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Making It Visual

Shot design is where good screenwriting and visualization intersect. The inspiration for a compelling image may come from the writer in her shot description or from the director as he develops a storyboard. But the visual concept has to be in the design of the shot or the editor will be short of usable material.

A classic example of expert visualization is a scene in The Merry Widow, a romantic comedy directed by Ernst Lubitsch in 1934. The plot requires that the King find out the Queen has taken a lover. If this were a television soap opera—a notorious instance of radio-with-pictures—a trusted servant might tell the King the disturbing news. That's the obvious choice, and it's not a particularly interesting one.


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