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Long Takes In the Movies, Antidote To CGI?

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the can-i-cut-now dept.

Movies 295

brumgrunt submitted a Den of Geek story about long takes in movies. The premise is that CGI has made so many things possible that it all rings sterile now. Long shots are a better way to be flashy. Personally I absolutely love long takes, and I always elbow my wife excitedly when they happen. She probably hates them now! Some of the examples cited here are probably unfamiliar but maybe that'll just give you an excuse to queue them on Netflix.

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And the opposite (4, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256388)

...is part of why I abandoned TV, and even the news -- I *despise* the tiny little takes, the snappy transitions, the sound bites. I find them deeply unsatisfying, shallow, and in the end not a good use of my time.

Re:And the opposite (2, Interesting)

windcask (1795642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256526)

I *despise* the tiny little takes, the snappy transitions, the sound bites.

Let me say that while I agree with you, there's something to be said for economy in editing. One of the things I hate about many amateur Youtube videos is they have no sense of rhythm or purpose. They dwell on a shot for 10-15 seconds when the focal point only takes five.

While I agree that soundbites in this day and age are often exploited to provide a shallow and one-sided point of view, the interconnectedness of the world allows us to see these as brief summaries and delve into the context more as necessary, ultimately providing us a better use of our time. For example: I heard President Obama comment on his "shellacking" on the radio Thursday before last, basically admitting his defeat. Thanks to my interest in the subject, I was able to look up the speech on Youtube and see the larger scope of what he was talking about, how it will help him mature as a president.

Re:And the opposite (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256668)

I *despise* the tiny little takes, the snappy transitions, the sound bites.

Let me say that while I agree with you, there's something to be said for economy in editing. One of the things I hate about many amateur Youtube videos is they have no sense of rhythm or purpose. They dwell on a shot for 10-15 seconds when the focal point only takes five.

Ha!
Meanwhile one of the things that annoys me about most popular (could be inferred as professional) Youtube videos is that they Dwell on a shot for 5 seconds, then start the next for 5 seconds, then the next, the next, the next, its like a non-stop one liner marathon to try and make you laugh as much as possible. =3 with Ray William Johnson is a prime example of this. While I may find the content funny the delivery method is really quite annoying - but its everywhere!

I think I personally prefer the videos with no Rhythm than the ones whose rhythm is so high strung I need some Riddlin just to keep up.

Re:And the opposite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34257072)

I think I personally prefer the videos with no Rhythm than the ones whose rhythm is so high strung I need some Riddlin just to keep up.

You...need people to ask you riddles so you can keep up with the video? Whatever works for you, I guess. Personally I would find that very distracting.

Re:And the opposite (2, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256738)

Let me say that while I agree with you, there's something to be said for economy in editing.

Sure, you don't want wasted time in film. Long cuts, however, don't need to have wasted time -- especially if the screenplay is tight. (Of course, that also requires the actors to be sharp, and everything else to be done right the first time.)

You could have a feature length film in one cut without any waste. It would take a lot of skill to do it well -- from both the cast and the crew.

Re:And the opposite (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257098)

"Sure, you don't want wasted time in film. Long cuts, however, don't need to have wasted time -- especially if the screenplay is tight. (Of course, that also requires the actors to be sharp, and everything else to be done right the first time.)"

Yep..one of my favorite "Long Shot" movies...is composed ONLY of long shots, edited to try to make the whole movie look like one long shot. That is Alfred Hitchcock's Rope [wikipedia.org] .

It is a classic film...and strangely enough, it was my first exposure to Hitchcock. Definitely different, but entertaining.

I'm a bit surprised they didn't mention this one in the article, it is the long cuts long cut.

Re:And the opposite (3, Insightful)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256850)

One side effect I think of the gratuitous CGI is probably that the shots are kept short to keep your eye from paying too much attention to the CGI. If you examine it in detail, it's obvious that it's computer rendered, and thus not as effective. The quick cuts keep shoving "eye candy" at you without making it stand up to the eye.

I remember the first BluRay I watched was a Spider-man movie that was packed with the BluRay player. The HD detail actually made this movie worse (if possible) because it showed how fake and cartoony it make Spider-man look. It's a total backfire.

The film makers think they are thrilling us, but really it's all kind of shallow and yawn-inducing.

Well (2, Funny)

lavacano201014 (999580) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256394)

I can probably see why people would like this, but it seems like a long shot to me

Re:Well (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256424)

*smack*

Difference between a long shot and a long cut. :P

Though this clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yg8MqjoFvy4 [youtube.com]

Contains both. :) (and is widely regarded as one of the best long cuts in cinematic history)

Re:Well (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256520)

I thought it was a long take.

