Monday, February 9, 2009

Shaky cam and frequent cuts

I was watching the DVD that came with the first studio album by Rodrigo y Gabriela. It had a few live performances on it, and I was interested in watching how they make the magic happen. Instead I got a performance of two musicians that jumped from left to right, and up and down on my camera. The actual musicians where just sitting there, but the cameramen thought it necessary to make the camera look like they where trying to film while driving down a bumpy road. The editors decided that the shake wasn't enough. It was also necessary to not allow one camera to have more than one second of screen time. This may be ideal if you find epileptic seizures to be hip, or you just didn't actually want to watch them play live, but for anyone who actually cared to see an amazing performance caught on video, it really destroys everything.
It seems that cutting and shaking all the time is the big rage. I ran across this problem while watching the Transformers movie. A fight between two giant robots in a large city seems like something that would be hard to mess up. You really couldn't watch them fight though. It was just a bunch of shaky footage. You couldn't really tell what was going on. There was no action. It looked more like an excuse to not hire a real fight choreographer, than a means to produce a bad-ass movie.
For true genius one should defer to the fight between King Kong and the T-Rex. The two monsters take at each other with the skill of two contestants in an ultimate fighting match. The camera moves only when necessary to give the viewer a close up on the action, not as an excuse to hide the fact that there is no real action going on. Everything about this epic battle stands as a model for all moves that includes a fight against two fictional giants.
As a consumer of art and media I appreciate when my intellect to be respected. If I wanted shaky cams where it was impossible tell what was happening I'd watch the worst rated videos on youtube.