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Pudovkin film technique pdf

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fu the s Vsevold Pudovkin set down five editing techniques tbat remain aré reproduced he?e as they appeared in Film Theory and Criticism,. 4dÍ edition . VSEVOLOD PUDOVKIN. FROM FILM TECHNIQUE. [ON EDITING]. METHODS OF TREATMENT OF THE MATERIAL. (Structural Editing). A cinematograph film. V.I. Pudovkin, Film Technique and Film Acting. - Download as PDF File . pdf), Text File .txt) or view presentation slides online.


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Pudovkin's. Film Technique and Film Acting. No more valuable manuals of the practice and theory of film making have been written than these two handbooks. So large was their circulation in Russia that they were translated and published abroad in a single handbook entitled Film Technique. Pudovkin later amplified. ON FILM TECHNIQUE. 47 employ to this end is the careful distribution of the titles (which always distract the spectator), securing compression of the greater.

Its possibilities are inexhaustible. The question of special cinematographic treatment of material is highly important. And these not only prove sufficient, but render exhaustively the whole poignancy of the event represented. The combination of the reels forms the picture. This is one of the most powerful moments in the film.

But it must not be forgotten that its path to a real art will be found only when it has been freed from the dictates of an art- form foreign to it — that is, the Theatre. Cinemato- graphy stands now upon the threshold of its own methods. The effort to affect from the screen the feelings and ideas of the public by means of editing is of xviii PUDOVKIN crucial importance, for it is an effort that renounces theatrical method.

I am firmly convinced that it is along this path that the great international art of cinematography will make its further progress. Almost all represent the primitive narration of some given content, their authors having appar- ently concerned themselves only with the relation of incident, employing for the most part literary methods, and entirely disregarding the extent to which the material they propose will be interesting as subject for cinematographic treatment.

The question of special cinematographic treatment of material is highly important. Every art possesses its own peculiar method of effectively presenting its matter. This remains true, of course, for the film. To work at a scenario without knowing the methods of directorial work, the methods of shooting and cutting a film, is as foolish as to give a Frenchman a Russian poem in literal translation. In order to communi- cate to the Frenchman the correct impression, one must rewrite the poem anew, with knowledge of the peculiarities of French verse-form.

In order to write a scenario suitable for filming, one must know the methods by which the spectator can be influenced from the screen. The whole work of detailed " filmic " adaptation is an affair of the director. This is entirely false. It should be remembered that in no art can construction be divided into stages independent of one another. Already that very general approach involved in the fact of a work being thought out as a substantial future presupposes attention to possible particulari- ties and details.

When one thinks of a theme, then inevitably one thinks simultaneously, be it hazily and unclearly, of the treatment of its action, and so forth. From this it follows that, even though the scenarist abstain from laying down detailed instructions on what to shoot and how to shoot it, what to edit and how to edit it, none the less a knowledge and con- sideration of the possibilities and peculiarities of directorial work will enable him to propose material that can be used by the director, and will make pos- sible to him the creation of a, Jilmically expressive film.

Usually the result is exactly the opposite — usually the first approach of the scenarist to his work implies in the best cases uninteresting, in the worst insur- mountable, obstacles to filmic adaptation. The purpose of this study is to communicate what is, it is true, a very elementary knowledge of the basic principles of scenario work in their relation to the basic principles of directorial work. Apart from those considerations specifically filmic, the scenarist, especially in the field of general construction, is con- fronted with the laws governing creation in other allied arts.

In other cases it may approach the novel, and its con- struction will consequently be conditioned by other laws. But these questions can be treated only super- ficially in the present sketch, and readers especially interested in them must turn to specialised works. In observing the development of the action the spectator is transferred first to one place, then to another ; yet more, he is shown an incident, even sometimes an actor, not as a whole, but consecutively by aiming the camera at various parts of the scene or of the human body.

This kind of construction of a picture, the resolving of the material into its elements and subsequent building from them of a filmic whole, is called " constructive editing," and it will be discussed in detail in the second part of this sketch. As a preliminary it is necessary only for us to note the fact of this basic method of film- work.

In shooting a film, the director is not in a position to do so consecutively — that is, begin with the first 4 PUDOVKIN scene and thence, following the scenario, proceed in order right up to the last. The reason is simple. Suppose, for argument's sake, you build a required set — it nearly always happens that the scenes taking place in it are spread throughout the whole scenario — and suppose the director take it into his head, after shooting a scene on that set, to proceed immedi- ately with the scene next following in the order of the action of the developing scenario, then it will be necessary to build a new set without demolishing the first, then another, and so forth, accumulating a whole series of structures without being able to destroy the preceding ones.

To work in this way is impracticable for simple technical reasons. Thus both director and actor are deprived of the possi- bility of continuity in the actual process of shooting ; but, at the same time, continuity is essential. With the loss of continuity, we lose the unity of the work — its style and, with that, its effect. From this derives the inevitable necessity of a detailed preliminary overhauling of the scenario.

Only then can a director work with confidence, only then can he attain significant results, when he treats each piece carefully according to a filmic plan, when, clearly visualising to himself a series of screen images, he traces and fixes the whole course of development, both of the scenario action and of the work of the separate characters.

In this preliminary paper-work must be created that style, that unity, which con- ditions the value of any work of art. All the various positions of the camera — such as long-shot, close-up, ON FILM TECHNIQUE 5 shot from above, and so forth ; all the technical means — such as " fade," " mask," and " pan " — that affect the relation of a shot to the piece of cellu- loid preceding and following it ; everything that comprises or strengthens the inner content of a scene, must be exactly considered ; otherwise in the shoot- ing of some scene, taken at random from the middle of the scenario, irreparable errors may arise.

