Video Production Techniques to Learn from David Fincher

Video production is a complex art form that requires a multitude of skills, including cinematography, lighting, sound design, and post-production.

It’s no secret that the best filmmakers are those who are constantly learning and evolving their craft.

David Fincher is one such filmmaker whose work continues to inspire and teach us about the art of video production.

For those who don’t know anything about him, he’s the director of some of the most renowned films, such as Fight Club, The Social Network, Se7en, and Zodiac.

Apart from films, he has also worked on TV shows like Mindhunter. He has also directed music videos for quite a number of artists. So, in a nutshell, he’s a triple threat.

In this blog post, we’ll be exploring some video production techniques we can learn from David Fincher.


The importance of pre-production

David Fincher is known for being a thorough filmmaker who pays great attention to detail in every aspect of his productions.

One of the key reasons for his success is his focus on pre-production. He believes that the key to a successful shoot is in the planning stages. This includes storyboarding, shot-listing, rehearsals, and location scouting.

He not only draws the shots, but he also includes notes about camera movement, lens choice, lighting, and sound design. This level of detail ensures that everyone on set knows exactly what is expected of them.

Fincher’s approach to rehearsals is also unique. He prefers to have his actors rehearse the scene multiple times, blocking out the movement and dialogue, before bringing in the camera. This allows the actors to get comfortable with the scene and make any necessary changes before filming.

Read more: Video Production Techniques to Learn from Stanley Kubrick


Using lighting and color to create a mood

David Fincher is a master of lighting and color. His films are known for their moody and atmospheric lighting, which creates a sense of tension and unease.

He often uses high-contrast lighting, with deep shadows and bright highlights, to create a dramatic effect.

One of the key techniques that Fincher uses in his lighting is the use of color. He often employs a desaturated color palette, with muted greens, blues, and grays, which gives his films a distinct look.

In addition to this, he also uses color to convey emotion and mood. For example, in Gone Girl, he used warm yellows and oranges during the happier scenes, while using cold blues and greens during the more suspenseful moments.

Also read: How to Get the Perfect Lighting for Your Video


Sound design and music score

Sound design is another area where David Fincher excels. His films are known for their immersive and detailed soundscapes, which help to create a sense of realism and suspense.

Fincher believes that sound design is just as important as visuals, and he spends a lot of time perfecting the sound in post-production.

One of the key techniques that Fincher uses in his sound design is the use of silence. He often employs long periods of silence to create uneasiness and build the element of a thriller.

This is particularly effective in his film Se7en, where the silence before each murder creates a sense of unease and anticipation.

He has also collaborated with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, who has composed the background scores for several of his films.

In Se7en, the Nine Inch Nails song “Closer” in the opening credits sets the tone for the entire film. The aggressive, industrial sound of the song creates a sense of unease and foreboding that permeates the rest of the movie.

In The Social Network, using a solo piano score creates a sense of isolation and introspection that mirrors the journey of the film’s main character, Mark Zuckerberg. The sparse, haunting melody of the score underscores the film’s themes of connection and disconnection in the age of social media.


Rigid camera movements

David Fincher is also known for his strictness regarding camera movements and framing. He often employs slow, methodical camera movements, which give his films a sense of deliberation and control.

This is particularly evident in his film The Social Network, where the camera moves slowly and deliberately during the courtroom scenes.

He always deploys his cameras on a tripod to make it seems like a robot has shot the films. He rarely uses hand-held movements but when he does, it’s almost poetic.

In the film Se7en, he used hand-held movements to show how the world of the main protagonist was crumbling around him.


He often employs tight, claustrophobic framing, which makes the audience feel like they are trapped in the scene with the characters. This is particularly effective in his film Panic Room, where the tight framing creates a sense of claustrophobia and tension.


The art of framing

One of the most striking things about David Fincher’s films is the way he frames his shots. Fincher is known for his precise attention to detail, and this is evident in the way he composes his shots.

He uses a lot of symmetry and creates highly stylized images that are visually striking. In The Social Network, he uses a lot of close-ups to emphasize the characters’ emotions and reactions.

In one scene, he frames Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg) in a close-up shot as he types on his computer. The shot is so tightly framed that we can see the reflection of the computer screen in Zuckerberg’s glasses.

This shot effectively communicates the character’s obsession with his work and detachment from the world around him.

In another scene, Fincher uses a wide shot to show Zuckerberg alone in a conference room. The shot emphasizes his isolation and reinforces the idea that he is disconnected from the people around him.

By carefully framing his shots, Fincher is able to convey a lot of information about his characters and their emotions without relying on dialogue.


Brilliant editing techniques

Editing is an essential aspect of video production that can greatly impact the final product. Fincher is known for his incredible sense of film editing, which emphasizes the rhythm and pacing of his films.

In The Social Network, Fincher uses a lot of rapid-fire editing to create a sense of energy and momentum. He uses quick cuts and close-ups to emphasize the characters’ emotions and reactions.

Read more: 11 Video Production Myths – Busted


Final thoughts

David Fincher is a master of video production, and there is much that we can learn from his work.

From his stern approach to pre-production to his mastery of lighting and sound design, to his unique camera movements and framing, Fincher’s work speaks for itself. To date, he has won prestigious awards to his name and still does.

A lot of these video production techniques can be used by video marketers to come up with brilliant videos for different brands. And who to better learn from than David Fincher?

And if you’re looking to get a video made for your brand, then feel free to give our video

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Posted by Adil Ashraf

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