Learn how to creatively flatten cinematic images for your next video production by using profile framing.Top image: Batman via WarnerIn the visual medium of filmmaking, it’s often too easy to accidentally flatten the imagery and perspectives. After all, the end result will be projected, or viewed, on a flat screen. For this reason, filmmakers and videographers often fight against flat imagery by invoking depth and perspective shots in their work. But flattening your images can be done simply and creatively. Let’s consider a couple of approaches.Suppressed IdentityWhen it comes to staging and framing the human subjects of your movie, it’s often preferable to set your camera at an angle to the subject’s position. This not only allows the viewer to see the subject’s face in its full expressive capacity, but it also creates a sense of dimension in the facial features.One of the flattest ways to frame your subject is from the side, with the individual in profile. Framed in this way, the subject is suddenly imbued with a visual tension that can connect directly to the content of your film. In the George Lucas film, THX 1138 (both images above via Warner), the main character, played by Robert Duvall, is actively fighting against the flattened identity preferred by the repressive future society in which he resides.Hidden IdentityIn Hitchcock’s Vertigo, the character of Madeleine (as played by Kim Novak) is first glimpsed by Scottie (James Stewart) in profile (see above image via Paramount), lending a mystery to her actual identity.In The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, Slavoj Žižek identifies this perspective as Scottie’s fear of fully seeing Madeleine. This fear permits Scottie to fill in Madeleine’s partial identity with his own subjective fantasies. This partial identity enlists the audience into participating in the subjective character creation.Although this example from Hitchcock is clearly an example of Laura Mulvey’s concept of the male gaze in all three manifestations, the takeaway is how the profile shot can become a means for filmmakers and videographers to interrogate the identity of characters within the story world from both the perspective of the other characters and the eventual viewers of the finished film.Conjoined IdentitiesWhen another person is added to the profile shot, the effect becomes more complicated. A dual profile can be a way of joining characters together at their most flattened, as seen above in Minority Report (via 20th Century Fox), whereas staging one character in profile and the second character facing forward can both join and disconnect characters, depending on the context. As seen below, Akira Kurosawa and Ingmar Bergman made great use of profile framing throughout their work.Red Beard via CriterionPersona via CriterionThe Silence via CriterionThe dual profile can be used to clearly signify conflict and battling perspectives especially when conjuring the art associated with comics and graphic novels. As in the 1989 Batman (top image), character motivations, when rendered in profile, can become clearly oppositional, more direct, and less emotive. The result is a more animalistic and brutal depiction of onscreen characters.ConclusionThe ambiguity that results from profile framing can be used to build up to a visual release in the emotional states of the onscreen characters by less two dimensional means. Hitchcock reverses the flattened perspective of the profile shots when he employs a circular dolly shot late in Vertigo (via Paramount).There are plenty of other ways to cinematically flatten your image. High key lighting is a very common technique that tends to reduce the dimensionality of shadows and smooths out the facial features of your subjects.Telephoto lenses flatten perspective and can be used to visually reduce the proximity between subjects in the shot. Telephoto lenses can also make it seem like your character is on a road to nowhere.But when it comes to simple, dramatic flattening, profile framing can be used to great effect to veil the identities and emotions of your onscreen subjects.What are your favorite examples of profile framing? Share them in the comments below!
View comments Another vape smoker nabbed in Lucena Jonel Dapidran, cousin of Manny Pacquiao. Photo by Roy LuarcaAustralian Brent Dames claimed a unanimous decision win over Filipino bet Jonel Dapidran in the first fight in the preliminaries of Battle of Brisbane Sunday at Suncorp Stadium.Judges scored 58-56, 58-56, 59-55 in favor of Dames, who improved his mediocre record to 6-3, remained in search of his knockout victory in his professional career.ADVERTISEMENT What ‘missteps’? Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Cayetano to unmask people behind ‘smear campaign’ vs him, SEA Games Pagasa: Kammuri now a typhoon, may enter PAR by weekend Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Dapidran, a cousin of WBO World welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao, slipped to 8-2 and lost his second fight in three bouts.This is also Dapidran’s first match outside of Philippine territory.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool stars LATEST STORIES Going for the jugular China furious as Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. LOOK: Jane De Leon meets fellow ‘Darna’ Marian Rivera Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ MOST READ Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next