Plan on plan (cinema)

The plan on plan is the result of the end-to-end placement of two shots whose frames are identical or practically identical, on the same subject or on a different subject, whose result at projection is a sensation of jump on the spot, sought by the director (in this case often called “clean cut”) or produced involuntarily and irrelevant. The English technical term is evocative: jump cut .

Lack of language

The fundamental elements of film language were all experienced in the first 17 years of cinema ( 1891 – 1908 ), the last one being the technique of narrative in parallel actions, with its corollary parallel editing 1 .

In the decades that follow, filmmakers have integrated in their way of turning, those elements that the advent of sound, then that of color and finally that of “large formats”, have influenced without modifying them fundamentally: “Both by the plastic content of the image that by the resources of editing, the cinema has a whole arsenal of processes to impose on the viewer his interpretation of the event represented. At the end of the silent cinema , we can consider that this arsenal was complete 2 . ”

From this evolution towards a fluidity of the expression of animated images, habits, commonplaces, clichés, and rules tending to normalize the way of filming were born. “The fragmentation of plans has no other purpose than to analyze the event according to the material or dramatic logic of the scene. It is its logic that makes this analysis invisible, the mind of the viewer naturally marries the points of view that the director proposes to him, because they are justified by the geography of the action or the displacement of the dramatic interest 3 . ” Very early in the early 1910, the following shots in a new setting were always the same: a general shot showing the entire set, other tighter shots leading to focus audience attention on a group of characters, then on the most important story, seen in American plan . This canvas is one of DW Griffith’s most memorable films , but it is also universal.

Other rules, set out in Hollywood in the 1920s , are considered directly as laws. For example, that of the 180 ° for the installation of the camera in an alternation field-counter-shot , in order to avoid that the eyes of the characters in confrontation do not cross each other. Also the law of 30 ° 4 which states that if one films in two planes a personage framed in the same way (same size of plan), it is necessary that the second plan is not in the same axis of shooting that the first, which must be removed by at least 30 °, under pain of making the public feel, not a change of plan, but a kind of accidental jump as a amputation of the film after a projection accident.

It is therefore necessary to avoid a plan on plan, which constitutes a “fault of language  whose result is the incomprehension or the discomfort of the spectators.

Camera stop

In 1895 , director William Heise , part of Thomas Edison’s artistic team , retained Alfred Clark’s idea of ​​finding new subjects for the Edison Manufacturing Company . They decide to reconstitute the decapitation of Mary Stuart , Queen of the Scots , sentenced to death for treason by her cousin Elizabeth I of England , in 1587 . This film is called The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots ( The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots), and lasts less than a minute, like all movies of the time. It had been necessary for William Heise to find a specific way in the cinema to rig that takeoff. It was therefore he who had thought to proceed in two stages, with a plan interrupted in the middle to perform the substitution of the actress incarnating Mary Stuart by a model wearing the same dress, whose head was detachable at the time of the coup. chopped. In truth, this rigging of the camera stop , for which Georges Méliès will have a real passion a year later, is a perfect shot on a shot, a jump cut, whose result is wanted, namely a spectacular scene. Georges Méliès will direct this fiddling towards the marvelous and the fantastic, thus renewing the attraction of the public for the cinema, that the immutable and monotonous animated photographic views of the Lumière brothers had pushed to the disaffection. The camera stop is to obtain two shots, referred to according to the same frame and having the same content retail near the object or the substituted character, or removed (miracle disappearance), or arranged in the field (prodigious appearance) , two shots that must be connected to each other by a weld with acetone (which editors call “collure”) because we must remove what makes the manipulation visible: the photogramsoverexposed that the shutdown and restart of the camera caused on the film. The American historian Charles Musser says the film The Execution of Mary, Queen of Scots , he “brings a remarkable innovation in cinema 5 . ”

The shot plan, in the form of the camera stop, has been used for a long time and regularly over the decades. For example, in 2003 , the director Jean-Pierre Jeunet takes again the specialization of William Heise, for the film A long Sunday of engagement , when “Tina Lombardi, widow revenge of her lover, a Corsican pimp who voluntarily shot himself in the hand to be reformed and who was sentenced to death by a military court (…), led to the guillotine, loses his head like Mary Stuart of the Black Maria , in two stages, two movements, thanks to the camera stop 6 . ”


