Friday, February 14, 2014

Effective and Motivated Camera Movement

Don't lie, we've all made the amateur mistake of moving the camera around just because we can or it looks cool. But here are some examples of great reasons to move the camera effectively.

All three examples come from the "Introducing the Tenenbaums" scene from Wes Anderson's, The Royal Tenenbaums.

First is at time code 0:21. The narrator explains that Royal has lived in this hotel for 22 years. As the narrator speaks more about Royal and his inability to continue paying for his luxurious life, the camera zooms out and then pans down his professional books. When it is explained that he no longer has a career, we end on his room with all his suits hanging to be taken out.

Next is at time code 1:16. Here we have Luke Wilson as Richie Tenenbaum. The camera pans from him to reveal the name of the ship he is on as well as the open sea, before he follows the camera to exit the cabin. Normally the camera follows the character, but here because the camera moves first, it feels like the camera is coercing Richie to move as the narrator coerces the story along.

Finally we come to the last example at time code 1:24. Our introduction to Eli is a strange one. When he first comes into frame, the camera almost immediately begins tracking into him. However, Anderson lets the camera take a very long time to move a very short distance towards Eli. This foreshadows how his storyline will be treated. He is the outsider; he is the one character that is NOT a Tenanbaum but desperately wants to be. The slow push inward reflects how we spend a great deal of time with Eli in the film, but at the end we really don't know much more about him. Sure, we know he's a flaky, drug addicted guy, but so what? We know significantly less about his motivations than the rest of the characters.

I highly encourage watching the whole film and then revisiting this sequence to note how the camera treats the characters.

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