- Lesson Details
In this lesson, instructor Bill Perkins will lecture on how subtext makes your visual storytelling more engaging. You will learn the effects of framing an image. Then, you will discover that adding or subtracting details will affect how the image reads to the viewer. Bill will demonstrate how dominant and subordinate elements influence the viewer’s takes of the story.
This lesson belongs to the course Visual Storytelling. In this 7-week course, legendary Disney art director Bill Perkins will teach you the skillsets needed to create strong visual storytelling for film and animation. With his years of experience working on films like Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Space Jam, Bill will help build your visual vocabulary to aid in your creative storytelling. You will learn about the visual components like primaries of design. Bill will lecture on the importance of dominance and subordination. You will explore ways to achieve shape clarity as well as manipulate both visible and implied lines. From there, Bill will analyze the use of color and visual subtext to help enhance your visual storytelling.
Throughout this course, you’ll have access to the NMA community for feedback and critiques to improve your work as you progress.
Transcription not available.
everything in so we did it in seven, we didn't go super super
deep into any of those sessions. But I wanted to touch
on, you know, our primaries of design, our visual language how
that works, components of our visual language, our primary
design and then get into a little description on the each
of those components. So we went into line, tone, shape,
color, space, rhythm. We didn't do a whole lot of movement. I
thought what I would do is just kind of look at some film
frames, we could look at some films. The films I have here
I've shown over the course of the sessions but I do have some
frames and we can take a look at some of the frames and
some of the setups and really the visual storytelling
aspect of those frames and how those,
you know, how important those things are you know in telling
the story and how you might tell the story. Okay. When
we're composing images for film,
you know, you want to look at the staging, you want to look
at the editing and all the characteristics that go into it
in terms of interpreting a script or storyboarding or
blocking and so on, you want to keep a couple of things in
mind if you're interested in storyboarding and stuff, and
that is one, you have the obvious, you have the dialogue.
So, you have the dialogue, but then you also have - I'll put this
here, like this - and then you also have nonverbal.
Okay. You have nonverbal behavior. You have - you have the
acting on the screen, okay. So you have the dialogue, but then
you also have this nonverbal behavior, which, you know, it
could be seeing
the character look at something, it could be them
just looking at something and that alone without dialogue,
that alone can tell you
with proper editing, it will tell you what's on their mind,
what you cut it in between will tell you what they're thinking
about and how you view the shots on either side or how you
frame or block the shots on either side is going to tell
you, that's going to inform you on what they are thinking,
okay? And you want to know that your character, there's
something between their ears, you want to know that whatever
kind of a personality you're trying to portray or you want
the actor to portray when you're blocking a shot and
setting up the continuity, you can help them out by just
positioning things in your storyboards that will kind of
inspire them or help the director capture their vision
on how that's going to come across on the screen.
You don't have to see the dialogue, all the dialogue
being said. What you see on the screen isn't exactly the
depiction of the dialog otherwise you'd say I'm going
to write some words down on paper as your writing words
down on paper. Okay, you wouldn't want to do that it'd be
terribly boring, but it happens more often than you can
imagine. The imagery sometimes is just the literal
interpretation of whatever the dialogue is, but you have both
of these things. You have the dialogue and this nonverbal
behavior, right? You also have action
And then you also have the rhythm of the editing.
Okay, so you have what they're doing
and then you also have how you cut that with between shot to
shot to shot and where you cut can also enhance or create more
subtext. And all of these are to add
more subtext. Okay, what are you saying in your imagery? How
are you saying it in your imagery? You want to add more
subtext. You want to use your nonverbal behavior. You want to
use your blocking. I'll put blocking down here too.
Okay, and you're going to use your camera movement.
Or non movement you know, whatever you determine. Whatever
is the more appropriate thing for you to do or however you
want to tell that. Are you using camera movement or non
movement, is it not moving? And is it important in how you do
that? Just as an option to think about, you know, it's
doesn't always have to be moving. It doesn't always have
to be - it could be what you take away, what you refuse to
do, or what you choose not to do. And sometimes the things
that we think are shopping list of tools, if you take those
things and say, okay, I'm not going to use those
what you're left with is the challenge of creating something
and sometimes what'll happened at that point that challenge means
that you won't be following your normal procedure. You'll
be trying to do things in a little different way. And then
you usually get to come up with something innovative or
different or challenging or a way that's maybe a little bit
less conventional, but it might be, it just might be something
a way that will communicate more clearly. You know,
you didn't really think. It's not something that you lift
from another movie and say, well, you know, I mean, I've
had episodes with directors where they've said, you know, I
liked this movie. I liked that movie, I liked that movie and
it's like you give them shots from those movies and they're
just happy, you know. But are you really making an original
movie? Are you telling the story, are you being truthful to a
new script? Or are you just throwing in tropes of the
audience is going to turn around and say, oh, I've seen that
before. I've seen that before. Isn't that cool? It's an inside
joke. I've seen it before, you know, it's like that doesn't
really stand up to any credibility, really. I don't
think other than if you're making it mockumentary or
something like that, you know. And some of those are sterile,
but in those cases, you want to do that, you want to do more of
it, you want to overstate those things. So
those are kind of some things that you want to just think
about as you're crafting scenes and making these edits and
staging and blocking, you know, and setting up your camera
movement. I thought what we'll do tonight is look at a couple
of film stills just that do set up in contrast one another,
they set up this richer subtext. Okay. So let's go to a
couple of images here and I'll put on a full screen in terms
of what's dominant, what's subordinate. When you have a
subtext that you want to deliver,
that should be your dominant feature. Everything should be
second to that. If there's a subtext that you want to
deliver, how do you deliver that? And when we go into
looking at our visual components and how we - how we
emphasize some and diminish, others relatively, that becomes
important to know because when you want to portray images that
are delivering a subtext that tells you how to do it, you
know, it tells you how to do it, it's like okay well we can
diminish this, push this, and you'll get that effect. Or ways
that you can make something dominant and make something
subordinate. Okay what are the ways you can do that? And how
do you do that? And even when you have something like film
frames, how do you do that in a way that you can do it from
shot to shot and even give a greater experience of that, get
it, get a deeper experience. Happens with paintings too. I
mean you could go out and do a landscape painting and say,
okay, well I'm going to do a painting of the ocean and this
cliff side and a couple buildings, some trees people
down the beach or whatever like that.
