A films’ most important attributes and what is seen to be the ‘make or break’ of a movie are of course; Sound quality, story and picture quality. Picture quality is often only seen an in-focus shot, but it encompasses so many aspects of “picture quality”
The first obviously being if the shot is in focus or not. There is not a lot worse than when you are watching a film and a shot or even multiple shots are out of focus and blurry. This can really take you as a viewer out of the story and be distracted by how poorly the focus puller did their job. An out of focus, extreme bokeh shot like the one below are often used as transitional shots and point of view shots. But when character dialogue is taking place, especially a Close-up or Extreme Close-up shot, the focus and sharpness of the image are important.
Next attribute of the term “picture quality” would be composition. Just like a blurry out of focus shot, a poorly composed shot can have the same effect on the audience. It certainly isn’t as obvious to your ‘average Joe’ but will too take the viewer out of the story and cause confusion or distraction. Shot composition is commonly referred to as “the rule of thirds” as shown in the image below. It is a complex rule which would take many words to explain so I will link an in-depth explanation of the rule by Photography Mad. But of course rules are made to be broken, as they say, thus it can be used incorrectly often in times where the character in the film is feeling uncomfortable, outcasted, lost etc. The television series ‘Mr Robot is an example of this where director Sam Esmail has ditched the traditional rule of thirds for what is known as the ‘rule of quaters’. I could discuss this for hours but must move on too the following and final aspect of picture Quality.
That being what Noam Kroll has discussed recently and that is colour contrast, and what it can add to an image. Lighting is a key component of color contrast and can easily add contrast to an image if done correctly. Images that aren’t shot with colour grading in mind often create challenges and sometimes impossible tasks for the best graders out there. As cameras and technology advance so do colour grading and shooting techniques. With so many high-end cinema cameras such as the RED line up or the Blackmagic now shooting in full RAW, often in times like this, it is possible and easier just to shoot a flat, low contrast image giving the colour grader and director more creative freedom in Post-Production. Obviously however not everyone has $50,000+ lying around and these cameras are not an option. However, even low-end video or cinema camera’s nowadays have extremely high image quality, dynamic range, and a wide colour pallet it is possible to achieve extremely accurate and a great colour contrast.
Noam Kroll Blog – http://noamkroll.com/why-color-contrast-is-essential-for-the-cinematic-look-how-to-capture-it-on-set/