July 23, 2018

The Art of Blocking: How to Make Boring Conversations More Interesting

'The Neon Demon' (2016)
Good blocking can turn a boring convo into a dynamic and emotional scene.

Where should actors stand within the frame? Should they move around? If so, where and how? These are just a few questions directors and cinematographers ask themselves when figuring out how to block a scene, and though it seems pretty simple, it's anything but. In this video essay, the team over at StudioBinder digs into the art of blocking to explain how you can communicate with your audience through the power of placement. Check it out below:

At first glance, blocking a scene seems straightforward. You choose what kind of shot you want to capture, place your actors in the frame so they are 1.) seen, and 2.) looking good. Boom! You're done.

Not quite.

Experienced filmmakers know all too well how something seemingly inconsequential, like blocking, often speaks the loudest to audiences. So, how can you start speaking to your viewers through blocking? StudioBinder goes over three factors that play a huge role:

  • Space: The amount of space within a frame says a lot about what's going on during the scene, especially the space between two characters because it almost always represents emotional distance. So, the more space there is between two characters, the less intimate, friendly, and trusting they might feel toward each other. Putting less space between them is more intimate, aggressive, or opposing.
  • Shapes:  Circles, triangles, squares...emotional little buggers. Shapes often communicate certain ideas and emotions to audiences. For example, circles represent safety, feminity, and inclusivity, squares represent restrictions and rigidity, and triangles represent power and aggression.
  • Lines: As a visual storyteller, your job is to guide your viewers' eye to what you want them to see on screen. One way of doing that is by blocking your actors so they create lines (vertices) that lead them toward objects you want them to look at. Furthermore, these lines can also communicate other important information, including power struggles and other subcontextual ideas.

Which films do you think using blocking especially well? Let us know down in the comments.     

Your Comment

4 Comments

as an external martial artist i want to say that only medications can help with blocking pain..

as an internal martial artist i say that qigong is a great art for learning how to focus your chi to allow your body to not so much block pain, but to lessen the pain and begin healing itself.

our bodies can do more than our ignorance allows us to perceive.

give you an example.. in march i was rushed to the er, with severe abdominal pains and a yo-yoing blood pressure that wouldn't level off.. i was basically in septic shock.. unbeknownst to myself i had ovarian systs that was leaking into my blood stream and basically poisoning me from the inside. while the er staff was chaotically trying what they could to get my blood pressure to rise and stay at a normal level, i took it upon myself to begin tai chi bong position (the basis for all yang tai chi) as i layed on the gurny. in a matter of minutes i was able to focus my chi on controlling the pain and my blood pressure began to return to normal levels.. for know more, check this website this website
so don't let anyone tell you this is a stupid question.. it's actually one that internal martial artists know something about..

hope this helps!

July 24, 2018 at 6:40AM, Edited July 24, 6:42AM

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LOL

July 24, 2018 at 1:01PM

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Chris Kas
Jack of all trades
494

I think you need to change your meds buddy

July 26, 2018 at 4:38PM

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jeff brass
camera button pusher
105

12 ANGRY MEN, has fantastic blocking.

July 27, 2018 at 4:38AM, Edited July 27, 4:38AM

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Olu Yomi Ososanya
Writer/Director
94