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Awake In The Dark
What you're watching these days on the Big Screen and the Small Screen.

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Old January 17th, 2005, 07:43 PM   #1
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Shots that make you take note?

I was thinking over some of my favourite shots that appear in cinema/video and thought it would make a good discussion here.

Are there any particular shots that have made a lasting impression in your mind? when was the last time you left the cinema trying to work out how a shot was made or an effect was applied in post?

Basically memorable shots that just left you impressed or have left a lasting impression on cinema in general.

an example would be the Hitchcock "Vertigo Shot".
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Old January 17th, 2005, 10:15 PM   #2
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These days very few shots really catch my attention mainly because it's become nearly impossible to determine if I'm seeing the product of cinematography skills or just computer techies playing with digital effects.

But, indeed, there are many scenes and shots in the nearly bygone era of true cinematography that have made me gasp and wonder. The famous "Hitchcock dolly" shot, where the main subject retains his/her size in the frame while the background's field of view changes, is certainly one. Having learned just what a complex practical maneuver this shot really is has given me an even deeper appreciation of seeing it in older films.

These days shot selection, timing, and composition are the factors that generally grab me on mainly an aesthetic basis, rather than technicals. The one that comes immediately to mind is near the end of the Coen brothers' "Fargo". It's a long shot of that lone squad car coming towards the camera in a white field of snow. Coupled with the violin music it conveys such a deep feeling of story conclusion and sadness at the pointlessness of greed. I look forward to it each time I see Fargo.
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Old January 18th, 2005, 05:20 AM   #3
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It was I Robot, about halfway thru. Will Smith was up high, in the computor core, and robots were flying at him from everywhere. The camera seems to circle him vertically. I wasn't sure if it was effects, or a fancy crane setup.
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Old January 18th, 2005, 01:10 PM   #4
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Lord of the Rings: Fellowship Of the Ring. Near the end in the forest, as Boromir is getting wasted, he calls for help. Everyone runs to him, including Urak Hai :) The camera is low as people start running (Downhill too) and it moves up into the air as it keeps point downwards to the action, and then slightly snakes through the trees. I loved that shot.

Panic Room. I assume a lot of it was CGI , so doesn't get on my "best" list, but I like how there are several shots that move through cup handles, and bannnister railings. All seemlessly.

Just two I could remember off hand.

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Old January 18th, 2005, 01:17 PM   #5
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CONTACT. You see the main character as a little girl run thru the house, up the stairs (the camera is ahead of her...steadyi-cam that she is "chasing"). She runs down the hall and into the bathroom, then opens the medicine cabinet...and the image (which has been one long shot) we realize is from the mirror. As in, when the cabinet opens, it's as if the camera is looking at the cabinet and now we see the medicines inside and the girl grabs something, then the camera swings to follow her as she exits.

I know it was CG...but it was good.

The opening shot of TOUCH OF EVIL was very good. One long shot. As was the one in THE PLAYER. And THE BIRDCAGE had a helicopter shot from over the ocean as it raced towards the shore, then the camera slows, and dips, and is suddenly on the street walking thru the crowd and into the dance club. One long shot.

I still wonder about that one.
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Old January 18th, 2005, 02:10 PM   #6
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Honestly, with about 100 years of film and video history behind us, and the new freedoms the digital effects offer, there seems to be little going on in the world of traditional in-camera shots that seems particularly revolutionary.

The early (pre-Matrix) film based "dead-time", in-camera shots were really cool. Nothing else current, comes to mind that doesn't involve digital effects. Looking back, I'm really impressed by the extent and quality of visual effects used in Gone With the Wind and Citizen Kane.

What seems to catch my eye the most these days are "invisible digital effects" like the ones mentioned above. (the Contact cabinet, the opening shot of Panic Room where the camera passes between rungs in the staircase railing, etc.) These novel shots that would be totally invisible without knowing the limitations of the physical equipment being used are the ones that "turn my head" the most. :)
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Old January 18th, 2005, 04:42 PM   #7
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THE TINGLER with Vincent Price. A B&W film with one color scene: A white bathtub with red blood in it; a dying hand slowly rising...

