It is recognised that it is often difficult to separate micro and macro features
film, although macro features – narrative and genre – will be the basis for
The unit encourages candidates to develop an awareness of their active role
as spectators in working with the way the micro features of film construct
meanings and contribute to the sensory impact of film. The extent to which
responses derive from the micro features of film and the extent to which they
derive from personal and/or cultural identity will begin to be explored.
This unit also encourages candidates to develop their analytical and creative
skills, reflecting their growing understanding and appreciation of the micro
features of film and the ways in which these can be deployed in order to
create meaning and produce response.
(a) An analysis of a film extract -1500 words (30 marks)
Candidates are required to explore how one or more of mise-en-scène,
performance, cinematography, editing, and sound construct meaning and
provoke response in a film extract.
• Candidates are encouraged to support their work with illustrative
• Recommended length of extract: approximately 3-5 minutes
(depending on the complexity of the extract).
An approach in which a whole class studies the same extract is not permitted.
(b) Creative Project: aims & context, film sequence or short film and reflective
analysis (50 marks)
Candidates are required to create a film sequence or a complete short film
that demonstrates how the micro features of film construct meaning. This
comprises three elements:
(i) Aims and context
A clarification of the aims and context of the sequence or short film to
be completed on the appropriate cover sheet.
Please note: the 'Aims and Context' must be completed on the
appropriate cover sheet, otherwise the Creative Project and
accompanying Reflective Analysis cannot be adequately assessed.
(ii) Film Sequence or Short Film
The film sequence may either be an extract from longer film or a
complete short film, with the emphasis on visual communication rather
than on dialogue.
In the case of Mrs Symons’ class it will take the following form:
• a photographed (digital or photo-chemical) storyboard of
between 20 and 25 different shots (some of which may be
repeated) plus up to 5 found shots (shots which would be difficult to photograph
or where locations need to be established).
The 5 found shots must be acknowledged.
(iii) Reflective analysis approximately 750words or equivalent
The reflective analysis should select key micro features of the
sequence and demonstrate how they make meaning(s) and aim to
provoke response(s) in audiences.
The analysis must be presented:
• as a continuous piece of writing, with or without illustrative
You already have a template to help you with layout and presentation of your storyboard,this
should be stuck to.
Further storyboard tips and ideas.
Before beginning your photography for your storyboard you must decide which of the
three aspect ratios you will be presenting your work within. Here is a diagram which
illustrates the various classic formats or ratios.
Many cameras can be set to a 16 by 9 capture ratio. This is useful because it helps
you to see within that capture ratio.
Most photo editing software can be set up to crop to any given ratio.
A candidate’s failure to decide on and stick by a precise ratio will appear to the
Examiner as a very real failure of research and obvious absence of cinema knowledge.
You must all learn to think within the frame.
The general elegance and tidiness shown in the presentation of the task is most important.
The legibility and appropriateness of your typeface will affect the Examiner’s response
as will the quality of your photographic presentations and ,of course, your ideas.
Scruffy, badly printed, grungy work will impress nobody.
Candidates must aspire to the very highest standards of visual and typographic presentation.
While FILM IS PRIMARILY ABOUT THE VISUAL it is not the whole story as sound is also
vitally important. It is a great rarity to encounter films which offer lengthy periods
of absolute silence.In life diegetic sound is always present so your storyboard should
Over the years cinema has developed a large number of technical terms; terms which
describe, among other things, camera movement, transition styles and sound design.
While one would not expect a film studies student to absorb all these technical terms
in the first weeks of the course it is, nonetheless, essential that a film studies
student should start to build a useful technical vocabulary to aid him/her in the
analysis of film.
The Yale film analysis site is an excellent place to start in that it offers a comprehensive
overview of most of the technical terms currently in use as well as providing illustration
of how these terms are employed.
Mrs Symons, out of the goodness of her heart, has designed a test which will help
you check out your knowledge and understanding of these terms.
