The Pictures Don't Move

The Pictures Don't Move vs. Photography

Made For Full Screen

Made For Full Screen Plus

Because on vimeo are many photographers using digital cameras (like Canon 5d MKII) for shooting videos and because of the simlicity of the videos in our group, I asked myself and the group member Eric/hadzinikitas (vimeo.com/ericopavlo) what the differences are between static photography and The Pictures Don't Move (TPDM)?

I would like to take the opportunity for opening the discussion on that topic here.

ERIC says (vimeo.com/groups/thepicturesdontmove/videos/4128232):
"Difference between photography and the picture that don't move is ....the movement I guess, the frame can not move but there is sound and movement in that frame. the photographer has to capture the right moment when with the video when we have the right frame we can wait that something happen. The strange filling I have looking to those static video is that it remind me the camera they put in different place to control people, it seems we are looking to those monitor a little bit voyeur, even perverts."

Made For Full Screen

Made For Full Screen Plus

It is a good point I never thought about. Static video cameras today are mostly surveillance cameras. Waiting for something to happen. Of course this never was the idea for TPDM. But it explains me, where they get their visual power sometimes.

For me the idea was more about the basics of filmmaking. Capturing the world as it is. Like Lumiere's "Workers leaving the factory"
youtube.com/watch?v=HI63PUXnVMw

Moving images on their basics. Pure. And we all know that photography was the base for film. So for me it's very interesting to see, that photography and their technical development now again is one way to improve film/video! This means "back to the roots": film is mostly a visual media.

Type and Sound

Type and Sound

Most people first have to realize that the "moving still" is a difficult genre, and not the "easy Sunday shot"! You cannot just put your digicam there and say "that's it". The shot itself has to have some sort of composition, it has to be a good photo with an extra, and this extra is time. You can tell a story in one shot. I would highly recommend to make a selection on the videos in this group. In my opinion you should have a valid reason to make a clip longer than 30sec …

Yes. I think we need a constraint (›contrainte‹ french), a method for the aesthetics.
Maybe the rules for this group should be more precise?

Made For Full Screen

Made For Full Screen Plus

Thank you for proceeding the discussion! I agree with you only in some points. You totally right how you describe a good shot as "a good photo with an extra". But the "extra" is not only time. For me it's also the sound that of course is just an after effect of time. No time, no sound. But time is not just "something happens" after a while. That could be also expressed in one picture, a photography. Remember the idea of "the decisive moment" from french street photographer Henry Cartier-Bresson. He showed time in one picture. And mostly on a good photo you can "hear" the sound.

So I think while on a photography you can imagine(!) one moment with all hidden elements (sound, color, what will happen next), on our "Pictures that don't move" you can see(!) more than just that. You can see and hear the changing between two or more moments.

Not in all cases. But for example on your movie about the "Easter in Russia":
vimeo.com/groups/thepicturesdontmove/videos/4222161
There are three "moments" or maybe we can call it "plot points". 1. The people are waiting outside. As a viewer I totally don't know what will happen next. 2. The priests are coming out of the curch. There was no hint for me a moment before, to know how they will look like. 3. The crowd is following them. What was a surpise, because the people in the foreground where static the long time of the clip before.
It's all in one shot. And it tells me a lot about eastern in russia (from one point of view!). And that's the idea!

So what about your suggestion to give a time limit for the clips in this group? I did some "one take" movies with exactly one minute lenght. As a concept. Because a video is always just an excerpt of whatever. One minute seemed to me as a perfect unit. And I would propose it as a new rule that the clips here should be at least one minute long. I think you need that time as minimum to "dive" into the sertain situation. But I don't want to have a limit in maximum lenght. This is an open group and not a showcase channel. I'm looking forward to see all the videos people create with this amount of "constraints" we already have. Some will put the changing of many wonderful moments in one shot. The other will show only the change of a special light that take at the end just 2 seconds. And another one will show us a moment where really nothing is happening! Why not?! Take the time you need. But every film need a good motivation, a valid reason in general.

Do I really want to see movies where nothing happens? Yes! That is life. And never "nothing" means "nothing"! There always something happens. We just have to learn to see it (again).

At the end the main idea of this group comes from the feeling to create another point of cinematic view. 1. an opposite to "Hollywood" with it's clear and (time)economic narration. And 2. an opposite to "YouTube" with it's fast and funny and spectacular and "wow, it's amazing!" clips. But that's another story.

Do we need more precisely rules? What the other memebers think?

Type and Sound

Type and Sound

Thanks for the nice summary on my clip! Looks like you liked it. ;)
Concerning the discussion:

Possible points to add:
1. Check: What's your motivation?
2. WE WANT SOUND!

mataikan

mataikan PRO

Lol are there any full feature films with a lock shot all the way?
I want to write a script for one.

Made For Full Screen

Made For Full Screen Plus

Hehe. Nice idea. I don't know any film with a single locked shot.