Thus this overhauled " working " — that is, ready for shoot- ing — form of scenario provides in itself the detailed description of each, eveta the smallest, piece, citing every technical method required for its execution. Certainly, to require the scenarist to write his work in such a form would be to require him to become a director ; but all this scenario work must be done, and, if he cannot deliver a " cast-iron " scenario, ready for shooting, nevertheless, in that degree in which he provides a material more or less approach- ing the ideal form, the scenarist will provide the director not with a series of obstacles to be overcome, but with a series of impulses that can be used.

The more technically complete his working-out of the scenario, the more chance the scenarist has to see upon the screen the images shaped as he has visualised them. The theme. The action the treatment. The cinematographic working-out of the action filmic representation.

Certainly, such a scheme is the result of the dis- section of an already completed scenario. As already remarked, the creative process can take place in other sequence. Separate scenes can be imagined and simultaneously find their position in the process of growth.

But, none the less, some final overhaul of the work on the scenario must take into account all these three stages in their sequence.

One must always remember that the film, by the very nature of its construction the rapid alternation of successive pieces of celluloid , requires of the spectator an exceptional concentration of attention.

The director, and consequently the scenarist also, leads despoti- cally along with him the attention of the spectator. The latter sees only that which the director shows him ; for reflection, for doubt, for criticism, there is neither room nor time, and consequently the smallest error in clearness or vividness of construction will be apprehended as an unpleasant confusion or as a simple, ineffective blank.

Remember, therefore, that the scenarist must always take care to secure the greatest simplicity and clarity in the resolution of each separate problem, at whatever moment in his work it may confront him. Author's note. ON FILM TECHNIQUE 7 elucidation we will discuss separately in order each of the separate points of the scheme outlined, that we may establish the specific requirements set by the film in the selection and application of dif- ferent materials and the different methods of their treatment.

In fine, every human concept can be employed as a theme, and the film, no more than any other art, can place bounds to its selection. The only question that can be asked is whether it be valuable or useless to the spectator. And this question is a purely sociological one, the solution of which does not enter the scope of this sketch. But mention must be made of certain formal requirements, conditioning the selection of the theme, if only because of the present-day position of film-art.

The film is yet young, and the wealth of its methods is not yet extensive ; for this reason it is possible to indicate temporary limitations without necessarily attributing to them the permanence and inflexibility of laws.

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First of all must be mentioned the scale of theme. Formerly there ruled a tendency, and in part it exists to-day, to select such themes as embrace material spreading extraordinarily widely over time and space. As example may be quoted the American film Intolerance, the theme of which may be represented as follows: The result is extremely characteristic. In the first place, scarcely compressed into twelve reels, the film became so ponderous that the tiredness it created largely effaced its effect.

In the second place, the abundance of matter forced the director to work the theme out quite generally, without touching upon details, and consequently there was a strong dis- crepancy between the depth of the motif and the superficiality of its form.

Only the part played in the present day, in which the action was more con- centrated, produced the necessary, effective impres- sion. It is especially necessary to pay attention to this forced superficiality.

At the present moment film-art, still in its infancy, does not possess means enabling it to embrace so wide a material. Note that most good films are characterised by very simple themes and relatively uncomplicated action. Bela Balazs, in his book " Der Sichtbare Mensch," quite correctly remarks that the failure of the majority of film adaptations of literary works is to be ascribed mainly to the fact that the scenarists concerned strove to compress a superabundance of material into the narrow confines of the picture.

Cinematography is, before anything else, limited by the definite length of a film. A film more than 7, feet long already creates an unnecessary exhaustion. But this method is possible only to films of a special kind. The spectator, losing nothing in impression, can see the second part without acquaintance with the first, the content of which he gathers from an opening title. The relationship between the episodes is attained by crude play upon the curiosity of the spectator ; for example, at the end of the first part the hero lands into some inextricable situation, solved only at the beginning of the second, and so forth.

But the film of deeper content, the value of which lies always in the impression it creates as a whole, can certainly not be thus divided into parts for the spectator to see separately, one each week.

In a single word often a whole complex of images is contained. Visual images having an inferential significance of this nature are, however, very rare, and the film technician is therefore forced to carry out a detailed representation if he desire to achieve an effective impression. I repeat that the necessity io PUDOVKIN to limit the scale of the theme is perhaps only a tem- porary one, but, having regard to our actual store of means of filmic representation, it is unavoidable.

Meanwhile, the other requirement, conditioned by the basic character itself of filmic spectacle, will probably exist for ever — the necessity for clarity. I have already mentioned above the necessity for absolute clarity in the resolution of every problem met with in the process of working on the film ; this holds true, of course, for the work on the theme. If the basic idea that is to serve as backbone to the scenario be vague and indefinite, the scenario is con- demned to miscarry.

I give an example ; a scenario-writer sent us an already completed scenario on the life of a factory workman in the days before the Russian revolution. The scenario was written round a given hero, a work- man.

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In the course of the action he came into contact with a series of persons — hostile and friendly: At the beginning of the scenario the hero was depicted as a rough, ungoverned man ; at the end he became an honest, class-conscious workman.

A series of slices of life, a series of chance meetings and encounters bound together by no more than their sequence in time, is, after all, no more than a group of episodes. The theme as basic idea, uniting in itself the meaning of all the events depicted — that is what was lacking. But the same author went through his scenario, altering it in accordance with the remarks made to him.

