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Samuel Berger

So when did overuse of slow motion become a thing?

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The two things you can't escape from in film nowadays are shallow DOF and gratuitous slow-motion shots. Slow motion shots used to be something occasionally used when the popular girls in High school walked down the hallway or when the Six Million Dollar Man was running (so that we knew he was running FAST -- go figure.) Now it's everywhere all the time.

 

When this thing becoming a thing? There are even entire shots where the whole thing was done in slow-motion. Just trying to figure out a timeframe.

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Pretty much happened as it began to be included in every camera out there. I'd go with the same period as the DSLR revolution when they first started to be able to film 60p, and then have that conformed to 24 in post.

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^^ What Adrian said. There's been a correlation between trending camera techniques/aesthetics and how accessible that technology is.

 

What I think is also very important is if influential filmmakers are using said technique. When a director or director of photography utilizes a method really well it's influence tends to trickle throughout other filmmakers. Like Terrence Malick's love use of magic hour, or Lubezki's use of wide angle lenses. So I think trying to understand where trending methods came from is one part looking at accessibility to camera tech, and one part looking at when those methods were beginning to be used on influential pieces.

 

Wax - Southern California

Edited by Maxwell Sims

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In defense of slo mo..for corp shoots anyway.. it can just add a bit of something to otherwise pretty mundane shots.. but agree ..it has taken over from the time lapse shot :)

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Oh I'm not above doing it either. We had some fun on a corp with the FS700 when that was a new thing lol. The client enjoyed it greatly. I think we only had 1 "real time" shot, of a watch in macro, everything else was slow-mo or sped up a bit.

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Well after time lapse on a camera slider.

 

Sometime just a little before awkward gimble work but after millennial neon pink and blue lighting.

 

But also before gratuitous overhead car shots with a drone.

Edited by Brenton Lee

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Slow-motion dates back to Melies at the dawn of the Silent Era, but for when it became over-used, thats a subjective opinion. Kurosawa used slow-motion effectively in parts of Seven Samurai and it was famously used in The Wild Bunch and Bonnie and Clyde. Kubrick did some slow-motion shots in 2001 and Clockwork Orange, so Id have say it was the late 1960s when it became a popular device.

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Legend has it Bruce Lee would be shot slightly over cranked .. for normal speed as he was actually too fast for 24 fps.. fight scenes that is !

Edited by Robin R Probyn

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As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, I believe that the use of slow motion is one of the easiest ways to make a shot look cooler/better. So I believe it has in some instances been used as a substitution where something is lacking. Subject matter/lighting etc.

 

However, I'd like to comment about the other half of your (OP) statement; that shallow depth of field is inescapable. I have been lecturing people for many years now that shallow depth of field is an epidemic. This of course is caused by many factors, but I feel there are a few major violators worth mentioning. Budgets seem to be getting smaller and shoot schedules seem to be getting shorter, which in turn causes DOPs to have less access to lighting equipment and thus, the need to shoot at wider apertures causing shallower depths of field. And secondly, I feel that not as much money is being put into the production design as it used to, and the easiest way to hide that is to hide the background. Fill the frame with a face. Do another close up. We don't have time to dress the set behind them! Just shoot it and blur it out back there! (focus puller rolls eyes) It gives me such a headache to watch an entirely blurry scene where I have no idea where the characters are in relationship to their environment. I thought that was cinematography 101! Sensors are getting larger causing shallower depth of field at equal apertures, making things worse.

 

Newer filmmakers are constantly chasing after the "cinematic look" and when they watch their favorite blockbusters, they see shallow DOF and think to themselves, hey I can do that! And end up choosing shallow DOF for most of their movie because it will make it look more like a movie movie. It turns out that what really makes a cinematic look is the opposite.

 

If you watch older movies, the close ups and the shallow depth of field were used sparingly to emphasize key moments. Deep focus allowed the audience to soak in the movie and get a lot of detail and information out of the frame. Now a days people just want to shove the camera into an A-list celebrities face. Look!! we have Morgan Freeman in our movie!

 

And of course there's a part of me that is ranting about this whole thing, but I always feel the need to stress the importance of not getting sucked into that filmmaking style, because it does a disservice to the audience. As creators our job is to take the audience to another world, another place or time so they can enjoy that 2 hours without distractions. If all they see is close ups and shallow depth of field, it's going to feel like running around while looking through a paper towel tube the whole time.

 

Filmmaker IQ did a good video about deep focus and hyperfocal lengths which explains a lot too:

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Every technique has it's day when it becomes easily available...look at 'zooming in' shots when parfocal cine zoom lenses became affordable in the 70's.

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I stand corrected.

"The first modern film zoom lens, the Pan-Cinor, was designed around 1950 by Roger Cuvillier, a French engineer working for SOM-Berthiot. It had an optical compensation zoom system. In 1956, Pierre Angénieux introduced the mechanical compensation system, enabling precise focus while zooming, in his 17-68mm lens for 16mm released in 1958. The same year a prototype of the 35mm version of the Angénieux 4x zoom, the 35-140mm was first used by cinematographer Roger Fellous for the production of Julie La Rousse. Angénieux received a 1964 technical award from the academy of motion pictures for the design of the 10 to 1 zoom lenses, including the 12-120mm for 16mm film cameras and the 25-250mm for 35mm film cameras."

Edited by rob spence

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As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, I believe that the use of slow motion is one of the easiest ways to make a shot look cooler/better. So I believe it has in some instances been used as a substitution where something is lacking. Subject matter/lighting etc.

 

However, I'd like to comment about the other half of your (OP) statement; that shallow depth of field is inescapable. I have been lecturing people for many years now that shallow depth of field is an epidemic. This of course is caused by many factors, but I feel there are a few major violators worth mentioning. Budgets seem to be getting smaller and shoot schedules seem to be getting shorter, which in turn causes DOPs to have less access to lighting equipment and thus, the need to shoot at wider apertures causing shallower depths of field. And secondly, I feel that not as much money is being put into the production design as it used to, and the easiest way to hide that is to hide the background. Fill the frame with a face. Do another close up. We don't have time to dress the set behind them! Just shoot it and blur it out back there! (focus puller rolls eyes) It gives me such a headache to watch an entirely blurry scene where I have no idea where the characters are in relationship to their environment. I thought that was cinematography 101! Sensors are getting larger causing shallower depth of field at equal apertures, making things worse.

 

Newer filmmakers are constantly chasing after the "cinematic look" and when they watch their favorite blockbusters, they see shallow DOF and think to themselves, hey I can do that! And end up choosing shallow DOF for most of their movie because it will make it look more like a movie movie. It turns out that what really makes a cinematic look is the opposite.

 

If you watch older movies, the close ups and the shallow depth of field were used sparingly to emphasize key moments. Deep focus allowed the audience to soak in the movie and get a lot of detail and information out of the frame. Now a days people just want to shove the camera into an A-list celebrities face. Look!! we have Morgan Freeman in our movie!

 

And of course there's a part of me that is ranting about this whole thing, but I always feel the need to stress the importance of not getting sucked into that filmmaking style, because it does a disservice to the audience. As creators our job is to take the audience to another world, another place or time so they can enjoy that 2 hours without distractions. If all they see is close ups and shallow depth of field, it's going to feel like running around while looking through a paper towel tube the whole time.

 

Filmmaker IQ did a good video about deep focus and hyperfocal lengths which explains a lot too:

 

I am totally with you on the overuse of the CU. Look at the masters of cinema, and you'll see it used quite sparingly. Not only that, it's used only when necessary - to emphasize drama or a turning in the story. Not like now, where a whole show can cut from one CU to the next without ever showing the geography and the blocking. It's lazy filmmaking and lacks craft.

 

However, I can't agree with shallow DoF. This world is so ugly in most public spaces it's an assault on your senses; architecture, ugly signs, ugly colors, dayglo high viz vests, traffic cones, road works, cracked asphalt, bushy brushes etc. Very very rarely do you find a location, exterior or interior, where everything looks good or it has a restrained palette. And with budgets these days, you can't change poop. You might be able to stick a desk lamp into the ugly interior location, a chair, some plants, but thats about it. It's still the same ugly interior. 99 times out of a 100, the wall on location will be white. How on earth do you create magic when the subject you're about to shoot is 4ft away from a white wall? I've asked "can we repaint the walls darker?" on every job since 2008, still hasn't happened. "We can't afford to, because then we need to rent location for 2 extra days and pay scenics or PA's". So that's the reality of todays shooting, even on supposedly big commercials. Building on set - yes, it happens sometimes for very special things or riggy stuff, but never for just a basic interior. Too expensive. In those scenarios, stuck in reality, shallow DoF is your only friend. It's a way of pushing all the detritus and crap out of sight.

 

This is why Frisch's Law of Photography will always be in effect: "Any cinematographer/photographer will inherently seek out the format with the least apparent depth of field as his preferred choice."

 

http://www.cinematography.com/index.php?showtopic=75036&hl=%2Bfrisch%26%2339%3Bs+%2Blaw

 

Watch and see now with Monstro VV sensor and new Alexa LF cameras - they will rule everything in less than a year. Nobody will be shooting standard 35mm format video in a years time professionally. Nobody.

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Adam; you should write a book on your Law of Photography and make millions. DO it with some fun photos, and just one page quotes! (and if you do, I request 10% net.)

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However, I can't agree with shallow DoF.....

 

I can certainly see how being forced into a location has it's drawbacks. And how using shallower depth of field can combat that. And of course these techniques will always be a creative choice, which is empowering to filmmakers everywhere.

 

When I look around the world, my eyes see more things in focus than not. And I like that! Similarly, I enjoy great set design and like seeing when then camera has deep focus I feel more immersed in that world.

 

But of course it's all personal preference!

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Its all fashion.. like clothes.. it just goes around in a circle .. soon it all be deep focus, wide shots, and pro mists.. in 10 years it will go back to SDF and No filters ..and the first people to change the cycle with be innovative geniuses .. wear long forgotten flannel shirts .. have beards.. and eat avocado,s ...

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That gets me a step closer then.
Do you have to be wearing the flannel shirt while you're eating the avocados?

 

 

 

Its preferable.. and one can have,stratigically placed .. a scuffed copy of "On the Road" on the table .. remember to look moody and "intense"..

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Isn't the hipster trend still raised blacks, banjo on the soundtrack and oddball aspect ratios?

 

1.66:1 because its more European innit.

 

And if your going the full hipster, it has to be shot on a clockwork standard 16 bolex, with B & W stock developed at home using a mix of red wine and instant coffee. (actually a thing)

 

Sorry I mean you should shoot on Hi-8 and then film that off a CRT monitor using a 16mm camera, which you later telecine the film to Digi-Beta. That way your footage has the perfect Film/Digital/Analogue-VT look baked into it and its perfect.

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