Week 2: Iconic film stills representing framing and composition – Unit 2


In this task I’ll be comparing my own pictures that I have taken to iconic stills taken from films or from journalism, in order to see the similarities between the shot types and composition. Iconic images are images that are known by a large amount of people and often trigger an emotional impact on a person.


The scene on the left is from “The Dark Knight” and is using both a medium long shot and a wide shot, as the bottom of his legs are cut off, but we can still see the explosions happening in the hospital. My primary research has similar aspects, as it is a medium long shot.

1966 World Cup FinalIMG_1744

The photo on the left is England winning the world cup in 1966, with Bobby Moore holding the World Cup trophy up. It is the only time England has ever won the world cup and it was on home soil, so it was an extra special occasion and this is why it makes the photo iconic. These 2 photos are similar, as they both use Depth of Field to blur the background and draw attention to the subject at the front of the picture.


This shot is from “Children of Men” and uses rule of thirds to separate the troops on each side of the two people and them. In the film this is the first baby to be born in 18 years and so the reactions of the soldiers around them are faces of disbelief and wonder. The still is not particularly iconic in the world, but it is iconic to me, as I think the emotion shown on the characters faces and the soldiers perfectly encapsulates the movie as whole. The shot is a Mid shot and so is similar to the picture I took for my primary research.


This photo is from Vietnam in 1968 and shows a South Vietnamese policeman shooting a suspected Viet Cong member in the head in the streets of Saigon after the Tet offensive. It is one of the most iconic photos from the Vietnam war and was on the front pages of many US newspapers and magazines. It became so iconic, as the photo was taken mere seconds before his death. The Viet Cong member was actually an assassin and the leader of a death squad with the sole purpose to kill troops and policeman. The photo was picked up by anti-war protesters as brutality, but they didn’t know the actual background of the photo and the people in it. The photo on the right is my primary research and uses rule of thirds like the photo on the left. The photo won the Pulitzer award in 1969.


These 2 photos are similar, as they are both using an Extreme Close Up (ECU). The shot on the left is the very first shot from “Lost” the hugely successful TV Drama. The shot type was used in “Lost” as the opening of the eye and it being the first shot symbolized the start of the show and how he didn’t know where he was and neither did the audience. I don’t believe this shot is particularly iconic, however the shot in general of the person opening their eye at the start of a scene is very iconic.

Primary sources are available straight away and I can shape them to look however I want, however secondary sources can offer a much wider range of actors, locations, scenery etc. So each can be useful in different situations depending on what kind of photo/information I need.


I’ve learnt that even tough my images are primary images they’re not in any way special or iconic, as I haven’t come across any kind of artistic luck or used any type of filters or special effects. A lot of money goes into the shots from movies and so of course they’re going to have better production value. However its not impossible for me to take an iconic photo, as long as I am in the right place at the right time then it is possible.

Week 2: Iconic film stills representing framing and composition – Unit 2

Week 2: Introduction to Semiology – Unit 4


In this task I’ll be researching into what semiology is and how it affects the way we perceive the visuals on screen. I will also be getting some examples of semiology from movies and talking about the different rules of composition used in them.

What is Semiology?

Semiology is the study of symbols and signs and how they are interpreted. It is usually conveyed in the way of signifier/signified. The signifier is the signs physical form, for example the colour of red. Then the signified is what we interpret, so the colour red can mean danger or love. Depending on the context of the situation the meaning can change.

Matsurah Well [1]

This shot is from “Lawrence of Arabia” and has many Rules of Composition and Framing. It is a wide shot (WS), and both characters are focused on the figure in the background which draws our attention to it. The shot uses vertical rule of thirds for both characters in the foreground and horizontally for the figure in the background. There is also leading lines used in the shot to draw our attention to the subject in the background. It is also Looking into space. The figure in the background looks completely covered in black/shade, this is the signifier. The signified is that there is an air of mystery around this character, as we can literally not see any details about him . He could be friend or foe, so therefore our brain doesn’t really know what to interpret.

Schindler's List [2]

This shot is from “Schindler’s List”. This is a long shot and attention is draw to the little girl in the red coat, as it is the only piece of colour in the whole shot. The colour red is used as a symbol for Life and Death. This is the signifier, a symbol for the pain and suffering felt by all the Jews around her, but also a symbol of life, as she is going unnoticed by the Nazis. This is the signified, as it is the interpretation that people will do subconsciously whilst watching. The shot uses rule of thirds, as the little girl is on the cross-section of the line. The denotation signified of this shot is that the little girl in the red coat is in danger, however the connotation signified could be that she is alive and not being hurt, when everyone else around her is in pain and suffering.

