Mise-en-scene powerpoint

Mise En Scene
The stage pictures of the film world
Analyzing Scenes
 We have spent quite a bit of time this year analyzing
scenes in theatre. We have looked closely at blocking
and movement, we have discussed set, costumes and
props, and of course characters and characterization
 In the world of film, similar ideas are taken into
 “Mise-en-scene” is a term for this type of scene
 originally a French theatrical term, meaning “placing on
 For the student of film, a useful definition might be: ‘the
contents of the frame and the way they are organised’.
 Mise-en-scene, then, is the manipulation of staging and
action within a shot during the filming,
So, what do directors need to
take into account when
staging a shot?
 … lighting, costume, decor, properties, and the actors
 … framing, camera movement, the particular lens
employed and other photographic decisions.
 Mise-en-scene therefore encompasses both what the
audience can see, and the way that we are invited to
see it.
Mise-en-scene is the process
of visualizing all aspects of a
 I think that one of the biggest problems that we have in our
business is the inability of people to visualize. Imagine a
composer sitting down with a blank music sheet in front of
him, and a full orchestra. “Flute, give me a note if you
please. Yes, thank you very much,” and he writes it down.
It’s the same thing, but a man can compose music directly
on paper and what’s the result? It comes out as gorgeous
sounds. The visual, to me, is a vital element in this work. I
don’t think it is studied enough.
 --director Alfred Hitchcock, Directing the Film
Systemic Mise-en-scene
 In a step-by-step Mise-en-scene analysis of a scene,
what specific questions should be asked?
Shot and camera proxemics
 What type of shot is it?
 Extreme close-up/close-up/medium
close/medium/medium long shot/long shot?
 Where does this direct our focus?
 How far way from the action is the camera?
 In the scene from Psycho, most of the action is a
medium close-up, as Hitchcock emphasizes the small
space of the shower (and avoids showing any nudity)
 Are we looking up or down on the subject, or is the camera
neutral (eye-level)?
 High Angle ”looks” down on the subject
 Low Angle “looks” up at the subject
 Flat Angle the camera is at eye level and on the same
plane as the subject
 In the Psycho scene, most of the scene is shot at a flat
angle, placing us in the scene with the victic and the killer.
However, the shots of the shower heard are from a low
angle, again putting us into the victim’s shoes to increase
 How do these distort or comment on the photographed
 For example, in this image an amber filter on the
camera makes the entire scene look like it is lit by the
orange glow of candles, even though in reality the
scene would have been filmed in a reasonably well lit
Lens/Filter/Stock cont’d
 Directors will often play with different camera lenses,
filters, or stock (types of film) to achieve a certain look.
 In The O.C., one of the greatest T.V. shows of all time,
every time the characters visit the grungy, poor
neighbourhood called Chino, a dirty, grainy lens was
placed on the camera in order to make Chino seem
rougher and poorer than the nearby rich Orange
Lighting Style
 High or low key? High contrast? Some combination of
 high key lighting: bright, even illumination and few
conspicuous shadows; comparatively little contrast between
the light and dark areas of the shot--used most often in
comedies or musicals
 low key lighting: emphasizes diffused shadows and
atmospheric pools of light; there is a strong contrast
between light and dark areas of the shot--used often in
atmospheric thrillers, horror or noir
 high contrast: harsh shafts of light and dramatic streaks of
High Key Lighting
Low-key lighting
Use of high contrast to
heighten drama
 What is dominant in the scene? Where does our eye
travel first?
 Why does our eye travel to the dominant area first? Is it
use of light? Placement on the screen? Camera angle?
Motion? Intrinsic interest (that is, what is happening in
the story)?
 This concept is very similar to focus in stage pictures
Composition Continued
 What are the subsidiary contrasts to the dominant
 That is, where does our eye travel after we have taken
in the dominant image? Why?
Density and Depth
 How dense is the texture of the mise-en-scene? How
many different stimuli do we take in at once, and how
are these significant?
 Is the background to the scene important or symbolic?
 Is the emptiness of the scene important or symbolic?
 On how many planes is the image composed? Does
the background or foreground comment in any way on
the midground?
 “the amount of open space within the territory of the frame”
 tightly framed: a close shot--often suggests entrapment or
 loosely framed or wide framed: a long shot—often suggests
 internal framing: the suggestion of entrapment by using a neutral
object (such as a doorway or window frame) to symbolically
“confine” a figure
 Do the characters have no room to move around in, or can they
move freely without impediments?
 What does this suggest about the characters or their situation?
How does it make the audience feel?
Tight Frame
Wide Frame
Stage Positions and
Characters Proxemics
 Staging positions Which way do the characters look
vis-à-vis the camera?
 Character proxemics. How much space is there
between the characters and objects?
 What does this suggest about the focus of each
character? What does this suggest about the
relationship between characters, and about their
 And of course, it goes almost without saying that the
director must take into account the actors
 How do they look, what are there costumes, what is
their makeup, how do they say it
 Etc.
 Etc.
 Etc.
 For hours and hours and hours. Shot after shot after
And anything else the director
wants …
 As you can see, directors must take into account an
overwhelming number of factors when planning each
scene – and indeed, each shot
 You would be amazed how much time can be lost of a
film set to these sorts of issues
 Anyone working in film – including actors – requires
and understanding of the importance of these elements
to successful filmmaking
The O.C.
 The O.C. is the best
 Therefore, we are going to watch the pilot episode and
stop in several places to consider elements of Mise-enscene
 Then, I will give you your next assignment. Which, you
guessed it, will be a Mise-en-scene analysis of a scene
of your choice.

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