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Mr. Ebert

Hello There! 

Week 10 is all about film! In order to better understand how films are made and the meaning behind them, we were instructed to read Roger Ebert’s helpful techniques.

The Assignment

We had to read Roger Ebert’s tips on reading movies and understand them. We also had to watch at least 3 videos that show and describe some aspects of film making. The point of this is to open our eyes to the techniques being used to make good film.

Roger Ebert

One of the main things I understood from Mr.Ebert’s article is the fact that when trying to undress a work of artistic creativity, it is important to keep in mind that there are no absolutes, just tendencies. This means that even though there are guidelines to how certain things work, a smart person will understand that creativity can deviate and should deviate from the rules. When one is watching a film or looking at a painting, if they erect mental boundaries, they might miss the real meaning and life of the work. I will keep this in mind below when I am reading a scene from a movie. Another important factor is Mr.Ebert’s reference to the “Golden Mean” “Rule of Thirds” and “Golden Ratio”. You can read about the rule here. It basically says that objects placed slightly to the right of the center are dominant, positive, and ideally placed. Objects placed to the left are negative and subordinate. Mr. Ebert took this further to explain scenes in movies. Basically, the character to the right is supposed to be more dominant, more happy, more important, and light. The character on the left is negative, sad, subordinate, upset, etc. Placement of people also comes in the form of background and foreground, as well as lighting and movement. He also pointed out that “few tilts seem positive” which I think I can agree with. If life is tilted, it’s off balance and it’s not going well. Why tilt the screen other than to imply some type of disorder.

The Videos

The first one I watched is the “One-Point Perspective” video featuring all of Stanley Kubrick’s films which include The Shining and Clockwork Orange. It looks like the beauty of the one-point perspective is that is puts the audience right in the middle with the whole scene unfolded in front of them. Kind of like you are actually in the room looking in front of you. I would think it is a powerful tool in suspense films because it makes the audience feel vulnerable and open and they don’t know if something will come running up from the distance. The next clip I watched is “From Below” based on Quentin Tarantino films which include Inglorious Basterds and Kill Bill. I have to say, whoever came up with “from below” filming is a genius. It’s like I am actually the one all the actors are looking at and talking to…but i’m not really the one. The only way I can explain it is that it’s like laying/sitting NEXT to the person who is receiving the action. In most every scene of this clip, I felt as though I was an active participant in the film. Finally, I watched “Camera Angles and Techniques“. The “lolly” is when the camera zooms in on an object and makes it look as though it is floating towards you. Also, a good tip was that camera angle is only limited by your creativity. This is important to keep in mind because I’m sure people just starting out in movie making are afraid to experiment. And last but not least, faking it. When you see somebody crawling up a wall, they may actually be crawling on the floor but the camera angle makes it look like a wall.

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