Space

The Visual Story — Ch. 3: Space

Part One: The Primary Subcomponents

Deep space

Deep space > Perspective

FXRant: Converging Lines: “The Dark Knight” Part 1
FXRant: Converging Lines: “The Shining,” Part 2

Deep space > Size difference

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Sorry I interrupted — 2:51:21–2:51:42

Director: David Lean, Cinematographer: Freddie Young

Deep space > Movement

Single object > Perpendicular to camera plane

Run Lola Run (1998)
Running away

Director: Tom Tykwer, Cinematographer: Frank Griebe

Multiple objects (relative motion) > Parallel to camera plane

(TBD)

Deep space > Camera movement: Dolly in/out

Citizen Kane (1941)
Charles’ mother signing

Director: Orson Welles, Cinematographer: Gregg Toland

The Spielberg Face


Flat space

Flat space > Frontal planes

(Fargo parking lot)

Flat space > Size constancy

Days of Heaven (1978)
Tap

Director: Terrence Malick, Cinematographer: Néstor Almendros

Flat space > Object movement

(TBD)

Flat space > Parallel to camera plane

(TBD)

Flat space > Perpendicular to camera plane

Run Lola Run (1998)

Director: Tom Tykwer, Cinematographer: Frank Griebe
Running towards camera

The Right Stuff (1983)
Tell them we’re ready — Side B 4:08–4:49

Director: Philip Kaufman, Cinematographer: Caleb Deschanel

Flat space > Textural diffusion

Ordinary People (1980)
Get something for the doctor — 1:18:39–1:18:56

Director: Robert Redford, Cinematographer: John Bailey

Flat space > Aerial diffusion

The Conformist (1970)
I’ll get out — 25:31–25:48

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci, Cinematographer: Vittorio Storaro

Flat space > Shape change

(TBD)

Flat space > Tonal separation

Days of Heaven (1978)
Water play

Director: Terrence Malick, Cinematographer: Néstor Almendros

Flat space > Color separation

A Little Princess (1995)
Dream come true

Director: Alfonso Cuarón, Cinematographer: Emmanuel Lubezki

Goodfellas (1990)
Prison deal — 1:22:57–1:23:05

Director: Martin Scorsese, Cinematographer: Michael Ballhaus

Flat space > Up/down position

Fanny and Alexander (1982)
Threats

Director: Ingmar Bergman, Cinematographer: Sven Nykvist

Flat space > Overlap

(TBD)

Flat space > Focus

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
Reading card & walking down street

Director: Michel Gondry, Cinematographer: Ellen Kuras

Flat space > Camera movement

(TBD)


Limited space

Limited space > No longitudinal planes

Fanny and Alexander (1982)
Offer

Director: Ingmar Bergman, Cinematographer: Sven Nykvist

Limited space > No object movement perpendicular to picture plane

Ordinary People (1980)
Don’t do that — 26:03–26:28

Director: Robert Redford, Cinematographer: John Bailey

The Conformist (1970)
Say I’m not in — 49:47–50:25

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci, Cinematographer: Vittorio Storaro

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Parole — 2:08:26–2:08:56

Director: Frank Darabont, Cinematographer: Roger Deakins

Up (2009)
Carl wakes up

Directors: Pete Docter & Bob Peterson, Director of Photography (Camera): Patrick Lin

From Up – Production Notes | Pixar Talk:

Patrick Lin and his team had to contend with such composition-related issues as characters with large heads, scenes that included an extremely tall bird and much smaller dogs, and epic scenes involving airships and dogs in biplanes. A fan of classic Japanese cinema, Lin also drew inspiration from such legendary filmmakers as Kurosawa (and his film “Ikuru,” in particular) and Ozu, who often used a minimalist approach and shot with a single 50mm lens. “Our goal was to make sure our camera followed the character’s emotions,” says Lin. “In the beginning of the film, everything leads up to the moment when Carl isolates himself from the rest of the world. We use the cinematography to subliminally isolate him. Since his life is really standing still, we shot those scenes with one 50mm lens. Even when Russell first appears, there is a visible division on screen, like the doorjamb, to try and separate him from other characters. At the moment when the balloon shadows appear and the house lifts off, that’s when the camera really starts to move; we try to complement the emotion of the action.”

