chapter  10
8 Pages

Past influences

Many cameramen insist that composition is intuitive and assume that framing decisions are based on personal and subjective opinion. Even a cursory examination of an evening’s output of television will demonstrate the near uniformity of standard conventions in composition. The exceptions to what is considered ‘good’ composition are either provided by inexperienced cameramen who have yet to become aware of professional techniques (e.g., ‘video diaries’) or those productions where there has been a conscious decision to be ‘different’. This usually entails misframing conventional shots in the mistaken belief that something new and original has been created. In effect, it is simply mispronouncing standard visual language. These conventions are learnt and do not arise spontaneously as

intuitive promptings. Their origins are to be found in changes in painting styles over the last 500 years, in the influence of still photography and in changes in the style and the technology of film and television production. No one working in the media can escape the influence of past solu-

tions to visual problems. The evidence is contained in the products of more than a century of film making and half a century of television production. These are consciously or unconsciously absorbed from the moment we begin to watch moving images. Whereas most people never concern themselves with the nature of these influences, anyone who wishes to make a career in visual communication should be aware of the changes and influences on current conventions in composition and examine the assumptions that may underpin their own ‘intuitive’ practices.