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Every Song A Story: Framing The Performance Written by on April 15, 2015 | 7 Comments

After last week’s introductory episode of ‘Every Song a Story‘, the pressure is on to deliver! Your comments have been very much appreciated as we explore this new ‘video easy’ style (and we push Ewan’s video editing skills to the limit).

Remember the goal here is not to critique bad performances, it is to give a (very) basic overview of some cinematic techniques to allow us all to discuss what we see on screen during the rehearsals and at the live shows of the Eurovision Song Contest. Everyone finds it easy to relate and discuss music, we want to be able to do the same with the visual side of the Contest. And it is a vital part of the Contest. With just three minutes to grab the attention of the viewing public and jury members, getting the visual message right is just as important as the audio mix, the harmonies, and the right blend of lead and backing vocals.

There’s no hard and fast rules, but there are techniques and rules of thumb used over and over again. They might apply to the full three minutes of a song, or just a small portion, but once you know what to look for (or even what you would do given the same circumstances), unlocking the visual potential of a Eurovision song becomes much easier.

Framing The Story, Emphasising A Duet

With examples stretching from 2014 right back to 1959, this week’s essay is about framing shots; specifically framing shots in songs about love and relationships, making up and breaking up…  although the lessons can apply across the genres. How do you tell the classic stories of boy meets girl, boy leaves girl, girl decides they need to get back together, boy tries to run away, and beyond?

By thinking left… centre… right…

As always, thanks to Tony Zhou for his inspiration through ‘Every Frame A PaintingEvery Song A Story will be running weekly throughout April here on ESC Insight, and we value your input as we explore the visual world. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments, or reach out directly to [email protected]

About The Author: Ewan Spence

British Academy (BAFTA) nominated broadcaster and writer Ewan Spence is the voice behind The Unofficial Eurovision Song Contest Podcast and one of the driving forces behind ESC Insight. Having had an online presence since 1994, he is a noted commentator around the intersection of the media, internet, technology, mobility and how it affects us all. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, his work has appeared on the BBC, The Stage, STV, and The Times. You can follow Ewan on Twitter (@ewan) and Facebook (

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7 responses to “Every Song A Story: Framing The Performance”

  1. Very interesting stuff – seems so obvious when broken down like this!

    It also explains to me why “Running Scared” won in 2011 – the camera work was VERY important to its success and Nikki especially emoted brilliantly during the song…

  2. Ewan Spence says:

    Martin, here’s an exercise, go and watch *all* of Running Scared with the thoughts on framing (and connecting to the audience) and note down where it works. The complementary presentation of the visuals to the song is very powerful, and as you rightly point out, would have helped it ‘feel right’ to those watching at home.

  3. Zolan says:

    Particularly well timed having just had Norway on JBJ and because I’ve also been wondering about their staging.

    For me, the key to their video is in their faces, where undercurrents play out to make a compelling story.
    The live staging probably can’t do that so well, and needs broader strokes.

    But what is the movement? It’s complicated; letting go of what you want to keep and forging a stronger union in the process. Perhaps. At least that’s the reading I prefer.

    I think some of the internal tensions have to be externalised; represented outside of the characters themselves. The characters’ resistance to physically moving against emotional forces could have a powerful effect if made visual.

  4. 2befrank says:

    I know you were not a big fan of the Common Linnets but to not include them in a video about duets and how they are framed I dont understand. It was one of the best if not the best framed and staged duets ever to be at Eurovision.

  5. Ewan Spence says:

    Frank, it’s at least five weeks of video essays, so you may see the Common Linnets show up at a later date to highlight other areas. The videos are not to highlight the best of the Contest (well, not yet!) but to build up a language of basic techniques to help discussions around staging.

  6. Mo Comfort says:

    Once again a fantastic insight into this little known area of Eurovision. I am now looking at every performance from these angles, I never knew quite how much camera angles and framing could effect our opinions.

    On a side note, as regards Norway, I really like their camera work from NMGP as it is unusual and quirky, the disagreement I have with their performance was their chemistry was seriously lacking and it felt as if they were holding back on vocals. But that is purely an opinion.

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