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Master Shots Vol 1, 1st edition: 100 Advanced Camera Techniques to Get an Expensive Look on Your Low-Budget Movie Paperback – Jan 1 2009

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 227 pages
  • Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions (Jan. 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932907513
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932907513
  • Product Dimensions: 28 x 1.5 x 18.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #233,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Martin A Hogan TOP 500 REVIEWER on Oct. 28 2008
Format: Paperback
Christopher Kenworthy is a writer, director, producer, and screenwriter and has a real eye for setting up various film sequences. This book is a table top curiosity and also something an average movie maker might take to heart. There are some amazing insights on how certain scene shots are made.

Kenworthy describes (very effectively with computer diagrams, real photo shots and camera angles with arrows) exactly 100 different shots. Some are impressive. The `long lens' shot explains simply how fight scenes are filmed to look so real. `Suspense' is created by the positioning of the camera with the subject, whether walking, running or turning around. Ever wonder how they film people having a conversation in a car? It's amazingly simple. Filming shots to frighten or shock is explained by using the camera angle in various close-ups and angled maneuvers. Ever wonder how several people in a conversation get `air-time' by having the camera focus in on the character speaking and then focusing out to the next character? These are just a few ways that Kenworthy shows through `storyboard-like' setups in the book, so you can understand how important the placement of the camera is.

Each `shot' is shown with a computer generated flat screen with the characters and the camera shown with arrows for character vs. camera movement. Real movie shots are also shown with them repeated as computer generated clips. Close-ups, background shot emphasis, angles `up or down' on a character or placing a running character in the frame just right, so it appears that you are part of the flight. It's certainly interesting to see just how important camera work is in revealing moods, atmosphere, special effects and more, just by simple clever use of the camera.
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By Jim K on Jan. 26 2011
Format: Paperback
Grab a camera, try out some of these techniques with your friends, you won't be disappointed. The instructions are easy to follow, great illustrations and film reference photos. However, some of the shots are impossible to copy exactly if you have a camera with lenses that are not interchangeable, or a focus that you can not rack manually. All in all a great buy.
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By jef1d on Sept. 2 2011
Format: Paperback
This book will show you the mechanics of shots that work and move the story along. I'm watching movies differently now that I've read this book. Useful pix and sketches for each type of shots and camera moves.
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By fcarpine on Aug. 16 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Poor graphics. Very basic. I was expecting better references.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 107 reviews
42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
Great help to visualizing your film Feb. 19 2009
By Jerry Saperstein - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For the beginner or occasional filmmaker, this is a great book. Essentially it is an encyclopedia of master shots, a hundred of them. Most are illustrated with stills from various films and with 3D models created in Poser 7.

The author provides details about how the shot is set up, the feeling the shot is intended to convey and pertinent information. Kenworthy deliberately stays away from things like lenses, equipment, lighting and so on.

His point is that the shots can be accomplished with any kind of camera. It is the point of view that matters and the action that establishes the meaning of the shot and advances the story.

Master Shots is definitely an aid to the beginning filmmaker or those who shoot only occasionally and could you a bit of assistance in visualizing how to tell their story.

For a very reasonable cost, you have a hundred classic master shots diagrammed and explained for you. Good deal.

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
A Great Collection of Templates for your Movie Project Nov. 26 2008
By Bryan Newman - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I'm impressed with the basic idea behind this book, it is simple, focused, and opens the door to creativity. The author takes a focused look at camera shot solutions pros have used to convey the story to the viewer. It would make brilliant text for an intro film class because it makes you concentrate on how you are turning your written script into visual medium. When I first got it I thought it would be just a bunch of plug in stock shots that you could link together to make a movie, but the author describes each shot and the reasoning behind it so you end up borrowing, adjusting and adding to the examples to get what you need. It definitely does not kill creativity.

The examples are great. Each takes a scene from a well known movie (the Shining, Enemy at the Gate, Children of Men,) then breaks it down into a generic graphics showing camera angles and actions. This helps clarify how and why the director staged the shot in this way. Also each example has a paragraph that explains why this works for the viewer and how camera work adds to the scene.

The book seems well balanced, it covers everything from fights and chases to love scenes. Personally I am not looking to do any action films, so fighting and such was not that important, but the sections on shooting dialog and car shots were invaluable. I read through this book while storyboarding my project and whole scenes fell together. And most importantly, I didn't feel like I was painting by numbers. More like, the template shots planted seeds which grew to be very personalized and perfect for my story.