You know, you wait for the right time of the day and go
that's pretty and start painting away, right? But what
are you left with? You're trying to capture that beauty.
Well you got to be a little bit more descriptive about what
that beauty i. What is that thing? That's beautiful, be
very specific. Okay. What is it about that scene that makes
it? If that's your goal to make a beautiful painting, what is
it? That would make that a beautiful painting or what do
you have to do to that image to make it a beautiful painting
and that's a case of breaking it down and breaking it down.
And those are the things that you, you know, you have to
really think deeply about - or even taking a still life. How
would you light it? How would you set it up? What are the
directional forces that you want to create that moves
your eye through in a certain way in order that you deliver the
subtext or the feeling, or the mood that you want the viewer
to have, you know, it's about communicating this way. Okay?
So that's kind of the deal that you want to you want to
I'm going to open up Thelma and Louise here.
In the beginning
we meet them,
look at the contrast between the two women.
Look at the contrast between the two, this one's with her husband.
She's putting his watch on, he's domineering, she's doing
everything he says, she's all disheveled in kind of a messy
place. I'm going to go back to the first one here, and take a look
at this. She's extremely well quaffed. She's, you know,
everything's in place. Okay.
And everything is clean. Everything's set up clean.
And these are the first images that we see these two, okay?
And then she's packing and now, everything's in a little
plastic ziplock bag.
And there's the other one packing, throw in a box of
clothes stuffing them in a bag. They're just going to go away
for a fishing trip. They're just going to go for the
weekend, right? So this is how they're setting up to pack,
Curlers, throwing things in the bag, wondering what she's got
and fully done, all made up. Everything's clean, tailored and
that's that. Look at the room. Everything is in its order.
Okay, I'm going to go back to the other room. Look at this
room, okay? So the subtext here is, you know, over the top out
of control, okay? Compared to very well manicured, very in
control, almost anal in how clean they are. Okay?
and picks up her friend. Okay. Garbage hanging out into the
driveway from the garage. She comes running out with bags
You know, this looks like a commercial, you know? And yet,
here we go. There's the contrast of the two of them,
yet again. So when we see one, then the other, then one then the
other, then one then the other, and they're consistent within
their character, by their surrounding, by what they're
wearing, but what they're doing, by what they're
carrying, by what they're talking about, we start to
build more character when we first see them. Okay?
So then they're in the bar and having a margarita.
And she gets a little bit too drunk.
She gets hit up on by this brute.
And now we see her get - protecting her friends. If we
step back here, we see their encounters. She's - the other one
using the restroom or something then she's, she's threatened by
this guy, they go outside. She's too drunk to know the
difference and then
she's threatened the guy and you can just take a look at
what's at stake. She ends up shooting him and now they're in
Okay, is it self-defense or whatever? So we got a quiet
moment, we get the two of them. Okay again, back and forth
between the two, they try to make a plan, what they're going
Now, they're on the run. This is farther down into the movie.
Now she's disheveled as well.
She's gaining a little bit of confidence here.
So now we see her posture and everything bit more determined
right? And Geena Davis is she's a lot more determined and Susan
Sarandon is a little bit less, you know, she's kind of pushed
off to the side. She's a little less confident, okay, in the
situation as things go on.
They pick up a stranger who ends up stealing all their money.
And now she's really a wreck. So you can see the tables turn
here, you know, in their character.
They're on the run. They can't go through parts of Texas I
think it was or New Mexico. They're going to head to Mexico
and, and but they can't go there, because she has a
warrant out on her, so they can't go through there. Find that
Tensions get a little bit higher on here.
Interesting lighting in here too, they had to have some strong lights
on the inside of this car. You don't think about it when
you're watching a movie but lighting has a lot to do with
it and that helps build the subtext and to in order to see
them, look at how hot the highlight is on the steering
wheel and her hand in order to see them. And even the back
seat, there's lights in the back seat, lights on the floor,
you know, down below, so you don't see them. So there's some
strong lighting in there to get the get that effect.
Now they're armed and dangerous.
And they're pretty confident at this point, they're pretty
And at this point too, they're pretty confident, they're
outlaws and they've kind of succumb to the idea that
they're, they're outlaws on the run. Okay? So they're going to
make this poor guy dance, because he's a jerk.
They're going to blow up his truck.
And they take off and they end up heading out towards the
Grand Canyon it appears and
in the distance in the dust they're surrounded by the cop
There's nothing left. Nowhere to go.
So they make a pact and fly.
These are just kind of the images that kind of set up the
character, who is this person? Who's that person? What's
there, you know, where's their rise and fall? These are the
kinds of things that I know for me, when I look at a script or
look at something, these are the things that I want to find
out. I want to know about the characters. I want to know the
journey they're going to take and where those turns are in
the story, okay? Because if you're designing a film, you
really have to know that, you got to know your characters and
you got to know where the turns in the story are so that you
can make these kinds of visual adjustments, set things up, then
turn them and turn them and really display the subtext.
So again I'll put on the page here
from the script
All right, you're going to need to know your character.
Okay, and you're going to look at the plot.
Now sometimes some people look at it and say well the
characters drive the plot, some people say the plot drives the
characters, you know, they need to work together, okay? They
really need to work together. If you understand your
characters, you can put them in a situation and they'll respond
in a certain way. And that's how you understand their
character. You put them in a situation and they respond in a
certain way, okay? And if that's the case, then you're
true to that character. And it's a dimensional character,
you know, when you, when you look at it that way.
If you're driven by plot, you'll never understand who
your characters are.
You're just saying this happens, then this happens,
then this happens, then this happens, then this happens.