Oh no, I've gone cross-eyed.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34256562)

That's a painful, headache-inducing way of looking at 3D content.

Re:Well (2, Funny)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256546)

Contains both. :) (and is widely regarded as one of the best long cuts in cinematic history)

tl;dw

Russian Ark (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34256400)

No love for Russian Ark?

Re:Russian Ark (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34256530)

How the fuck do you have a list of classic "long shots" and not include the opening to Rear Window. That and Touch of Evil are required watching for every first year film student for a reason; they're widely regarded as the two greatest shots in the history of filmmaking.

Re:Russian Ark (1)

morari (1080535) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256560)

Or the entirety of Rope? I mean, so long as we're on the subject of Hitchcock and long takes.

Re:Russian Ark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34256924)

What does Rear Window have to do with Russian Ark? Oh, wait... absolutely nothing. Looks like someone is too dumb to start their own thread.

Re:Russian Ark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34256534)

Not to mention the entire damned oeuvre of Tarkovsky, especially Offret Sacrificatio with its opening 10 minute take of a bicycle and shorter closing long take.

Re:Russian Ark (1)

frogzilla (1229188) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256542)

I'll vote for it. It's hard to imagine a longer "take" or "shot", whichever is correct.

Re:Russian Ark (1)

microcars (708223) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256544)

here is some love. mod parent up!
Hour and a Half with hundreds and hundreds of people.
watching the "making of" extra on the DVD is great. The steadicam operator almost collapsed during the final ballroom dance scene because he had "hit the wall" and was concerned that if he continued on he would become physically disabled and never work again.
Of course if he had dropped the camera during that scene he would probably never work again for different reasons...

Re:Russian Ark (1)

DuBois (105200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256710)

An entire movie in one take. Loved it!

Re:Russian Ark (1)

spopepro (1302967) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256988)

Russian Ark is my favorite film. It is the ultimate antidote to modern movie ideals, even though there was a fair amount of technology used (cgi enhanced scenes like the storage room, hard tech like the steady cam). All those people, costumes and sets! And only a single night to do it.

use FastCGI; (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256406)

When my .cgi takes too long I just use FastCGI;

Old Boy (1)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256420)

Old Boy [youtube.com] had a great fight scene shot in one take.

Film editors unite! (2, Funny)

BitHive (578094) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256422)

Long takes will only hurt the film editing industry, we need to pass a law limiting the length of any given scene.

Re:Film editors unite! (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256608)

Well it certainly ruined the X-Files episode that was done in one long take, but it worked well for Babylon 5's "Intersections in Real Time"* (approximately 10 minutes per take). Like a filmed play. And no we don't need a law, besides it would be unconstitutional even if one was passed.

*
*trivia: IIRT was supposed to be the season 5 premiere, but the WB/PTEN/TNT mess forced JMS to move the episode forward, in case the show got prematurely canceled. He didn't want to end on the original "Sheridan captured by president Clark" 422 episode.

Re:Film editors unite! (1)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256678)

Whoosh!

Re:Film editors unite! (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256798)

MASH did a pretty impressive long-take episode about a shot up kid who needed a critical procedure in a very limited time. I don't know if it was done in a number of takes, but it was in real time.

Re:Film editors unite! (1)

Java Pimp (98454) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256996)

ER was chock full of those kinds of takes moving from one actor to another walking through the ER to following a gurney into and around a trauma room or even bouncing between multiple traumas.

Rope! (2, Insightful)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256426)

Why more people don't mention Rope when they're talking about their favorite Hitchcock movies, I don't understand. Great movie. And (on topic!) the whole movie is just something like 3(?) takes.

Re:Rope! (2, Informative)

UncleWilly (1128141) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256518)

Rope is great, but reels are about 10 minutes max; so with a 80 minute film it's likely 10-14 long takes

Re:Rope! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34256712)

It is 10 segments long: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rope_(film)#Long_takes

Also, seriously, what is the deal with copy/paste on /. within Google Chrome?

Re:Rope! (3, Informative)

meerling (1487879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257166)

But he used a creative method to "cheat" the limits of his current technology to make continuous scenes much longer than he could record.
If you ever watch it, pay close attention to when the screen is blacked out for a moment by someone with a black jacket (or equivalent black object) is either panned across, or stands in front of the camera. It happens so smoothly it doesn't disturb the flow of the scene at all. In reality that was when they had to stop, change film, and start up again. The 'blackground' is actually a means to hide the jump. Since your view of the rest of the scene is momentarily interrupted, and then continues as if nothing happened, you assume that nothing did happen. Kind of like blinking, but on a larger scale.
Considering his creativity and genius with the far more limited capabilities of his equipment, could you imagine what he'd do with modern gear & software? (Probably not, but I bet it would make Lucas and Spielburg wet themselves.)

