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Long Takes In the Movies, Antidote To CGI? 295

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the can-i-cut-now dept.
brumgrunt submitted a Den of Geek story about long takes in movies. The premise is that CGI has made so many things possible that it all rings sterile now. Long shots are a better way to be flashy. Personally I absolutely love long takes, and I always elbow my wife excitedly when they happen. She probably hates them now! Some of the examples cited here are probably unfamiliar but maybe that'll just give you an excuse to queue them on Netflix.
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Long Takes In the Movies, Antidote To CGI?

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  • And the opposite (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fyngyrz (762201) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @12:26PM (#34256388) Homepage Journal

    ...is part of why I abandoned TV, and even the news -- I *despise* the tiny little takes, the snappy transitions, the sound bites. I find them deeply unsatisfying, shallow, and in the end not a good use of my time.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by windcask (1795642)

      I *despise* the tiny little takes, the snappy transitions, the sound bites.

      Let me say that while I agree with you, there's something to be said for economy in editing. One of the things I hate about many amateur Youtube videos is they have no sense of rhythm or purpose. They dwell on a shot for 10-15 seconds when the focal point only takes five.

      While I agree that soundbites in this day and age are often exploited to provide a shallow and one-sided point of view, the interconnectedness of the world allows us to see these as brief summaries and delve into the context more as necessa

      • I *despise* the tiny little takes, the snappy transitions, the sound bites.

        Let me say that while I agree with you, there's something to be said for economy in editing. One of the things I hate about many amateur Youtube videos is they have no sense of rhythm or purpose. They dwell on a shot for 10-15 seconds when the focal point only takes five.

        Ha!
        Meanwhile one of the things that annoys me about most popular (could be inferred as professional) Youtube videos is that they Dwell on a shot for 5 seconds, then start the next for 5 seconds, then the next, the next, the next, its like a non-stop one liner marathon to try and make you laugh as much as possible. =3 with Ray William Johnson is a prime example of this. While I may find the content funny the delivery method is really quite annoying - but its everywhere!

        I think I personally prefer the videos

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DragonWriter (970822)

        Let me say that while I agree with you, there's something to be said for economy in editing.

        Sure, you don't want wasted time in film. Long cuts, however, don't need to have wasted time -- especially if the screenplay is tight. (Of course, that also requires the actors to be sharp, and everything else to be done right the first time.)

        You could have a feature length film in one cut without any waste. It would take a lot of skill to do it well -- from both the cast and the crew.

        • by cayenne8 (626475)
          "Sure, you don't want wasted time in film. Long cuts, however, don't need to have wasted time -- especially if the screenplay is tight. (Of course, that also requires the actors to be sharp, and everything else to be done right the first time.)"

          Yep..one of my favorite "Long Shot" movies...is composed ONLY of long shots, edited to try to make the whole movie look like one long shot. That is Alfred Hitchcock's Rope [wikipedia.org].

          It is a classic film...and strangely enough, it was my first exposure to Hitchcock. Defini

        • Full circle? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TiggertheMad (556308) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @02:48PM (#34259118) Homepage Journal
          You could have a feature length film in one cut without any waste. It would take a lot of skill to do it well -- from both the cast and the crew.

          I have heard of this being done before. I believe in the biz, they call this a 'Play'.
    • by mark72005 (1233572) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @12:53PM (#34256850)
      One side effect I think of the gratuitous CGI is probably that the shots are kept short to keep your eye from paying too much attention to the CGI. If you examine it in detail, it's obvious that it's computer rendered, and thus not as effective. The quick cuts keep shoving "eye candy" at you without making it stand up to the eye.

      I remember the first BluRay I watched was a Spider-man movie that was packed with the BluRay player. The HD detail actually made this movie worse (if possible) because it showed how fake and cartoony it make Spider-man look. It's a total backfire.

      The film makers think they are thrilling us, but really it's all kind of shallow and yawn-inducing.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by icebike (68054)

        But, ah, Spiderman was a cartoon.

        Are you sure that wasn't by intent of the director to be true to the subject matter?