When your characters get in a situation they might act and
therefore something changes, you know, and they'll go in a
different direction but then something else changes and then
they have to go in another way. So that turning and on off kind
of a situation is far different than just and then and then and
then or adding on and adding on and adding on. So a lot of times
when we're even telling a story, if we go see a movie, we
might want to tell our friends this happened and then this and
then this and then this what we might be doing is just
describing the highlight shots or the highlight
scenes, but we're not really telling anything about the
character. What we're doing is this happened and this happened
and this happened, but it's not how you get there. If you're
making the film, you really want to make clear that you're
expressing the character or the character expresses themselves,
and you can stage them in a way that will, you know, that will
work out. Okay,
that's credible to the character.
You know, and that can be extremely fantastic.
And he's a little bit disturbed but he comes to town and tries
to make good sees a girl. And you can see that the palette
changes too, it's got this kind of pukey yellow greenish going
on. He's got a little bit of red and a little bit later
he's, you know, he sees Cybill Shepherd and he's enamored
by Cybill Shepherd. So he wants to date her and she's working
as an intern on a campaign. Okay. And so you know, the
campaign is all red. He throws on a red coat. He's wearing
red and he's trying to ask her out on a date. He's wearing a
coat that color wise will plant him in that same world or pulls
him into a certain character. So maybe this is his visual
attempt to try to get close to her wearing what she has or
what she surrounds herself with. Okay. So he's a driver at
night and you know things didn't go well on the date and
now he's upset. And he's, he wants to ask her out again, but
he's during his travels at night as he's driving we hear
his inner dialogue. His narration delivers his inner
dialogue of what's going on. And at night, he's exposed to
the underground, the 70s, New York City, really drug area,
hookers, the whole thing, and also he's enamored by Cybill
Shepherd, but he also he recognized this one hooker who's like 16
years old and in his mind, she's far too young to be doing
that, and he's disturbed by that too. So he's kind of
enamored and cautious about her as well. That was played by
Jodie Foster as a young girl too.
So again, now you can see in the earliest image of him you
know with a little bit of red in the yellow greenish now is
fully saturated. Now it's really pushed. They're pushing
the color in the color, light on him, pushing red into him,
where he's starting to lose it a little bit here.
He gets a gun to protect himself and, you know, is
He plays with a gun and he actually make some kind of a
holster on his arm that all he has to do is move his arm and
it'll trigger the holster and the gun will go right into his
hand. So it's like a fast and a release kind of a thing, you
know, here, he's just burning himself, he's testing himself
against the flame.
And he's going to a porno film.
So he's sinking down and he doesn't know how to talk to
Cybill Shepherd. He tries and he like, tries to tell her
about the movie and it's just it's just all wrong. He's
and so he decides in his twisted mind, he's losing it.
You can see his, his hair is changing. He's starting to
change his physical appearance. Okay. At this point, he has his
gun. He's cutting his hair, and he's changing his physical
look. And he shows up at a rally for this
guy. And now we get a little bit more in the - look at the
famous you talking to me scene and here and
now we see him going to another rally.
He's got the little sign here. We are the people on him.
That's the slogan from the rally. We are the people. And
yet pedestrians are prohibited getting in here but now he's
like giving himself a full mohawk.
And this is the pimp. He decides he's going to go and
shoot the candidate and that gets foiled because if he can't
win the girl, then he's going to become infamous and when
that gets foiled he runs off and they chase the guy with a
mohawk, you know, they chase him because he's clearly
disturbed. So they chase him. Next thing you know, here he
is, he went back into the cab and at night, he's determined
to kind of take somebody down at this point. Okay, things are going
really bad so he goes to the pimp. The guy that has been
abusing Jodie Foster. Okay, and kills him instead and goes
inside and inside this place, it's full of drug lords and he
wipes them all out. He's on a rampage. So he goes in and just
wipe them all out. You can see, this is by the end, he's shot,
and that's kind of the thing. And so, when the police enter
the room. And he's got no more bullets and everybody's dead
all around him. He's killed everybody, he's been shot. You
think he's dead. He's covered in blood and he's giving
himself the sign like go ahead and shoot me too. Okay, well
that doesn't happen and he gets put in jail and it turns out
everybody that he killed the police department wanted to get
rid of anyway. So he's kind of looked at as a hero because he
cleared the streets of all this bad stuff, okay? So he's in for
a minute, a small amount of time. And while he's in prison,
he gets a letter from Jodie Foster's parents, because she
went back home and turned her life around and they're
thanking him for, you know, helping her and and they let
him back out on the street and he's back in the cab, you know,
in New York, and he happens to pick up a fare and it was a
Cybill Shepherd. Okay. And she asks him are you okay? Are you
okay? Yeah, I'm fine. I'm fine. How are you? Good good. I'll
see you around sometime, and as he starts to drive off, he
looks in the mirror. And this is a very last tiny glimpse of
the movie. He looks in the mirror and he sees this looking
And then he glances again and that was only for a couple of
So, the madman still inside, there's a madman on the streets,
and he's back out on the streets. And and so, Martin
Scorsese put him in the mirror. So he glanced in the, in his
rearview mirror and he saw that red self. That it's really not
gone after he told Cybill Shepherd yeah, everything's
fine. Everything's all good. So kind of leaves you with that in
the end. So it's a bit of a very quick twist and some
people even miss it, you know, in the end it's like you got
and it's like wait a minute, what was that? What did I just see?
You know and it was that so it's kind of a glimpse. But you
set the rules you know when he goes crazy you get more and
more red, you know. So you know in that case to you look at the
framing on these things too, he's like fractures to the edge of
the frame. Now what I'll do is I'll draw on here.
I'll show you just a couple of little things just to think
about as you
staging things, framing things or whatever. In a situation
like this or any situation where you have you know we got
in this case we got Travis over here like this.
And you can draw this, all these scenes are very very good
to draw. I always look at these things and go it's like
some of the things that you'll pick up by drawing these
are really useful, you know, maybe you don't see something
right away, but then it's very useful. You know what you do
pick up is is useful.
And we have the rearview mirror up here.
Now, the rearview mirror as it is,
it's kind of hard to see.
So black up there and it blends in with the background.
And with something like this, what I would do is when I look
at this and I realize, oh well this is what the scene is
Now, you could do this. At the time, it would be more
difficult to do.
But if I wanted that effect nowadays,
you might have this all dark.
