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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful
For the beginner or occasional filmmaker, this is a great book. Essentially it is an encyclopedia of master shots, a hundred of them. Most are illustrated with stills from various films and with 3D models created in Poser 7.

The author provides details about how the shot is set up, the feeling the shot is intended to convey and pertinent information. Kenworthy deliberately stays away from things like lenses, equipment, lighting and so on.

His point is that the shots can be accomplished with any kind of camera. It is the point of view that matters and the action that establishes the meaning of the shot and advances the story.

Master Shots is definitely an aid to the beginning filmmaker or those who shoot only occasionally and could you a bit of assistance in visualizing how to tell their story.

For a very reasonable cost, you have a hundred classic master shots diagrammed and explained for you. Good deal.

Jerry
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'm impressed with the basic idea behind this book, it is simple, focused, and opens the door to creativity. The author takes a focused look at camera shot solutions pros have used to convey the story to the viewer. It would make brilliant text for an intro film class because it makes you concentrate on how you are turning your written script into visual medium. When I first got it I thought it would be just a bunch of plug in stock shots that you could link together to make a movie, but the author describes each shot and the reasoning behind it so you end up borrowing, adjusting and adding to the examples to get what you need. It definitely does not kill creativity.

The examples are great. Each takes a scene from a well known movie (the Shining, Enemy at the Gate, Children of Men,) then breaks it down into a generic graphics showing camera angles and actions. This helps clarify how and why the director staged the shot in this way. Also each example has a paragraph that explains why this works for the viewer and how camera work adds to the scene.

The book seems well balanced, it covers everything from fights and chases to love scenes. Personally I am not looking to do any action films, so fighting and such was not that important, but the sections on shooting dialog and car shots were invaluable. I read through this book while storyboarding my project and whole scenes fell together. And most importantly, I didn't feel like I was painting by numbers. More like, the template shots planted seeds which grew to be very personalized and perfect for my story.

A great book for anyone new to or a student of film.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 22, 2008
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a huge fan Jennifer Van Sijll's Cinematic Storytelling: The 100 Most Powerful Film Conventions Every Filmmaker Must Know, I thought Master Shots would be a great addition to my collection (same publishing-house/same style) ... and I wasn't wrong.

Master Shots addresses the basics. The language is simple and jargon-free ... very accessible to young people. Moreover, the descriptions are succinct. No needless words. This text will appeal to both new film-makers and those who want to understand the film-making process (to better appreciate the art). (I use Van Sijll's text in my film courses for a quick student-refresher and plan to use this work for a similar purpose).

Unlike many similar texts, Kenworthy uses easily recognizable films as examples: Cuarón's Children of Men Kubrick's The Shining, Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon Lynch's Blue Velvet,etc... So, no need to worry about a Fellini fiasco.

A minor critique: while the film examples are excellent, the computer renderings are bizarre and strangely distracting. I wonder if using a small panel of actors to acquire these tableaux-like moments wouldn't be a better choice. Likewise, some of the captured film-frames are a little too dark or (in some cases) too small. But these are minor complaints about an overall well-constructed, thoughtful text.

If you have never studied film and need a quick crash course, this (very cheap!) text is a nice place to start your journey!
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98 of 122 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 22, 2009
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'm a film student (not the rich, fortunate, private school kind) and I was REALLY excited to receive a copy of this book. I realize this book is not about certain shots being limited to a particular example, but also giving you ideas to expand on. However, I was slightly disappointed. Don't get me wrong, this book is still helpful, but I'm having a hard time understanding who this book is MAINLY targeted towards to.

First of all, even if you follow the "techniques", your low budget film will still look low budget if you don't have the proper equipments (and believable actors, lighting, script, and the list goes on....) That's reality. This book alone is not going to give you that "expensive look on your low-budget movie". That's just a marketing tool. Just be aware of that. (This is not the reason I'm giving it a 3 stars!) If you do have a dolly track, Steadicam, or crane, THAT will give you an "EXPENSIVE" *LOOK* -- however, if you're trying to convey a STORY using those tools, then there has to be a meaning to it or feel natural; or else the audience will feel disconnected. That's what this book is here to help you with. It's all about the e-MOTION. (Get it? The motion has to convey the emotion.)

