Blocking Operation and Control

Self portrait with camera

CC Self portrait with camera by Bruno Girin at Flickr

Summary

In this project, we made a short film covering a small section of a previously recorded conversation. We used the script from our Dialogue in a Screenplay, and recreated the conversation, keeping in mind blocking and camera positioning. The goal of this project was to understand blocking, and how it affects the audiences experience.

Terms and Concepts

Strong, Winning AttitudesĀ 

  • Strong movements include rising from chair, straightening up, raising the arm, or walking forward
  • Strong, winning attitudes include confident, direct, controlled, definite goals, assertive, strong speech patterns, firm, relaxed, emotions open, wanting something, sincere, good self-image, or resilient

Weak Struggling or Failing Attitudes

  • Weak movements include stepping backwards, slouching, sitting down, lowering an arm, walking away or turning around
  • Weak, failing attitudes include uncertainty, lacking confidence, not in control, reactionary, emotionally tense, second thoughts about goals, evasive eyes, suffering pain, static, fragile, regressing, submissive, or masking emotions

Stage Orientations and Emphasis

  • Stage areas include up right, up center, up left, down right, down center, and down left
  • These directions can be combined to create up right center, left center, down left center, etc.

The Five Stages of Blocking a Scene

  • First, blocking is the first camera position. It’s also deciding where characters will be placed in a scene.
  • Next you set up lighting. Lighting the set and position properly is important
  • It’s a good idea to rehearse the first set-up with both the crew and actors
  • After the rehearsal shoots will always need adjustments to lighting and other various things
  • Finally you’ll actually shoot the scene, then you repeat this whole process.
    • Helpful tips for blocking:
      • Make a shot list to help you block. It’s like a map that will give you a path to follow.
      • Before instructing shots, let the actors try something and then make small suggestions on what they did
      • Camera placement will determine what is important in the scene. Place the camera according to what you want to be important
      • Blocking isn’t easy, and it will take a lot of work and change until the entire scene works together
      • Block your scenes so that action takes place in one direction, especially in low budget films

    Blocking and Movement

    • A good director will also look to actors for blocking, because actors know their character best
    • Blocking is movement and positioning in the scene that tell a story visually
    • Placement can suggest characters attitudes toward each other, and helps the audience understand the inner meaning
    • Blocking should include dramatic relationship, characters wants and feelings, as well as what stands in his/her way
    • Blocking should also represent the conflicts current situation, whether your character is currently succeeding or failing
    • Your characters should be placed so there is a portrayal of weak versus strong characters
    • Some important things to keep in mind are body position, stage areas, planes, levels, and character movements
    • Five basic body positions
      • Full Front: actor faces camera or audience. This is a strong position
      • One-quarter Front: Body is turned slightly away from camera left or right. Strong position
      • Full Back: standing facing away from the camera or audience. Used for dramatic effect
      • Three quarter front: profile position, allows audience to only see one side of the face or body. Weak position
      • Three-quarter Back: turns back to audience so only one side of head and shoulders is visible. Weakest position
    • Audience will be attracted to looking at areas of motion
    • Sight lines of characters direct audience attention
    • Tension is restriction of movement and emotions

     

Timeline

  • Day One: Be Filmed and Film a Team. Upload video clips and storyboards
  • Day Two: Start Editing Video
  • Day Three: Absent
  • Day Four: Absent
  • Day Five: Absent
  • Day Six: Edit Video and work on blog post. Finish and turn in

Project Skills Evidence

Hannah

Lily

Alaina

In this project, we were meant to make specific choices about blocking. The first choice we made was to put me in the center of the three of us. We chose this because I was answering questions from Hannah and Lily, and steering the conversation. Another choice we made was having Hannah cross her arms over herself. Crossing her arms was a weak movement that showed that she was feeling unconfident or nervous. We also used three cameras, that way we could have a camera focused on each of us while we spoke. This way, while each of us talked, we could switch the shots to show us each respectively.

What I Learned

Throughout this project, I learned a lot about both editing and blocking. I learned about how people’s physical signals and positions change how the audience sees the scene. I also learned how to edit using multiple cameras. At first, my camera switches were slow and the audio wasn’t matching up, but using a video tutorial I was able to figure out how to smoothly edit my clips under one audio.

 

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