Contrast and Affinity: Movement

Creative Commons image dazzled maniac Jim Morrison drowns out the haunting whimper of a coyote dying on the road by his dreadful death-scream into the abyssal sun … HWY 01:23:47 by quapan

The following information was adapted from Bruce Block’s The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media chapter 7 starting on p. 167.

Steps

  1. Create a blog post titled, Contrast and Affinity: Space
    • Create the following headings
      • Summary
      • Terms and Concepts
      • Films to Watch
      • Controlling Space Production
      • What I Learned
  2. Define terms and concepts
  3. Watch scenes from selected films that showcase the visual structure
  4. Create a short film that emphasizes the visual structure and embed in your blog post
  5. Write what you learned
    • Include feedback about the film
  6. Invite someone edit your blog post
  7. Turn in a blog post feedback form

Terms and Concepts

1. Actual Movement

  • Occurs only in the real world

2. Apparent Movement

  • One stationary object is replaced by another stationary object
  • Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 167).
    Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 167).

3. Induced Movement

  • Occurs when a moving object transplants movement to a nearby stationary object
  • Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 168).
    Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 168).

4. Relative Movement

  • Occurs when the movement of one object can be gauged by its changing position relative to a second, stationary object
  • Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 168).
    Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 168).

5. Simple and Complex 

  • Occurs in 2 or 3 dimensions
  • Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 170).
    Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 170).

6. Movement in the Screen World

  • In the screen world, there are only three things that can move
    1. An object
    2. The camera
    3. The audience’s point-of-attention as the audience watches the screen
  • Object Movement
    • Direction
    • Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 171).
      Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 171).
    • Quality
    • Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 171).
      Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 171).
    • Scale
    • Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 172).
      Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 172).
    • Speed
  • Camera Movement
    • Direction
    • Scale
    • Speed
  • Point of Attention
    • Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 174).
      Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 174).
    • Direction
    • Quality
    • Scale

7. Contrast and Affinity

  • Movement of a Single Object
    • Movement / No Movement
    • Direction
    • Quality
    • Speed
  • Movement of an Object with a Background
  • Camera Movement
    • Movement / No Movement
    • 2D / 3D Moves
      • Pan / Track
      • Tilt / Crane
      • Zoom / Dolly
    • Level / Unlevel
    • Scale of Movement
    • Frames per Second Speed

8. Continuum of Movement

  • The visual components that will attract the audience’s attention are:
    • Movement
    • The brightest object
    • The most saturated color
    • The actor’s eyes
    • The object with the most visual component contrast
  • Continuum Grid
  • Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 182).
    Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 182).
  • Continuum with the Shot
  • Continuum from Shot to Shot

Films To Watch

  • Continuum of Movement
    • Ninotchka (1939)
      • Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
      • Written by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and Walter Reisch
      • Photographed by William Daniels
      • Art Direction by Cedric Gibbons
    • Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
      • Directed by David Lem
      • Written by Robert Bolt
      • Photographed by Frederick Francis
      • Production Design by John Box
    • Goodfellas (1990)
      • Directed by Martin Scorsese
      • Written by Martin Scorsese and Nicholas Pileggi
      • Photographed by Michael Ballhaus
      • Production Design by Kristi Zea
    • Touch of Evil (1958)
      • Directed by Orson Welles
      • Written by Orson Welles
      • Photographed by Russel Metty
      • Art Direction by Robert Clatworthy
  • Camera Movement
    • Das Boot (1981)
      • Directed by Wolfgang Peterson
      • Written by Wolfgang Peterson
      • Photographed by Jost Vacano
      • Production Design by Klaus Doldinger
    • The Verdict (1982)
      • Directed by Sidney Lumet
      • Written by David Mamet
      • Photographed by Andrzej Bartkowiak
      • Production Design by Edward Pisoni
    • Collateral (2004)
      • Directed by Michael Mann
      • Written by Stuart Beattie
      • Photographed by Dion Beebe and Paul Cameron
      • Production Design by David Wasco
  • Object Movement
    • Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
      • Directed by Busby Berkeley
      • Written by Manuel Seff and Peter Milne
      • Photographed by George Burns
      • Art Direction by Anton Grot
    • The Fast and the Furious (2001)
      • Directed by Rob Cohen
      • Written by Gary Scott Thompson, Eric Bergquist, and David Ayer
      • Photographed by Ericson Core
      • Production Design by Waldemar Kalinowski
    • The Matrix (1999-2003)
      • Directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski
      • Written by Andy and Larry Wachowski
      • Photographed by Bill Pope
      • Production Design by Owen Paterson
    • Casino Royale (2006)
      • Directed by Martin Campbell
      • Written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Paul Haggis
      • Photographed by Phil Meheux
      • Production Design by Peter Lamont