He carefully reconstructed the line of the hero, guided by a clearly formulated theme. As basis he set the following idea: The idea defined above can be termed that theme the clear formulation of which inevitably organises the entire work and results in a clearly effective creation. Note as rule: All further limi- tations influencing the choice of theme are connected with the action-treatment. As I have already said, the creative process never takes place in schematic sequence: This material is provided for him by knowledge, experi- ence, and, finally, imagination.

Having established the theme, as basic idea conditioning the selection of this material, the scenarist must begin its grouping. Here the persons of the action are introduced, their relations to one another established, their various significance in the development of the plot deter- mined, and, finally, here are indicated, given proportions for the distribution of the entire material throughout the scenario.

In entering the province of the action-treatment of the theme, the scenarist first comes into contact with the requirements of creative work. Just as the theme is, by definition, a supra-artistic element, so, con- trastingly, the work on the action is conditioned by a whole series of requirements peculiar to the given art.

Let us first approach the most general aspect — let us determine the character of the work on the action. These key-stones, as it were, mark the general outline ; to them belong the elements characteristic of the various persons, the nature of the events that bring these persons together, often the details conditioning the significance and strength of the elements of crescendo and diminu- endo, often even just separate incidents selected for their power and expressiveness.

Exactly the same process occurs certainly in the work of the scenarist. To consider the action ab- stractly is impossible. It is impossible to plan merely that at the beginning the hero is an anarchist and then, after meeting with a series of mishaps in his efforts at revolutionary work, becomes a conscious communist. A scheme of this kind is no advance on the theme and brings us no nearer the essential treatment.

Not only what happens must be per- ceived, but also how it happens ; in the work on the action the form must already be sensible. Imagining a reform in the cosmic philosophy of the hero is still very far from creating a climax in the scenario. Before the discovery of a definite concrete form that, in the scenarist's opinion, will affect the spectator from the screen, the abstract idea of a reform has no creative value and cannot serve as a key-stone in the constitution of the action ; but these key-stones are necessary ; they establish the hard skeleton and remove the danger of those blank gaps that may i 4 PUDOVKIN always occur if some important stage in the develop- ment of the scenario be treated carelessly and abstractly.

Neglect of this element in the work of final filmic polishing may occasion inexpressive material, unsuitable for plastic treatment, and thus may destroy the whole construction. The novelist expresses his key-stones in written descriptions, the dramatist by rough dialogue, but the scenarist must think in plastic externally expres- sive images.

He must train his imagination, he must develop the habit of representing to himself whatever comes into his head in the form of a sequence of images upon the screen. Yet more, he must learn to command these images and to select from those he visualises the clearest and most vivid ; he must know how to command them as the writer commands his words and the playwright his spoken phrases.

Let us take as an example an American film, naive, certainly, and not especially valuable, issued under the name Saturday Night. Though its content is slight, it affords an excellent model of a theme clearly outlined and action simply and vividly treated. The theme is as follows: A chauffeur spurns the favours of a laundress, for he falls in love with a capitalist's daughter whom he drives every day in his car. Two marriages are celebrated. The narrow garret of the chauffeur seems an absurd dog-kennel to the daughter of the mansion.

The natural desire of the chauffeur to find a meal at home ready for him after a hard day's work encounters an invincible obstacle in the fact that his wife has no idea how to make a fire or manage the cooking utensils ; the fire is too hot, the crockery dirties her hands, and the half-cooked food flies all over the floor. When friends of the chauffeur visit him to spend a jolly evening, they behave themselves so crudely, by the standards of the spoilt lady, that she stalks demonstratively out of the room and bursts into an unexpected fit of hysterics.

Meanwhile, no better fares the ex-laundress in the mansion of the rich. Surrounded by scornful servants, she plumps from one embarrassment into another. She marvels at the lady's-maids who help her to dress and undress, she looks clumsy and absurd in her long-trained gown, at a dinner-party she becomes an object of ridicule, to the distress of her husband and his relatives.

By chance the chauffeur and the former laundress meet. It is obvious that, influenced by disappointment, their former mutual inclination re-awakens.

The two unhappy couples part, to reunite themselves in new and happier com- binations. The laundress is brilliant in the kitchen, and the capitalist's new wife wears her dresses faultlessly and is marvellous at the fox-trot. The action is as primitive as the theme, but none the less the film can be regarded as highly successful 16 PUDOVKIN in its clear, well-thought out construction.

Every detail is in place and directly related to the pervading idea. Even in this superficial sketch of its content one senses the presence of vivid, externally expressed images: Every essential element in the development of the scenario is characterised by clear, plastic material.

As counter-model I shall reproduce an extract from one of the many scenarios that pour in every day: Often Andrei visits them, and seeks with fervent words to encourage the despairing Natasha. There is nothing but meetings and talkings. Such expressions as " Often Andrei visits them," " with fervent words he seeks to encourage M " refusals everywhere" and so forth, show a complete lack of any connection between the work on the action and that filmic form the scenario is later to assume.

Such incidents may serve, at best, as material for titles, but never for shots. It is important to realise that even in the pre- paratory general treatment of the scenario must be indicated nothing that is impossible to represent, or that is inessential, but only that which can be established as clear and plastically expressive key- stones. To express externally the character of a scene showing direst poverty, to find acts not words characterising the relationship of Andrei to Natasha —this is what will provide such key-stones.