Re:Rope! Actor also in Gun Crazy (2, Interesting)

shoor (33382) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257224)

John Dall from "Rope" was in another movie with a famous long take, "Gun Crazy" from 1950. From the wikipedia article on "Gun Crazy":

The bank heist sequence was shot entirely in one long take in Montrose, California, with no one besides the principal actors and people inside the bank alerted to the operation. This one-take shot included the sequence of driving into town to the bank, distracting and then knocking out a patrolman, and making the get-away. This was done by simulating the interior of a sedan with a stretch Cadillac with room enough to mount the camera and a jockey's saddle for the cameraman on a greased two-by-twelve board in the back. Lewis kept it fresh by having the actors improvise their dialogue.

Tony Jaa in The Protector (1)

Rowan_u (859287) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256432)

Tony Jaa [youtube.com] in The Protector. One of the best single shot scene's I've ever seen for sure.

Re:Tony Jaa in The Protector (1)

INeededALogin (771371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256532)

++ I came into this discussion only to proclaim the same exact thing!

Re:Tony Jaa in The Protector (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34257064)

well, its kind of like watching a video game, isnt it? :-D

Re:Tony Jaa in The Protector (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34257066)

That's Clip #4 listed in the article.

CGI was exciting at first (4, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256436)

CGI was exciting when I first saw them adapt it for Babylon 5's spaceships (instead of models) and of course Jurassic Park's dinosaurs. It provided a new means to do things that had been impossible before.

But now it's old hat. Like the space shuttle launches I never watch. (yawn). Let's get back to focusing on the story so that, even if CGI did not exist at all, the movie or show would still be entertaining.

Re:CGI was exciting at first (1)

havokca (1864454) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256732)

And hordes of movie execs suddenly cried out in unison:

but... but... THREE DEE MAN!!! THREE DEE!!

On an unrelated note - I heartily agree with your sentiment. The gimmicks should augment the movie.. they shouldn't be the movie.

The Meaning of Life (1)

boristdog (133725) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256440)

And where's the love for the "Follow me" scene after the very famous and disgusting "Mr Creosote" scene in "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life", huh?

Unfortunately (1)

Krau Ming (1620473) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256444)

long takes require good actors that can actually remember more than two sentences in a row. ie: not Keira Knightley.

Problem Solved (1, Interesting)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256502)

You do the scenes in shorter takes and ensure everyone is standing at their marks at the beggining and ending of every scene, you can touch up the transition frames with CGI.

He missed... (1)

Bottles (1672000) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256450)

What?! No Hitchcock's 'Rope'!??!

And no...

[Please insert you list of overlooked films in a tone of outrage here.] ... ?!?!!?!???!

Serenity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34256452)

Just sayin'.

FPS (1)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256462)

Long shots kinda feel like being in a first person shooter.

Re:FPS (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256538)

Which is meant to immerse you.

You should think Long takes make you feel like being "First person"
not necessarily "first person shooter"

The opposite... (1, Troll)

Sooner Boomer (96864) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256468)

I wonder if the opposite, the almost stroboscopic shooting and editing of scenes in contemporary television and cinema, are the cause or the effect of the millisecond attention span of today's ADD-infested viewers?

Re:The opposite... (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256602)

Yeah but you can' really - SQUIRREL!

Re:The opposite... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34256896)

After years of not watching TV, I caught an episode of Robot Chicken at my brother's place, and I have to admit that it kept me from cycling through the channels.

Re:The opposite... (1)

icegreentea (974342) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257188)

Cut lengths just like CGI is a tool. You can use it to achieve great things, or to shoot a pile of crying babies over and over again.

Requiem for a Dream - largely considered a great or at least interesting movie - has music video amounts of cuts. Wikipedia says it has 2000 cuts during its run time.

Long cuts done properly are great. Done wrong, its like sitting through one of those boring presentations where the presenter stands around figitting around for 5 seconds every 30 seconds while trying to remember his points.

Just because fast cuts are overused today, does not mean they don't have their place. Just like CGI.

I agree (5, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256480)

I scrolled through his list saying to myself "He better have Children of Men on there" which of course was the very bottom. Now I mean you can like that movie for a lot of reasons but one of the things that I Really like about it is the fact that they do the Long Takes and execute them well.

It creates a greater sense of immersion - when the camera cuts from scene to scene too often - I don't feel like I'm in one place and subconsciously get jarred and reminded that I'm watching people acting out a scene. With a long shot that follows the actors around or pans to each character instead of cutting to each character - I feel like I'm actually standing there, as a passive observer, watching these things unfold.

