Magazine article American Cinematographer


Magazine article American Cinematographer


Article excerpt

Dizzy Cam Deconstructed

In the May article about Murder in the First, director Marc Rocco says, "As wonderful as those old movies were, they were usually simple. There was a two-shot and a couple of singles. Today, you take 16 shots to do the same thing." Am I supposed to be impressed by that?

If what you are photographing is inherently interesting, then all you have to do is record it in a simple, straightforward way and the audience will get caught up in it. And if what you are photographing isn't inherently interesting, why are you filming it in the first place? The attitude must be, "Hmmmm, maybe if we shake the camera around enough and cut to a new shot every other second, we can force the audience to stay interested." I suspect a lot of contemporary visual style comes from insecurity on the part of the director, cinematographer, and editor. If the script, actors, and production design work are put on film with a transparent cinematic style that doesn't draw attention to itself, the audience might forget about the director, cinematographer, and editor. A flashy style is often just a self-serving way for certain people on the crew to say, "Hey, I'm here too! Don't forget about me!"

I am 30 years old, the same age as Rocco, and the more contemporary movies and television I watch, the more I appreciate the unforced elegance of many older movies. (If I see one more "zany" extreme close-up of someone leaning into a wide-angle lens, I will formally throw up.) A few issues ago, Gordon Willis quoted Longfellow's phrase, "The supreme excellence is simplicity." I'll bet most people who saw Murder in the First walked out agreeing.

- Joshua Dixon

Minneapolis, MN

Film in the Future

I would like to commend Frank Beacham on his excellent interview with Nicholas Negroponte (AC May). Frank's interview is certainly one of the most insightful articles in any journal that I've seen in a long time (including over a dozen computer and graphics related magazines that I read).

Nicholas certainly has it right: trying to define parameters such as resolution, refresh rate (fps), and the biggie - aspect ratio - as constants is a colossal waste of time.

In fact, the inverse is true: it is the infinitely malleable software-based display that will adapt to the source material at hand. Thus, only the content (programming) and the end use of the content is important; everything else is just detail.

The forces driving this trend are many, but a new term, sometimes called "Convergence" (the merger of computers, media and communications), is certainly a significant factor.

This new technology will spawn a whole new set of visual paradigms (such as Internet access to stock footage library servers), where content, convenience and economy take precedence over camera film widths and aspect ratios. …

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