Right? There's your rear-view mirror and him.
Okay, something like that. You see the rim light that I put
Around on the on the mirror. You know, one thing that you
could do too is you could just put a little bit of red glow on
You know? You can be discreet about that now but at the
time, you know, the movie was made, it was a little bit more
difficult to do that kind of a thing, but you could do it now,
which could make it a little bit interesting.
Now the other thing is, there's an idea,
there's an idea that the largest thing, if the largest
thing on the screen
is this, is the mirror, it's the most important thing.
Okay. I mean that's kind of a Hitchcock deal. The other thing
is too, is you could say, okay, here's the back window. If your
camera is a little bit straighter, here's the back
window. And here's Travis.
Open this up just a little bit just to get him in just a
little bit more. But why is it important to throw the light on
this side out here?
Why is it important to put this the light on coming from this
Anything in your composition
that is cropped
to your edge in any way, anything that's cropped or
parallel has a tendency to associate with the frame.
Okay. So anything close or parallel to the frame becomes a
framing element. Okay. So if I have this thing, you know, a
pole or something parallel to the edge, it becomes a framing
element for something else. If I have something cropped like
Travis over here and we only see part of him,
this becomes part of the frame, he's not whole. He's an incomplete
element, okay? The only section we get is incomplete and is
right at the edge of the frame.
When you have things right on the edge of the frame that
aren't complete, they're less important. And not only are
they less important, they're a framing element for something
Okay, that's really what happens. So if this is big
enough in the frame here, his rearview mirror, and this is a
framing element, right,
and these are more parallel to the top and bottom like this,
look what happens when I reinforce that.
You see that? Now you're looking right at that rear view
mirror. I've made it far more dominant now.
Okay. I could do it in this one too. By making this - bringing
this in and making this parallel.
I'll do this to make this a kind of a complete shape so it
doesn't crop or go up into the other. So I make it feel like a
Kind of on its own. It's clearly defined.
And everything else is not.
Or a fraction of.
Bring this in here too.
You see that?
So it's because of this effect that that occurs, okay?
If you wanted Travis to be a part of that situation,
then you would get them completely in the frame.
Right? And maybe this would be over here.
Maybe even make him bigger in the frame.
And we do this.
We bring the light in from the back.
You see now this is a complete shape, right?
He's in the car, it's a complete shape, but this light
shape and this
are connected right here, like that.
Okay. So how we light it can make him part of this or
separate from this, okay, situation.
If you wanted to,
you know, I mean, we got a lot more nuances, we're capable of
more nuances than than that but if you wanted to one of the
things you could do to is you could get like a reflected
light which would mean that you might do something like this.
Bring the darkness down too and you can get a light coming from
outside but it's not as strong as that one. Okay? So you can
kind of play that out because this this is the main event
Or if I brought this out here and said,
here is the main thing, that's even stronger yet.
You see how different it is than the one over here?
Okay, this includes him.
This includes him in the effect of the mirror.
So in here, you can see he's being lit by through the
windshield that way, not from outside the cab.
Again the same thing. They're both lit front from the front
of the cab and then he's lit from below really strongly high
contrast inside. Look at the difference in the contrast
between that and this, that jump in contrast gets you
ready of that strong red and green in there with a high
contrast and then the red in there and then jump back to
His eye line in this is really strong too, so that's another
thing that plays a large part. But cropping something at the
edge that has a lot to do with it. Your eye line has a lot to
do with it. The side that your lighting has a lot to do with
it. All of these things, add in, add in, add in that make it a
lot more interesting.
of images that we could talk about here too that really kind
of display the good guys bad guys and so on when you first
meet them and stuff, so this is the surprise moment, okay? But
this is where we first meet her, just we meet the woman
that's the killer. And when we first meet her,
actually, she's sitting down. First time we see her is
outside the train, but then we sit down and she's kind of
looking at the whammer but look at what's going on in the
frame. We've got this hat box and angle like this.
Her hands coming like this.
Her blouse coming like this.
Head like this.
And she's not really in direct light. She's the only direct
light on her
is hitting her down here.
On her hands here, on her fingers here.
On the hat box, a little bit in here.
Really framing her in here.
And a rose.
From the rose.
Look at even the fold here. This is great.
Dropping this in the shadow creating a little bit of a dark
over her arm.
The fold over her arm coming this way.
The chair and the dark.
Like I said, I always advocate drawing these because when you
see something for me is like, I'll see something and I can
kind of Identify some characteristics about it, but
once I draw it then I think it through a little bit more. I
can kind of understand it just a little bit better.
And I want to think about how I would replicate that or how I
would create a scene that maybe not replicate it. But what this
scene is conveying and how I would want to if I ever ran
across something that I wanted to say something similar. How
would I approach it? This might be I might get kind of go back
to the drawings and see how about it? How I might try to
approach this kind of a thing,
Barbara Hershey when we see her and she's up to no good
and we get it right away. You know we get this right away
that she's kind of a bad person because from what we've seen so
far you can just tell everything is kind of running
black and white and then she ends up like this.
She's in the elevator.
And, of course, she's not wearing black. She's doesn't
have black hair. She has blond hair, but she's still wearing
the black and white and
This is her all in shadow like this.
Her in light.
She's got the newspaper coming out of here.
It adds these high contrast elements. You know, every other
hand down here, this hand going up here, you can look at the
shadow shapes the way that they play out on here.
This is a dark here, this is her arm coming out. This is really black here.
Dark against the light.
All of this is this
of her coat and gloves.
And this is completely dark.
Closing off the frame here. So your eye doesn't drop out of
the frame here. Just this closes it off towards the
And again, look what these things are doing over here.
These are closing Us in there. They're not super important
other than they're just framing devices, okay? These are all
just framing devices. Getting us to look into the middle
We got this really hot highlight here and on the newspaper
That's the important thing in there.
So these are our bad guys.
And here's a situation to and this is Robert Duvall and his
way he's trying to find information, he's trying to get
the dirt on Roy Hobbs here. So he's going to this library,
it's amazing floor because it's all illuminated. Okay, but we
want to say library,
want to say periodicals, because that's what he does.
