Framing Psychology – How Composing a Shot Affects Your Story

As a filmmaker, you have sole responsibility of communicating your story to your audience. From sound, dialogue and acting, you need to pay careful attention that every single scene works to tell your overall story. But there’s one other crucial way you can communicate certain emotions and drama throughout your film – that’s by composing your shot.

Framing Tells Your Story

Framing is everything in a film. It’s your primary visual cue to your viewers, and in fact, everything within the frame should communicate your story and propel it forward. Aesthetics are important but as a filmmaker, you also need to be concerned with the message you want to communicate.

If you’re new to this, you might want to brush up on the basics of a frame and find out the differences and possible results you get when shooting a scene wide, medium or in close up.

Close Up Shot

Close-up shots are the most compelling and create a unique emotional reaction from your audience. In a close up, the subject is often the only thing in the frame. Usually, the subject is a face, and the audience is forced in a way to look and stare. There’s also another variation of this, the extreme close up. Usually this is highly stylized and often depicts an object like a gun or other item crucial to the scene or story.

Medium Shot

The medium shot is often good for action scenes. You can easily show your characters as well as what’s happening in the scene while also giving it an intimate feel. The medium and medium close up are also usually seen in interviews, documentaries and talking shows.

Wide Shot

Finally, a wide shot gives you an overview of the scene. Typically, it can be used to show where the main character is, emotionally or physically. They also create an expansive view of the location, and depending on how it’s done, can also deal a good amount of drama to the scene.

At its most basic, you have to remember that the size of the element in the scene conveys its importance. The more space they occupy in the frame means they are more important and this also communicates a higher energy towards the audience.