A great book for anyone new to or a student of film.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A Fine Introductory Text ... Dec 22 2008
By Dr. E - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
As a huge fan Jennifer Van Sijll's Cinematic Storytelling: The 100 Most Powerful Film Conventions Every Filmmaker Must Know, I thought Master Shots would be a great addition to my collection (same publishing-house/same style) ... and I wasn't wrong.

Master Shots addresses the basics. The language is simple and jargon-free ... very accessible to young people. Moreover, the descriptions are succinct. No needless words. This text will appeal to both new film-makers and those who want to understand the film-making process (to better appreciate the art). (I use Van Sijll's text in my film courses for a quick student-refresher and plan to use this work for a similar purpose).

Unlike many similar texts, Kenworthy uses easily recognizable films as examples: Cuarón's Children of Men Kubrick's The Shining, Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Lynch's Blue Velvet,etc... So, no need to worry about a Fellini fiasco.

A minor critique: while the film examples are excellent, the computer renderings are bizarre and strangely distracting. I wonder if using a small panel of actors to acquire these tableaux-like moments wouldn't be a better choice. Likewise, some of the captured film-frames are a little too dark or (in some cases) too small. But these are minor complaints about an overall well-constructed, thoughtful text.

If you have never studied film and need a quick crash course, this (very cheap!) text is a nice place to start your journey!
98 of 122 people found the following review helpful
Good. But not exactly all "Advanced", nor practical for Beginners. Jan. 22 2009
By Kiyo M. - Published on
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I'm a film student (not the rich, fortunate, private school kind) and I was REALLY excited to receive a copy of this book. I realize this book is not about certain shots being limited to a particular example, but also giving you ideas to expand on. However, I was slightly disappointed. Don't get me wrong, this book is still helpful, but I'm having a hard time understanding who this book is MAINLY targeted towards to.

First of all, even if you follow the "techniques", your low budget film will still look low budget if you don't have the proper equipments (and believable actors, lighting, script, and the list goes on....) That's reality. This book alone is not going to give you that "expensive look on your low-budget movie". That's just a marketing tool. Just be aware of that. (This is not the reason I'm giving it a 3 stars!) If you do have a dolly track, Steadicam, or crane, THAT will give you an "EXPENSIVE" *LOOK* -- however, if you're trying to convey a STORY using those tools, then there has to be a meaning to it or feel natural; or else the audience will feel disconnected. That's what this book is here to help you with. It's all about the e-MOTION. (Get it? The motion has to convey the emotion.)

The author mentions about using long/short lens, focus pull, dolly. etc, so you better really have that ability down first or know the basics. If you try to go hand held on a consumer camera, unless you're going for the Blair Witch/Cloverfield style, it's still going to look BAD.

As far as camera techniques go, it just uses the same, common, existing shots several times (it could just be a simple motionless long shot, or tracking/panning and coming to a halt; but just used in different examples). If you're looking for mindblowing innovation, this is not it. I guess when I heard the term "camera techniques", I had the wrong expectation of thinking it would be several camera tricks; for example, like "The Vertigo effect" (dolly zoom). However, the techniques in this book rely heavily on directing the actor's movements (and sometimes post editing and using props/location/lighting shadows; I thought this book was supposed to teach CAMERA techniques? I mean sure, all those things are crucial to a cinematographer, but it doesn't necessarily pertain all to the camera itself). It will keep using things like dolly, long/short lens, low/high angle, close up, etc, but what this book goes over briefly is basically the motivation of when to use them. There's a lot of recycled shots, but the only difference is the situation.

The shots are broken down for these categories:
Ch. 01: Fight Scenes (8 shots total)
Ch. 02: Chase Scenes (10 shots)
Ch. 03: Entrances & Exits (8 shots)
Ch. 04: Suspense, Searching & Creeping (9 shots)
Ch. 05: Dramatic Shift (9 shots)
Ch. 06: Revelations & Discoveries (9 shots)
Ch. 07: Shock Horror (9 shots)
Ch. 08: Directing Attention (7 shots)
Ch. 09: Car Scenes (7 shots)
Ch. 10: Dialogue Scenes (8 shots)
Ch. 11: Arguments & Conflict (8 shots)
Ch. 12: Love & Sex Scenes (8 shots)

If you don't know how to shoot a person in a car scene (have the camera in front of the car, backseat, or passenger side...) and need "advanced" help from this book, then you really shouldn't be a DP. I mean, there's some really useful examples and subtle tips in this book, don't get me wrong, but I just find some shots to be a little redundant or so basic that it's not even worth mentioning (or cause it to receive an applause from the viewer to say, "Wow, that looked advanced.")

