Story Development research (Bracketing) bracketing for this unit was ‘Story development’  because I’m very interested in story and narrative. I think that it’s important to know the rules so you can play about with them and to also not be afraid to break them.

Narrative / story  research

I remember in my foundation course that the tutor explained that in every scene there must be a twist / a line that brings something new. [turning point]. He even said in the dialog this should be true. This has always stuck to me. Every scene should bring something new to the table and move the story forward.


The Five C’s”: Camera Angles, Continuity, Cutting, Close-ups and Composition. All of these topics are vitally important to any storyboard artist, and Mascelli does a good job of explaining the basics of each one.”

One thing that I particularly would like to improve on and learn more about is story boarding. Developing the storyboard is apart of creating the story and developing the pace of the entire animation. This post is dedicated to my research into this topic (so I may consider this for my own storyboard this term).

  • Foreground, Middle ground and Background
  • character emotion
  • lighting and shadows
  • cuts
  • focus cuts
  • crossing the line
  • who is the character?
  • change in scene
  • blocking (character layout / moving in the scene.)
  • directing the viewers eyes (lighting / perspective

After reading up information on storyboarding and the impact – I wanted to research into the cinematography from shots already out there with the same principles as outlined above. I gathered the following images to see for myself the impact of the composition – and etc to a film.

Vertical Lines

The vertical line creates a sense of power, in this scene we see the majestic tall trees showing how nature has the most power as it towers over the the tribes that live along side them. They express magnificence or astonishing settings such as these trees.

The vertical lines of this concept art evokes power and dominance. The eyes are lead up towards the Notre Dame.  The church has the power here, against Esmeralda accused of being a witch. The Notre-Dame has a grandeur about it here too, a godly judgement – the line makes it look magnificent.

Horizontal Lines

Horizontal lines creates a peaceful and content atmosphere. They bring a feeling of safety and comfortably. The use of the horizon in this scene is to capture the little peace and contentment that Chihiro faces in this strange would. The calmness of night when she is not working.

The horizon is often used to create this sense of peace and stillness. In this shot the character is walking along the British countryside, this is a quiet scene, the character is at peace on her walk.

Diagonal Lines

Diagonal lines on the other hand unbalances the picture and creates a sense of danger, despair or unsettling feelings. In the film Veritgo (1958) the bridge is a strong diagonal which leads the viewer towards the mysterious character. In the film, we are unsure about this character, she is a mystery and a ghostly sense about her. The diagonal lines continues this into the shot.

The shadow of this woman from the Prince of Egypt (1998) creates a diagonal line towards the character.  She is distressed and unbalanced. We feel her hurt and pain of the character who has been waiting decades to see her brother again only to be thrown to the ground, her hopes crushed.

This famous shot from The Lion King (1994) the two characters are diagonal across the scene. The diagonal makes us feel panic, distress and unsettled as the scene is unbalanced, including Mufasa who holds on for life.

Lighting and Shadow

Another tool that storyboard and cinematography can use to get the audience to look at where they want them too. Is using light and shadow. The eyes are drawn to the contrast in light and tone. In the shot above we are lead to the fox character as he is stood in the light, we are drawn here because it has the greatest contrast to the rest of the scene.  The lighting shows us where to look but also represents the fox is standing on the good side, the bunny is regretting her actions and asking forgiveness. It shows good and bad.

Our eyes are directed straight to the eyes of Golem in this shot from Lord of the Rings as the whitest element of the shot we are drawn in, the largest contrast. It’s a sinister meeting of this creature, a demonic look sets a unsettling feeling towards this character, that he is evil.

In this scene from Rebecca (1940) light is cast over the eyes of these two characters. Light has been used to lead the eyes in a particular way. The audiences travel from the villainous Mrs. Danvers (top right) down to the ear of Mrs. De Winter, as she whispers dangerous words to De Winter, the eye then travels to the shadow cast onto the wall showing the impact the words cast over Mrs De Winters.

(LO2:) An example of how light is used in a painting to direct the viewers attention to the small figure in the corner sitting in the darkness. Our eyes travel to the most contrast in the image.


Related image

Tarzan (1999)

(LO1:) Depth has been created with the foliage and flowers in this scene of Tarzan (1999), the plants closest to the camera has more detail and larger.  If you look the trees in the background the leaves are hardly definable. And this is the same in life, if we look at a tree in the far distance we cannot see the leaves individually.

(LO1l) Another factor that greater depth is the colour of the objects further away  -they should be come lighter in shade as they are in the distance.

Creating depth in an image is important to creating a 3-dimensional world. One way that this can be achieved is by playing with the scale of a repeated object. For example in this shot from Pocahontas (1994) the corn crop placed in the foreground to the background. Also by using detail in the object in the foreground (like in real like) and less detail in the corn in the back creates an illusion of depth to an image.

(LO1:) Perspective / Vanishing Points can be used to create depth to a picture. As obvious as it sounds we know that in the picture above, the ship is further away in this image, sailing away into the vanishing point and not a tiny ship. When story-boarding, perspective and creating depth is important to create a 3-Dimensional world.

Staging / composition

Image result for rope1948Image result for rope1948Image result for rope1948

Related image

Rope (1948)

(LO2:) Imagine a triangle between these characters. This is the triangular composition. A triangle connects the characters to one another and leads us from one to the next. The characters are each directing their gazes to certain characters, favouring one character more than the other two – this can be clearly shown in these three images from Hitchcock’s film Rope (1948). Using this composition can make the staging clearer when there are three characters, but can also develop the relationships and witness how these characters are connected.

Leading towards the face / character / object

This scene of Nani and Lilo having an argument is a good example of the line of action leading the viewer eyes towards the character’s face. We see the anger of Nani followed by the reaction of Lilo. Line of action is one of the tools we can use to direct the audience to where they need to look in a scene, especially if it is a quick shot.

Image result for sense and sensibility cinematography

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Lines can be a good tool in leading the viewers eyes to where they need to go – we


Another way to draw the audience to a character or object is by framing them within the shot. Placing a frame in the scene direct the audience to looking inside of this, framing what we need to be looking at.

These shoes frames the young Sayuri in Memoirs of a Geisha. Which also is  a symbol of her entrapment within the Geisha house and as a servant.

The shaded hole in the roofs of frame the head of this character. Our eyes are directed to the things that stand out including the black shadows.

These columns frames the Hunchback – our eyes are drawn to him, These vertical lines reflect power as well and

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, 1966, Sergio Leone

Repeated framing within a frame, creates depth which we are lead through.

Hanging rope circles this man as a representation of death, We look through to the character staring back towards us inside the rope.

(LO2:) The framing of this shot connects the two characters together – they share a frame which relates to their closeness and the kindness of the man. The horizontal frame is also calming and peaceful, our eyes easily spreading to one character to the next.

Negative space


(L01:) The symbolism behind this shot is very interesting. I put this in to explore the idea of metaphors and symbolism in film. Aside from all that I have mentioned so far, this simple shot of the Hunchback leaning against a stone gargoyle can reflect alot on his character: His loneliness, the comparison to the stone figure who also resides in the Notre Dame, leaning onto the figure for support – there is so much we can take from this simple shot.  Each scene is an opportunity to reveal more information or reinforce a character. I also like the arch between the two figures which leads the audience’s eyes up.

(LO2:) Another symbolic shot captured above – The Other Boleyn girl (2008). Both of these characters are centered in the frame and equal out one another – however Anne Boleyn’s character (Natalie Portman) stands at the front, with her sister behind. Her sister pushed to the back. We get an understanding who is the dominate and passive sister and the dynamics of their relationship.

(LO2:) Shadows and lines both I have spoken about before can be used as tools. Here the lines leads us to the characters, they create depth but also denote grandeur, power and dominance as they take up most of the scene – but the shadows also symbolize darkness of character, there shadows dominate the screen and are bigger than the characters themselves. Symbolism can convey more about a character and point to who they are.

Camera Angles

The camera shot used in this this scene creates an unbalanced feeling – coupled with the screaming face we can feel the horror of the scene because of this canted camera angle and extreme close up, it creates a sense of unease. Especially as this shot is a straight cut opening of the film.  We have no idea what is happening…

Canted camera angles like that of above, again create an unbalanced feeling. Which is often used is action shots or horror. It’s quick and creates and unsettled feeling watching it. In this fight scene we feel the sense of danger and action of this unbelievable jump.

Image result for brief encounter cinematography

Brief Encounter (1945)

(LO1:) Close ups are important to the film because it gives the audience a chance to read the character’s emotions. To see the character without any other distractions in the shot. This  close up shot from the opening scene of Brief Encounter (1945) reveals to the audience the closeness between these two characters who we believe to be acquaintances. Their farewell is ruined as a third party is present, the hand on the shoulder is the final embrace they share. We watch her hide her emotions.

Image result for pocahontas storyboard

Pocahontas (1995) Storyboard

Extreme close up

A high angle shot is used to make a character appear weaker, we are looking down on them, they look small and vulnerable. [SPOILER] In this scene from Shawshank Redemption (1994), ‘Andy Dufresne’ has just escaped jail from his decades of being imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Of course he is a vulnerable character as a criminal escape, but this shot feels more powerful – high angle shots can also create power, a conquering of trails. Thanking the heavens.

(LO2:) The low angle shot also gives power to the character it is looking up too. As the audience we are are looking up to a powerful intimidating figure over us, they have the greatest power. The use of it in this shot of Bilbo from the Lord of the Rings shows how powerful Bilbo feels with the ring, the ring that calls for power and darkness. It’s used in a sinister way here, but can also show a positive power or strength in a character.

(LO1:) Wide shots reveal more than just the surroundings, they can make the character look small and helpless. Look this shot above from Gone with the Wind (1939), where the use of this wide shot is to show the wounded in the American civil war, the lives that are dying, one doctor to help all of these injured, the horror of the war and etc. Another good example of this is the scene from Titanic (1997) where a firework is sent into the sky for help, a extreme wide shot shows how pathetic this is and how small the Titanic is in the Atlantic ocean.


Blocking a scene

Blocking multiple characters – who do we want to follow in the scene. Who has the most interesting and important character. Whose emotions do we want to see throughout. How we stage can also reveal more about the characters and how they interact.

Research references for this post:


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