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post #1 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 09:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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First, I want to know people's opinions on the filming style.

Secondly, I want to express a snippet of my own - I don't understand all the negativity towards this particular style of filming. I see\\hear people complaining all the time about GREAT films because they had shakycam sequences. Are you serious? Really?

The only reasoning I've heard so far that makes any sense is that some people are suscpetible to motion sickness during these scenes. If that is you than I sympathize and don't mean any negativity towards your circumstance.

However, I fail to see any reasoning behind the other complaints such as:

1. It it distracting.
- Well typically when this type of cinematography is being used the scene is hectic, action-based, etc. It is used to show the frenetic situation in a way that you would experience if you were truly following this person or event from the perspective the camera is presenting. Sometimes it used to show the perspective of the actual character who is being chased, shot at, in an earthquake, or whatever.. those moments would be even more 'shaky' if you were actually there. How can it be distracting when it is putting you right there in the moment with your characters? If anything, it amplifies the scene in ways that no tripodded camera could possibly come close to.

2. It takes away from the scene\\moment.. pulls you out of the film.
Ludicrous. It puts you RIGHT in the scene and draws you even further into the film. This isn't an opinion, it's a fact. You are now more involved and associated with this character or event and what is being experienced than you are if you viewing it from a steady tracking shot from 50 feet away. Imagine watching Transformers from the perspective of a steadicam on a Tripod safely out of harms way? Or watching Bourne run\\drive\\jump\\swim from the perspective of a security camera? What an awful experience. The reason you're exhausted when these shakycam scenes end is because you felt right alongside the character.

3. It used everywhere!
Not really. There is a difference between a shakycam scene (Saving Private Ryan beach scene) and a handheld camera scene (Brad Pitt walking to his car before it blows up in Oceans Twelve). Just because the camera isnt perfectly steady doesnt mean you are viewing a shakycam sequence, so stop complaining. Directors use handheld cameras for scenes for a variety of reasons.. from artistic intent to maneuverability to personal preference. There are also movies that are designed to look amateurish (Quarantine, Cloverfield), and would be absolute garbage if were done in a steady, "professional" style.

4. It's a crutch.
How so? I find it much more of a crutch to sit back with a steadicam and just watch everything happen from a far\\safe distance (like a security camera) than to be right in thick of things with intricately-timed events\\happenings\\interactions that also have to coincide with precise - albeit shaky - camera direction. I mean, the amount of timing\\planning that had to go into an action sequence where the camera follows the character through the thick of it all is excessively more than if the camera were to just pan\\zoom from a distance. The filmmakers aren't lazily telling their cameramen to just go run through the battefield or chase the lead character because they don't want to film the scene properly. They're spending their valuable time setting up the scene, the exact explosions, the path the actor and trailing crew will take, precise timing, intricate - albeit shaky - camera direction, and more.

In conclusion, I really believe a lot of the negativity is unfounded and\\or unreasonable. I understand personal preference plays a factor, and that's fine - but so many people just don't understand how ridiculous they sound when they say things like "The Bourne movies would've been great if they hadn't used that whole shaky camera nonsense!"

/facepalm
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post #2 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 09:48 AM
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I like how you dispel others opinions as not being valid and then call your opinion a fact.

larry

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post #3 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 09:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PooperScooper View Post

I like how you dispel others opinions as not being valid and then call your opinion a fact.

larry

Haha, just that one! And I gave a reason why it is more a fact and less an opinion.
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post #4 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 09:59 AM
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I like it. It must be well integrated in the movie it's used in though, not just because "it's cool-and-it-worked-well-in-Bourne-so-far" I think it's on the verge of being overused, simply because it's supposed to add more realism and more "coolness" to an action scene. In the past, action movies didn't necessarily used it and yet they were, for some of them, full of intensity. Again, I like the effect, but it's just an effect, it's not an obligatory element of a good action sequence. And imo, when the shaky cam works, it's because the intensity is elsewhere (the actors, the directing), and then it really adds something to the action.
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post #5 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 10:12 AM
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I hate it. And I won't just pick on Michael Bay (even though he's the worst offender). I didn't like it in the Bourne movies either. You can convey a sense of chaos in film without completely abstracting what is happening in the scene. NYPD Blue was good at it imo. Had a 'man on the street' feel without losing all comprehension of what was happening.