He's looking for periodicals. So he's got on the left, we
have these stacks. If you look at the frame like right down the
okay, his head is just like, just below middle here.
And he's sitting on a stack.
He's got a book opened
that comes out like this.
Because that's a framing element.
You see that?
It makes you look up at him.
This is Ty.
He's wearing a very white hat now.
And he's got his hand down here like this.
Flipping a page of the book
And you can see there's a little angle on this that works
the tabletop you see because that angle points right up at him?
You see the book edge there. So if you're going to dress this
set, he's going to be there and stage him. How are you going to
stage him? You can use this book to frame them. This to point
at him. Above him, we've got other books, this was tilted down,
right? So it's going like this towards him. There's another
one over the top, that's going down this way, even more.
And then these late like this, this one brings us into the
scene and points us over towards him.
It's dark over light. Floor
like that, too.
Reinforce this little bit so we can see it again. So this
this book goes in.
This one's on an on an angle. This one, on the back table
is open this way too. So we have the book in the back here
framing around this way. Then we have the one sticking out
over this way, then we have this one turning in this way,
it's framing around him. You see? They use the books on the
top to frame around him and they using this and the book
to push in. And this one also to push in.
Okay, so that we frame him right in this little area.
It's pretty clever. I mean, if you're dressing this shot, you
say okay, I'm going to put them in this little walkway. But how
would you frame him? How would you actually use the components
in the room to actually heightened the the feeling that
there's books and periodicals everywhere. They're on all the
walls but they're all perfectly in place. Okay how are you
going to show that he's been digging and digging and digging.
Are going to make the whole place disheveled? The whole
place isn't disheveled. He wouldn't have gone through the whole thing.
That would give a different message that would
say it's a messy library, right? If he's looking a
certain book and there are other certain books like that
one that are distinctive enough, they're skewed around.
Well then it's like his book is just like the skewed books. The
library is clean, but his book. And those books are are skewed.
So similar things will group as similar, okay?
Could be trees, that could be bushes, it could be bushes, it
can be anything in any scene. Things that are similar we
tend to group together and in this decays, it maintains some
clarity you know, that he's been looking through these
books. Okay, upside down. He's only looking at those books and
those are where he might find his information. Or what he thinks
he might find his information.
So here's the bad guy, the judge. And again, it's a very,
very low light situation, high contrast and low light
Now, this is a case of non disclosure and this is where
Robert Duvall comes up to Robert Redford and says, hey,
I've got the dirt on you. I remembered where I've seen you
before and, you know, but I want the whole story there's
rumors floating around, and I want the whole story. If you
give me the whole story, I'll give you so many dollars, okay,
but he's got to be exclusive. Well Robert Redford says right
and you know say what you want to say, he's not giving in. And
really what it is is he sees that this as being kind of, he
doesn't want to be controlled. He doesn't want to make a deal
with the guy with questionable morals, right? His doesn't want to make
a deal with him, okay? And he's in the middle of a bigger
problem with people with questionable morals. Like the
judge, this comes at a moment where
I think I have this on here. Let me run through this because
it is important and it's really interesting. I have most of the
whole rest of the film. Let me get to my videos here.
this too. So.
So, Roy Hobbs hasn't had a chance to play yet. The coach
is still concerned that Roy Hobbs was brought on the team
to lose, but clearly the pitcher is one of the bad guys
I'm going to pause that for a second. That whole thing was a
setup, okay? So seeing them flub up, flub up, flub up and we do
also see the pitcher blowing a few plays so that plate comes
into play later. Hobbs realize is that the pitcher has been
throwing the games. Okay, so that's going to be a part of it
as well, okay? But at this point their big hitter
Bump Bailey has been kind of on a losing streak as well. Okay.
Bump is dating Memo Kim Basinger and she's trying to
distract him to take him down. So he's on the payroll of the
judge, so is Memo. And so is the pitcher. And Roy Hobbs
doesn't want anything to do with these guys, and the coach
has confided in him and said, this is what Pop's manager,
there Wilford Brimley. He's into this bet with the judge.
And if he loses the pennant, he loses the team. If he wins the
pennant he gets 51% the controlling share and he's
going to be able to take. So it's winner take all is really
what it comes down to and so
you know so the manager is really up to his eyeballs in it.
The coach is sympathetic but you know he sees what's going
on. And in this the setup there is
the team manager Wilford Brimley, is not letting him
play because he thinks he's brought onto to ruin his
chances. But all these other guys are blowing the chance.
Okay, so while this is going on and he's seeing this he tries
to get the psychologist in there and that's why they go
one, two, three and the third one, it's ah but curable. Now
we have a turnaround. Okay, so at the turnaround, that's when
Roy Hobbs says, I'm out of here enough of this.
Hobbs. I'm sending you down Hobbs.
Tomorrow morning you go to the Great Lakes Association.
You make the rules. Really? And you ain't been playing by them.
All the other guys play by them. Don't you remember signing a contract?
I remember signing a contract. To play ball. Not to be be put to sleep by some two bit carnie hyponotist.
I won't do that. It took me a long time to get here. I won't do it. I can't.
I came here to play ball.
Hobbs come back here. Batting practice tomorrow. Be there!
I have been. Every day.
Okay, so let's back up and see where we've been here with
This is called non disclosure again where you have your
characters all blacked out. What it does do is it does
make their dialogue more important because you don't see
anything, right? You don't see their eyes, you don't see what
they're doing. You just see this. So here's a
I remember signing it...to play ball. Not to be put to sleep by some two bit carney hypnotist. I won't do that.
Took me a long time to get here. I won't do it! I can't.
I'm here to play ball.
So there's the pause and he says I came here to play ball.
Now, come back here and watch, he does walk back but not
completely into the light. They're both at the edge and
it's important they're at the edge right? Because when he does
a reversal Hobbs is in the light for his line.
And the reversal of the camera from non-disclosure to
disclosure. It seemed a little early, but it was there to see
Hobbs' reaction, and he had to think for a moment. He had just
let him know calmly. It wouldn't be - if they cut to him
right before his line or right on his line, it would have been
too late, right? I can play it again. You can see what I mean.
