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Guest Joshua Powless

Compostion

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Guest Joshua Powless

Shooting isn't just pulling a camera up and pushing the red record button, its more so about framing and controlling the elements within the frame. The photographic eye, one would say? can it be used everywhere? the bathroom, the laundry mat, the kitchen?

 

 

I personally have a slight idea of what good composition is my only problem is isn't strong enough to impress I don't know how to get better at it? soon as i understand the composition part ill bring in the mole Richardson's and the pepper lights. :)

 

this may be hard to answer or pretty easy. I just don't think I understand it solid yet.

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I'm not sure that "Good and bad," "right or wrong," is something which can really be learned. It almost has to be felt? for the shot, for the scene and as a motif in the film. Best way to "learn," it is with practice. I have a small point and shoot digital camera; it has a 16:9 mode, I find this helpful when I'm curious what would do what; ya know? Look around, look at art, look at films, just look, and I feel it'll come. At least that's what I did; which isn't to say what I did/do is even right or wrong, or good or bad; ya know? Composition is a very subjective thing, and we'll all have slightly different notions of what should be done.

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This book helps demystify composition in a clear and effective way. Of course it's only a starting point, and motion picture storytelling goes well beyond the rules of still images, but the basics here are always in use in one from or another.

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Well...I'm a relatively inexperienced student, and I'd be wrong trying to talk "above" the answer, so take my pretentious musings with a grain of salt...but composition directly involves the "frame," and as such it is the only necessary part of filmmaking. The audio can also be part of the frame, but a film can exist as a film apart from sound, so it isn't essential.

 

frame is the physical requirement of art, truth is the metaphysical. Anything in a frame can be "art" but it only becomes art in my opinion when the other side is there as well. Because of the highly subjective nature of aesthetic beauty, "good composition" cannot have a physical definition, and in my opinion, what makes it good is its service of truth. This doesn't have to be too forced or too explicit. It doesn't even have to be something the viewer can put into words.

 

Of course you can learn things such as the thirds rule, where not to put lines, where to put lines, etc. But in the end if you keep to all the rules without thinking about them, you're doing yourself a disservice. It may look nice but it may feel empty as well.

 

like the Madman, the question you have to ask is, "what is truth?"

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Composition is a very subjective thing, and we'll all have slightly different notions of what should be done.

 

Adrian's right.....

 

It's a very very subjective thing. To me composition is often about creating visual tension within a frame. There are some images below.

 

Look at composition and ask what it *says*. Look at how many meaning and reading you can have from even these simple images. As the dot moves around, think of it's gravity and weighting. Is there attraction to differing sides as it moves around.

 

To me the first image is formal and centred. It's all square and right but it's also kind of bland.

 

The second one is somewhat out of balance.

 

The third is interesting because there is almost a tension that goes with it. It off centre but it's not out of balance. There is something *composed* about it. there's a a nice interplay between it being too far off centre and not being central. Image 2 feels too close and lop sided in comparison to image 3.

 

It's again amazing to think that so much visual information is conveyed even in this simple imagery.

 

 

 

All these images are form the very fine book,

http://www.amazon.com/Art-Visual-Perceptio...1466&sr=8-1

 

jb

post-22603-1209701732.jpg

post-22603-1209701745.jpg

post-22603-1209701764.jpg

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Look a films made by what you consider to be great directors and study what is put into each frame then look at some films by less talented directors and you'll see the difference right away. There will be nothing particularly interesting or if there is it will be the exception rather than the rule and most shots will be the same thing you've seen a hundred times in a hundred other films or a poor imitation of something one of the greats did much better and more originally.

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Shooting still photography is what has helped me the most in fine tuning my composition skills. Motion pictures are after all a series of still frames, so the same skills apply.

 

Shoot a lot of still photography, it's easy and you don't have to make a production of it.

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Of course you can learn things such as the thirds rule, where not to put lines, where to put lines, etc. But in the end if you keep to all the rules without thinking about them, you're doing yourself a disservice. It may look nice but it may feel empty as well.

 

Personally, I'm a member of the school of "you need to know the rules, before you can break them." I think it's important to know the rule of thirds and things about balancing a frame and leading lines and all of that good stuff before you abandon them in a search for "truth." There's nothing wrong with breaking the rules. But knowing them first is the difference between making a deliberate choice that serves and enhances your piece or inadvertently minimizing your image's potential by not understanding the basics.

 

This is all relative of course. After all, there is literally an infinite amount of places you can set your frame. That's part of the fun and the challenge.

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Personally, I'm a member of the school of "you need to know the rules, before you can break them." I think it's important to know the rule of thirds and things about balancing a frame and leading lines and all of that good stuff before you abandon them in a search for "truth." There's nothing wrong with breaking the rules. But knowing them first is the difference between making a deliberate choice that serves and enhances your piece or inadvertently minimizing your image's potential by not understanding the basics.

 

I agree completely. Another way of looking at it is to think of the "rules" more as principles or forces at work in the image. Once you learn and understand them, you can maximize or minimize their effects for your own purposes.

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Learning frame composition, angle selection and sequence (pre-edit) is very much like learning your native tongue. For the most part, little is ever done outside of the normal patterns. You use the same old patterns when you write, here. It's pretty much the same with movie making. Just "monkey-see-monkey-do" your work. There's a good reason for this: successful communication. Thy admidst the ever by an unfit for unweird and/or seek the thy nor their never not be thy minds then forecast by peculiar speculator they upon your doom.

 

See?

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I don't know, I tend to think rules are overstated; there's something incredibly appealing to me about photographs or video taken by amateur photographers with absolutely no knowledge of the rules of composition. Technically they're "bad," but there's something else in them - photography completely uninhibited by "do this, don't do that."

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Forget the "Rule of Thirds"! It happens to work, but, it's a shallow crutch for point and shooters. Composition is about depth and balance. Check out the black and white photos of Elliot Porter, or Gregory Crewdson's latest work, or Andreas Gurskey, or better yet study the paintings of Poussin, David, Bellini ... among many others.

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Composition involves the spatial and temporal relationships between the objects/subjects within the frame. The objects/subjects that have a relationship with each other and with the frame itself and ultimately how those various relationships, both individually and as a whole, serve the narrative and effect the audience.

 

Whether or not you care about composition, arrange it yourself, or just shoot without thinking about it, it is there and it has an impact.

 

Idealy, the documentary filmmaker does not arrange the objects/subjects, but rather positions him or herself in a way to create a desired composition without interference.

 

The non-documentary filmmaker arranges the objects/subjects to create specific relationships that serve the narrative, as well as positioning his or herself around them.

 

More important than superficial beauty and balance of composition is how it serves the purpose of the scene and the narrative as a whole, emotionally and intellectually. This may often be subtextual. It is up to the filmmaker to find the subtext of the script and suggest it through the help of composition - as well as how he or she directs the actors to play the scene.

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