Now - when I see a long take in a movie, I feel like I can enjoy the movie more itself in that I feel more immersed in the story, but reflecting upon it I also admire the difficulty directors and Actors have with such scenes. Especially when you've got a bunch of explosive rigs and dollys and whatnots all lined up - and getting extras to do what they're told... These kinds of shots aren't the kind that you can just say "Cut! Try it again from the top!" - you have to get it just about right the first time to film.

As a side note, the opening scene to Children of Men, after watching some of the bonus content on the DvD it looks like Clive Owen's character was meant to grab his coffee and then turn and run for cover, but in the actual film he is so jarred that he spills it - I have always wondered if that was a last second change or decision - or if that was just a nice side effect of only getting 1 take on film.

Re:I agree (1)

ADRA (37398) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257108)

I never really noticed the one take in children until the really really long one ay the end of the movie when they were walking behind Clive with the steady cam that gets blood squirted on it. That was one really long, and crazy choreographed scene which seems absolutely improbable to accomplish. That said, I think the idea is that you don't pick up on the effect and just have it appear as a piece of the movie. If you notice a filming technique during the (first) viewing, you may be very perceptive, or maybe its a flaw . Sometimes directors will use over emphasis on film techniques to drive home a point, or emotion (eg. The walking dead and Half-life 2 both have over emphasized blinding light when the protagonists first stepping into the light).

Henry V (4, Interesting)

hedronist (233240) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256490)

Let's go for the really long takes.

In Kenneth Branaugh's Henry V [imdb.com] there is one of the most amazing tracking shots ever filmed. It happens after the battle and starts when Henry picks up the dead boy. The next 5+ minutes are of him carrying the boy through the blood and gore of Agincourt to the soaring sounds of the Kyrie Eleison. It gives me chills just to think of it.

Re:Henry V (2, Informative)

ThisIsForReal (897233) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256734)

Jim Emmerson, who runs a blog that's tied in with Roger Ebert's site, has written extensively about long shots. Here's one of his blog entries that highlights some real cinematic gems:

Scanner Blog [suntimes.com]

Re:Henry V (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256858)

It's actually my favorite cinematic interpretation of Shakespeare's work (along with Ian McKellen's take on Richard III). Henry V is an incredible film and I remember that shot as well.

Re:Henry V (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34257010)

With me personally being a film snob( really not hard these days...), the long take is what will save Cinema, IMO.

Of the more recent films, long takes from Children of Men(brilliant), and Four Rooms (dark/light comedy) really stand out in my mind. There are others, but with those 2 films, I can recall the scenes automatically.

Re:Henry V (1)

BovineSpirit (247170) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257054)

Another great long take, and a nice (almost) recursive joke, is the opening to Robert Altman's The Player. The shot moves around a film lot in Hollywood occasionally focusing on two guys walking to work discussing great long takes in movie openings.

CGI isn't the problem, the stories are (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256550)

The effects and long takes won't save a movie from being bad. Only a good story line, plot and acting will save a movie from being bad.
Just think how awesome Episode1 TPM could have been if the story and acting were excellent.

Re:CGI isn't the problem, the stories are (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256814)

I don't know about that.
Clash of the Titans 3as bad, but I can watch that movie just for the effects. The same goes for many of the original Sinbad movies.

TPM was awesome.

Re:CGI isn't the problem, the stories are (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257106)

I kind of liked TPM minus Annie and Jar Jar, but they were a huge part of the movie so overall it kind of sucked.

Re:CGI isn't the problem, the stories are (1)

ADRA (37398) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257198)

Jar jar was frigging annoying, and I can never block out his hideous infection of every scene the character is in. The rest of the movie was mostly good baring the making of Anakin's character just a little too perfect and the eventual blending of actors and ages between ep1->ep2. Having Anakin's character add quite a few actor years and leave Padme the same was a notable and annoying friction.

Impossible camera moves and the like (2, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256564)

One thing CGI and modern technology has allowed for are the impossible camera moves. Yes, it's impressive to zoom in on a flying aircraft and right through the glass into the interior. It's impressive to follow a bomb dropping from the plane until it goes down the stack of a battleship or fly down Orthanc into the flaming pits below it. But these impossible shots draw attention to their artificiality by being so impossible. I'll give Lord of the Rings a pass on some of the more extreme camera stuff because the CGI was so impressively integrated but I did wonder how the whole thing would have looked if it was filmed in a more deliberately like an old Hollywood sword and sandals epic, acting like a real camera was involved and just happening to sprinkle in all the CGI monsters.

