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An introduction to the motion picture art

In some respects the motion picture is the American art form par excellence, and no area of art has undergone a more dramatic revision in critical appraisal in the recent past. It exists today in styles that differ significantly from country to country and in forms as diverse as the documentary created by one person with a handheld camera and the multimillion-dollar epic involving hundreds of performers and technicians.

What an Art Director Does: An Introduction to Motion Picture Production Design

A number of factors immediately come to mind in connection with the motion-picture experience. For one thing, there is something mildly hypnotic about the illusion of movement that holds the attention and may even lower critical resistance. The accuracy of the motion-picture image is compelling because it is made by a nonhuman, scientific process. In addition, the motion picture gives what has been called a strong sense of being present; the film image always appears to be in the present tense.

There is also the concrete nature of film; it appears to show actual people and things. No less important than any of the above are the conditions under which the motion picture ideally is seen, where everything helps to dominate the spectators. They are taken from their everyday environmentpartially isolated from others, and comfortably seated in a dark auditorium. The darkness concentrates their attention an introduction to the motion picture art prevents comparison of the image on the screen with surrounding objects or people.

For a while, spectators live in the world the motion picture unfolds before them. Still, the escape into the world of an introduction to the motion picture art film is not complete. Only rarely does the audience react as if the events on the screen are real—for instance, by ducking before an onrushing locomotive in a special three-dimensional effect. Moreover, such effects are considered to be a relatively low form of the art of motion pictures.

Much more often, viewers expect a film to be truer to certain unwritten conventions than to the real world. Although spectators may sometimes expect exact realism in details of dress or locale, just as often they expect the film to escape from the real world and make them exercise their imagination, a demand made by great works of art in all forms. The sense of reality most films strive for results from a set of codes, or rules, that are implicitly accepted by viewers and confirmed through habitual filmgoing.

The use of brownish lighting, filters, and props, for example, has come to signify the past in films about American life in the early 20th century as in The Godfather [1972] and Days of Heaven [1978]. Storytelling codes are even more conspicuous in their manipulation of actual reality to achieve an effect of reality.

Audiences are prepared to skip over huge expanses of time in order to reach the dramatic moments of a story. La battaglia di Algeri 1966; The Battle of Algiersfor example, begins in a torture chamber where a captured Algerian rebel has just given away the location of his cohorts. In a matter of seconds that location is attacked, and the drive of the search-and-destroy mission pushes the audience to believe in the fantastic speed and precision of the operation.

Furthermore, the audience readily accepts shots from impossible points of view if other aspects of the film signal the shot as real. Fidelity in the reproduction of details is much less important than the appeal made by the story to an emotional response, an appeal based on innate characteristics of the motion-picture medium.

Motion picture

These essential characteristics can be divided into those that pertain primarily to the motion-picture image, those that pertain to motion pictures as a unique medium for works of art, and those that derive from the experience of viewing motion pictures. Qualities of the film image The primary unit of expression in film is the image, or the single shot.

  1. It allowed only a single spectator at a time to look through a peephole at the tiny moving images inside the machine. Students apply historical techniques to create original animations and visual effects.
  2. By 1930, eight studios produced 95 percent of all American films, and they continued to experience growth even during the Depression.
  3. These directors were young and film-school educated, and they contributed a sense of professionalism, sophistication, and technical mastery to their work, leading to a wave of blockbuster productions, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind 1977 , Star Wars 1977 , Raiders of the Lost Ark 1981 , and E. In graphic montage, cutting usually occurs during shots of movement rather than ones of static action.

The attribution of magical properties to images has a long history. This association is well documented among many primitive peoples, and it is even reflected in the term magic lantern as a synonym for the film projector.

  • Peer evaluations may be considered in this evaluation process;
  • Additionally, corporations sought revenue sources beyond the movie theater, looking to the video and cable releases of their films;
  • This course provides instruction in oral presentation and communication skills for professional settings in the motion picture industry;
  • Under State of Florida law, regulations, and rules, all films and videos produced by Motion Picture Arts students become property of Florida State University and are copyrighted in the name of Florida State University;
  • The language of words lends itself to generalization and abstraction.

