BRUCE A. BLOCK is a film producer, author and visual consultant whose career spans 30+ years. In 2001, Block’s book The Visual Story was published. In 2007 it went into a completely revised second edition. Block began work as a Filmic and Visual Consultant on such films as Irreconcilable Differences (1984) and Bachelor Party (1984). He has gone on to be a consultant for films such as Stuart Little (1999), As Good as It Gets (1997) and Spanglish (2004). As a film producer, Block has produced and co-produced the films Father of the Bride (1991), Father of the Bride II (1995), Disney’s The Parent Trap (1998), What Women Want (2000), Something’s Gotta Give (2003), and The Holiday (2006).


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31 thoughts on “OCT 21- BRUCE BLOCK

  1. Shang Song says:

    Well well well,Bruce Block come again!
    Maybe you don’t believe, I read his book many times!
    I bought the Chinese version, and then air to the United States.
    He is one of my favorite teachers, a sense of his theories on my coincides with the idea, I am a will use reason to calculate a art work (feeling? fuck off the feeling! It feels like a loser’s self comfort and deception).
    I am a “Blockism””. I pursued his doctrine.
    I must register his class, of course, to wait for my English better.


  2. Evan Tedlock says:

    Bruce Block provided us with the most energetic and participatory lecture to date. His enthusiasm and knowledgeable dialogue about his subject was a treat to experience. The discussion revolved around visual structure and how it relates and works to reinforce story structure. It was extremely helpful to see how he laid everything out on graphs that corresponded to intensity. I most definitely will look to use some of these techniques to help me structure my films and projects in the future. His book is sitting on my shelf and has just jumped to the front of the que. The class he offers also sounds very interesting and helpful so I’ll be looking to potentially take that at some point as well.


  3. Erik Dumas says:

    This was by far the most helpful seminar to date as far as the creative process for making films goes. I think I’ll definitely have to get my hands on his book, and I would love to take his class at some point as well. A lot of what he told us was stuff that I’ve heard before, but no one has ever made it so clear how utterly important it is that the visual structures in your film match and reinforce the story structure. I think most of us are at this school because we want to tell stories, so I’m glad that we have access to Bruce Block’s expertise.


  4. Katie Smith says:

    Boy did I love this seminar. I’ve been a big fan of Block’s for a long time, and one of the first things I did when I got here was figure out how and when I’ll be able to take his class. I was a little nervous going to this seminar, the feeling you get when you’ve been so excited about someone or something for so long; I was worried my expectations might be too high. Block did not disappoint! His seminar (and book) reminds me why I love film and why I want to create them. Rather than discuss his own background and how he got to where he is (which would have been really interesting as well), he dove right in to story and visual structure. The seminar was engaging, and Block was so enthusiastic and interesting. What he taught us will stick with me as I create my work – just in that two hour span I felt like I learned an immense amount of knowledge. I feel like I benefited a huge amount by listening to him. If I learned that much in that short amount of time, imagine what it will be like taking his class! I can’t wait.


  5. Sequoyah Madison says:

    I honestly think, I learned more about visual story telling in Bruce Blocks two and a half hour lecture than I have about any other topic in a two and a half hour span. The concept of mapping the script/story on a visual structure graph before starting any concrete visual ideation is so simple, yet I probably would have never discovered it on my own. Though I am familiar with the seven visual components, having a simple logical way to organize a story in order to use those components is invaluable. Just in the past 48 hours I have started viewing films differently, recognizing now, how exactly the visual development team was able to communicate emotions and mood without dialogue or character acting (abstract film). This new insight will drastically improve my visual storytelling. Thank you Bruce Block for bettering the world by inspiring and teaching students how to make better films.


  6. Kun Xia says:

    I really enjoyed Bruce Block’s presentation. He covered great amount of information, the tree part of a story which is exposition, conflict, and resolution. And how to use curve graphic express those moment in a chart, give the play more visualized appearance. He also talked about the seven component, which are space, line, shape, color, tone, movement, and rhythm. Diagonal object gives the most intensity, vertical gives more intensity and horizontal give the least intensity. And how round shape and triangle shape can influence our feeling among characters, another important point he mentioned in the presentation was color, color choice is very important in film, a good color choice can help the story lay out. I think Bruce Block’s presentation is very help hint for our future project.


  7. Megan Simon says:

    Wow, what an incredible lecture. Never before have I understood visual structure in relation to movies as I do now. Bruce Block made the visual structure of cinema in link with story, music and so much more make perfect sense with the ease of a simple graph. The point – any story can be broken down to it’s basic core and still there is a visible pattern of activity in the story. The idea is to move between more and less intense moments in the story. Visually this could mean switching compositions between horizontal, and so much more.

