Cinematography: Mastershots as a Tool of Visual Storytelling | Piotr Złotorowicz | Skillshare
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Cinematography: Mastershots as a Tool of Visual Storytelling

teacher avatar Piotr Złotorowicz, Screenwriter & Director

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Welcome

      1:22

    • 2.

      Mastershots - theory

      6:53

    • 3.

      Shotlist & Quiz

      8:08

    • 4.

      Quiz explanation & Class project

      19:03

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About This Class

In this course, you will dive deep into the art of cinematography, focusing on master shots. Master shots are scenes captured in one uninterrupted take where the camera moves through the whole scene, to tell the story. Whether you're an aspiring filmmaker, a seasoned cinematographer, or simply passionate about visual storytelling, this course is designed to take your skills to new heights.

In this class, you will learn:

  • Mastering the Art of Mastershots: Learn the intricacies of creating scenes that evoke emotions and capture attention. Beyond the technicalities, we explore the fundamental principles that guide the usage of mastershots.
  • Establish Context: Harness the ability to compose dynamic and immersive master shots to establish context and draw viewers into the scene.
  • Transitioning within shots: Explore the technique of seamlessly transitioning between shot types to enhance storytelling, save time on set, and guide the audience's attention.
  • Create a shotlist: Watch me reverse engineer a shot list to a sample scene, to show you how to prepare for shooting your first mastershot.

Gain the confidence to craft visually stunning shots that resonate with your audience, while saving time and resources on set. In this class, everything is practical and applicable. We are going to put your new knowledge to the test with a quiz.

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If you have found this class helpful, please check out my other video classes here on Skillshare:

Fundamentals of Cinematography: Three Techniques of Subjective Storytelling

Fundamentals of Cinematography: Choose the Best Camera Angle with 180-degree Rule

Fundamentals of Cinematography: The Art of Visual Storytelling

Meet Your Teacher

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Piotr Złotorowicz

Screenwriter & Director

Teacher

I'm an academic teacher at Polish National Film School, a screenwriter, an award-winning director, and an online film teacher here on Skillshare.