The action in Transformers, especially the 2nd, is a mess. If shaky cam was used sparingly, it might be effective at conveying that hectic vibe for a moment, in lieu of watching fight choreography. Used liberally as Bay uses it, and I feel like I'm watching a trash compacter through a kaleidoscope. Apparently Bay thinks so too, because when he really wants you to see something, he slows down and zooms out so you can, y'know, actually see what the hell is going on. So the scene reads like blur, blur, blur, swoosh, swoosh, swoosh, knock out punch. Great. I want to see the whole fight, not just the end.

Bottom line, I think it's used as a crutch and not a storytelling tool.
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post #6 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 10:21 AM
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Shaky cam is ineptitude and laziness passed off as realism.
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post #7 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 10:27 AM
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Like any other stylistic device, shaky-cam can be done well or done poorly. I think the Bourne movies did it really well. The effect there helped to heighten the tension of the scenes by placing the viewer right in the thick of the action.

In Quantum of Solace, on the other hand, the shaky-cam completely dissipated any sense of tension because it was literally impossible to tell what was happening in some of the scenes. The boat chase in particular was a disaster. There was no sense of spacial relationships between the characters, vehicles, or the environment. It was just a lot of noise and random flashes of incomprehensible imagery.

Peter Berg (The Kingdom, Hancock) is also a terrible offender of badly done shaky-cam.

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post #8 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 10:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lwright84 View Post

Haha, just that one! And I gave a reason why it is more a fact and less an opinion.

If you think about, the shaky cam is not very realistic from the stand point of what you see with your eyes vs what it looks like if you were holding a camera. When was the last time you rode very bumpy road, witnessed some explosion, etc. and saw what shaky cams gives us? Your brain compensates. Shaky cam only shows us what it looks like when somebody holds a camera that is not stabilized. So it's not realistic from the standpoint of "being there" which can, and does, take people out of the movie. That's a fact.

larry

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post #9 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lwright84 View Post

I don't understand all the negativity towards this particular style of filming.

Like any "style" of filming, it is sometimes not the best fit all subject matters.

For example: Spielberg used to have a glowy, Disney-esque look to his films; worked well for a fantasy like 'E.T.' but felt out of place for a gritty drama like 'Color Purple'.

Likewise, Michael Mann's shaky-cam video look was great with 'Miami Vice', where it made me feel like I was watching an episode of 'Cops', but was distracting with a period piece like 'Public Enemies', where it made large portions of the movie play like one of those History Channel re-enactments.

So "all the negativity" isn't just about the style itself; it's often the context of its use. I like that the battle scenes in 'Saving Private Ryan' were shot this way. What I like even more is that the rest of the film wasn't shot that way. Compare that to its indiscriminate use in 'The Kingdom'.
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The reason you're exhausted when these shakycam scenes end is because you felt right alongside the character.

No. The reason many people are exhausted is because they're simply trying to follow what's happening on-screen and they have to mentally fight a shooting style that is an impediment to doing so. That's exhausting.
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I understand personal preference plays a factor...

You don't. If you really did, then you wouldn't be stating your personal preference as objective fact.

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post #10 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 10:46 AM
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Children of Men is a great example of not needing a shaky camera to have the feel of being there. The ambush scene was amazing cinematography.

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post #11 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 10:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PooperScooper View Post

If you think about, the shaky cam is not very realistic from the stand point of what you see with your eyes vs what it looks like if you were holding a camera. When was the last time you rode very bumpy road, witnessed some explosion, etc. and saw what shaky cams gives us? Your brain compensates. Shaky cam only shows us what it looks like when somebody holds a camera that is not stabilized. So it's not realistic from the standpoint of "being there" which can, and does, take people out of the movie. That's a fact.

larry

I disagree.. you run down the road while being chased and your viewpoint is 'shaky', maybe not to the stylized degree in some films, but it's there. You ride in a bumpy car and you get the same effect. Sometimes the cameras are a free-hanging 'window' into the scene.. if an explosion occurred next to such a window it would certainly shake, twist, adjust, re-stabilize, etc.

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You can convey a sense of chaos in film without completely abstracting what is happening in the scene

I think that the chaos itself is what abstracts the events on screen. If you're in a riotus mass of people charging down the street while shots are fired and explosions are going off.. you're not going to see everything that's occurring in fine detail whether you're running frantically (shakycam) or standing still observing (steadicam). A lot of the scenes this style is used in are action-packed and full of chaos, thus the 'chaotic' perspective it's presented in.

