Horror Cinematography & Sound Design

Today we are considering cinematography & sound design that is conventional (typical) of horror films.

We will watch Suckablood (BC Horror) in class and use this to consider how the cinematography & sound is typically ‘horror’.

We are seeking to understand how German Expressionist cinematic techniques were the blueprint for horror films.


In pairs, one of you will be exploring cinematography:

  • Framing
  • Compostition
  • Angle
  • Movement
  • Lighting & Colour

Whilst the other considers sound design and music:

  • Diegetic
    • Foley
    • Dialogue
  • Non-diegetic
    • Music
    • Sound Effects
The Video.

Make a short montage in Premiere Pro, which uses titles to identify specific features of cinematography and/or sound, which are conventional of horror.

  • You should aim to find 3-5 examples of sound and 3-5 examples of cinematography

This means the video should be either silent, showing a feature of the cinematography. Alternatively the video should show a still of the scene or a title card and analyse the sound which you are describing as conventional of horror and/or influenced by German Expressionism.

Representation of a Vampire

Let’s do some close analysis of select sequences from our two set texts. You will be allocated two sequences, one from each film. Your job is to explore the representation of the vampire monsters at these moments in the film.

Firstly, do a close micro analysis of:

  • Editing
  • Sound
  • Cinematography
  • Mise-en-scene

Then consider, how these micro features communicate meaning about the nature of these monsters, their representation.

You will be responsible for putting together two slides, one for each film, which compares the scenes and considers what social fears seem to be reflected by Eli & Nosferatu.

Here are the scenes. The scenes your group have been allocated are next to the scene. Please complete two slides in this shared (editable) slideshow:

Advancing your Cinematography

The creative intention for the week

‘To develop my cinematography skills and practice advanced techniques which can be used for expressive meaning in film.’

Session 1 – Filming with Canon DSLR cameras

Menu & Settings

  • Setting the White Balance
  • Grid display
    • rule of thirds / composition
  • Auto and Manual Focus
  • Recording Mode – (movie rec size)
    • 50 fps, 1280×720 (frames per second / resolution)
  • ISO (light sensitivity)
    • darker environment – higher light sensitivity & ISO number
    • lighter environment – lower light sensitivity & ISO number
  • Aperture (quantity of light coming into the lens)
    • low number (eg F1.8 = larger amount of light let in = shallow depth of field)
    • high number (eg F8 = less light let in = deeper focus) 

Different types of lens

  • 18-55 mm kit lens
  • Prime 35 mm lens
  • Telephoto Lens
  • Macro Lens

Session 2 & 3 – Play Time

Choose a minimum of  four techniques to research and practice this week. Two from each list:

List 1
  • Depth of Field & Pulling Focus
  • Filming in Macro
  • Impact of different lenses
  • The Trombone Shot
  • Bokeh
List 2
  • The Rule of Thirds
  • Frames within the Frame
  • Symmetry & Leading Lines
  • High Contrast Lighting (Low Key)
  • The Quadrant System

You will need a clear example of what you’re trying to achieve and also a tutorial video or web page on how to achieve it practically.

For each technique you should aim for either a shot of about 10-15 seconds or two to three different shorter examples of the same technique being used in different ways.

Session 4 The Edit

  • Use WeVideo to edit.
  • Upload your footage
  • Create a montage of cinematography techniques,
  • Name the kit / technique in a caption at the start.
  • At the end use a caption to suggest a potential meaning or impact of the technique on the audience

Reflective Journal

A short 1-2 minute video of your various experiments with composition. This will have been exported from WeVideo to YouTube – which should be possible directly.

A reflection on how it is possible to use camera to communicate meaning.

Sound in Film

We have already done some basic exploration of sound when we did the foley sound exercise. This week we are going to go into much more detail in terms of how to describe sound in film and analyse the meaning communicated.

We will be completing an analysis at the end of the week.


You need to be able to describe all the elements of sound that feature in a film. Here is a diagram of those elements that you need to describe and analyse.

Sound Diagram

Diegetic Sound (includes foley)

Non-Diegetic Sound

We’re going to do an analysis of the sound in this sequence from The Return of the Jedi (1983) Marquand, from the beginning to 5.04.

Watch through the clip and make notes using a copy of this document to make your notes.

They key to this is to describe the examples of the various sounds from your text clearly. Here is a blog with some useful ideas about how to describe music.

Sound Recording Task

Record dialogue in a scene using the boom and shot gun mic.

Here is the sequence, from 4.49 until the end.

Here is the script

We will be filming on one camera from two angles and recording using a shotgun mic, external recorder and boom.

We will sync up the sound and video in post using WeVideo. I will upload the footage and you will have to edit the video and sound together.

Here is a link to let you register with our WeVideo account.

