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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 10:34 am 
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Von Trier's steadicam use (apparently inspired by Homicide: Life On The Streets!), and handheld camera use in general, is most effective when used to express a contrasting psychological, internal state as well as a confusing external one (Von Trier's fractured editing between different takes is something which helps to highlight this dissonance).

And, while I know he can be a divisive filmmaker, any discussion of steadicam should also note the contribution of Darren Aronofsky and his cinematographer Matthew Libatique in attaching cameras to his actors in particular scenes in Pi and Requiem For A Dream, something which seems to crop up everywhere now, perhaps most obviously in a Mark Romanek directed music video for Mick Jagger.

EDIT: And I forgot the usage of the technique from many decades earlier - Harvey Keitel's drunk scene in Mean Streets!


Last edited by colinr0380 on Wed May 23, 2012 6:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:21 pm 
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colinr0380 wrote:
And, while I know he can be a divisive filmmaker, any discussion of steadicam should also note the contribution of Darren Aronofsky and his cinematographer Matthew Libatique in attaching cameras to his actors in particular scenes in Pi and Requiem For A Dream, something which seems to crop up everywhere now, perhaps most obviously in a Mark Romanek directed music video for Mick Jagger.
They certainly made it more popular than ever, and I presume it's easier to do now with good stabilization technology, but it should be noted that this technique predates the 1975 invention of Steadicam. The earliest film in which I can recall seeing it is Seconds, and I'd be very curious to know if anyone can think of an earlier instance.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:28 pm 
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Frankenheimer's own Seven Days in May made two years prior comes immediately to mind


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 6:17 pm 

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I just read (for the second or so time) parts of this thread related to the film after it was actually released, and just wanted to throw in some quick thoughts. I've never seen any Malick movie before this afternoon. I had the most vague sense of what the film would be "about" and "like" but honestly, this film was a lot more straight-forward than I'd been led to believe (especially by the friend who hated it, thought it was masturbatory, and claimed there was 30 minutes straight at some point of the camera just moving through trees).

I will say that I enjoyed the film immensely. Again, I just re-read/scanned some older posts, and can see where some people didn't much care for it (whatever Penn's role is in the film, the CGI dinosaurs and the worthy/un-worthiness of the opening and closing sequences), but personally, they didn't bother me (and as my girlfriend pointed out-it was nice to see the beauty of things that are actually around us). Again, in my short few years I've been into film, I find only recently have I come to enjoy some less-than-straight forward movies (and there have been plenty, such as Last Year at Marienbad, that I turned off after 10 minutes ((though I'm also getting better at finding when I'm in the right mood for certain movies, ie. not after getting home from work and being hungry!!)) )

But I digress, I thought the acting and the portrayal of family life was wonderful. I certainly look back and wish I hadn't treated my little brother as harshly as I did, and certainly wish I hadn't said some things to my parents that I've said. It did a great job of using the hardships that can occur in family life as a way to show what the kids, rather than the adults, were going through. When we get to the end, it doesn't have to totally link up or click, because we often group memories together and lump in times of our lives when thinking back about it, which is all that I really think Penn's character is doing throughout the film.

Regarding the religiosity of the film, I certainly felt some of it was in your face, but then again, if it was really overly religious, would it have shown something more traditionally "secular" like the big bang? I don't know. Honestly, I was raised Jewish and am now an atheist, so perhaps there was a lot more to this story that is meant to directly connect with God and the church, but I wouldn't know it! (Though it did occur to me the WHOLE story could be a modern Gob).


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 6:47 pm 
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Drucker wrote:
(Though it did occur to me the WHOLE story could be a modern Gob).

Image


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:26 am 
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Kirkinson wrote:
colinr0380 wrote:
And, while I know he can be a divisive filmmaker, any discussion of steadicam should also note the contribution of Darren Aronofsky and his cinematographer Matthew Libatique in attaching cameras to his actors in particular scenes in Pi and Requiem For A Dream, something which seems to crop up everywhere now, perhaps most obviously in a Mark Romanek directed music video for Mick Jagger.
They certainly made it more popular than ever, and I presume it's easier to do now with good stabilization technology, but it should be noted that this technique predates the 1975 invention of Steadicam. The earliest film in which I can recall seeing it is Seconds, and I'd be very curious to know if anyone can think of an earlier instance.

Actually, a similar technique is used in both THE LAST LAUGH (1924) and METROPOLIS (1927) but for a much shorter time.

Drucker wrote:
...Regarding the religiosity of the film, I certainly felt some of it was in your face, but then again, if it was really overly religious, would it have shown something more traditionally "secular" like the big bang? I don't know. Honestly, I was raised Jewish and am now an atheist, so perhaps there was a lot more to this story that is meant to directly connect with God and the church, but I wouldn't know it! (Though it did occur to me the WHOLE story could be a modern Gob)...

There are quite a few progressive Christians out there, Malick being one of them probably, who see no conflict between their spiritual faith and the acceptance of science and evolution. The more literal fundamentalists get the press coverage for taking the more extreme position.