The most extreme films similiar to that idea that I know are made by american filmmaker James Benning. For example his film "10 skies" is 100 minutes long and shows 10 different pieces of sky, each shot is exactly 10 minutes long. So there are only 10 shots. No movement. It's great! He definitely inspired me a lot.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Benning_(film_director)

Of course Andy Warhol have shot the longest "Picture that don't move" with his 8 hours long film "Empire". It's a static view of the Empire State Building in New York from sunrise to sunset.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empire_(1964_film)

But you maybe think about a fictional film? One shot? Sounds like a theatre play?

mataikan

mataikan PRO

Warhol is definitely not narrative.
I don't so, that could be sound off camera. or perhaps fixed camera - but with zoom

mataikan

mataikan PRO

i would love to make a film - which is episodic , but the camera dolly tracks to side . next episode. then at the end of the series u get the length of the movie!

mataikan

mataikan PRO

like a chinese scroll painting or the Bayeux Tapestry

perhaps this could be a project we could all do : example i have have a person or object in the frame - the frame be be continued. next frame.
A sort of play with moving image with distance, place and space.

Made For Full Screen

Made For Full Screen Plus

sounds interesting. there should be one topic and a predefined lenght. zoom is ok for me. changing focus as well. maybe you start a new thread here with a deeper explanation? would be great. I'm sure we will find some other participators.

B Unis

B Unis

I can't think of a feature (fictional) film that used just one locked-off shot, at least not for the entire film. There have been more than a few directors who have tried to replicate or emulate what Hitchcock did in Rope en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rope_%28film%29 -- namely, the use of very long (4 to 10 minute) continuous camera shots. The camera moved, but in most cases there were no edits between scenes and the scenes were shot continuously, which is freeing in one way and nerve wracking in another, since it meant that a failure late in any take would result in the need for a re-shoot of the entire scene, or at least some tricky re-shooting and editing to mask the edit points.

Blake Whitman

Blake Whitman Staff

Hey Everyone,

I just wanted to say I'm really enjoying this Group and I think this a great conversation. For me, I think that the composition is as important as the subject. For me it is very much about celebrating the ordinary and focusing on it for a substantial amount of time in order to see it in a new way, or in a way you would not normally notice.

But I think it is interesting when you talk about a Warhol film, like his Empire piece. The medium for viewing that sort of piece was an experience; located in a theater or gallery, and you had to both know about it beforehand, and travel to see it. On the internet, videos are consumed in such a different way that an 8 Hour piece on the Empire State would be (besides being probably impossible to put on Vimeo because of its length) acknowledged, but never watched. It almost becomes an even more conceptual piece than it already was. Which has it's merits. But, in order to both appeal to the medium, and to hold a viewers attention, the combination of a symbiotic composition and subject matter are crucial. That coupled with a length that compliments the subject (but I agree, at least 1 minute long) is what I have found to be the most interesting. And I watch a lot of videos :)

Just thought I'd chime in.

baldakino

baldakino

(thanks to MadeForFullScreen I noticed this discussion- excuse me for catching up and repeating some..)

Since about a couple of months or so, I'm a bit more seriously searching around on movies that use little(to none) editing, or camera re-postioning. Initially for a research project (I needed to screen movies with a flat baseline, but not frozen still, nor 'boring', and preferably very varied in kind, which sends you out of the 'moving nature'- bin quite quickly). But along the way I remembered to be ever since interested in these distant, observing position and its variations in cinema. Not just limited to the kind this group focuses around, but clearly related. Examples are quite hard to find... but the kinds you find are revealing of many interesting things. The following is a little spin past documentary, fiction, and experimental cinema I'd like to share. If I get to it, I'll gladly join the discussion on the sharpening of constraints / rules / admissible features; if not later. More interesting first I'd say, is to extend this discussion (since it's text) with some contextual leads to works of others, done before. Nonetheless, to the discussion about what this group should group around I guess we should contribute best audio-visually :-)

So, about leads to examples of fixed-shot cinema then… I wish I could provide a list; perhaps this a call to face that challenge together. A few have been mentioned above anyways.

Indeed you'd find some examples in documentary regions; it is not a big step from photography after all. As discussed before, 'moving photography' ('kine-photography', which leads to 'cinema') is more than slightly changing depicting visuals alone. Perhaps you could make a continuum (with prob. some discrete steps) from a fixed picture (photo), via a fixed camera (movie) to one that follows the subject of choice (moving camera). The in-between positions on this track (which doesn't stop here) are what this vimeo group/thread is largely about I guess. Just talking about the _visual_ modality, that is… If you allow editing, you'll find a lot of fixed-camera, observing shot examples in (modern and classic) documentary film, e.g. starting with the 'city symphonies' of the late twenties (Joris Ivens' 'Rain' (1929, Vertov's 'Man with a Movie Camera' (1929), 'Manhatta' by Sheeler and Strand (1921), Rutttman's 'Berlin' (1927) or earlier registrations by the Lumiére brothers for example), leading later to Reggio's Koyaanisquatsi and the likes. On the IDFA (International Documentary Festival Amsterdam) I often found movies more towards the photographic observing, (while others would be more about social or political themes), but I'd have to dig for names unfortunately… I guess James Benning's movies (of whose I just learned through this group!) fit in this mere experimental tradition too.