Control of Movement in Production

The importance of continuum of movement in a shot or series of shots can be planned in a storyboard. The arrows in each storyboard picture indicate the movement of an object in the frame.

Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 188).
Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 188).

In Storyboard #1, notice the curved (curvilinear) tracks and the affinity of continuum of movement. The viewer’s point-of-attention will be left off in one shot and then picked up in the next shot in the same quadrant.

Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 188).
Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 188).

Combining all the pictures into a single frame reveals the linear motif created by the tracks of object movement from shot to shot. The eye’s path of movement is choreographed around the frame in a circular manner. The affinity of continuum of movement reduces visual intensity and smoothes the transitions from shot to shot.

Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 189).
Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 189).

Storyboard #2 uses straight lines or tracks instead of curves, but there’s still affinity of continuum of movement. The incoming movement starts in the same quadrant where the outgoing movement stops.

Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 190).
Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 190).

When all the pictures are superimposed into a single frame, the linear motif is revealed. The straight, angular lines or tracks create a smooth continuity, generated by the affinity of continuum of movement.

Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 190).
Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 190).

Storyboard #3 is full of contrasts. There’s contrast of straight and curved lines; diagonal, horizontal, and vertical tracks; and contrast of continuum of movement. The point-of-attention quadrant is never the same from shot to shot. On each editorial cut, the audience must shift their point-of-attention to another quadrant to find the next moving object.

Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 191).
Block, Bruce. The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media (p. 191).

This is the linear motif of the pictures in Storyboard #3, which is most intense because it uses so much visual contrast. The total number of lines has doubled. Not only are there lines generated by the tracks of the moving objects, but there are also lines produced by the track of the audience’s moving point-of-attention.

Storyboards #1, #2, and #3 create a visual progression. Based purely on the amount of contrast and affinity, Storyboard #1 is least intense because it uses visual affinity. Storyboard #3 is the most intense, because of the visual contrasts of line quality, direction, and continuum of movement.

Continuum of movement is planned and created by the director and cinematographer, but ultimately comes under the control of the editor. Obviously, the editor’s continuum control will be limited by the shots produced during production, but the editor who

understands continuum of movement has an additional tool to manipulate the intensity of scenes and sequences.

Once in the editing room, it’s easy to determine where the audience is looking in any shot. View the shot and be aware of your own point-of-attention. Stop the footage and mark the viewing screen with a grease pencil. You’ve probably found the correct point-of-attention based on your own natural instincts. If you’re still not sure, watch the footage without sound, in a darkened room, and your visual intuition will usually take over and direct your eye to the same point on the screen that will attract the audience.

Continuum of movement is a nearly invisible visual component that has an enormous impact on the audience. As the screen size increases, so does the chance for greater contrast of continuum of movement. As the screen shrinks in size, the chances for contrast of continuum diminish.

Contrast and affinity of continuum of movement affect the intensity or dynamics of edited sequences. Visual intensity will increase as more contrast of continuum is used and visual intensity will decrease if there is affinity of continuum of movement.

Affinity of continuum guides the audience’s point-of-attention as they look around the frame. The picture maker can manipulate the audience and control the area of the screen they watch (a critical factor in television commercials).

In a completed film, the audience should be unaware of the editing. Affinity of continuum of movement improves visual continuity, and is such a powerful visual tool that it can disguise visual errors including continuity mistakes and screen direction problems. Affinity makes visual events and transitions appear continuous and smooth.

Any contrast creates intensity. Contrast of continuum of movement can be visually disjointed, jarring, and abrupt. The audience can become agitated or excited when forced to quickly move their attention to different quadrants of the screen without apparent motivation. Contrast of continuum of movement separates actions and removes transitions. As the contrast of continuum increases, so will the visual intensity of the sequence.

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