If you know what your scene is about – try to express it through movement. Directors who are able to master the art of composing movement will have a much easier time at subtly conveying emotion and advancing plot to their viewers. That said … if you’re looking for inspiration on how to better do this – don’t waste your sweet time with multi-million dollar Blockbuster hits like The Avengers. Often these studio films rely solely on dialogue and explosions to communicate emotion and advance the plot. Sure, there is movement in the camera and CGI tracking shots that follow along as our superheroes barrel through the sky- but this content often serves little more purpose than “make it look awesome!”, leaving their more dialgoue-heavy scenes feeling flat and lacking sub-text.

That’s why Youtuber Every Frame a Picture travels back in time to look at one the master of movement – Akira Kurosawa. In this video essay, they break down some helpful tips on how to better communicate emotion and narrative by composing movement.

If you know what the scene is about – try to express through movement:

Movement of nature

  • Water, wind, rain and snow are great ways to visualize your character’s inner emotions

There is strength in numbers

  • Large groups of people moving or banding together create more impact
  • Reaction shots from multiple people at once evoke a greater sense of fear, dread, happiness and etc.

Movement of individuals

  • Have your characters movement reflect how they feel (i.e. Pacing when nervous, kneeling when ashamed, etc.)

Movement of the camera

  • Every shot should be planned and direct; it should have a beginning, middle and end that tells a small story.

Hide your edits with movement

    Using lots of movement in the frame will have viewers Paying so much attention to what’s going on that they won’t see the edit

Use movement to separate scenes/tone:

  • Cutting from a high movement to a static shot (or vice-versa) can signal to your viewer a shift in scenes, dialogue or tension

Combine multiple forms of movement

You don’t need to use all of these forms of movement in a shot (it can be exhausting) but by combining a few of each in every scene – you will have a more dynamic looking film and stronger narrative

What are your tips on composing movement? Have any great examples? Post links below!