The author mentions about using long/short lens, focus pull, dolly. etc, so you better really have that ability down first or know the basics. If you try to go hand held on a consumer camera, unless you're going for the Blair Witch/Cloverfield style, it's still going to look BAD.

As far as camera techniques go, it just uses the same, common, existing shots several times (it could just be a simple motionless long shot, or tracking/panning and coming to a halt; but just used in different examples). If you're looking for mindblowing innovation, this is not it. I guess when I heard the term "camera techniques", I had the wrong expectation of thinking it would be several camera tricks; for example, like "The Vertigo effect" (dolly zoom). However, the techniques in this book rely heavily on directing the actor's movements (and sometimes post editing and using props/location/lighting shadows; I thought this book was supposed to teach CAMERA techniques? I mean sure, all those things are crucial to a cinematographer, but it doesn't necessarily pertain all to the camera itself). It will keep using things like dolly, long/short lens, low/high angle, close up, etc, but what this book goes over briefly is basically the motivation of when to use them. There's a lot of recycled shots, but the only difference is the situation.

The shots are broken down for these categories:
Ch. 01: Fight Scenes (8 shots total)
Ch. 02: Chase Scenes (10 shots)
Ch. 03: Entrances & Exits (8 shots)
Ch. 04: Suspense, Searching & Creeping (9 shots)
Ch. 05: Dramatic Shift (9 shots)
Ch. 06: Revelations & Discoveries (9 shots)
Ch. 07: Shock Horror (9 shots)
Ch. 08: Directing Attention (7 shots)
Ch. 09: Car Scenes (7 shots)
Ch. 10: Dialogue Scenes (8 shots)
Ch. 11: Arguments & Conflict (8 shots)
Ch. 12: Love & Sex Scenes (8 shots)

If you don't know how to shoot a person in a car scene (have the camera in front of the car, backseat, or passenger side...) and need "advanced" help from this book, then you really shouldn't be a DP. I mean, there's some really useful examples and subtle tips in this book, don't get me wrong, but I just find some shots to be a little redundant or so basic that it's not even worth mentioning (or cause it to receive an applause from the viewer to say, "Wow, that looked advanced.")

The 3D model (made with Poser 7) picture, with only arrows pointing, and only two or three screen STILLS at most, from the actual movie, wasn't really helping me to fully understand, especially when I'm not familiar with the movie. I thought it was kind of strange, and somewhat humorous, for the sex scene shots, they would actually make female 3D model fully nude and detailed (hide this away from your kids! Will somebody please think of the children?!? Sorry.), while the male 3D rendering has his pants on (not that I'm complaining or anything about the latter). I almost think the 3D renderings were just something the makers enjoyed doing for themselves. Even some movies I were familiar with, the author explains it differently or there were discrepancies with the 3D diagram (Romeo + Juliet, the camera was panning around, so shouldn't it be showing arrows instead of three different camera set-ups and cutting between them?). The book contains brief short paragraphs of the explanation than being in-depth. For some shots, the author doesn't even mention what the movie is from. It would have been better if he had the movie title (and possibly the timecode for the scene) next to the screen stills, just for better organization, instead of sometimes being mentioned in the paragraphs.

Sure, if this was a drawing art book then stills are fine, but for movies... not quite. Some were quite obvious and a 3D model was totally unnecessary. I mean, camera placement is pretty evident just by looking at the still picture; however, if you haven't seen the movie before, it's a little difficult to understand what the movement exactly is. It would have been nice if this book came with a DVD-Rom with sample clips of the movie or clips of the 3D models! I'm sure costs would be a problem, but I wouldn't mind paying extra for it.

The author obviously knows his stuff. I don't hate this book. However, I think it could be a lot clearer in some examples, especially the 3D models and stills, and be more consistent on the order of explaining and which movie it is from. Moreover, focus on a certain target audience (maybe add a "level of difficulty" rating of what the author thinks on each example) than try to be too broad with obvious basic/repetitive examples or too complex to pull off without having the right setup. Overall, I think this book is targeted more towards people who already understand the basics of filmmaking and willing to invest on the essential tools to truly fulfill these shots (do not rely on hand held shots), but just can't come up with anything besides keeping the camera still on a tripod and cutting between them. For professional cinematographers, this will just be a nice reference, a "reminder".

