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Old January 9th, 2009, 11:46 AM   #1
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Landscape movies?

When I was younger it seemed like imax films were very light on narration. Or at the very least they weren't about a scientist, a teenager, and a film director discovering/talking us through every thing we see.
But back then I noticed a lot of people falling asleep in the theaters, it's understandably difficult to just watch straight visuals. The only good example of a successful film like that I can think of is Baraka.
What do people think is the most simplified structure of a landscape film someone could get away with? You could always turn the sound off of your Planet Earth DVD, but it was not designed to be silent. Could you sit through tons of landscapes without information or a voice talking you through it?
I ask because I have shot tons of landscapes and I'd like to see them together in one video, in a way that another human being besides myself could actually watch.
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Old January 9th, 2009, 12:47 PM   #2
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I think you need to consider shorts to keep interest- maybe no more than three minutes. The shorts would center around a theme, and idea or an area or location. You could pack several shorts on a DVD, if you want to go that way.

This film was done with that idea. I am not saying its great, but it gives an idea of what I mean. I have have a thousand looks:

YouTube - Bodega Bay

Steve Dempsey is a master at this see his work in Exposure room:

A Beautiful Ending By Steven Dempsey On ExposureRoom

Dempsey's Pine Lake Films is here:
Chris J. Barcellos
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Old January 9th, 2009, 05:19 PM   #3
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Landscape films short on narration are not for everybody, but I certainly like them. Have you ever watched Sunrise Earth on Discovery? It's an hour of nothing but wildlife-studded landscapes and ambient sound, no music, no voiceovers. here is a link:

Sunrise Earth : Discovery HD Theater

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Old January 9th, 2009, 05:46 PM   #4
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Once you begin to add one shot to another, you're telling a story. So it's important to have a 'story' or theme in mind.

Sure, you can do it without audible narration, but to keep the viewers interest, there has to be some 'movement' forward in the idea. (Gone are the days when people will sit and watch a locked down shot of the Empire State Building. Or, maybe not...)

So what you're proposing is calling on some of the highest skills of editing - especially 'montage' editing. The story that emerges from the juxtaposition of one sequence against the other.

Music can help tie it together, or set an underlying pace/rythm, but its not always necessary.

Have fun!
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Old January 10th, 2009, 04:53 PM   #5
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Aric, I believe an early lesson on this forum from Chris Barcellos helped me figure this out years ago. I can't find his brief clip but the subject was a close up of water flowing gently over stones in a tidal pool. [It was warm and sunny and I only missed the gurgle of the water ... Chris explained that the dominant sound at the scene was not water but the hum of flies that were trying to taste his blood ... ]

To recall as I do the scene he presented still delights me ... Chris's Bodega Bay uses the same method, at long distance. And he mainly uses rock-steady cam on tripod. My instinct before then was to pan and zoom left, right & centre ...

IMO Chris' skill is to find and present "interaction" between aspects or forces of nature. I would be wary of the term landscape because it sounds pretty stationery ... but if you have clips of cloud-shadow moving across mountainside I'd enjoy that and any other scenes of natural interaction you have from out there.
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Old January 16th, 2009, 07:34 AM   #6
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Interesting topic to me since I'm exploring this genre myself. My ADD won't let me sit still long enough to stalk wildlife, especially when it's -29F outside like it is as I write this. Consequently, I've been trying to convey the majesty and beauty of New Hampshire's White Mountains whilst trying to convey something more than is captured by the lens.

I think telling a story through juxtaposition of shots can be key to most segments and finding a natural interaction between elements of nature can make for good shots. Like Brendan, my first inclination was to pan and zoom my brains out, thinking it would unwrap this world for the viewer or somehow pull them into the scene. In most cases, I find that to be completely wrong. But on occasion it can work.

After a couple of years of living up here and developing pieces around nature, I'm still trying to crack the code on all of this. What I have settled on is that finding the shot is key and the only way to do that is to get out there and shoot anything that might be interesting. I generally don't know which shots are gems and which are dross until I'm back in the studio.

While I really like to let the shot lead the story and pace of a piece, sometimes I need to make something with a lot of energy like this. It's probably the polar opposite of "Sunrise Earth" but I think it contains some elements people have discussed here, and another way of dealing with nature footage. One colored by my ADD.
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