Michael Bay/Borne Trilogy/Lucaswank modern cinema becomes an exercise in bad storytelling. It's impossible to follow the action, impossible to realize what you're even seeing, and the overwhelming amount of CGI bling ruins the impact of each individual shot. I really have to agree with the Red Letter Media critique of the Star Wars prequels. (the 90 minute long reviews with the serial killer). He points out how the Lucas team was impressed with how much crap they managed to shove into a scene but lost sight of trying to tell an actual story.

The early silent films played out a lot like cartoon shorts, trying to use pictures to tell a simple story. That sort of thing was picked up by the cartoons in the age of the talkies and through the decades we keep finding people who have relearned the old lesson. You look at the Pixar shorts or some of the stuff making it onto Youtube from animation students and you see people who might be using really high technology but they're making sure they tell a coherent story with characters you identify with and care about.

Your level of stylization within that framework can vary and I've seen some very good films with frantic camerawork but there's no way to use style to make up for a weak story and weak film-making. That seems to be Hollywood's biggest mistake right now.

Re:Impossible camera moves and the like (1)

Rakarra (112805) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256968)

One thing CGI and modern technology has allowed for are the impossible camera moves. Yes, it's impressive to zoom in on a flying aircraft and right through the glass into the interior. It's impressive to follow a bomb dropping from the plane until it goes down the stack of a battleship or fly down Orthanc into the flaming pits below it. But these impossible shots draw attention to their artificiality by being so impossible. I'll give Lord of the Rings a pass on some of the more extreme camera stuff because the CGI was so impressively integrated but I did wonder how the whole thing would have looked if it was filmed in a more deliberately like an old Hollywood sword and sandals epic, acting like a real camera was involved and just happening to sprinkle in all the CGI monsters.

I think one of my favorite recent "impossible shots" was Spielburg's War of the Worlds. What happens after the city is destroyed and your main characters are driving away and need to talk? You have a driving scene with discussion in the car. Okay, but Spielburg thought it wasn't tense enough and looked for a way to ratchet that up, and found that if the entire thing was one long take, the audience was more involved. Instead of cutting to exterior shots, the camera swept around, then back in again to the window. I thought it worked magnificently, though I could see how an inexperienced director could have totally flubbed it.

Not Included (1)

mr_bubb (1171001) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256574)

The final scene in "Big Night." It very quickly became legendary. Great movie.

Disappointing a geek article would omit "Serenity" (4, Interesting)

TofuMatt (1105351) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256580)

Joss Whedon's Serenity [imdb.com] features a nearly ten-minute long scene with no visible cuts (there is technically a seamless dissolve half-way through for technical reasons -- watch the DVD commentary and you'll see what I mean). Whedon didn't do it to show off or grab attention, but actually to make the audience feel safe and trusting after the rapid cuts and scene/flow changes found at the very beginning of the film.

I find rapid cuts annoying and a way to draw the viewer away from a lack of detail or a scene that can't carry itself on the acting/sets/dialog/action alone. I don't seek out long takes though -- like most things in movies: if they're done really well you shouldn't be thinking about them, but rather about the plot.

Re:Disappointing a geek article would omit "Sereni (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256730)

But I think its the only one in that movie - as far as I can recall.

He's talking about movies that actually use it as a feature as much as other movies use CGI.

Do you people really watch movies... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256582)

...just to be impressed by technical tricks? Are you disappointed by Citizen Kane because the clever camera work doesn't jump out at you?

Re:Do you people really watch movies... (1)

mccalli (323026) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256654)

Are you disappointed by Citizen Kane because the clever camera work doesn't jump out at you?

Deathly irony there. Citizen Kane is in part so famous exactly because the clever camera work jumped out at you. It's an effects-based film, with a first-time director showing off various then-new techniques.

Cheers,
Ian

Re:Do you people really watch movies... (1)

SoupGuru (723634) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256708)

No. It's that movie-making has become "cold". There's little humanity in a lot of the blockbusters these days and long takes allow actors and filmmakers to showcase a living, breathing scene. Like in music, technical perfection is uninteresting. The soul is in the little details and mistakes.

Serenity? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256592)

Opening sequence of Serenity [wikipedia.org] ? Technically it's two long sequences match-cut together at the stairwell, but still... Not long enough?

The Player (2, Informative)

MadAhab (40080) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256594)

Any list without the long take that opens The Player is suspect.

Re:The Player (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257040)

Agree completely. Seven minutes 47 seconds. Also GLARINGLY missing is the opening shot from The Magnificent Ambersons. A long crane/motion-control shot long before they existed.