It may be argued that work on plastic form belongs already to the next stage and can be left to the director, but to this I emphasise once again that it is always im- portant to have the possible plastic form before one's eyes even in the general approach to the work, in order to escape the possibility of blank gaps in the subsequent treatment.

Remember, for example, the word " often," already mentioned as one entirely unnecessary and incapable of plastic expression. Thus we have established the necessity for the scenarist always to orientate himself according to the plastic material that, in the end, must serve as form for his representation. We now turn to the general questions of concentration of the action as a whole.

During work on the treatment the scenarist must always consider the varying degree of tension in the action. This tension must, after all, be reflected in the spectator, forcing him to follow the given part of the picture with more or less excitement.

This excitement does not depend from the dramatic situation alone, it can be created or strengthened by purely extraneous methods. The vast majority of scenarios suffer from clumsy building up of tension.

As example one may quote the Russian film The Adventures of Mr. The first three reels are watched with ever- growing interest.

A cowboy, arrived in Moscow with the American visitor West, lands into and escapes from a series of exceedingly complicated situations, the interest steadily increasing with his dexterity. The dynamically saturated earlier reels are easy to look at and grip the spectator with ever- increasing excitement. But after the end of the third reel, where the cowboy's adventures came to an unexpected end, the spectator experiences a natural reaction, and the continuation, in spite of the ON FILM TECHNIQUE 19 excellent directorial treatment, is watched with much diminished interest.

And the last reel, containing the weakest material of the whole a journey through the streets of Moscow and various empty factories , completely effaces the good impression of the film and lets the spectator go out unsatisfied. As an interesting example of opposite and correct regulation of increasing elements of tension in the action may be instanced the films of the well-known American director, Griffith.

He has created a type of film-ending, even distinguished by his name, that is used by the multitude of his successors up to the present day. Let us take the present-day part of the film Intolerance, already instanced. A young work- man, discharged owing to participation in a strike, comes to New York, and falls in straightway with a band of petty thieves ; but, after meeting the girl he loves, he decides to seek honest employment.

Yet the " villains " do not leave him in peace. Finally they involve him in a trial for murder and he gets into prison. The proofs seem so incontestable to the judge and jury that he is condemned to death. At the end of the picture his sweetheart, meanwhile become his wife, unexpectedly discovers the real murderer. Her husband is already being prepared for execu- tion ; only the governor has power to intervene, and he has just left the town on an express train.

There ensues a terrific chase to save the hero. The woman rushes after the train on a racing-car whose owner has realised that a man's life depends upon his speed. In the cell the man receives unction. The preparations for the execution are nearing their end.

At the very last moment, when the noose is being laid round the neck of the hero, comes the pardon, attained by the wife at the price of her last energy and effort. The quick changes of scene, the contrasting alternation of the tearing machines with the methodical preparations for the execution of an innocent man, the ever- increasing concern of the spectator — " will they be in time, will they be in time?

In the method of Griffith are combined the inner dramatic content of the action and a masterly employment of external effort dynamic tension. His films can be used as models of correctly con- trasted intensification. Written though it may be in purely literary phraseology, such a treatment will provide the libretto, as it were, of the scenario ; and, in the hands of the specialist director, it will be transformable into a working script the more easily the more that orientation on plastic ON FILM TECHNIQUE 21 material, of which I spoke above, has been taken into consideration in working out the action.

Already the next stage in the work of the scenarist is the specific cinematographic overhaul of the action. The scenario must be divided into sequences, these into scenes, and the scenes into the separate shots script-scenes 7 that correspond to the separate pieces of celluloid from which the film is ultimately joined together. A reel must not exceed a certain length — its average length works out at from to 1, feet.

The film consists usually of from six to eight reels, and the scenario-writer desirous of endowing his work with specific filmic treatment must learn to feel its length. In order correctly to feel it he should take into consideration the following facts. The projector at normal speed runs through about one foot per second. Consequently a reel runs through in under fifteen minutes, and the whole film in about an hour and a half.

If one try to visualise each separate scene as a component of a reel, as it appears upon the screen, and consider the time each will take up, one can reckon the quantity required as content of the whole scenario. A figure cowers into the corner of the waggon, trying to wrap itself in an old soldier's cloak for protection against the penetrating wind. A passer-by, coming towards the waggon, pauses, standing inquisitively. The driver turns to him.

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The waggon sets onward, while the passer- by stares after it and then continues on his way. Scene 2. In the corner on a bench, lies an old man covered with rags ; he breathes with difficulty.

An old woman is busy- ing herself about the hearth and irritably clattering among the pots. The sick man turns himself round painfully and speaks to her. Note that there is a whole series of details characteristic for the given scene and em- phasised by their literary form, such as, for example, " sinking in the mud," " sadly the driver, 5 ' " a passenger, wrapped in a soldier's cloak," " the pierc- ing wind " — none of these details will reach the spectator if they are introduced merely as incidentals in shooting the scene as a whole, just as it is written.

The film possesses essentially specific and highly effective methods by means of which the spectator can be made to notice each separate detail mud, wind, behaviour of driver, behaviour of fare , show- ing them one by one, just as we should describe them in separate sequence in literary work, and not just simply to note " bad weather," " two men on a wag- gon. An animated group of peasants. In the centre speaks a Comsomolka ll close-up. New groups come up.

The elders of the village. Indignant cries are heard from them. Terms such as " interpolation " and " cut- in " are absurd expressions, the remnants of an old misunderstanding of the technical methods of the film. The details organically belonging to scenes of the kind instanced must not be interpolated into the scene, but the latter must be built out of them. We 24 PUDOVKIN will turn to editing, as the basic method of influencing the spectator effectively from the screen, when we have given the necessary explanations of the basic sorts and selection of plastic material.

