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The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media Paperback – October 24, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0240807799 ISBN-10: 0240807790 Edition: 2nd

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The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV and Digital Media + Cinematic Storytelling: The 100 Most Powerful Film Conventions Every Filmmaker Must Know + The Filmmaker's Eye: Learning (and Breaking) the Rules of Cinematic Composition
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Focal Press; 2 edition (October 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240807790
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240807799
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 7.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Bruce Block has a unique knowledge and understanding of the visual structure of film. The Visual Story is the only book of its kind. it will teach you to become a better storyteller through the use of visuals." - Nancy Meyers, Director of "Something's Gotta Give" and "The Holiday"

"Bruce Block masterfully deconstructs visual storytelling. Exposure to this material is essential for all students of cinema. This book will make you a better filmmaker." --American Film Institute

"Bruce Block's work gives the visual storyteller a framework for making story-driven decisions, not just visual choices. It gives the filmmaker tools to create harmony and counterpoint between the story structure and its visual realization on the screen." --Randy Nelson, Dean of Pixar University, Pixar Animation Studios

"No matter what kind of visual storyteller you are, whether a filmmaker, photographer, or graphic designer, Bruce Block explains how visual narrative works in a way that is clear and accessible." --David Pagani, Creative Director-On Air, DIRECTV

"Bruce Block is legendary in the field of broadcast design. His profound insight into the art of visual storytelling will forever change the way you work." --Dan Pappalardo, Executive Creative Director/Partner, Troika Design Group

"I spend much of my time in pre-production quoting Bruce Block to my cinematographers, production designers, costume designers, and editors. In all my years in the business I've never found a clearer more useful articulation of film grammar." --Jay Roach, director of Austin Powers, Meet the Parents, and Meet the Fockers

"You hold in your hand a key to understanding the complex and ever changing world of modern cinema."
--Charles Shyver, director of Alfie, Father of the Bride I & II, and Baby Boom

"Bruce Block's in-depth understanding of Visual Structure is inspirational to those working in animation. This reference source is invaluable and essential for any artist." --Walt Disney Television Animation

"I think every cinematographer-in-training should read this book. It will teach them how important collaboration with others in the crew is by having an overall concept of all that goes into the creation of the Visual Story." - Rexford Metz, ASC

"His book is a sort of Elements of Style for filmmakers, and any screenwriter, director or cinematographer with a point of view will find a great deal of creative inspiration in The Visual Story's guide to the fundamentals of the craft....The Visual Story makes the very convincing argument that all of these media require precise, motivated visual designs in order to be effective - and that having a point to make or a story to tell is only half the battle." - American Cinematographer

"In a great story - and in a great speech - there is ebb and flow, there is silence and there may be thunder... In a wonderful book about the power of the visual in storytelling by Bruce Block (The Visual Story: Creating the Visual Structure of Film, TV, and Digital Media), the author uses these three basics of story - Exposition, Climax, Resolution - to show the link between visual structure and story structure." -Garr Reynolds, Presentation Zen (http://www.presentationzen.com/)

About the Author

Bruce Block has worked in a creative capacity on dozens of feature films, television shows commercials and animated films. His feature film producing credits include Something's Gotta Give, What Women Want, America's Sweethearts, The Parent Trap, and Father of the Bride I & II. He served as creative consultant on Spanglish, As Good As It Gets, Stuart Little and many other feature films and television productions. He is an adjunct Professor at the USC School of Cinema & Television and teaches classes in visual structure at the American Film Institute, PIXAR Studios, Walt Disney Feature and Television Animation, Dreamworks Animation, Nickelodeon Animation Studios, Industrial Light & Magic and a variety of film schools in Europe. Mr. Block also consults with video game designers and software companies creating new interactive media. He can be reached at www.bruceblock.com.

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Customer Reviews

Very well written and explained.
M. Garcia
I love the fact that author Bruce Block talks so much about the need for the visuals to follow and reflect the ups and downs of the underlying story structure.
Nancy Hendrickson
In the early chapters it sets stages for fundamentals like Contrast/Affinity and Space for example.
N. Schale

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Nancy Hendrickson on February 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
I teach a class called "Story" at Los Angeles Film School and this book is on my Recommend Reading List for all students but I especially tout it to cinematography, production design and directing majors. There are many books that talk about the basics (shot size, 180 degree rule, etc.) but if you want to go beyond that to find out what kinds of choices the great filmmakers make and why, this is the book with the answers.

