Camera movement and other driecting bits

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Flying Spaghetti Monster, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Flying Spaghetti Monster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I reserve this thread to talk about directing of shows and films, or other important aspects of filming Star Trek, not necessarily writing or production...

    First I wanted to talk about Camera movement. I am currently watching Best of Both Worlds. Over twenty years on, this episode is still tense, exciting, and professionally filmed. I love how the director "stays out of the way", and lets the drama and action speak for itself. May of the shots on the bridge are done with a very still camera, one that only moves when a character moves, such as when Geordi enters the bridge to reroute engineering controls, or when Shelby moves to Data's station to select a course of action.

    In the latest Star Trek film, Abrams refreshingly gives us camera movements, even on the bridge, that are fluid, free, and very stylistic. I liked the film a lot, and I feel that Star Trek can benefit from the modern sensibilities a good director can bring to it.

    Yet Cliff Bole wasn't missing anything in his direction of Best of Both Worlds. By being relatively invisible, the story and the tension was built primarily from what we were seeing not how we were seeing it. And it helps that the episode had much more going on that resonates than many films do.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. jayrath

    jayrath Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Not a fan of moving cameras or rapid editing for no purpose whatsoever. Lock the camera down and give us a medium shot. Reserve the fireworks for dramatic moments. Nor do I need over-the-shoulder close-ups every time someone speaks.
     
  3. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Flying Spaghetti Monster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I would tend to agree.

    But one could say that after five series all done with a relatively sedate style, that the fluid movements of the latest film is welcome.

    I see it, and I agree in some respects, but if the drama is compelling, you don't need fancy moves.
     
  4. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    I disliked Abrams' shakey-cam style, which made it difficult to determine what was happening in some scenes. This was even applied to CGI space scenes. For a person with vision problems like me (I can't see myself clearly in a mirror), it was extremely annoying.
     
  5. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Flying Spaghetti Monster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah. I know what you mean. Some would say it adds energy to shots. I'm not sure.

    One scene that has a bit of excessive movement is the scene where Pike and Kirk are chatting after the bar fight.
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Well, it's the same verite shooting style that was so well-liked in Firefly and Battlestar Galactica, and is generally popular these days overall. The goal of the Trek reboot was to reinvent Trek in a more modern idiom, and that includes that shooting style.
     
  7. plynch

    plynch Commodore Commodore

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    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. Though I'm sure it takes work to make things look natural!
     
  8. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    ^ Cloverfield.
     
  9. Anji

    Anji Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Abrams needs to slow down his edits...they are far too quick. The viewer does not get to enjoy the entire moment and let it bloom. I mean, reality may move that fast, but this is not reality, this is storytelling and there needs to be a pacing to the movie.

    A good movie is like good music, there is a rhythm and a flow to it, both pauses and crescendos.
     
  10. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    It is of corse possible to like both styles. And would the scene play out the same if shot differently
     
  11. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Flying Spaghetti Monster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    What I find most praiseworthy about Star Trek 2009 is the drill scene, not just the fight, but the whole sequence from arriving at Vulcan ending with the black hole collapsing the planet. So much story happens, and, in addition, we are taking through the gamut of emotions, from facing a threat, to the mysteriousness of space (silent as they plunge through before deploying the chutes) to swashbuckling fights, to Spock rescuing his folks, to an exciting escape (though one can wonder why Hannity (the communications officer in blue) claims that they'll be sucked in if they don't leave immediately, yet they don't leave immediately, and the set-piece as a whole ends very quietly as Spock realizes what has happened.

    Taken altogether, this whole area of the film a serious rush. It's pretty impressive film making.
     
  12. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It's interesting that you praise the direction on BOBW, when the first rescue scene is visually disconcerting with all four actors at a junction and we get all these disorienting shots. I'd have liked to see some kind of establishing shot before they went to the single ones. But I'm only criticizing that one shot.

    Speaking of directing and Borg, I really liked the shot in their first appearance where the camera follows Worf's phaser fire that kills the first Borg that came aboard.
     
  13. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Flying Spaghetti Monster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    That's a fantastic shot. I noticed it when I did my Borg marathon the other day. I don't think I've ever seen that since either in Trek or Star Wars. The camera movement follows the beam!

    Also, from that episode is the awesome shot of the Borg beaming into the engine room. It's very subtle. Even when he's fully materialized in the background, he almost looks transparent. Very eerie!
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2013
  14. Tosk

    Tosk Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    They did it in DS9's "Whispers".
     
  15. jayrath

    jayrath Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    "Camera movement I loved -- and then I got awfully sick of it [ . . . ] There's too much movement. It makes some people dizzy -- it really does, and they become more conscious of the camera movement than what they are of what the hell you're photographing [ . . .] I used to get some wonderful odd angles -- shooting through people's navels -- so the idea was destroyed. Then I realized that the best thing was to make the picture the simplest way you could: if you wanted movement, or anything like that, use it where it really meant something, where it would help the picture." -- director William Wellman, speaking of Wings (1927), quoted in "The Parade's Passed By," by Kevin Browlnlow, 1968.
     
  16. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  17. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Flying Spaghetti Monster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.
     
  19. jayrath

    jayrath Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    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.
     
  20. CorporalClegg

    CorporalClegg Admiral Admiral

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    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.


    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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