5 FILM TERMINOLOGIES EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW
The Kalasha Awards, dubbed the Kenyan Oscars, are here and that means it is yet again time to vote for your favorite actors, TV programs and films. Many of us are anxious to vote for the crème de la crème, yet I am sure that several of us browse through these same nominations and wonder what on earth some of the terms mean. Honestly, a lot of these terminologies used are best known by people who are in the film industry because they get to use them on a daily basis; But worry not all ye patriots and lovers of the arts! I am here to explain them in an easy to understand layman language in order for you to be able to make an informed decision on who truly deserves that award and not because you simply knew the name of the film. This is of course assuming you’ve watched all of the nominated films or have seen the actors in action.
Director of Photography Category
A director of photography is also known as a cinematographer. This person is typically in charge of the camera and lighting situation on any production set. Whereas a director sets out to achieve the dramatic and artistic aspects of a film, mostly by giving the actors direction on how to portray their characters, it is the work of the director of photography to make sure that this vision translates onto the images recorded. This involves a lot of technical and artistic preparation.
For example, in a horror movie that relies on suspense to arouse fear in the audience, it is the director's job to make sure that the actor understands this and translates it by using the appropriate emotions, facial expressions and et cetera. On the other hand, the director of photography/cinematographer will make sure all of this is captured by using lighting, camera angles, and various props to set the right mood. As such, cinematography is considered a very delicate job that needs a keen eye to make everything work. In fact, famous directors are known to collaborate with cinematographers on several film projects simply to avoid any undue criticism that bad cinematography would elicit
Original Score Category
An original score is basically as soundtrack composed and produced specifically for the film in question. The composer is commissioned by the producers to come up with a unique melody to be used throughout the film, dramatically underscoring the story being told. There is huge money in this field since when a movie score hits it with the audience, it is likely to be remembered for years to come. Sometimes when an original score is a hit, its success stretches all the way into the music industry as well. Individual songs may make it into Top 40 countdowns which of course draw interest to the film as a whole. Therefore when making a score, the process must be treated carefully starting from the composition to collaborating with other artists, producers and composers; because when it works, it will WORK.
Sound mixing is one of the most important technical aspects of film making yet often one of the most overlooked. It is mostly done in post-production when the finishing touches are being put in. It involves combining different sounds and audio and adding them to the final edited video images to form one complete, perfect piece. This requires a sophisticated mixing board where different audio pieces are added to the video, often using two or more tracks to achieve the desired sound. This audio may or may not include additional dialogue, voice over’s, ambience sounds, music, and ADR (automated dialogue replacement).
Next time you watch your favourite film, listen to all the sounds involved. The birds chirping, the sentimental music playing in the background, even the voice of the character thinking out loud. That all boils down to sound mixing. When it boils down to it, sound mixing is both an art and a science as only someone with a sensitive ear is capable of achieving the delicate balance required.
Lighting is key in any production. News rooms, live broadcasts, series and movies—good lighting is important. It makes the difference between sloppiness and perfection. Lighting plays a big role in setting the mood. For example, cameo lights are used to illuminate specific people or objects such as when an angel is speaking to a human in a Biblical film. There are several lights that are used on a set: backlights, flood lights, fill lights, cameo lights, et cetera. It is another technical aspect of film making that is delegated to only the best in this specific field.
If there is no clarity, too much graininess, or too much exposure, and it is obvious that it was not the film maker's intent to produce this effect; then the lighting is bad. However as an audience, one is sure to know bad lighting when you see it. Your eyes will simply rebel against it.
Finally are special effects. These are not used as much in Kenyan film, but over recent years strides have been taken to remedy this. Nowadays special effects are inserted using computer softwares. They constitute illusions or tricks of the eye used to dupe the audience into seeing things that in reality were not there. Thanks to special effects, green screens are transformed into gaping landscapes, an actor held up by invisible wires is made to look like he is flying, and tiny model airplanes become enormous airbuses. Special effects have the ability to make or break a movie. When they are done well, everyone remembers it. When they are not...well. It is not a pretty sight.
By Nadia Darwesh
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