View Full Version : Cinematography, tricks that bug you...


indietalk
06-16-2005, 04:24 AM
Overuse or misuse of the graduated filter.

clive
06-16-2005, 05:13 AM
Camera movement, just for the sake of it.

lux
06-16-2005, 05:22 AM
crazy dolly zoom.

NicklausLouis
06-16-2005, 08:57 AM
Static shots just for the sake of it.

Poke

Mikey D
06-16-2005, 09:27 AM
Unstable hand held camaras

Loud Orange Cat
06-16-2005, 09:30 AM
The looong dolly shot. You're not Martin Scorsese directing Goodfellas. Don't pretend you are. :D

Spatula
06-16-2005, 10:10 AM
The "looking through the venetian blinds at night" shot.

Alternatively.. I just thought of how much I enjoy that "fuzzy" shot in Star Trek when the pretty ladies get thier close up. Where did that kind of cheese go? If I remember correctly, Spartacus used it too.... what kind of filter would you use for that???

Shaw
06-16-2005, 11:56 AM
Great suggestions so far!

Lux: I must say I generally agree but the effect does have its uses. Peter Jackson used the effect well (most notably sparingly) in Lord of the Rings. I can think of only two places (a good thing) but the effect really works well in those instances.

One thing I hate that is only partially related to the actual cinematography is super fast cutting.

Zensteve
06-16-2005, 04:43 PM
ENG-style shooting.

Tripods were invented for a reason, people! :P

filmscheduling
06-16-2005, 04:43 PM
The "refrigerator POV" shot. Someone looks in the fridge, you see them look in the fridge from - ohmygod - inside the fridge! wow! A common variation is the mailbox POV shot. Total cheese!

indietalk
06-16-2005, 05:14 PM
A common variation is the mailbox POV shot. Total cheese! :tear:

WideShot
06-16-2005, 08:31 PM
Especially the way in that movie TSaC it comes off, CHEEZE ALEERT :D

hmm can't really say off the top of my head which tricks peeve me. All of them have their place and when used right are great. Some however, are just super obvious and cheeze when someone does them wrong. Especially shaky handheld. There is time for that but during a normal scene, NO. BAD, BAD.

Maybe the pointless steadycam shot is another one. A guy is walking to the post office so we STEADYCAM with him the whole way there.

Last but not least, the one that most amatuers usually f up on and use it just cause it looks so cool is the dolly out zoom in/zoom in dolly out.

Oh and the "character walks into the camera and then the next shot is, the character walking away from the camera!! SHOCK THAT CHARACTER WALKED RIGHT THROUGH THE CAMERA." This one isnt so bad when done right but again so many seem to do it just because its there.

NicklausLouis
06-17-2005, 12:42 AM
ENG shooting is different than shaky cam. I shoot ENG style and I use my tripod too much (mostly cause I'm fat and lazy).

Seriously, all tricks have a place, like Wide said.

Poke

lux
06-17-2005, 01:32 AM
Last but not least, the one that most amatuers usually f up on and use it just cause it looks so cool is the dolly out zoom in/zoom in dolly out.

That's the crazy dolly zoom i was talking about. I admit it looks good in the right place but i think it is a bit of a clichè. Another movie off the top of my head that used the crazy dolly zoom would be Jaws when the paranoid lifeguard stares in terror at the helpless boy being devoured by the shark.

Zensteve
06-17-2005, 01:59 AM
Isn't ENG that "on the move" look, trying to make it look it was filmed by a news reporter getting it live? A stylised version of Cops?

clive
06-17-2005, 04:34 AM
Actually, after thinking about it, it's not so much what techniques people use but why they use them. What I've grown to dislike is any time the cinematography draws attention to itself, taking my focus out of the story.

It's like the director going "Hey, look at this clever thing I can do."

I have the same problem with some actors, where they draw attention to how good their acting is and away from the story.

Shaw
06-17-2005, 01:37 PM
What I've grown to dislike is any time the cinematography draws attention to itself, taking my focus out of the story.

