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Old February 4th, 2007, 10:56 AM   #1
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Movie With Static Shots Only?

Hello,

I'm thinking of shooting a short film with only static shots, because static shots require only a tripod and are very compressible on the web or DVD.

Do you think that's even possible? Is zero camera motion a feasible style?

Thanks.
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Old February 4th, 2007, 12:35 PM   #2
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Out of the five films I've made, number 1 is 100% static.

Its completely do-able.

Good luck!
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Old February 4th, 2007, 01:56 PM   #3
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A movie with 100% static shots = A) a slideshow or B) stop-motion

(it's your movie... do whatever you want!!)

:-)
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Old February 4th, 2007, 03:17 PM   #4
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Compression and bandwidth have really improved since the early days of web video. Static shots aren't as necessary as they once were.

That said, you can still use a fixed tripod for your film. Avoid compensating for the fixed positions with zoom. Zoom can look very amateur, unless it's used for a specific reason.

The best recommendation I have is to use multiple positions, short takes and faster edits, where that makes sense. It's harder to get the continuity right, but it makes for a more active result. A very long shot from a static position can become boring. Though, as always, boring might be exactly the mood that you want for a given scene.

A friend of mine recently completed a short film that showed a guy drinking some booze and falling asleep. He used three static shots: a) drinking, b) slouching to the side, and c) asleep. Each was taken from a slightly different position. He used a slow fade between shots. The result was dynamic and effective. It gave us the feeling of time passing, and told that portion of the story effectively, without dialog.

Fixed shots can work really well - and you can still be creative with them.
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Old February 4th, 2007, 03:21 PM   #5
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Wallace and Grommit, all made on still shots, also the corpes' bride.. it not that difficult but it long....long...
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Old February 4th, 2007, 03:24 PM   #6
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Static and Still shots are two different things. I think you have been lost in translation.
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Old February 4th, 2007, 04:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seun Osewa
Do you think that's even possible?
Everything is possible! Shooting static shots is not something new at all. As a matter of fact, it is the oldest form of shooting!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Hodson
Static and Still shots are two different things.
Exactly!

Seun I would say that as a style it is very doable but it seems to me that you may be doing this for the wrong reasons. I mean, the scene (or the film/video concept) calls for the way it should be shot. Not the delivery medium!

Finally, I don't know about the web but DVDs are used to distribute all sorts of movies without any serious compressions issues.
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Old February 5th, 2007, 11:04 AM   #8
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You need to check out the movies of Yasujiro Ozu. from the fifites onwards he hardly moved the camera in any of his films.

For DVD it's irrelevant, but for web distribution you're right, it will make the movies far easier to compress.
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Old February 5th, 2007, 12:55 PM   #9
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Clerks by Kevin Smith is an example of a purely locked off movie.
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Old February 5th, 2007, 02:28 PM   #10
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Clerks by Kevin Smith is an example of a purely locked off movie.
he he...

I LOVE this movie!
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Old February 5th, 2007, 02:50 PM   #11
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Thanks, guys. I guess it can be done.

My reason for considering this is that I don't want to have to mess around with dollies, wheelchairs, steadycams, etc during the production of my first movie - my Velbon tripod isn't very fluid. I'd like to be able to concentrate on the basics. I'd also like to narrow my choices a bit to save time.

I guess I can also use occasional tripod pans when absolutely necessary. About avoiding zooms - I completely agree.

Clerks is the best low-budget movie so far, right? Guess it's all in the script.
Also checking out Yasujiro Ozu.
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Old February 7th, 2007, 11:16 AM   #12
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Only speculating here, but if you think Clerks is the best low budget movie ever, Ozu might not be your thing - though there is a running gag about diarrhoea in Good Morning. Or was it a gag about running diarrhoea?
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Old February 7th, 2007, 12:16 PM   #13
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So Seun,

What is the subject or genre of your film? I think that this will make a big difference on how effective the static camera approach will work.

For instance, a really dry comedy like Napolean Dynamite doesn't need much camera movement. Nor does a tense, cold drama. An epic style really needs a sweeping feel though. (Not that indies typically do epics.)

I would envision a director working with static shots to ask the actors to play their roles and deliver their lines in a more detached way to compliment the static shooting style. When I picture people acting emotionally and swinging their arms around, but the camera just sitting there, it feels like a mismatch.

Limited pans that follow the actors could be effective - especially if your shots are tight. (And I do recommend tighter shots. Wide static shots of actors tend to look "stagy" like a high school play. When we participated in the 48-hour film project, we rented a nice tripod for $20 or so. It was worth it for being able to follow the movement without drawing attention to the camera.

It's almost like, if you're doing a piece with a static camera, be prepared to ditch your previous plans. Write a script with a style that excels with a static camera.
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Old February 7th, 2007, 12:36 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst
What is the subject or genre of your film? ... For instance, a really dry comedy like Napolean Dynamite doesn't need much camera movement.
Napoleon Dynamite is an excellent example, but I was thinking about early Kubrick. That man knew how to frame static shots.
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Old February 8th, 2007, 12:13 PM   #15
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I believe it's more what the movie calls for. I did a short with ALL tripod shots, no pans; but then I also have done a short with all hand-held camera.

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