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Transitions & Establishing shots (4 replies)

Iain Trimble
3 years ago
Iain Trimble 3 years ago

Mr. Deakins when you are planning a film do you and the director determine what the transitions from scene to scene will be? For example an audio overlap, dissolve, hard cut, matching action, etc.?

What is your approach to establishing shots? Do you try and incorporate an action in to it so as to keep the plot and narrative moving?

Thanks for your time.

Roger Deakins
3 years ago
Roger Deakins 3 years ago

Sometimes the transitions will be discussed during pre production, especially if a film is storyboarded. On the day each scene is shot there is usually then some discussion as to what the outgoing shot of the prior scene was and what the next cut will be. Sound overlaps may well be mentioned if a shot needs to be held to accommodate dialogue but that happens less often.

The use of an establishing shot is all about context. Yes, it doesn't always make sense to cut to a wide shot just for the sake of letting the audience know where they are but, sometimes, that is exactly what does make sense. I would suggest you watch some of your favorite films and see how wide shots are used in them.

Iain Trimble
3 years ago
Iain Trimble 3 years ago

Yes I feel like the approach to transitions and establishing shots has a big affect on a film. I recently watched Blood Simple, No Country and Nightcrawler, paying close attention to how establishing shots and transitions where used. I felt like No Country was very focused on the development of the plot and characters. Blood Simple felt this way to but with a few more strict wide establishing shots. Nightcrawler has tons of strict establishing shots but I think Gilroy and Elswit were trying to create LA as one of the characters. Both approaches do create a very different vibe!

I can't thank you enough for devoting your time to answering our questions and helping budding filmmakers with this site!

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