    The basic elements of Visual Structure Bruce Block gave us were the following: Space, Line, Shape, Color, Tone, Movement, Rhythm. Interesting was that these same concepts I learned extensively in my undergraduate studies in painting, but in a much different context. In painting the still image is heightened with importance, and not so much the image but how the paint relates the surface when viewing personally. There is all sorts of ideas on composition, such as rule of thirds, perspective, proportion, golden ration and more that is adopted by other artforms such as illustration, photography and much more. However, what makes painting distinct, is that it is all about the viewer’s relationship with the object that is the paint. The smudged oily mud rubbed all around on a surface creating some sort of vision abstract or figurative for the viewer. The intensity that painting moves between is far different than moving images. As Bruce Block said, a film has to wash over a viewer. The small pixel in the corner will make no impact. In painting a small brush stroke make that required much thought is felt to be important to the image). Instead the emphasis is on how these ideas correlate to motion and time. That distinction I think was vital for me to understand both how to utilize my background in the creation of animation, and also how to differentiate between these two mediums.


  8. Amir Arzanian says:

    Bruce Block’s lecture was one of the best lectures I have ever attended. He was very knowledgeable and energetic. It was interesting for me to see how he visualize the graph of stories and provided multiple example that provided his theory. Although I believe there are some movies that they don’t follow the same rule but they are still good movies. He was also discussed about seven visual story components and how they related to storytelling. I had a rough idea about this relationship but after his explanation I can see it more clearly. For example the relationship between tense scenes and linear motif. He provided an example from Fantasia that was very useful and his analysis on this video make it clear how visual components are important in cinematic storytelling. The most exciting part of his lecture for me was analyzing one of my favorite movies The Shining. He said the main visual concept of the film is one point perspective which means there is an evil that there is no escape from it. He also added, the film is about square and triangle as evil against circle and round as good.It was surprising for me to know red is get more saturated through the film because I watched the film many times but I never noticed that.


  9. David Nessl says:

    It’s nice to finally see someone explain the breakdown of story development in movies through a simple graph, instead of a complicated mind bender that inhabits the far reaches of human consciousness and understanding–that only an auteur director could dream up. Not to say that creating a story graph is easy, but I tend to agree with Bruce when he describes Kubrick as a more simplistic storyteller. I think analysis of film, especially in academia, has ended up being a fancy game of telephone, having film plots and meanings distorted by professors that want so desperately to be more enlightening than the last.

    Something inside me hates the fact that stories need structure, being that I really respect experienebtation, but Bruce is completely correct In reference to writting something meaningful and important. I imagine my favorite films–the ones I obsess over at night, waiting for their release date–and I think about my reaction if the story would suck…I would be forever angry at the filmmakers if they failed to deliver a story arc that explained loose ends, or failed to deliver a fullfilling climax. When it comes down to it, exposition through climax and resolution are necessary to our stories, and it’s puzzling to think of why that is. Really think about it, why do we need it? Nobody has a difinitive answer.


  10. Joseph Etemadi says:

    Bruce Block is a great producer and film expert, and I feel really lucky to go to a school that has him as a professor. I heard his lecture last year in seminar class, but it was really great to hear it again, and think about the way films can be broken down into bits and pieces organized to form a graph or a flow chart.

    I think my favorite part of his lecture is the portion on the use of color, and how different tones are used for different moments of emotion in a film. I also think its a great idea to graph your film or project, and how through visual representation, see the actual ride you are taking your audience on.

    Part of me wants to resist Professor Block’s theory on film graphing and breakdowns because I feel like you can’t really graph the natural instinct of artistic expression, but on the other hand, a thorough graphic analysis of your work will show you what the audience is really seeing, and how they are experiencing your content from an objective perspective. Bruce Block is a great lecturer. Thanks to all parties involved. Sorry this post is late, this last week was hectic.


  11. Okike Franklin says:

    Bruce Blocks lectures are always interesting, he doesn’t only educate but he also entertains.

    I like his talk on story structure and it’s funny that even experimental / abstract stories still have a form of structure and I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be interesting to make a film in the reverse where you start with the resolution and end with ‘in the beginning’ (flipping the graph).

    Bruce Block’s take on color, shapes and lines really got me thinking, now I watch films and re-watch some, looking out for the use of these elements.

    In all, his talk was entertaining.


  12. Hyeon Jeong Cho says:

    I would say this was my favourite lecture that I’ve taken. Even though the lecture was only an hour and half, I’ve learnt so many useful information from this class.

    Analysing the film as a graph is very simply but effective way to films structure, I will definitely use the method when I do film study and make my own film.
    Lay-outing frames with simple shapes is very basic but easy to forget so it was really good to remind the basic principles for film language.
    All the things he showed in the seminar were really informative and useful, especially I’m very interested in storyboarding and layouting.

