Exercise: Building a story

Fig. 1. Chris Yunker (2008)

Exercise Brief:

  • Choose a picture of a wide scene.
  • Identify a series of frames within the picture that you can use to create a new story.
  • Place your new images in order and accompany them with notes outlining your new story.

A wide shot of pedestrians walking in ones, twos and threes along a street in Milan provided the large canvas for this exercise on directing attention in a scene. The bright, overcast sky casts a diffused, even light throughout the street.

The five images selected from within the wide shot were chosen for the different ways in which the characters were portrayed within the scene. The images were cropped to exclude other people where possible, so as to direct the focus of attention to the main characters within the frame.

Logbook 11/4/2017

Each frame was also given a caption that described in some way the character within the image.

The frames were then sequenced according to an implied direction of movement within the images and the number of people within the image.

Frames 1, 2 & 4 imply a left to right movement; frame 3 implies a movement towards the viewer; frame 5, though static, implies a movement from right to left, which acts as a bookend to frame 1.

The number of people within the opening frames increases sequentially from 1 to 2 to 3. The final two images have one person within the frame, with the final one again acting as a bookend to the first frame.




Frame 1. ‘The unobservant man…reflects on peaceful times’

Frame 2. ‘The two colleagues…persue the benefits of stone’

Frame 3. ‘The man in a black suit…extols the virtues of his wealth’

Frame 4. ‘The woman glancing sideways…quietly rejoices’

Frame 5. ‘The pensive man…conceals a fear of rain’



I am pleased with the result in isolating five frames from the original picture that are different in content and meaning. I’m also pleased with the way in which the captions add an imaginative dimension to the result.

This exercise taught me that the primary function of the frame is to define what the audience sees on screen, and that to achieve this I need to carefully select frames that present information, convey meaning, create feeling and express a feeling within the scene.

If I was to do this exercise again, I would crop the picture selections using a 16:9 aspect ratio. This would help give a better sense of how directing attention through framing can affect the look of a shot on screen.

By asking myself what information needs presenting, what meaning should be conveyed, what feeling should be created and what idea needs expressing within each frame, I have become more rigorous and creative in my approach to framing shots. In future, when planning shots for a moving image, I can ask these questions of each frame to help define what the audience sees.

List of Illustrations

Figure 1. October afternoon on Via Dante in Milan, Italy (2008) Chris Yunker. [Flickr website] At: https://www.flickr.com/photos/chris-yunker/13583927 (Accessed on: 10 April 2017)