He must watch films attentively, and, after seeing them, must try to express various sequences, endeavouring to represent their editing construction. By such attentive observation of the work of others can the necessary experience be gained, I will give an example of an already prepared scenario sequence, its editing constructed and ready for shooting.

The rising of the workers is crushed.

Slow fade-in. Rifles lying about. Slow panorama. Part of the barricade. The corpses of work- men. A woman with her head hanging over back- wards lies among them. From a broken flagstaff hangs a torn flag. Closer, — The woman with her head hanging back, her eyes staring at the lens.

The torn flag flutters in the wind. Slow fade-out. This is an example of a slow, solemn, introductory sequence. The " pan " gives the same effect, and the fades separate the sequence into a separate indepen- dent motif. Now an example of a dynamic sequence in heightened editing tempo. From the corner rushes a crowd of workmen.

They run towards the lens ; the figures flee rapidly past it. A workman leaps over a great crowbar and runs on. He suddenly stops, and calls: A second workman clambers on to a crane. Steam streams upwards. A frenzied siren shrieks. The workman on the crane bends over and looks downwards. The workman on the crane calls with all his strength: Title in large letters: Shot from above.

A section of the running crowd knocks over a woman. The running mass. Here is shown the editing of quickly alternating pieces, creating the desired excitement by their rhythm. The increase in size of the title emphasises the increasing panic. Of course, this form of scenario requires thorough, special training, but I repeat once again that only determined effort on the part of the scenarist to reach as near as possible to this technically correct form will turn him into a writer able to give in a general treatment material even usable in film work.

A scenario will only be good if its writer shall have mastered a knowledge of specific methods, if he know how to use them as weapons for the winning of effect ; otherwise the scenario will be but raw material that must, to an extent of ninety per cent, be subordinated to the treatment of a specialist.

Consequently, it is not the words he writes that are important, but the externally expressed plastic images that he describes in these words.

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As a matter of fact, it is not so easy to find such plastic images. They must, before anything else, be clear and expressive. Anyone familiar with literary work can well represent to himself what is an expressive word, or an expressive style ; he knows that there are such things as telling, expressive words, as vividly expressive word-constructions — sentences.

Similarly, he knows that the involved, obscure style of an inexperienced writer, with a multitude of super- fluous words, is the consequence of his inability to select and control them.

What is here said of literary work is entirely applicable to the work of the scenarist, only the word is replaced by the plastic image. The scenarist must know how to find and to use plastic visually expressive material: In the film ToVable David there is a sequence in which a new character — an escaped convict, a tramp — comes into the action. The type of a thorough scoundrel. The task of the scenarist was to give his characteristics. Let us analyse how it was done, by describing the series of following shots.

The tramp — a degenerate brute, his face over- grown with unshaven bristles — is about to enter a house, but stops, his attention caught by something.

Close-up of the face of the watching tramp. Showing what he sees — a tiny, fluffy kitten asleep in the sun. The tramp again. He raises a heavy stone with the transparent intention of using it to obliterate the sleeping little beast, and only the casual push of a fellow, just then carrying objects into the house, hinders him from carrying out his cruel intention.

In this little incident there is not one single explanatory title, and yet it is effective,! Because the plastic material has been correctly and suitably chosen. The sleeping kitten is a perfect expression of complete innocence and freedom from care, and thus the heavy stone in the hands of the huge man immediately becomes the symbol of absurd and senseless cruelty to the mind of the spectator who sees this scene. Thus the end is attained.

The characterisation is achieved, and at the same time its abstract content wholly expressed, with the help of happily chosen plastic material. Another example from the same film. The con- text of the incident is as follows: The weapon of revenge — an old flint-lock.

When the disabled brother is brought into the house, and the family, dazed with despair, is gathered round his bed, the boy, half crying, half gritting his teeth, secretly loads the flint-lock.

The sudden death of the father and the supplications of the mother, clinging in despair to the feet of her son, restrain his outbreak.

The boy remains the sole hope of the family. When, later, he again reaches secretly for the flint-lock and takes it from the wall, the voice of his mother, calling him to go and buy soap, compels him to hang the gun up again and run out to the store.

Note with what mastery the old, clumsy-looking flint-lock is here employed. It is as if it incarnated the thirst for revenge that tortures the boy. Every time the hand reaches for the flint-lock the spectator knows what is passing in the mind of the hero. No titles, no explanations are necessary. Recall the scene of soap fetched for the mother just described. Hanging up the flint-lock and running to the store implies forgetfulness of self for the sake of another. This is a perfect characterisation, rendering on the one hand the naive directness of the man still half a child, on the other his awakening sense of duty.

Another example, from the film The Leather Pushers. The incident is as follows. A man sitting at a table is waiting for his friend. He is smoking a cigarette, and in front of him on the table stand an ash-tray and a glass half empty of liquid, both filled 30 PUDOVKIN with an enormous number of cigarette ends.

The spectator immediately visualises the great space of time the man has been waiting and, no less, the degree of excitement that has made him smoke nearly a hundred cigarettes.

From the examples quoted above it will be clear what is to be understood by the term: We have found here a kitten, a tramp, a stone, a flint-lock, some cigarette ends, and not one of these objects or persons yas introduced by chance ; each constitutes a visual image, requir- ing no explanation and yet carrying a clear and definite meaning. Hence an important rule for the scenarist: Special attention, how- ever, must be paid to the special part played in pictures by objects.