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Transcripts

1. Welcome: In this course, you will dive deep into the Art of cinematography, focusing on closeups and mastershots. Master shots are scenes captured in one uninterrupted take, where the camera moves throughout the whole scene to tell the story. These are very demanding on the creators and the crew since everything has to happen perfectly in time. Hi, my name is Bill Zlotorowicz. I'm a director, screenwriter, and an academic teacher as Polish national Film School, my phones were awarded at renowned film festivals including Locarno International Film Festival. In this class, you will learn the Art of capture in intimate moments, conveying emotions and highlighting key details through close-up shots, you're going to explore the techniques of seamlessly transitioning between shot types to enhance storytelling. Save time on set and guide your audience attention. In mastershots, you're going to gain confidence to craft visually stunning shots that resonate with your audience while saving time and resources on set. In this class, everything is practical and applicable. We are going to put your new knowledge to the test with a quiz. Now, welcome to cinema explained and hopefully see you in the class 2. Mastershots - theory: Thank you for taking my class. So today we're going to talk about mastershots. But before we are going to do that, I'm going to mention briefly that at any point during the lecture, you can change the tempo of the recording. Also during this class, I might mention that you can deepen your knowledge about the certain topic by taking my other courses on Cinematography in this case is just remember that I want you to finish this class first and then go and deepen your knowledge on other courses. Okay? So nobody says that when shot begins as a close-up, it has to stay a close up till the end. You can plan a shot in a way that it changes from one cell type to another. And I would advise you to do it as often as you can. It saves you a lot of time on the set because every time you change the position of the camera or change the lens, it takes time. In most situations, it will require change of lighting, which always takes the most time on the set. Another reason to use the transition within a shot that it makes you think about the most important theme in the scene beforehand. Every time you plan a complex shot, it shows, you know, exactly what the scene is about. This way, instead of editing your material afterwards, you use the camera on the set to guide your audience attention. Let me show you one scene from my Film, mother, or we are going to watch only the beginning of the scene. And then I'm going to stop the recording to explain. Let's watch the first shot on the scene. It can serve others. It's moving in them. They change those set of sigma muddle batches to Mason. You put your mask we are convenient of it was at them next time, but within us is to Cj's pagoda. Joe's kidneys. Take your laptop. As you have seen. First, we've seen a boy in a full shot when he entered the frame through the window. Then as he got closer to the camera, we could see him in a close-up. I will call it a close-up. And when the boy notice the father, he turned around and his close up transitioned to a medium, full shot of a sitting farther, it became a to shot basically. You can consider this shot and OTS, which means over the shoulder because you can see a little bit of the boy on the right border of the frame. In this particular shot, we could even call it an over the hip shot, since the father is sitting and we see Boys heap on the right side of the frame. But I'm joking, It's just an ODS shot. Now, let's watch an example from the classics of the cinema. It's going to be a Hidden Fortress by Akira Kurosawa. I want to show you that this technique of combining different shot types in one take was extensively used in cinema for quite some time. In fact, back in the days when the camera has were huge as a core, filmmakers preferred to arrange the action for the camera within the frame with the actor moving in and out or closer and further away. Now, let's watch the scene. In this shot, we are going from the food shot to a regular close up when you see his face with a little bit of the air above the head. Then we go to a full shot again. Then he stops for a moment and we see him in a cowboy shot for a fraction of a second, and then we transition to a full shot again. Now, why do we transition from one shot to another? Because every type of a shot gives you different kinds of information that helps us to tell the story. At the beginning of the scene, you need to show your audience the space around the actors, and what circumstances they are in. You're probably going to use wide shot to do that. And when the audience recognizes the context of the situation, you can move forward with the camera to begin to capture the cell emotions of the characters with close-ups. There are certain rules or guidelines helping you to build a sense of space in the scene so your audience won't be confused about what's going on. This spatial relationships in the scene are covered by 180 degree Rule. You can learn more about it from my course. There you will find sets of rules to cover the scene properly. At this moment, you are focusing on how to use establishing shots and how to mix them with close-ups to build tension between the characters 3. Shotlist & Quiz: I've come up with the way of testing your skills in naming the shot sizes with an exercise. In this exercise, we're going to watch the scene that was shot entirely in a mastershot. And then we're going to list every shot that you are