Film & TV-series

“A film is - or should be - more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what's behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.” - Stanley Kubrick


Since the Lumiére brothers projected 1 the first moving images in Paris in 1895, film and later televison have enjoyed immense popularity. The 1910s saw the emergence 2 of Charlie Chaplin and the silent film, and in the 1920s major studios such as Warner Brothers , Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Disney Company were established. From the late 1920s to the 1960s, classical Hollywood cinema rose to prominence 3 through films like Victor Fleming 's Gone With the Wind (1939) and The Wizard of Oz (1939), Orson Welles ' Citizen Kane (1941) and Michael Curtiz ' Casablanca (1942). Since then, the film industry has enjoyed several golden eras 4, however, in recent years, streaming media services such as Netflix , Amazon Prime and HBO have shifted the dynamics of the industry and today subscription 5 streaming services are by far the most popular channels of film and tv-series. Analysing film and television is quite similar to analysing other types of fiction, in the sense that an analysis will often revolve around new criticism. This section, however, aims to examine and explain the cinematic 6 techniques, which must be considered somewhat unique to the genres of moving images.


Framing in visual arts and cinematography 7 refers to the visual elements present in an image, and more importantly, their position and placement in relation to the camera, but also in relation to other visible objects or subjects presented. The terms are usually derived from the distance between the camera and the subject, such as long shot , medium shot and close-up , all of which are exemplified below.


Long shot

Long shots, also known as establishing shots, are often used to establish the location of the scene due to the overview it provides.


Medium shot

The medium shot is one of the most common types of framing in film and tv, as it allows the audience to see both body language and emotions of the subjects.



A close-up is the ideal shot for portraying the details of an object or emotions of a subject, however, it is unable to reveal context.


Like framing, the notion of angles also refers to the positioning of the subject in relation to the camera, however, in terms of angles the distance is of less importance. Angles instead revolve around the vertical 8 position at which the camera is pointed at the subject. Framing and angles are always, even if unintentionally, combined. Any particular framing must be shot using low-angle , high-angle , eye-level or slightly tweaked versions of these.



High-angle refers to shots in which the camera is positioned high on the vertical axis, above the subject, often presenting the subject in a rather vulnerable situation.



Low-angle refers to shots in which the camera is positioned low on the vertical axis, thus making the subject seem large, strong and powerful.



Eye-level is the most objective of the camera angles. It portrays the subject at eye-level thus sparking identification and recognition.

Lines and composition

Composition, in terms of cinematography, refers to the relationship between foreground, middleground and background. These are generally considered relatively simple terms, however, the placement of characters or objects of interest within these can be quite important both aesthetically 9, however, also in terms of narrative. The use of lines also plays an important part in the viewer's perception and interpretation of the images, whether used intentionally or unintentionally. Stable, orderly lines generally evoke 10 a sense of calmness, whereas tilted lines usually create a more chaotic expression.


Horizontal lines

Horizontal lines usually connotates peace, harmony and stability - Hakuna Matata.



Tilted lines, also known as dutch angle, indicate action and chaos. If the the lines are more controlled they are often referred to simply as diagonal lines.

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Vertical lines

Vertical lines connotates grandiosity, pride and power. This is often expressed through the use of objects or buildings.



The foreground is the part of the image that is positioned closest to the viewer.



The middleground is, as implied in the name, positioned in between the foreground and the background and usually the most important objects and subjects will be positioned here.



The background is positioned the furthest away from the camera or the viewer, but provides the backdrop and is therefore crucial in establishing the setting.

Camera Movement

Filmmakers and cameramen are often extremely creative in inventing new ways of manoeuvring 11 the camera around to get unique shots and angles. Once again, there are a few basic concepts to consider. Either the camera is placed or mounted 12 onto something, called a steady-cam , or the camera is handheld by the photographer. Often, these methods are combined in order to suit different needs. Generally speaking, steady-cams provide a more calm, reliable and easy camera movement, whereas a handheld approach is often favoured for more chaotic and dynamic scenes as it can be more flexible, but also visually more suitable for portraying action.