Relationships between human beings are, for the most part, illuminated by con- versations, by words ; no one carries on conversa- tion with objects, and that is why work with them, being expressed by visual action, is of special interest to the film technician, as we have just seen in these examples. Try to imagine to yourself anger, joy, confusion, sorrow, and so forth expressed not in words and the gestures accompanying them, but in action connected with objects, and you will see how ON FILM TECHNIQUE 31 images saturated with plastic expression come into your mind.

Work on plastic material is of the highest importance for the scenarist. In the process of it he learns to imagine to himself what he has written as it will appear upon the screen, and the knowledge thus acquired is essential for correct and fruitful work.

One must try to express one's concepts in clear and vivid visual images. Suppose it be a matter of the characterisation of some person of the action — this person must be placed in such conditions as will make him appear, by means of some action or move- ment, in the desired light remember the tramp and the kitten.

Suppose it be a matter of the representation of some event — those scenes must be assembled that most vividly emphasise visually the essence of the event represented.

In relation to what we have said, we must turn to the question of sub-titles. The usual view of titles as an invading, adventitious element, to be avoided wherever possible, is fundamentally erroneous. The title is an organic part of the film and, consequently, of the scenario. Naturally a title can be super- fluous, but only in the sense in which a whole scene can be superfluous. According to their content titles can be divided into two groups: Let us take an example from ToVable David.

Three tramps, needed by the scenarist to create an opposing evil influence to the hero of the scenario, are introduced. Before their appearance on the screen comes a title: The essential action — the appearance of the tramps — is shown on the screen preceded by a continuity title. This is correct construction. It is an entirely different matter for a title to replace an essential element of the scenario, where the subsequent action is, so to say, its result.

For example: This is no good at all. The action is weaker than the title, and shows inability to resolve the plastic problem concerned. To the group " continuity tides " must also be referred such titles as indicate an hour or place of the action — for example: A continuity title must never be stronger than the subsequent image of the action as in the example of Olga leaving her husband.

Of their significance not much need be said. The main consideration affecting them is: Clarity is as important for the spoken as for the continuity title. Superfluous words that may en- hance the literary beauty of the sentence but will complicate its rapid comprehension are not per- missible. The film spectator has no time to savour words. The title must " get " to the spectator quickly — in the course of the process of being read.

A continual, even interruption of the action by titles is not desirable. It is better to try to distribute them this is especially important with continuity titles so that by con- centrating them in one part I of the scenario the remainder is left free for development of the action.

Thus work the Americans, giving all the necessary explanations in the early reels, strengthening the middle by use of more spoken titles, and at the end, in quicker tempo, carrying through the bare action to the finish without titles. It is interesting to note that, apart from its literal content, the title may have also a plastic content.

For example, often large, distinct lettering is used, the importance of the word being associated with the size of the letters with which it is formed. An example — in the propaganda film Famine there was an end title as follows: Consideration of the plastic size of the title is undoubtedly very interesting, and this the scenarist should remember.

We have already said that too long tides must not be used. Rapid action demands short, abrupt titles 17 ; long-drawn-out action can be linked only with slow ones. The simplest of these are as follows: Fade-in The screen is entirely dark ; as it becomes lighter the picture is disclosed.

The reverse process — the darkening of the picture until it has disappeared. The fade has mainly a rhythmic significance. The slow withdrawal of the picture from the view- field of the spectator corresponds, in contradistinc- tion to its usual sudden breaking-off, to the slow withdrawal of the spectator from the scene. One usually ends a sequence with a fade-out, especially when the scene itself has been carried out in retarded tempo.

The fade-in is, on the contrary, equivalent to the purposeful introduction of the spectator to a new environment and new action. It is used to begin a film, or a separate sequence. Often shots are bounded by a fade-in and fade-out — that is to say, the scene begins with the opening and ends with the closing of the shutter. By the use of this method is achieved the emphasis 6f an incident divorced from the general line of thk scenario — very often, for example, this method is used for a refrain leit- motif or a flash-back.

The fade can take various forms. A common form, now old-fashioned, is the round iris. At an iris-in there appears upon the dark screen a spot of light, disclosing the picture as it broadens.

It should be mentioned, however, that the frequent use of various irises and shutters 20 is unnecessarily trying to the spectator. Shots in iris or in mask. The action takes place in this opening.

This is a so-called " mask. The most common is its use to let the spectator see from the viewpoint of the hero — for example, the hero looks through a keyhole ; there appears what he sees, shown in a mask shaped like a keyhole. A field-glass-shaped mask can also be used, and so forth. It is interesting to note the special use of a small, round mask a stationary iris , often used in American films.

A dual object is attained with this kind of shot: The Mix. This method has also a mainly rhythmic significance. Mixes involve a slow rhythm. Often they are used in the representation of a flash-back, as if imitating the birth of one idea from another.

It is necessary to warn the scenarist against over- use of mixes. Technically, in making a mix, the cameraman, after having taken the one shot, must immediately begin to take the other, which is not always possible. If, for example, in a scenario the action is indicated as follows: This is a purely technical method, and its significance is obvious. Forward or Backward Movement Tracking or Trolley- ing. This method is nowadays scarcely ever used.

Shots Out of Focus. Everything said here regarding simple methods of taking shots has certainly only information value. What particular method of shooting is to be used, only his own taste and his own finer feelings can tell the scenarist.