After further review, I guess I wouldn't mind giving this book a 4 stars. The author at least doesn't ramble, doesn't use too much jargon, and gets to the point. The book doesn't feel outdated and uses mostly contemporary movies such as Children of Men, Minority Report, Fight Club, Terminator 3 (Not sure why he used the worst one out of the series), Amelie, Crouching Tiger, etc.

I find it pretty amusing that other reviews/"authors" (mentioning in their review that they're a successful instructor in this type of field) seem to praise each other's book, but at the same time, they self-promote their own.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on January 18, 2009
I am in awe of this book. And I think I have the chops to be a good judge of its worth. I have directed four feature films, and couple of dozen primetime TV shows and rock videos; taught directing for thirteen years at a leading filmschool (Chapman) and given seminars on "how to direct the camera" in eleven countries on three continents. I have also written my own universally well-reviewed, how-to book on directing - "First Time Director".

Kenworthy has a deep and broad understanding of how to direct the camera. In this book, he analyzes more than hundred different shots - most of them using a moving camera - and he is absolutely, spot-on accurate in describing the dramatic impact - the feel - of each shot. This makes the book as much about story as camera. His analyses are well written and easy to understand. And most important, the visual tools he uses to illustrate how to execute the shots are highly effective - better than I have seen in any how-to book on directing, including my own.

Anybody with a basic understanding of camera and lenses can pick up this book, study it, and start taking giant strides towards becoming a master of visual design for motion pictures. If you want to make movies that like the directors whose films Kenworthy uses to illustrate his points: Kubrick, Spielberg, Lucas and Cuaron, to name a few, this book is a great place to start.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2011
The thing that really turned me off this book, and actually made me angry, were the inadequate illustrations and confusing text. The shot descriptions are illustrated on the opposite page with one or two tiny black and white stills from movies. You can barely make out anything from the photos due to the poor, grainy resolution, small size and lack of colour. The photo frames are poorly chosen and do not provide logical sequences that you can easily follow. There are even some specific shots which use colour as a mechanism, and the black and white photos were of course particularly unhelpful in assisting our understanding with regards these concepts. The quality of the illustrations are NOTHING like the photo shown on the cover of the book, and this actually made me angry as I do consider this to be a form of false advertising.

There are also computer generated illustrations drawn by the author. Although the idea is ok in theory, I didn't think the author was very successful with it's execution. Personally I found the drawings rather confusing and unhelpful. They didn't usually relate to the photo stills already provided, ie. the characters or subjects shown are entirely different, meaning that you have to try and figure out what's going on for a second time (the first time being trying to make out the terrible photographs). It's all rather time consuming and laborious.

By way of contrast, I also bought a book by Gustavo Mercado called The Filmmakers Eye - it's one of the ones that Amazon puts forward as a recommendation. This is a beautiful colour book with a glossy finish, and clear, large colour images from well known movies in sequences that make sense and can be followed easily. It not only details the different camera shots but also the specific lenses and cmera settings you would use to achieve them, and examples of when and why you might break the rules of the shot. This is the level of detail and quality of presentation that I was expecting from Master Shots, but it simply wasn't there. Also, the photo on the cover of Mercado's book accurately reflects the quality of the photos inside the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 16, 2008
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am not a cinematographer, but I fancy myself a good shot with a video camera. This book has helped me bring my home videos up to beyond the next level.

The book does a great job of showing photos of the shot they are describing. The really cool idea is showing how the camera should be placed with 3D characters/cameras (looks like Poser).

How often are photo cameras around to take photos of the placement of the camera with relation to the scene? This is why the 3D scenes are so useful. You can replicate the scene and shot without too much guessing.

I have learned a good deal from this book. I am NOT a professional so I cannot speak to how this could help them, I am just a casual video geek.

If you are looking for a great resource for shooting professional scenes then you cannot go wrong.

Overall its decent, but I would like to have seen more details.

Thank you for reading my review.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a well-designed reference guide for videographers and directors, who already know the basics, and want to add a level of visual flair to their projects. The key to making a project really work on film or video is to convey as much information as possible with the images -- truly cinematic works tell their story through action and images. "Master shots" contains a detailed list and descriptions of 100 shot or sequence types that convey information clearly.

