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The frame and composition > Dimensions of the Frame - Pg. 69

48 chapter 3 the Visual Language and aesthetics of Cinema n the frame and compoSition Cinema is a matter of what is in the frame and what is not. Martin Scorsese dimensions of the frame Aesthetic considerations concerning the graphic and compositional aspects of your shots begin with the frame. The frame has two definitions. The physical frame is each, individual, still image captured on film or on video, which, when projected as a series, creates the illu- sion of motion (see Chapter 8). The compositional frame (Figure 3-6) is a two-dimensional space defined by its horizontal (x-axis) and vertical (y-axis) dimensions. Within this space we can perceive a third dimension, depth (z-axis); however, depth and distance are cre- ated through graphic illusion. The frame is your canvas, the rectangular space in which you determine the parameters of the viewer's perspective. We refer to each of the four edges of the frame as screen left, screen right, top, and bottom. The frame essentially crops the real-world environment and determines what the audience sees (mise-en-scène) and doesn't see, referred to as off screen. Framing your shot, deciding what to show and what not to show, is a significant creative decision. The relationship between the width and the height of the frame is called the aspect ratio and is derived by dividing the width of the frame by the height. There are several different aspect ratios used in film and video (Figure 3-7). The aspect ratio of a full frame of 35mm film, 16mm film, and broadcast standard video is 1.33:1. In film, this is called Academy Aperture (from the technical standards set by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). In video parlance, this ratio is expressed as 4 × 3. In any case, the horizontal (width) is one-third longer than the vertical (height). Movies intended for theatrical release on film or HDTV broadcast are shot with a different aspect ratio, which elongates the horizontal dimension. The American theatrical release aspect ratio is 1.85:1, the European theatrical release aspect ratio is 1.66:1, and the HDTV broadcast aspect ratio is 16 × 9 (or 1.78:1). We will discuss film and video aspect ratios in more detail in Chapters 8 and 9. Shot composition and the Graphic qualities of the frame Working within the parameters of a given aspect ratio, a filmmaker has a broad pallet of aesthetic choices when designing the composition of a shot. There are no absolute rules concerning visual style except that the choices top you make should emerge from the dramatic needs of the script and should reflect your own creative y-axis ideas. Each compositional principle is expressed in precise terms, and it's important that you use the proper terminology when applying them to your script and communicating with your crew. frame frame left right closed and open frames z-axi s A closed frame means that all of the essen- tial information in the shot is neatly contained within the parameters of the frame, and an x-axis open frame means that the composition leads the audience to be aware of the area beyond bottom the edges of the visible shot (Figure 3-8). This n Figure 3-6 The compositional frame. Although we work with only two is not necessarily an either/or choice. A shot can begin as a closed frame and then an unex- dimensions (the x- and y-axes), we can imply depth by emphasizing the pected intrusion from beyond the edge of the z-axis. Still from Mercado's Yield (2006).