Saving-Private-Ryan-5 [3]

This shot is from “Saving Private Ryan”. It is a Medium Close Up (MCU). It uses Depth of Field to focus on Captain Miller’s face and body, whilst having the gun out of focus, as we are supposed to be focusing on his emotions and the wound he has sustained. It is using rule of thirds on his face and gun.The only thing out of focus in the shot is the gun, the denotation of this could be that they’re trying to show all the emotion in Tom Hanks face, as he is dying, however the connotation could be portraying the idea that now he’s reached the end of his life the guns don’t matter and the violence never mattered.


Whilst doing this task I learnt about the different rules of composition that I didn’t know about before, like leading lines and depth of field, however I already knew some things like rule of thirds, but it was a good refresher anyway.

[1] Lawrence of Arabia. (1962). [DVD] David Lean. At: http://www.deepfocusreview.com/reviews/lawrenceofarabia.asp. Accessed: 29th September 2015

[2] Schindler’s List. (1993). [DVD] Steven Spielberg. At: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/mar/04/schindlers-list-actor-traumatised-by-film. Accessed: 29th September 2015

[3] Saving Private Ryan. (1998). [DVD] Steven Spielberg. At: https://drafthouse.com/show/saving-private-ryan. Accessed: 29th September 2015

Week 2: Introduction to Semiology – Unit 4


Semiology – the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation. [1]

Aperture – The size of the hole in the lens, measured in f/stops and usually written in numbers such as 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6,8, 11, 16 and 22.

“The lower the f/stop—the larger the opening in the lens—the less depth of field—the blurrier the background.

The higher the f/stop—the smaller the opening in the lens—the greater the depth of field—the sharper the background.” [2]

Signify – What it means (Connotation)

Signifier – What it is (Denotation)

Differential Focus – Intentionally keeping areas of the shot out of focus whilst keeping other parts in sharp focus to create an effect

Denotation – What it is

Connotation – What it means

ISO – Is how sensitive the image sensor in the camera is to light, based on what ISO setting you use

Shutter speed – The length of time in which the image sensor is exposed to light

Quantitative – More simplified answer and can only be answered in a set number of ways

Qualitative – More detailed answer and can be answered or interpreted in an unlimited amount of ways

Key light – The main and most powerful light used to light up a subject

Fill light – The secondary light used to fill the other side of the subject in order to remove shadows

Back light – The light used to separate the subject from the background in order to portray a 3D feeling even though the screen is 2D

Mise-en-scene – Everything in the frame, including Costume, Props, Location, Hair and Makeup and more

Depth of Field – How shallow or deep it is will change what parts of the shot are sharp and blurry

FPS/Frames per second – The number of photos in one second of footage, typically 24 in movies, and 25 on TV in Europe and 30 in the USA

The Rule of Thirds –  The rule states that the subject of a shot should be placed on one of the two imaginary lines that are at equal distances a third of the way into the shot on each side.

[1] http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/semiotics

[2] http://www.nikonusa.com/en/Learn-And-Explore/Article/g3cu6o1r/understanding-maximum-aperture.html


Week 1/4: Life on Mars – Creating a Scene


In this task I’ll be trying to recreate the process the producers went through when trying to create the first 5 minutes of Life on Mars. I’ll be researching the location, Actors, Catering, Cameras, Sound etc. Everything needed for a film set in order to understand the magnitude of pre-production that takes place to create such a short amount of film.


I’d use the location of The Red Road flats in Glasgow, as1 the flats look quite old and rough and there seems to be a lot of empty space around them which helps for space for cast and crew and health and safety reasons. This location would be good as wide shots could be taken from one of the flats in the towers. The towers give a certain look off that makes the area look rough so would be perfect for a kidnapping scene.                                [1]

For the first scene with the main character entering a house I would need to rent out a house for a day. To do this I would research areas on the outskirts of a city and find a house that is currently vacant and speak to the landlord about hiring it out for a number of days to film the scene there. https://www.purplebricks.com/ I could use this site to search for properties to rent. I’d send my Location recce out to look around the area that the house we were using was to see if he can find a suitable location for the alleyway fight scene, and if not to find an alleyway that is right in a different location that could be conceived by the viewer as the same place.


