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Can someone explain story beats for me

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Jon Fidler
Can someone explain story beats for me
on Mar 20, 2010 at 1:55:46 pm

Hey guys

This concept has eluded me for months, even robert mckees explanation didnt really make it clear for me.

Is a beat just when the topic or tone changes in a scene. This to me is one of the most important concepts in film and im just baffled by it.

Jon


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grinner hester
Re: Can someone explain story beats for me
on Mar 20, 2010 at 6:30:49 pm

Beats vary from song to song, show to show. I've heard many say they can't hear or keep a beat. Ironicly, I can usually look down to see their foot tapping to perfect rythem.
A beat is simply a measurement of a situation's pace. You use them in your daily life without knowing you do.
Like, your wife says you guys are goin' out to eat and it's a place you hate. You don't respond with a "cool, baby." unless you really dig it. In this case, you'd give it a beat... maybe even two


then say "cool, baby."

In a nutshell, when a client asks for another beat, do it when it feels right... only later.



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Jon Fidler
Re: Can someone explain story beats for me
on Mar 20, 2010 at 7:03:06 pm

Ah right. So its just the flow of the dialogue/banter or whatever just to keep it ticking along nicely


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cowcowcowcowcow
Rocco Forte
Re: Can someone explain story beats for me
on Mar 20, 2010 at 7:19:11 pm

Haha, I like that "when it feels right, only later"

There's a difference between a beat in a screenplay, as Robert McKee defines it, and the thing Producers call a beat when they sit there in the edit bay and say "hold it for another beat"

In a screenplay a beat is an exchange in action/reaction in character behavior, which turns and builds a scene. But after it's been shot and edited, the beats take on more personality because there are now more moments you can call beats because as there are things to see and hear which all add to the action/reaction in character behavior.

In short, a beat is a moment: It can be a line of dialogue, a look, silence, a gun cock, a wink, a powerfully delivered line, a breath. It can also be several moments linked together; for example: car screeches - woman sees car - man does not and steps into road - woman holds back man from crossing the road - car whooshes by. That's five different moments which you could call one beat (though it could be five beats depending on how it's cut I think). IMO, the beat is the beat because it's the memorable action "she saves him from the car" not the things that constitute the moment, necessarily. Though it can be.

This is a great scene, full of beats: beats of dialogue, beats of silence, beats of looks. The memorable and meaningful beats are the "charged" beats; those that contain an emotional value with a forthcoming payoff. Note the frequency of the beats is faster in the first half than in the second, because of Matt Damon's lengthy speech.







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Richard Herd
Re: Can someone explain story beats for me
on Mar 20, 2010 at 7:39:41 pm

Nothing more fun than a scene study class!


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Mark Suszko
Re: Can someone explain story beats for me
on Mar 22, 2010 at 8:26:19 pm

Rocco nailed this. I would only add that you can think of a narrative beat as a single self-contained idea, and this may have any duration it takes to get it across.


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Del Holford
Re: Can someone explain story beats for me
on Mar 26, 2010 at 3:41:06 pm

I think "In the Blink of An Eye" by Walter Murch is the clearest written exposition I've read on this topic. Not every thing he says works all the time but is a good start.

For the last station ID I did I created a story of community involvement in 10 seconds by compositing. The ID music carries it along.

Del
smoke, photoshopCS3, FC Studio2


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