Scale of the plans in the cinema

If a developer is not necessarily obliged to know how to manipulate a camera for the staging of a film, this does not mean that it does not need technical knowledge, on the contrary. The director delegates most of the tasks, it is more “manager” as running, but it needs to know with details what it calls the members of his teams.

Among the essential notions that a director should know, there are many on the plans and scale plans. It is one of the bases of the stage. Without this, it may not indicate precisely what he wants, and we can’t afford to have an amateur level. The professionalism also comes from the language and vocabulary. Thus, the developer will then be able to say to his team if he wants a wide shot or a medium shot for the filming of a sequence. The technical team will then prepare all items according to the expectations of the director. Without this, not the least the beginning of staging.

With Becoming a Filmmaker, our goal is to provide you all the keys to succeed in you professionalize a maximum, and acquire the basics of becoming a film director. This goes of course for the learning of concept, and here we focus on the scale of the plans. But before all things, what is a plan ?

The plan is the piece of film between two splices. Before this, it is mostly a choice of the filmmaker during the shooting, to determine what visual information, and/or psychological-he wishes to give to the spectators. The scale of the plans is part of basic techniques that every filmmaker needs to know. It is essential to know what size to give to the characters, the objects and the elements of the decor, how much to grant to the subjects relative to the frame, and especially what effect this will create. In effect, a plan is a choice, and any choice of staging must create something, have a meaning. Before looking at the camera movements, the director must be aware of the different values of the frame and the scale of the plans.

The scale of the plans

There are a very large number of plans that can be grouped into three families.

The wide shots (overall Plan, general plan, etc.) have a vocation to the descriptive. They are generally the environment in which unfolds the plot. They are used to provide information on the location, but also often on the time of day, the climate… It can also be used, for example to signify that a character is lost, and to highlight the vastness of a threat. There are many possibility, the context will define the use.

The medium shots (american Plan, close-up etc.) show the action. The characters or moving objects (cars) are taking advantage on the decor. We focus here on their actions within the space, the place. It is plan basic, most used when a character does something.

Finally, the last family of plans includes those that highlight the characters (close, very close…). The goal is to expose to the audience the reactions, the feelings of the characters during dialogues or in the face of the events of the plot. We will focus on a phrase that will stand out. It is a plan that has a lot of evocative power and which is never used without reason.

You will also often hear of other plan such as the plans of the insert, or the sequence shots. It is a different thing. For example the first are only useful to show an object useful to the plot – something that Nolan uses very often for example. The second is a continuous shot without a cut. On the other hand, there is for none of the two a value of scale, because we just filmed an insert in the large or medium plan, and a sequence plan will often be composed of different scales. Therefore, there is no relation to the size of these plans. It is therefore important to make the difference between the plan and the scale of the plan. The two are related, but not the same things

In order to go beyond the few basic concepts which are discussed here, we have a set of sheets for each of the different scales of plans. We decided to illustrate our statements, we are particularly interested in the plans ” basic “, those that absolutely must be mastered by anyone who wishes to spend behind the camera. Please be aware that this list is not exhaustive.

You will find for each of the sheets a in the definitions of the plan in question, accompanied by an analysis of this plan and advice on its use. The whole is illustrated with various examples that are commented in order to be as clear as possible, and sometimes even from the words of the filmmakers, which is expressed in an opinion critical of the use of these plans.

The different planes at the cinema

– General Plan

– Overall Plan

– Medium shot or plan foot

– American Plan

– Close-Size or chest

– Close-up

– Very big plan

To go further

If you want to deepen your knowledge about the scale of the plans, develop your skills and discover even more examples of plans in films that have marked the history of cinema, you can purchase several books. These are very comprehensive and contain information useful to anyone wanting to start in the cinema. There are many, but here’s a selection of our care : “The plans for the cinema : the big effects movie that every filmmaker must know“, “The plan, at the beginning of the cinema“, “to Realize his films shot by shot” and “Mastershots : 100 techniques for your plans film“.

Keywords: plan cinema, the plans to the cinema, the plan values to the cinema

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