I found this alleyway which is located in Middlesbrough which looks like an ideal location for the scene in the alleyway and the fight. It has bins as well so when the criminal wields the bin lid he can take it from one of them. [2]


Using a website like http://www.castingnow.co.uk/ where you can advertise for acting parts and extras could be very good when trying to find cast members for a TV show like this, as a lot of people would see it and you could get some very skilled actors and actr2esses. Another site where actors advertise themselves is called http://www.peopleperhour.com/freelance/actors this is also good as you could pick actors and actresses that fit your parameters of the characters by their bio and reviews. It helps by being able to see if the actor is reliable and will get the job done to a certain standard by what other people have said about their past work. The creator/actors portfolio is also available so you can see to what standard their content usually is and what kind of acting skills they have.


As this is a BBC production the BBC have a large costume and prop department that we could use for outfits. As seen in this video about the costume designer on the 8th season of Inspector George Gently: http://www.bbc.co.uk/academy/production/article/art20150218105336161

At http://www.tellycars.com/ you can hire genuine police vehicles for the scene at the beginning when Sam Taylor is travelling to the criminals house to try and arrest him.

Computers for the police station will be needed, which can be sourced for cheap on the internet on sites like eBay for around £60 per unit, or if money needs to be saved then cases could be bought if you cannot see the screen, as it doesn’t matter if there’s anything inside.


For the entrance into the house scene suits can be hired for the police detectives that are getting out of the cars from http://www.burton.co.uk/en/bruk/category/formal-hire-281505/home?geoip=noredirect

At http://www.policeuniformhire.com/ you can hire an extensive amount of police uniforms that can be used for the driving scene and the chase scene at the beginning.


For the script I’d employ a professional screenwriter like Tony Jordan, as he has done script work for other drama shows like Minder, City Central and EastEnders.


For the camera I’d use the RED one, as it is currently one of the best cameras on the market. It costs £250 per day to hire or £1250 per week. http://camerakithire.com/

For audio I’d use the RODE NTG2 Shotgun Mic, as I feel this would be sufficient for the sound recording I’d have to do when shooting. http://www.amazon.co.uk/RODE-NTG2-SHORT-SHOTGUN-MICROPHONE-Black/dp/B00093ESSI

For lighting I’d hire http://ftvs.co.uk/ as they have a good resume and have worked with Big Brother, Most Haunted and other dramas.

A custom mount will have to be produced for the wheel shot, as I am not able to find a mount that will fit that position.


http://www.bluefintv.com/ For my crew, as they have over 20 years of experience as a company and have worked with the BBC before and are an approved supplier of them. They can provide anything from:

Directors of Photography, Lighting Camera Op’s, Videographers, Sound Recordists, Camera Assistants Steadicam Operators, Jimmy-Jib Operators, Grips Electricians, Producers Production Managers, Runners, DP’s & DoP’s, Broadcast Editors, Motion Graphics Artists, Autocue / Teleprompter, Photographic Services, Studio & Set-Designers, Hair & Make-up, Artists, Lighting Gaffers, Directors, Creative / Copywriters Production Assistants.

An animal handler will be needed for the chase scene along with a dog, as there is one barking at the main character when he’s running through the house.

(http://www.theknowledgeonline.com/search/MakeUp_Artists) At this website you can find respectable Make up artists to hire with reviews of their previous work.


Permission will be needed from the police and local authorities for multiple things. Permission from the police to have actors wearing police uniforms and having police cars on location. The police will want you to represent them in a positive manner or may not give advice or permission if they think you’re portraying them in a negative way.

Permits of some sort will be needed in order to close the road for the driving scene under the flyover and for when they enter the house. (http://filmlondon.org.uk/filming_in_london/planning_your_shoot/get-permission-film/road-closures-filming) here you can see that it costs £1000-2000 to get a street closed in London and you have to apply at least 8 weeks before and 24 weeks in some places. There is also a 24 hour limit on each order.

Advice from the police will be needed as well, for instance what the main character said when knocking on the door is a police call and they will want to make it realistic so will get what the police would really say.


