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Putting quadro, inquadrare, and inquadratura into focus

In this lesson, we will talk about words that stem from the root word, quadro. For more about the word quadro itself, please see this lesson, where we discuss various meanings of the word. For the purposes here, let's think of un quadro as a picture, or a painting. We can imagine it as being framed and hanging on the wall. 

Cristina ci ha detto che qualche suo quadro era riuscito a venderlo.

Cristina told us that you were able to sell a few of his paintings.

Caption 25, Il Commissario Manara S2EP10 -La verità nascosta - Part 5

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A frame is often square or rectangular, and in fact, quadro is another word for square. In a camera, we see a square (or frame) around the subject we want in the shot.



L'inquadratura and inquadrare

In concrete terms, l'inquadratura is the act or result of framing something in a camera, telescope, binoculars, or some such appliance. The verb form is inquadrare. You want to make it so your subject is in a certain position within the frame you see in your viewfinder or live-view screen. In other words, in the shot.

Qua si vede un'anfora, un'urna cineraria per l'esattezza, quasi intatta. Riesci a inquadrarla? -Sì.

Here you can see an amphora, a cinerary urn to be precise, almost intact. Are you able to get it in the shot? -Yes.

Captions 21-22, Anna e Marika Hostaria Antica Roma - Part 4

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In photographic terms, the kind of shot is often described in Italian with the noun piano (plane) or campo (field of view). But for the subject we focus on, or that we want in the frame, we use inquadrare.

Primi piani, totali, campi medi, tutto con il quaranta, semplicemente allontanandosi o avvicinandosi al soggetto o a... alla cosa da inquadrare.

Close ups, long shots, medium shots, all with the forty [mm], simply by going further away or by getting closer to the subject or to the... the thing to capture in the frame.

Captions 5-7, Fratelli Taviani La passione e l'utopia - Part 11

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Io La guardo sempre alla TV, ma dal vivo sembra più alto. -Be', dipende molto dall'inquadratura. Spesso un'angolazione può dare l'impressione...

I always watch you on TV, but in person you seem taller. -Well, it depends a lot on the framing. Often a camera angle can give an impression...

Captions 53-55, PsicoVip Gli occhiali - Ep 24

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But we can also use the verb inquadrare figuratively. "We get the picture."

Tanto ho capito, io il tipo l'ho inquadrato. Non mi fido.

Anyway I understand, I have that guy figured out. I don't trust him.

Caption 38, Il Commissario Manara S1EP1 - Un delitto perfetto - Part 8

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There are various ways of translating inquadrare in the following example, but we don't know exactly what she was thinking, so we opted for "to categorize."

Inquadrava i suoi corteggiatori come amici, quindi li invitava tutti insieme. Si odiavano tra di loro,

She categorized her suitors as friends, so she would invite them all together. They hated one another,

Captions 5-6, Vera e Giuliano Montaldo - Part 4

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Inquadrare can sometimes mean "to focus on"


E noi abbiamo inquadrato lì la porta...

And we focused on the door there...

Caption 18, Fratelli Taviani La passione e l'utopia - Part 1

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Inquadrare isn't actually focusing, in the technical sense of getting your subject in focus, or sharp, but you are focusing on something important in the shot, so sometimes it's synonymous with focusing. Usually, you want the subject in your frame to be in focus. When we are technically focusing on a part of the shot, we use the focus ring or use autofocus and we "put the image into focus": mettere a fuoco. Once the image is sharp, è a fuoco (it's in focus).


Just as inquadrare can be figurative, so can mettere a fuoco.

Poi, c'ho una nuova idea in testa, così, ma ancora... ancora un pochino confusa, che spero di mettere a fuoco abbastanza presto.

Then, I have a new idea in mind, like, but still... still a bit confused, which I hope to bring into focus fairly soon.

Captions 48-49, Fellini Racconta Un Autoritratto Ritrovato - Part 7

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Fare il punto della situazione, invece, vuol dire mettere a fuoco gli aspetti principali di quella situazione, mentre fare il quadro della situazione, invece, significa descrivere quella situazione in modo molto dettagliato.

To make the point [to sum up] of the situation, instead means to put into focus the principal aspects of that situation, whereas "to make the picture" of a situation, instead, means to describe that situation in a very detailed way.

Captions 61-64, Marika spiega Il verbo fare

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