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Glossary

FILMMAKING TERMS


Term: Proxemic Patterns:

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The term “proxemic patterns” refers to the distribution and relationship of people in a given space. The underlying concept of proxemic patterns was developed by anthropologist Edward T. Hall, who distinguished the following four major proxemic patterns: 

1. the intimate, 2. the personal, 3. the social, 4. the public distance.

a) In the context of film analysis, some film scholars have adopted this concept and related it to the various camera distances:

  1. intimate distance → distance of physical involvement, reserved for lovers and members of family ~ ECU, CU

  2. personal distance → arm’s length away, reserved for friends rather than lovers and family members ~ MCU, MS, MLS

  3. social distance → impersonal business and casual relationships ~ LS

  4. public distance → formal and rather detached ~ ELS

Admittedly, a shot labelled with a certain camera distance does not always equate to the same literal physical space between the camera and the subject; in psychological terms, these shots tend to suggest the corresponding physical distances, their effect is the same, regardless of the actual real camera distance. 

b) Furthermore, the concept of proxemic patterns is not only applied to the distance between a character and the camera but also to the distance between characters. The latter kind of use tries to conclude from the distance between two (or more) characters in their relationship. 

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