Many long takes are CGI (1)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256634)

The example cited in the story of Avatar is a pretty obvious example. But even in less obvious examples like Children of Men, which had very long and well-done long-takes, at least some of the long takes are done through compositing and CGI. The two, CGI, are not mutually exclusive.

Frankly, I'm afraid that overuse of long takes would just result in another annoying cinematic cliche.

The Passenger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34256652)

The last take of the Antonioni's The Passenger is pretty neat.

You think long takes AREN'T CGI? (4, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256698)

My favorite long take is the Genesis Effect scene in Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn. It's a long zoom toward the Genesis planet and a descent around it, flying between mountain peaks, while it morphs from a lifeless planet to something covered with fractal plant scenery. All in one very long CGI take. This was made at Pixar really long ago when CGI was much more difficult because computers were so much slower. The computer involved was a VAX 780 (I still have the front panel from that VAX in my office) and it ran with the diagnostic command "SET CLOCK FAST" for over a month to do that scene. At one point they realized that they were flying THROUGH a mountain, and they backed up a few frames and had a notch grow in the mountain range as they approached it. It's clearly visible in slow motion - they just didn't have enough time to redo many frames of the scene and it goes by too fast to notice in real time if you don't know about it. Alvy Ray Smith said that he hadn't met George Lucas (who is famously reclusive) and that after seeing the rush of that scene, George knocked on Alvy's office door and said "Good Take!". And that's all the interaction with George that Alvy said he had. But aside from this old and not very realistic looking scene, a lot of modern long takes are CGI, and you can't tell!

Re:You think long takes AREN'T CGI? (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256822)

One of the best Star Trek movies ever. And we will never forget.... http://www.khaaan.com/ [khaaan.com]

Re:You think long takes AREN'T CGI? (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257112)

Precisely. In fact, showy long takes are a poster child for CGI in cinema, since they're so difficult to film. It can be much easier and cheaper to splice together a ton of footage than to spend days on set, with dozens of people trying to make a shot work. Just because it's not flying robots, doesn't mean it's not CGI.

Are you sure ... (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256700)

... that they really are single long takes?

Back in the old days, long takes were faked by splicing shorter ones together where the camera 'accidentally' flared when passing the sun or another bright light source. Or when a close in pedestrian (out of focus) briefly passed in front of the camera. There are a few instances where the cut was made between live scenes and models or CGI. I recall the director's track on 'Moon' describing just such a transition. And that was a low budget production, so the effect is easily done.

With good morphing s/w and motion controlled cameras, it should be easy to stitch together lots of little clips more or less seamlessly.

It's not the CGI. It's the writing. (1)

afabbro (33948) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256702)

Making good CGI is comparatively easy: you hire talented professionals and let them do the work. With proper art direction and CGI staff, you can literally say "make me some cool CGI" and they will, because people have been doing it for...20ish (I think, or more) years.

To some extent, casting is comparatively easy, because most Hollywood actors are one-trick ponies.

On the other hand, writing a good movie is apparently very difficult. I say that because probably 4 out of 5 movies have lame plots, bad pacing, awful dialog, etc.

Consider the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The first one had a crisp screenplay and for a movie that is 2:23 hours, it really crackles all the way through. Good, memorable lines that we can all quote, lots of dramatic tension, fun comedy, etc. - a very well-written movie. The 2nd and 3rd? Pure junk - awful writing, lame storylines that made no sense, etc. The casting, CGI, etc. are all a constant - it's the writing.

Or the Iron Man movies. The first one was again pure gold: great writing (admittedly, they had help as it was based on the Marvel comic, but still, they had to write a screenplay), good dialogue, a very fun movie. The second one? Nearly a bomb - nonsensical plot, actors that looked bored, everyone walked out saying 'why did they bother?' The difference again is writing.

Good writing + weak CGI can still mean a great film. Weak writing + utterly fantastic CGI always means a terrible film (as the three most recent Star Wars movies attest).

It's the writing, not the CGI.

Technique 1 the antidote to Technique 2? (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256704)

Just fill in the blanks, and you'll realize that it's a silly question. The article could have just said, "people are abusing CGI, please stop". Of course, that wouldn't have been as interesting.

If people start shooting long takes just for the sake of it, It'll probably become just as annoying as CGI.

Closures the antidote to temporary objects? Yeah, sure.

Re:Technique 1 the antidote to Technique 2? (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257196)

Just fill in the blanks, and you'll realize that it's a silly
question. The article could have just said, "people are abusing CGI, please stop".
Of course, that wouldn't have been as interesting.

If people start shooting long takes just for the sake of it, It'll probably become just as annoying as CGI.

