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Introduction to film grammar

Film grammar combines elements like framing, staging, camera motion, and editing to create engaging stories. By adjusting these elements, filmmakers convey meaning and emotion, making scenes more relatable and impactful. Mastering film grammar helps storytellers craft their unique narratives and connect with audiences on a deeper level.

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Video transcript

- Today, we'll be discussing grammar, the system and structure of language. English grammar includes different elements. - This is really boring. - Yeah, isn't this supposed to be about film grammar? - Yeah, let's see if we can do something about this. - We put these together to communicate ideas. - Excuse me, let's start again. Just like written grammar, film grammar is put together with different elements that help us to communicate. - And like written grammar, where we string a bunch of words together in a sentence to express an idea, in film grammar, we string a bunch of shots together in a sequence to tell a story. - We use these elements to convey meaning and emotion because film is an emotional medium. - I bet we could use film grammar to make this lesson connect more emotionally. - Let's do it. - Okay, we're gonna try something different. First, let's change the camera position and framing to convey the students' point of view. - [Robert] Then, let's stage the shots a little differently so the teacher interacts directly with the student. - And let's add motion so that the camera is responding to the teacher. - [Robert] Let's edit it and see how it cuts together. - Film grammar. So the grammar, these are the words that we use to tell the story. This is film grammar. Excuse me, got your attention now, eh? - Oh gee, film grammar. (laughing) - Wow, how'd you make it so much better? - Well, let me show ya. First we changed the framing, which part of the scene you see through the camera's lens and from what perspective. - [Robert] And we changed the staging, the positions of the characters in the classroom and where the action occurs. - [Rosana] In this case, staging increases the drama between the characters. We also changed the camera motion, how the camera moves in relation to the characters and the action. - [Robert] Then we edit. We string the shots together. We adjust the order, timing. We add music and sound effects. - Once you understand the elements of film grammar, you can use them to tell your own story. - Let's show 'em how we do it at Pixar. Even a classroom scene can feel totally different depending on the choices we make. - For instance, the framing of this scene from Inside Out starts at a high angle, which helps express how small and nervous Riley feels on her first day of school. - [Robert] And here in Wall-E, the staging of this class shows a world where the screen is more important than the teacher. - [Rosana] In Finding Nemo, we used camera motion to convey Nemo's point of view as he travels through his outdoor classroom. And, in The Incredibles, the classroom is presented as a scene within a scene. The editing here helps cast doubt on the teacher's state of mind. - [Robert] Right. Cutting to the shots of Helen and the principal really sell their confusion about the teacher's behavior. - Ooh, and there's this one from Monsters University. - Oh, Rosie, Rosie, I think we're gonna have to cut with all the examples, otherwise we'll never get to finish the film lesson. Are you okay? - Yeah, I just thought you'd look more authoritative in an upshot. - Nice, someone's been using their film grammar.