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Composition-in-Depth in TV Comedy

by Jeremy Butler

Composition in depth (aka, deep-space blocking) is not commonly used on multiple-camera shows such as Frasier, with their shallow studio sets. However, single-camera programs shot without studio audiences have much more flexibility in both set design and blocking and may, at times, emphasize the depth of a set by positioning actors in front of one another. Consider a scene from Young Sheldon (2017–), which is a single-camera production that was spun off a multiple-camera show, The Big Bang Theory.

In this scene, director Chris Koch placed the camera behind Tam (Ryan Phuong), looking over his shoulder through the bedroom window of Sheldon (Iain Armitage) and his sister, Missy (Raegan Revord). In one shot, we see Tam and Sheldon standing at the window in the foreground, with Missy several feet behind them, in her bed in the background. Tam wants Sheldon to sneak out of his house and join him at a party. Sheldon hesitates, but his sister enthusiastically agrees. Once Sheldon is convinced to go and exits the frame, the focus shifts back to Missy as she excitedly exclaims, “I need a minute to change.” Thus, the director has used deep-space blocking to counterpoint the moods of the characters in the foreground and background.

Composition-in-Depth in Young Sheldon

Director Chris Koch composes a scene from Young Sheldon in depth.

from Young Sheldon (2017)
Creator: CBS
Posted by Jeremy Butler