Friday, 23 October 2009

Visual Langauge: Scene and Shot Analysis

For Visual Language I was set the task of analysing shot types from a segment (roughly a minute or two) from a scene of a film, tv show, animation or cut-scene from a video game and annotating what effects they can have on the scene. I choose to look at the 1984 film "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom", I'll be analysing Scene 2 "Club Obi Wan" in this scene, the titular character, Indiana Jones confronts crime lord Lao Che over a sour business deal. My analysis is from "2:48" to "3:50".

A mid shot of 5 gentlemen around a table within the restaurant, three are sat down applausing the performance that has just taken place whilst two are standing, the standing pair seem to be bodyguards. The camera slowly zooms in on the the centre figure sitting at the table. This shot establishes that the scene will include these characters specifically and that the centre figure that the camera focused on is more a pivotal character than the others in this scene.

(Lao Che and his men enjoy the perfomance.)

The camera angles changes to a wide shot of the restaurant. The Dancers run through the tables towards the direction of the camera, the words "Shanghai, 1935" appear on screen as the camera pans in the same direction that the dancers are heading. This shot is used to show the scale of the restuarant.

The camera stops at a set of stairs where a man in white clothing decends the stairs, only his feet and lower body are shown at first (this suggests a mid close-up). The camera pans back in the direction of the restuarant and back into a wide shot as it does so more of the figure is shown. He stops at the bottom of the stairs and a passing waiter stops and says cautiously "Be careful." This shot suggests that this figure has some business with the men sitting at the table. The panning of the shot and calm movements of the character suggest a slightly tense atmosphere.

The camera stays static as the figure walks towards the tables set out in the restaurant. This shows that the man is dressed in a white tuxedo, again his slow movements can suggest either a calm or tense atmosphere.

A Mid-close up of Lao Che (the man at the centre of the table). His face is face is a little unnerved as he pulls his hands away from applausing. The Mid-close up allows us to see the characters expression clearly whilst still showing it in context of the set.

Over the shoulder shot (from Lao Che's Point of View) of the figure seen at the stairs sitting down, it is revealed that the character is Indiana. His face is calm as he speaks in Chinese to Lao Che. The whole purpose of this shot was to reveal the main character, but this method is very subtle helping to build the atmosphere of unease between the two parties.

(Indiana Confronts Lao Che.)

Camera changes to an over the shoulder shot (from Indiana's P.O.V.) The three men seem a little shaken at Indiana's calm presense. Lao Che speaks calmly "You never said you spoke my language, Dr. Jones." This back and forth helps establish a conversation between the two parties.

Back to over the shoulder shot (Lao Che's P.O.V.). Indiana leans back in his chair as the two bodyguards walk over and begin to search him for any concealed weapons. "Only on special occasions." Indiana replies. Again this shows events within the conversation from a characters point of view.

A close up of Lao Che, the background is out of focus. Lao Che leans in and says "So it's true, you've found Nurhachi". By leaning in the character creates a sense of foreboding this is intensified by the close up.

Over the shoulder shot (from Lao Che's P.O.V.) this time most of Lao Che's head takes up the shot. Indy is staring back with a slight smirk, "You know I did, last night one of your boys tried to get Nurhachi without paying for him." With Lao Che's head taking up most of the shot the sense of foreboding carries over.

Over the shoulder shot (from Indiana's P.O.V.) The three men stare back, still looking uneased. Lao Che is still leaning in as a waiter comes over to pour a drink. This shot is used to show the reactions of the three men.

Close up of a bandaged hand belonging to the man of the far right (Lao Che's Son, Kao Kan). The camera pans up as the arm moves to where the man clutches at his injured hand, the camera continues to pan up to the character's face. His face is tense and he seems hostile towards the main character. This shot is used to show the results of a previous encounter between characters and the atmosphere is tense.

(Kao Kan's hand is injured from a previous encounter with Indiana.)

Three shot of Lao Che, Kao Kan and Chen. The waiter has finished pouring the drink as Kao Kan is still clutching his hand. Lao Che remarks "You've insulted my son." This shot help builds the hostility between the two parties and enforces the concept that Indiana is out numbered.

Over the shoulder shot of Indiana (from Lao Che's P.O.V.) he looks over at Kao Kan and replies "No, You've insulted me." This shot shows that Indiana is still calm and collected but that there is still tension in the air as Lao Che is still in the shot.

Close up of Kao Kan as he moves his hand out of shot. He still as a look of anger on his face due to Indiana's calm demeaner. This shot is to show Kao Kan's reaction to the main character's confident retort.

A return to an over the shoulder shot of Indiana (again from Lao Che's P.O.V.). He calmly looks back at Lao Che and says "I spared his life." This shot just renforces the hostile conversation.

A three shot of the men around the table, Chen stands up in outrage as he bangs his hand on the table. As he does Willie Scott, the lead singer from the performance (a Mandarin rendition of "Anything Goes") comes over to the table and places her hands around Lao Che, "Arn't you going to introduce us?" She looks towards Indiana. This shot is to show the outburst of Chen and to also introduce Willie Scott as a main character, showing her with the antagonists of the scene present her alliance with them.

(Willie Scott comes over to try calm the gentlemen.)
A medium close up of Indiana, he looks up at Willie out of interest, his hands are together on the table. This shot shows Indiana taking interest in the new character and a mid shot allows us to clearly see the expression on his face when he does so.

Returns to the three shot, now a four shot of the "business associates" and Willie Scott, Lao Che signals for Chen to sit down as the singer begins to stand up straight. Lao Che then calmly lifts his hand to introduce the woman to Indiana. "This is Willie Scott. This is Indiana Jones, a famous archaeologist." This shot is used to show that the three men are trying to keep their calm and remain civilised within the restaurant, it's also to show the meeting of main characters whilst keeping the theme of "back and forth" or a conversation.

This 1 minute segment has many different camera shot changes and it just shows how much work goes into a single scene. The main focus of this scene was subtlely hostile conversation and negoatiations of the two parties (Lao Che and Indiana Jones), due to the main focus being on conversation the shot type that was used the most the Over the Shoulder shot, it was also the actors though who helped build an air of tension between the two thus making it very believable that this is more of a confrontation/conclusion to a prior event.

The fact remains that so much thought was put into to presenting the narrative in the best possible way to translate the emotion and mood of the scene.

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