Storytelling with Composition: Shane Hurlbut leads the way

“Take something ordinary and make it extraordinary, be obsessed with the subtleties then finish with an unstoppable work ethic.” – Shane Hurlbut, ASC

Shane Hurlbut, ASC has been spinning film thru cameras for over 20 years on some massively huge projects, including feature films Terminator Salvation and Act of Valor, and for damn good reason. The man is amazing, does fantastic work, and has a giant heart for sharing what he knows (and constantly learns) with the rest of us mere mortals in the filmmaker sphere. In addition to this, Shane and his crew push the envelope of what’s practical with the recently adopted-for-filmmaking DSLR platform. I think it’s safe to say Shane’s one of the few and the proud to spearhead the DSLR as a main camera in the Hollywood crowd when things broke open a few years back.

It’s guys like Shane Hurlbut, Vincent LaForet and Philip Bloom (amongst several other noble souls) who continue to plow new ground in using these image making tools and techniques for visual storytelling. Following these folks is a great idea if you’re interested in learning something new every day.

Aside from being a mover and shaker in the DSLR crowd, Shane Hurlbut  likes to share, and does so with amazing generosity thru his blog, Hurlblog/ educate. Ready to learn something new?

IMHO, the following three shorts are fantastic examples of storytelling with composition, shot recently by Philip Bloom,  Shane Hurlbut ASC and  Vincent LaForet, respectively. All three films incorporated DSLR camera’s during production. Grab a coffee, sit back  and get inspired.

Composition is Key

One key aspect of getting your story told is thru effective composition.  In his recent article, Shane leads the way thru a bunch of solid examples including a few from legendary director John Ford, well known for his powerfully beautiful Westerns.  Here’s an excerpt from Shane’s article at Hurlbut Visuals;

“…classic and elegant shots will never go out of style. It grounds the story, characters, and your visual language. Subtle composition that showcases the art of storytelling without attracting attention by using a sledgehammer is my favorite way to shoot.” in the video below, John Ford plays with the blocking a bit, having the actors walks into a closeup. Brilliant stuff ensues (Clip courtesy of Hurlbut Visuals).

Swing by Shane’s awesome repository of filmic resources for some seriously in-depth primers on color-correction, lighting, cinematography and feedback from he and his teams’ adventures in the filmmaking trenches. He’s a great talent with a remarkable crew applying what they speak of daily in production. A must follow blog for the filmmaker.

What films, music videos and commercials come to mind as favourite compositional examples in storytelling? Share ’em  here!

Cheers, M

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