Le procédé informatique du morphing, découvert dans les années 1990, utilise le plan sur plan. Le personnage qui est censé se modifier à vue d’œil, ou le décor qui lui aussi peut changer de nature, sont filmés séparément sur le même décor, ou autour des mêmes personnages, et une substitution est effectuée entre les deux plans en post-production par un logiciel qui identifie les deux images en des points caractéristiques et relie les deux aspects par des images virtuelles intermédiaires. Ainsi, dans Il faut sauver le soldat Ryan, le personnage de James Francis Ryan, jeune soldat de 1re classe en 1944, incarné par Matt Damon, se métamorphose en ce qu’il est devenu en 1998, un vieillard aux mêmes yeux bleus, mais au visage ridé, incarné par le comédien Harrison Young. Un demi-siècle d’existence passe sur ce visage en quelques secondes…

Le résultat est parfois obtenu par un changement image par image d’un seul plan, en modifiant le personnage qui devient un avatar, créé virtuellement en animation numérique, mais le fait d’avoir deux aspects différents du même plan peut être assimilé à un plan sur plan.

Échelle de plans

Une échelle de plans se définit comme une suite de plans courts visant un sujet selon le même axe de prise de vues, mais différents dans leur grosseur, dans le sens d’un rapprochement, par exemple : plan moyen pour le premier, plan américain pour le deuxième, plan rapproché pour le troisième, et enfin gros plan pour le dernier. L’impression donnée est un grossissement expressif du sujet, à caractère violent. L’apparente approche rapide dans l’axe peut être assimilée à un télescopage du regard du public avec le sujet. Un exemple parfait est dans Les Oiseaux, la découverte par la mère de Mitch, d’un fermier voisin qui a été tué et énucléé par les volatiles. L’échelle est constituée de 3 plans. Bien que ce procédé ne corresponde pas à la définition stricto sensu du plan sur plan, le bond en avant provoqué le relie à cette technique. Ce procédé est abondamment utilisé dans les films d’action et les séries policières, le plus souvent associé à l’usage d’une arme à feu, et dans ce cas, le dernier cadrage – obtenu maintenant par grossissement informatique – montre le pistolet en gros plan. Par exemple, dans la série 24 heures chrono, où l’emploi des échelles de plans est systématique dans les scènes d’échanges de tirs, en complément des nombreux split-screens.

Effet de style

En 1960, Jean-Luc Godard se proposa de contester, par la pratique, les usages, les codes et les règles d’un cinéma que lui et ses confrères rédacteurs des Cahiers du cinéma jugeaient tristement conventionnel. Entre autres, les interdits de bienséance, comme l’utilisation de certains mots ou de certaines situations, par exemple la vantardise masculine rabaissée dans À bout de souffle par la question de Michel Poiccard à Patricia : « Je peux pisser dans le lavabo ? ». Et les interdits techniques, comme le plan sur plan.

Jean-Luc Godard demonstrates that the plan on plan can be something else than an error or a rigging, and constitute simply an effect of style . Several sequences are thus shot for this demonstration, and in particular that where Patricia is conveyed by Michel through Paris, which undermines two rules: the necessity of the field-countermeasures in a dialogued section, and the unavoidable use of several plans to the various framing to describe any geographical displacement. Indeed, in this famous sequence, Michel speaks with abundance, and the camera never discovers it (if not at the beginning and at the end of the sequence): it is always off, and the camera remains obstinately fixed on Patricia who nevertheless does not say anything , or almost.« La circulation automobile, le décor urbain et Patricia elle-même, sont filmés en plusieurs lieux du parcours et rassemblés cut plan sur plan. Les changements de rues, pourtant visibles derrière Jean Seberg – on compte douze parties distinctes dans ce plan sur Patricia – ne produisent aucun effet d’ellipse spatiale, c’est-à-dire de coupure dans l’espace, le fait que la voiture se déplace à travers Paris est accessoire. En revanche, Patricia, assise dans la voiture dont on voit une partie du pare-brise et le haut de la portière droite, elle, change par coupure de temps, le plan sur plan produit des sautes dans ses attitudes. C’est ce que retient le spectateur7. »

Patrica’s lack of response, close to mutism, reinforces the time that is growing in disorder, provoking in the minds of the public the certainty that this couple is badly matched, and obviously insincere. This fundamental sequence later explains the betrayal of the young American, and the insult that Michel sends to her death: “You’re really a disgusting. ” 8 .

