When it comes to directorial styles and preferences, most of us expect to see certain things. After all, if everyone shot the same, we wouldn’t have the standouts, right (even if they’re standing out in a less than stellar fashion…ahem, anyway…)? That said, there is one element of filmmaking that does set apart first-time directors from the Hollywood greats, and that is composition and blocking.
Dan Fox’s video on ‘The Fine Arts of Blocking and Composition’ is a smorgasbord of helpful information and what we can take away from this unique look at blocking and composition are a few key tips that make sense to professionals and amateurs alike; even someone without a directorial eye can pick out both the flaws and the triumphs in the way some of the world’s most famous films are put together. Let’s take a look at a few of his best suggestions.
What is Composition and Blocking?
Fox first lets us know the basics of his subject. Simply put, composition deals with the aesthetics of every shot, and blocking deals with movements and positioning of the camera and actors. He touches on the importance of coverage, and how it can add to the simplistic beauty a scene, which may seem like blocking 101, but he makes it clear that bad coverage can make for an overly-complicated and cluttered scene.
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Following the Action and Telling a Story
One thing Dan makes very clear in this short video is the importance of action, tension, and how blocking really helps to build emotion. He uses examples of simple camera tilts, or the way an actor looks to another actor to to build up this tension, and focus the action where it needs to be. Some directors overcompensate by offering shaky camera movements, or quick cuts to build the action, where shots that are composed in a cleaner fashion tend to build a better story. Speaking of cuts…
Cuts and Transitions
If there’s one thing you can take away from this video, it’s knowing the importance of cuts and transitions. Fair warning, some of the scenes he shows from famous films might give you whiplash with the amount of quick cuts they’re showing off. So, hold on tight. Dan’s view of importance is all about the story in every shot, and excessive cutting, when approached from this point of view, tends to look sloppy, unnecessary, and takes the audience away from the story itself.
All in all, Dan Fox’s perspective and analysis on the art of composition and blocking is a fresh reminder that not all directorial ‘standards’ need to follow a certain pattern. Sometimes, simplicity is key, and he showcases that beautifully in this video essay.
Hit the link below for the full video essay ….