As for being an analogy to the Story of Job, I don't think there's enough in THE TREE OF LIFE to suggest that as there is precious little hardship actually shown; it's more of a philosophical crises. Now, the Coens' A SERIOUS MAN is definitely the Story of Job told in a recent historical setting with national implications.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2012 9:10 am 

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Nothing wrote:
There was a lot of excitable internet buzz about Malick and Chivo testing a Red One prototype for The Tree of Life.

Latest reports suggest they've used the RED M-X to shoot some of The Burial - but I'm predicting these will prove to be wildly overstated, if not also entirely false.

Malick was overheard saying on the set of Tree that he liked the look of the RED, but he feared that it wouldn't favor the low-light conditions he was after like film could and did.

Nothing wrote:
Right, but:
Julio Quintana wrote:
That is my RED ONE M-X, and I am the sweaty guy pulling focus. The majority of the movie will be shot on film.

I'd lay a bet that none of the RED footage makes it into the final edit.

The only RED footage that made it into Tree is that flickering light at the beginning, before the creation sequence and at the end. The Lumina.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 9:58 am 
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Ebert names Tree of Life as one of his Ten Best Films Of All Time


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2012 6:42 pm 
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what happpened to 6hours cut bluray?


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PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2013 4:37 pm 
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I was hoping that someone could take a moment and explain what the ones in bold mean in layman's terms.

Quote:
As with The New World (2005), Terrence Malick and Emmanuel Lubezki laid down a series of parameters (a dogma) to be used throughout the film:

Shoot in available natural light.
Do not underexpose the negative. Keep true blacks.
1.Preserve the latitude of the image.
Seek maximum resolution and fine grain.
2.Seek depth with deep focus and stop: "Compose in depth."
Shoot in backlight for continuity and depth.
3.Use negative fill to avoid light sandwiches (even sources on both sides)
4.Shoot in crosslight only after dawn or before dusk; never front light.
Avoid lens flares.
Avoid white and primary colors in frame.
Shoot with short focal length, hard lenses.
No filters, except Polarizer.
In the eye of the hurricane, shoot with steady handheld or Steadicam.
5.Z-axis moves instead of pans and tilts.
No zooming.
Do some static tripod shots "in midst of our haste"
Accept the exception to the dogma (a.k.a Article E) - Article E however does not apply underexposure of the negative.


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PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2013 4:51 pm 
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I think I can understand number five- if you think of a camera as moving along a three dimensional graph, with up and down being the y and left and right being the x, in and out is the z axis- so tracking shots and dollys and so forth instead of a lot of side to side or angled motions. At least, that's what I would gather.


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PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2013 5:08 pm 
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I'll take a crack. No guarantees.

1. Don't tilt the camera to the side (no Dutch angles)
2. Make not only the foreground of your shot interesting, but also the middleground and background. And all should be in focus, using the smallest aperture (f-stop) available.
3. "Fill" is compensating for bright light on one side of an object by putting a light or reflective material on the other side of the object to avoid harsh shadows. In this case, they want the impression of single-source light, so they'll put something that absorbs light (a black cloth typically) on the other side of the object from the light source or just use no fill light or bounce at all.
4. Shoot with the sun behind you only after dawn or before dusk, never have direct sunlight on the front of the object or actor you're shooting.
5. I think matrixschmatrix has this one correct.


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PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2013 5:11 pm 

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None of this is particularly divergent from standard modern practice. It's not like nutso Dogme '95 rules or anything. Still interesting, thanks.


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PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2013 6:52 pm 
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Matt wrote:
I'll take a crack. No guarantees.

1. Don't tilt the camera to the side (no Dutch angles)
2. Make not only the foreground of your shot interesting, but also the middleground and background. And all should be in focus, using the smallest aperture (f-stop) available.
3. "Fill" is compensating for bright light on one side of an object by putting a light or reflective material on the other side of the object to avoid harsh shadows. In this case, they want the impression of single-source light, so they'll put something that absorbs light (a black cloth typically) on the other side of the object from the light source or just use no fill light or bounce at all.
4. Shoot with the sun behind you only after dawn or before dusk, never have direct sunlight on the front of the object or actor you're shooting.
5. I think matrixschmatrix has this one correct.


Thanks everyone. I guess I don't understand the difference between these two:

Shoot in backlight for continuity and depth.
Shoot in crosslight only after dawn or before dusk; never front light.

Zot! wrote:
None of this is particularly divergent from standard modern practice. It's not like nutso Dogme '95 rules or anything. Still interesting, thanks.


Not wanting light sandwiches doesn't seem to be standard. But yeah, other than the Axis being stylistic, this seems standard.


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PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2013 7:39 pm 
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aox wrote:
Not wanting light sandwiches doesn't seem to be standard. But yeah, other than the Axis being stylistic, this seems standard.
Some directors (Fincher, most notably) love a nice, smooth tilt or pan, but it does seem to be rarer nowadays.
aox wrote:
I guess I don't understand the difference between these two:

Shoot in backlight for continuity and depth.
Shoot in crosslight only after dawn or before dusk; never front light.