Couldn't agree more

filmscheduling
06-17-2005, 10:56 PM
:tear:
Oops! EXCEPT for any films that anyone on this board may have produced! ;) Just my personal pet peeve, nothing that Roger Ebert would care about!

NicklausLouis
06-18-2005, 12:20 AM
ENG stands for Electronic News Gathering. Meaning basically what you see on the evening news. It can be that shakey cam/in the middle of it type shot. Or it can be steady shots of a crime scene or press conference. I think the term ENG style is commonly misused in films, it is not just shakey cam.

Poke

rrk1962
06-24-2005, 09:17 AM
Ultimately, it's any shot that calls attention to itself and pulls you out of the story. Film is primarily a visual medium so you want to be interesting and all the tricks can add to the mood or structure of the film. It's when a filmaker chooses a shot to say "Look at my cool shot" that it's a problem. With all that having been said, my biggest pet peeve is...cg imagery. It ain't really a cinematography trick but I get green screen out, too many blockbuster movies that look like a video game. Notable recent exception, Sin City, it captures mood, doesn't detract from it.

Will Vincent
06-24-2005, 10:17 AM
what kind of filter would you use for that???

Professionally, a diffuser, probably 'Mist'

Indie/Guerilla: A piece of nylon panty-hose stretched across the lens. ;)

Spatula
06-24-2005, 11:17 AM
Indie/Guerilla: A piece of nylon panty-hose stretched across the lens. ;)


Bingo, Will. Gracias. I was lookin' for a cheap solution.. and thank goodness I have all these panty-hose lying around with nothing better to do... ;)

spinner
06-24-2005, 11:19 PM
...a technique that bugs me...I'm not sure if this qualifies as cinematography or not, but I hate it when I see it...

...actor looks down, washes face, looks up and stares into mirror. Hate it, hate it, HATE IT :grumpy:
its used so much, its trite. Whatever psycho is in the mirror when you look up, let 'em getcha!
Or is the actor using this as a tool as portrayal of a reflection of himself and his life, oh whatever happened to me...

...stop doing this or come up with a better way to do it, geez...

--spinner :cool:

lux
06-25-2005, 01:05 AM
What makes it worse is hearing the eerie sound when he looks back into the mirror and sees the murderer looking back at him. Oh so predictable.

AdamG
07-04-2005, 03:31 AM
Mis-used jump cuts. Too many times they can be used as a cop out to get out of a scene, and it's brutally obvious when it's happening. When used correctly, they are perfectly fine, unless of course, every other cut is one.

LukeWilbanks
07-21-2005, 01:27 PM
That "crazy dolly zoom" is called the Vertigo effect, first popularized by Alfred Hitchcock.

Oops. this thread is like three weeks old. Oh well.

Luke

Shot Renegade
07-21-2005, 03:17 PM
Well Lefteye, it seems you have revitalised the thread.
I think my worst and most detested cinematography effect has to be over excessive use of the shaky cam for action scenes... so irritating.

LukeWilbanks
07-21-2005, 05:24 PM
There is an effect I think I remember seeing in "You've got Mail" a few years ago. It is basically the smoothest pan ever attempted in the entire world with perfect starts and stops. My guess is that it is actually movement within a static shot that is done in post. It catches me off guard every time, because I know that the only other way to achieve that is with motion control equipment. IMO, It also takes away from the human element that you are used to experiencing during a dialogue sequence.

Does anyone know what I'm talking about?

Luke

Boz Uriel
07-21-2005, 10:54 PM
Yeah, I'm hip Luke. :)

Mine is the fight scene close up. You know the one where it looks like a lot is going on but all you see is the actors face grimace. PAH-Leeze. If you don't have the sack to shoot a fight properly, don't.

lux
07-22-2005, 06:20 AM
I've heard the crazy dolly zoom or Vertigo effect called many different names. One name i've heard of recently is the 'trombone shot'.