Quote:


Peter Berg (The Kingdom, Hancock) is also a terrible offender of badly done shaky-cam.

Peter Berg is an odd one, I agree. He hits the mark so well with his shakycam style sometimes, and other times I find myself wondering why I just watched the camera draw a figure 8 around someone's face in the middle of a calm dialogue scene.

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You don't. If you really did, then you wouldn't be stating your personal preference as objective fact.

I'm not - mostly - but I am channeling energy created from other conversations\\arguments about the topic.

Quote:


The reason many people are exhausted is because they're simply trying to follow what's happening on-screen and they have to mentally fight a shooting style that is an impediment to doing so. That's exhausting.

I have yet to have to fight the camera style to see what's going on in a shakycam sequence. Even in TF2 it wasn't that difficult to follow.. these giant robots comprised of thousands of parts are punching, kicking, swiping, dodging, and fighting. Did I see the exact way his left ring finger was angled when he pulled off that one move? Of course not. Do I care? Of course not. I took in the scene as it was presented.. intense, chaotic, epic, and unrelenting and I was rewarded with the experience that I was right there with Sam (who I bet couldn't see all the minute details when he stood still either) watching it all happen.
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post #12 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 11:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdurani View Post

I like that the battle scenes in 'Saving Private Ryan' were shot this way. What I like even more is that the rest of the film wasn't shot that way. Compare that to its indiscriminate use in 'The Kingdom'.

I was listening to one of the commentaries on the first season of Lost the other day, and the episode director makes that exact point. He shot a fight scene between two characters with handheld cameras to make it feel chaotic and confusing, but as soon as the fight breaks up, he locked down the cameras. It really gives the end of the scene a sense of weight and importance that way.

As you say, directors who overdo shaky-cam tend to use it indiscriminately in every type of scene, whether action or dialogue. It becomes numbing to the audience.

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post #13 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 11:46 AM
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The shaky-cam can be used effectively (Sticking with the MB theme, I'm thinking of the car chase scene in Bad Boys 2....a great car chase!). Or you could look at action scenes in The Matrix.

Or it can be bad (Transformers 2).

The reason it sucks so horribly in TF2 is because the robots themselves are such a convoluted mess of edges and moving parts everywhere that it's hard to focus on them if there's only one and it's just standing there or walking around slowly. Then you throw two of them together, thrashing around, zoom in tight the action, and throw a shaky-cam on top of it, and you can't tell what the hell is going on and it's just a jumpled mess of colors and shapes (except during the few slo-mo shots).

So it depends on the use.

But lately it has become such a "crutch" that it's annoying. I say it's a crutch because I feel they use it to cover up what they lack in being able to put together a fight/chase/action scene. They could use a "less-shaky cam" and probably be ok, but I hate that 9 times out of 10 nowadays, you can't tell what's going on.
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post #14 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 12:01 PM
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The kind of camerawork that bugs me more is "pseudo-shaky-cam." That's where mostly-static scenes in a police HQ (for typical example) or similar venue are shot with a hand-held camera that is deliberately and un-naturally jerked around.

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post #15 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 12:03 PM
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post #16 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pooperscooper View Post

if you think about, the shaky cam is not very realistic from the stand point of what you see with your eyes vs what it looks like if you were holding a camera. When was the last time you rode very bumpy road, witnessed some explosion, etc. And saw what shaky cams gives us? Your brain compensates.

Larry

+1
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post #17 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post

I was listening to one of the commentaries on the first season of Lost the other day, and the episode director makes that exact point. He shot a fight scene between two characters with handheld cameras to make it feel chaotic and confusing, but as soon as the fight breaks up, he locked down the cameras. It really gives the end of the scene a sense of weight and importance that way.

As in every artform, from a structural viewpoint, one of the most predominant factors has always been and will always be the same, contrasts.
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post #18 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 12:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PooperScooper View Post

I like how you dispel others opinions as not being valid and then call your opinion a fact.

larry

Exactly, this guy thinks filmmaking is an exact science. Using a "shaky cam" as technique is entirely an artistic decision , the viewer either like it or not, there is no wrong answer here.

The Hun
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post #19 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 12:53 PM
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Yes, really... it's that annoying.