Okay, slow the timing down.
Batting practice tomorrow. Be there. I have been. Every day.
So it's real subtle. He says batting presents tomorrow, cuts.
And that's when you see Robert Redford's eyebrows just give a
slight a slight rise. You needed to see that. He thinks
about it goes. I will be. I've been there every day.
Now, we let him think about it for a moment.
Now there's our Bump Bailey, he's the been the big hitter so
far and Memo.
And this is a great sequence because in the kind of the
hero's journey, if you follow that, there is a moment where
your protagonist has to find allies, you know, who's with him
and who's not and up to this point, you know, it's this
stranger coming on the team. He doesn't have any allies. He's
never had a chance. You know he's watched everything else
go on, he hasn't had a chance. All we know is that he's not
making a deal with the judge.
And he's heard what the stakes are. So he knows who's
got the drop on who, but now just in batting practice,
watch him collect allies.
See that hollow echo?
There's another one reaction, reaction.
Bumps even thinking about it because he's the number one
hitter on the team.
Try this one grandpa.
Clearly, not an ally.
Okay, questionable, maybe they've underestimated this
guy. There goes another one.
There goes another one.
So he makes a friend of the small one.
And then they accelerate the -
So he doesn't need to win over the whole team. The kid was the
one thing that you know.
Where'd you get this? I made it myself from a tree near home.
"Wonderboy." You put that on there?
What does it mean? I made it a long time ago, when I was a kid.
I wanted it to be a very special bat.
How about this lightning bolt? The tree I made it from was split open by lightning.
I don't figure this. All those years, and you never played organized baseball?
Well, I sort of got sidetracked.
Measure that and weigh it. If it comes up to specifications, we'll let you use it.
Now, go on out there and shag some flies.
Better late than never, Pop. Red, this is practice.
So, Bailey knocked it out of his hands.
So we hear a lot of dialogue over it, you know, it's three
to four, the other team's ahead.
So there's one on now.
Stay put, Bumper. You're gonna sit this one out.
Hey Wonderboy. I'm taking you out.
What do you want from me an apology? Forget it. I won't apologize.
Listen to me. I'm listening. I'm the manager, you're the player. You sit down and keep your mouth shut.
What do you want? I want you to sit down!
Gabby, Boone, help him find his seat! Hobbs, you're up.
What's the matter with you? Sit down and shut up, you mouthy prima donna.
What do you want from me an apology? Forget it. Sit down and shut up.
Hey Fisher let me have a hitter up here.
Come on, Hobbs! You're up!
So he gets his opportunity through crisis.
Of course, he pulls the bat out and when he does, we hear the
And that's one of the things that you know we get our
visuals and our audio cues and he sets them all up. In fact, we
need a little slow motion and we do need to see a little
It's a total fantasy. It's like Indiana Jones. Just it's a
serial kind of a thing to say.
And with just the music and no, no ground sounds just music and
and the voiceover.
Not that junk, the ball! That junk is the ball.
That's a ball? Jesus, he shot it to pieces!
We want a real ball!
There was a little hiccup there he's left on third base, but
they change the change the thing five to three.
Like two runs came in, there was only one run that came
in. They kind of pushed it to make them win, they won their
losing streak, but they left him stranded on third base. So
maybe it was a case where they said, no, we can't have them go
in and a home run because then you couldn't play out the
scene. Well what is that thing? That's not the ball that's - I
want a real ball. You know, that kind of a thing. So they would
have had to play that whole scene differently, you know
like the ball rolls up to you know home base and all his
just a trail of string by the time it gets there and he
slides in, you know, you could do it that way but you know
they chose to do it this way so they win. He's still on the - on
third base out there in the rain.
Was that real, the cover coming off? You were there. You saw it. Yeah, I know.
Explain that cover coming off that ball. I hit it as hard as I could.
Is it true he just walked in off the street one day?
Can we see the bat Hobbs used? That's the way to grease them. Ain't no mystery.
There you go.
These are The Godfather again and speaking of space and
lighting and the situations, I don't know if I'd gone through
this with any detail,
but there's a couple of things that happen in this area and in
the Mafia family, the images were the Mafia family like
this, by the time we move back here,
we have the guy here in the scene.
He's sitting here, table's here.
Right? We get a bright piece of paper, kind of in perspective,
going towards him like this. We even get the pencil like this.
He closes out with his cuffs getting closure here. The top
of the box, there's things being placed on it that are lit
and even the highlight on the phone, I mean you know the
highlight's come like this. Again, bringing us into the
center frame and then the blotter, the edge of the
all of these things facing in facing in, facing in, closing you
off here. This little bit of light here and then the beam
up on the top, all of these things, they're either pushing
or framing. It's stunning, the amount of detail that they put
into just the directing your eye. Then the other thing is
then they have Marlon Brando's head here.
His head is here.
Okay, and this
again, cropped in the foreground.
So, here he is. Here's the page.
He's blocking part of the screen and this is what we might
call a closing down your aperture. So that's that's
really what's going to happen here. He's going to close down
the aperture, you know, on this guy. And so this is pretty much
all we're going to see of this guy.
You know, everything else is going to be dark and these
point to him, frame him, frame this, point to him, point to
him, point to him, right?
Then when he comes around and whispers in his ear, we can't
hear anything. So this is part of the rules of this dark
space. There's even a couple of little things that kind of
going here. The handles on the cabinet behind just little tiny
dots in there, but then again, they come in.
Now he comes in close and we can't hear anything. That was
an important thing and then we go to this next shot. There's a
couple of little important things about this one, two
things that I was going to mention about this one. Again
close down the aperture. Okay, the guy in the foreground
just blocks this much of the whole screen.
That's pretty much it. Okay, then we have these things
framing Marlon Brando.
Phone in here.
All of these are really important.
Because what happens in here
is just the fact that
a lot of texture behind him. Okay.
And he's here. Here's the other more important thing to he's
sitting in his chair like this and he's playing with a little
Now, the interesting thing with this is just that the cat
gives him something to do. Okay,
so if he was just sitting there talking about, you know, the
guy wants him to go out and kill somebody, but he's not
going to do that and the whole scene is about him kind of
telling this guy and telling the audience, what the rules
are to be in the Mafia Family, okay? It's about the rules.