Here are no rules ; the field for new invention and combination is wide. An actual scenario, ready for use in shooting, must take into account this basic property of the film. The scenarist must be able to write his material on paper exactly as it will appear upon the screen, thus giving exactly the content of each shot as well as its position in sequence. The construction of a scene from pieces, a sequence from scenes, and reel from sequences, and so forth, is called editing.

Editing is one of the most significant instruments of effect possessed by the film technician and, therefore, by the scenarist also. Let us now become acquainted with its methods one by one. But in order to know how properly to use the close-up, one must understand its significance, which is as follows: For instance, three persons are taking part in a scene. Suppose the significance of this scene consist in the general course of the action if, for example, all three are lifting some heavy object , then they are taken 40 PUDOVKIN simultaneously in a general view, the so-called long- shot.

But suppose any one of them change to an independent action having significance in the scenario for example, separating himself from the others, he draws a revolver cautiously from his pocket , then the camera is directed on him alone. His action is recorded separately. What is said above applies not only to persons, but also to separate parts of a person, and objects. Let us suppose a man is to be taken apparently listening calmly to the conversation of someone else, but actually restraining his anger with difficulty.

The man crushes the cigarette he holds in his hand, a gesture unnoticed by the other. This hand will always be shown on the screen separately, in close- up, otherwise the spectator will not notice it and a characteristic detail will be missed.

The view formerly obtained and is still held by some that the close-up is an " interruption " of the long-shot. This idea is entirely false. It is no sort of interrup- tion. It represents a proper form of construction.

In order to make clear to oneself the nature of the process of editing a scene, one may draw the follow- ing analogy. Imagine yourself observing a scene unfolded in front of you, thus: The two are fairly widely distant from one another — they stop. The first takes some object and shows it to the other, mocking him. At this moment a woman looks out of a window on the third floor and calls, " Police! Now, how would this have been observed? The observer looks at the first man. He turns his head.

What is he looking at? The observer turns his glance in the same direction and sees the man entering the gate. The latter stops. How does the first react to the appearance on the scene of the second? A new turn by the observer ; the first takes out an object and mocks the second.

How does the second react? Another turn ; he clenches his fists and throws himself on his opponent. The observer draws aside to watch how both opponents roll about fighting. A shout from above. The observer raises his head and sees the woman shouting at the window. The observer lowers his head and sees the result of the warning— the antagonists running off in opposite directions.

The observer happened to be standing near and saw every detail, saw it clearly, but to do so he had to turn his head, first left, then right, then upwards, whithersoever his attention was attracted by the interest of observation and the sequence of the developing scene. Suppose he had been standing farther away from the action, taking in the two persons and the window on the third floor simul- taneously, he would have received only a general 42 PUDOVKIN impression, without being able to look separately at the first, the secpnd, or the woman.

Here we have approached closely the basic significance of editing. Its object ii the showing of the develop- ment of the scene in relief, as it were, by guiding the attention of the spectator now to one, now to the other separate element. The lens of the camera replaces the eye of the observer, and the changes of angle of the camera — directed now on one person, now on another, now on one detail, now on another — must be subject to the same conditions as those of the eyes of the observer.

The film technician, in order to secure the greatest clarity, emphasis, and vividness, shoots the scene in separate pieces and, joining them and showing them, directs the atten- tion of the spectator to the separate elements, com- pelling him to see as the attentive observer saw. From the above is clear the manner in which editing can even work upon the emotions. Imagine to your- self the excited observer of some rapidly developing scene.

His agitated glance is thrown rapidly from one spot to another. If we imitate this glance with the camera we get a series of pictures, rapidly alternating pieces, creating a stirring scenario editing- construction. The reverse would be long pieces chang- ing by mixes, conditioning a calm and slow editing- construction as one may shoot, for example, a herd of cattle wandering along a road, taken from the viewpoint of a pedestrian on the same road.

We have established, by these instances, the basic significance of the constructive editing of scenes. The sequence of these pieces must not be uncontrolled, but must correspond to the natural transference of attention of an imaginary observer who, in the end, is represented by the spectator. In this sequence must be expressed a special logic that will be apparent only if each shot contain an impulse towards transference of the attention to the next. For example 1 A man turns his head and looks ; 2 What he looks at is shown.

It is its basic method. We have seen that the separate scene, and often even the movement of one man, is built up upon the screen from separate pieces. Now, the film is not simply a collection of different scenes. Just as the pieces are built up into scenes endowed, as it were, with a connected action, so the separate scenes are assembled into groups forming whole sequences.

The sequence is constructed edited from scenes. Let us suppose ourselves faced with the task of constructing the following sequence: Here the scenarist has to deal with simultaneity of various actions ih several different places. While the spies are crawling towards the magazine, some- one else finds the letter and hastens to warn the guard.

The spies have nearly reached their objec- tive ; the guards are warned and rushing towards the magazine.

The spies have completed their preparations ; the guard arrives in time. If we pursue the previous analogy betwen the camera and an observer, we now not only have to turn it from side to side, but also to move it from place to place.

The observer the camera is now on the road shadowing the spies, now in the guardroom recording the confusion, now back at the magazine showing the spies at work, and so forth. When Norman re-enters the cabin we watch in real time as Norman drags the body onto the plastic sheeting.

The shots are long. Now we see Norman rushing from his mother's house to the cabin where Marion was killed. New compositions are created through blocking. Hitchcock's switch to mise-en-scene achieves a number of things.

Once inside. He works carefully. Psycho Shower Scene Aftermath Screenplay: Joseph Stephano.

La ter in the interior scene INT. He spreads the curtain so that one end of it comes up against the bathroom threshold and slightly over and onto the tile floor. He dashes into an extreme close up and we see the terror and fear ripe in his face.