BTW, I wouldn't underestimate the role of audio (also discussed above); cinema is essentially a multimodal medium (even when you hear honky-tonk piano over a classic silent movie). I often find my silly fixed shots of something quasi static (a tree; light on some wall) later a lot more powerful with the background noise (wind; kids playing somewhere in a garden) of which I was unaware when shooting, when I was still immersed in the situation. I highly suspect myself of being unconsciously ('silently') directed by audio while seemingly running into brief visual fascinations. Sometimes the audio is in fact the main lead, and the pictures just provide something to stare at while listening. And of course you can manipulate that combination of modalities, tip-toe-ing towards narration. We could make a nice sub-group by challenging each other to provide alternative audio tracks under the movies posted here..
(For a nice, 'simple' narrative example of power of audio, and still photography I highly recommend 'La Jetée' (1962) (and 'Sunless', and others) by Chris Marker.) An example in documentary mixing both modalities in a nice distant, observing way is 'Tische!' by Viktor Kossakovski. (I am still looking for a copy of his later Svyato - by the way)

Fiction movies on single fixed shots are obviously rare I guess, since the beginning of the last century invented editing (check your general film history on D.W. Griffith, Mélies, Eisenstein etc) and could thus happily start moving away from the 'fixed' spectator and the realm of the 'fourth wall' theatre plays were proverbially caught behind: into other spaces and times, immediately. (Theatre found other ways to move a story in space and time, too of course. And the development of computers and the www could be seen as yet another liberating step.) In short: a fixed, unmoving point of view (PoV) is exactly what the gross of cinema moved *away* from when it could. Happy-sad sub-conclusion: this vimeo group is totally unhip.

In narrative (fiction) cinema locked-shot-movies are quite a bit more rare and often limited to scenes or long shots. Though continuity editing has been the dominant formal system to scramble a story over shots ('decoupage' etc) there are quite some big names that have long takes on their palette. For instance, a nice thread on long tracking shots (1 take, *but: moving!*) and examples you can find here: dailyfilmdose.com/2007/05/long-take.html
Some directors that are famous, if not notorious of long, hardly moving shots in narrative cinema are Michaelangelo Antonioni, Andrei Tarkovski, Theo Angelopoulos, Roy Andersson. But like said, there are many more hidden as scenes inside feature films (out of my head Tati's Playtime has nice scenes, and Welles for sure made some deep-focus scenes). Please feel free to add as much as you can remember..

David Bordwell (one of the most influential current scholars on cinema history and theory) wrote a nice book (with his students) on the subject of cinematic 'Staging' (Figures Traced In Light, University of California press, Berkely USA, 2005). This subject envelopes largely the choreography of actors and objects in front of a camera; the way they time their positions, movements, what is revealed and hidden at what moment. The book largely focuses on 4 directors (Louis Feuillade (~1910); Mizoguchi Kenji (~1940); Angelopoulos (~1970); Hou Hsiao-hsien (~1985)) but also on others, like quite some directors from Asia. The subject is not fixed-camera shots, though. But good context if you'd want to stage a narrative in such ways (@mataikan?).. anyways, worth a separate thread perhaps.

I remember a discussion once with a flemish visiting artist (Pierre Bismuth) who apparently made a film made out of a single shot of a lake, of eight hours long or so (this was pre-HD times, so the guy had quite a roll, or video tape). The point was, that somewhere in these hours a stone was dropped into the water. And he conceptually expected an audience to wait for that. The discussion with the audience, you can imgine, was about whether a passer-by (aren't we all primarily window-shopping in galeries) experiencing that 'special moment' would realize so. And the poor staring purist that falls asleep after 4H of lake. Now it makes me chuckle, but at the time I couldn't quite stand the seriousness the artist presented.

OMG I thought to write something short! Well, hope it helps..

Next post will join the discussion then, promise.

Frank N

Frank N

Just to add a few more names who should be mentioned. In "Stranger than paradise" Jim Jarmusch is consistently using one shot per scene.
Robert Altman's "the player" starts with a mind-blowing one-shot-scene which goes for about 10 minutes or even longer (don't remember exactly) and is moving so extremly energetic which makes you believe that you've seen 100 shots.
And not to forget in this "list" japanese filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu.

Nunca Silva

Nunca Silva Plus

Very interesting conversation. There is really no way of telling ahead of time whether certain restrictions are helpful or not. And of course sometimes they are, sometimes not.
At any rate, I'm trying to develop the idea of the moving still by de-naturalizing it a bit more than this project does. Which means: add any sound, and by all means use editing of any sort you like. Granted, this moves away from the goal of seeing everyday reality in a new way much more radically, and perhaps to such an extent that all that's left is construction. But I'm not sure.

If you're interested in this concept of Stills in Motion, please check out the Channel and Group by the same time. I've already snaffooed some of your work, for which thanks very much.

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