Creating a film doesn’t just mean worrying about production details, it’s also about aesthetics and how you arrange the visuals in your scene. Although you might have a strong inkling on how you want the end shot to look like or can even picture how the scene will look, the visuals or mise-en-scene created can only be fully appreciated once you see your film – in post-production, edited and ready to go.
Of course, there are ways to ensure the film visuals come together whether you’re doing this independently as a filmmaker or if you’re leading a video production company or team behind you. Here are some concepts to keep in mind.
The first thing that creates gorgeous visuals is the setting of your scene. This means the physical space where everything unfolds. Where you place your characters tells a lot about the scene. It’s also ideal for communicating the mood of your character. Sometimes it can be subtle, like a scene in the character’s bedroom. If it’s messy, it can show your character’s state of mind or life. If it’s spotless and organized to an impeccable degree, it could communicate why your character acts the way he or she does.
The lighting is another key component that contributes to the visuals. Carrying a particular lighting style throughout the scene lets you communicate your film’s overall look and style. Imagine hearing the word “Gotham City” and you immediately think a dark, brooding city. The genre of your film can also be impacted or heightened by using lighting. Think film noir or horror films, then you would want darker, moody lighting. Meanwhile, if it’s a comedy or a happy, family scene, then bright lights with brilliant colors often heightens the visuals.
Depth and Focus
Depth of a scene is another key concept. Like an artist thinks about composition and arrangement, as a filmmaker, you should also place attention to these key visual elements. It was only in 1941 when deep focus became possible with cameras and lenses. When used right, deep focus can give your scenes and visuals an extra sense of punch.
Décor, Color and Makeup
Costumes and makeup provide an external complement to a film scene. Sometimes, the internal world of your character can be vividly portrayed using external makeup or costume. Think about how Darren Aronofsky used makeup to depict the inner turmoil of Natalie Portman’s ballerina character. The more she spiraled into her obsession and began losing her mind, the more vivid the makeup she wore on her face. With the makeup, the audience can clearly see this inner/mental transformation played out in the physical.
Color is another factor to consider. Think about Pan’s Labyrinth and how director Guillermo del Toro masterfully separated the different worlds the stories revolved in. You get the harsh, bluish and cold world of the adults while the Faun’s world brings on earthly greens to echo nature. Meanwhile, the underground realm depicts reds and oranges, signifying refuge but also bloodshed.
A film’s visual theme is incredibly crucial if you want to fully succeed in communicating your story effectively. Whether you’re working as a filmmaker, director, editor, producer or even just a film lover running your own production company, the consistency of a film’s visual theme is what makes it extra special. Hence, keeping this concepts in mind is truly good practice.