        After all, it would have been in even higher def on the big screen, No?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mcgrew (92797) *

        Spider Man is supposed to look cartoony. It's from a comic book, after all.

  • Well (Score:2, Funny)

    I can probably see why people would like this, but it seems like a long shot to me
  • Russian Ark (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @12:26PM (#34256400)

    No love for Russian Ark?

    • I'll vote for it. It's hard to imagine a longer "take" or "shot", whichever is correct.

    • by microcars (708223)
      here is some love. mod parent up!
      Hour and a Half with hundreds and hundreds of people.
      watching the "making of" extra on the DVD is great. The steadicam operator almost collapsed during the final ballroom dance scene because he had "hit the wall" and was concerned that if he continued on he would become physically disabled and never work again.
      Of course if he had dropped the camera during that scene he would probably never work again for different reasons...
    • by DuBois (105200)
      An entire movie in one take. Loved it!
    • TFA ends "I'll return to the subject of long takes in the next week or two, where I'll take a look at ... the longest single take in cinema history", which I assume is Russian Ark.

      Indeed, that movie is a tour-de-force of single takes. 2000+ actors, 90+ minutes, one take. (They actually shot the whole thing three times.) The movie is far more interesting with the commentary track describing how it was done; the straight soundtrack renders it nigh unto unwatchable. A technical, not artistic, triumph.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by VortexCortex (1117377)

      No love for Russian Ark?

      Or for Tiempo Real [imdb.com] (Real Time) which "Holds the official Guinness World Record for being the 'First One-Take Movie in Film History'"

      The entire movie has no cuts.

  • When my .cgi takes too long I just use FastCGI;
  • Old Boy [youtube.com] had a great fight scene shot in one take.
  • by BitHive (578094) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @12:28PM (#34256422) Homepage

    Long takes will only hurt the film editing industry, we need to pass a law limiting the length of any given scene.

    • Well it certainly ruined the X-Files episode that was done in one long take, but it worked well for Babylon 5's "Intersections in Real Time"* (approximately 10 minutes per take). Like a filmed play. And no we don't need a law, besides it would be unconstitutional even if one was passed.

      *
      *trivia: IIRT was supposed to be the season 5 premiere, but the WB/PTEN/TNT mess forced JMS to move the episode forward, in case the show got prematurely canceled. He didn't want to end on the original "Sheridan captured

      • by suso (153703) *

        Whoosh!

      • MASH did a pretty impressive long-take episode about a shot up kid who needed a critical procedure in a very limited time. I don't know if it was done in a number of takes, but it was in real time.

        • by Java Pimp (98454)

          ER was chock full of those kinds of takes moving from one actor to another walking through the ER to following a gurney into and around a trauma room or even bouncing between multiple traumas.

      • A most memorable Mad About You episode was a straight single ~25 minute take. Despite ultra-low budget (hallway shot, camera didn't even move), it was very emotionally engaging - still chokes me up to think about it.

  • Rope! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @12:28PM (#34256426) Homepage Journal

    Why more people don't mention Rope when they're talking about their favorite Hitchcock movies, I don't understand. Great movie. And (on topic!) the whole movie is just something like 3(?) takes.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by UncleWilly (1128141)
      Rope is great, but reels are about 10 minutes max; so with a 80 minute film it's likely 10-14 long takes
      • Re:Rope! (Score:4, Informative)

        by meerling (1487879) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @01:12PM (#34257166)
        But he used a creative method to "cheat" the limits of his current technology to make continuous scenes much longer than he could record.
        If you ever watch it, pay close attention to when the screen is blacked out for a moment by someone with a black jacket (or equivalent black object) is either panned across, or stands in front of the camera. It happens so smoothly it doesn't disturb the flow of the scene at all. In reality that was when they had to stop, change film, and start up again. The 'blackground' is actually a means to hide the jump. Since your view of the rest of the scene is momentarily interrupted, and then continues as if nothing happened, you assume that nothing did happen. Kind of like blinking, but on a larger scale.
        Considering his creativity and genius with the far more limited capabilities of his equipment, could you imagine what he'd do with modern gear & software? (Probably not, but I bet it would make Lucas and Spielburg wet themselves.)
    • John Dall from "Rope" was in another movie with a famous long take, "Gun Crazy" from 1950. From the wikipedia article on "Gun Crazy":