The book is similar to another excellent guide that is also published by Michael Wiese Productions -- Setting Up Your Shots: Great Camera Moves Every Filmmaker Should Know. The primary difference between the books is that the moves in "Setting Up Your Shots" are described and explained in a way that encourages awareness of possibilities; in "Master Shots" the focus is more on providing a bag of tricks. In fact, it struck me that the titles for the two books might as well be reversed. "Master Shots" explains how to set up the shots it describes and explains when it would be useful to employ them. "Setting up your shots" describes what the shots are and what information they convey. Another difference is in the kind of shots that get covered in each book: "Setting up your shots" aims to identify something like a canonical list of very noticeable shots that stand out when they are employed; "Master shots" tends to focus on shots that are not usually as noticeable but have strong visual impact and convey a lot of information.

The book is helpfully organized around the "bag of tricks" theme -- there are chapters on shots to use in fight scenes, chase scenes, entrances and exits, suspense and shock, dramatic shift, revelations and discoveries, directing attention, car scenes, dialogue scenes, arguments & conflict, and even love and sex scenes. In each case there are illustrations, both from a well known film as well as illustrations with computer models that show how the camera is to be placed and how it would look in some setting other than the popular film, and there is also a verbal description of the basic technique along with some helpful pointers about how to achieve it. Many of the shots would be useful for beginning videographers, but several involve techniques that would require a semi-professional camera (one that would allow for manual adjustment of focus and aperture, and for changing from wide to long lenses, etc.) and/or dollies or other mounts. This is a very worthwhile guide, that I expect to go back to for inspiration on a regular basis.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2008
As many of you know who have read my reviews...I have been in the process of making my own low budget (read: no-budget) feature film. I finished principal photography at the end of September 2008, I'm having a "rough-cut" at the end of October 2008.

Why oh why did I not get this book until now? It would have come in VERY handy. Especially during the love-making scenes.

Mr. Kenworthy has written an EXCELLENT book on camera angles, camera tricks. You don't need to be an award winning cinematographer to fully grasp this book - each shot is explained in detail and then, for added benefit, there are screen shots and/or computer graphics to better explain the look.

Having seen thousands of movies over the years I approached my film with the visuals pretty much set in my head. I also wrote the script in a way that the visuals were actually limited. There was only one shot that I spelled out in the script - a silhouette shot that we weren't able to do as well as I would like anyway (see "no-budget" above). But where this book could have come in handy - would have been in helping me re-think the shots. Maybe I didn't need the silhouette - maybe I could have used the "Anticipating Motion" shot or the "Fearing The Character" shot that Kubrick used for "The Shining."

Now as I go through my film in the editing process I see those shots that I used (pull back to reveal, the circling shot) and think about shots that I possibly should have used.

Issues with the book? Well, I think my only real complaint is that I would have liked Mr. Kenworthy to use terms that are commonly used in Hollywood today. A "two shot" a "whip-pan" a "match-cut" a "point of view shot." This isn't to say he doesn't talk about these shots - I would have just liked a bit more of the lingo to go along with them. I would have also liked a list of films and what shots they used in particular. How would you describe the opening shot in Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil?" What about the absurdity of the film "The Science of Sleep?" Or films that combine one, two, three different shots in a row.

All in all, though, Christopher Kenworthy's book gives you a basic, no holds barred - no shot forgotten, look at how films are made from the camera point of view. For anyone with a desire to understand how film is constructed - this book is for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2012
Master shots is an INCREDIBLE book for a beginner / intermediate filmmaker. It does not spend any time going on and on about the history and reasoning for doing this or that. It just starts page 1 – to do this effect put the camera here, put the actors there, move the camera this way, change the focus in this way as you do it. The explanation for each scene that it goes into is two or three pages long. Then it starts the next scene example. The camera here, the actors there... Sometimes a snippet of the psychology behind doing something a certain way.

Professional / advanced filmmakers maybe would not get a lot out of this because this is probably things they already know or already do. But if you have a little bit of time to read, it would be worth it for them because they may pick up some little idea in here that works out great for them. I'm a beginner level but just reading the book stirred some ideas in my mind that were not even given in the book. So for this reason they may also like it. The intro to the book suggested this as well and it was right.
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