    I was planning to his class next semester, but I should take Production 1 as a prerequisite! So.. I’d love to meet him next fall in the his class!! Thank you so much for the great lecture.


  13. Joe Stucky says:

    Very great to hear Bruce talk about story. I have heard bits and pieces of his lectures before and missed an opportunity, in France 2012. The information that he talked about is not new information to me, but the delivery was superb. Always good to be reminded of structure in film as well. I look forward to his class and anticipate his view of timing in film with interest.


  14. Yu Yu says:

    I have taken some classes about storytelling before, but nothing can compare to this one! It’s amazing to know that all the shapes, lines and color can be planed accurately in a movie. Space, Line, Shape, Color, Tone, Movement, Rhythm are all can be used to tell a story. Everything appeared in front of the camera have to have their purpose. They were not randomly there. If they have to be here, there were some purpose about it.

    It doesn’t mean that every movie have to follow the certain rules of storytelling, but it is still good to know what’s the general way that people see the world. Paperman is a good example for this. It didn’t have any dialogue in it. It is a touching short film because it used not only the performance but the whole picture to tell the story, and it is the kind of film that I wish I can make one day.


  15. Yingzong Xin says:

    Bruce’s speech was very convincing and attractive, in which a half-hour speech, Bruce to our stated vision of the film composition, script and story concepts, patterned like a movie script of flesh and blood, a good script is a good movie of the fundamental, a perfect composition and the sub-mirror will make a good script vivid presentation in front of an audience, which is very useful to me, I am very pleased to learn that knowledge about the script and composition, I will work in my future the better for everyday living.


  16. Bruce Block’s presentation is comprehensive and interesting! He outlined clearly and briefly about the importance of visual structure which can support and illuminate the story. And every story has exposition, conflict, climax and resolution to construct itself. So, it’s significant to apply seven main visual components to diverse parts to lead audiences view the film. For instance, in the King of lion, “line” serves as sure-footed method to help plot develop precisely. With the transition between horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines in different scenes, the story was pushed forward dynamically in diverse intensities which can catch people’s eyes without gap. All these conception and theories are conductive to build up stories and works.


  17. Jing Huang says:

    Bruce’s presentation is really great. He tells us lots of film composition, script and story concepts by his own experience. He also emphasized the importance of scripts. Scripts can be regarded as the spirit of a movie. Thus before we thinking about the characters or scenes, the first step is to think about a nice script and recompose it to make it perfect.

    Thanks again for Bruce’s nice presentation and his life story. I wish someday I can make a nice script as good as his one.


  18. Jinyue Wan says:

    It’s the second time that I listen Bruce Block’s speech. After the first time I attend his speech, I just decide to read his book Visual Story. And after I read his book, I decide to take his class in production department. And I’m waiting for the offer of the class now.

    It’s obvious his theory of how to compose the picture is very useful in film making. And every time when I draw the storyboard for my film, I always think about the content that I read in his book. And it is also offered a very good way to control the structure of the story. Sometimes I will mess up with my own story after I fix it again and again, however, when I thinking about his principle of the storytelling, I will feel clearer than before.


  19. Min Shi says:

    How visual structure related to story structure?How we can manipulate our narrative from exposition to conflict to resolution? I really appreciate the presentation that Bruce Block gave us today.

    Narration and visual expression are obviously the most main elements of a film, and these two elements are been bound so tight. As Bruce said, visual can be divided into space, line, shape, color, tone, movement, rhythm, and of course those mentioned elements should serve narrative.

    The charts Bruce gave us is so informative that can be used to even every genres. Regardless your story is a traditional drama one or an non-narrative one.

    In the end, what resonated me most is an example of Shining. The concept of one point perspective which indicate an inescapbale feeling is amazing. And with the plot develops more intense, the reddish becomes more intense.


  20. Mayra Flores says:

    Bruce Block’s lectures are always so much fun. Everything has structure and a lot of our choices when making films are intuitive because we find ourselves responding to and making these choices that correlate to a certain emotion. The more aware we become of these systems working beneath the surface, the better our work will become. I would love to see how Bruce would break down and experimental film.


  21. yudu says:

    Bruce Block has been to our seminar once when I was in my first year, and this year he came again with the same information. Compare with the last year, I feel like his lecture became easier to follow, and many of the works and the examples are less impressive. I still remember last year, it was not long after I came to this school, when he was in the lecture, I feel like the huge amount of information that he hand on us is incredible. It blows my mind. And his book Visual Expression is like a bible of film to me. I am glade to see the change that happened on me this year. It means that I have improved in the past year. What I thought was unbeatable brilliant is still great but not that unbeatable as it was anymore~


  22. Jinzhi Du says:

    Almost the same content as last year. But I really don’t care listen BRUCE’s lecture again and again. His lecture and theories are very clear and directly to an animation student or animation beginner. There must be some rules of making film we need to learn before we are trying to break them. I think Bruce’s class is good opening. Can’t wait to read his book and take his class.


