Title – Dexter Opening Titles
Year of creation –2007
Screen ratio – 16:9
Collection/source – Youtube.com
Image URL / origin – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIqBQWB7IUM
The frames are from a 6 second segment (starting at 1:25 minutes) from the opening titles of the TV show, Dexter. It pictures Dexter tying his shoelaces in extreme close-up.
The scene is de-saturated to represent the darkness of the main character. The skin tones have mid-level values that are contrasted against the much lower value brown and blues. This helps to make the actors actions stand out and to highlight the strength in his actions.
The scene, whilst most likely shot in a studio is made to look as if it has been naturally lit from sunlight coming through the window. This is most clearly evident in the second frame where you can see the shadow from the blinds on the wall behind the actor.
The dull lighting from the diffused sunlight has caused the previously mentioned de-saturated hues.
Mise-en-scene and Montage
The scene is shot in a 16:9 screen ratio, which is the standard widescreen for television. The shots of the subject’s movements are extreme close-ups making it an open framed scene.
The whole scene is shot with a soft, shallow focus with all shots angles progressing slightly from high, through to low throughout the sequence.
The point of view also varies from frame to frame in a sporadic manner. The camera however, never pans, tracks or tilt. Instead, the frame cuts to different angles, distances and subject matter. These cuts between the frames are unmarked with very little continuity between the frames, apart for frame 4 and 5. The cuts between these last two frames somewhat (still has a different angle) follows the pulling motion of the shoelace. This lack of continuity and the cut technique contributes to the tension of the scene, which is also represented visually by the tension placed on the shoelace.
The sound track supports this sense of tension further. It features both environmental sounds; coming from the shoelace, and a music track which is an almost “showtime” tune who’s rhythm runs parallel with the action.
The sequence (0:27- 0:45) starts with Jorah walking through a burnt field until he comes to a figure (Daenery) hunched over on the burnt out ground. She slowly lefts her head, revealing baby dragons sitting on her lap.
The scene is filled with natural colours that are all de-saturated and slightly contrasted against the dull neutral background.. The first two frames contains the lowest values, with the remaining three having higher values. This progression represents the mood of the scene that seems to get periodically lighter on finding Daenery alive.
The light is heavily defused by both the smoke in the air and the suns position (it is assumed to be early morning). It is this heavily defused light that causes the scene to be highly de-saturated and the previously mentioned contrast between subject matter and background.
It is also important to note that Daenery is less harshly lit than the two males. This makes her facial expressions look more innocent compared to the expressions of shock on the males faces.
The sequence starts from a low angle, following Jorah. This does not have the normal effect of putting the viewer in an inferior position to Jorah but instead entices and invites the viewer the see what Jorah is walking towards.
When Jorah reaches Daenery, the angle changes and the viewer is now looking down at Daenery from Jorah’s point of view. This at first makes Daenery look vulnerable.
Mise-en-muse and Montage
The scene is shot in a 16:9 screen ratio, which is the standard widescreen for television. The subject matter and subjects glaze is always off frame making it an open frame scene.
The scene is shot via a camera crane and starts with an extreme close-up of Jorah’s feet in a shallow, sharp focus. The camera tracks him moving forward and as he moves closer to Daeney, the camera rises to Jorah’s eye-level and rolls down to see Daenery from Jorah’s point-of-view. The camera however does not begin to focus on Daenery until it has reached Jorah’s eye level.
The scene then cuts to Jorah, to show his reaction to finding Daenery alive.
The sound that accompanies the scene has two sources; one natural and one musical. The natural sounds are created by the ashes on the ground being walked on, and adds to the anonymous anxiety in the beginning of the scene. The musical track is eerie and reinforces the feeling of anxiety.
Both moving sequences communicate their expressive content differently.
The opening titles for Dexter uses extreme close-up and unmarked cuts to only give the viewer snap shots of information, while the Game of Thrones scene uses a long continuous shot to let the viewer know exactly what’s going on. It is important to point out that the Game of Thrones scene does not give away all of its secrets in one go but instead uses focus techniques and point-of-view to hide some visuals until the tension is built up.
In my own practice I have experimented with the cutting practices used in the Dexter sequence and the combination of sound tracks used in both sequences. It effectively created a disjointed, tension that made the viewer itch for the identity of the mean character.