What is 'Composition'? Watch this 14 min video and find out

By Aditya Savnal. Posted on September 21, 2014

Scene Composition is considered as one of the most critical constituents of filmmaking as it either helps audiences understand the filmmaker’s perspective or can alienate them.

The dictionary defines 'Composition' as “The arrangement of elements, about combination, about parts joining into a whole”

A major challenge of scene composition is not only arranging its various elements in order but using it in a way which produces spectacular results and helps to put things in perspective.

It is believed that the process of composition has evolved from the visual arts in which artists often considered the audience or onlooker’s perspective when they made a painting or created other works of visual art. The early years of cinema saw filmmakers composing shots and using the camera in a similar way.

The later generation of filmmakers used technology to their advantage while composing and framing shots. No longer was composition and camera work confined to the audience’s point of view. Multiple camera angles, large canvas and such other tropes became an essential part of composition and framing. Filmmakers started using colours to create beautiful artistic frames which aided with a large canvas gave a new dimension to film making. This also introduced audiences to diverse styles of storytelling and made watching movies a much more engaging affair.

This video essay by Matthew Cheney for Press Play Video Blog attempts to explain the evolution of composition and framing over the years. Cheney illustrates this evolution by using scenes from films are early as A Trip to The Moon (1902, Georges Melies) to films as recent as Spring Breakers (2012, Harmony Korine)

By showing scenes from films such as Sin City (2005, Robert Rodriguez), the video also shows that though composition has gained a new perspective over the years, the fundamentals of composition remain the same.  Components such as line, shape, darkness, colour etc are still the key to framing and composing a scene.

To know more about the art of composition and framing watch this passionately created video essay by Cheney which will give you a new perspective about the process of composition and framing.


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