‘How to Shoot a Motion Picture, twelve golden rules for better camerawork.’
I picked this book up in a charity shop, published in 1979 by The Macmillan Press Ltd, ISBN: 0-333-25630-1, Author: Ivan Watson. This is a great little book that simply sets out twelve golden rules that professional film-makers follow to produce professional looking films that amateur film-makers can follow. Although this book was written forty years ago for home cine-camera users most of the book is still valuable to the digital camera operator as it mostly covers camera angles, continuity, movement, POV, sequence, camera movement, etc. Only a small section is out of date, referring specifically to correct use of film choice of cine-cameras and film editing including the synchronization of sound to cine-film. Not at all relevant to modern day editing but interesting all the same.
I have copied the book’s summing-up page, on the last page of the book, which has done done all the work for me to both highly recommend this book and sum-up it’s contents.
It is a pity that this book is no longer in print, I firmly believe that with only a small amount of work to update it to reference digital technology this book would be on the students required reading list. This book de-mystifies the expression ‘film-language’ and simply lays out rules to follow in order to be able to make a descent enough film for putting forward for critical assessment or competition.
(Page 119, How to be a Better-Than-Average Cameraman)
Twelve Golden Rules For Better Camerawork.
- Economise on screen-time by shooting only part of the action to represent the whole.
- Whenever you introduce anything new, use a re-establishing shot to enable the audience to relate once more to the general scene.
- Always start a new scene or change of location with an establishing shot.
- when filming action that is broken down into related shots, change the angle and image size every time you stop the camera.
- to obtain a three-dimensional effect, shoot, where ever possible, at an angle of about 45 degrees to the subject.
- when you re position the camera to break-down continuous action into separate shots, or take alternating over-the-shoulder or point-of-view close-ups opposite players, keep the camera within a 180 degree arc, on one-side of the action line, for each shot in the sequence.
- Start the camera before the subject enters the frame and stop it after the subject leaves the frame.
- Wherever possible, a panning shot should be proceeded and followed by a static shot.
- The foundation of any interior light set-up for close shots should be a key light, a fill-light and a back light.
- When you compose a scene try, as far as possible to keep it simple.
- In any filming situation where you wish to heighten suspense by expanding screen time, make full use of creation close-ups or cut-in shots.
- If you have an artistic or dramatic reason for doing so, ignore all or any of the Golden Rules whenever you please.