      The bank heist sequence was shot entirely in one long take in Montrose, California, with no one besides the principal actors and people inside the bank alerted to the operation. This one-take shot included the sequence of driving into town to the bank, distracting and then knocking out a patrolman, and making the get-away. This was done by simulating the interior of a sedan w

  • Tony Jaa [youtube.com] in The Protector. One of the best single shot scene's I've ever seen for sure.
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @12:29PM (#34256436) Journal

    CGI was exciting when I first saw them adapt it for Babylon 5's spaceships (instead of models) and of course Jurassic Park's dinosaurs. It provided a new means to do things that had been impossible before.

    But now it's old hat. Like the space shuttle launches I never watch. (yawn). Let's get back to focusing on the story so that, even if CGI did not exist at all, the movie or show would still be entertaining.

    • by puto (533470)
      CGI started in the 1970s and continued through the 80s, long before that television show or movie. Westworld, Wrath of Khan, Star Wars, the Last Starfighter all cme to mind. And of course Tron.
  • And where's the love for the "Follow me" scene after the very famous and disgusting "Mr Creosote" scene in "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life", huh?

  • by suso (153703) *

    Long shots kinda feel like being in a first person shooter.

    • Which is meant to immerse you.

      You should think Long takes make you feel like being "First person"
      not necessarily "first person shooter"

  • I wonder if the opposite, the almost stroboscopic shooting and editing of scenes in contemporary television and cinema, are the cause or the effect of the millisecond attention span of today's ADD-infested viewers?

    • by Yvan256 (722131) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @12:39PM (#34256602) Homepage Journal

      Yeah but you can' really - SQUIRREL!

    • Cut lengths just like CGI is a tool. You can use it to achieve great things, or to shoot a pile of crying babies over and over again.

      Requiem for a Dream - largely considered a great or at least interesting movie - has music video amounts of cuts. Wikipedia says it has 2000 cuts during its run time.

      Long cuts done properly are great. Done wrong, its like sitting through one of those boring presentations where the presenter stands around figitting around for 5 seconds every 30 seconds while trying to remember
  • I agree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @12:31PM (#34256480) Journal

    I scrolled through his list saying to myself "He better have Children of Men on there" which of course was the very bottom. Now I mean you can like that movie for a lot of reasons but one of the things that I Really like about it is the fact that they do the Long Takes and execute them well.

    It creates a greater sense of immersion - when the camera cuts from scene to scene too often - I don't feel like I'm in one place and subconsciously get jarred and reminded that I'm watching people acting out a scene. With a long shot that follows the actors around or pans to each character instead of cutting to each character - I feel like I'm actually standing there, as a passive observer, watching these things unfold.

    Now - when I see a long take in a movie, I feel like I can enjoy the movie more itself in that I feel more immersed in the story, but reflecting upon it I also admire the difficulty directors and Actors have with such scenes. Especially when you've got a bunch of explosive rigs and dollys and whatnots all lined up - and getting extras to do what they're told... These kinds of shots aren't the kind that you can just say "Cut! Try it again from the top!" - you have to get it just about right the first time to film.

    As a side note, the opening scene to Children of Men, after watching some of the bonus content on the DvD it looks like Clive Owen's character was meant to grab his coffee and then turn and run for cover, but in the actual film he is so jarred that he spills it - I have always wondered if that was a last second change or decision - or if that was just a nice side effect of only getting 1 take on film.

    • by ADRA (37398)

      I never really noticed the one take in children until the really really long one ay the end of the movie when they were walking behind Clive with the steady cam that gets blood squirted on it. That was one really long, and crazy choreographed scene which seems absolutely improbable to accomplish. That said, I think the idea is that you don't pick up on the effect and just have it appear as a piece of the movie. If you notice a filming technique during the (first) viewing, you may be very perceptive, or mayb

      • That last long take is really breath-taking, I didn't really realize how long the take was or how many of those kinds of shots had been throughout the film until I watched it a second time. And the third time when I was specifically watching for the cuts or dissolves it seemed a little less impressive than that second watch - but still a good flick.