This test will be administered in class and serious students should expect to score
at least 80%. All students will want to score 100%.....Students scoring under 50%
will then be painfully aware that they have a half baked, inadequate, and incomplete
knowledge of the essential language of cinema.
Notice that Josh’s story board does not suggest musical possibilities or other possible
These might be expressed as
Powerful orchestral music suggesting increasing menace menace or actual titles like,
Lead in and lead out to Dire Straits’ ”Private Investigations”
Diegetic Sound might be expressed as:
Throughout this scene the relentless sound of rain is heard as well as distant urban
sounds,traffic, even police sirens..the swish of tyres on water and the sound of
the shell case are important but the visceral crack of gunfire must be prominent
in the sound track with plenty of reverb to suggest the alley’s acoustic.
While Josh uses arrows to suggest camera movement you should be more specific where
You might specify travelling shot or zoom into or jump cut to or as Heller crawls
away specify 20% slow motion to suggest his difficulty moving or 70% slomo when the
All josh’s transitions are cut and when there is no cut to let us know the scene
flows on he uses CONTD.
You can use abbreviations like ECU (extreme close up) or CU ( close up) to help the
examiner see the shot as you do.
Josh has some nice touches (the sort that tell the examiner he can SEE cinematically
and deserves marks.
The hub cap reflection shot is one such nice touch as is the falling shell case.
Josh uses 25 frames to tell his story, it is powerful and you just know it would
work on the screen.
Josh is a professional and an excellent graphic artist but really you could, with
a little help from mates, shoot this as a photographic sequence in under four hours....a
further 10 to 15 hours with photo soft ware should get you an excellent first draft.
Serif Page Plus would be the ideal software package to finalise after processing
for that look in Adobe Elements.
For further help with technical terms click film glossary below
Close-up/extreme close-up (CU/ECU) The subject framed by the camera fills the screen.
Connotation can be of intimacy, of having access to the
mind or thought processes (including the subconscious) of the character.
These shots can be used to stress the importance of a particular character
at a particular moment in a film or place her or him as central to the
narrative by singling out the character in CU at the beginning of the film. It can
signify the star exclusively (as in many Hollywood productions of the
1930s and 1940s). CUs can also be used on objects and parts of the body other than
the face. In this instance they can designate imminent action (a
hand picking up a knife, for example), and thereby create suspense. Or they can signify
that an object will have an important role to play in the
development of the narrative. Often these shots have a symbolic value, usually due
to their recurrence during the film. How and where they recur is revealing not only
of their importance but also of the direction or meaning
of the narrative.
MEDIUM CLOSE UP
Medium close-up (MCU) Close-up of one or two (sometimes three)
characters, generally framing the shoulders or chest and the head. The
term can also be used when the camera frames the character(s) from the waist up (or
down), provided the character is right to the forefront and fills the frame, (otherwise
this type of of shot is a medium shot).
EXTREME CLOSE UP
A shot in which the subject is much larger than the frame. Provides more detail than
a close-up. The abbreviation is often used in a slug line.
Medium shot (MS) Generally speaking, this shot frames a character from the waist,
hips or knees up (or down). The camera is sufficiently distanced from the body for
the character to be seen in relation to her or his surroundings (in an apartment,
for example).Typically, characters will occupy half to two-thirds of the frame. This
shot is very commonly used in indoor sequences allowing for a visual signification
of relationships between characters. Compare a two-shot MS and a series of separate
one-shots in MS of two people. The former suggests intimacy,
the latter distance. The former shot could change in meaning to one of distance,
however, if the two characters were separated by an object (a pillar, table or telephone,
for example). Visually this shot is more complex, more open in terms of its readability
than the preceeding ones. The characters can be observed in relation to different
middle ground and foreground, and it is the inter-relatedness of these planes which
also serves to produce a meaning.
Medium long shot (MLS) Halfway between a long and a medium shot. If this shot frames
a character then the whole body will be in view towards the
middle ground of the shot. A quite open shot in terms of readability,
showing considerably more of the surroundings in relation to thecharacter(s).