  23. xiruiliu says:

    This is my second time to take Bruce Block class. I am totally agree his theory of telling story in the visual way. He teaches us the basic rules of making visual story and find the regularization of telling story in timing. As for the color, shape, lens of camera and space those all elements can telling story in different way.

    After he told us the basic things to tell a story. he takes the lion of the king to describe his theory deeply and draw a lot of diagrams to explains the timing and climax.

    I also buy his book after this class, and I learned some deeply knowledge from it. I am using his theory to my own short project now. Although I am still have some difficulties to combine the theory with my work, It is still works in my project and make it better. I learned a lot from him, I am really thanks to him that he can come to our seminar this semester.


  24. Zhaoyu Zhou says:

    I look forward to sitting in Bruce’s class Visual Expression next semester, after listening to his talk. His talk is very straight-forward and clear for us to understand. The theory and concept and stragegy of film-making that he introduced are very useful and inspirational. Story-telling is the most important thing in both filmmaking and animation. And visual-story telling consists all the elements from story-telling. How to acheive the result that we want is that we need to follow the rules. Looking forward to taking Bruce’s class next semester!


  25. Tuo Kan says:

    I am very happy to see him in Seminar again, I remember when the first semester, I heard his speech about the emotion’s lines from the beginning of the story to the end.

    When my first time had his speech, some of he’s theory I couldnt understand, but after one years study, after I watched many animations, I think I understand. And this time is like a refresh of these knowledge.
    Yes, telling a story have a rhythm. Especially telling a good story to let people want to watch.


  26. Aya Kashima says:

    It was my second time to get lecture from him but I still learned a lot. His theory is clear and easy to understand and very useful for my production. Especially visualizing the story was helpful for me to analyze the story making. There is a specific technic for catching the attention from audiences, which I felt like taking psychology class. Also the line theory was interesting, now I take it more serious to create the line in background for my production film. I will definitely read his book to study more.


  27. mengna Lei says:

    this is the second time to his seminar. I still remember the first he introduced us to his visual story kingdom. i was so shocked about the system and the standard he created and essentialized his experience and acknowledge in this two hour lecture. it is really arranged well and bring us to his world gradually.

    before his speech, I have no awareness of how the structure of story affect the story telling. what the good story’s structure like. he show us the graphic to explain the principle and the rule. it is amazing, I never seen anyone like him to do this.
    he introduced some idea like the light, line, position, how those elements contribute or reduce the composition of frame and story telling.
    now , when i am doing my work, I have a contiouseness of what i am making. not just based on my feelling and dont know why I make my work in this way.


  28. Yijie Li says:

    Bruce Block is the rare type of people can analyze almost every film based on his original theories of visual and story structures. The frame is a 2D dimension, all the stuffs in there are meant to trick the audiences. Everything is the frame has its role of pushing to extreme end or bringing back to the affinity.

    However, Bruce Block is not only theorist. After hundreds or thousands shutters, we train our eyes and know what we want when come across to certain situation. We can construct the scene cleverer and enhance our story. Our shots are no longer naively based on “feeling” but based on our true “will”.


  29. Junyi Xiao says:

    This is the second time to his seminar. And it’s still good.

    His speech is well organized and very useful. He told us lots of basic rules about film making. Telling a story have a rhythm. Especially telling a good story to let people want to watch. The more aware we become of these systems working beneath the surface, the better our work will become.

    Thanks Bruce for such a wonderful lecture.


  30. Ruchia Masuko says:

    Bruce Block’s lecture was very helpful for me.
    SInce the day I listen to his lecture, I started think about visual structure.
    I really loved his speech because actually it was a useful lecture that I can work on to my works.
    SInce I entered USC, I found out that I want to work on more on storytelling.
    Animation is very powerful visuals that able to tell stories to viewers as that they can tell more of the kernel.
    I’d love to take more of his class in future semester.


  31. Chung-Hsuan, Fan Chiang says:

    I learned so much from Bruce lecture in such a short time, and would definitely like to dig deeper into visual storytelling. The way he interact with students did help us to think independently, and the content was so compact that I would really like to digest after this class. His theory answered some of my questions that I had when making my previous animated shorts, and I realized some better ways to improve my work. Although it was just one class, I can say that this would benefit so many students in the filed of moving image without doubt.


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