Description image

Watch a Video Analysis of the Signature Shots of Kubrick, Tarantino, and Wes Anderson

It’s no secret that many directors have “signature shots,” or shots that they tend to use (or even overuse) in their films. Vimeo user kogonada has edited together three brilliant mashups of some of the signature shots of Stanley Kubrick, Quentin Tarantino, and Wes Anderson. As a community of filmmakers, I think we can all agree there is something to be learned from how the greats make use of these shots. Hit the jump for the first video, which shows Kubrick’s use of the One-Point Perspective:

The One-point Perspective is basically where all planes on a composition have the same vanishing point. I find the graph at the beginning to be particularly helpful in illustrating this. (Brief aside: I’m very into kogonada’s editing in this piece as well, nailed several beats, great work!)

Forrest Wickman of Slate points out:

As the video highlights, Kubrick also tended to place his subjects right over that vanishing point, dead-center in the frame, making any symmetry (especially in creepy twins) particularly striking.

Here are two other of kogonada’s videos. The first is Tarantino // From Below:

I can see this shot being indicative of Tarantino’s work on the whole. His films usually feature revenge themes, and at some point you’re going to see the hero finally giving the notorious villain his/her come-uppins. Is that a word? PATENT PENDING.

Now let’s look at Wes Anderson // From Above:

I think when you look at this video, not only do you get a sense of another Anderson trope — his signature color scheme — but you get a feeling that his movies convey a “day in the life” kind of theme (which they usually do). Of course — as previously pointed out on NoFilmSchool — that’s just my take on his themes.

Though my personal body of work is largely short film-based, I have to admit that I can see certain tropes coming out of them as well. For example, every film I make tends to make large use of the jump cut, as well as the match cut, for transitioning — call me a product of the internet age’s short attention span. I have to admit that when others point these things out to me, it feels oddly embarrassing — like I’m somehow being less original with each piece, but looking at these videos, it’s great to see I’m in good company for having a cinematic style.

What kinds of shots or other cinematic devices do you find yourself using? Is there something you make a conscious effort to include in all of your work?

Link: Slate – Tunnel Vision: Kubrick’s Favorite Composition Gets Its Own Supercut


We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 28 COMMENTS

  • Awesome! I would love to see a video on David Fincher’s use of single frame inserts.

  • I think thats why I love most of kubrick movies because of this view and intensity of his movies it draws u in to watch I think sort of like a pov and the lenses used give it more the anamorphic pushes it more to the extreme view to great clips

    • Daniel Mimura on 09.23.12 @ 8:24PM

      Kubrick, I don’t think, has ever used the anamorphic format.

      Lots of super-wide angle stuff though…

  • In documentary a jump cut is a very honest, authentic cut that does not pretend that ‘realism’ is anything more than a style.

  • Really nice,

    another great compilation from breaking bad:

  • Ozu Yasujiro’s frames within frames and so called “pillow shots” also merit some attention. I also love Ozu’s editing. He too shows a preference for Match shots to and is often willing to break the 180 degree rule to get them.
    This is a short clip on some other features indicative of Ozu’s style:

  • I wonder what would be Spielberg’s signature shot :)

    • Just found it :-)

    • I’d say this video is a perfect study of that.

      • Laurel, Anton – excellent find guys. This is exactly what we’re looking at here. And it explains so much of what Speilberg has done.

      • I see what he’s trying to say here but he’s basically pointing out that Spielberg aims the camera at actor’s faces sometimes…something pretty much every movie director has done since the first close ups in silent films. He could equally have called this The Spielberg Credits and focused on the theme that all of Spielberg’s films have a film title at the start. As do many, many, many other films. Or The Spielberg Clapperboard: I bet if you went through the dailies you’d find he used one.
        Next would be The Tarantino Guns…a video essay focusing on the reoccuring theme that people sometimes fire pistols in his movies.

  • Peter Kelly on 09.3.12 @ 5:01PM

    These are brilliant, I’m gonna show them to students in some of my filmmaking workshops! Thanks for the links

  • The Body Harness & Fish Eye Shots from Frankenheimer/Howe & Aronofsky/Libatique are unbelievably awesome, my favorites without a doubt.

  • word is come-uppance…..

    • No hyphen, actually. Also I’m confident that he/everyone already knew that, but I guess some people might have taken “come-uppins” seriously so I guess it’s worth mentioning.

  • tremendous videos. appreciate the spielberg links as well guys. love this site every day.

  • I would say that the ‘One-Point Perspective’ thing comes from Kubrick’s previous work as a photographer. Which, of course, you could appreciate even better if you watch his movies with his intended aspect ratio.

  • Orson Welles is somehow better than these directors…he used it all…deep focus one pt. perspective..
    flat planes of focus..from below…from above..everything.

    • I assume you are referring to Welles’ Citizen Kane, which was not in fact his doing but he entrusted those iconic shots you are referring to to the skillful mind of his cinematographer, Gregg Toland. He even gave the man equal credit by putting both director and cinematographer on the same card. True that Toland worked with the special effects cinematographer, Linwood G. Dunn to achieve some of his excellent work but his work truly was his own and not that of the talented Welles. I just wanted to point that out because I think the cinematographer often gets the shaft when reviewing the work of the director, although often the director does deserve much of the credit. Again, let’s look to Hitchcock, he would storyboard out scenes exactly how he envisioned them and then gave them to his cinematographer and got brilliant results, even joking that he never looked through the lens. Let’s give credit where it’s due, please.

  • The Requiem for a Dream theme is used way too often. When I hear it in a promo, it tells me that the director is uninspired. Cool video other than that.

  • Daniel Mimura on 09.23.12 @ 8:48PM

    I think the whole Anderson thing about shooting from above just sort of was maybe made b/c he already did one about Tarantino from below…b/c Anderson’s whole thing isn’t really about shooting facing downwards as much as it is being symmetrical and center punched. (which would make most of his shots be able to be cut in with the Kubrick shots).

    Anderson’s perfectly lateral dolly shots are another example of symmetry…unlike most filmmaker’s lateral shots, his will be exactly 90º from the dolly track. At least he never has rolling shutter issues doing this type of shot b/c he has always shot on film.

Description image2 pingbacks