One thing young filmmakers and students often fail to understand about the auteurs and master directors is that they base their shots on what serves the story, not the fact that the shot "looks cool." I love the fact that author Bruce Block talks so much about the need for the visuals to follow and reflect the ups and downs of the underlying story structure. I also love the fact that that he takes film theory and shows the filmmaker how to apply it. Ordinarily, film theory and film practice are two separate worlds.

I never thought I'd find a film book I liked better than the first edition of "The Visual Story," but now I have: It's the 2nd edition, which has a bigger, easier-to-read format, many more color illustrations and more, updated examples. The students who've taken my advice and read this book are blown away by it. I believe it should be mandatory reading for anyone who is in the film business or who hopes to be.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By N. Schale on April 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Visual Story by Bruce Block
reviewed by The Monkey Butler Ninja [..]
The subjects covered in this book are CRITICAL to all artist, Photographers, Painters, Game Designers, and Videographers. We must have a good grasp of fundamental principles concerning visual structure.

The Visual Story by Bruce Block reads a lot like a textbook. Since I prefer a book to come across as if hearing some guru on the subject teach me, this is a con. That being said, it is an excellent textbook. In the early chapters it sets stages for fundamentals like Contrast/Affinity and Space for example. Then, throughout the book it constantly refers to these pillars of visual design giving real world examples.

Which brings me to my next point, the examples this book gives are superb. Bruce Block will cover a subject, like TONE, for an entire chapter and at the end he will bring the lesson full circle by giving you `films to watch.' But wait! The films that Bruce recommends vary extensively! In the TONE chapter, `films to watch' include the movies T-Men (1947) and Kill Bill (2003) [plus a handful more]. Using this layout, Bruce is able to convey that the subject matter for each chapter is TIMELESS! His example movies transcend not only time released, but also subject matter and themes.

This book really shines with its illustrations. An absolute ideal amount of visual aids are delightfully displayed throughout the book. Not too many, not too few. Even the graphs (which typically aren't the most exciting graphical element) had a proper layout. I seem to remember running across somewhere that the first edition of this book was all black and white, wow. GREAT move going to full color, I can honestly say that this book would have not been nearly as impacting.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Farrin Abbott on January 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
I am a visual person. I'm currently taking a film class and had to purchase The Visual Story for class. Let me first say that I am an aspiring filmmaker. I have an incredible library of handpicked books catering to any and all aspects of the filmmaking experience and this is by FAR among the very top of my selections! It is really terrific at not only explaining concepts very concisely, but it also is full of real visual examples. Terrific book. Buy it! You'll be glad you did.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By T. Campbell on February 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
Photographers should own this book. It has the best, clearest presentation of visual space/depth in images of any book I know of currently in print. The only book that is more advanced is Alexander Lapin's "Photography as ..." and that is only in Russian. Hans Hofmann comes to mind in theoretical sophistication.

I like the way he separates topics and uses diagrams. He breaks out his argument almost in outline form. The only thing easy to criticize is some repetition of statements through the text.

The section on visual rhythm is as good as I have seen anywhere.

While not everything in this book applies to still image photography, 70% to 80% of the topics do. The presentation is basic, but substantial. It is probably the best presentation for photographers at the elementary theoretical level available. Freeman's book is much more comprehensive, but Block's approach stands up well.

Some of the vocabulary will not necessarily be what photographers and painters are used to. Block's term "affinity" is the film maker's term for what the rest of us would call "harmony," as the other end of the spectrum from contrast. Maitland Graves has the best presentation of defining contrast and harmony among design elements that I have seen.

Knowing this material about moving pictures can translate substantially into better understanding of one's still pictures.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alexander on September 13, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Because of plenty of pics the read is very easy and took me something like 2 days (on occasional reading). The book itself deals both with composition and movement, and some very interesting points about flat and deep space. I recommend it not only to cinematographers but also interested in composition. This is a good explanation of all types of perspectives and many other things. Easy to read but quite solid in quality of info.
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