December 24th, 2009


Filmmaking with JJ

So, I got the new Star Trek movie in the mail, and my mom - the old school Trek fan that she is - and I decided to watch it again. My brother pooled his money and owed gifts this past Black Friday to get a new HDTV, so after tinkering for ten minutes or so, got to see it large and shiny. (much better than my tiny mac screen)

I'm going to ignore the scientific and time-management problems (Sci-fi writers have no sense of scale! Or time! Speed of Plot is not a speed!!) and skip right to watching one of the featuretes.

The movie had a lot of camera-shaking for effect. I didn't really give it much notice until they explained that JJ Abrams likes the shaking to have an organic feel, so he actually shakes the camera to film shaky scenes.

Let me repeat that: JJ Abrams shakes the camera. The one with the film in it. To get the right effect

I don't think I've laughed so hard at movie commentary since Viggo Mortensen in Fellowship of the Ring ("Viiigoo. If I drown, save yourself. I can't swim!") I was literally falling off the couch. Good thing my mom had left. I was basically shouting at the screen: "Decades of development to perfect cameras that won't shake and JJ is grabbing the back of the camera and throttling it!"


Also, there's this one shot where Spock walks onto the lift, the camera zooms in close to him and circles around him and the lift doors open and he walks out onto the bridge. The first time I saw the film I didn't really notice it, but now....

You see, the bit a single, continuous take. And obviously the lifts don't actually, y'know, lift from one floor to another. So I mulled it over for a few days, and then theorized that they had a green screen behind Spock for when he walked onto the lift and then they closed the doors, pull the screen and he walks out onto the bridge. (This was after my theory that they wheeled the lift from one set to another. But I first realized that would take more time, then I re-watched the sequence slowly on youtube and came up with this idea) Turns out, I was right! Hee. Now I'm becoming a film geek - literally, a geek over filming techniques.