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Dramatic Effects with a Movie Camera

Obregon Obregon

Is from: Southold, US
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Sat 02-Oct-21 04:39 PM
Dramatic Effects with a Movie Camera by Gail Segal& Sheril Antonio

This is a book about composition of the movie shot. The authors discuss, among other things, the use of the camera from the static position, the close-up, the moving camera, the wide shot, the long shot, and the handheld device. There is nothing about the mechanics of photography, like exposure. (There is a discussion of the use of deep focus, but little about f/stops or lighting.) They discuss how the particular use serves to reveal or at least, add to the telling of, the story. They illustrate their points with screen captures of many movies. Because a screen capture can’t have the same effect as a moving image, they also narrate the development of the stories, and how the selected scenes illustrate the communicative role of the camera. No single technique can be tied to any one way of telling a story. For example, the wide shot can be used both for sad and joyful moments, as the authors show in their selections The individual effect has to be considered within the larger context of the movie, including everything from the writing to the scenery. The authors’ writing is interesting and the movies selected make good use of the effects.

Unfortunately the design of the book works against their purpose. The illustrations are small and muddy. I had a hard time appreciating them, even with the use of a magnifying glass. The difficulty was increased thanks to the cryptic number order of the illustrations from the movies, and increased more from the fact that the numbering in the text often did not agree with the numbering of the images. As if this were not bad enough the type selected was very thin, adding to the difficulty of reading. This design was so bothersome that I would have abandoned the book, except for the content of the text.

This is a case where someone has picked the wrong format for this material. I’ve encountered other books that featured clips from movies. One could access the clips from a companion website or, in the case of an electronic book, directly from a link in the book.

This book will be of interest to both film makers and viewers. Crafting the composition of the image can enable the better telling of a story. Recognizing the skill and art that went in selecting the best compositions to tell a story can also add to the pleasure of the cineaste.