The 3D model (made with Poser 7) picture, with only arrows pointing, and only two or three screen STILLS at most, from the actual movie, wasn't really helping me to fully understand, especially when I'm not familiar with the movie. I thought it was kind of strange, and somewhat humorous, for the sex scene shots, they would actually make female 3D model fully nude and detailed (hide this away from your kids! Will somebody please think of the children?!? Sorry.), while the male 3D rendering has his pants on (not that I'm complaining or anything about the latter). I almost think the 3D renderings were just something the makers enjoyed doing for themselves. Even some movies I were familiar with, the author explains it differently or there were discrepancies with the 3D diagram (Romeo + Juliet, the camera was panning around, so shouldn't it be showing arrows instead of three different camera set-ups and cutting between them?). The book contains brief short paragraphs of the explanation than being in-depth. For some shots, the author doesn't even mention what the movie is from. It would have been better if he had the movie title (and possibly the timecode for the scene) next to the screen stills, just for better organization, instead of sometimes being mentioned in the paragraphs.

Sure, if this was a drawing art book then stills are fine, but for movies... not quite. Some were quite obvious and a 3D model was totally unnecessary. I mean, camera placement is pretty evident just by looking at the still picture; however, if you haven't seen the movie before, it's a little difficult to understand what the movement exactly is. It would have been nice if this book came with a DVD-Rom with sample clips of the movie or clips of the 3D models! I'm sure costs would be a problem, but I wouldn't mind paying extra for it.

The author obviously knows his stuff. I don't hate this book. However, I think it could be a lot clearer in some examples, especially the 3D models and stills, and be more consistent on the order of explaining and which movie it is from. Moreover, focus on a certain target audience (maybe add a "level of difficulty" rating of what the author thinks on each example) than try to be too broad with obvious basic/repetitive examples or too complex to pull off without having the right setup. Overall, I think this book is targeted more towards people who already understand the basics of filmmaking and willing to invest on the essential tools to truly fulfill these shots (do not rely on hand held shots), but just can't come up with anything besides keeping the camera still on a tripod and cutting between them. For professional cinematographers, this will just be a nice reference, a "reminder".

After further review, I guess I wouldn't mind giving this book a 4 stars. The author at least doesn't ramble, doesn't use too much jargon, and gets to the point. The book doesn't feel outdated and uses mostly contemporary movies such as Children of Men, Minority Report, Fight Club, Terminator 3 (Not sure why he used the worst one out of the series), Amelie, Crouching Tiger, etc.

I find it pretty amusing that other reviews/"authors" (mentioning in their review that they're a successful instructor in this type of field) seem to praise each other's book, but at the same time, they self-promote their own.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Best of Its Kind Jan. 18 2009
By Gil Bettman - Published on
Format: Paperback
I am in awe of this book. And I think I have the chops to be a good judge of its worth. I have directed four feature films, and couple of dozen primetime TV shows and rock videos; taught directing for thirteen years at a leading filmschool (Chapman) and given seminars on "how to direct the camera" in eleven countries on three continents. I have also written my own universally well-reviewed, how-to book on directing - "First Time Director".

Kenworthy has a deep and broad understanding of how to direct the camera. In this book, he analyzes more than hundred different shots - most of them using a moving camera - and he is absolutely, spot-on accurate in describing the dramatic impact - the feel - of each shot. This makes the book as much about story as camera. His analyses are well written and easy to understand. And most important, the visual tools he uses to illustrate how to execute the shots are highly effective - better than I have seen in any how-to book on directing, including my own.

Anybody with a basic understanding of camera and lenses can pick up this book, study it, and start taking giant strides towards becoming a master of visual design for motion pictures. If you want to make movies that like the directors whose films Kenworthy uses to illustrate his points: Kubrick, Spielberg, Lucas and Cuaron, to name a few, this book is a great place to start.