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Old January 20 2013, 07:16 AM   #16
Dale Sams
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Re: Camera movement and other driecting bits

That last post greatly reminded me of something I discussed with my wife today. She had been trying to get me to watch "Parks and Recreation"...I brought up the pilot on Netflix, and literally 5 seconds into it I paused it, turned to her and said.."Oh..is this by "The Office" people???"

I could only watch it for two more minutes before I had to turn it off. Every. Damn. Time they do that "Camera switch, zoom" thing, it takes me right out of the episode. And they do it every 20 seconds.
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Old January 20 2013, 08:06 AM   #17
Flying Spaghetti Monster
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Re: Camera movement and other driecting bits

Yeah, I agree that a more professional, and rather calm, sensibility is generally more befitting of Trek. The Office-style wouldn't work all that well, I don't think, at least not all the time
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Old January 20 2013, 04:12 PM   #18
Christopher
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Re: Camera movement and other driecting bits

Flying Spaghetti Monster wrote: View Post
Yeah, I agree that a more professional, and rather calm, sensibility is generally more befitting of Trek.
Whereas when shows like VGR and ENT were still on, I heard a lot of complaints from various quarters about how old-fashioned their shooting style was compared to other genre shows at the time, how reluctant Rick Berman was to let the show take risks or catch up with the evolution of the medium. Sometime during the TNG era, Trek got a reputation as the stolid, conservative old guard of mass-media SF -- rather than the daring, envelope-pushing cutting edge of SFTV like TOS was. I don't think I agree that ST's style should be "calm." TOS was an energetic, bold, passionate show. Abrams has brought that attitude back, albeit in a more modern stylistic idiom.
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Old January 20 2013, 05:37 PM   #19
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Re: Camera movement and other driecting bits

Christopher wrote: View Post
Sometime during the TNG era, Trek got a reputation as the stolid, conservative old guard of mass-media SF -- rather than the daring, envelope-pushing cutting edge of SFTV like TOS was.
I don't disagree but, continuing on from my post above, Brownlow rightly points out, "There is hardly a camera technique in existence that did not have its origin in the silent era. Wide screens, three-dimensional pictures, Technicolor, hand-held cameras, traveling shots, crane shots, rear-projection, traveling matte, Cinerama -- all had made their appearance by the end of the [nineteen] twenties."

Yes, we've largely exchanged film stock for digital, and pixels for matte paintings, but so far as visuals are concerned -- framing and placing an image on a screen, at home or in a theater -- there really is nothing new under the sun.

Incidentally, for hand-held shots in the silent era, camera operators were sometimes outfitted with roller skates -- so that assistants could "dolly" them!

I'm not looking to argue. I just want to point out that there were a lot of pioneers who did it all before. Our "modern" styles are just old techniques that for the moment have once again come into fashion.
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Old January 20 2013, 06:52 PM   #20
CorporalClegg
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Re: Camera movement and other driecting bits

I may be off the mark since it's been a while, but it seems to me that I remember Livingston and Frakes really being the only ones who consistently pushed Berman's envelope. Guys like Carson, Bole, Kolbe, Landau, etc. seemed much more willing to toe the line. That could totally be my imagination, however.


jayrath wrote: View Post
I'm not looking to argue. I just want to point out that there were a lot of pioneers who did it all before. Our "modern" styles are just old techniques that for the moment have once again come into fashion.
Totally agree.

People forget, or at least never realize, the brilliance of some of the camera work of the silent era. It's know fault of their own because most of it has been tucked away out of sight and only accessible to film students and cinaphiles who know where to look for it. It's a real shame too. Because it's really left a lot of the masters of the craft lost to time.

It may seem obvious, but it was because the visuals were all the directors had to tell their story. Most of the popular techniques you listed were created out of necessity.

Take Life of an American Fireman for example. It was the progenitor of what is probably the basis of modern film editing: cross-cutting a seamless narrative. But Porter didn't do this in the original cut. However, without any dialog, audiences were confused about what was going on, so he re-cut it. This is a more obvious example. I could list many others, but it best makes the point, I think.

Heck, Scorsese's catalog alone is a master class in film techniques honed in the silent era. Pick any one of his films and it's most famous shot, and I can guarantee it was lifted strait out of a silent film.

The really sad thing is most of the great influential directors have been completely lost to time. People know Chaplin, Griffith, and Keaton, but that's mostly due to their popularity and prolificacy. Guys like Eisenstein and Murnau have been totally forgotten.

Heck, I bet if you were to go to a cineplex and randomly ask people coming out about the Lumières, you'd get a lot of blank stares.
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Old January 20 2013, 07:34 PM   #21
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Re: Camera movement and other driecting bits

Oh, there was definitely some brilliant cinematography in early films. Check out the 1932 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde directed by Rouben Mamoulian -- there's some ingenious, innovative camera work there, particularly its use of POV shots and split screens.