And that they aren't murderers, that was what he was
saying, we aren't murderers, okay? And the thing is the
whole thing takes place, while he's playing with a little
kitten in his lap. Okay. You know, that he's head of the
whole Mafia and you know what he's capable of doing, or
you suspect it. And here he is during this dialogue of the
fate of this kid who assaulted the guy's daughter. He's
playing with little cat during the whole thing, okay? So when
the actors are actually doing something, that can build the
subtext in this case, it kind of adds to his humanity, okay?
It adds to,
you know, this is a man of great power and he's got thugs
and killers and everyone around and everybody else in the
movie, all the other families and, you know, mafia families
and stuff, they all seem to be much more brutal than this guy.
He seems to be the one with a level head, okay? And except he
has his family and that's that. I mean, it's the day of his
daughter's wedding and he isn't going to take pictures unless
Michael's there. So, you know, he has his his rules, you know,
basically, we understand his rules, but closing down the
aperture and then playing with a cat during the scene. Those
are really important things in there. Again, we talked about
where you're not invited here either, okay? We have this
poll, we have the wall coming up here. This wall this wall.
So we have
these barriers here.
And then trees.
So the only time we see, you know, the people is over in
But there's there's poles and wires everywhere.
There's wires going this way, going this way, going this way,
coming across here, just wires everywhere. Okay, that really
kind of close us off from actually accessing the
Okay, and all the cars.
So, the wires are the big thing that block us from this and the
higher contrast, okay? Again with this to have the focus
be out in this area where all these people are.
Because this is the lighter area. We have this dark
and then we have all these guys in the foreground, we have guys
in dark, we have the bridesmaids but they're all
sitting in kind of silhouettes, right?
Another over here. Chair over here.
And this guy leaning in over here, too.
And then the tables and the shadow like this.
So this is a situation. This is this is where our focus is out
here. Except we've got this foreground element that's
We can't see in here, we're blocked in the top two. This one we're
blocked because the whole foreground element going on
And then when we cut to the members of another mafia family
when we see the image of one of the other mafia families that
the top, all of a sudden we get down to the dark tone, overall
dark tone. So now,
we're into this darkened area.
And he's like this.
His hand's like this and there's a guy behind, there's a little
white up here.
This is all goes to dark.
We got this all dark, even this guy.
And just a little bit on this guy around his ear, down his
neck, around his collar.
And then little bits of break up in here.
Back of his hand, a little bit on this guy's face, on his
So, we're just getting little bits.
Now, the interesting thing is on a composition, something
because we could look at this and say, okay, well look at
what's going on here. If we
this with ready to be able to see a little bit easier, if I
draw this down like this, okay? And then I come in here. If I
didn't look at thirds, his eyes is eye line is right there on the
thirds and then his hands are down on the lower down here.
But if you take a look at these areas too,
this area over here
has a lot of breakup.
But it is broken up, this area in here,
has high contrast.
But there is a design to it. Okay, there's a design. You get
along his face sculpts him out there. The white of his
shirt here down to his hands here. See how this is all
You know, those lights are all grouped and the other lights
are over here are scattered.
Does that makes sense? So what happens is
in essence, what you get is you get something that is planned
as a group
and then you get contrast but it's broken up. So what happens
is this feels more over in this section.
And we have this area of relief down the middle here like this.
And this is surrounded by it over here.
Okay, that's how you get some separation. You can say, okay,
I want you to look over here. It's a case of dominant
subordinate, you make a larger group. You make a simpler
shape, you make something bold and clear, yes you've got some
broken up areas. Now, if these broken up areas on this side,
if those broken up areas had some kind of a connection,
you know, a greater connection, maybe the back of his ear going
down his collar like this, like this. And all of these things
were connected in some way, it would be a very interesting
shape. It wouldn't be broken up like this. It would be an
interesting shape and your eye would go there, okay, so when
you break something up, go ahead and obliterate it enough
that it becomes subordinate to the stronger shape.
We were talking about just circles. Making one dominant and
then others subordinate, you know, just by the fact that
they're not completed circles or in scale or direction too. We
can deal with with direction we could deal with, you know,
comparing things that way. So it's a case of dominance and
subordinate. If you have something large and
this kind of a thing, areas that are broken up, It's hard to
relate these to this. You see? The small things like this,
they don't relate to, you know, that that piece. Again, if you
took those pieces and had some greater connection to them,
you know, that they had more directional movement between
them in some way, if you create more directional movement, all
of a sudden that becomes a more interesting thing but there
isn't any it's you know, it's obliterated from that, okay?
That's why they can - if they light people a certain way you
know they pull that cuff out, giving me a little bit of white
here, break this up, put a bigger dark tie, don't see the
whole shirt, turn sideways. You know, that kind of a thing they
can look through the lens place these people around. Look
at the high contrast on the shoulder of the guy in the
background. The upper right.
Look at how bright that is. Okay, that's really bright on
his shoulder. Now, tonally
when we were talking about space, one aspect of space is
through value or tone. And what ends up happening is in space
just kind of do the guy sitting here. I'm going to redo it. I'm
not going to do it like the picture too much. I'm just going
to use the pose. Okay, let's just say this guy is here like
this shape and connect it like this, and then.
So I'm going to connect these and make an interesting shape
Try to make this even this guy in the foreground.
Make him dark. I'm gonna make him the darkest, dark and the
lightest light. That's going to make him
in the foreground.
Okay, so if I give him, if I give him the greatest contrast
in here, he's going to seem like he's in the foreground.
He already feels like he's in the foreground.
I can make this guy in the mid-ground. I'm going to pull
these darks just a little bit here.
Make him the foreground like this.
And I'm going to push these other guys into the background.
Because there's not as many dark darks back here.
See and if they're outside, this kind of aerial perspective is
going to push this guy in the back. So this guy is going to
be the closest here.
This guy's next.
And I'll give them a little bit more.