        Like you noticed - the blood gets on the camera lense - and there is a point at which you might be watching and go "Hey, where'd the blood go?" thats because the

  • Henry V (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hedronist (233240) * on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @12:32PM (#34256490)

    Let's go for the really long takes.

    In Kenneth Branaugh's Henry V [imdb.com] there is one of the most amazing tracking shots ever filmed. It happens after the battle and starts when Henry picks up the dead boy. The next 5+ minutes are of him carrying the boy through the blood and gore of Agincourt to the soaring sounds of the Kyrie Eleison. It gives me chills just to think of it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ThisIsForReal (897233)
      Jim Emmerson, who runs a blog that's tied in with Roger Ebert's site, has written extensively about long shots. Here's one of his blog entries that highlights some real cinematic gems:

      Scanner Blog [suntimes.com]
    • It's actually my favorite cinematic interpretation of Shakespeare's work (along with Ian McKellen's take on Richard III). Henry V is an incredible film and I remember that shot as well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SixFactor (1052912)
      Agree on the amazing nature of the scene. The music, however, is the first verse of Psalm 115, "Non Nobis Domine." Lyrics here: http://www.lyricstime.com/steve-green-no-nobis-domine-lyrics.html [lyricstime.com]
  • The effects and long takes won't save a movie from being bad. Only a good story line, plot and acting will save a movie from being bad.
    Just think how awesome Episode1 TPM could have been if the story and acting were excellent.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      I don't know about that.
      Clash of the Titans 3as bad, but I can watch that movie just for the effects. The same goes for many of the original Sinbad movies.

      TPM was awesome.

      • by digitaldc (879047) *
        I kind of liked TPM minus Annie and Jar Jar, but they were a huge part of the movie so overall it kind of sucked.
      • by ADRA (37398)

        Jar jar was frigging annoying, and I can never block out his hideous infection of every scene the character is in. The rest of the movie was mostly good baring the making of Anakin's character just a little too perfect and the eventual blending of actors and ages between ep1->ep2. Having Anakin's character add quite a few actor years and leave Padme the same was a notable and annoying friction.

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @12:36PM (#34256564)

    One thing CGI and modern technology has allowed for are the impossible camera moves. Yes, it's impressive to zoom in on a flying aircraft and right through the glass into the interior. It's impressive to follow a bomb dropping from the plane until it goes down the stack of a battleship or fly down Orthanc into the flaming pits below it. But these impossible shots draw attention to their artificiality by being so impossible. I'll give Lord of the Rings a pass on some of the more extreme camera stuff because the CGI was so impressively integrated but I did wonder how the whole thing would have looked if it was filmed in a more deliberately like an old Hollywood sword and sandals epic, acting like a real camera was involved and just happening to sprinkle in all the CGI monsters.

    Michael Bay/Borne Trilogy/Lucaswank modern cinema becomes an exercise in bad storytelling. It's impossible to follow the action, impossible to realize what you're even seeing, and the overwhelming amount of CGI bling ruins the impact of each individual shot. I really have to agree with the Red Letter Media critique of the Star Wars prequels. (the 90 minute long reviews with the serial killer). He points out how the Lucas team was impressed with how much crap they managed to shove into a scene but lost sight of trying to tell an actual story.

    The early silent films played out a lot like cartoon shorts, trying to use pictures to tell a simple story. That sort of thing was picked up by the cartoons in the age of the talkies and through the decades we keep finding people who have relearned the old lesson. You look at the Pixar shorts or some of the stuff making it onto Youtube from animation students and you see people who might be using really high technology but they're making sure they tell a coherent story with characters you identify with and care about.

    Your level of stylization within that framework can vary and I've seen some very good films with frantic camerawork but there's no way to use style to make up for a weak story and weak film-making. That seems to be Hollywood's biggest mistake right now.

