The language of lighting has its own vocabulary, and you probably
understand it more than you think. In a low-light scene you can bet
that someone will get killed or kissed. That is the universal language
of lighting. Here are some terms you need to understand:
You already understand the
symbolic meaning of colors from your study of literature. These same
symbols transfer to film. When watching an old western you can tell the
good guy from the bad guy by the color of his hat. The director
deliberately chooses color for its effect in the scene (Gone with the Wind, Dick Tracy, Schindler’s List).
four edges of a movie screen form the window in which we see the story.
Placement of characters and objects within this window shows
relationships and importance. Film is voyeuristic. Through the frame of
the screen we peep into the private lives of the characters (Citizen Kane, 12 Angry Men).
Motion and Speed
Motion in film is not limited to characters moving around the scene. It
can be as big as a camera sweeping across a scene to small movements
like gestures and facial expressions. Each type of movement adds to the
story being told.
Transitions are the
punctuation marks of film. As periods, commas, question marks and
exclamation points tell us how to end a sentence, transitions show us
how to end a scene.
The angle at which the shot is taken can have symbolic meaning.
There are five kinds of sound in movies:
Special effects are techniques used by the director to create an illusion.
Motifs are recurrent thematic elements in an artistic or literary work.