Loud Orange Cat
07-22-2005, 10:14 AM
Personally, I hate the "extreme close-ups and fast editing during action sequences to obscure any action on screen". Why the hell do people do this?! If you're going to film an action sequence, I'd like to see it, not complain afterwards that quick editing and useless extreme close-ups were added into the film as filler to extend the scene. :bang:

LukeWilbanks
07-22-2005, 12:08 PM
I've heard the crazy dolly zoom or Vertigo effect called many different names. One name i've heard of recently is the 'trombone shot'.

That's good to know. I didn't realize there were other names for it. I think it's a really neat technique. For some reason, none of my friends can understand how it works when I try to show them. They think it's magic, lol. And they're all their twenties, too :weird:. I guess that's what makes me the filmmaker and them the engineers...

Luke

Shot Renegade
07-22-2005, 04:21 PM
'Reverse Zoom' Is what I know the 'dolly zoom' to be...

Oxygen Farm- digitaldj
07-22-2005, 04:32 PM
I know it as the reverse zoom, the 'Jaws' shot is how I often describe it, most people then understand.

Shot Renegade
07-22-2005, 04:38 PM
Welcome digitaldj! Enjoy the talk!

LukeWilbanks
07-22-2005, 04:39 PM
Welcome to IndieTalk, Oxygen Farm! Enjoy your stay. :welcome:

Luke

Oxygen Farm- digitaldj
07-22-2005, 04:44 PM
Thanks Luke and Nathan, its nice to be part of a film community.


Dan

Rivet
08-04-2005, 02:52 PM
I find the most ANNOYING thing that ANY film maker can do is frame improperly. Period.

filmscheduling
08-05-2005, 12:45 PM
I find the most ANNOYING thing that ANY film maker can do is frame improperly. Period.
What is the worst framing you have seen in a Hollywood/mainstream film?

Spatula
08-05-2005, 12:50 PM
I saw a Casper Van Dien movie called Shark Attack. It had the worst framing ever. As in, the shark is in the middle of empty water, while in another shot the actors are sturggling on the surface to avoid being bitten.
I assume it was improper framing because in a Casper Van Dien movie you know there's going to be quality.

/sarcasm

reelfiction
08-05-2005, 04:25 PM
Actually, after thinking about it, it's not so much what techniques people use but why they use them. What I've grown to dislike is any time the cinematography draws attention to itself, taking my focus out of the story.

It's like the director going "Hey, look at this clever thing I can do."

I highly disagree. I've grown to hate script-driven films. Film is a visual medium, it shouldn't be an appendage to theater (at least in my opinion)

In that way, I guess you can say I agree with Vertov... But there is such a thing as over styling. I found Man With a Movie Camera kinda pointless. Stylized films today are pretty much like that. Take the Japanese film Versus. The camera won't slow down, the editing won't slow down... Same with Moulin Rouge. One of the more important things to remember about film being a visual medium is to also let the subject matter permeate a bit, show some more landscape shots... Let it linger... There needs to be some balance.

Shaw
08-05-2005, 04:41 PM
Not appendaged certainly. Film IS however, in most cases, first and foremost a story. The cinematography should be whatever will tell that story best. This doesn't preclude creativity - just that which distracts from the film itself.

lux
08-05-2005, 09:04 PM
Whilst I fancy myself as a cinematographer, I agree with Clive. Cinematography should be a visual aid or a component. It's just like making a cake, if you put too much of one thing in the cake won't taste as good. If the cinematography can be evenly balanced with the story then the film should work:).

ncje
08-15-2005, 06:48 AM
Heh most of mine have been covered... does anyone watch 24 as in the tv series? Man some of the shts in that bug me. I think all of the above are included.

Thirdrailbe
08-15-2005, 01:34 PM
I would have to say period lighting, basically thats when the lighting doesn't match the era or time period.

Joe_Hunt
08-18-2005, 06:22 PM
Breathing new life into a dead thread.

I hate how indie films often light from below because they either don't have big enough sources or can't find a good place to hide the lights during their 10 minute single shot film. Unless you have a really shiny floor it just looks fake.