going to recognize. Now. Take a pen and paper or you can note the shots on your computer. It's totally up to you. You can use the cheat sheet from the guidebook to recognize the different types of shot sizes. Now, here is how we're going to do this. I will play the scene whenever you see a number on the top-left corner, it means that I want you to list this shot. This scene is obviously a mastershot, so the camera will be traveling between different shot sizes. Usually you'll have about 10 s to write down the description of the shot. Since the scene is 10 min long, I will speed up the parts where camera is stationary. If you feel like 10 s is not enough time, you can pause the recording at your convenience. The goal here is to do the exercise in your own time. If you feel like checking the cheat sheet, go ahead and do it. Now. I want you to be descriptive in the way you are writing about the shots. Let's take this frame for example. I would write to shot of tar. This is here. Cate Blanchett is star in three T's close up at the piano and the Student playing a cello in medium full shot. Now, this is still a 3D is close up. And please don't be bothered by this space above her head. In this particular film, this is the aesthetic of the framing that they went for. There is a bit too much space above the actor's head. But since it's consistent in all film, I think it's a conscious decision and the preference of this cinematographer. Now, regarding the Student playing a cello, I would still call it a medium full shot, or a cow boy shot. Even though the piano is obscuring her legs. If not the piano, her legs would be here. In the next lesson, we will go through the scene together and I will give you all my answers to the quiz. Good luck, and let's go. Thank you, Max. Very good. I'm just for my own edification. Why did you come to Juilliard? Join the other fellows? Now, I know you're all conducting students have Mr. Wolff's, but how many of you are also studying composition? Like what's your name? Olive Kurt. Alright, olive. What do you make up? What we've just been listening to? It's pretty awesome. I mean, there's incredible atonal tension. I agree about the tension part. Now, you can intellectually contemplate or masturbating about the felicity of the so-called atonal. But the important question here is, what are you conducting? What is the effect? What is it actually doing? To me? Good music can be as ornate as a cathedral or bear as a potting shed. So long as it allows you to answer both those questions. Max? What do you think? When yes. The intent of her Composition is vague, say the least. So if her intent is vague, how do you, as a conductor, have a point of view about anything? Now, to be fair, I mean, there are times when you will simply have no choice. Why not a carrier? Like something like Bach's Mass and B minor. I'm not really into block. You're not into bar. Oh, Max. Have you read the Schweitzer book? No. Well, you should. It's important text. The Antonia Break old thought. So so much so sure. What, uh, that's, that's your choice. I mean, after all, a soul selects her own society. But remember the flip side of that selection closes the bowels of one's attention. Now, of course, siloing what is acceptable or not acceptable is a basic construct. Similar gaze. Now this isn't all filigree, right? It could be a first-year pianos. Or then you must be aware that verres once famously stated the jazz was a ***** product exploited by the Jews. Didn't stop Jerry Goldsmith from ripping them off for his planet. If the gait score, it's kind of a perfect insult, don't you think? But you see the problem within Rowling herself as an ultrasonic epistemic dissident is that if box talent can be reduced to his gender, birth, country, religion, sexuality, and so on, then so can yours. Now, someday max, when you go out into the world and new guests conduct for a major or minor orchestra, you may notice that the players have more than light. Alright, everyone. Using maxes criteria, let's consider Max's thing in this case on a boulevards dot here. Now can we agree on two pieces of observation? One, and you are a robot when unfortunately, the architect of your soul appears to be social media. You want to dance the mask, you must SIP service the composer. You've got to sublimate yourself, your ego and yes, your identity. You must in fact stand in front of the public and Garden them. Literary yourself 4. Quiz explanation & Class project: Okay. I hope you had the time to list all the shots. You can now rewind it and watch it again because in a moment I will go through it and give you all the answers. But before I will, I just want to talk about a little bit about the scene itself. In cinema, usually master shots, which are scenes captured in one shot, are misused. Usually the directors decide to do them to show off. For example, when a screenwriter becomes a director and gets to direct his first film, they usually fill it with this kind of shots because they are so difficult to make on set. Unfortunately, most mastershots that I see have no merit behind them. Now, this mastershot is different. We see the scene in one uninterrupted take for a reason later in the film, this situation that we have just witnessed will be pulled out of context and edited by students who are secretly filming our main hero. So this way of shooting the original scene in mastershot gives us the experience of being there and participating in her classes, right? I totally agree that what she was doing at the class in the scene was inappropriate. I teach at which Film School. And personally, I would never talk to a student like that or touch a student like this to prove a