What Is Cinematic Language And Its Elements?
Whenever we hear the word cinema, a picture of theatre comes to our mind. A place where we usually go to escape from reality for a while. But with digitalization and advanced technologies, we have brought the cinema to our home now.
Cinema might just be the source of entertainment for many of us, but sometimes the creation of even a single scene demands efforts, planning, creativity, a vision and hard work of hours, days or even months. So many factors work in the background to create a piece of content, and cinematic language is one of the most important factors of them.
What is Cinematic Language?
In simple terms, cinematic language is the mode of communication between your film and an audience. It is the art of telling a story visually on screen. Whatever you are watching on screen and can interpret is the cinematic language. The emotions you feel, the interior and location you appreciate, dialogues you keep repeating etc., are all part of a cinematic language only.
Cinematic Language in Screenplay:
Though the presentation of the film is the job of the director, the screenwriter plays an equally important role. A screenwriter tries to deliver the story so subtly that we don’t even get an idea when we get involved subconsciously in the film. Cinematic language is the core of any good screenplay.
A single object or character can deliver or change the whole meaning of a plot. Does it depend on how does a screenwriter characterizes the scene? What should the audience feel while watching that particular scene? It’s about conveying the exact message you want to convey and making your audience feel exactly what you want them to feel.
DIFFERENT ELEMENTS OF CINEMATIC LANGUAGE
Every language is bound with certain rules to follow. Though the cinematic language is mostly about the creativity of the people involved in making the films, there are some standard tricks, tips, factors and elements that can be kept in mind to understand the cinematic language better or even to write one of your own.
Delivering the correct message through your film is not an easy nut to crack. You need good planning and execution while choosing pictures, sound and editing them. Shots need to be joined in a way that they should maintain continuity. Some factors you can observe while watching your next film to understand how cinematic language is expressed.
Here are some tips you can follow to create a powerful cinematic language.
A camera plays an important role in delivering the right cinematic language. A film is shot by taking pictures and video clips. Different shot sizes express different meanings. You can use wide shots to show the setting, medium shots to show the character and setting, close-up shots to firmly show the expression and details on the face of the character and point of view shots to show what your character is looking at?
You can experiment with low and high camera angles. Place the camera in different places and check the results. Take some shots from close, some from some distance and check which one is expressing clearly what you are trying to show.
Subtle movements in shots add more life to them. You can use pan shots, tracking shots, trick shots creatively.
Lens and Focus
Different lenses and focus decide how sharp and clear your shot is going to be. You can use in-focus, out-of-focus, soft-focus, deep focus, shallow focus to make things more dramatic and to focus on important parts of the shot.
This is like outlining and setting the scene at the beginning only. It involves some very important factors that include deciding the location for the shooting, choosing the right color scheme, which is the prime factor in creating symbolism, placement of things, props, costume and makeup of actors etc.
Good lighting is required to shoot the scenes, but it does much more than that. Different lightings can set different moods from happy to sad to romantic to horror. You can use hard lightings for the spotlight or express sunny days while soft lightings show evenings and clouds.
Sound and Music
Music creates a strong impact in the mind of the audience and helps to deliver the story better. You can add different sound effects, voice-overs, dialogues, music tracks, narration etc., to make your cinematic language more impactful.
You need to pay good attention while editing your film. You should know how to play smoothly with cuts. Use rapid cutting to show action scenes. You can use slow cuttings to show suspense and drama. Each shot should be able to deliver something new to avoid monotony.
Actors should be able to reflect whatever is written in the screenplay through their facial expressions and body language. For example, if a scene demands an actor to be puzzled or shocked about something, it should be clearly expressed through his expression. Setting the right pace while delivering dialogues, the accent, pauses are also very important parts of cinematic language.
Watching good films and television ads are some of the most effective ways to learn more about cinematic language. You can watch movies like Parasite, Vertigo, The Godfather etc. Let your doubts flow like: How might that shot have been taken? Or What was the angle? What kind of lighting was it? Talk with fellow film enthusiasts and get their viewpoints as well. Observation, communication and practice are the best ways to understand and learn creative things like cinematic language.