Any image taken out of the everyday world and projected onto a screen to some extent appears to become magically transmuted. Intensity, intimacy, ubiquity The qualities of intensity, intimacy, and ubiquity have been singled out as the salient characteristics of the motion-picture image.

Its intensity derives from its power to hold the complete attention of the spectator on whatever bit of reality is being shown. In the cinema one is compelled to look at something that not the viewer but the filmmaker has selected, for reasons that are not always immediately apparent. This quality of intensity becomes most noticeable when the camera remains fixed on something for a longer time than seems warranted, and the spectator gradually becomes acutely conscious of his loss of volition over his own attention.

This technique is not often used but is very effective when used well. This ability is demonstrated in long-distance shots through a telephoto lens as well as in close-ups. At the beginning of the Japanese film Suna no onna 1964; Woman in the Dunesfor example, a pervading theme of the film is indicated by shots of grains of sand an introduction to the motion picture art times enlarged.

  1. Students work in a variety of creative roles, including directing, cinematography, art direction, and editing.
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  3. In themselves, words such as man or house do not suggest a particular man or a particular house but men and houses in general, and more abstract terms such as love or dishonesty have even less-precise associations with specific things.

No less important to this illusion of ubiquity is the effect achieved by editing, which allows countless images representing a long, elaborate action to be presented in a comparatively short film or sequence, such as that exemplified by the opening of The Battle of Algiers.

The geographic and temporal authority of the image even permits credibility to be given to sequences representing the past, the future, and dreams. Particularity Other equally important characteristics of the film image may be singled out. One of these is its particularity. The language of words lends itself to generalization and abstraction.

In themselves, words such as man or house do not suggest a particular man or a particular house but men and houses in general, and more abstract terms such as love or dishonesty have even less-precise associations with specific things.

Motion pictures, on the other hand, show only particular things—a particular man or a particular house. In this way a film image may be less ambiguous than the language of words but also less evocativeless likely to be enriched by imagination, association, or recollection.

Despite its particularity, however, the motion-picture image may also be ambiguous in that it shows but does not explain. It does not in itself tell what it means, and people instinctively search for meanings in images. This is why commentary is thought to be essential in tying down precise meaning in educational films. The particular insistence of given photographed objects also explains why the juxtapositions of montage are so effective—the spectator compulsively searches for the reason behind a particular sequence an introduction to the motion picture art images.

Neutrality Another characteristic of the film image is its neutrality. The world people see around them is strongly influenced by their emotions and their interests. A plumber fixing pipes in a museum may not see the masterpieces around him, while an angry man may hear an insult where an introduction to the motion picture art was intended. The camera and the microphone, however, are thought to reproduce images and sounds without feeling.

Although focus, directionality, and other technological factors limit what can be seen and heard, audiences are prepared to believe that the motion picture itself is nonhuman or even superhuman in its passive reception of information. When a film appears to be charged with emotion, it is usually because the director has carefully manipulated the images to give this illusion. In everyday life, the eyes follow the mind; in the cinema, the mind follows the eyes.

Characteristics of the medium Four characteristics may be stressed as factors that differentiate the motion-picture medium, either in degree or in kind, from other mediums for works of art: Luminosity The intense brightness of the picture projected by powerful light onto a coated screen in itself transforms the most mundane element of reality. The appeal of a luminous picture is attested by efforts of advertisers to achieve luminous effects in posters and displays.

The luminosity of the motion-picture image also results in a considerable range of tone, between the brightest highlight and the deepest black. In both black-and-white and colour films, the most delicate gradations in the image are therefore possible. Movement As a feature of the motion picture, movement is so obvious that its central importance is sometimes forgotten.

The motion picture has much in common with the graphic arts, but the added dimension of movement transforms it, allowing a narrative or a drama to unfold in time in a way no other graphic art can. Both in filmmaking and in film appreciation, movement must constantly be borne in mind: It is not a single colour but the cumulative effect that matters, not a single situation but a developing plot. The composition within any frame, or exposure, of a motion picture is as important as the relationship of that frame to those that precede and follow it.