point. But still, we can see how misleading the edited snippets of these classes were and that mastershots gave us this clarity and objective point of view. Okay, now let's get back to the scene and list all the shots. Alright, let's begin the explanation of the quiz. Thank you. Very good. So we've arrived to our first shot. I'm going to call it a to shot of tar. And a student in a medium full shot. This is a medium full shot, a typical medium full shot. Again, we are ignoring the additional space above the head. This is the aesthetic of the movie. Let's go forward. Join the other fellows. Now, I know you're all conducting students have Mr. Wolff's, but how this is a single shot of tar in medium for shot, since the Student left and went backwards towards the seats. This shot went from being a to shot to a single shot, but she is still seen by the camera in a medium for shot. If you are also studying Composition. What's your name? Olive car. Alright, olive. What do you make it what we've just been listening to? Pretty awesome. Now, a big change since the tar is not the main subject of the frame rate. Now, as you can see here in this frame, the Student is the main subject. Therefore, there is a two ways that you can name this shot. I would say that it's it's a two shot. There is a wide shot of a student and tar is scene from the back in a medium for shot or an OTS shot, which is over the shoulder shot on a wide shot of students. There's incredible atonal tension. I agree about the tension part. Now, you can intellectually contemplate or masturbate about the felicity of the so-called atonal. But the important question here is, what are you conduct? Now, again, we are always interested in the subjects of the frame. And in this shot, tar is one subject, but the camera also focuses on the nervous student who was conducting, right? So it's a two shot of tar in extreme wide shot and a student in a cowboy shot. What is the effect? What is it actually doing? Me? Good music can be made as a cathedral or bear as a potting shed. So long as it allows you to answer both those questions. Max? What do you think? Now? Now this one is easy. It's a dirty single of a student in a medium for shot. Although you can argue that since his legs are almost fully visible, you can also call it a full shot, as we can see here. In the shot sizes cheat sheet. This might be this shot as well, although in this particular shot, we don't see his feet. You have to remember that in a mastershot. You have to make compromises because you cannot move the camera. Since you're moving camera so much. Sometimes it's impossible to see his feet. The see, for example, the students feet and the shoulder of our main character, tar when yes, The intent. Now, she becomes a main subject of the shot for a moment. That's why I would say that shot number six is a medium shot on top or this is just a brief moment because it's happening in the transition between two definite positions of the camera. But you have to keep those transitions in mind as well as you'll see here in the transitions. You almost always have a good composition of the shot, like here. In this shot, number of six of her Composition is vague, say the least. So, if her intent is vague, how do you, as a conductor have a point of view? Now, shot number seven is a medium Photoshop, although it also serves a purpose of establishing shot, since we see all the orchestra there is behind her, since the camera is moving so much. Many of those shots that are medium full shots serve a purpose of a establishing shot because they ground us in this space. And again, since the aesthetic that was established by the director and the cinematographer, I mean this additional space above the head. You don't see the feet. Normally, it would be a full shot where you would see her feet as well. This is how you usually do it in movies. You do full shots as a establishing shots. But as I always say, this is Art and there are no definitive answers for anything, you sometimes have to break the rules to make your point. These are many times the most interesting parts of your movies when you break the rules to make your point. Anyway, let's move forward. Okay. She's going to sit, but it's still the same frame. Why curiae? Now, again, during the transition, we see her in a single medium shot of tar while she's transitioning the shocks mass and B minor. I'm not really into bond. Now, this transition lens at shot number nine, which is a to shot of a student in medium shot and tar in a cowboy shot, which is just another name for a medium Photoshop. Max read the Schweitzer book. Now. Shot number ten is a to shot of tar and a student in a medium for shot. We've began this scene from a shot like that. They were standing at the podium back then. The scene is kind of a battle between the character tar and a student that has his preconceptions about musicians and how, and how their personal choices in their personal life should influence our way of looking at their music, which our main character tar, doesn't agree with. Anyway, let's move forward. It's important text. I'm told me a break whole thought, so so much so. Sure. That's your choice. After all, it's another translation, your own society. But remember the flip side of that selection closes the bowels of one's attention. Now. Now a proper establishing shot. As you can see, shot number 11 is wide shot on tar. But again, you can see that they still went with the aesthetics of additional space above the head. Of course, siloing what is acceptable or not acceptable is a basic construct. It's the same shot, even though she's walking around. Now, it transitions. Filigree right? Now we have a two shot