How can you create anticipation with the help of framing?

In visual arts and particularly cinematography, framing is the representation of visual elements in an image, especially the placement of the subject with respect to other objects. Framing can make an image more aesthetically pleasing and keep the viewer’s focus on the framed object.

Anticipation– A feeling that something is about to happen.

In cinema, we can create this anticipation through framing in number of ways. Let us discuss three different scenes that create anticipation and have a different objective each time.

Photo 1- This scene is from Hitchcok’s film ‘Psycho’ when the detective Arbogast goes inside Norman Bates’ house to investigate about Marion Crane. We go to a top angle. You can see that there is a lot of space on the right hand side of screen, which anticipates that something is about to happen. The camera doesn’t move and suddenly a woman appears holding a knife and stabs Arbogast. This results in shock, suspense and finally murder.

A shot from Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960)

Photo 2- This scene is from the film ‘Bean’s Holiday’. We know that Bean has missed his bus as he heads towards Cannes. Waiting for really long on the roadside, he finds a small wooden box and goes inside it to check it. As he gets locked from inside, he tries to lift the box with all his strength and comes on to the road lifting it. Notice the camera here. The camera remains fixed at one point and the framing is such that Bean goes out of the frame (along with the box). We hear sound of a horn from an approaching truck and we see the truck bangs into the box. We think Bean is dead. But then Bean arrives back into the frame, cleaning his clothes. This creates humor and we laugh.

Bean’s Holiday (2007)

Photo 3- This scene is from the film ‘Titanic’. When the film begins, we see Titanic leaving the port for its maiden voyage. James Cameron has showed the enormity of Titanic from various angles. So in one of the shots, we see a small sail boat going slowly leaving a large portion of frame empty. From the right side of frame, enters the big Titanic and almost eclipses the small boat, thereby showing its enormity as compared to the small boat. We only see a small portion of Titanic, yet big enough to eclipse the boat and with it the sunlight, so the screen turns dark. This framing creates anticipation and helps in establishing the scale of the big ship.

Titanic (1997)

So, with the help of an anticipatory set-up of framing, we are able to generate three different ideas or you can say the directors used framing to convey three different aspects of cinema. In photo 1, we saw a lot of tension, suspense leading to a murder. In Photo 2, we saw anticipation with humor and in photo 3, the framing has been used to depict the vastness of a ship.

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