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CineMetrics So, Gunars Civjans (and Yuri Tsivian) created CineMetrics, a software tool for tabulating and analyzing ASL (or: Average Shot Length) in Movies.

Visit the CineMetrics site to find out much more, including Barry Salt’s database. See also the CineMetrics database of collated films to date. Barry Salt, and David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson – and many others – have also examined ASLs (Average Shot Lengths) in cinema, to aim to determine how trends and styles in cinema production (shots, shot lengths, shot types, camera angles, editing) have evolved over time.

Poetics of Cinema - Bordwell 2008

Poetics of Cinema (Bordwell 2008)

Bordwell (2008) writes:

  `Foreign Correspondent (1940), Saboteur (1942), Lifeboat (1944) and Notorious (1946) all have ASLs falling between 6 and 7 seconds. Hitchcock’s producer, David O. Selznick thought that his films tended to be “cutty” and sometimes tried to slow the editing pace by replacing Hitchcock’s single close-ups with more sedate two-shots. In 1947, The Paradine Case (1947), which Selznick recut, averaged 7.3 seconds per shot. The following year, Rope‘s shots averaged 7.3 minutes. So again, why did Hitchcock change his style so radically?’

(Bordwell 2008, p. 36) 

See also Barry Salt’s legendary 1974 paper which launched the modern era of the domain of Cinemetrics. As for the Top 20 RoI Movies:

The Top 20 RoI Films - StoryAlity Theory (Velikovsky 2013)

The Top 20 RoI Films – StoryAlity Theory (Velikovsky 2013)

Rather than average Shot length, I analyze average Scene length in the Top 20 RoI Movies. A summary of averages – and medians – of the Scene Lengths of the Top 20 RoI Films:

SCENE CHARACTERISTICS

DURATION (Mins:Secs)

SCRIPT PAGES

(to nearest 1/8th)

Average Scene Length

00:49s

6/8ths of a page

Average Longest Scene:

04:39s

4 and 5/8ths pages

Average Shortest Scene:

00:05s

One Scene Heading

and one line of action

Median Scene Length

01:12s

1 and 1/8ths of a page

*Mode Scene Length*(most frequently occurring)

00:19s

3/8ths of a page

Note also that: If we take the average, of both: the average scene length (49 secs) and also the median scene length of the Top 20 RoI films (1 min and 12 sec), we arrive at: 1 minute per scene. (i.e. 1min 12s + 49s / 2 = 60 secs, or: 1 minute – or, 1 screenplay page, in Courier 12-point font, using standard screenplay format).

This can be a useful metric for screenwriters and filmmakers (and film editors!) Mainly given that, as a rule of thumb, a screenplay page equals around a minute of screentime. (Depending on many variables of course!) Meantime – please visit the CIneMetrics site! There is much there to enjoy. And for more info (and metrics) on the Top 20 RoI films, see:

StoryAlity #56 – Patterns in the Top 20 RoI Films: # of Scenes vs Film Duration/Screenplay Length – and: Elliot Waves

Comments, always welcome

PS – Also, this is interesting: just as Average Shot Lengths are getting shorter in movies, so are sentences in novels.

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JT Velikovsky

High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie and Transmedia Researcher

The above is (mostly) an adapted excerpt, from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. For more, see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky

JT Velikovsky is also a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/

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3 thoughts on “StoryAlity #71D – CineMetrics

  1. Pingback: StoryAlity #119B – Modernist Times Symposium – November 2014 | StoryAlity

  2. Pingback: StoryAlity#127 – The Science of Cinema (@ Wired.com) | StoryAlity

  3. Pingback: StoryAlity#127 – The Science of Cinema (@ Wired. com) | StoryAlity

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