Camera movement and other driecting bits

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

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    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.
     
  2. scotpens

    scotpens Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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."

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    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.
     
  3. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Flying Spaghetti Monster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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!
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^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.
     
  5. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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.
     
  6. lurok

    lurok Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  7. ZapBrannigan

    ZapBrannigan Commodore Commodore

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    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.
     
  8. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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'. :)
     
  9. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Flying Spaghetti Monster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    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...
     
  10. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    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.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    ^Right. There's no universal rule. Sometimes a still camera works well -- either because it's appropriate to the scene or because the director and DP use it well -- and sometimes it doesn't.
     
  12. Maurice

    Maurice Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The term I always use re camera movement is "motivated". Is the camera movement motivated by something or not? I've had the pleasure and pain of working with DPs (Directors of Photography) who understood this or didn't. The best ones I've worked with understood what the shot was trying to communicate and figured out if a camera move would hinder or help that. The worst ones I've worked with moved the camera because they thought it added energy or interest to a shot but then ended up with framings that totally undercut the scene. In short, his camera moves weren't motivated by the scene and its emotions.

    And, re "jump cuts" above, just to clarify, standard cutting isn't jump cutting. A jump cut refers to when a character or object appears to "jump" or move in the frame on a cut because the framing and or/shot angle aren't sufficiently different to hide any mismatches. Discussed here a while back.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013
  13. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    And yet the image I've included at the end is one I would never expect to see in Berman-era Star Trek. It's striking and visually dynamic, with all three characters in sharp focus, Kirk up close and seen from below, looking larger than life. Compare that to, say, a typical conference room shot from VOY -- boring, lifeless compositions designed to convey or induce no real emotions, to merely convey plot information.
     
  14. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    I agree that the original series tended to have more dynamic camera and lighting set-ups than the 1987-2005 follow-ups, but showcasing stills from "Mudd's Women" doesn't make for the fairest of comparisons. According to Solow and Justman's book Inside Star Trek: The Real Story, director Harvey Hart's camera set-ups were so intricate that it pushed the episode an entire day over schedule, and as a result he wasn't asked to direct the series a second time.
     
  15. Harvey

    Harvey Admiral Admiral

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    This is a bit tangential, but I haven't read any research which suggests that Porter himself re-edited the film to cross-cut the sequences. Rather, it was re-cut in 1910 (or perhaps even later), at least a year after Porter left Edison's company (and, I presume, had anything to do with that earlier silent).
     
  16. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Flying Spaghetti Monster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think some shots in the Berman era are pretty excellent. I generally like his professionalism, which presides over any tendencies over excess style. I am going to find more examples, but one shot I just watch, though it may be from a film, is really really awesome. In First Contact, after the girl in engineering is taken by the Borg, we cut to Picard in the silo, reading through some specs, but he knows something is wrong. Same shot, Troi asks him what's wrong. Same shot, he starts walking down the hall and we realize that, even as Troi follows him, so are Data and Riker in the background. That the camera follows him makes the scene seems very urgent, and when the viewer realizes that Riker is in the shot as well, suddenly we know the story itself will soon change.
     
  17. Sci

    Sci Admiral Admiral

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    All I know is that I was watching some old DS9 episodes today, and I was struck by how uncreative a lot of the scene compositions were. Not all, but a lot. To say nothing of how -- well, cheap -- a lot of the lighting looks by today's standards. I'd love to see DS9 done in the style of today's more cinematic-looking television series.
     
  18. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Flying Spaghetti Monster Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I don't agree about DS9, I thinknitnwasngenerally more creative than other Treks, especially in the lighting. Like the dramatic underlit shot when one Ferengi says to another; "still living in your father's shadow?" and the response; "my father casts a very long shadow. Careful you don't disappear in it."
     
  19. _C_

    _C_ Commander Red Shirt

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    I was really fond of the camera circling the opposite side of the table as Odo(following him around basically) as he was talking to the baby Changeling in "The Begotten."

    I love camera movements when moments are dramatic and the motion ties in with the music. Sometimes a static image would just lose its impact.