and it's a two shot of medium full shot on tar and Student playing a piano. It could be a first-year. Then you must be aware that verres once famously stated the job was a ***** product exploited by the Jews. Now, the shot number 13, it's a two shot, obviously, while walking away from the piano, tar is in a medium for shot, obviously. And a student is scene in a wide shot, stop Jerry Goldsmith from ripping them off for his plan of the game score. It's kind of perfect insult, don't you think? But you see the problem within shot number 14. Now we get into the close-up area, right? It's a to shot. Tar approaches the camera to a 3Ds close-up. Students is in a perspective in an extreme wide shot, the alphas and ultrasonic epistemic dissident is that if box talent can be reduced to is gender, birth, country, religion, sexuality, and so on then silicon years. Now, this one is a little bit tricky. It's similar to a dirty single on the students sitting at the piano. Yet the camera is focused very much on time. You will see it in a moment someday, max, when you go out into the world and new guests conduct, see, the Student got just a little second of attention and then the camera went back to tar, right? I would go for a to shot on the back of the tar and I would add the information that it's maintained. Three T's close-up. Now, let's move forward. Major or minor orchestra. You may notice that the players have more than light. Alright, everyone, using maxes criteria, let's consider a max is now we arrive at shots 16. It's a medium shot on top or with a student in the background still in extreme wide shot. Now why is it a medium? Because we see here from waist up this time it's not a treaties anymore thing in this case on a boulevards daughter. Now can we agree on two pieces of observation? One, you are a robot. When unfortunately the architect of your soul appears to be social, know he's leaving. And this little moment you want to see this is a imperfection because it would be perfect if Dar would approach from here before our student would leave the frame. This is the thing about the transitions between the different shot types, right? This is the only imperfect transition between one shot size and the other. But they fixed it really quickly. Dance the mask. You must see this. It's like it was a second, only a second. But I wanted to point it out because it's a great way for us to learn and for me to explain to you what is the difficulty of the mastershots, the main difficulty, and apart from photographing the theme of the scene and so on, which they did here brilliantly, I would say that the technical problem of the mastershots is the transitions. If you can, you always want to have a strong composition in the frame. And you always want your subject to be present in the frame in the first place. Anyway, we are here at the 17th shot. We're almost done. And this is a single medium close-up on tore. This is easy, right? Purvis, the composer. You've got to sublimate yourself, your ego, and yes, your identity must in fact stand in front of the public and garden literary yourself. And now she went back to a single on tar in medium, full shot, as I said before, since they have this aesthetic of additional space above the head You see her in a medium for shot. Normally you would see her legs and the shot would probably be frame somewhere here. Now, your way of describing the shots could be different, but remember that the most important thing is clarity. And if the clarity is there than there is no problem, you can always change the phrasing or words or the way you're describing the shots. Anyway, for a scene that is so complicated, the shotlist alone is not enough. The Best would be to prepare a photo storyboard. The top-down view for a scene like this, you have to do a full rehearsal and you need your cinematographer to be there with you to shoot the rehearsal. You can shoot the rehearsal on your phone. There are great apps that imitate lenses and actually print the information into the image. If you want to learn more about the way of planning the camera movement, you can watch my course Cinematography, Subtle Art of placing the camera. Now, let's talk about your project. I want you to find the scene shot in a mastershot and list all the shot sizes, just like we did in this scene from Tar. It would be great if you could Upload your list to Project gallery. And if you drop a link into the scene on YouTube, then I'll be able to give you feedback. I'm always giving feedback on every project that is submitted it. Okay, congratulations on completing this class. If you felt like you need to understand the basics and proper noting Techniques for shot sizes. Be sure to watch the course fundamentals of Cinematography. Beginner's guide to I, captivating close-up is a great class to start this series. Now stay tuned for future courses from the series in one of the following courses we will explain for Techniques you can use when you're filming an actor and to pick the right shot size when you're filming, I've come up with my own invention, which I call the Rule of greatest distance. And it's also the topic of a future class in this series. Now, if you've enjoyed this class, consider making a review. It's going to help other students discover this course. Also reading your reviews keeps me Related to do more classes. Now, all my courses are fully modular, which means that you can watch them separately in any order you like. But it was designed as a part of a full curriculum that teaches you practical Filmmaking. So the best way to check out the whole curriculum is my website, cinema explain.com. Thank you for taking this class and see you soon.