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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Andrew H Tsao
DRAMA 230
Seattle Campus

Visual Narrative: Introduction to Cinematic Grammar and Editing

Surveys the history and uses of narrative film grammar, and applies it to projects which develop the student's ability to tell visual stories. Students study samples of traditional and innovative film grammar by master filmmakers, and make a series of short film projects in order to gain a working knowledge of framing, screen size, montage, and sequence.

Class description

From the first uses of film to tell stories at the beginning of the 20th century to todayís new media explosion in the digital age, the vocabulary of film grammar has undergone a rapid evolution. However, the juxtaposition of the long shot, the medium shot and the close up remains the core language of cinema narrative.

This class surveys the history and uses of narrative film grammar, and applies it to projects which develop the studentís ability to tell visual stories.

Students will study samples of traditional and innovative film grammar by master filmmakers, and make a series of short film projects in order to gain a working knowledge of framing, screensize, montage and sequence.

Student learning goals

1. Overview of traditional film grammar and its uses over the 20th century.

2. Principles of cinematic vocabulary: the long shot, medium shot, close shot and their uses.

3. Principles of cinematic editing for narrative.

4. The elements of the frame: composition, depth, movement, etc.

5. The Five Shot Sequence.

General method of instruction

Through lectures, screenings and demonstrations, students will acquire a working knowledge of the principles of narrative film grammar. Students will shoot exercises each week in order to develop confidence and mastery of cinematic techniques.

Recommended preparation

(This class is one in a three part sequence of UW CineMedia core courses, including Arts 150: The Art of Story and Drama 231: Dramatic Construction for Cinema.)

Requirements: Students must have a smartphone or other personal camcorder in order to complete the exercises for this class.

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Susan L Bruns
Date: 04/03/2013