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March 2004, Week 3


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Tue, 16 Mar 2004 09:59:44 -0600
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
David Bordwell <[log in to unmask]>
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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dear colleagues:

I would agree with Don Larsson and (implicitly) Heather Addison: eyeline 
matching is an editing technique which may or may not involve POV shots, 
while the POV shot is a camera technique which may or may not be allied 
with eyeline-match cutting. They seem to me independent variables. I'd 
consider POV cutting (not POV shots) a subset of eyeline-match cutting, as 
James Monaco does. When the shot of the object seen is presented 
approximately from the character's standpoint (angle is a stronger cue for 
this than exact distance, as Ed Branigan showed long ago), we have an 
eyeline match using a POV shot--ie, POV cutting.

However, my collaborator Kristin Thompson doesn't fully agree with me! She 
believes that eyeline matches are best defined as cuts that show what a 
character is looking at but not from her or his POV. She would reserve the 
term POV cutting for cuts that do show the object of the look from the 
character's optical perspective. So she considers eyeline-match cutting and 
POV cutting equivalent alternatives, whereas I would consider POV cutting a 
type of eyeline-match cutting. (It's little differences like this that keep 
a marriage together.) Editing professionals seem not to agree about how to 
classify these types, and I suspect they don't much care, since it wouldn't 
change their practice; so I suppose one is free to pick a position. I'm not 
sure it all comes to much, as long as we differentiate eyeline-match cuts 
and POV cuts somehow.

A small correction to Gloria Monti: in the edition of FILM ART she cites, 
we define the POV shot as presenting the object from the character's 
optical perspective and we add that it is "usually cut in before or after a 
shot of the character looking" (p. 504). Of course, as Rene Albert 
mentions, some scenes do not supply such framing shots.

best regards,

David Bordwell

At 07:56 AM 3/16/2004 -0500, you wrote:
>Actually, I thought that James Monaco's response implied that every POV
>is an eyeline match....when you are considering a pair of shots in
>which the second shot reveals what a character looks at/toward in the
>first shot.  Thus I took it as a comment about editorial logic rather
>than a universal pronouncement on the definition of POV shots.
>Heather Addison
>On Mar 16, 2004, at 1:18 AM, Rene Albert wrote:
>>re: every POV is an eyeline match ....
>>I think we need to be very careful making such generalizations in the
>>of a definition or even worse a rule.  It's nice way to transmit
>>concepts to
>>students in a succint manner, but hardly informative in terms of the
>>practice of filmmaking.
>>Although many POV shots are eyeline matches, I think that there are
>>occasions where it arguably isn't.  A long uninterupted POV shot is
>>not an
>>eyeline match.  By definition, there needs to be a preceding shot to
>>to ... and this means that we are dealing with a certain form of
>>memory of
>>the shot that precedes the POV (be it perceptual or cognitive).  The
>>is at the transition ... but after a take lasts for a certain
>>duration, that
>>POV shot becomes something else.  Also, there are cases where we are
>>privy to a preceding shot ... and the world of the POV shot is all
>>that we
>>I think it's safer to say that a POV shot is a view presented to the
>>audience as being from the perspective of a given character.  The
>>relationship of the shot to the character's viewpoint can be
>>established by
>>an eyeline match, but it does not necessarily need to be.  This
>>could also be estabilshed by interactions of the characters within the
>>towards the camera (or the center of the frame) or by a monologue
>>the scene in voice-over as internal thoughts and in a variety of other
>>manners.  Whether the eyeline match is the most effective way of
>>establishing this relationship is another question altogether.
>>- Rene
>>>From: James Monaco <[log in to unmask]>
>>>Reply-To: Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
>>>To: [log in to unmask]
>>>Subject: Re: POV/eyeline match
>>>Date: Mon, 15 Mar 2004 15:11:21 -0500
>>>Here's a more useful definition from The Dictionary of New Media:
>>>Eyeline Match
>>>An editing rule: the alternation of two shots, the first showing a
>>>character looking off-screen, the second showing what he’s looking at.
>>>A rough sense of scale and distance is kept, but not necessarily
>>>perspective—that is, every Point-of-View Shot is an eyeline match, but
>>>every eyeline match is not necessarily a POV shot.
>>>On Mar 14, 2004, at 9:25 PM, gloria monti wrote:
>>>>        *Film Art* 7th edition states:
>>>>*eyeline match*: shot A presents someone looking at something
>>>>offscreen, shot B shows us what is being looked at.
>>>>*POV shot*: a cut from a person looking to what he sees.
>>>>        Where is the difference, here?   My understanding was always
>>>>that in a POV shot, the spectator "becomes" the character looking and
>>>>sees what s/he sees and the character looking is never onscreen.
>>>>Whereas the eyeline match shows the character looking and what s/he
>>>>is looking.  However, FA also states that in the case of the eyeline
>>>>match, "in neither (A and B) shot are both looker and object present.
>>>>        Thoughts?
>>>>        Gloria Monti
>>>>gloria monti, PH.D.
>>>>cinema studies program
>>>>oberlin college
>>>>10 n. professor st.
>>>>oberlin, OH 44074
>>>>phone: 440-775-6015
>>>>fax: 440-775-8684
>>>>e-mail: [log in to unmask]
>>>>"What's your impression of Los Angeles?"
>>>>"It's a big garage."
>>>>Jean-Luc Godard
>>>>Screen-L is sponsored by the Telecommunication & Film Dept., the
>>>>University of Alabama:
>>>Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite
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>Heather Addison, Ph.D.
>Assistant Professor
>Department of Communication
>Western Michigan University
>1903 W. Michigan Avenue
>Kalamazoo, MI  49008-5318
>Office Phone:  (269) 387-2901
>Fax:  (269) 387-3990
>For past messages, visit the Screen-L Archives:

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