To paraphrase Olivier, it's called moviemaking. If you need to shake the camera to tell me the action is frantic, you are doing something wrong.


If the theater blasted you with a flame thrower everytime you saw a scene where the action takes place in the heat, would you

- feel that adds to the realism and attack folks who complain
- find it annoying
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post #20 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 01:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darthrsg View Post

I like the effect but it is overused.

That's pretty much where I'm at. It has it's place.

larry

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post #21 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 02:00 PM
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I think, whether done well or done poorly, shaky-cam is a fad it's time the filmmaking community set aside and moved past. All of these shaky-cam movies (and that includes The Dark Knight) are going to look terribly dated when we look back at them in 10-15 years, much like the over-reliance on zoom lenses throughout movies of the 1970s looks now.

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post #22 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 02:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post

As you say, directors who overdo shaky-cam tend to use it indiscriminately in every type of scene, whether action or dialogue. It becomes numbing to the audience.

Sure, it's like what happened to the close-up over the last couple of decades. There was a time when filmmakers used to cut to a close up at moments of intensity. Now whole films are shot in close-up. Makes me numb to the effect after a while. By comparison, think of the few (important) times that Lean cut to a close-up of Lawrence.
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Or you could look at action scenes in The Matrix.

'The Matrix' is a good example of a movie that had intense action scenes without the use/overuse of close-ups, shaky-cam, rapid cutting, and other ADD film techniques.

Sanjay
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post #23 of 318 Old 07-13-2009, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by darthrsg View Post

I like the effect but it is overused.

My feelings exactly.
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post #24 of 318 Old 07-14-2009, 12:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lwright84 View Post

1. It it distracting.
- Well typically when this type of cinematography is being used the scene is hectic, action-based, etc. It is used to show the frenetic situation in a way that you would experience if you were truly following this person or event from the perspective the camera is presenting. Sometimes it used to show the perspective of the actual character who is being chased, shot at, in an earthquake, or whatever.. those moments would be even more 'shaky' if you were actually there. How can it be distracting when it is putting you right there in the moment with your characters? If anything, it amplifies the scene in ways that no tripodded camera could possibly come close to.

It doesn't show it like we would see it in real life. We don't see the world with only 24 frames per second, with each frame exposed for only 1/48th of a second. In real life we can look around and see where everything is, we don't just look at what a 2D shaky 24fps camera is seeing, and we see at the equivalent of much higher frame rates than 24fps. Watch a film with a 24fps camera panning fast and it judders or strobes, move your head fast and it never does. If something like a fast action scene happened in real life, you wouldn't keep your eyes closed for exactly half the time either, but that's what film cameras basically do by shooting for 1/48th of a second every 1/24th of a second.

Shaking a 24fps camera where each frame is exposed for 1/48th of second just gives you much more strobing, juddery motion, and takes you out of the movie, makes it a lot harder to see what's going on, and wouldn't be anything like being there, where if it was real life, you could look around and it wouldn't be juddery or jerky and you have 2 eyes so we have stereoscopic vision, to better see what's going on. Our normal field of vision is better and we see with higher resolution than what you'd see on a HDTV, especially for 2.35:1 films.

A steadier camera would look more natural and would look more like how we normally see things. So would increasing the frame and exposing each frame for a higher percentage of the frame rate (a high frame rate open shutter video camera would be best). A steadier camera wouldn't distract you like shaky ones do, and would allow you to see a lot better what was going on and wouldn't take you out of the film.
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post #25 of 318 Old 07-14-2009, 12:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by josh z View Post

like any other stylistic device, shaky-cam can be done well or done poorly. I think the bourne movies did it really well.

+1
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post #26 of 318 Old 07-14-2009, 04:47 AM
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On one of the commentaries to a MILLENIUM tv episode, director Thomas J. Wright says the studio execs were always after him to do it. "Yeah, sure thing," he would say and did it his own way anyway.

And watch NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN: no shaking camera, no swooping action shots.

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post #27 of 318 Old 07-14-2009, 05:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darthrsg View Post

I like the effect but it is overused.

Agreed.
Some films have been nearly destroyed by it: Transformers, Bourne 2, etc.
Often just a camera trick to reduce set costs.

