Film Blocking Tutorial — Filmmaking Techniques for Directors: Ep3

Does the idea of watching two people
having a conversation sound exciting? Probably not. You probably wouldn’t
pay money to see that. And yet, you do. All the time. Because ultimately, that’s what every movie
and TV show boils down to. Over and over again. Two people having
a conversation. How have so many filmmakers managed
to make those conversations exciting? Well,
one big way is with film blocking. [Music: “Film Blocking Tutorial and Techniques”] Film blocking is the precise staging
of actors in a performance. In terms of cinema, it’s where you
place your actors in the frame. There are three visual elements
of filmmaker should think about when blocking a scene. Space. Shapes. Lines. By considering these components, you’ll be able to block a
scene between any subjects, in a visually dynamic way
that is loaded with subtext. First up – Space. This scene opens with a
boy playing in the snow. The camera pulls out to reveal a
tense conversation between adults. The stakes of the scene are the boy
– Charlie. Who’s framed carefully
through the window for the duration of the scene. On one side of him his father. Standing in protest, but dwarfed in size,
due to his distance from the camera. On the other side his mother. Framed closer to the lens, looming larger, more imposing. Charles is smallest of all. Take note of the way visual
contrast is created in the space to portray tension
and importance. Next up is shapes. There are three basic shapes. Circles, squares and triangles. Everything around us can be turned
into one of these basic shapes. Even an actor’s face. Circle. Triangle. Square. The basic shapes come with certain
emotional qualities and assumptions. Circles feel safer
and inclusive. Squares create limited space, boxing someone in. Triangles are sharp. They feel aggressive, but it also has an apex. [Screaming] -Holy shit -Let’s watch this scene from
“Guardians of the Galaxy.” James Gunn carefully
framed his subjects to form a triangle
pointing to Groot. The moment is played for a joke. The conversation happens while important action
is staged behind it. -You definitely,
need to get that last. -When you’re looking
through your frame, identify the basic shapes, and bear in mind the emotional
connotations of each, and where they direct
the viewer’s eye. We’ve covered shapes, and shapes are formed by lines. Be aware of the lines
created in every shot, and the effect they
have on the viewer. Take a look at this scene
from “The Godfather Part 2.” It’s a simple dialogue scene. It plays out between a standing
Michael – a vertical line. And Fredo – nearly
a horizontal line. Fredo could have been
standing for the scene. If he did, the power dynamics
would have been potentially equal, but he was slung
so low in the seat that he was
practically horizontal. This film blocking creates visual
tension between the two, especially when cutting. It also emphasizes who
holds all the cards. During Fredo’s outbursts, he flounders into an
almost diagonal line. Literally,
attempting to change his shape. An attempt to stand
up to Michael. When the outburst is over, the order of things
remain the same. Fredo goes back to his
horizontal position, and Michael delivers
his final judgment. -You`re nothing to me now. You’re not a brother. You’re not a friend. I don`t want to know
you,or what you do. -Happy trails, Fredo. [Gunshot sound] So we’ve covered how
shapes, lines and space can be used when
blocking a scene. The thing is, on their own, they’re not going to make those
dialogue scenes that profound. Unless,
you do it with this in mind. Subtext. Or contrast. By contrasting, you’re blocking
with what’s being said or done, you create an
underlying meaning. -It’s also a personal statement
about the band itself. Hey, Paul! [Screaming] -You can start to
reveal the real story, and it’s not only for viewers. Communicating subtext
through blocking a scene, guide your actors, your DP,
and the art director towards your vision. Blocking tells us what the
characters are really up to, what they really mean, what’s really going on. That’s what makes blocking
so important to a story. A good way to plan,
your blocking is with a storyboard. Think about what the characters
are saying in the script, and then incorporate that into your
blocking with storyboard software, like Studio Binder. And the next time you’re having
a conversation in real life, pay attention to the way you
stand, or sit, or move, or lie down like Fredo. You might be surprised. See you in the next video. [Outro Music: “Film Blocking Tutorial & Techniques”]


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