    • by Rakarra (112805)

      One thing CGI and modern technology has allowed for are the impossible camera moves. Yes, it's impressive to zoom in on a flying aircraft and right through the glass into the interior. It's impressive to follow a bomb dropping from the plane until it goes down the stack of a battleship or fly down Orthanc into the flaming pits below it. But these impossible shots draw attention to their artificiality by being so impossible. I'll give Lord of the Rings a pass on some of the more extreme camera stuff because the CGI was so impressively integrated but I did wonder how the whole thing would have looked if it was filmed in a more deliberately like an old Hollywood sword and sandals epic, acting like a real camera was involved and just happening to sprinkle in all the CGI monsters.

      I think one of my favorite recent "impossible shots" was Spielburg's War of the Worlds. What happens after the city is destroyed and your main characters are driving away and need to talk? You have a driving scene with discussion in the car. Okay, but Spielburg thought it wasn't tense enough and looked for a way to ratchet that up, and found that if the entire thing was one long take, the audience was more involved. Instead of cutting to exterior shots, the camera swept around, then back in again to the win

    • by jfengel (409917)

      Yes, it's impressive to zoom in on a flying aircraft and right through the glass into the interior.

      It didn't take CGI to do that. There's a very famous cut just like that in Citizen Kane, through a skylight. That's The Greatest Freaking Movie Of All Time, according to every movie critic ever (and you get thrown out of the movie critic guild if you question that, or even put something in the second slot because Citizen Kane is so gosh-darn awesome that it takes up two slots.)

      Yes, the film did it first, and it gets tired very quickly, even with CGI improvements. (You no longer need a convenient lightnin

  • by TofuMatt (1105351) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @12:37PM (#34256580) Homepage

    Joss Whedon's Serenity [imdb.com] features a nearly ten-minute long scene with no visible cuts (there is technically a seamless dissolve half-way through for technical reasons -- watch the DVD commentary and you'll see what I mean). Whedon didn't do it to show off or grab attention, but actually to make the audience feel safe and trusting after the rapid cuts and scene/flow changes found at the very beginning of the film.

    I find rapid cuts annoying and a way to draw the viewer away from a lack of detail or a scene that can't carry itself on the acting/sets/dialog/action alone. I don't seek out long takes though -- like most things in movies: if they're done really well you shouldn't be thinking about them, but rather about the plot.

    • But I think its the only one in that movie - as far as I can recall.

      He's talking about movies that actually use it as a feature as much as other movies use CGI.

    • by mdm-adph (1030332)

      I thought they were doing that long shot to show off the set they built of the inside of the Serenity for the movie -- it was supposed to be the first time the entire thing had been created all together, right?

    • by sottitron (923868) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @01:36PM (#34257734)
      While we're on the subject of Whedon (and I realize this is not the same as a movie sequence, but...) Just the other day I noticed that Neil Patrick Harris' first scene in Dr. Horrible is actually a really long take. And his delivery of every bit of it is fantastic.
  • ...just to be impressed by technical tricks? Are you disappointed by Citizen Kane because the clever camera work doesn't jump out at you?

    • by mccalli (323026)
      Are you disappointed by Citizen Kane because the clever camera work doesn't jump out at you?

      Deathly irony there. Citizen Kane is in part so famous exactly because the clever camera work jumped out at you. It's an effects-based film, with a first-time director showing off various then-new techniques.

      Cheers,
      Ian
    • by SoupGuru (723634)
      No. It's that movie-making has become "cold". There's little humanity in a lot of the blockbusters these days and long takes allow actors and filmmakers to showcase a living, breathing scene. Like in music, technical perfection is uninteresting. The soul is in the little details and mistakes.
  • Opening sequence of Serenity [wikipedia.org]? Technically it's two long sequences match-cut together at the stairwell, but still... Not long enough?
  • The Player (Score:3, Informative)

    by MadAhab (40080) <slasher.ahab@com> on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @12:38PM (#34256594) Homepage Journal

    Any list without the long take that opens The Player is suspect.

    • Agree completely. Seven minutes 47 seconds. Also GLARINGLY missing is the opening shot from The Magnificent Ambersons. A long crane/motion-control shot long before they existed.
  • The example cited in the story of Avatar is a pretty obvious example. But even in less obvious examples like Children of Men, which had very long and well-done long-takes, at least some of the long takes are done through compositing and CGI. The two, CGI, are not mutually exclusive.