  • Here is the group project link to WeVideo for Mr Gregson’s class.
  • Here is the group project link to WeVideo for Miss Hales class.

Introduction to Editing

Editing, the connectives in Film Language

Think of cut as connectives in a sentence….

…so, and, then, but, however, meanwhile…

How then does does editing create meaning if it’s just simple links in the film?

Well first of all, the edit constructs the meaning in the minds of the audience. Introducing…

…The Kuleshov Effect

Editing – Time, Space and Attention

So…OK…it’s the connectives of film, such as: ‘so’, ‘and then’, ‘however’, ‘meanwhile’… which the audience link to make sense of two images.

  • It’s also think about how editing shifts the film in time…such as, ‘Later that day’, ‘Earlier’, ‘The following Morning’, ‘8 years later…’, ‘Flashback…to recap important narrative information’…
  • It can also be used to draw audience attention to specific elements of mise-en-scene which are important. This is usually in the shape of characters view of what they see, although not always (often the audience know more than the characters). Ironic that…
PRACTICAL TASK – Recreate the Kuleshov Effect

Working in pairs of two.

  • One pair shoots a series of reactions in MCU and.
  • A series of objects or events
  • Swap footage and using the other groups reactions / objects, along with your own…
  • Edit together in 3-5 different ways to create different meanings / ideas
Independent Study

Watch & summarise the videos in 5 bullet points

Textual Analysis of Editing

Identify the editing techniques used in this sequence.

Analyse how these editing techniques create meaning and sense for the audience.

You should use this handout to complete your TEA and then upload to your reflective journal under editing, along with a link to the clip.

Recap of Autumn Term 2017

We covered a lot of important concepts last term that we need to build upon in the rest of the course.

Task 1

Class brainstorm of the key things we have learnt in Film.

Task 2

Create a visual representation of one of those concepts in small groups.

Task 3

Contribute to a class glossary of terms for the concept you have been allocated.

Task 4

Find a film that your’re excited about and apply one macro to the film and one micro to a sequence.

Batman Essay

Task – A textual analysis essay.

Essay title

Complete a textual analysis of the denouement of The Dark Knight and answer the following question.

‘Analyse and evaluate the representation of Batman in the final scene of the The Dark Knight (2008) Nolan.’ You should use specific examples of mise-en-scene and cinematography to discuss how Nolan highlights and underlines the messages and values of the film.

Advice and Guidance
  • The essay will be assessed in how it shows your ability to demonstrate…
    1. …an understanding of the cultural context.
    2. … an understanding of how the extract makes use of film elements to create meaning.
    3. …an understanding of the ways in which the cultural context of the film and the identified film elements relate to each other, as well as to the chosen film text as a whole
  • The essay should be 1,000 words long (+/- 10%). 
  • You should use screen shots of key moments from the sequence that are the subject of your close textual analysis.
  • You should refer explicitly to the Crash Course YouTube video on, ‘The War on Terror’.
  • Quote from the article we discussed in class, Dark Knight, Dark Ideas by Chris Turner. 
    • This article and the Crash Course YouTube Video should be credited and referenced at the end of the essay.

Composition in Film

The Rules of Composition in Cinematography are described and exemplified in this video:


Create a class slideshow which defines, explains and exemplifies the following rules of composition:

  • Symmetry
  • Contrast
  • Depth of field
  • The rules of thirds
  • Leading lines
  • Balance
  • Lead space
  • Frames within the frame

Please edit one slide on this slideshow:

Reflective journal

Embed this document in your reflective journal in the Cinematography page.

Great Cinematographers

Textual Analysis of The Dark Knight

Textual Analysis Task:

In small groups or pairs analyse Christopher Nolan’s use of cinematography & mise-en-scene in one of the six sequences below.

Embed the sequence and your typed up notes into your reflective journal.

Write 200-250 words on your findings with regard to how the Joker is represented using camera and mise-en-scene as a ‘new’ kind of villain for uncertain and unpredictable times.

Scene 1

Scene 2

Scene 3

Scene 4

Scene 5

Scene 6

Lighting and Colour

Lighting is an element of Cinematography.

If a shot is not well lit it’s almost useless.

The lighting department work closely with the cinematographer to create the right look for each shot.

  • The chief lighting designer and on set engineer is called The Gaffer
  • The assistant to the Gaffer is called The Best Boy

This week we are going to explore the fundamentals of film lighting.

Analysing Lighting

Using Three Point Lighting in a Studio.

Colour in Storytelling


Creative Intention:

‘To explore a range of lighting set ups in a studio setting.’

In Adobe Premiere create a playlist of 8 different lighting states that we shot in class.

Before each on a black slate (title card) identify the lighting setup and the impact that you feels it communicates.

Reflect on the impact different lighting states can have on the meaning communicated.