Sequence map

The sequence shot is not new. His first appearance date in 1903 , with a 3 minute film, The Loop Georgetown ( The Georgetown Loop ). These are two shots shot from the emergency brake platform at the back of a train that runs down the impressive winding gorge leading to Georgetown. The operator “executes several panoramic views of the landscape, both on the valley side and on the mountain side, then returns to the train and handkerchiefs happily waved through the windows of the cars. In fact, these two planes are long shots with framing changes during their course, which is the definition of the sequence shot9 . ”

But the maturity of the shot sequence, it is in 1931 in the film directed by Fritz Lang , M the cursed , “where one sees the activities underworld engaged in by the members of the underworld at the headquarters of their friendly or union. The camera, surprisingly swift curious and aligned one behind the other two planes Clip, one of a forty minutes and the other forty seconds 10 . “The primary goal of the director is to show the perfect organization of the Berlin underworld, like an industrial organization where everyone is at his post and works diligently. Fritz Lang also wanted to introduce, in a rather harsh and tragic story of pedophile crimes and a rise of dark forces, some notes of humor because the production at the chain of sandwiches filled with ragoutons little ragoutons, that the making of cigarettes from cigarette butts collected in the street, aim to make the audience smile.

The systematic use of the sequence shot is attributed by the historian and cinema theorist André Bazin to Jean Renoir , with La Règle du jeu , where “the search for the composition in depth of the image does indeed correspond to a partial suppression of editing, replaced by frequent panning and field inputs. It implies the continuity of space and dramatic course of its duration 11 . ” Orson Welles , in turn, with Citizen Kane, conceives many sequences composed of a single plane, intended to respect, as André Bazin says, “the continuity of the dramatic space and naturally of its duration”. The sequence shot is invited several times by Jean-Luc Godard in Breathless and becomes with other directors, as well European as American, an essential research in the figures of style, which allows the actors to launch and even to be dragged into a longer game that is related to the best of the theater (see André Bazin).

In 1980 , the rapid spread of an original shooting process, the steadicam , opens up tempting perspectives for filmmakers eager to explore the dramatic space. The sequence plan then relies on this process which gives it, one could say, wings. But in the cinema there is a paradoxical phenomenon which is specific to it: time causes effects of space and space of effects of time. And the space engulfed by shooting at the steadicam causes an inflation of time. Plans “steadicamés” are sometimes unbearably too long and boring 12 .

The solution was contradictory with the will of the directors to imprison space in a single plane in its temporal continuity: “Currently, the plan plan is a way to go faster, we no longer mask … Follow-up steadicam, a character advances in the room, we shorten the tracking, the character seems to jump, we take the plan, it shortens it further if necessary. This is a flea jump, but it is effective and we are not bored to cross useless spaces 13 . ”

The plan on systematic plan, to satisfy the ultra-fast understanding of the animated images by spectators fed television series and video games, tends today to disassemble the sequence shots in a classic division of several consecutive shots.

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Marie-France Briselance and Jean-Claude Morin , film grammar , Paris, New World ,, 588  p. ( ISBN  978-2-84736-458-3 ) , p.  19-20
  2. ↑ André Bazin , What is cinema? , Paris, Editions du Cerf, coll.  “7th Art”,, 372  p. ( ISBN  2-204-02419-8 ) , p.  66
  3. ↑ Bazin 1994 , p.  64
  4. ↑ André Roy, “General Dictionary of cinema”, Montreal, Fides editions, 2007 (ISBN  978-2-7621-2787-4 ) 517 pages, see pages 275-276
  5. ↑ ( in ) Charles Musser , History of the American Cinema, Volume 1, The Emergence of Cinema, The American Screen to 1907 ,, 613  p. ( ISBN 0-684-18413-3 ) , p.  86-87
  6. ↑ Briselance and Morin 2010 , p.  30
  7. ↑ Briselance and Morin 2010 , p.  382
  8. ↑ Marie-France Briselance and Jean-Claude Morin , Performer, the “Great” history to fiction , Paris, New World ,, 436  p. ( ISBN  978-2-36583-837-5 ) , p.  305
  9. ↑ Briselance and Morin 2010 , p.  507-508
  10. ↑ Briselance and Morin 2010 , p.  508-509
  11. ↑ Bazin 1994 , p.  74
  12. ↑ Briselance and Morin 2010 , p.  395
  13. ↑ Briselance and Morin 2010 , p.  383-384

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