Module 2. Analysis of audiovisual situations.



Evaluation criteria:

Analyze audiovisual situations extracted from cinematographic products of different genres, applying audiovisual language techniques and evaluating the elements that guarantee the maintenance of narrative and formal continuity in an audiovisual production.

Evaluable learning standards:

1.1. Being able to analyze the theoretical elements of audiovisual montage for the analysis of the continuity of the narrative message of filmic products.

1.2. Being able to difference the most significant contributions produced in the historical evolution of the theories of audiovisual montage. 1.3. Being able to value ​​the consequences of the application of film montage techniques in the maintenance of narrative, perceptual, formal, movement, action and direction continuity. 1.4. Being able to relate the narrative and expressive functionality of the effects and punctuation signs, as well as its technical correction, with the comprehensive transmission of the message in an audiovisual production. 1.5. Being able to justify the possible alternatives in the assembly of an audiovisual product, based on the evaluation of the treatment of time, space and the idea or content. 1.3. Being able to evaluate the communicative consequences of the formal and expressive use of the frame, the angle of the camera and its movements in the resolution of various audiovisual situations. 1.4. Being able to relate the expressive and communicative value of the spatial concepts of the image, such as the field, the off-field and the internal and external movements of the planes, with the interpretation of the audiovisual story.


Narrative continuity, perceptive, formal raccord, movement, action, direction, lighting, costumes and props, among others.

In cinematography, narrative continuity is called "raccord" and must be achieved in several aspects. With the different shots (even between shots) we get the illusion of creating a sequence with a unique continuous message. It is an illusion in which the scenes, as in the frames (vignettes) of a comic are linked one after another in the head of the viewer.

Have you noticed the costumes that the actors wear? There are action movies with constant fights in which the main character does not even get to disheveled. In realization, they have decided on a "raccord" of costumes in which each actor wear the same clothing. It really would not be the "natural" thing, since the clothes would be spoiled as the action progresses, but this way there is a continuity that many spectators will not see as "shocking" or rare.

Therefore we must distinguish between narrative continuity (a single message with different shots or series of shots) and the "raccord" (a technical adjustment to achieve that continuity through certain camera positions, actions of the actors, props (atrezo), etc.) and we can see them as the unit of the "literary" script for the first and the "technical" script for the second.

The narrative and the perceptual continuity contemplate two variable elements in different degrees that we are going to see below::

  1. The first is the continuity of the narration that starts from the filming of the complete scene and everything that happens in a shot with ellipsis and significant cuts in which the spectator fills in the gaps.
  2. The second is the time-space continuity that starts in this case from the filming of the scene on the same setting or stage and on the same time, until the disintegration of the scene in different scenarios and narrative times (consider, for example, in flashbacks).

There are many raccord "tricks", learned through the experience gained in previous movies. Here are a few examples; when an actor has to go from one building to another, the march will have an address that will be maintained until it arrives. It does not matter if we record the whole journey or a small fragment. The viewer will help us with their own perception and will not notice the jumps generated by the ellipsis. Another example is when two actors engage in a conversation. It is seen that his gaze remains oriented towards the other person, even when the camera shows us only one actor.

The types of raccord will refer to these "tricks" of camera and recording.

Formal, Space-time

Of Movement and Direction

Of Action and Interpretation

Of lighting

Costume and props (atrezo)

Punctuation and transition signs.

As in any text, the transmission of messages is not done continuously. For example, here I am using commas and periods to separate phrases and sentences. Well, in audiovisual language we also have certain fragments of image that serve the same purpose. Let's think about the most common ones, which are transitions and fades, although they are not the only ones.

Let's start with the opening of the scene and its closure. The room is no longer illuminated by the side lights and we only see the emergency lights and the black screen. Little by little, from the black screen we see something that ends up filling the screen (usually the animation that presents the studio or producer that made the film) and immediately, we return to black. Without being part of the film, we have contemplated a "sentence" with its beginning in capital letters to its point and apart. That technique will be repeated incessantly in the movie that we will see next.

The dissolves are able to link several shots without there being a significant break that causes the viewer to disengage from the projection. Famous, by antiquated, are the lateral and vertical fades of Star Wars, which have become one of their hallmarks. But the normal thing is that we do not notice them since they are made as fades, crossfades and cuts.

Let's see some types:

Cutting (or simply 'cut') - involves a change in the camera's point of view.

Fade in and Fade out (even any other color, including white) - there is a change of scene and especially temporary between one scene and another.

Chained cut - serves to create continuity with different shots.

Sweep or Crossfading - the same as the fade, but with a blurred image between each shot. It can serve to accelerate perception and change focus in the same scene without change in the scenario or in time.

Wipe out (like in Star Wars) - very old-fashioned and typical of family videos.

The transitions have been created over time and are codes that are respected since the viewer is used to them. Without being too ambitious, these transitions are great help when creating messages and continuity in video and comics. The passage from one scene or taking another should be as natural as possible without too many effects (a cut is usually better than a curtain, for example). Another completely different case is when, with the camera fixed, as in YouTube tutorials, the "youtuber" has decided to cut a part that has not gone well. Even when we are very accustomed, in that case if it is convenient to make some kind of fade, even insert some other recording for a few seconds, so as not to see those ghostly jumps between cut and cut.


Value and use of ellipsis.

With the ellipsis we get that, without having to work more, the viewer does not miss anything, so the narrative continuity is not broken and we save in efforts. In the same way, it is an element (an absence of elements) rich and interesting that we must control so as not to create redundancies that the spectator does not need and to use it as a narrative tool.

Ellipses can be:

Inherent: eliminates spaces and times of weak and unnecessary content for the action. It shortens the footage and is usually achieved with short shots that require fewer sets. Sometimes a simple poster like "four years later" saves us having to watch the evolution of the story in a tedious way.

