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The Art of Cinematic Storytelling

A Visual Guide to Planning Shots, Cuts, and Transitions

Kelly Gordon Brine

Publication Date - October 2020

ISBN: 9780190054335

360 pages
7 x 10 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $35.00


To dramatize a story using moving images, a director must have a full understanding of the meaning and emotional effect of all the various types of shots and cuts that are available to advance the story. Drawing upon his extensive experience as a storyboard artist who has worked with over 200 directors and cinematographers on television series and movies, author Kelly Gordon Brine provides a practical and accessible introduction to the design of shots, cuts, and transitions for film, television, animation, video, and game design.

With hundreds of illustrations and diagrams, concise explanations of essential storytelling concepts, and vivid examples, The Art of Cinematic Storytelling demystifies the visual design choices that are fundamental to directing and editing. The author delves deeply into the techniques that visual storytellers use to captivate their audience, including blocking, camera positioning, transitions, and planning shots with continuity editing in mind. Practical advice on how to clarify time, space, and motion in many common situations — such as dialogue, pursuits, and driving sequences — makes this book an invaluable guide for all aspiring filmmakers.


  • Offers a concise and accessible introduction to the practice of visual storytelling in a single volume
  • Provides insight into the storytelling approaches of working directors and cinematographers
  • Grounded in real-world film production by the author's decades of experience in the film industry
  • Includes more than 250 illustrations from the work of a professional storyboard artist

About the Author(s)

Kelly Gordon Brine is a storyboard artist. He has worked on dozens of television shows, including The Witcher, Umbrella Academy, Lost in Space, Jessica Jones, and Person of Interest, and has taught drawing as an assistant professor at the University of Toronto. He holds a Bachelor of Mathematics degree.


"I've benefited from the author's storyboarding expertise to help me previsualize the shots and cuts on dozens of complex projects. His book shows how directing, cinematography, and editing work together to present the narrative visually. His insights about visual storytelling are like a creative force multiplier and will help aspiring filmmakers achieve their very best." -- Stephen D Surjik, television and film director whose many credits include The Witcher, Umbrella Academy, Lost in Space, See, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage.

"Mind-blowing visual effects, dangerous stunts, and exhilarating action used to be the sole domain of big-budget film. But with 'peak TV' came the same expectations for the small screen. With less time and less money, the only way for directors and producers to deliver is to storyboard like a pro. The author's easy-to-follow techniques on how to break the most complex scenes into essential shots has been my secret weapon for cinematic television." -- Chris Fisher, Producer/Director of Warehouse 13, Person of Interest, The Magicians, and Strange New Worlds.

Table of Contents


    Chapter 1: Seven Film Storytelling Essentials
    Chapter 2: Using Storyboards
    Chapter 3: Shot Composition Basics
    Chapter 4: Camera Angles, Lenses and Storytelling
    Chapter 5: Designing Shots for Storytelling
    Chapter 6: Continuity Editing Basics
    Chapter 7: Storytelling Cuts and Film Grammar
    Chapter 8: 3D Spatial Continuity and 2D Screen Geography
    Chapter 9: Compressing, Expanding and Ending Scenes
    Chapter 10: Beginning Scenes and Using Transitions
    Chapter 11: Stories with Stationary Action
    Chapter 12: Stories about a Moving Character
    Chapter 13: Stories about Searching
    Chapter 14: Stories about Following or Chasing
    Chapter 15: Two-Character Dialogue
    Chapter 16: Three-Character Dialogue
    Chapter 17: Group and Crowd Scenes
    Chapter 18: Shooting Driving Scenes
    Chapter 19: Blocking and Cinematic Storytelling

    Glossary of Filmmaking Terms