Intimacy & Camera Shots
Updated: Sep 22, 2021
A Guest Blog by Gemma
Hello all, welcome to my analysis. I’m going to talk about how Foil Arms and Hog use camera set ups to show intimacy on screen. I chose to only focus on their YouTube sketches and not their filmed live shows, because the live shows aren’t filmed by them.
The sketches Foil Arms and Hog post on YouTube are only a few minutes long. In such a short time there is often no time to show the build-up of a relationship between characters on screen as might be possible in a feature-length film. If artists, such as FAH, want to convey intimacy in a short film or a sketch, one of the easiest ways to do this is by the use of physical intimacy. It means the artist can immediately show intimacy without the need for characters to have a conversation.
Another non-verbal way to show intimacy on screen is shot perspective. Shot perspective is the point of view in which the artist places their audience. It’s the perspective through which the audience will experience a scene. Shot perspective consist of two aspects. First there are camera angles. This is about the eyeline of the character. Eyeline is where a character’s eyes and face are looking. Generally speaking, closer to the eyeline is more personal and farther away from the eyeline is more detached. The other aspect is shot size. This means the distance through which the viewer sees the character. Basically, this means that closer to a character feels more personal and intimate and farther away from a character feels more detached and impersonal.
For this analysis I will only focus on the shot size. I won’t talk about what lenses they use, the camera movement, or what Foil does with the colouring of the shot in post-production. It will only be about how large a character appears on screen.
There are four basic types of shot sizes. First of all, there is the extreme wide shot. The viewer will see a character from very far away with a lot of exteriors. The audience will experience this as a far-away observer. This shot is the most impersonal. As far as I remember, FAH have never used an extreme wide shot in one of their sketches. This is for the simple reason that they normally film in their office, which offers no room for this type of shot.
The second type of size shot is the full shot, which means the full body is shown and a wide view of the space the character is in. This is still an impersonal shot. FAH sometimes make use of this shot, but not often. I found an example of FAH using this type of shot in the ‘Nightclub Secrets Revealed’ sketch.
Then there is the medium shot, which gives a neutral perspective for the audience. It’s neither impersonal nor personal. The character is shown from the waist up. FAH uses this type of shot in almost all their sketches. Here is a screenshot from [the] Anne and Oisín [sketch, ‘Parents When You Get Dumped’.]
And last, there is the close up. A close up is an intimate shot that only shows the character’s face. This is also a shot size FAH uses very often. And here is a close up of Foil from the ‘Thrift Shop Mannequin’ sketch.
Okay, this was the technical part, now I’m going to show how FAH uses shot sizes to convey intimacy through the use of the sketch ‘Tea Addiction’.
FAH use multiple shot sizes to film this sketch. This is mainly done for Foil’s character. The sketch starts with a shot in which we see Hog and Arms in the foreground in a middle shot and Foil is looking for his teapot in the background. At this point in the sketch, we don't know what's going on with Foil yet. We haven't seen a clear image of his face yet. As a viewer, there is no connection at all with this character. Though we cannot see the surroundings because Hog and Arms block it, I would still call this a wide shot for Foil because we can see his entire body.
In the second shot, Foil sits down. We look over the shoulders of Hog and Arms. This helps with showing intimacy in the conversation between the three characters. We can see Foil’s entire upper body. We now have a middle shot of Foil, which gives a neutral image. His character is at this point ignorant of why he has to sit down.
Then Arms tells Foil he has a tea addiction and starts to give examples about Foil’s problem. This is the moment Foil is going to defend his tea addiction and the viewer gets to see his face in a close up. As the conversation gets more dramatic Arms and Hog are also shown in close up. The audience gets an intimate shot of all three having this personal conversation. The seriousness of the conversation is also visible in the intimacy between Hog and Arms. As they’re in the shot together, they can also use physical intimacy, to put emphasis on the seriousness. This is shown by Hog putting his hand on Arms's shoulder and the eye contact between the two.
In the middle of the sketch, we can see an angry Foil throwing away his non-drinkable tea. If we think about the emotions and the intimacy FAH want to convey in this scene, a close up would have worked perfectly. However, this scene only works because we can see his hands throwing away the tea; a middle shot is therefore needed. Though normally a middle shot might be a neutral image, in this case the shot works to make the scene more intimate.
The end of the sketch is less dramatic and more comedic. Once they start talking about the grandmother and the different types of tea Foil should drink, the characters are shown in a middle shot and not a close up anymore. For the build up of these jokes they used a close up, but for the actual pun FAH used a middle shot. This shows that for a comedic affect, a less intimate shot works better.
Written by Gemma