Created By: DonQuigleone on January 16, 2012 Last Edited By: morenohijazo on December 26, 2017

Pillow Shot

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Main
Page Type:
Trope
An intervening shot of scenery or something else relatively innocuous between two scenes, or in the middle of dialogue. Fairly common in Japanese Cinema and Anime, first attributed to Yasujiro Ozu.

Generally it consists of a still of the sky, or a building, with some kind of ambient noise in the background, usually crows, the wind, or cicadas or even crowds murmuring.

If you could remove the shot, and it would have no effect on the plot, or the viewers understanding of it, it's a pillow shot.

Often an Aspect Montage

Watch pretty much any anime and you'll see a pillow shot at some point. Due to that fact, I think only having particularly egregious examples is necessary.
Community Feedback Replies: 27
  • January 16, 2012
    TonyG
    Related to Aspect Montage.
  • January 16, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    Not to be confused with using a pillow as an impromptu gun suppressor.

  • January 18, 2012
    DonQuigleone
    @Tony G

    Pillow Shots are often an Aspect Montage, good find.
  • April 23, 2012
    peccantis
    ^ The trope name's Pillow Pistol, for reference.

    http://www.timeout.com/london/gallery/225/example-slug/16 defines it as a transition between characters' suffering and still life. Consider refining description to distinguish from Aspect Montage?

  • April 23, 2012
    YouKeepUsingThatWord
    Where does the name "Pillow Shot" come from?
  • April 23, 2012
    peccantis
    Established term, though hard to say where it comes from... Would guess one of Ozu's films has a famous Pillow Shot with an actual pillow or something.
  • April 23, 2012
    nman
    ^Does it have to be called "Pillow Shot", though? It's not a very clear name, and before I opened the YKTTW, I thought for sure that the trope was going to be about using a pillow to silence a weapon.
  • April 23, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    David Lynch likes these. Examples include shots of some traffic lights in Twin Peaks and a robin in a tree in Blue Velvet.

    I think the name Pillow Shot should definitely be used if it's a technical term or used in the industry. I'm kind of with nman in that I first assumed it was something else (idk, like a shot of a character with their head on a pillow, or shots that parody The Godfather with the horse's-head-on-a-pillow thing.) but it makes perfect sense when you find out what it is. It's padding between scenes, it's a cushioning effect between one scene and the next. Easy!
  • April 23, 2012
    YouKeepUsingThatWord
    Yes, if it's a pre-existing term, it's best to use it.

    This page: http://cracknell.blogspot.ca/2009/04/pillow-shot.html says "the term is derived from Japanese poetry"

    The other wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makurakotoba Says there are "pillow words" which are figures of speech where certain words are always grouped together.

    And the pillow shots are described as: "they often refer to a character ... presenting ... it out of a narrative context. ... People are perhaps known to be near, but for the moment they are not visible, and a rooftop, a street-light, laundry drying on a line, a lampshade or a tea-kettle is offered as centre of attention. The essence of the pillow shot, then, lies in the tension between the suspension of human presence and its potential return."

    The connection between pillow words and pillow shots is not obvious to me. Perhaps it's like the still objects are associated with characters the same way the words are associated with one another in the poems.

    I had seen this but didn't have a name for it. Thanks.

    If you want an egregious example, some episodes of Kareshi Kanojo no Jijo seem like they are made up of 90% pillow shots.

  • April 23, 2012
    nman
    Looking at Wikipedia, "intermediate spaces" and "empty shots" are two other pre-existing terms for the exact same thing. They both seem much clearer as well.
  • April 23, 2012
    elwoz
    I'm cool with having the page be "pillow shot" if that's the technical term used in the film biz, but I think at the very least we need some redirects from more obvious names.
  • April 24, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Redirects solve about 90% of problems, what would we do without them?
  • April 26, 2012
    TBeholder
    ^^^ we all know the position of ickypedia on "pre-existing terms", right?
  • January 22, 2013
    morenohijazo
    So, what's exactly the difference between this and Aspect Montage?
  • January 22, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I guess it's one aspect of the Aspect Montage. So this isn't quite a subtrope, but it's certainly related.

    ... who gave this a hat, anyway? The name isn't determined, there's no laconic, and the description needs work.

    There's a handful of other names on this page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late_Spring. I think sacrificing the most common name (that no one has ever heard of) for one of the less common, but apparently still recognized terms that actually describe the trope better would be wise.
  • October 5, 2013
    Moonhitler
    • Nichijou uses them frequently, occasionally referencing previous sketches or showing the characters doing genuinely mundane activities without the usual intensity.
    • The second recap episode of GirlsUndPanzer does this between almost every scene, showing various versions of the school's mascot.
  • October 5, 2013
    kjnoren
    I'd probably be careful with calling this Pillow Shot, since even if it's somewhat established within film circles, there are two easy but incorrect interpretations of the term (shot of a head on a pillow/Godfather spoof/silencing a gun with a pillow).