Closures the antidote to temporary objects? Yeah, sure.

Long takes aren't quite the same as CGI. The only reason they call attention to themselves is because they're rare in film, but unlike short takes (or nanotakes, like in the idiotic Michael Bay movies), they're an instinctively familiar mode of perception. When you wake up in the morning you begin a long take that ends when you go to sleep. That's what perception as an individual entity is.

Short takes can be powerful because they diverge from that continuous perception in a sort of temporal cubism or a flipbook of Italian Futurist paintings, but in excess they're alienating. Long takes almost can't be used in excess because the more we see them the more natural they seem.

When you go to a play do you have the urge to run around the stage while blinking rapidly? Maybe /. is the wrong place to ask that question...

After the long shot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34256746)

Overdo the long shot and it too will seem like a cheap way to be flashy.
It is not visual style alone that makes a movie, much like is repeated in the posts for every nostalgic video game article.
Movies with long shots or with CGI can be equally unwatchable and boring.

Songs From The Second Floor (1)

phx_zs (1772496) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256756)

Has anyone seen Roy Anderson's "Songs From The Second Floor"? It's a really great Swedish film about the end of the world that consists pretty much entirely of long, mesmerizingly awesome shots. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120263/ [imdb.com]

How stupid is that? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256770)

It's almost pointless. yes, one shot of an enter scene. cool, but so what? I don't care about the editing, I just want a good movie.

Someone could create a piece of animation thats many minute of no editing.

If you watch a long shot, and are think about the long shot, then the director has failed.

The article is just a rant against technology. It nearly reads like a Luddite manifesto. Technology is going to eventual remove stunts, back grounds, voice acting, and maybe even script writing.

I just listen to a documentary where they talk about a guy who created a computer program that can look at all the works of a composer , find a pattern, and then create a NEW work based on that. And it's really good, AND it sounds like something that composer would of created. It does it in 5 minutes. I don't see why that can't eventually happen to ANY piece of art.

Re:How stupid is that? (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257042)

The article is just a rant against technology. It nearly reads like a Luddite manifesto.

Fit's right into the new slashdot, where every article regarding a new technology will be tagged "Donotwant" and "Whatcouldpossiblygowrong". News for Nerds, my arse. Most of the nerds have long since left, and those left behind are living a meager life, scavenging the ruins of what once was great.

Two more (1)

retech (1228598) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256774)

"The Assissination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" has some of the longest shots imaginable. One of the reasons I loved this movie was because of the daring it took to make a movie with such slow pacing about murderers. Each frame is printable and suitable for framing.

"Birth" seems to barely have a script. Slow paced and focused on the acting to such a degree that entire scenes take place in body language and facial expression. It's a treat to see a modern film that takes time to develop a character and let you savour their craft.

Kubric did this so well (1)

RabidMonkey (30447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256776)

I love The Shining, as well as Full Metal Jacket, for this exact reason. Some of the long takes in those movies are beyond impressive. Kubrick had a great vision, and demanded a lot from his actors, but when everything comes together the long takes make you sit up and pay attention.

The long (30 second?) shot of Danny on his big-wheel riding through the empty Overlook in The Shining is one of my favorite scenes in any movie ... the sound of the wheels moving from each surface to the next is perfect, and it is the perfect expression of an empty space. That would have been ruined if there had been cut shots to various angles. Same with the chase through the maze - one long shot of Jack slogging through trying to catch Danny. amazingly, thought the shot is ahead of the character, it's not obvious that a camera and sound crew are running ahead of him.

I love long shots, especially ones that start off standard (say, a person walking down the street) but then after a bit of following them, the shot backs off and up into the air - makes you sit up and go 'how the hell??'

The author is right - CGI doesn't impress anymore, it's just assumed. Long shots show skill and dedication to the craft.

Re:Kubric did this so well (1)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257248)

I love The Shining, as well as Full Metal Jacket, for this exact reason. Some of the long takes in those movies are beyond impressive. Kubrick had a great vision ...

Or 2001 A Space Odyssey. Maybe. 15 minute scenes of space ships maneuvering to classical music. I love it. My wife, not so much. It's the reason she won't let me pick our movies anymore, and I think she was asleep before the end of the opening scene with the monkeys.

Gotta give props... (1)

Nexzus (673421) | more than 3 years ago | (#34256794)

...to the opening tracking shot of Paths of Glory. So much going on.

Paul Thomas Anderson Loves His Stedicam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34256826)

Put some some poor sucker with a stedicam on a crane or dolly and just have them walk off. He uses it to open Boogie Nights, throughout Magnolia and in most of his films.