Tokyo Story (1953)
Director: Yasujirô Ozu, Cinematographer: Yûharu Atsuta


Unambiguous Space

The Right Stuff (1983)
Glad we could talk — Side A 32:47–33:05

Director: Philip Kaufman, Cinematographer: Caleb Deschanel

Unambiguous Space > Lack of movement

The Conformist (1970)
Staircase — 9:16–9:20

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci, Cinematographer: Vittorio Storaro

Objects of unknown size or shape

(TBD)

Tonal & texture patterns (camouflage)

(TBD)


Ambiguous space

Ambiguous space > Mirrors & reflections

Don’t Look Now (1973)
Mirrors

Director: Nicolas Roeg, Cinematographer: Anthony Richmond

Ambiguous space > Disorienting camera angles

Don’t Look Now (1973)
Falling

Director: Nicolas Roeg, Cinematographer: Anthony Richmond


Part Two: The Frame

Aspect ratio > Surface divisions

Systems > Grids > Halves

American Beauty (1999)
Kitchen

Director: Sam Mendes, Cinematographer: Conrad L. Hall

Systems > Grids / Thirds

Manhattan (1979)
Parked car

Director: Woody Allen, Cinematographer: Gordon Willis

The Right Stuff (1983)
Hallway lights out — Side A 27:20–27:58

Director: Philip Kaufman, Cinematographer: Caleb Deschanel

Pennies from Heaven (1981)
Nothing’s the matter — 54:21–54:41

Director: Herbert Ross, Cinematographer: Gordon Willis

Systems > Grids > Square on a rectangle

(TBD)

Systems > Grids > The Golden Section

(TBD)


Dividers

Dividers > Optical split screen

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
Nurse Elle

Director: Quentin Tarantino, Cinematographer: Robert Richardson

Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Pillow talk

Director: Darren Aronofsky, Cinematographer: Matthew Libathique

Run Lola Run (1998)
Robbery begins

Director: Tom Tykwer, Cinematographer: Frank Griebe

Tom Tykwer, Run Lola Run commentary:

So, this is a technique that’s kind of old fashioned. You know, in the seventies we had a lot of films that used split-screen technology, which I still very much like… One of the best of all split-screen users were Brian De Palma in films like Carrie and Dressed to Kill. They were a strong influence on this.

Dividers > Physical object

Traffic (2000)
Bathroom stash — 1.18.02–1.18.23

Director: Steven Soderbergh, Cinematographer: Steven Soderbergh (as Peter Andrews)

Klute
Call girl

Director: Alan J. Pakula, Cinematographer: Gordon Willis

Ordinary People (1980)
Is the fish too dry — 13:15–13:46

Director: Robert Redford, Cinematographer: John Bailey

Pennies from Heaven (1981)
Good day Parker — 9:38–10:01

Director: Herbert Ross, Cinematographer: Gordon Willis

Corpses from the dream factory: “Pennies from Heaven” and spatial horror « Weren’t The Pies Bad Enough?

Dividers > Tonal change

Closer (2004)
You just lied — 42:29–42:47

Director: Mike Nichols, Cinematographer:Stephen Goldblatt


Purpose > Compare/contrast objects

Ordinary People (1980)
Give me the camera — 53:35–54:06

Director: Robert Redford, Cinematographer: John Bailey

Torment (1944)
Window — 1:07:26–1:07:37

Director: Alf Sjöberg, Cinematographer: Martin Bodin, Writer: Ingmar Bergman

Witness (1985)
Gun cabinet

Porch swing

Director: Peter Weir, Cinematographer: John Seale

Purpose > Direct the eye

Visions of Light (1992)
William Fraker — Roman Polanski during Rosemary’s Baby - 51:33–53:14

Purpose > Alter screen’s aspect ratio

(TBD)

Purpose > Comment on the story

Klute
Waiting room

Director: Alan J. Pakula, Cinematographer: Gordon Willis

Pennies from Heaven (1981)
Breakfast — 4:49–5:20

Director: Herbert Ross, Cinematographer: Gordon Willis


Closed and open space

Closed space

The Conformist (1970)
It’s up to you — 43:46–44:12

Director: Bernardo Bertolucci, Cinematographer: Vittorio Storaro

Open space > Large screens

(TBD)

Open space > Strong visual movement > Random, multidirectional object movement

Empire of the Sun (1987)
Don’t let go — 25:11–25:26

Director: Steven Spielberg, Cinematographer: Allen Daviau

Open space > Strong visual movement > Object movement in/out of the frame

Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (1977)
Jump to light speed

Director: George Lucas, Cinematographer: Gilbert Taylor

Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope (1977)
Star Destroyer overhead

Director: George Lucas, Cinematographer: Gilbert Taylor

Open space > Strong visual movement > Random camera movement

(TBD)

Open space > Strong visual movement > Elimination of stationary lines

Ordinary People (1980)
Looking at building — 14:35–14:53

Director: Robert Redford, Cinematographer: John Bailey


Contrast and Affinity

Within a shot

(TBD)

Shot to shot (single edit)

(TBD)

Scene to scene

(TBD)