    Some other terms that were used appear to be Curtain Shot, Empty Shot, and Intermediate Space. Of these I think Curtain Shot is the one least likely to be misused.

    Another way to describe them appears to make an analogue to a Still life painting, which could give us Still Life Shot.
  • October 5, 2013
    DAN004
    Subtrope of Padding, I think.
  • December 24, 2017
    AwSamWeston
    Alright, it's time to necro this YKTTW. Definitely something we need on TV Tropes' catalog, since it's an established term. The description / laconic could use work though.
  • December 24, 2017
    Malady
    Rename to Empty Shot with Pillow Shot as a redirect, I'd say.

    If it actually has value as a transition, then maybe Transition Shot or something?

    Is it a special kind of Filler that deserves its own page, or should it just be integrated into it, and more redirects made?
  • December 24, 2017
    eroock
    Compare Establishing Shot.

    And please don't call this Pillow Shot. That reminds me of this yet untroped scenario.
  • December 24, 2017
    jamespolk
    The trope should be called Pillow Shot because the most commonly used term is Pillow Shot.

    Are we envisioning this as an example-less sort of universal listing like, I dunno, Zoom?
  • December 25, 2017
    AwSamWeston
    @jamespolk, given that it's an editing technique, and given how hard it is to Play With, I'd say yes — an example-less entry would be appropriate.

    And to everyone who's saying "Don't call this a pillow shot! It makes me think of pillows!" just remember — we can always add a line like "Not to be confused with [...]"

    I mean, would we object to Impairment Shot if it's not a gunshot to the kneecap? What about an Orbital Shot that's not a torpedo shot from above the Earth? Does a Split Screen occur when someone cleaves a computer monitor with a battleaxe? Cataloging production terms is entirely within the scope of what TV Tropes does, and I'm surprised we haven't tackled the Pillow Shot yet.

    Possible eventual indexes include Camera Tricks and Script Speak.
  • December 26, 2017
    Arivne
    ^ Aw Sam Weston wrote: "And to everyone who's saying "Don't call this a pillow shot! It makes me think of pillows!" just remember — we can always add a line like "Not to be confused with [...]""

    Just having a line in the trope page itself is not going to help people who are looking for the trope and can't find it because of its unclear name or think it's about something else when they read the name (a very common occurrence and something to be avoided).
  • December 26, 2017
    AwSamWeston
    Yeah, but Clear Consise Witty is trumped by established terms. Quoted from "Naming A Trope:"

    Check for pre-established terms. Some tropes have a long history of usage, and somebody else may have coined a name for it already.

    This is a case where the name has already been coined. If we name this something other than "Pillow Shot," people who use TV Tropes to get started in the film industry will be laughed out of the room. (And yes, those people exist — I'm one of them.)
  • December 26, 2017
    NotOnAnyFlatbread
    ^^The argument "we can always add a line like 'Not to be confused with [...]'" can just as easily be flipped on its head: If we call it by one of the other terms that seems less likely to be misinterpreted, e.g., Empty Shot, then we can easily state in the description "Also known as a pillow shot, curtain shot, or intermediate space [etc.]" as well as include a redirect from Pillow Shot (capturing those who are looking for it by that term).

    IMO, the clarity of the wiki is better served by picking the name that is clearest and most intuitive to the layman and explaining the remaining industry terms in the description (plus providing the alternative industry terms as redirects) than by naming it after the most confusing of the terms used and trying to clarify that in the description. A note in the description will only be read by someone who goes to the trope page and reads the trope description in its entirety. The trope name will be read by the readers of every single example where it is cited, and many of them will be relying on the trope name and (not always adequate) example description to understand the example—those readers will benefit from a clear trope name more than the most common industry term for it.
  • December 26, 2017
    Malady
    ^^ ... Seriously? ... Were you on Mobile and just didn't look any further? ... Also quoted from Administrivia.Naming A Trope, and as the line immediately following your quote, plus also was there at page creation:

    • ...but don't use just any pre-existing term. Some pre-existing terms are admittedly opaque, require knowledge of a certain Trope Namer, have been forgotten by the public consciousness (or just never caught on in the first place). In cases like these, it may be better to just invent the name ourselves.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=dcjc7vul0wj39mwvfal9phdv&trope=DiscardedYKTTW