    Frankly, I'm afraid that overuse of long takes would just result in another annoying cinematic cliche.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @12:46PM (#34256698) Homepage Journal
    My favorite long take is the Genesis Effect scene in Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn. It's a long zoom toward the Genesis planet and a descent around it, flying between mountain peaks, while it morphs from a lifeless planet to something covered with fractal plant scenery. All in one very long CGI take. This was made at Pixar really long ago when CGI was much more difficult because computers were so much slower. The computer involved was a VAX 780 (I still have the front panel from that VAX in my office) and it ran with the diagnostic command "SET CLOCK FAST" for over a month to do that scene. At one point they realized that they were flying THROUGH a mountain, and they backed up a few frames and had a notch grow in the mountain range as they approached it. It's clearly visible in slow motion - they just didn't have enough time to redo many frames of the scene and it goes by too fast to notice in real time if you don't know about it. Alvy Ray Smith said that he hadn't met George Lucas (who is famously reclusive) and that after seeing the rush of that scene, George knocked on Alvy's office door and said "Good Take!". And that's all the interaction with George that Alvy said he had. But aside from this old and not very realistic looking scene, a lot of modern long takes are CGI, and you can't tell!
    • by digitaldc (879047) *
      One of the best Star Trek movies ever. And we will never forget.... http://www.khaaan.com/ [khaaan.com]
    • Precisely. In fact, showy long takes are a poster child for CGI in cinema, since they're so difficult to film. It can be much easier and cheaper to splice together a ton of footage than to spend days on set, with dozens of people trying to make a shot work. Just because it's not flying robots, doesn't mean it's not CGI.
  • ... that they really are single long takes?

    Back in the old days, long takes were faked by splicing shorter ones together where the camera 'accidentally' flared when passing the sun or another bright light source. Or when a close in pedestrian (out of focus) briefly passed in front of the camera. There are a few instances where the cut was made between live scenes and models or CGI. I recall the director's track on 'Moon' describing just such a transition. And that was a low budget production, so the effect

  • Making good CGI is comparatively easy: you hire talented professionals and let them do the work. With proper art direction and CGI staff, you can literally say "make me some cool CGI" and they will, because people have been doing it for...20ish (I think, or more) years.

    To some extent, casting is comparatively easy, because most Hollywood actors are one-trick ponies.

    On the other hand, writing a good movie is apparently very difficult. I say that because probably 4 out of 5 movies have lame plots, bad pac

  • Just fill in the blanks, and you'll realize that it's a silly question. The article could have just said, "people are abusing CGI, please stop". Of course, that wouldn't have been as interesting.

    If people start shooting long takes just for the sake of it, It'll probably become just as annoying as CGI.

    Closures the antidote to temporary objects? Yeah, sure.

    • Just fill in the blanks, and you'll realize that it's a silly
      question. The article could have just said, "people are abusing CGI, please stop".
      Of course, that wouldn't have been as interesting.

      If people start shooting long takes just for the sake of it, It'll probably become just as annoying as CGI.

      Closures the antidote to temporary objects? Yeah, sure.

      Long takes aren't quite the same as CGI. The only reason they call attention to themselves is because they're rare in film, but unlike short takes (or nanotakes, like in the idiotic Michael Bay movies), they're an instinctively familiar mode of perception. When you wake up in the morning you begin a long take that ends when you go to sleep. That's what perception as an individual entity is.

      Short takes can be powerful because they diverge from that continuous perception in a sort of temporal cubism or a f

  • It's almost pointless. yes, one shot of an enter scene. cool, but so what? I don't care about the editing, I just want a good movie.

    Someone could create a piece of animation thats many minute of no editing.

    If you watch a long shot, and are think about the long shot, then the director has failed.

    The article is just a rant against technology. It nearly reads like a Luddite manifesto. Technology is going to eventual remove stunts, back grounds, voice acting, and maybe even script writing.

    I just listen to a doc

    • The article is just a rant against technology. It nearly reads like a Luddite manifesto.

