Shane Hurlbut on How Lenses Assist Storytelling: Part Two and Three

Shane Hurlbut explores the how lenses craft the story in parts 2 and 3 of his series on cinematography and story telling.


A favorite film of mine that I have only discussed in a camera motion post is Mr. 3000. When I first spoke with Director Charles Stone III about how we were going to tackle this film, we both discussed the vision of THE SHOW. This is an aspiration of every baseball player – to be in THE SHOW. Stan Ross was in the show with 3000 hits and was on his way to the Hall of Fame, only to have it ripped out from underneath him by having three hits taken away. Now he is coming back out of retirement to reclaim those three hits.

Lens Height Matters

How do we take an audience through the use of composition and lens choice to help assist a character’s arc? Charles and I wanted the audience to feel that when Stan Ross walked up to the plate for the first time that it was a no brainer. He was BACK. He was a great player and ready to reclaim those three hits. So we used wide lenses to make Stan seem larger than life, back on the stage, back in the spotlight, back in THE SHOW. We also chose a slightly lower angle on the camera so that he seemed big, a hero. This is a very small adjustment that you can do to make your characters have power. Just lowering that camera under their eye line is huge in a close up and then even lower in wider shots to give your character that hero status.

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Part 3:


“Camera Slight of Hand with Stan’s First Hit”

Once Stan Ross missed that first pitch on his first at bat, we use a wide shot on him again. We are tunnel vision, long lens voyeuristic cam all the way. But watch the camera transition to help assist Stan’s arc in his comeback attempt. When he hits the ball, we stay long lensed, but once he actually is safe, the camera starts down with him in the dirt, wide angle, background not so out of focus. As he stands up, we deliver a power angle; the hero is back.

Shane Hurlbut | Read the Full Article