Camera Movement


Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez' The Blair Witch Project (1999) was filmed using only one handheld camera giving the film an amateurish appearance that went well with the film being framed as true events.


Yoann Lemoine's music video for Lana Del Rey's Born to Die (2011) is a textbook example of camera movement utilising slow-zoom, tilt, zoom and panning.


In Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) a tracking shot is used during the film's most recognisable scene.


The process of filmmaking can be viewed through three stages of production; pre-production, production and post-production. In terms of post-production, the concept of editing is crucial. Basic types of editing refers to the length of the takes using terms such as short takes and long takes . Transition is another useful word as it describes the shift from one clip to another. One interesting way of combining editing and camera movement is by using point of view also known as a subjective camera. Other interesting techniques in terms of editing are the use of parallel editing and cross-cutting . Parallel editing is used to portray two, simultaneous 13 events and is therefore especially useful in showing different storylines. Sometimes storylines culminate in a single storyline and the technique therefore transitions from parallel editing into what is known as cross-cutting.


The enormous effect of sound is hardly a surprise to anyone that has ever seen a horror film. Sound is often used dynamically ranging from complete silence to ear deafening passages, however, no matter the intensity or amplitude 14 of the sound, it can always be divided into two main categories, diegetic sound and non-diegetic sound. Diegetic sound is the sound that can be heard by both the characters and the audience. Examples include voices of characters, sounds from televisions, record players and other reproduction devices present on screen, but also offscreen. It also includes sounds that are exaggerated as sound effects such as heart beats, breathing, punches and teeth chattering. These sounds are often exaggerated to emphasise the effect they have on the characters, often characterised as subjective sound. Non-diegetic sound is the sound that is only audible 15 to the audience. Examples include music and film scores, voice-overs and ambience .


Sound & Editing


Jonas Åkerlund's acclaimed but controversial video for Prodigy's Smack My Bitch Up (1997) made excessive use of subjective camerea movement. Viewer discretion advised.


In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings (2001) parallel editing is used to trick the audience into thinking that the protagonist, Frodo, and the other hobbits are all murdered in their sleep. Viewer discretion advised.


Nat King Cole's song Pick Yourself Up is utilised In Vince Gilligan's Breaking Bad (2008-2013) in order to create a contrast between images and sound, also known as contrapuntal sound. Viewer discretion advised.

Colours, grading and filters

Colours are important aesthetic 16 components in filmmaking. Often, these are tweaked and graded in order to attain a certain stylistic expression, however, there are also other things to consider such as symbolism, warm- and cool colours, the use of filters and even lack of colours.


Warm colours

Red, yellow and orange colours appear warm, advancing and inviting.


Cool colours

Blue, purple and greenish colours appear cool, receding and distancing.



Colours can signal many things symbolically. This can be expressed through objects, props, costumes and so on.



Since the 1960s most films have been in colour. Today, it is used mostly to signal age or in more artistic productions.



Colour grading is a process in which colours are refined and tweaked for aesthetic reasons or for a certain atmosphere.

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Natural light

A lot of films make use of natural light as it connotates authenticity.

High-key & Low-key

The most commonly used terms in relation to lighting are high-key and low-key . The terms relate to the amount of light present in the image. High-key lighting requires an excessive 17 amount of light, often artificial, in order to get rid of shadows and fully accentuate 18 and highlight all aspects of the image. Low-key lighting, on the other hand, requires a small amount of light, thus leading to the emergence of shadows and contrasts in the image. The terms are often used thematically in the sense that low-key lighting oozes secrets, mystery and suspense .

Original Image High-key
Modified Image Low-key

In Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight (2008), the film's antagonist The Joker, portrayed by Heath Ledger, is apprehended and questioned and a sudden shift from low-key to high-key lighting connotates that The Joker is beginning to reveal some of his secrets.