Friday, July 20, 2007

Some Cinematic Terms

Auteur: the notion that a film's director can be considered as its author. By studying directors' output, particular themes and styles can be seen to run through most of their films

Composition: the way in which the contents of the shot relate to one another. For example, two people of equal status may be framed in such a way that they occupy an equal amount of space; if, however, one dominates the other, the shot may be composed so that one towers over the subordinate

Continuity editing: the conventional style of editing that strives not to be noticed. There are various rules, for example the 'axis of action' (the 180-degree line) must not be crossed so the cinematic space can be orientated toward the spectator. See also establishing shot

Diegesis: the narrative world created by the film. Everything that exists in the film's world is part of the diegesis; add­ons, such as credits and music that the characters cannot hear, are non-diegetic.

Dissolve: a type of edit - the transition between one shot and another - where the second shot fades in as the first fades out. They are both momentarily visible to the audience

Dominant ideology: the system of values and beliefs that dominate society at a particular time. For the past four hundred years, bourgeois ideology has held sway in the western world. These values and beliefs may seem natural, but they are a social construction

Establishing shot: this is often the first shot of a scene that allows spectators to see where everything and everybody is. This shot establishes the 'axis of action' (see continuity editing) that the camera must not cross

High Concept: the industry term given to films that can be described in twenty-five words or less. It is characterised by a postmodern self-consciousness in the use of style and stars. Most blockbuster movies are constructed as High Concept films

Hollywood: geographically in Los Angeles, however it often refers to a type of film that is characterised by conven­tional film form and style and that is primarily made in order to make money

Iconography: a term derived from art criticism. In film studies, it refers to objects associated with particular genres, for example, robots in science fiction

Mise-en-scene: this literally 'in the picture': how the elements within the frame interact in order to create meaning. In the opening sequence of Blade Runner, Leon often dominates Holden in the mise-en-scene, prefiguring the latter's fate

Montage: a collection of edits often used to quickly describe a journey (like the end of the original Blade Runner). In the terms of Soviet film maker and theorist, Sergei Eisenstein, it refers to a collection of shots that comment upon the action. In the first sense, the montage is usually diegetic (see above); Eisenstein's mon­tage, however, can be a collection of non-diegetic material

Pan and scan: the technique used to display widescreen films for television's 4:3 dimensions. The frame is too wide to be encompassed, so the camera appears to 'slide' across the frame, allowing audiences to see what is obscured.

Star persona: how a star appears to the audience. A persona may or may not relate to the real person. Personas are understood primarily from films but also through interviews and articles. Stars tend to have quite similar personalities across their films

Shot/reverse-shot: a pair of shots in which the second mirrors the first. A dialogue is often filmed this way: the first person is shown at a particular angle, maybe over their shoulder; the following shot is of the second person from the same angle but from their side (their shoulder). This can be repeated a number of times