Realism Another essential element of the motion-picture image is that it gives an impression of reality. Whether in a drama enacted expressly for the camera or in a documentary film of an event at which the camera just happened to be present, this feeling of realism deriving from motion-picture photography accounts for much of the force of motion pictures.

Animated films, which lack this element of photographic realism, tend to be taken as fantasies. The attempt of the motion picture to reproduce three-dimensional reality on a flat screen presents the same problems and opportunities that are encountered in still photography and in painting. The standard camera lens, in fact, is constructed to produce visual effects precisely similar to those achieved by painters using the principles of perspective that were developed during the Renaissance.

Cinematic realism is most fully heightened when the images are accompanied by synchronous sound, whereby a second sense, hearing, ratifies what the eyes see.

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Although reproduced sound can be manipulated with regard to distance, timbre, clarity, and duration, in combination with photographed moving images, it forcefully brings alive its subject as present in a way unavailable to the other arts of representation.

Montage is what distinguishes motion pictures from the performing arts, which exist only within a performance. The motion picture, by contrast, uses the performances as the raw material, which is built up as a novel or an essay or a painting, studiously put together piece by piece, with an allowance for trial and error, second thoughts, and, if necessary, reshooting. The order in which the segments of film are presented can have drastically different dramatic effects.

Several major contributions to the theory of montage were made by Soviet directors.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917Soviet films were encouraged for their propaganda value, but film stocks were scarce. Soviet directors carefully studied the films of D. Griffith and other masters to make the most effective use of their own meagre resources. He inserted it in a film before a shot of a bowl of soup, again before a shot of a child playing, and still again before one of a dead old woman.

Sergey Eisensteinwho excelled both as a director and as a teacher, based much of his theory of film on montage, which he compared to the compounding of characters in Japanese writing. Still another great Russian director, Vsevolod I. Only if an object is presented as part of a synthesis, he said, is it endowed with filmic life.

Three types of montage may be distinguished—narrative, graphic, and ideational. In narrative montage the multifarious images and scenes involve a single subject followed from point to point. In a fiction film, a character or location is explored from multiple angles while the audience builds a comprehensive image of the situation being explored or explained. Graphic montage occurs when shots are juxtaposed not on the basis of their subject matter but because of their physical appearance.

In graphic montage, cutting usually occurs during shots of movement rather than ones of static action. This cutting on motion facilitates the smooth an introduction to the motion picture art of one image by the next.

In ideational montage, two separate images are related to a third thing, an idea that they help to produce and by which they are governed. In Stachka 1924; Strikefor example, the director Eisenstein, to whom the theory of ideational montage is credited, effectively conveys the idea of slaughter by intercutting a shot of cattle being butchered with shots of workers being cut down by cavalry.

  • Blockbusters, Knockoffs, and Sequels In the 1970s, with the rise of work by Coppola, Spielberg, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, and others, a new breed of director emerged;
  • Health Insurance Students seeking degrees in certain majors, including film, assume any exposure to the particular hazards associated with that major;
  • Three types of montage may be distinguished—narrative, graphic, and ideational;
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These three types of montage seldom appear in their pure form. Most ideational montage proceeds on the basis of the graphic similarity of its components, as does narrative montage when relying on graphic cutting to cover its movement. Similarly, the graphic matches between torpedoes, seals, and blimps in A Movie ultimately construct an idea of movement toward explosion and destruction. Besides the complications brought about by the intermixing of these types, the addition of the sound track multiplies the possibilities and effects of montage.

Essential characteristics of motion pictures

Because sound permits the establishment of relations between what is seen and heard at each moment, the film image can no longer be said to be a self-contained unit; it interacts with the sound that accompanies it. Sound relations including dialoguemusic, and ambient noise or effects may be built in constant rapport with the image track or may create a parallel organization and design that subtends what is seen.

In all, montage appears to be the most extraordinary factor differentiating the motion picture from the other arts, and it is the one often singled out as the basis of the medium. The motion-picture experience The viewing of motion pictures began as an experience limited to a one-person audience.