Monday, 3 November 2014

Who Wins the Scene?

Tony Zhou is back with an examination of eyelines and relative power within scenes.
In drama, two characters walk into a room. Each wants something from the other. The question of the scene is: who gets what they want?

1 comment:

Kathy Smart said...

This is a masterly analysis of camera direction. I think every film maker should see it.

• At the first meet, they look right at the camera, examining each other. Even though he is in jail, they are portrayed as equals.
• After he lands the first blow, the view moves over the shoulder, with each person building up a defence.
• Then he gets all the power with the camera looking slightly up at him, slightly down on her. While he looks the audience in the eye, she looks off camera.
• When we are in her head, we look where she looks, only to bring us back to him.
• She is there to get him to look at a survey. Every time she asks directly, the camera goes to a stand-offish angle.
• When he asks for information, the angles shift. She looks the camera directly in the eye and he looks off. We have moved inside his POV because he is genuinely interested.
• We see the exact moment the relationship thaws.
• We think she is winning. She has got him to look at the survey, which is shown in close-up, emphasising its importance.
• Then he turns the tables. The camera dollies for the first time in the entire scene. It frames him normally while leaving her short sighted, off balance. Just when she thought she was winning, she lost.
• He is no longer looking directly at the lens, but very slightly off, because they’re not seeing eye to eye any more. He walks away from the camera and she mirrors this.
• After a break, they are back together. We get the second camera move and the very first shot in the entire scene where they are finally together in the same frame. The camera is looking up and we understand that this is the start of a relationship. He yells at her to go and she turns and hurries away.

All other character interactions in the movie have slightly different answers to the question: Who wins the scene.