This task is harder than expected, as there are so many different aspects and components to consider for such a large production. However it is quite easy to get hold of some props I thought would be hard to find. It has helped me to understand just how much work goes into pre-production on even lower budget TV shows, so there must be so much more for feature films.

[1] Urban Explorations, (2007). Red Road Flats, Glasgow. [online] Available at: https://urbanexplorations.wordpress.com/red-road-flats-glasgow/ [Accessed 29 Sep. 2015].

[2] Mail Online, (2013). Gardening? It’s right up our alley! Community transforms Victorian passageway behind homes into oasis of greenery. [online] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2397899/Community-transforms-Victorian-passageway-Middlesbrough-homes-oasis-greenery.html [Accessed 29 Sep. 2015].

Week 1/4: Life on Mars – Creating a Scene

Week 2: Shot Types – Framing & Composition – Unit 1


In this task I’ll be taking some photos to show the different shot types and rules of composition that we learnt about in class.


This is a long shot (LS), as it encapsulates the entirety of the subject’s body from feet to head.


This is a medium long shot (MLS), it is from the subjects knees up to the top of the head.


This is a mid shot (MS), it shows from the waist of the subject up to the top of the head.


This is a Medium Close Up (MCU), it goes from the subjects upper chest/armpits to the top of the head.


This is a Close Up (CU), it is just the face and is usually used in movies to show the emotion on the face and sometimes dialogue when there is an important moment.


This is an Extreme Close Up (ECU), it usually only shows one facial feature, normally the eyes.


This shows a Rule of Composition, Rule of Thirds. The subject is placed on the border between two-thirds, it gives a more pleasing to the eye shot and is used in nearly all films today.


This photo shows a Rule of Composition, looking into space. It is usually used in a scene when dialogue is occurring and so it gives the effect that the subject is talking to someone who is not in the shot.


This photo shows a Rule of Composition, Depth of Field, the background is out of focus, but the subject is in focus so it grabs our attention and we pay attention more.


It was good to physically take photos instead of just learning about the shot types in class, as it helped to reinforce what we had learned. I did know most of the shot types already, but wasn’t too sure on their positioning so this really helped me for future projects so I can get them right.

Week 2: Shot Types – Framing & Composition – Unit 1

Week 2: How Do You Become a Director? – Unit 3


In this task I’ll be researching into what it takes to become a Film director, an example of one successful director, and what a director actually does when a film is being made.

A considerable amount of luck is required in order to be a film director. Your films have to be noticed by the right people in order to make it big time. A good Director must have a film reel in order to show off their talent to prospective studios that could be potential employers.

Christopher Nolan:

Nolan started his career by making corporate and industrial movies. He also mad a 3 minute short called doodlebug, the premise was a man chasing a bug around his flat before realising that it was an alternate smaller version of himself, but he decides to kill it anyway. After this he and friends made an entire movie themselves on just weekends that Nolan self-funded. It took nearly a year and they had to rehearse every scene thoroughly so that the first or second shot could be used to save film. The feature was critically acclaimed and had a good festival run, screening at The Rotterdam International Film Festival and winning the “Best First Feature” at the San Francisco International Film Festival. This gave Nolan the opportunity to make Memento (2000) on a budget of $4.5 million. [1]

This is what Nolan said about the jump from making his own films to a professional feature:

“The difference between shooting “Following” with a group of friends wearing our own clothes and my mum making sandwiches to spending $4 million of somebody else’s money on “Memento” and having a crew of a hundred people is, to this day, by far the biggest leap I’ve ever made. It was a bit like learning to swim once you’re out of your depth: It doesn’t make any difference if it’s 2 feet or 100 feet down to the bottom—you’re either going to drown, or not.” [2]

Career Paths:

University – Courses can be taken at universities in Film Production, and then complete the degree with a named award in Directing. As seen at Arts University Bournemouth here: http://aub.ac.uk/courses/ba/ba-film-production/ This could be a good route as you learn a lot of valuable skills about how to direct and other parts of the film production process, and also a lot of contacts can be made.

Independent – Setting up your own production company is a viable option if you want to become a Film Director. To start with you would make small shorts for local businesses, festivals and charities. If you get lucky and someone notices or likes the style that you’ve used then potentially these films can lead onto getting work on a larger project.

Film Festivals – By inputting your own independent films into lots of film festivals then they could potentially get screenings which could get you noticed in the film industry. Some very popular films and directors were first discovered at film festivals.