The overall effect is not scary today, but it has a bizarre "Orson Welles" look to it.
Also, all the long shots in THE SHINING following the kid through the hotel hallways on his Big Wheel. Ah, Kubrick.
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Old January 18th, 2005, 08:57 PM   #8
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Shane: "The Birdcage" shot was pretty impressive at the time, but with the increased sophistication of CGI it's fairly easy now to spot the composite. It consisted of three shots; in part one, a helicopter moves across the water and across the beach, approaching the building with the nightclub in it. At this point the image morphs/dissolves into a Steadicam shot on top of a Titan crane (you can see the people on the ground change entirely) which booms down, and the operator steps off and walks across Collins Ave. to the club. As he approaches the front door, the third shot is matted into the glass front doors (the tracking is a little bit off, which is the giveaway). This third shot is a Steadicam move through the club which was built on stage.

That Steadicam shot from Contact was brilliant in design, execution and integration into the film. And a total bitch to operate, incidentally.

And finally, as Rob pointed out--the Big Wheel sequence from "The Shining" is truly legendary. As much as I admire the shot itself (and it was, actually, the genesis of my now 25-year relationship with the Steadicam!), the sound design alone still blows me away; how the muffled whirr of the Big Wheel on the carpet gives way to the unmistakeable sound of hard plastic wheels on hardwood floor, and back again, as the camera glides silently behind like a spector.
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Old January 20th, 2005, 04:17 PM   #9
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I'm a sucker for extended dynamic shots...

- The intro to "The Player" is simply astounding...what is it, like 12 minutes?
- The intro to "Boogey-Nights" going from the outside high boom shot to wasit height at the table (guessing a steadicam operator on a crane?)
- "The Royal Tenenbaums" toward the end, the tracking shot with the firetruck, and Bill Murray popping in and out the whole time.
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Old January 20th, 2005, 05:01 PM   #10
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Yes, Charles...the Birdcage was impressive for the time (i only saw it once and didn't catch the transition). And I figured that the Contact scene was a doozie. You steadicam guy pull off some amazing feats...all with that heavy rig attached.

And THE SHINING. Yes, the audio did make that series of shots just amazing.

Sound is so important...few people realize that.
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Old January 20th, 2005, 11:02 PM   #11
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The most memorable, lasting impression every made on me by a film was the final scene of Bonnie and Clyde (Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway).

The machine gun fire of the feds seems to go on forever and you see the two of them flailing inside as the car is riddled with bullet holes. After it all stops, the silence is almost deafening. I could literally sense the smell of death in the air at that moment. It sent chills up and down my spine.

As a side note, a local indoor gun range had a Thompson machine gun you could rent for $75 plus ammo. I had to do it once because of the afore mentioned movie. Although they only had 25 round clips and not the 75 round drum, you still got the effect. Two pulls of the trigger emptied a 25 round clip before you could stop. What a rush.

Just my input,

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Old January 21st, 2005, 06:53 AM   #12
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The steadicam shots in Shaun Of The Dead got my attention. Absolutely brilliant.

Also, Last Orders staring Michael Caine, Bob Hoskins, and David Hemmings got my attention too because it looked to me as if 90% of the film was shot on a steadicam.
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Old January 22nd, 2005, 08:00 AM   #13
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Opening tracking shot of Orson Welles's Touch of Evil--
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Old January 22nd, 2005, 09:42 AM   #14
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Ahhh... the tracking shots in Kane's childhood scene, going from the kitchen into the living room, through the window, to oudoors
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Old January 22nd, 2005, 03:51 PM   #15
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I loved the opening shot of A Clockwork Orange too.
It just holds the close-up from Alex watching right to the audience for maybe a minute, even more maybe, and you only hear that superb strange and a little bit threatening music, and slowly the cam makes a TRAVEL BACK and you see the strange milkbar, and then you finally hear Alex's voice.

Loved the shot.
I love many shots from Steven Spielberg and Sergio Leone too, but this shot from Kubrick is a nominee if I would hold a contest: best opening shots ever.
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