      Fit's right into the new slashdot, where every article regarding a new technology will be tagged "Donotwant" and "Whatcouldpossiblygowrong". News for Nerds, my arse. Most of the nerds have long since left, and those left behind are living a meager life, scavenging the ruins of what once was great.

  • "The Assissination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" has some of the longest shots imaginable. One of the reasons I loved this movie was because of the daring it took to make a movie with such slow pacing about murderers. Each frame is printable and suitable for framing.

    "Birth" seems to barely have a script. Slow paced and focused on the acting to such a degree that entire scenes take place in body language and facial expression. It's a treat to see a modern film that takes time to develop a char
  • I love The Shining, as well as Full Metal Jacket, for this exact reason. Some of the long takes in those movies are beyond impressive. Kubrick had a great vision, and demanded a lot from his actors, but when everything comes together the long takes make you sit up and pay attention.

    The long (30 second?) shot of Danny on his big-wheel riding through the empty Overlook in The Shining is one of my favorite scenes in any movie ... the sound of the wheels moving from each surface to the next is perfect, and it

  • ...to the opening tracking shot of Paths of Glory. So much going on.

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @01:10PM (#34257130) Homepage

    That's not a reaction to CGI, it's a reaction to MTV. Music videos pioneered the quick-cut style of filmmaking. MTV had a big chunk of content at about one cut per second, which was an innovation at the time. That moved into TV production, partly as a way to pick up the pace, and partly as a way to get show length down and commercial time up. Then films started following that trend. By the last James Bond film, "Quantum of Solace", the cut rate had reached the point that action scenes were a bunch of blurry clips. There's a database [cinemetrics.lv] of average shot length in films; "Quantum of Solace" comes in at an average shot length of 1.5 seconds. This is close to the record for big-budget films.

    Long tracking shots are usually a gimmick. "The Player" has an 8-minute long take, but it's a visual joke [youtube.com], and even references long takes. Very few directors use long takes well. "The West Wing" was famous for long tracking shots which advanced the plot effectively. That's rare.

    To the extent that CGI has anything to do with this, it's the fact that action-heavy movies are assembled like cartoons. Traditionally, film directors came from the theater. Production started with a script and a group of actors, sitting around a table and doing a reading. Cartoons, on the other hand, started with a storyboard, a real board filled with rows of cards with sketches. Dialogue was made to fit the action.

    Effects-heavy movies require major preplanning. (A Star Wars movie is "three years of pre-production, six months of principal photography, three years of post-production", says one of the participants.) Bringing all the pieces together is a huge logistic job, and improvisation runs the costs through the roof. So directors who get it right on the storyboard, check it out with pre-visualization, and build the movie as designed are favored in Hollywood. I know one successful live-action director who came from stop-motion animation, the most pre-planned of all forms.

    This style of production favors short shots, which are assembled in post-production. Action scenes are assembled one bit at a time, pacing can be adjusted in post, and dialogue is re-added using automated dialogue replacement. But that only drives shot lengths down to the 3-5 second range. Below that, it's forced pacing.

  • See, for example, David Mamet's 'On Directing' if you don't understand why.

    In fact, one of the biggest problems with CGI is that it's often used in long shots which couldn't possibly be filmed without it, and therefore it's insanely, blatantly, in-your-face screaming 'this was created in a computer, none of this ever happened, tremble in awe at my l33t CGI budget!'

  • One must mention Russian Ark (2002), which is an entire movie done in one 96-minute take.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Ark [wikipedia.org]

    A.
    (who didn't particularly like the movie)

  • by DMUTPeregrine (612791) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @01:15PM (#34257256) Journal
    Most Bruce Lee films do this. The fights are just videos of him acting out a fight. Most other martial arts films/shows love to flip from viewpoint to viewpoint for every technique, so you can't tell what's going on. As a martial artist you can actually learn some nice techniques from watching Lee that you can't from other films. Frenetic short takes just hide the action.
  • mentioning Hitchcock's The Rope (2 long takes, stitched up as only one) nor Altman's The Player's 7-min opening shot.

    nothing much required to pose as a pundit these days.... poseur being the operative term.

