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Camera and Editing: Shots in Sequence

Camera and Editing: Shots in Sequence

Shots in Sequence

This activity can be used along with Freeze Frame to focus on a particular sequence of shots in a screen text. It helps them to appreciate that the number, sequence and duration of shots in a film are created in the editing process, and that screen time and story time are usually different.

This can also be used to examine shot transitions (e.g. cut, dissolve, fade) and how the type of transition affects the meaning. The types of transitions used and the length of shots help determine pace, and contribute to the meaning.

Sometimes sound is used to help the smooth continuity by bridging the cut from one shot to the next, although sound transitions do not always coincide with shot transitions (in dramatic texts they often anticipate them to create suspense or alter the mood).

How to do it

Using the pause button, 'transcribe' a short sequence from a film (6-20 shots) by copying each shot off the screen onto the Storyboard Template one by one. Annotate this with notes on sound and action. Use these questions to discuss the sequence:

  • What does each shot tell you? What doesn’t it tell you? What questions does it make you ask, what does it make you want to know? (What is she looking at? Why did he pick that up? Where are they going?) Can you see any kind of progression or pattern in the sequence?
  • Do we stay in the same place through the sequence or do we go somewhere else? Do we return to the original location?
  • Do we follow continuous time through the sequence? Do we miss bits out and shorten the timescale? Or do we stretch it?
  • How does the length of the shots change throughout the sequence? What effect does this have?
  • What differences in camera angle / camera distance from subject / camera movement are there between one shot and the next?
  • Was there more than one way of moving from one shot to another? What are these transitions usually called and what do they usually signal?
  • Do the sound transitions coincide with the shot transitions or are they different? What effect does this have?
  • How long is this sequence? How much ‘story time’ does it cover? How is that achieved?