Just Another Yokel
08-29-2005, 09:52 PM
-Adjusting the shutter to create that strobe light effect in action sequences. Right after Ridley Scott directed Gladiator it became overused.

-A line of people walking in slow-mo towards the camera, like they're The Right Stuff. Like George Carlin once said, "You're not fucking cool. You're just chilly!"

-Filming fight scenes in nothing more than close ups and extreme closeups. I have a idea as to why this is so prevalent in the US and not other countries. It's because all the old kung fu movies from Hong Kong were filmed cinescope aspect ratio, but blown up to do pan-and-scan when showed on TV, thereby make all the medium shots into closeups and closeups into extreme closeups.

-Real long steadicam shots used for superfluous reasons.
Good: Boogie Nights (there's a ton of them)
Bad: Better Luck Tomorrow, where the guys just walk into a party and don't even say anything. Boring!

-Not necessarily a cinematographic peeve, but visual and, IMO, dumb. Those "into the components of an electronic devices" shots. Such examples are seeing the insides of the rice rockets in The Fast and the Furious, in the CD player in Josie and the Pussycats, look at how communication satellite technology works in Phone Booth, or look at how industrial air conditioning works in Bad Boys II. (Actually there's a laundry list of things in Bad Boys II I could tell you about.

-Bullet time. 'Nuff said.

-Slow motion shots of objects falling after something bad happens in a generic comedy. That last attempt at tugging at my cynical heart strings. Congratulations, you have failed admirably.

Zensteve
08-30-2005, 01:19 AM
-Filming fight scenes in nothing more than close ups and extreme closeups. I have a idea as to why this is so prevalent in the US and not other countries. It's because all the old kung fu movies from Hong Kong were filmed cinescope aspect ratio, but blown up to do pan-and-scan when showed on TV, thereby make all the medium shots into closeups and closeups into extreme closeups.

I never thought about it like that. Interesting. :cool:

Loud Orange Cat
08-30-2005, 11:39 AM
-Real long steadicam shots used for superfluous reasons.
Good: Boogie Nights

You forgot Goodfellas. IMHO, while Scorsese didn't invent this technique, he mastered it.

Just Another Yokel
08-30-2005, 02:19 PM
You forgot Goodfellas
I didn't forget Goodfellas. It's pretty much understood that all the long steadicam shots done by a lot of the "hip" directors nowadays are more as a reference to Saint Scorsese than an aide in storytelling. I was just noting two post-Goodfellas uses of the long shots.

Scorsese's not the only guy to do it, of course. There are long tracking shots in The Shining and Brian De Palma uses long takes a lot. But when you watch a De Palma movie, most people don't say "Oh, he's just trying to do the Copa shot." Say what you will about Snake Eyes, that opening shot is a beast of itself.

Coincidentally, I just read an old interview with Paul Thomas Anderson and he said that the opening shot in Boogie Nights wasn't really an ode to the Copa but was a rip-off from the British movie Absolute Beginners.

Josh Boelter
09-01-2005, 03:59 PM
-Not necessarily a cinematographic peeve, but visual and, IMO, dumb. Those "into the components of an electronic devices" shots. Such examples are seeing the insides of the rice rockets in The Fast and the Furious, in the CD player in Josie and the Pussycats, look at how communication satellite technology works in Phone Booth, or look at how industrial air conditioning works in Bad Boys II. (Actually there's a laundry list of things in Bad Boys II I could tell you about.

Yeah, I usually don't like this either. One exception is Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors: Red. Because the plot of that film was heavily involved with electronic evesdropping, the shot of the electronics and wires fit the story.

jaxshooter
10-01-2005, 05:21 PM
Anything that when used the first time was innovative and clever but gets overused and hackneyed with repeated use.Anything that detracts,rather than adds to the story by calling attention to itself and away from the plot and mood of the film.This includes many shots that have already been mentioned.These things in and of themselves aren't annoying,it's just that they get overused.It's like the filmmakers said,"Hey this will look cool!"rather than,"Hey this will make the audience really feel for the characters."