shots and composition

Shots and Composition: A Breakdown


A film is made up of a series of photographic images and each image in the film is commonly referred to as a frame. Each frame contains objects and shapes arranged in a composition. A sequence of frames together is commonly referred to as a shot. Visual productions, whether they are movies, television shows, music…

Film Coverage

Cover Your Scene (and Your Butt)


The term “coverage” refers to the variety of shots you use to visually tell your story. Think of it not just as covering your scene, but covering your butt in editing. Apart from just breaking up the monotony of a single, long camera shot, getting more shots or additional coverage will provide plenty of opportunities…


The DIT Cart – Things to Think About in Planning a Cart


If you plan to own and operate a DIT cart, there are many things to take into account as you plan the rig. Remember that it will be more than just an equipment holder. It will also be your workspace, your office and your refuge for those inevitable long days on the set. It will…

Photo by Kristaps B.

The Basics of Lighting


Lighting is an essential tool for enhancing the video image. The subtle use of light creates atmosphere and mood, dimension, and texture. It can help to convey a plot line, enhance key elements such as set color or skin tone, and signals the difference between comedy and drama, reality and fantasy. Hard versus Soft All…

Photo by SPDP

Top Ten Tips to Improve Your Cinematic Compositions


Top Ten Tips from Gustavo Mercado to Improve Your Cinematic Compositions 1. Use a director’s viewfinder, a still camera, or any other instrument that allows you to create a frame to see the world around you. Good compositions work not only because of what is included in the frame, but also because of what is…

screen direction

How Does the 180° Rule Work, anyway?


The Purpose of Screen Direction Screen direction serves two important purposes: it gives the audience clues about the story and it helps keep the audience from getting confused about where someone is or what they are doing. Avoiding confusion is the fundamental reason for all film continuity. Directional Conventions The classic example of this is…


Color Temperatures, White Balance and Utilizing Sunlight When Shooting


Color Temperature in a Nutshell All light has a color temperature. Color temperature affects what color that light will look like on video. Sunlight, fluorescent lights, and light from incandescent bulbs (a.k.a. tungsten), all appear as different colors on camera, because they all have different color temperatures. White Balance Your camera’s white balance function compensates…


Composition – The Golden Mean


Your three-dimensional subjects and the scene they’re in are composed through your lens. This composition relies on many factors, including lenses and shot sizes, as well as camera angles. But one underlying principle can’t be understated: the golden mean appearing in nature, a ratio studied by mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras (whom you might recall from…

Figure 4-20 Three ways to reverse the screen direction of a subject while maintaining the feeling of forward progress. From shot a (moving screen right); changing direction within a shot (b1); cutting to a neutral shot (b2); or using another character's POV shot (b3 and b4) will allow us to continue the journey toward screen left (c).

Changing Stage Direction – 3 Simple Ways


Maintaining only one screen direction over the course of a longer traveling sequence can get somewhat monotonous for a viewer. It’s easily possible to change screen direction (i.e., the axis of action) and still maintain the feel of a character’s progress toward the destination. Below shows three simple ways we can change screen direction for…


The Practical Differences Between Film and Digital Sensors


The single best piece of advice that I can offer with regard to the difference between exposing film and exposing digital is this: It’s OK and sometimes desirable to slightly overexpose film, but it is not OK or advisable to overexpose digital unless that overexposure is exactly what you want! Cinematographers have widely varying methodologies…

Latest Tweets

Stay Informed

Click here to register with Focal Press to receive updates.

about MasteringFilm

MasteringFilm, powered by bestselling Focal Press authors and industry experts, features tips, advice, articles, video tutorials, interviews, and other resources for aspiring and current filmmakers. No matter what your filmmaking interest is, including directing, screenwriting, postproduction, cinematography, producing, or the film business, MasteringFilm has you covered. You’ll learn from professionals at the forefront of filmmaking, allowing you to take your skills to the next level.