Jumpy Camera Technique getting old!

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Norm, Jan 24, 2005.

  1. Norm

    Norm Cinematographer

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    I am getting so tired of this filming Technique, its starting to distract me because its used way too much. Its way over used in the new Battlestar Galactic TV series. I was so glad to hear Ebert say he was sick of it as well.
     
  2. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    It's sort of a cliche now....

    There's nothing wrong with using a tripod or dolly!
     
  3. David James

    David James Stunt Coordinator

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    I found the hand held camera action shots during Bourne Supremacy distracting and eventually annoying to the point that I decided not to buy the movie.

    FWIW, I hate the tendency now in sports to show odd and unusual camera angles.
     
  4. Greg_S_H

    Greg_S_H Executive Producer

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    From the start, I couldn't get into NYPD Blue because of the camera technique. I can't believe they still do it. I saw a rerun the other day, and the camera at minimum shifted first left, then right in every scene. It's just a formula now. Then, they showed Franz and Zach Morris interrogating this guy, and they shake around on the suspect before panning over to Zach, who is having no reaction at all. He's just sitting there, looking at the guy in profile. So, they quickly jerk back over to the suspect. It didn't make it feel more real. It made me know I was watching a consciously-stylish show.
     
  5. Jason Guardiano

    Jason Guardiano Stunt Coordinator

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    Watching Bourne Supremacy in the theater made me sick and I never get motion sickness... I despise the camera technique. What's the action good for if you can't even focus one what's going on. Sure it's nice to experiment, but it was just ridiculous.
     
  6. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    Ironically, Bourne Supremacy didn't bother me one bit, but I get sick on any high-speed 50mph+ roller coaster.

    Reading in the car has never bothered me at all.

    Weird.
     
  7. JamieD

    JamieD Supporting Actor

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    Doesn't bother me. Doesn't distract me more than any other technique. Perfect steadiness gets boring as well. I think it's best used when for movies vs. television, because the continual repetition each week can make it feel more like a gimmick.
     
  8. Norm

    Norm Cinematographer

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    It works well when used a little in certain scenes. But when it used all the time non stop in a movie or especially in a weekly TV series, I can't stand it anymore.
     
  9. Richard Kim

    Richard Kim Producer

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    I agree, to a point, but not when it's overused to the point of interfering with the narrative flow of the film and making it incoherent to the viewer.
     
  10. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Like any art, once a technique is used successfully it gets aped unmercilessly. Generally the copycats fail to understand why and when it works and just try to apply it across the board.

    While people didn't like Blair Witch, the technique there is applicable because of what it is conveying. Saving Private Ryan shifted into the style only as a contrast to enhance the confusion and disorientation of combat.

    But many action showcase films, films in which the audience has come to see the stuntwork and action scenes specifically, like Bourne Supremacy, are hurt by using such a form rather than standing back so the overall moment can be seen.

    Just imagine Ben-Hur or Lawrence of Arabia ruining some of its big moments by getting in overly tight and jumpy.

    Some directors/producers need to realize that great film art has been going on for more than just 4 years and that many other masters can be drawn from for inspiration or outright copying to great effect.

    Just look at what QT did for Kill Bill. 2 is just Shaw Bros and Leone, but it fits the story and works great. So what if we know where it came from, as long as it works. Same with DePalma redoing Hitchcock stories with his style for the most part.
     
  11. David Rogers

    David Rogers Supporting Actor

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    Strongly disagree. The pan-and-zoom camera work (as I call it, as opposed to "jumpy camera", which I feel is a negative label) adds a lot of value to the presentation. Here's why.

    One of the biggest problems with tv and movies is it's very dramatic to see protagonist and antagonist on-screen at the same time. For human interactions, this rarely causes problems because human bodies and humans fit well into the spaces required to show several folks in-frame at the same time. They stand and deliver lines, curse one another's goals and motivations, make nah-nah-nah noises, and we all have fun.

    For space scenes, this requirement led to space ships being jammed into frame together when it's highly silly to assume ships, especially opposing combatants, would get that close to one another.

    Different SciFi presentations have gone about this problem differently. Some, like old Trek, show ships hanging motionless relative to one another in space, still at these absurdly close ranges. Others have used cuts to show one ship, then the other; which eliminates the close problem, but now removes any sort of feeling of proximity and eliminates the dramatic feeling of seeing the ships in relation to one another.

