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Published by Michael Wiese Productions

12400 Ventura Blvd. #1111

Studio City, CA 91604

(818) 379-8799, (818) 986-3408 (FAX)

[email protected]

Cover design by Johnny Ink.

Copyediting by Gary Sunshine

Interior design by William Morosi

Printed by McNaughton & Gunn

Manufactured in the United States of America

Copyright 2013 by Gil Bettman

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means

without permission in writing from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in

a review.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Kenworthy, Christopher.

Master shots : 100 advanced camera techniques to get an expensive look on your low-

budget movie / Christopher Kenworthy. -- 2nd ed.

p. cm.

ISBN 978-1-61593-087-6

1. Cinematography. 2. Motion pictures--Production and direction. I. Title.

TR850.K46 2012



Printed on Recycled Stock

To David E. James

great teacher and friend

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2.019 2.020 2.021

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filled the tub?” When she gets to the tub, Claire gets her answer. In the
water, along with her own reflection, Claire sees a reflection of the ghost
of the young blond girl who is haunting her house (Figure 2.032).

To view a video of this film clip from What Lies Beneath go to this link on
the Internet: camera.

Just as a physical POV shot is always invisible because it shows us what a
character in the story sees, the kind of shot that I call an emotional POV
shot is invisible because it shows us what a character in the story feels.
Probably the most common emotional POV shot is when the camera
pushes in from a medium close-up to a tight close-up on a character as
he catches sight of someone or something off camera and experiences
an intense realization. What he sees generates a surge of emotion inside
him. That emotion could be surprise or joy or fear or wonder or recogni-
tion or whatever, but in all cases it is fast and intense. In this case, you
could say the camera was tracking with the character’s heart as it “rises
in his throat.” I call this little, fast push-in an “oh-my-God!” shot.

Another typical example of a camera movement which is internally gen-
erated, and which disappears because it is an emotional POV, showing
us what the center of the story feels, is when the camera, on a crane,
sweeps up in the air and away from a character who has just found
himself to be alone in the world. The camera’s movement makes him
smaller and smaller in the frame and so can be said to be expressive
of his internal emotions — his feelings of insignificance, weakness, and
vulnerability. I call this the “all alone in the world” shot.

These two internally generated camera moves above are expressive of
simple, common emotions. This explains why so many directors fre-
quently use them. But internally generated camera moves are as various
and complex as the emotions that generate them. Some of them are
strange, one-of-a-kind moves. In the film Shine, director Scott Hicks
uses such moves to show the audience what the main character, David
Helfgott, is feeling as he suffers a nervous breakdown while playing
Rachmaninoff’s Concerto No. 3 in concert. This shot — it is actually two
hand-held close-ups on David (Figure 2.034 to 2.045) — could be

thought of as the antithesis of an externally generated camera move
because, while the object in the frame, David, never moves, the camera
never stops moving. David remains seated at the piano playing the con-
certo throughout. He rocks back and forth or sways from side to side as
he plays, but otherwise never moves. As the piano piece rises in inten-
sity, all the tight shots on David become more kinetic. Like a drunken
bumblebee, the camera bobs and weaves around his head as he starts
to have his breakdown.

To view a video of this film clip from Shine go to this link on the Internet:

No doubt, as Scott Hicks intended, anyone watching this scene closely in
a darkened theater quickly begins to experience vertigo. What the audi-
ence sees gives them an inkling of what the main character is feeling:
disorientation, nausea, distress. Yet even though the camera is gyrat-
ing wildly, its movement is virtually unnoticeable, because it draws the
audience even deeper into the story by showing them what a character
is feeling.

This is virtuoso camera blocking according to Bob’s Rule at its best. At
this particular moment, you might say the camera is acting up a storm.
The gyrations around the actor’s head are as wild and crazy as the wild-
est and craziest moves to be seen in any music video or episode of CSI.
And yet they are virtually invisible because they exist primarily as an
expression of what is happening in the story at that moment and only
incidentally as cool camera moves. They never stand out as something to
be noticed in themselves, but blend in with all the threads which Hicks
is weaving together — sound, editing, lighting — to create the whole
cloth of his story about this troubled genius.

Moving Establishing Shots
Occasionally, at the very beginning of a scene, a director may make a
camera move which is neither externally nor internally generated, but
which moves to reveal to the audience everything they need to see to
understand what happens next. It establishes the new environment,
and so it is moving to tell the story and therefore disappears. These are

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C H A P T E R 2 S U M M A R Y P O I N T S

•� The principle behind Bob’s Rule is that the story is the most important
component of a film, and so everything else in the film — be it acting,
art direction, music, lighting, sound, editing, or camera movement —
should serve the story.

•� You should move the camera whenever possible to add visual energy
to the film, but only in a manner which enhances the story or at least
does not detract from it. Stated simply, all good camera movement
is invisible.