Expressive: when the ellipsis is the message itself. For example, when you move from the bone to the spacecraft in 2001 to show the evolution of the human species.

Structural: the ellipsis creates mystery and suspense. For example, when we do not know who the killer is until the end (objective) or when the character does not know something or we listen to his "internal monologue" away from the environment (subjective)

Content: when a scene is deleted by censorship or self-censorship. For example remove explicit sex to make the film is for all audiences or when they remove political references to avoid problems with totalitarian regimes and project the film there.

Field and out of field.

We have seen this section in Module 1, but I take this opportunity to remind you of it. Field is what we see inside the plane, while outside the field is what we assume is there, but that the plane does not show. Again, out of the field is a type of ellipsis, in this visual case, in which something that the viewer assumes is there is omitted, but we, as filmmakers, can omit, either by redundancy, or by avoid having to add one more difficulty to work.


The axis of action and its montage.

The movement of the actors on the screen can be seen in three axes: X (right-left), Y (up-down) and Z (front-back). The action axis describes that movement in such a way that it can be captured by the camera. If the character moves from the left side of the screen to the right, that spatial vector will be seen from the point of view of the technical script as an axis of action. In the same way, if there are several characters in the scene, the movements and interactions will create different axes of action that will determine the position of the cameras, the lighting and the prop (atrezzo) decisions.

A simple example of the axis of action between two actors is found in a dialogue. Two characters are talking face to face. The imaginary line that we would draw between the two faces would be another axis of action. Being a closed line, a segment with a point A and another B, where would we place the cameras to capture the dialogue? The easiest answer would be to place one behind the face actor head. But with this we would create very strange frames. It is always preferable to see the face cocked (called "three quarters"), one dominating the left profile and another the right, so we will win a lot if the cameras, instead of being on the line of the action axis, found in the diagonals. Thus, we see the face on its side and not in front.

In the case of an actor who walks on the stage in a straight line, we have other options, since it is a line with beginning, but not with end. For that reason we would have the possibility of placing the camera behind the actor, in front, and in other three points; in the two diagonals that starts from behind the actor and in front and in the tangent of the movement. With these five points, we describe a semicircle around movement.

Master shot.

We have talked about films that have been tried to be filmed with a single shot, as if only one shot was possible - in the style of Hitchcock's The Rope - but we can keep a more modest version. If we record in a single scene, without interruptions and inserting in the most skillful way possible, the necessary shots, we will succeed in not breaking the message using a single sequence.

To make this type of plane, we must design - script - all the action around the camera layout and, in turn, place the camera around the movement of the action. It is a feedback that manages to fit into a single sequence an action that will appear as a unit in all aspects.

POV Shot and Inverse Shot.

Mainly, it is a technique for recording the dialogues, as we have seen in the explanation of the axis of action, but which is done with the actors separately. In this case they are recorded in three quarters, always avoiding the frontal plane. The objective is to give the sensation of the space that surrounds the scene and the face of the actors. In this case, the shot can be of the actor who speaks or of the actor who listens, always looking for the emotional charge that they transmit, which is what we really want to transmit to the spectator.

Another option is the shot on shoulder, which makes the actors share the scenic space, uniting them in the image. Again it has an expressive reason to be.

More possibilities are found when there is a lack of symmetry. If we use a neutral plane to film one of the actors and we use a low angle shot for the other, we will leave the second actor at a disadvantage. If it is what we want, it will be a great option, but it has its limits and should be done in a masterful way. We can even use the off-field to maintain the conversation, even when the actor who speaks is not seen.


Historical evolution.

All the arts present "montage" since in all of them we have the different elements to create a new reality. In all of us we want to create a fiction that excites whoever gets in front to enjoy it. In the cinema the assembly arrived soon. While it is true that the first "films" had a single shot from a single angle and a single shot (like the films of the Lumière brothers), with the first fiction stories it was necessary to "unite" two or more film rolls , with which the assembly was served.

These first authors (Méliès, Griffith, Eisestein) saw the possibilities of montage and used it almost as an expressive element, as a message. It had political or ideological functions, highlighting the good as very good and the others as the cause of the evil suffered by the spectators. And they got it with symbolism, with messages that compared some things with others, etc. In addition, some authors, influenced by the idea that the cinema was in fact a new art (emphasizing the art), found an artistic, romantic or poetic message that led the cinema to a melodramatic vision of itself. Then the editing went into the background, as the simple transition of scenes, in some cases quick for action and others slow for dialogues or transmission of emotional information to the viewer. The rhythm of history is marked by montage.

Entering more current ratings, the montage can be measured in the number of shots and shots that are used to create a scene. Sometimes there are dozens of fragments that make up a footage, while in other cases they are longer shots that recreate the action.

From the beginning of the Silent Cinema and especially with the Russian masters, mainly Pudovkin, we have a classification of the five assembly techniques that we find today in the cinematographic productions:

Leit Motiv:

Time and space in the montage.

Let's see how we apply these concepts to the montage (transitions, fades, cuts, etc. that link shots).

First, when there is movement of characters. After the action of an actor, we go to the second, we return to the first and so on until the message ends. We can see it in dialogues, in swapping exchanges and in many other types of scenes. We can do it alternately or in the same shot with a sweep.

When we make the transition from one plane to another maintaining a similar object is called change by form (match cut) and has as a paradigmatic example the transition between the bone and the spacecraft in 2001.

More advanced is to look in the shot of the first shot a point that will be in which, in the second shot, you will find the main element. For example, the face of a surprised actor (foreground) is shown in the center of the action because he is seeing a monster (background). If we superimposed two frames of each shot, we would see that the actor's face and the monster's face coincide in space.

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