    Of course there have been presentations that’ve handled the problem pretty darn well, or even written the requirement to get ships close for visual presentation into the storylines they deal with. A good example would be Wrath of Kahn, with its excellent naval feeling ship-to-ship combat sequences; we get a good amount of cuts between Enterprise and Reliant during the scenes, but in some circumstances (especially during the nebula battle), the two ships end up in-frame together in some mostly natural ways.

    Now, enter pan-and-zoom. Using this technique, you can establish frame on a ship, then swing the view point visually (in a way the viewer can use to track some sort of representation of distance) to the other. This reenables the feeling of vast space, and also grants far more leeway in how the stories behind these space conflicts can be written visually. No longer are you required to jam ships together and explain it as docking maneuvers, as space nebula, or anything else.

    Firefly used this technique to great effect, and it’s excellent to see it in use for Battlestar Galactic as well. Firefly would show Serenity maneuvering and kicking into motion, and then pan-and-zoom to show the Alliance battleship sluggishly moving in pursuit. BG uses the pan-and-zoom to establish the human fighters, then swing over to the incoming cylons; or show the Galactica establishing a defense perimeter, then swing to show fleeing civilian ships.

    Properly used, excellent technique.
     
  12. Steve Phillips

    Steve Phillips Screenwriter

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    Getting old? It's BEEN old for a long time. BOURNE SUPREMACY was intolerable.
     
  13. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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    I agree that The Bourne Supremacy was utterly ruined by the handheld camerawork. It can be done well but I think the technique was horribly applied in that movie. I actually got a migraine trying to figure out what the hell was going on.


    Heh. I remember thinking that while Homicide: Life on the Street had extremely good camerawork that made the show feel much more authentic, when I first saw NYPD Blue I was really bothered by the little nudges they would give the camera because it felt so fake in comparison.
     
  14. Greg_M

    Greg_M Screenwriter

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    When a technique draws attention to itself it is unsuccessful. I stopped watching NYPD Blue for that very reason. I also walked out of Oliver Stone's "Any Given Sunday" the jumpy camera shots - which made up most of the film - made me sick.

    "Moulin Rogue" used the fast zoom technique which is now used on most tv commericals and it is also become tiring.
     
  15. Jason Harbaugh

    Jason Harbaugh Cinematographer

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    Handheld can give a film that 'raw' look and for certain situations can be a great artistic/stylistic choice but like others have said, that intentional jerky herky movement doesn't. It is just distracting and IMO looks amateur especially when it is like that for pretty much the entire movie/show.

    All I think now when I see the technique is "get that guy a steadicam and a strong back."

    I just watched Arlington Road over the weekend and at the end there is a great switch to handheld camera work. The rigging they used allowed complete freedom in camera placement and moving around, yet still had a dolly/crane feel to it combined with some handheld bobbing. You never lost focus of what you were supposed to be watching, but you still had the feeling of being right in the action. They even comment on the camera setup in the commentary.
     
  16. Norm

    Norm Cinematographer

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    David,

    I'm not talking about the Spaceship scenes in fact the jumpy camera work there is toned down compared to the inside shots. The Spaceship scenes were fine, its when everybody is standing around talking that's when is gets real distracting.
     
  17. Rutgar

    Rutgar Second Unit

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    Yes. I think the outside "spaceship" shots are fine. It gives the scene more of a "documentary" look (same technique worked well in the Space shots in Firefly too). But, there is just no excuse for it on the inside shots.

    When I saw the title of this thread, I immediately thought "Bourne Supremacy". Reading, I see I'm not alone. I think one of the biggest problems with it is that it's way over used in action scenes. For example, you already have a ton of motion in a car chase scene. Then you add all of that damn camera jerking, and it just becomes too much.
     
  18. JamieD

    JamieD Supporting Actor

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    Why I do I feel like I missed something. I had no problems following that movie at all. Honestly. I felt the shooting style matched the mood.
     
  19. Aaron Thorne

    Aaron Thorne Stunt Coordinator

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    I did not have any problems with it either. The camera work made the action scenes look and feel more realistic in my opinion.....especially the car chase.
     
  20. Jason Walstrom

    Jason Walstrom Supporting Actor

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    Zach Morris...LMAO
     

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