•� There are three kinds of camera movement that are always invisible:
shots which are (1) externally or (2) internally generated by whatever
is on the screen — preferably the person or thing which, at that point
in the film, is driving the story; and (3) moving, establishing shots.

•� An externally generated camera move is when the camera moves to
follow something that is moving inside the frame.

•� To say a camera move is internally generated is to say that the camera
is moving to show the audience what the person who is the center of
the story sees or feels.

•� At the very beginning of a scene, a director may make a camera
move that is not externally or internally generated, but if it is moving
to establish the new location, it will remain invisible and not break
Bob’s Rule.

•� The esthetic of seamlessness is added to the frame when everything
in a film is shown in one continuous shot.

•� When the camera moves to keep the central object, which is also
moving, in the center of the frame, any other object in the scene that
passes through the frame blurs or strobes slightly. The more pro-
nounced the strobing or the blurring, the more energized the frame,
the more eye candy.

•� Moving shots look different from static shots in two key ways. Moving
shots have seamlessness and eye candy. Static shots do not.

•� Most mainstream directors try to pump as much seamlessness into
their shots as time and money will allow because seamlessness gives
a film the look that contemporary audiences like.

•� The key to shooting in the Spielbergian style is to shoot a master or
establishing shot that starts framed up close to whatever is driving
the story and then have that person or thing start moving and follow
it using an externally generated camera move. This will maximize the
amount of seamlessness and eye candy generated in the shot and
also keep the camera move invisible.

•� A Snoopy Cam shot resembles the POV of an easily distracted, invis-
ible, mute member of the cast, who is in the middle of every scene
and looks at whatever it wants to look at, whenever it feels like it.

•� The Snoopy Cam style of shooting never follows Bob’s Rule for
camera movement, because its very purpose is to break Bob’s Rule.
It is a camera move that is intended to have nothing to do with the
story, so the audience will inevitably see it.

•� The Snoopy Cam style is generally used by filmmakers who want to
seem more cutting-edge and individualistic. Because Bob’s Rule is
the most effective for telling a story, it has been adopted by every
great director from D. W. Griffith through James Cameron, and this
has tinged it with the aura of respectability, which some filmmakers
would prefer to eschew.

•� The Dogma rules were invented to refute the validity of Spielberg’s
style of filmmaking. If Spielberg used it masterfully, Dogma forbade it.

•� The Snoopy Cam style is here to stay because: (1) it is a very cheap
way to pump a lot of eye candy and seamlessness into a film; and
(2) the success and popularity of TV shows like CSI and 24 have
bestowed it with an aura of hipness which makes it attractive to any
young director who wants to break through and make a name for
himself, as well as older, established directors who do not want to
seem over the hill.

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Page 31


A good way to help students understand and remember the
kinds of camera movement that follow Bob’s Rule is to give them
the following assignment. Ask them to get hold of the DVD of
a film directed by their favorite director (or if they are cinema-
tography students, a film shot by their favorite cinematographer)
and to view the film and find an example of an internally gener-
ated camera move, and/or a moving establishing shot in the film.
Externally generated camera moves are so simple to understand
and so prevalent in today’s films that there is not much value in
asking a student to find one. Avatar is wall-to-wall externally gen-
erated camera moves. Internally generated camera moves and
moving establishing shots are rare by comparison. Requiring a
student to go hunting through a film by a director (or DP) he
admires looking for such a camera move will force him to con-
sciously examine every moving shot in the film, and in so doing,
repeatedly test his understanding of the three different kinds of
camera movement which are always invisible. Provided his under-
standing is correct, this should internalize his understanding of
this key element of directorial craft.

The best way for the students to “hand in” the assignment is to
rip their example of an internally generated camera move or a

moving establishing shot out of the DVD, post it on YouTube and
send the teacher a link. The teacher can forward the links to the
other students in the class and require them to review and correct
their fellow students’ assignments prior to class. This will make
for the most productive class session intended to test the class’s
understanding of the lessons in this chapter.

If it is not feasible for the students to rip clips out of DVDs and
post links on YouTube, then the students can simply bring the
DVD to class and the teacher can then play the DVDs in class. If a
student’s understanding is correct and his choice accurate, playing
the selected scene for the class will provide yet another example
of how these three kinds of camera movement only tell the story.
The great majority of the movies the students will go hunting
through will be contemporary films made by today’s top name
directors and cinematographers. Watching additional examples of
how these top name current filmmakers always move the camera
according to the dictates of this chapter will reinforce the validity
of these rules.

If a student gets it wrong and picks a shot that is not internally
generated or a moving establishing shot, then the teacher can
correct this misapprehension in class and in the process solid-
ify all the students’ grasp of the principles governing how good
camera movement becomes invisible by telling the story.

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