Working with style

I like stylized camera work as much as the next person, I suppose.  I don't much care for camera work that calls attention to itself. Doing TV commercials helps me practice stylized camera techniques and get shooting for style out of my system.  On features, I prefer to take what would typically be done for style and try to use it for story.

On my first feature, I took this notion in two directions.

Speed ramps can be used for dynamic, stylized visuals to great effect.  Sometimes it can be distracting.  Here's a shot where I used an in-camera speed ramp to emphasize a story moment in a way which I intended to be subtle and invisible.  I think it works well: the 120 to 24fps ramp is minimally perceptible and mimics my subjective experience of time when someone wakes me up.

I prefer doing speed ramps in-camera because doing them in post precludes dynamic shutter-speed adjustments.  I also prefer to choose the timing and frame rates on set and in the moment, collaborating with the director and actors.  After we get what we intend, I typically try to grab one or two takes without the ramp so that editorial has further options.

In my not so humble opinion, few camera moves are as pointlessly distracting as a 360° Steadicam.  However, a dance scene in which the main character gets dizzy provided me a reasonable story application for 360° Steadicam.  I don't feel the movement distracts from the moment too much, but the shot can make me feel dizzy if I watch it on a big screen.

We did a couple takes of this scene without moving in circles around the actors - we found it less effective.  BTW the full 360° move was not used in the film.  In my experience, 360° shots and full-scene moving masters do not make it through editorial intact.  Also, they typically take a more time to set up and execute.

Even a well-designed, well-paced moving master executed as perfectly as humanly possible warrants additional coverage to give editorial options.  I often find changing the lens and taking a tighter version of the moving master is an efficient way to do this.  My reasoning is that the continuity of movement helps preserve the intention of a moving master while providing a means for editorial to select between portions of takes to shape pace or performance.

No comments: