Jump to content


Photo

Check out this video (not mine). Opinions?

Cinematography editing steadicam sia choreography

  • Please log in to reply
46 replies to this topic

#1 Carlton Rahmani

Carlton Rahmani
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 28 posts
  • Student
  • New Orleans

Posted 10 May 2014 - 09:39 AM

This just-released video by Sia is already being called by some the Best Video of 2014.  And to be sure, it is really good.  The choreography, the lighting. . .and the song isn't bad either.

 

 

 

I'm looking to get others' opinions on how it's shot and edited, though.  There seems to be something a little 'off' with these. 

In my opinion, Beyonce's "Single Ladies" is probably the best exercise in mixing camera movement along with choreography and creative lighting, as well as creative/appropriate editing.  I was stunned when I first saw it, and am challenged/inspired as a photographer (and steadicam and jib operator) by it to this day. 

 

Some might not think comparing the two videos is 'fair', because of various factors like shooting on set v shooting on location, the genres of music, or what the directors were trying to accomplish.  But being that dance and choreography are the main elements in both videos, I think it's fair, if just for example's sake.

 

This video seems to be a little Videography 102:  Get your wides, tights, and mids by cutting; and edit only for continuity of motion.

Asking myself What would I do differently, I don't believe the video has to be a 'one take', but I would make a lot more use out of zoom, and move around a lot more, also trying to keep the dancer in-frame more, particularly on the closer shots.  With editing, maybe there's a few 'rules' that should be broken.  That's all I can say without getting gratuitous. 
 

I want to emphasize that I think this is good video (wouldn't be surprised if it won some awards), but would like some input from some of you in the know.

 


  • 0

#2 Matthew W. Phillips

Matthew W. Phillips
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1792 posts
  • Other

Posted 10 May 2014 - 09:43 AM

That wasn't my cup of tea. The window was blown out, the center framing looked bizarre like an amateur photographer, and the movement made me practically nauseous after awhile. Such is the state of modern Cinematography. 

 

You do realize that "good" is subjective, right?

 

EDIT: I once heard it said that what makes a drummer a good drummer is that he/she can add fills in such a way that it enhances the song without drawing attention to itself. I, personally, believe Cinematography is the same way. Enhance the story without making itself stick out. But I imagine I am in the minority here. As a Director, I have to balance the WHOLE story without letting individuals on set get carried away with "cool" stuff because it isn't about being "cool"...it is about telling a story.


  • 0

#3 Brian Drysdale

Brian Drysdale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5070 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 10 May 2014 - 10:35 AM

I should point out that Kubrick was into centre framing and "atomic windows" were in for while and the moves are tame compared to what Abel Gance got up to in the 1920s . It's all a style decision.


  • 0

#4 Matthew W. Phillips

Matthew W. Phillips
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1792 posts
  • Other

Posted 10 May 2014 - 10:47 AM

I should point out that Kubrick was into centre framing and "atomic windows" were in for while and the moves are tame compared to what Abel Gance got up to in the 1920s . It's all a style decision.

Hence why I said good is subjective.

 

I always hear people talk about Kubrick as though he is the standard by which all are judged. Should we take nutrition advice from him as well?


  • 0

#5 Brian Drysdale

Brian Drysdale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5070 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 10 May 2014 - 11:09 AM

Centre framing is a narrative tool, it works when used in a way that progresses the piece and provides a visual subtext. Placing the subject on either extreme of the frame can also add a visual subtext. It's if a particular framing is correct in the piece that's important.

 

Kubrick has his quirks, but is usually interesting, although not always to everyone's taste if they want the conventional. I wouldn't always follow Kubrick's advice, obsessive characters can create their own obstacles e.g. his fear of flying.


  • 0

#6 Matthew W. Phillips

Matthew W. Phillips
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1792 posts
  • Other

Posted 10 May 2014 - 11:13 AM

Kubrick was interesting and I personally enjoyed The Shining but he is held in esteem that I don't think is in balance with his work when taken as a whole. As far as Directors go, I don't feel he is in the same class as Scorcese, Spielberg, Welles, and people of that ilk. I think he gets a disproportionate amount of respect on this forum because of his dedication to obsessing over Cinematography; that makes sense considering what this forum is about. 


  • 0

#7 Brian Drysdale

Brian Drysdale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5070 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 10 May 2014 - 11:23 AM

To a certain extent Kubrick was a frustrated cinematographer, although I'm not sure too many directors would want to have him as their DP. His films have a cool detachment, which not everyone likes.   


  • 0

#8 Gregg MacPherson

Gregg MacPherson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1880 posts
  • Other
  • New Zealand

Posted 10 May 2014 - 04:56 PM

I really enjoyed that.  Then I had to go see  Beyonce's "Single Ladies" to catch up on the comparison idea.  I think with both of these videos the form suits the idea.  The sense of motion or kinesthesia expresses idea.  Single Ladies is a very simple idea,  "I'm hot,  my bootie is hot,  you shoulda married me".  The forms serving that are relatively simple.

 

Chandelier (dir by Sia) has more idea,  some ambiguity,  complexity and sophistication.  But it feels sort of primitive,  a bit savage.  Which makes it really interesting and attractive.  If it has some mistakes or flaws I don't think they matter.  The girl,  as a young Sia or essence of Sia,  as if self aware,  romping through a series of improvisations from Daryl Hannah's Pris as mannequin in Blade Runner....

 

Chandelier is quite powerful as is and I'm not sure that if it was constructed only of perfect compositions and moves it would be better.   Actually,  a lot of compositions are great.  Have to watch it again to see the moves,  but I think they serve it really well as is.   Actually I could imagine a version of this video with almost no moves at all.

 

Can't not respond to Matthew.   I thought the almost centered frames were ok,  a legitimate part of what made it interesting to me.  She doesn't have to reference Kubrick to do it.   On the nausea thing,  I think she is well safe.  My experience of that was in District 9,  thought I was going to puke very early on and had to leave.


  • 0

#9 Matthew W. Phillips

Matthew W. Phillips
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1792 posts
  • Other

Posted 10 May 2014 - 06:02 PM

inb4 this is considered good framing on this forum...

 

 

bad_Framing.jpg

 

 


  • 1

#10 Gregg MacPherson

Gregg MacPherson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1880 posts
  • Other
  • New Zealand

Posted 10 May 2014 - 06:52 PM

inb4

 

Just help us out with explaining that term.  Is this modern thumb language (txt vocabulary) ? 

 

I meant to add in my previous that I didn't have  a problem with the over exposed window exteriors.  Maybe by the third or fifth viewing I might wonder about some added information through those windows,  but honestly,  as is they are just part of a composition,  and there is so much interesting stuff going on with this environment,  both within and near the frame,  that it didn't affect me at all.  And I quite liked the effect that window light had on the girl's face ECU when she was right in front of it playing with the curtains.

 

If we watch a piece and tick off the boxes for good and bad points we will miss the the thing itself.  It's a unit, a whole,  an experience.  Even after we have attempted to inocently watch a thing,  and are trying to rationalize our experience by deconstruction,  we are at peril of loosing that whole, real thing that we experienced.  I know this adds no real advice on how to proceed,  but this is the start that we actually have IMV (in my view).

 

I think poets and creative writers may have an advantage when it comes to trying to express the values (strata) and nuance of an experience (the experience of watching the film).  Perhaps simply expressing that experience is enough.

 

Failing that,  there's always the faecesbook approach, things can reduce to the simplistic,  the like vs dislike.


  • 1

#11 Matthew W. Phillips

Matthew W. Phillips
  • Sustaining Members
  • 1792 posts
  • Other

Posted 10 May 2014 - 09:30 PM

 

Just help us out with explaining that term.  Is this modern thumb language (txt vocabulary) ? 

