What are the Major Elements of Cinematic Design?

What is meant by Cinematic Design? What are the Main Elements of Cinematic Design? What is Mise-en-scène? What are Two Types of Sound in Filmmaking?
what are the major elements of cinematic design
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

The first movie is considered the motion picture which was recorded in 1888 in Leeds, England. It was the Roundhay Garden Scene by Louis Le Prince films. Ever since then, pictures have considerably evolved, and now you can enjoy movies in 3D as well. While we are on the topic, let’s learn about the four elements of cinematic design. Also, we will discuss the major elements of cinematic design along with elements of cinematic language.

1. What is the Meaning of Cinematic Filmmaking?

The term cinematic is used in the context of anything that is related to cinema, suggesting cinema, and is suitable to be called motion pictures, or the process of filming motion pictures. It also includes the principles and techniques of cinema along with cinematic special effects. Also, a concept that is filmed and presented as a motion picture either from a script or from the adaptation of a novel is termed cinematic. (See Why The Godfather is a cinema classic?)

2. What are the Major Elements of Cinematic Design?

Everything that is in front of the camera and composes a shot is termed as the major element of cinematic design. Lighting, placing characters in the scene, placement of the camera, design of the elements within the shot, movement of the camera, costumes, etc., are all major elements of cinematic design or the elements of cinematic language. (See First Full Length Movie Ever Made)

3. What are the Four Elements of Cinematic Filmmaking?

Major Elements of Cinematic Design 2
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In 126 years of film history, various historical moments led to the rise of the four elements of cinematic filmmaking. Let us take a look at the list, then I will explain them briefly.

  • Cinematography
  • Editing
  • Mise-en-scène
  • Costume
  • Environment
  • Inscenation
  • Lighting
  • Sound 

The meanings have been explained below: –

A. Cinematography

It is the art of photography and camera work in the process of filmmaking. A filmmaker makes certain decisions when filming a shot. Sometimes you wonder how come the director came up with such an idea to take such a shot, etc. Well, the filmmaker looks for the 3 aspects while making such decisions.

  • Framing of the shot: In cinematography, the frame is an essential element as it defines an image that is portrayed on the screen. Framing includes the angle and size of the frame. Low, high, horizontal, bird’s eye, straight on, and height are aspects of an angle. Extreme close-up, wide shot, close-up, extreme long shot, medium shot, etc. are in the size of a frame
  • Length of the shot: Here the term length means the duration of the shot because presenting a shot within an accurate time limit is also an art. The length affects the understanding of the viewers
  • Photographic aspects: Filming a scene is simply writing with the moment. It includes everything from speed to special effects. A scene is completed with all major elements of cinematic design

B. Editing

Major Elements of Cinematic Design 3
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

The term editing means arranging shots in such a manner that one scene connects with the next scene. This should be done in such a manner that the viewers can understand the theme of the story. For example, a woman starts somewhere, and then the shot of a clock will tell that the woman is looking at the clock. (See History of Dark Room Film)

C. Mise-en-scène

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It is a French word that means to put on the stage and this term was used by a theater director. The term fits the cinema as well, therefore, filmmakers began using the term for the process of filmmaking or film directing. What you can see in the frame of the film and the things that are under the control of the director, all are covered in this term. Some of them are costume, environment, inscenation, and lighting. (Also read Anthropomorphic Art Meaning with Examples)

D. Costume

This is an important element because it can fill up the specific functions of the story. Things get pretty clear simply due to the costumes. Costumes have been an important element in some films for attracting the attention of the viewers. For example, the costumes of Cruella from the movie 101 Dalmatians and the recent movie based on the character Cruella.

Similarly, some masks can be used to create different types of emotions or facial expressions of the character. This among the major elements of cinematic design can be done with make-up, like shaping the eyebrows, applying extra eyeliner, etc. All this can help an actor to perform better and portray the character much better. (See Why Animated Movies Are Popular?)

E. Environment

This is the basic setting in which the scene is going to take place. High waves in the sea, the wind blowing the leaves, or even a door closing is a narration in itself. An environment is made more interesting with props. For example, winds gushing in the windows, papers flying here and there, the actress panicking, and the cross on the wall suddenly getting upside down. With this, you can figure out that the devil is near the room or the actress is going to be possessed. (See Why Do Some People Like Horror Movies?)

F. Inscenation

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An easier meaning for the term is setting. It means the setting of the scene that the director controls. An actor, animal, shape, or figure, everything is settled in such a way that it can express its feelings in the scene accurately. Expressions here consist of facial expressions, gestures, and looks (visual elements) along with voice and sound effects (sound). (See How Does a Digital Camera Work?)

G. Lighting

This is considered one of the most important functions in film-making. Lighting helps you see what is happening in the film. But the amount and type of lighting to be used depends on the type of scene that is being filmed. Among the major elements of cinematic design, lighting is used to emphasize texture, and it can be anything, a prop, a landscape, or even the face of an actor. (See What Was The First Movie In Colour?)

H. Sound

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Photo by Denisse Leon on Unsplash

Sound evokes a mood that is rooted in your consciousness, and it is a very important as well as a powerful way of grabbing the audience’s attention. 

It may not seem important, but the sound is a supporting element that makes a lasting impact. Human consciousness is already systematized in a manner that connects sound and image to make sense of things. For example, the duration of the silent phase in the movie will create tension making the viewer anticipate the next possible thing that is going to happen. Must see 9 Facts about Organizing a Flash Mob.

4. Types of Sound in Movies

Sound can be of two types in the context of movies, namely diegetic and non-diegetic.

The diegetic sound is something that includes any sound effect, a musical passage, or a voice that originates in the world of the movie (the world created inside the movie). For example, the sound of cars during a conversational scene depicts the busy streets of a metropolitan set-up.

The non-diegetic sound means the mood music or the narration out of space. For example, film scores, or the songs in the movies. You must have watched Disney movies in which they show some emotion or mood they put in a song. Overall, the presence or absence of sound plays an important and lasting impact on viewers.

So, these are the major elements of cinematic design along with the elements of cinematic language. It is time to share the four elements of cinematic with your friends and family members who are interested in filmmaking. (Also read What Does 3D Mean?)

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