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Cinematic techniques


Cinematic techniques

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Cinematic techniques are methods employed by film makers to communicate meaning, entertain, and to produce a particular emotional or psychological response in an audience.



Main article: Cinematography

Cinematographic techniques such as the choice of shot, and camera movement, can greatly influence the structure and meaning of a film.

Distance of shot

The use of different shots can influence the meaning which an audience will interpret:

  • Close-up: May be used to show tension;
  • Extreme close-up: Focuses on a single facial feature, such as lips;
  • Medium shot
  • Long shot
  • Establishing shot: Mainly used at a new location to give the audience a sense of locality.

Camera angles

These are used extensively to communicate meaning and emotion about characters:

  • Low angle shot: Looking up at a character or object, often to instill fear or awe in the audience;
  • Straight angle shot
  • High angle shot: Looking down on a character, often to show vulnerability or weakness;
  • Canted or Oblique: The camera is tilted to show the scene at an angle. This is used extensively in the horror and science fiction genre. The audience will often not consciously realize the change.

Mise en scene

"Mise en scene" refers to what is colloquially known as "the Set", but is applied more generally to refer to everything that is presented before the camera. With various techniques, film makers can use the Mise En Scene to produce intended effects.

Movement and expression

Movement can be used extensively by film makers to make meaning. It is how a scene is put together to produce an image. A famous example of this, which uses "dance" extensively to communicate meaning and emotion, is the film, "West Side Story"


In cinematography, the use of light can influence the meaning of a shot. For example, film makers often portray villains that are heavily shadowed or veiled, using silhouette.

Techniques involving light include backlight (silhouette), and under-lighting (light across a character form). Other aspects of Mise en Scene include:

  • Costume;
  • Use of motif, and associated meaning;
  • Use of color, and its emotional response; and
  • Props.


Sound is used extensively in cinematography to enhance presentation, and is distinguished into diegetic ("actual sound"), and non-diegetic sound:

  • Diegetic sound: It is any sound where the source is visible on the screen, or is implied to be present by the action of the film:
    • Voices of characters;
    • Sounds made by objects in the story; and
    • Music, represented as coming from instruments in the story space.
  • Non-diegetic sound: Also called "commentary sound", it is sound which is represented as coming from a source outside the story space, ie. its source is neither visible on the screen, nor has been implied to be present in the action:
    • Narrator's commentary;
    • Voice of God;
    • Sound effect which is added for dramatic effect;
    • Mood music; and
    • Film Score
Non-diegetic sound plays a big role in creating atmosphere and mood within a film.

Sound effects

Main article: Sound effect

In motion picture and television production, a sound effect is a sound recorded and presented to make a specific storytelling or creative point, without the use of dialogue or music. The term often refers to a process, applied to a recording, without necessarily referring to the recording itself. In professional motion picture and television production, the segregations between recordings of dialogue, music, and sound effects can be quite distinct, and it is important to understand that in such contexts, dialogue and music recordings are never referred to as sound effects, though the processes applied to them, such as reverberation or flanging, often are

Techniques in Interactive Movies

New techniques currently being developed in interactive movies, introduce an extra dimension into the experience of viewing movies, by allowing the viewer to change the course of the movie.

In traditional linear movies, the author can carefully construct the plot, roles, and characters to achieve a specific effect on the audience. Interactivity, however, introduces non-linearity into the movie, such that the author no longer has complete control over the story, but must now share control with the viewer. There is an inevitable trade-off between the desire of the viewer for freedom to experience the movie in different ways, and the desire of the author to employ specialized techniques to control the presentation of the story. Computer technology is required to create the illusion of freedom for the viewer, while providing familiar, as well as, new cinematic techniques to the author.

See also

External links

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Movies, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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