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post #28 of 318 Old 07-14-2009, 07:28 AM
 
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What I can't understand is why they spend gazillions of dollars setting up these elaborate stunt sequences and then shaky-cam and close-up them to death. They take it too far - to the point where, as other posters have mentioned, it's just a jumbled blur of colors, shapes, and edges. You have no idea what's going on and it is headache-inducing. "Dark Knight" and "Quantum of Solice", I'm looking particularly hard at you; nothing was enhanced during those confusing and jumbled action scenes. Waste of dough, if you ask me.

I will be very happy when this fad at least dies down to rare and appropriate uses. Right now, for many of these guys, it's a crutch.
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post #29 of 318 Old 07-14-2009, 07:53 AM
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I hated it in the last two Bourne movies and Quantum of Solace. Damon and Craig (as well as a host of stunt coordinators) went to a lot of trouble to rehearse and choreograph the action/fight scenes, and then we (the audience) can't see it properly due to the "shakey cam". Die a quick death, please.
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post #30 of 318 Old 07-14-2009, 07:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think, whether done well or done poorly, shaky-cam is a fad it's time the filmmaking community set aside and moved past. All of these shaky-cam movies (and that includes The Dark Knight) are going to look terribly dated when we look back at them in 10-15 years, much like the over-reliance on zoom lenses throughout movies of the 1970s looks now.

I disagree entirely as - unlike the zoom lens reliance you mentioned, and much like the oppositely-named Steadicam - this is an enhancement to the film-making, not a fad. I think it will continue be used, defined, tweaked, improved, and as many have mentioned here.. abused. It's so natural to the process of *most* of these sequences that it makes movies that don't use it appear outdated.

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A steadier camera would look more natural and would look more like how we normally see things. So would increasing the frame and exposing each frame for a higher percentage of the frame rate (a high frame rate open shutter video camera would be best). A steadier camera wouldn't distract you like shaky ones do, and would allow you to see a lot better what was going on and wouldn't take you out of the film.

Which is quite similar to the argument made for frame interpolation and motion processing.. and we all (*most) know how much worse that makes the viewing experience. And I think you're missing the point, it's not about how our eyes interpret the frames versus real life.. it's how our brains interpret the chaos, vibration, and frantic movement versus real life. Sure sometimes the shakiness is so overdone that it appears unnatural and can be distracting - I agree - but more often than not it conveys the true nature of the scene and the natural experience of being an observer in that scene.

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Exactly, this guy thinks filmmaking is an exact science. Using a "shaky cam" as technique is entirely an artistic decision , the viewer either like it or not, there is no wrong answer here.

No it's not that, I just find most of the complaints about the filming style to be unreasonable\\unfounded - not just personal opinion or preference - and am attempting to discuss it.

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What I can't understand is why they spend gazillions of dollars setting up these elaborate stunt sequences and then shaky-cam and close-up them to death. They take it too far - to the point where, as other posters have mentioned, it's just a jumbled blur of colors, shapes, and edges. You have no idea what's going on and it is headache-inducing. "Dark Knight" and "Quantum of Solice", I'm looking particularly hard at you; nothing was enhanced during those confusing and jumbled action scenes. Waste of dough, if you ask me.

I will be very happy when this fad at least dies down to rare and appropriate uses. Right now, for many of these guys, it's a crutch.

I hear that a lot, that "it's a crutch". I find it much more of a crutch to sit back with a steadicam and just watch everything happen from a far\\safe distance (like a security camera) than to be right in thick of things with intricately-timed events\\happenings\\interactions that also have to coincide with precise - albeit shaky - camera direction. I mean, the amount of timing\\planning that had to go into an action sequence where the camera follows the character through the thick of it all is excessively more than if the camera were to just pan\\zoom from a distance. The filmmakers aren't lazily telling their cameramen to just go run through the battefield or chase the lead character because they don't want to film the scene properly. They're spending their valuable time setting up the scene, the exact explosions, the path the actor and trailing crew will take, precise timing, intricate - albeit shaky - camera direction, and more. The majority of you seem to have the wrong idea of how these scenes are produced.

Also, I can't seem to recall any sequence in either TDK or QoS that used excessive shaky cam. The nightclub fight scene in TDK? The boat chase in QoS? Those are all I can think of I didn't find either of those to be outlandish or distracting. The nightclub scene was hard to follow because it was DARK, and the boat chase was filmed *gasp* on BOATS! Even in ROTF it really wasn't that bad.. and I was able to follow the action quite well (see my previous post).
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