Long shot (LS) Subject or characters are at some distance from the
camera; they are seen in full within their surrounding environment.
EXTREME WIDE SHOT
Extreme long shot (ELS) The subject or characters are very much to the background
of the shot. Surroundings now have as much if not more
importance, especially if the shot is in high-angle.
directed by the camera
North by Northwest - 3.crop duster sequence
A very interesting sequence which repays study,Hitchcock’s use of wide shots,medium
close ups and travelling shots is exemplary.
It might be interesting to time the duration of individual shots and work out why
some are held so long.....timings for each shot are some thing you should work out
for your storyboards too. If you get timings right it tells the examiner you understand
pace and rhythm.
North by Northwest - .tunnnel sequence
Sound bridge,time jump and symbolic cutaway....
Storyboards from last year.
This is interesting work employing a touch of magic realism to a rather quirky narrative.
The academy aspect ratio is fine though 16,9 is useful with two characters. What
the sequence lacks is reaction shots and it probably need a close up on the book.
The photography is strong. Sadly these images are copies of copies. The shots are
crisply presented and the thorough explanations and cinematic detail underneath keep
the examiner aware just how the sequence is to be filmed.
The sequence below was quite charming and full of lovely ideas and demonstrated to
the examiner that the candidate could manage narrative and construct mise en scene
in an attractive manner. The alien was as cute as you could wish. However the failure
to pay any attention to aspect ratio and the inability to get the images squarely
on the page is a tad sloppy. Too many candidates from last year forgot about aspect
ratio when they were at the photographic stage, and all were left wishing that they
had taken more shots from more angles.
Non diegetic sound: ................................................................
Shot duration: ..........................
Test of Imagination.
Below are a series of photographs, your task is to construct them into a story board
narrative. Your story board can be the opening of a film or a section within the
film. It is always easier to write the story board for the opening of a film as you
have no back story to concern you and your task is clear you have a (genre?) narrative
to begin as well as a deal of establishing work like character and situation as well
as tone and mood. Music will be important as will dialogue,voiceover (perhaps?) and
captions? You are only limited by your imagination.
The Board’s Advice
There are plenty of good web based resources, and good professional examples of storyboards.
But students really need to look at films and list the shots used in a15 shot sequence.
This is useful as students often assume they know how to construct a film storyboard
sequence but do not include the range or number of shots that a real film would.
Students also think that every shot has to be massively different from the last,
rather than the more subtle shot changes that real films include.
Students should be aiming to cover as many different shot types as possible in their
15 frames as the task is ultimately about showing their knowledge of film storytelling
(not artistic ability).
This works best when candidates focus on a pivotal scene rather than a conversation
between two characters which relies heavily on shot-reverse-shot.
There are also plenty of templates available online for students to use. They should
be encouraged to use wider frame ratios as some templates use 4:3 which is more suited
The most important features of a storyboard for showing their knowledge of film storytelling
are the technical directions and instructions on how the storyboard would translate
to the screen.
Storyboards should include the following:
Shot Duration (make sure this is realistic)
Camera Distance (is this an accurate description of the shot?)
Camera Angle (is this correctly labeled?)
Sound Effects (has this been carefully considered? – Films are very rarely completely
One good way of getting students to assess the quality of their storyboards (and
to see if they make sense) is to transfer the images onto PowerPoint slides and get
the student to present them to the group
This will highlight any problems with the sequencing of shots and is a good way of
gathering information for the self reflection.
You Tube www.youtube.comprovides plenty of examples of storyboa storyboards from
professionals as well as the occasional storyboard from films students will be familiar
The WJEC have been concerned about the quality of candidate storyboards finding some
candidates still drawing their storyboards rather than submitting appropriately cropped
photographic images. The cinematic ratio is also one of their concerns as is candidates’
failure to exhibit a proper understanding of TIME in the cinema. Their advice below
is “spot on” as well as being highly valuable in terms of mark generation.
PLACE and TIME……………………………………………..
CAMERA ANGLE …………………………… …………...
SOUND Non Diegetic….............................................................