Saturday, November 20, 2010

Visions of Light

1. Why were the early non-talkie movies so free with camera movement and location?

The early non-talkies were so free with the movement of the camera and location because they did not have to capture sound while they were taking the shot. They could be in a noisy area or far away from the actors because the sound going on at the time would not be recorded. The shots were about the visual aesthetics, and the most important things were how you saw the actors and the landscape and setting around them.

 2. What were the issues with the very first talkie movies?

The issues when talkie movies were introduced were around how to move the camera. The camera was large and not easily moveable, which made the shots not as creative or different as in non-talkies. Also, the idea of recording the sound that was happening at the time of the shot, like voices, was new, so the sound was not always clear or smooth. The directors and crew of movies spent a lot of time finding ways to improve this new generation of film with innovations such as smaller cameras and equipment with which to move them, as well as better sound technology.


3. Why did 'Citizen Kane' have such a great impact? List some reasons.

-broke away from typical Hollywood cinematography techinques
-combined previos types of filmmaking into one new kind
-used the principle of 'deep focus', where foreground and background were both constantly in sharp focus
-used low-angle shots
-experimentation of lenses and lighting
-story told only in flashbacks
-audio from next scene began before the visual
-sound reverberation
-nominated for nine Academy Awards
-directed by and starring Orson Welles

 4. What is Film Noir?

Film Noir is a genre of film that uses dark and mysterious shots and themes, often found in crime and detective movies during the 1940s. These films use the effects of low, shadowy lighting, depth of field, juxtaposition, and disorienting camera angles. They were usually filmed in areas or sets with little light, such as small dark rooms or hallways, or when they were outside they were located in alleyways, empty streets or abandoned warehouses at night. The films were in black and white and created a mood of fear and desperation, which mirrored people's feeling about the war taking place.

 5. How was colour first introduced to film?

When colour was first introduced, filmmakers would use filters. The filters would go on the camera lens and projector and give the scene a tint of blue, red, or green. Later on, films were hand painted to fill in the colours of the scene. Frame by frame artists would paint on colours, giving a bright and aritifical look. Next, dyes were used to create artificial color. In 1910, film tinting was introduced, where the film base is dyed to create a monochromatic colour thoughour the film. There were specific colours used for certain types of scenes, such a dark blue for night or yellow for early in the day.


6. What effects did the widescreen format have on cinematography?

Widescreen filming affected the cinematography of a movie for lots of reasons. By having a wider field of view, more could be put into a shot and more emphasis was put on composition. Also, by the framing of a movie changing it separated the jobs of director and cinematographer/director of photography because there were more choices about how the camera would be used and someone with experience in photography was needed more often to make decisions about the shots of a movie. In addition, widescreen filming in the 1950s gave viewers more reasons to come to movie theatre since there were not widescreen televisions and the effect of the film would be better perceived in the theatres.

7. Why didn't the director of The Godfather care about drive-in theatres and how dark his film was?

The lighting of the Godfather is a very important part of the movie. Almost all the scenes have dim, low light, which characterizes the people in film. The purpose of this lighting was to emphasis the character's face and focus on the individual and not as much on the set or costumes. This decision was criticized by higher-ups at the movie's production company, but both the director, Coppola, and the director of photography, Willis, stood by their decision. They felt this effect was more important than being able to watch it a drive-in, and they were right, because this technique from the Godfather has often been highly praised. 


8. How did the director of photography use colours in The Last Emperor?

The director of photography used different colours to represent different stages of the main character's life.  His childhood is shown by using warm colours like red, orange and yellow, and the part of the film taking place in Manchuria often uses the colours purple and blue. The scenes when the main character is imprisoned have almost no colour, but the scenes of him after those bad times, as he grows older, have more colours visible. Finally, white represents the end of his journey through life. The different colours represent different moods and feelings the director of photography is trying to evoke. Brighter and warmer colours show times of happiness, and darker or less colours represent sadder times in his life.

9. The track-back/zoom-in shot in Goodfellas signified a psychological change in the relationship between the two protagonists. How did the visuals change with this effect?

This scene that uses a dolly zoom happens during a scene in a diner while two of the main characters are having a conversation. They are sitting in a booth, and even though the booth and the character's aren't moving, the view in the window behind them is continually zooming in. You can watch the scene here:

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