Drawing & Composition for Visual Storytelling

How and When to Cut

Motivating the camera is a simple technique of using visual cues to set up a cut or camera-move and in doing so, ease the audience into a new shot or new information.

Use a character’s eye line to motivate a cut. It helps ease the audience through the cut and into new information. (While also putting us directly in the character’s shoes.)

The idea is to create as much continuity within the sequence as possible, making everything clear and easy to follow.

So as per the above sequence, ways to motivate the camera;

  • Using a Character’s eyeline/P.O.V.
  • Having a character move on screen and adjusting the camera accordingly.
  • Having a character exit frame.

There are many other ways, for instance; — Having a character enter frame.

Ultimately what it comes down to, specifically for ‘cutting’, is the fact that a ‘cut’ is not natural, it doesn’t happen in real life (unless you take really long blinks). Obviously we have seen enough film/television that we are accustomed to ‘cutting’, nevertheless, anything you can do to smooth out the transition will only help create and maintain the continuity of your sequence.

These examples revolve around motivating the camera, and explores more “what they are saying visually”.

These examples are all slight variations of the same scene, each exploring a different approach in regards to the progression of information that is revealed to the audience, and consequently the effect it has on them. Ultimately, it all depend on what the script calls for or what is necessary of the scene to determine which of the following (if any) would be suitable.

The most important thing to take away from this concept of ‘motivating the camera’, is just to try and be conscious of the decisions you are making in your storyboards. Try to understand what you are actually saying visually, what information you are revealing to the audience, when is this information os being revealed, and what effect it will have on them. Thinking about these things as you board can really help enhance a sequence and ‘sell’ an idea in the storyboard stage.

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