The Rhythm of Filmmaking

Different stories have different rhythms. It’s possible to draw a flow-line to represent the rhythms of a story that can help you discover the visual rhythms for a production.This flow-line represents the rhythms of stories that alternate between great rhythmic peaks and valleys. The Godfather, Ran, Raging Bull, Lawrence of Arabia, and Citizen Kane are examples of this type of overall visual rhythm.the rhythm of film

This staccato rhythm represents a faster, more energetic rhythm often used in physical comedies. A Night at the Opera, Bringing Up Baby, Airplane, and Back to the Future have visual rhythms suggested by this flow-line.  movie rhythm

This slowly undulating flow-line has a slower rhythm that makes gradual, milder changes. Howards End, Hannah and Her Sisters, Wings of the Dove, and The Sixth Sense follow this rhythmic pattern.filmmaking, film storytelling,

Every story has a rhythmic flow-line pattern. It may be a combination of these examples or a different line altogether. Drawing a flow line for the rhythm is an easy way to visualize the rhythmic feeling of your production. In the days of silent films, orchestras often played music during filming to help actors create the proper mood and rhythm of a scene. Today, because we record sound, the use of music on the set during filming is difficult; however, it’s possible to rehearse with music or even a metronome.

Here are some standard metronome settings:

Metronome Setting Number of Beats

240 4 every second

120 2 every second

60 1 every second

30 1 every two seconds

Using a metronome can help control the rhythm of dialogue, movement, or mood during production. 

Excerpted from The Visual Story-Second Edition by Bruce Block© 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved

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