I wasn't talking about when techniques were invented, just talking about changing styles and cinematic language between the 1960s and today. As I said, I often heard the production style of the Berman-era shows critiqued as old-fashioned and behind the curve of evolving television styles.
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Old January 20 2013, 08:09 PM   #22
Olive, the Other Reindeer
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Re: Camera movement and other driecting bits

Trek TOS had some very good, old-school cinematography that served the needs of the story and didn't call attention to itself. Note these classically composed shots from "Mudd's Women."





plynch wrote: View Post
I would like to see a scifi flick shot as if with camcorders or phone cams or whatever we use in our personal lives to take movies now. Or even just in video. That would make it seem more real to me. No nice lighting setups or blocking.
That doesn't make a movie look more "real." It just makes it look cheap and amateurish, like a video made by a couple of teenagers and uploaded to YouTube.

YMMV.
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Old January 22 2013, 06:29 AM   #23
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Re: Camera movement and other driecting bits

I just want to talk about sound design, something that usually isn't talked about. Ben Burt was a fantastic choice to polish the sound design on JJTrek, and to bring back some classic sound.

I think the most perfect scene was probably the most difficult to get right: the scene where Kirk and Spock beam into "the cargo bay, where there shouldn't be a soul in sight" and they emerge, and, after a beat, there is phaser and disruptor fire all over the place. Makes the home stereo come alive, and the pinging of metal is fantastic!
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Old January 22 2013, 04:40 PM   #24
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Re: Camera movement and other driecting bits

^The first time I saw the 2009 Trek film was in a theater with a very good sound system, and the percussive bang of ships going into warp was amazing, conveying such power. Unfortunately it doesn't work as well on lesser sound systems.
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Old February 2 2013, 10:13 AM   #25
MauriceNavidad
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Re: Camera movement and other driecting bits

jayrath wrote: View Post
-- director William Wellman, speaking of Wings (1927), quoted in "The Parade's Passed By," by Kevin Browlnlow, 1968.
Just for the record, the book is "The Parade's Gone By". I got to chat up Mr. Browlow at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival a couple of years ago. Lovely man. Sadly, as he told me, it looks unlikely that his terrific 13 episode Hollywood series will ever get re-released due to the licensors of the film clips now want so much for them that it's economically viable.
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Old February 2 2013, 10:24 AM   #26
lurok
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Re: Camera movement and other driecting bits

I find TOS more visually interesting than later Treks. Even those 'hated' episodes like The Empath. But I think Andrew Robinson did a great job with VOY's Blood Fever. There's some good shots in there.
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Old February 2 2013, 12:43 PM   #27
ZapBrannigan
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Re: Camera movement and other driecting bits

TOS seldom put a foot wrong in its camera work, but there's one thing that was indefensible. In "Let That be Your Last Battlefield," the camera zooms in and out repeatedly on the red alert light. I don't know whether to blame director Jud Taylor or d.p. Al Francis, but it was terrible.
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Old February 2 2013, 12:59 PM   #28
Lance
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Re: Camera movement and other driecting bits

Last time I watched it I thought there was some great direction in (I think) "Elaan Of Troyius" in TOS season three. Lots of 'walk and talk' scenes where the camera is just left running and the actors gradually go through the exposition in a single take. I like that kind of stuff, where you're almost watching the actors giving a real-time, 'live' performance, without any of the intrusive technical jiggery-pokery.

I too am not a fan of "over the shoulder" shots when people are talking. I always feel that talky scenes with lots of cutting back and forth from actor to actor have been done to either A) hide the fact that one of them is a stand-in rather than the actual actor; B) hide the fact that one of them was having trouble remembering their lines and they had to cherry-pick from the best takes; or C) both of the above. I appreciate why it's a standard television procedure, but give me two actors playing directly off each other with no jump cuts any day of the week.

Sometimes IMO the technical aspects of shooting do get in the way of the real 'magic'.
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Old February 2 2013, 07:19 PM   #29
Flying Spaghetti Monster
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Re: Camera movement and other driecting bits

Do you all agree that a scene can still be exciting with very "mundane" camera movements. I mean, Best of Both Worlds, it seems the camera never moves unless it's following Picard getting out of his chair to go to the area near Data's console, but the scene is still exciting...
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Old February 3 2013, 12:55 AM   #30
Lance
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Re: Camera movement and other driecting bits

It's all in the staging of the scene. I mean, if you go to live theater, there's always bits of business going on to keep you interested, you don't need to be close-up to the actors to appreciate what's happening in a scene. The same is arguably true in television and movies. I think what you describe is basically exactly this. There may not be a lot going on with the camera in those scenes during BOBW, but that doesn't really matter because the actors and writers have created a compelling situation that doesn't really need flashy photography to help sell it.
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