sort of equipment choices and how they may affect the look, such as using telephoto lenses as apposed to wide-angle or normal focal-length lenses. Exposure and depth-of-field considerations by choice of types of film stock or size of film / sensor size (if using digital).  Lighting considerations with possible options available.  Each shooting technique included examples from world cinema of the rules to which these techniques are used and always an example how  al filmmaker has created a clever scene to break the rules that works.

For me the most useful things I learned from this book was a better understanding on how depth-of-field works and how to control it.

The closer the subject is to the camera/lens the shorter the depth-of-field you will have. The further away the greater the depth-of-field.

The size of film or sensor will affect your ability to obtain a shallow depth-of-field.  16mm film or a small digital sensor can create issues if trying to get a shallow depth-of-field where as a larger 35mm film or full-size sensor makes obtaining shallower depths-of-field easier.  On the other-hand 16mm film and small sensors are easier for deep depths-of-field / deep-focus shots.

The x line is the width across the frame.  The Y line is the height of the frame.  The Z line is the perceived depth of the frame.

Telephoto lenses compress’ the depth Z line bringing background and foreground closer to one another.  By nature of this lens subjects have to be further away and therefor depth-of-field can be short background may still be very visible.  Useful in movies for exaggerating speed as a subject moves through the Z axis.

Wide-angle lenses offer a wider view but can distort the image at either side of the frame and can offer a greater depth-of-field and at lower depths of field throw the background into a less distracting blur if required.  This will also create an impression of slower progress through the Z axis of the frame.

Another very useful piece of information was regarding panning movements with a cine-camera/video camera.  Due to the frame-rate, if you pan too quickly you can get a visual problem called strobing of the picture.  Therefore, it was recommended to pan no faster than to allow 5-6 seconds in length for a subject to move from one side of the screen to the other in order to avoid this phenomenon.  Example: The pan starts with a tree on the left side of the frame, pan so that the length of time it takes for that tree to finish on the right hand side of the frame is no less than 5 seconds.




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