 

If we watch a piece and tick off the boxes for good and bad points we will miss the the thing itself.  It's a unit, a whole,  an experience. 

I am sorry. inb4 is a type of net slang for "In before" or, in other words, let me anticipate this before it happens. My picture there was a tongue-in-cheek reference to "let me anticipate what standards cinematography will be lowered to; to the point where this image is considered good framing."

 

I agree with you that breaking a piece of work down to parts can miss the point. The inverse can be true as well in my opinion. Citizen Kane is revered for being one of the greatest, if not the greatest film ever and it has much to check off in its favor. But I never felt that it was a unified picture that became more than the sum of its parts. It had everything great...sound, cinematography, acting...but it was just a display of greatness for greatness sake with no overarching purpose other than the lamenting of some rich dude for his sled.

 

As far as the OPs video, I personally didn't care for it as a whole. I only mentioned what I did to justify my reasons but I assure you, it was the whole that I didn't enjoy; not just some oddball things. But I did qualify my statements with "good is subjective."


  • 0

#12 Gregg MacPherson

Gregg MacPherson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1880 posts
  • Other
  • New Zealand

Posted 10 May 2014 - 09:52 PM

.......Failing that,  there's always the faecesbook approach, things can reduce to the simplistic,  the like vs dislike.

 

 

I thought I could call it on that one,  inventing a humiliating term to direct at facebook,  but a collection of scatalogical folk have already a legitimate facebook page called that.


  • 0

#13 Gregg MacPherson

Gregg MacPherson
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1880 posts
  • Other
  • New Zealand

Posted 10 May 2014 - 10:04 PM

I am sorry. inb4 is a type of net slang for "In before" or, in other words, let me anticipate this before it happens. My picture there was a tongue-in-cheek reference to "let me anticipate what standards cinematography will be lowered to; to the point where this image is considered good framing."

 

 

I don't think Chandelier is going to create a groundswell movement in cinematography standards affecting our sense of good/bad.  The freedom she (through her cinematographer) is using has been well existant for a long time.  MTV has been the errant playground where the rules of cinema have been stretched,  or were at least noticed as undergoing such,  even if the boundary breaking initially began somewhere else.

 

Ideas rule.  Form follows idea,  at least it does here,  and I'm quite happy about that.


Edited by Gregg MacPherson, 10 May 2014 - 10:05 PM.

  • 0

#14 Brian Drysdale

Brian Drysdale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5070 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 11 May 2014 - 02:52 AM

Cinematic framing may the involve use of space, it isn't a static image like a still photograph. The main subject can be filmed in such a way that they aren't followed, but their body or portions of their body are framed in a dynamic way through the movement in a frame composed around their environment or even the sense of movement.

 

I have seen framing similar the example Matthew .has given used in feature films from the 1960s and 70s, although the chin wasn't cropped. I seem to recall one being in scope, although I've forgotten the name of the film.


  • 0

#15 Mark Kenfield

Mark Kenfield
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1051 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Australia/Wherever The Wind Takes Me

Posted 11 May 2014 - 03:00 AM

I really liked the video for the most part, wonderful choreography, that fantastic young dancer, and a good song. Cinematographically, I'm not the biggest fan of the slightly wobbly steadicam look, the considerable amount of buzzed focus, and the overly tight framing that kept losing sight of the choreography - but I think the strength of the performance simply overpowers any minor complaints that cinematography introduces.

 

Which I suppose just reaffirms once-again for me, that content is, and always will be, king.


  • 0

#16 Dom Jaeger

Dom Jaeger
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1599 posts
  • Other
  • Melbourne, Australia

Posted 11 May 2014 - 08:45 PM

Fantastic video I reckon, very emotionally powerful. Worlds away from things like the Beyonce clip which are, at least in terms of intent and emotion, closer to slick advertising for a hair product or something. 

