22 movie making techniques that always work...

... at least if you're shooting noir! Anne Lukeman's "22 frames that always work" transmutes the Wally Wood comic classic, 22 panels that always work," into a film-making equivalent. [via Gizmodo]


  1. Though all of those do translate to film/video in practice, choosing to illustrate them in the narrow portrait aspect ratio is a bit strange. Some of those shots would be drastically different if you were trying to compose them in a widescreen format. Back of Head/Part of Head, for example, will change considerably when you frame for widescreen.

    Cool video as an exercise, but not a single one of those shots is an example of how those concepts actually work within a widescreen frame.

    1. That was my first response: nice video, but aspect ratio fail.
      My second thought was: I’ve seen a bit of video online that works outside the video/film aspect ratios – why doesn’t more of it reject the traditional aspect ratios entirely? There’s little reason to keep it for work that’s meant to be seen embedded in a web page…

      1. I saw a movie recently that shot a scene through a partly open door, so that the action took place in the vertical frame between the door and the jamb. When I realised what the camera was doing it knocked my head off. (I wish I could remember what film it was now.)

        Also, there was that brief experimentation with split screen techniques during the ’60s which sometimes did it just to play with the aspect ratios.

  2. Interesting. I’ve never watched movies or TV with a critical eye before, so I never realized there was a method or a pattern to the way things are shot. (And that there were names for different kinds of backgrounds and different kinds of lighting). Cool.

  3. I’m seeing this still as more of a guideline for comic book artists than film makers. Artists learn film techniques to tell stories and often have a little movie of their own going on in their heads as they draw. This video gives extra clarification of how Wally Wood’s panel layout suggestions, designed to help artists stuck with really slow chunks of writing, would look in real life. Useful.

  4. Another thing that you always see: Demonstration.

    If someone is climbing a dangerous mountain then something has to fall, even if it is a piece of equipment or a rock, just to demonstrate the jeopardy.

    In the slaughterhouse scene in the new Sherlock Holmes something had to be cut by those blades, and those somethings were cut multiple times.

  5. Wait a second.

    ‘White Ben Day Background?’ Ben day dots are a halftone print thing. There is no such thing in filmmaking.

    And 3 stage? In the comic panels there is a nude woman surrounded by 3 dark male figures. Not sure what that guy on the stairs is supposed to represent in the video.

  6. At first I thought #14 was an “elle-shaped” figure. I guess that’s what the Y-chromosome does to perception.

  7. Fantastic Woody would be proud I never thought id see the day when id see 22 frames in motion, most movie makers, designers and writers would do well to study how possibly the greatest artist the world has ever known saw the world.

    thank you for sharing this


  8. Hello. Very quick on the draw of everybody to point out the aspect ratio problem vis a vis film. While the embedded web video thing is intriguing, the same sort of formal exercise is not possible in standard film projection; 1.85:1 is currently the squattest standard form possible, and the vast majority of cinemas would be thrown into a complete panic by a “taller” frame. One would be tempted to call these taller frames non-traditional, except for the fact that the widescreen format is a relatively new invention in film; “Academy”, a much more boxy 1.33:1, is an older format and, despite widescreen’s snob-appeal, the home of any number of extraordinary films (early Kurosawa, noir, and on and on).

    The “shorting” of the frame with tricks such as a semi-closed door or simply the use of foreground elements is definitely an acknowledged way of limiting the size of a frame, and is a great way of manipulating the field of view.

    Chris Weitz

Comments are closed.