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Cinematic Storytelling

California College of the Arts via Kadenze


This course is an introduction to the methods of cinematic storytelling, with an emphasis on visual grammar and techniques, taught by CCA Instructor and seasoned veteran of Lucasfilm and Pixar, Craig Good. Students will learn story structure, and how to develop written or spoken ideas into a clear dramatic narrative arc, and how to edit and juxtapose images to create a clear and emotionally engaging result for live action film and animation. They will also learn how collaboration and the ability to show work in progress, giving and getting notes from peers, makes everybody’s work better.


Session 1: We Are A Story - Intro 
Stories are a part of us. We’ll cover story structure, including the classic 3 acts. A movie is more like a symphony than a painting. A cinematic story has one job: Convey emotions. The technical term for a movie that fails is boring. The hardest part of making movies: Getting and giving feedback, or notes. Do it early. Do it often. Get lots of eyes on the screen. Cinema is writing, but with a different grammar. Guiding the viewer’s eye. Let’s learn to see movies in a new way. If you don’t like watching them, you won’t like making them. Session 2: The Elements Of Visual Storytelling 
Contrast and affinity Bruce Block’s basic elements of visual language, including: Line, color, shape Space (deep/flat) and perspective Rhythm, intensity Session 3: Perspective-Based Composition 
Composition is more than where things are in screen space, but where the camera is in world space Camera myths Depth cues Rule of Thirds Always ask: Why is the camera here, now, running, and pointed this direction? Session 4: Staging For Clarity, Lighting For Effect 
Stage line (180º rule): Establishing and moving the line Hitchcock rule Camera grammar: Camera angles and shot types. The uses of camera motion. Move the camera because you should, not because you can. Make it understandable even with no words. Light, shadow, specularity, falloff Session 5: Montage 
Editing: Where movies get made. Eye hookups (affinity of motion). Cutting for emotion. Make movies for yourself, not an audience. The rule of rules: Break any rule as long as you understand it. Review and conclusion  

Taught by

Craig Good


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