Film School: The Spielberg Oner

Film School: The Spielberg Oner A still from Steven Spielberg's 'Jaws' (1975)

A look at how the master delivers story and character without cutting.

Every Frame A Painting looks at director Steven Spielberg‘s use of the single take, and his techniques such as reframing, to tell volumes purely through carefully-planned camera composition and movement:

An example of how Spielberg covers a basic “dialogue” or 180 scene and manages its four basic angles – master, single, single reverse, and insert – within a single unedited take, by using reframing, can be found in the bar scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981):

And in this behind-the-scenes featurette, is footage of Spielberg directing that scene (starting at 19:50):

StudioBinder diagrams the blocking of oners in Jurrassic Park (the original, of course, and still the best):

As in this oner from Munich (2005)

… a key element in Spielberg’s filmmaking, alongside or even integral to his reframing, is his sound design, as Nerdwriter demonstrates in this stunning deconstruction:

Further Viewing

Director David F. Sandberg (YouTuber-turned-Hollywood-director of Shazam!, Lights Out, and Annabelle Creation) looks at examples from director (and Spielberg associate) Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Forest Gump, and in particular here, What Lies Beneath) where the oner is used to cover entire scenes (and keep production moving by reducing the number of setups):

Within the budget and resource constraints of a ’70s BBC miniseries, director Herbert Wise relied on blocking and oners to inventively tell the story of I, Claudius (1976). “The camera always moves alongside [the actors] with purpose,” Moviewise observes. “Takes are unusually long… and thanks to the choreography of camera and actors, they keep the need to cut down to a minimum”:

And just because it’s one of the more influential and referenced shots in the history of cinema, here’s the tracking shot from Wings (1927) (via All The Right Movies):

More on sound design, in the films of Spielberg and others:

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