Did you see that? It changed! Rewind!

Write a blog post that includes your response to the methods suggested by Ebert– why might they work (or not)? Summarize what you learned from the two videos you watched about cinema techniques.

I thought Roger Ebert’s “How to Read a Movie” was very interesting and insightful. For those that have never heard the basic run down that DS106 gave us is spot on. And I quote,

“In simplistic terms: Right is more positive, left more negative. Movement to the right seems more favorable; to the left, less so. The future seems to live on the right, the past on the left. The top is dominant over the bottom. The foreground is stronger than the background. Symmetrical compositions seem at rest. Diagonals in a composition seem to “move” in the direction of the sharpest angle they form, even though of course they may not move at all. Therefore, a composition could lead us into a background that becomes dominant over a foreground. Tilt shots of course put everything on a diagonal, implying the world is out of balance. I have the impression that more tilts are down to the right than to the left, perhaps suggesting the characters are sliding perilously into their futures. Left tilts to me suggest helplessness, sadness, resignation. Few tilts feel positive. Movement is dominant over things that are still. A POV above a character’s eyeline reduces him; below the eyeline, enhances him. Extreme high angle shots make characters into pawns; low angles make them into gods. Brighter areas tend to be dominant over darker areas, but far from always: Within the context, you can seek the “dominant contrast,” which is the area we are drawn toward. Sometimes it will be darker, further back, lower, and so on. It can be as effective to go against intrinsic weightings as to follow them.”

The parts of this that made the most sense to me is the right and left side dictating positive and negative. I think that is how a lot of our living world is constructed too but that is a very Western World thought process. I wonder if we looked at other countries where left is more dominating in the world they live it would be the same. But none-the-less I did relate to this line of thinking to some of the films I have saw recently. It also made me think of how I have come up with some rules for myself with Sci-Fi films where the characters we do not know their names are more likely to die than the ones we do know. That is just one example that comes to my mind when I think of how you can come up with rules that help you make sense of a film. I also thought it was interesting to read about how he came to this thought process and used to have students help him decipher a movie or ‘read it’. Some of his other thoughts on tilted shots did not really make an impression on me because the talk of characters “sliding perilously into their futures” seems like a stretch. However, that is just my opinion but seems a little over analyzed.

I also enjoyed watching two film editing techniques. The first was the •Examples of Editing Techniques

that showed different cuts, freeze frames, and other methods. I related a lot to the rocker band cutting methods they used. I had not thought about all the different cuts you could make until you see them lined up. And the thaw frame with the people on the treadmills I remember watching a bunch of times. It was so inventive! I couldn’t imagine sitting in an editing room with hundreds of hours of film footage and having to not only come up with what to cut and splice together but also how to use cuts and edit techniques to piece them together. No wonder they have Oscars for these types of things!

The next video clip I watched was something near and dear to my heart, •Star Wars Continuity Mistakes

First it is Sci-fi which is one of my favorite genres but also I have a knack for picking up continuity mistakes in a movie. I am the person that will shout “Wait! Did you see that? The person had….” And make people rewind. Okay I don’t always shout it out unless it is in my home and we have all seen it or it is not too serious of a watching event. But I really do have the gift to pick up those things and think about them in my head. I can spot a glass in someone’s hand that ends up on the table when they cut to a different angle. Or I am good at spotting when hair or clothes change between shots. It is most fun in a TV series setting since they have less time or energy it seems to catch those items. Overall, again this is a hard job for the set folks to keep in mind when they are shotting a lot of takes and for the director to keep in mind for lighting and time of day. The Star Wars mistakes were fun and I liked the storm trooper hitting his head the most.


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  1. I may just go to Hollywood after all! | Escape from normal - May 8, 2014

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