Cinematography : Help cure seasickness! Give tripods to filmmakers. by Pam Oyka

Pam Oyka

Help cure seasickness! Give tripods to filmmakers.

Film makers, what is going on?

Please tell a simple viewer, why you don't use tripods or steady-cams anymore?

Why wreck perfectly good scenes with shakey camera work. Krikey, I wanted to vom watching The Victim (BBC). I was a victim of motion sickness. That, and most stuff, is really expensive and well done, so it can't just be, there was no budget for something to hold the cam. It has got to be on purpose. What is the point?

Maybe this bollocks effect is some kind of post-prod software trick? Or do you really shake the camera like you've had a few pints and really have to pee? Is it done for the age of streaming, to overwork the compression algos and ratchet up the file size? Do people pay by the MB? If so, that would make sense. Is it to keep the picture moving and twitching to hold the attention of the lizard-brain, like animated GIFs keep cats (especially if they are drunk) batting at the screen, or a laser pointer. Same as we we shake rattles at babies to distract them.

Does anyone actually like this effect? It must be intentional. Please tell me what the rationale is.


Andrew Sobkovich

Thank you for posting this Pam, it would be hard to agree with you more. Would that we could find those Film School "teachers", with no experience in the industry, who espouse the idiocy that this crap adds immediacy and action and intensity to a scene. Vomit inducing is rightly more accurate. I do think we might start seeing less as on set monitors grow in size. The larger the screen the more magnified the horror. The example I usually use is the first 3 Jason Bourne movies. The first, directed by Doug Liman, was a great thriller that was beautifully told. The next two "directed" by Paul Greenglass, went from awful to watch and then utterly unwatchable in theaters. I'm sure it looked vaguely acceptable on the 17" or at largest 24" monitors that were used for video taps at the time but how it would have made it through rushes screening is beyond me.

Sadly my wanting to be able to actually watch the movie and stay in the story is shared by you, but few others. We can only continue to fight this junk.and those who are exponents of creating new and wretched lows in production standards.

On a television special where we were shooting 35mm except for a few sequences that were to have a different look that would be shot in 16mm. My first assistant came to me with the next day's call sheet. She pointed at an item part way down, to be hot in 16mm, and said WTF is this? The sequence was tagged "shakey-cam BS". Wish I had kept that one.

Style was once described as something so awful it had to be changed every few months. This handheld style is well past its sell by date.

Pam Oyka

Andrew Sobkovich whew! Thanks for the explainer, and the admission. I thought I was the only one suffering movie-sickness. Nice to know there are filmmakers who still take the craft seriously. I was under the impression, stylistic crap was there to hide incompetence. Especially camera shake. But it's going on with really expensive productions. I completely agree with WTF - a little attention getting shake in a chase scene, but filming every scene with dialogue (worried the viewer might get bored if there are actually words being spoken) with something twitching, or moving, or losing focus, is absolute bollocks.

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