BEWARE! This video is EVIL — How to Build Suspense with Shot Composition
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BEWARE! This video is EVIL — How to Build Suspense with Shot Composition

October 10, 2019


You’ve written a
suspenseful horror film. Now, it’s time to decide how to turn your scary words into a scary scene. Editing and sound design are often employed to create effective suspense. But shot composition can help draw the audience in and intensify the moment. ♪ ♪ Simply put. Shot composition is deciding what objects place in
front of the camera and how to arrange them. And there is one simple rule every filmmaker should remember when composing your frames. Size Matters. The idea of size applies to any genre. But it is particularly effective when creating a
building suspense. You can give objects
power and meaning by framing them large. Or you can strip them
of that same power by minimizing them in the image. Every shot in your film is an opportunity to use tools, like shot composition, to give depth and
meaning to your ideas, characters and story. We’re going to use StudioBinder`s
production software to build the scene
from “The Ring.” Before we jump into
our shot list example, make sure to subscribe below and click the bell icon
to stay in the loop. Let’s jump in. Let’s examine a
scene from “The Ring” and discuss how shot composition can ramp up the tension. “- Have you heard
about this videotape that kills you
when you watch it? – What kind of tape? – A tape. A regular tape. And as soon as it’s over your phone rings. You will die in 7 days. – I’ve watched it. – Oh my God,
Kitty are you okay?” When the phone rings the stage is set for our
first white-knuckle sequence of the movie. Notice the size of the phone versus Katie’s body
in the background. The size of the object
within the frame is directly related to how
important that object is. Katie is at the mercy of whatever may be on the
other end of the phone, and this idea is echoed
in the composition. “This is so lame. Embry residence.” Televisions and telephones aren’t just innocuous
electronics. “Bye, Mom.” They are deadly. The size of the television is somehow larger than her, and the threat grows nearer. But let’s also look at
the opposite effect. When you want your character
to be powerless and vulnerable. “Becca, can you hear me?” In this shot, Katie is overwhelmed by
the empty space around her and isolated. The high angle of this shot further diminishes
Katie and her control. She is defenseless. In this next shot, Katie size in the frame
is the smallest, yet. A mysterious puddle
forming outside her door looms large in the foreground. Katie once again is presented smaller
than the threat. Use StudioBinder when you
shot list and storyboard when you want your
character to be powerless. ♪ ♪ Just before Katie
opens the door, we pause on the doorknob. A very big doorknob. For Katie, this is life or death. This sequence is important to hooking the audience
into the rest of the story. It is powerful, all because of the
shot composition. Let’s review. Size can be a very useful tool when designing your shots
in a suspense sequence. Legitimize your threat with a large physical
representation in the frame. Diminish your protagonist when they are most vulnerable. What are your favorite
suspenseful moments? How did the director
use shot composition to amplify the tension? Tell us in the comments. Does your project open with
a terrifying set piece? If so,
you’ll want to flesh it out when you shot list
and storyboard. Check the description to
sign up for StudioBinder. It’s free to get started. You have seven
days to subscribe. And follow us on our
Instagram page or Samara might follow you. ♪ ♪

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  1. https://youtu.be/exiER1tPaAE

    Do watch our short film titled as "IRU NIZHALGAL"(Two Shades). It's a thriller based short film. Drop your honest reviews/comments after watching it and share this with your family and friends.

  2. The timing is perfect! The short film I'm working on now is a horror film and I'm storyboarding it as I type this!
    Go watch my last film @ https://youtu.be/GCt3Y4BR7WY

  3. Robots will often hold users in suspense while loading programs or during large updates, but we cannot be held in suspense. Great Video!

  4. Now I know how to make a scene where the protagonist has the upper hand against the antagonist(s). Thanks, Studiobinder.

  5. You give always bring to light things that I've overlooked while watching a movie and things that I need to take into consideration while creating one. I love this channel.

  6. The size matters. Yes. (No pun intendet). What about the movie "light out". Because especially the scene with the lightswitch is not creepy at all in the feature but still creeps me out in the shortfilm. If you look at the sizes there in comparison, you´ll be surprised.

  7. Good information on composition. Relative size of the subject in the frame compared to other objects in the frame.

  8. Only found these videos a few weeks back, they’re great analyses. And also, I could listen to the narrator all day. Great work

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