Top Ten Most Notable Filming Techniques of Steven SpielbergThis list compiles the most commonly used filming techniques used by the father of blockbuster filmmaking, Mr. Steven Spielberg. If you are adding a new entry please add a brief description of what the term means in the respective comment box.
The Top Ten
Sideways tracking shots are considerably common in film making, but Spielberg really puts a lot of visual depth. He typically focuses on a pair of actors on-screen during an important conversation and likes to add lots to the foreground and background to really enhance the image and strengthen the viewer’s perception of the movement. A lot of the time the characters on screen will stop walking and then movie directly towards the camera at the end. Usually this means that one of the characters of the scene is attempting to persuade or convince the other character of something.
A tracking shot is when a camera follows a person or an object physically moving with the subject. This can be done using tracks, handheld, ropes, a Steady-cam, etc... Spielberg does this a lot! And it's never without reason. These shots can add a lot of dramatic tension to a scene.
As many have said, Spielberg almost has a "fetish" for spotlights, beams of light, and backlights. Well, he sort of does.
Watch "Jurassic Park" again, count how many times where you see that spotlight.
And you thought J.J. Abrams blinding you with lense flares was bad
Ever notice it when, in a Spielberg movie, you're looking directly at a character as if standing right behind the shoulder of another character? Well, with Spielberg, you're usually viewing a less-than-savory character over the shoulder of a protagonist with a wide lens. This presents the protagonist as larger and more dominant over the other character.
These shots allow us to not only see the important happenings taking place in the foreground, but also show us the entire environment around or behind them. This technique is common in the filmmaking industry but Spielberg really likes to push the boundaries with these shots, I think you'll find.
This shot gives the audience a sense that they're viewing the events on-screen through a peep hole or key hole as if its something we're not really meant to see or necessarily expected to know about. It can also simply represent a moment of intimacy with the character(s) on screen.
Spielberg has made frequent use of this unique little technique (that sentence sounded funny). The shot will usually start with a shot of a character seen through a reflection of a mirror or window. The character will then typically step out of view of the reflective surface and then suddenly appear in an extremely close face shot. It's essentially a more dramatic entrance.
These transitions are very fun to watch. As the name implies, in a match cut an object (and its placement on the screen) in the second shot matches an object's movements in the first shot. Giving it a unique flow, of sorts. Heck, it sure beats using a straight cut.
Picture the example given for regular over-the-shoulder shots, but with the over-the-shoulder figure taking up most of the shot, with barely any room left for the other actor to fit. This shot is most often used to emphasize the importance of that exact moment and, in particular, the reaction of the actor whose face is visible.
There's no technical name for this technique, but Spielberg does it a lot, and he does it well.