5 films that debuted at Sundance Film Festival:

(500) Days of Summer

Reservoir Dogs

The Blair Witch Project

Super Troopers


These films went onto garner large critical acclaim and box office success from starting at The Sundance Film Festival. Quentin Tarantino got his first big break at the festival with Reservoir Dogs and is now one of the most influential and talented directors there is in the world.

Directors work as part of a team, without this team and their advice a Director would never be able to create some of the masterpieces that have been created over the years. Some of the roles that work closely with the Director in order to create his vision are: Cinematographer/Director of Photography, Editor, Set Designer, Storyboard artist. According to the Auteur Theory, “the Director is considered the primary creative force in a motion picture” [3]


I learnt a lot about the kinds of things that the director does, I previously wasn’t aware of just how much the director did and thought that he compartmentalized the work load, but he is actually involved in everything. It has helped me for my own future projects, as if I am the director I will know what kind of jobs I’ll need to do.

[1] Christopher Nolan. Available: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Nolan. Last accessed 28th Sep 2015.

[2] Jeffrey Ressner. (2012). The Traditionalist. Available: http://www.dga.org/Craft/DGAQ/All-Articles/1202-Spring-2012/DGA-Interview-Christopher-Nolan.aspx. Last accessed 28th Sep 2015.

[3] Merriam-webster.com, (2016). Definition of AUTEUR THEORY. [online] Available at: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/auteur%20theory [Accessed 28 Sep. 2015].

Week 2: How Do You Become a Director? – Unit 3

When & How – Film, TV, Miniaturization and Digital


The first publicly available camera was available on the market in 1888. It was created by George Eastman and was named “Kodak”, however the very first patented camera Le-prince-cameraprojector-type1-mark2-1888was made in 1888 by Louis Le Prince. He built a 16 lens camera the year before, but perfected the single lens camera in 1888. The camera shot at 12 fps and 20 fps in some of the first moving sequences in the world called Roundhay Garden Scene and Leeds Bridge. He used George Eastman’s paper film that he created in 1885 before Eastman created the celluloid film in 1889.

The first feature film to use sound including synchronized dialogue was called “The Jazz Singer” and was released in October 1927.

The first camera worked manually by a person physically cranked in order for the camera to film. The first colour film was made by Frederick Marshall Lee and it was footage of his children playing in the garden. He used his own technology called Lee-Turner Colour Process.


The first successfully demonstrated TV that used Electricity was in 1927, created by Philo Taylor Farnsworth. The image was scanned by a beam of electrons and transferred by being coded onto radio waves and then turned back into a picture on the screen.

The first colour transmissions took place in 1967 and were of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, by 1968 most shows on BBC 2 were broadcast in colour and by the next year both BBC1 and 2 regularly broadcast in colour. British TV is transmitted at 25 fps due to the AC current in the UK running at 50Hz.

Colour broadcasting came earlier in America with NTSC, it had backward compatibility with Black and White televisions, but didn’t have nearly the same quality that PAL did in the UK in 1967. American TV is transmitted at 29.97 fps dude to the AC current running at 60Hz, the current is used as the basis of a timing circuit, however running shows at 60fps would have been excessive and so it was halved.


The very first Film cameras were very large and not very portable at all, it meant that there was no movement in the camera at all and so the actors were the only movement in the scene. It made outside shots very difficult.

Since then cameras have become extremely portable with action cameras becoming lightweight and wearable and still being able to record in 1080p and up to 4k. Cameras used for TV broadcasts and films are now mostly handheld and lightweight.


One of the first films ever to be shot using on digital recording is in 1999 “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” which was a hybrid of some scenes using traditional film and some using the new HD digital cameras. The sequel “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” was shot using entirely Digital Cameras.

The digital revolution was not taken well by some people like director Quentin Tarantino who called it “Television in public” and even threatened to retire if the majority of cinemas couldn’t show his films in traditional 35mm, as he believes they should be.

Films now are shot in 4K, 2.7K or 1080p and resolutions keep growing with the emergence of 8K quality. Some cameras can now shoot up to 10,000fps for super extreme slow motion shots, but most feature films rarely need more than 96fps for their slow motion shots.

Instead of the image being imprinted onto film reels frame by frame digital cameras save video files onto hard drives.

When & How – Film, TV, Miniaturization and Digital