They are related, but I made an error in my original explanation: "Crosslight" more appropriately applies to the light source being on the side of the object being shot. They obviously didn't want harsh shadows, and crosslight would be more diffuse after dusk or before dawn.


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PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2013 8:37 pm 
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"Preserve the latitude of the image" in this case refers to not clipping the highlights or blacks, maintaining the maximum amount of information on the film negative (sometimes referred to as density or 'a fat negative'). Also sometimes thought of as "exposing to the right" - as bright as possible without overexposing in order to put the most information on the negative.

I don't know what the post-production pipeline was like on Tree of Life, whether Malick did a photochemical finish or a digital intermediate - but especially in the latter case, having all that information preserved in the negative means the maximum amount of freedom to push things around (i.e. grade the image) in post.

The opposite approach to this is best represented by Harris Savides, who would underexpose film to its absolute limits, far beyond what would be seen as proper exposure (i.e. very, very dark, what he called "the toenail of the curve"). This produces what's known as a "thin" negative - there is very little room for adjustment afterwards, so you better know what you're doing and get it exactly right. Savides still had to reshoot things sometimes, which is basically unheard of for a cinematographer who wants to keep working! Of course the directors he worked with knew the risks involved and signed off on it beforehand.

Matt's other definitions look about right to me.


Last edited by Oedipax on Fri May 31, 2013 8:51 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri May 31, 2013 8:39 pm 
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Malick did use a DI on the film.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 4:07 am 

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DI or not (Was The New World not photochemical?), I would suggest this rule of preserving latitude extended to the grade - ie. their goal wasn't freedom to push the film around heavily in post but, rather, to capture and present images with the greatest amount of detail and the greatest range of contrast. Also, whilst there's nothing unusual about wanting a well exposed negative, to achieve this using only available light is most certainly unusual (and no small feat!)

Re: the Z-Axis, this means rolling the camera, the visual equivalent of tilting your head to the side. Not a common tripod feature, it can be achieved on a steadicam, or handheld of course, but is most commonly found and used on remote head cranes. The most obvious example I can think of is the final shot of Irreversible (and Noe's work in general). Whether any use of the Z-Axis actually made it into The Tree of Life I can't recall.

Oh, and if only more of today's directors would consider this rule: "In the eye of the hurricane, shoot with steady handheld or Steadicam." - ie. don't shake the camera around to 'intensify the drama'.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 01, 2013 6:19 am 
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bdlover wrote:
DI or not (Was The New World not photochemical?), I would suggest this rule of preserving latitude extended to the grade - ie. their goal wasn't freedom to push the film around heavily in post but, rather, to capture and present images with the greatest amount of detail and the greatest range of contrast. Also, whilst there's nothing unusual about wanting a well exposed negative, to achieve this using only available light is most certainly unusual (and no small feat!)

This is most certainly true. The intention was not necessarily to give them leeway in post, but to preserve as much detail in the highlights and shadows as possible in the final image.

bdlover wrote:
Re: the Z-Axis, this means rolling the camera, the visual equivalent of tilting your head to the side. Not a common tripod feature, it can be achieved on a steadicam, or handheld of course, but is most commonly found and used on remote head cranes. The most obvious example I can think of is the final shot of Irreversible (and Noe's work in general). Whether any use of the Z-Axis actually made it into The Tree of Life I can't recall.

But I don't think you've got this right. I've never heard of this type of camera movement ever being associated with the term "z-axis." In most applications, including cinematography and 3D animation, the z-axis refers to depth, and movement along the z-axis refers to moving the camera itself forward and backward (as with a dolly or a person). See here, here (in the definition of "depth of field"), here, here, and here. Matrixschmatrix's explanation is correct.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 02, 2013 1:59 am 

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Okay, sure, I put my hands up on that! Although, outside the States, Z-Axis can also be used to refer to a 3-Axis head, eg. here.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 23, 2013 10:57 am 

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aox, can I ask where the list of parameters comes from? Do we know it to be genuine?

The one I find bizarre is this one: " Shoot in backlight for continuity". Both films are obsessed with backlight, this is certainly true, but shooting reverse angles both in backlight doesn't aid continuity in any way.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:20 am 

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Z-axis action can also refer to the movement of characters within the frame, not just the camera movement itself, although I'm not sure if they're referring to both or just the latter. I'd have to watch it again and take not but I think there is probably quite a bit of Z-axis action in addition the camera moves.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:59 pm 
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bdlover wrote:
aox, can I ask where the list of parameters comes from? Do we know it to be genuine?

I found it on the IMDB page. Not sure if it should be taken with a grain of salt though.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 1:36 pm 
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aox wrote:
bdlover wrote:
aox, can I ask where the list of parameters comes from? Do we know it to be genuine?

I found it on the IMDB page. Not sure if it should be taken with a grain of salt though.

The source for the IMDb entry is most likely this interview with Lubezki, in which some of this is discussed.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2013 2:06 pm 

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The interview has also been translated to French and published in Positif a few months ago.


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