Thelma and Louise. Their dance steps change from chorus line kicks to the goose-stepping march of the Nazis. The hats change from flirtatious to militaristic. Each tears off the flowers pinned to their hats. Script Note The two scenes excerpted here were combined into one scene in the final film. They spin their hats around. Part 3 It cuts from the goose-stepping dancers to the home of a young Jewish woman. This is a tough abstract eoneept to eonvey without dialogo Here's how it was done in Cabaret.

Part 1 The dance number starts like ones earlier in the movie. In Cabaret. Cabaret Set in Berlin durip. Other Films Pulp Fiction. Intercutting Intercutting also called cross-cutting occurs when two scenes are shot in sequence. Then the film begins to intercut. Part2 The dancers stop. It immediately sets up the idea that the old world is gone. Each cut back to the woman's house steps up the brutality of the lawless thugs that have trespassed onto her property.

It's replaced by a ehilling blue fog. The ehange of political climate is suggested in a dance number that adds intercutting to the end of the scene to make the inferenees less abstraet and more particular. Intercutting can also be used for other purposes. The violence of the Nazi thugs has become the norm and will go without punishment.

This creates a sense of two actions occurring simultaneously in two different locations. The brutal murder of her dog. First we see the thugs rush onto her gated property. A kick-line of dancers perform. Dramatic Value The intercutting goes from the abstract to the speeific. The Graduate. Then the ehange begins. As the film progresses.

The orange yellow saturated lighting associated with the era 's expressionism and freedom drains away. Facing front. Music cuts off on each quick cut to the mugging. They are dressed in abbreviated costumes. The MC. This will be a version of the very effective number from the show in which the M. Shot of MC's feet in sturdy Bavarian boots as his feet continue the rhythm of the slapdance. Berlin Short Stories. Smiling 'MC.

Christopher Isherwood. As the dance begins to fall apart. Shot of NAZI's feet. First Draft June 7. John van Druten. On the music's last beat. The comic violence of this dance should play in juxtaposition to the inter-cut scenes of realistic violence.

Cabaret Screenplay: Jay Presson AlIen. Like intercutting. We see what appears to be a lethal hypodermic needle almost touching the arm of the sleeping victim where the assassin intends to empty it. KilI Sill Vol. Dramatic Value In this instance the split screen also suggests the imminent physical proximity of the victim to the assassin by having the two share the frame.

It was also used in classic horror films. Split screen was a staple of the s and s. Its use. In having unexpectedly survived a brutal attempt on her life. In this way the writerldirector Tarantirjo exploits the elasticity oi time and place that the split screen provides and is able to heighten the suspense oi the scene.

By using split screen we are able to see both Thurman lying unconscious in bed and the approaching assassin at the same time. ID Film Element: Split Screen A split screen runs two shots side-by-side within a single frame. In this case multiple views of the estate are presented but rema in connected by the use of dissolves. In the opening scene. They are often used to show the passage of time. The implication is that no one shot could ha ve encompassed the massive grounds.

This underscores its magnitude. Script Note Although twelve dissolves were used in the script's introductory montage. Each dissolve shows us a different part of the estate. Dissolves offer endless dramatic possibilities. Djssolves have beena staple techniquesince the s. Citizen Kane In the script of Citizen Kane. Dissolves Dissolves blend one shot into another.

M ankiewicz and Orson Welles. All around this is an almost totally black screen. Citizen Kane page 1 Screenplay: Through this and beyond we see the fairy-tale mountaintop of Xanadu. The castle dominates itself. Camera trave l s up what is now shown to be a gateway of gigantic proportions and holds on the top of it. Designed by nature to be almost comple tely bare and flat. Almost all the land is improved.

V.I. Pudovkin, 1929. Film Technique and Film Acting.

The g r eens are straggly and overgrown. Its right flan k resting fo r nearly forty miles on the Gulf Coast. Second Shot The seeond image is anything but Hollywood. Clearly the agent has won. First Shot The dissolve reveals the outcome of their argument: Dissolves also soften the euts between images. The dissolve works eontrast the iconie image of California against the new reality in which Barton has found himself.

Then we see an extended clissolve blending the ocean imagery with an unexpected location: Dramatic Value Endless dramatie possibilities. In the afterglow of his success we see Barton in a heated exchange with his agent who. Barton adamandy refuses not wanting to leave New York or the common man. Then the ocean imagery dissolves away and Barton is left alone. It also serves to underscore Barton's status as an outsider. EII Film Element: Dissolves As we discussed in the previous example.

As the slow dissolve plays out. It's as though Barton has been ejected from the oeean into the worn foyer. Often used in montages to indicate the passage of time. The purpose of a smash cut is to jar the audience. Psycho A smash cut can also be produced by cutting a wide shot against a huge close-up. Used sparingly. The audience feels like they are on a speeding train that just hit a cement wall. The effect is like a loud visual bang. It jolts the audience by sabotaging their visual expectations Dramatic Value Like many other techniques.

In this case it was also a high-angle. American Bea. Another method is to splice a fast moving shot against a static shot. Script Note Writers will sometimes specifically spell out their intentions by using "smash cut to" between the two images or scenes. This was done in the stairway scene in Psycho. In American Beauty. Pudovkin, Uploaded by Mircea Gabriel Balan. Flag for inappropriate content. Related titles. Jump to Page. Search inside document. The watch on the wrist of the callous brute, as it were connects him so cruelly and in cold blood.

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