  • Out of the billions of people on Earth, only a tiny fraction make movies. Of that tiny fraction, only a tiny fraction make movies. Of that tiny fraction, only a tiny fraction make movies that are seen by a lot of people. Great creativity among that tiny fraction out of a tiny fraction is rare. On top of that, many moviemakers are constrained by pre-existing idioms (largely because of audience expectation--what sells). Lastly, movies are still a very new medium. Only in the last few years has the techn

  • How about instead of coming up with some new bullshit gimmick to carry your movie, you just make a good movie, and then use whatever cinematic techniques will best enhance a given part of the movie.

    Although I will say there are 2 camera techniques I can't stand. Shaky cam and low FPS in action movies. To me, neither of these "enhance" the action, or make it more "frantic". I have 20/20 vision and visual acuity honed by years of playing video games and all they do is make it so I can't tell what the fuck is

  • After the opening scene in the Discovery, Frank can be seen eating while Dave enters from the inner core and walks over to get his own dinner. 15 seconds max.

    Not a long shot? Watch it carefully.

    Remember that the Discovery interior is a large cylinder that rotates to allow the walker to remain at the bottom of the ring. That means that while Dave is walking over to Frank, Frank is hanging from the ceiling.

    There's a bit of a fake because they switch shots when Dave passes under the center. After that you can

  • Here is the link. [youtube.com]

    I'm really surprised this didn't make the list. Not only is it a brilliant and amazing shot, it is a total tearjerker in one of the best movies I've ever seen.

  • Russian Ark [wikipedia.org] was a whole movie shot in a single shot.

  • As a film editor (Score:5, Informative)

    by DreadPiratePizz (803402) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @02:24PM (#34258642)
    As a union film editor currently working in Hollywood on independent features, I would like to weigh in on this issue.

    There is no single answer to any of this. Computer generated effects are not bad. Quick cuts are not bad. Long takes are not bad. Handheld is not bad. None of these techniques are bad in and of themselves. They become bad when they are used inappropriately.

    When cutting a scene I ask myself what is trying to be conveyed in that scene. Let's say the character is sad, and we want the audience to know that. My job then becomes finding the best way to show that. It could mean using a close up to show them crying. It could mean using a locked off wide shot to show them surrounded by a lonely environment. There's never a single best answer, and that's in part why I enjoy my job so much.

    Likewise when it comes to long takes and special effects, both have their place but both are misused. Again, ask yourself what it is you are trying to convey. If your character is in a fast paced fight in a warehouse, with bad guys all around from above and below coming at him from many directions, it's quite possible that quick cuts can give you a better sense of danger, as well as actually show the action better. One of the drawbacks to long takes tends to be that you are limited in what you can show. If a bad guy drops in through the glass on the other side of the warehouse, in a long take you'd have to pan the camera, and see that action small in the frame. With a cut, you can easily bring the audience across the warehouse to show this action in a medium shot, then instantly bring them back to the hero's reaction.

    Another issue with long takes is that they tend to follow the actors and show their backs. You're in a hard spot on this, because we're most interested in where the actor is going, not where they've been, but at the same time seeing someone's back is not very intimate and is a bit disconnecting. This is why long takes work best when nobody is really going anywhere, or when the environment itself is the most important thing to show.

    Long takes can be beneficial for action in small spaces, such as a Kung Fu fight or a dance routine. These elements are about physicality and continuity of motion, and being in a small space a long take can easily capture the entirety of that. I love seeing fights with a smoothly flowing camera that preserves the action, just like I love seeing wide shots of musical numbers where there is dancing. All too often, quick cuts are used in these situations to hide things, like the fact that the actor can;t fight or a bad piece of choreography. I think in general any time you use an edit to HIDE something rather than SHOW something, then the quality of your film goes down.

    I see a lot of long takes in some films, which appear to have no motivation other than to be long takes, and that hurts the film just as much as if someone threw in a fury of cuts just to make it exciting. Like all techniques, you've got to be really conscious of the implications of using a long take, and what effect it will have. The worst reason to do it is to do it because it's the new cool.

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