So, as long as I keep these guys, you know, just keep this -
the tonal contrast is like, here's one, and then two,
and then three back here. I can even bring him out just a
little bit. If I want to make him, I'm going to make sure
that I'm going to keep him with the least amount of contrast.
But he needs to remain number three back here, right?
So, just by aerial perspective, if I want to do that, this
gives you a clear one, two, three or a clear foreground,
mid-ground, background. But if we want to create ambiguous
space, okay, in the background here,
got this guy, foreground, we might have this guy.
Mid-ground, we have this guy.
Okay. And what's going to happen with these guys is
the contrast on this guy
is going to be just as strong
as the contrast on this guy.
And it may even be the same contrast is this guy.
So, if I give this guy
and this guy in the background
and say I've got it some guy standing back way, back over
here. If he's got the same contrast
right, he just looks like a little guy.
You know, at the same picture plane there's no spatial depth
because these guys are all the same tonal contrast, okay?
So, they all sit on the same surface.
Okay, so when it's the same, as the foreground, it flattens
out, It's ambiguous. Here we're stepping.
Okay, there's another way to do it, too. With artificial
lighting, if we're doing it with artificial lighting, then
what's going to end up happening that way is that, if
someone is in the foreground, that's where your lightest
lights, might be. I'll change the lighting around them on
Maybe there are some strong accents on here.
But it would mean that someone's back here.
And someone is back here,
this kind of a thing, we get this.
Maybe something like this.
And this would go to black back here.
Trying to get it black.
And this is more artificial or theatrical lighting.
Not that I would go to this crazy degree with these pencils
on a storyboard, but I might do with a marker, or if I did a
digital, I would definitely drop something into just
indicate something like this.
Because his suit might even blend in.
And again, you might have something like this.
Just seeing the difference there.
The back of his head.
And then this.
All right, so the distance goes black.
So whether it goes to light or whether it goes to black, it
doesn't matter. It's just a different kind of lighting but
when it's the same contrast in the foreground as the
background, that's when you have problems. It becomes ambiguous.
So think about it you're doing a landscape painting or
painting outside or anything with some distance or if you're
in a situation where you're creating -
you want to create space, say it's interior, say it's a person
sitting, it's a model sitting on an interior and you want to
make them a little bit more dramatic, you're going to put a
little bit more lighting on them than you are the
background. It's going to all kind of get closer in contrast
and fade back that way. So you have these two different ways
to do it, you would want to put the same contrast in the
background as you do the foreground, unless you were
trying to flatten it out on purpose, you know, that would
be, that's a technique that you might use, if you wanted to,
you know, flatten the whole scenario like Klimt or
something like that, want to do that.
Spatially, that's in terms of your tonal contrast. That's one
of the things you can contrive in terms of shapes too, you can
you can use color or you can use shape and you can work that
with space as well. So you might say things close to you
Right? A little bit rounded. And as they get farther away
and farther away.
Right? Ao they could actually straighten out.
And that will give you shape wise - I'll do another one in
Make this a little bit more rigid.
You know, and all I'm doing here,
I'm just making a mistreat her and straighter make the edges,
and I'm not rounding it as much. I'm making them smaller
and I'm making the edges straighter. That's it. But you
do get, over a period of time, that shape is telling you,
the spatial distance, besides scale, so it's not just scale,
you can actually use shape as well. You can change shape in a
progressive manner, but it has to be a progressive manner. It
can't be out of order just like atmosphere. It builds over
density over a period of time, but your shapes can change as
well. You know, and you can manipulate things that way.
The audience will sense it. They'll feel it. You might want
to do this if you were doing,
you know, creating any kind of compressed space or something
like an animated film or something like that where you
have the control of designing all the shapes, you know, based
on your proximity to those things, you can design anything
like that and make that work for you.
So shape can be -
so you have shape and spatial depth. They can work together
too. Besides tone,
you know, and color. You won't see the same colors in the
foreground as the background, they'll change over time.
And I kind of look at it like, you know,
you know, if you can't be in two places at one time, neither
can color, it's kind of the easiest way to think about it.
So if you got a red on your brush and it goes on a sign on
the foreground, you not going to use that same red in the
background. Even if there's another sign down the road, a
little ways, you're not going to use the same red, you're
going to mix another red because they don't exist in two
places in space. So you just want to make sure that you're
you're staying true to that and play those things out. So that
can that translates. All this stuff really translates to
painting pretty easily a lot of it. Anything that doesn't have
to rely on cutting and any temporal thing where you deal
with time and cutting and that kind of stuff. You can still
use all this imagery and changing of imagery for to help
build subtext in your paintings as well. You know, not just a
film but you know, in paintings, still paintings and stuff as
well. You can give all kinds of information, you know, that you
So unless you sit down and use it, you don't really grab onto
it, you gotta sit down and use it and kind of play it out.
It's really as easy as taking a little idea and then just
dueling it out. Dueling out the concept, you know, I mean go
over to Starbucks or something and go sit and draw people who
draw anything or go someplace and sit and drop. But then take
an idea and say okay what would happen if you did this and you
modify it, what happened if you do this and modify, what would
happen to be this, modify it and when you see them together kind
of you see like these things when you see three of them
together it's like oh yeah one is flatter, one has spatial
depth, but it's different than that spatial depth you know, so
you can play things different ways and yeah it sounds like
there's a lot. A lot and a lot and a lot and there is but it's
also relative that the best thing to do is just take any of
the ideas and just draw it, you know, and then change it and
draw it and change it and draw and change it and draw it. And
then the crazy thing is, then you own it, then, when
something comes up, it's like, oh gosh, you know what you
could do this, you could do this, you could do this, you
have all the options, you have all these opportunities, you
know that kind of come up from from just exploring, just, just
trying trying a few of these things at a time.
Transcription not available.
Reference Images (12)
Reference Files (1)
Free to try
1. Learning Recommendation24sNow playing...
1. Developing Subtext in Storytelling17m 36sNow playing...
Watch the whole lesson with a subscription
2. How Framing Changes the Subtext18m 55s
3. Storytelling Through Framing18m 47s
4. Analysis of The Natural15m 42s
5. Dominant and Subordinate Elements in the Picture Frame31m 51s