“An artist emphasizes some things and de-emphasizes other things to make a statement.”
There’s a lot of inspiration about visual principles to be had at Temple Of The Seven Golden Camels, Mark Kennedy’s site about the art of storyboarding. The main topic is animation and drawing, but the visual principles discussed — what makes things blend together, group, separate, create interest, etc. — apply to more than just movie making.
Statements like the following, from Things They Don’t Teach in Art School #1, relate to the task of modeling a domain and creating an interface for it.
Real living forms are very complicated. But the point of art isn’t to capture life with all of it’s details….photography can do that just fine. An artist caricatures the world, filters it, makes choices. An artist emphasizes some things and de-emphasizes other things to make a statement…You can bend the forms to your will — make them what they need to be to make your drawing work. Make them be what will contribute to the best statement and/or the best design. If it looks right, then it is right. Design is more important than accurate structure!
Anthropologist Gregory Bateson once said information is “a difference which makes a difference.” The road to that difference is this filtering process of deciding what matters, what gets emphasized, and what gets downplayed in order to ultimately say something meaningful.
Another interesting post there is Character Introductions, which talks about the need to craft intros very carefully so they communicate to the audience exactly what the character is about.
So why is it important? I think it’s because you have to make the most out of every minute of film time you have. Film is “life with the boring parts cut out” and so every part of your film has to be interesting and make the strongest statement possible…Like many things in film, this works better if it’s done in a smart and effortless way…If your character is very complicated, then put the simple and strong statement over first and then add shadings to it as the story moves along.
The post also includes a fascinating dissection of the opening credits of Hitchcock’s “Lifeboat” (warning: movie spoilers at the link). “An analysis of the beginning of the film is like a master class in beginning a film quickly and effectively,” writes Kennedy. “He gets across a lot of setup in a really compressed amount of time.”