I suspect a lot of these type shots are directly attributable to the stedicam. Most notable first use was getting Rocky up those museum steps. Not sure how much they would have had to build to get a crane or dolly shot to do the same thing.

As far as antidotes to CGI are concerned, I vote "no." Long takes are just another tool. They don't make a bad film good. And they aren't an antidote.

X-FILES (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34256900)

X-Files did a long take in one of their episodes that took place on a ship at sea. I don't remember the name of the episode, but it was a very very long take. I remember 10 minutes, but I'm almost positive I'm incorrect on that time frame.

Long takes are great to see. There is more thought behind setting them up, such as setting clue and key points in the shot that are referenced later in a film.

Bronson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34257002)

If you're a fan of dark humor and enjoy scenes that get dragged out to the point of discomfort, then please let me suggest you watch "Bronson." It's available on Netflix as well.

It's a reaction to MTV, not CGI. (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257130)

That's not a reaction to CGI, it's a reaction to MTV. Music videos pioneered the quick-cut style of filmmaking. MTV had a big chunk of content at about one cut per second, which was an innovation at the time. That moved into TV production, partly as a way to pick up the pace, and partly as a way to get show length down and commercial time up. Then films started following that trend. By the last James Bond film, "Quantum of Solace", the cut rate had reached the point that action scenes were a bunch of blurry clips. There's a database [cinemetrics.lv] of average shot length in films; "Quantum of Solace" comes in at an average shot length of 1.5 seconds. This is close to the record for big-budget films.

Long tracking shots are usually a gimmick. "The Player" has an 8-minute long take, but it's a visual joke [youtube.com] , and even references long takes. Very few directors use long takes well. "The West Wing" was famous for long tracking shots which advanced the plot effectively. That's rare.

To the extent that CGI has anything to do with this, it's the fact that action-heavy movies are assembled like cartoons. Traditionally, film directors came from the theater. Production started with a script and a group of actors, sitting around a table and doing a reading. Cartoons, on the other hand, started with a storyboard, a real board filled with rows of cards with sketches. Dialogue was made to fit the action.

Effects-heavy movies require major preplanning. (A Star Wars movie is "three years of pre-production, six months of principal photography, three years of post-production", says one of the participants.) Bringing all the pieces together is a huge logistic job, and improvisation runs the costs through the roof. So directors who get it right on the storyboard, check it out with pre-visualization, and build the movie as designed are favored in Hollywood. I know one successful live-action director who came from stop-motion animation, the most pre-planned of all forms.

This style of production favors short shots, which are assembled in post-production. Action scenes are assembled one bit at a time, pacing can be adjusted in post, and dialogue is re-added using automated dialogue replacement. But that only drives shot lengths down to the 3-5 second range. Below that, it's forced pacing.

Re:It's a reaction to MTV, not CGI. (4, Funny)

onkelonkel (560274) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257192)

"three years of pre-production, six months of principal photography, three years of post-production" - don't forget the half hour it took to write all the dialogue.

You have been warned ... after the fact. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257132)

Anyone else noticed this? From the article:

Note that each clip is given a spoiler rating of 1-3, with 1 denoting that, if you haven’t seen the film in question, watching the clip will in no way ruin it for you, 2 meaning that the clip in question may give a few things away but no major plot points, and 3 being a big red flashing Major Spoiler Alert. You have been warned.

Indeed, each film has such a spoiler rating — at the end of the description. To add insult to injury, the first scene has a rating of 3, so at the time you notice that to be warned you have to look at the end first, the damage has already been done.

Kill Bill (1)

BillCable (1464383) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257152)

Hands down my favorite long-take... at the House of Blue Leaves. Just brilliant.

Long shots are for posers and make bad movies... (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257178)

See, for example, David Mamet's 'On Directing' if you don't understand why.

In fact, one of the biggest problems with CGI is that it's often used in long shots which couldn't possibly be filmed without it, and therefore it's insanely, blatantly, in-your-face screaming 'this was created in a computer, none of this ever happened, tremble in awe at my l33t CGI budget!'

Russian Ark (1)

Alrescha (50745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257240)

One must mention Russian Ark (2002), which is an entire movie done in one 96-minute take.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Ark [wikipedia.org]

A.
(who didn't particularly like the movie)

Bruce Lee vs other martial arts movies. (3, Interesting)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 3 years ago | (#34257256)

Most Bruce Lee films do this. The fights are just videos of him acting out a fight. Most other martial arts films/shows love to flip from viewpoint to viewpoint for every technique, so you can't tell what's going on. As a martial artist you can actually learn some nice techniques from watching Lee that you can't from other films. Frenetic short takes just hide the action.
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