 

I thought the cinematography here was a great match for the choreography and subject matter - a bit disturbing, veering from beautiful to awkward, not quite able to contain the sometimes deranged dance moves. The filming style also gives the choreography the sense of being improvised, as if this is the girl's uninhibited response to the music rather than what I suspect was a very tightly choreographed sequence. The choice of a young girl alone and dancing ferociously in a bleak apartment to a song about adult disfunction and regret adds an extra dimension to the lyrics, the harrowing possibility that the song's 'party girl' protagonist is also a mother. Brilliant stuff and what a fabulous young dancer!


  • 0

#17 James Steven Beverly

James Steven Beverly
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4199 posts
  • Director
  • El Paso, Texas

Posted 11 May 2014 - 11:16 PM

If you think this music video was brillant, thank the choregrapher. I had a ballet scholorship at U.T.E.P. and was a member of a jazz company which I ALSO was on scholorship with. I also taught ballet for a while. The dance moves were a mixture of modern, jazz and ballet and were unlike anything I had ever seen in music video. I was expecting hip-hop but was pleasently suprised. I thought the cinematography was well done, very cinematic with good use of color and ambiance but nothing I hadn'tt seen before in the feature scene although it was great to see that in a music video along with the excellent set dressing which chinched the mood of tne piece. I'm CERTAIN the blown out windows were a concsous choicehwo add tne feeling of isolation by eleminating any other elements outside the room. While I found the cinematogaphy good but not particularly inspirational, what WAS inspirational was the dicotomy between the night like areas of the inner rooms juxtiposed with the brighter yet stilll depressing windowed rooms giving the piece the feel of time passing despite the dancer's continuous movement. THAT was genius. I also think the dancer was older than she appears to be. There's been a trend over the last few years to cultivate that child-like body style in the ballet world for some reason. I don't remember the details but as I recall, it's suppose to be rather unhealthy. As for Kubrick, he deserved every accolade and honor he ever got including the greatest director who ever lived. If you don't believe that, then you simply haven't matured enough in your art to truly aporeciate his genius. That's not to say Welles, Hitchcock, Speilberg, bcott, Scorsese, Coppola, Wylder, Ford or any of the other truly gifted diectors I worship and try to learn from were not great. It simply means Kubick had just enough more to be the greatest.
  • 1

#18 Dom Jaeger

Dom Jaeger
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1599 posts
  • Other
  • Melbourne, Australia

Posted 11 May 2014 - 11:31 PM

I also think the dancer was older than she appears to be. There's been a trend over the last few years to cultivate that child-like body style in the ballet world for some reason. 

 

She's 11!


  • 1

#19 James Steven Beverly

James Steven Beverly
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4199 posts
  • Director
  • El Paso, Texas

Posted 12 May 2014 - 12:07 AM

Oh, BTW, I honestly also had no problem with the framing and composition at all. I felt it worked well and gave tne piece at quality of discord that worked with the overall ambiance they were trying to achieve. It's not the greatest music video I've ever seen (that woild be David Lee Roth-California Girls. Yeah I know but I don't care, WHOA!) But it ain't bad!
  • 0

#20 James Steven Beverly

James Steven Beverly
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 4199 posts
  • Director
  • El Paso, Texas

Posted 12 May 2014 - 12:12 AM

She's 11!

Oh, my mistake. wow, for her age, she's really good. She'll have a great career. I woulda guessed 15 to 17.
  • 0



Technodolly

CineTape

Ritter Battery

Glidecam

Paralinx LLC

Metropolis Post

CineLab

Rig Wheels Passport

FJS International, LLC

Tai Audio

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Visual Products

Opal

Abel Cine

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Wooden Camera

rebotnix Technologies

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Willys Widgets

The Slider

Wooden Camera

Aerial Filmworks

rebotnix Technologies

Visual Products

Ritter Battery

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Metropolis Post

CineTape

Paralinx LLC

Opal

Tai Audio

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Technodolly

Willys Widgets

Rig Wheels Passport

FJS International, LLC

The Slider

Glidecam

CineLab

Abel Cine