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Clipped, confusing, movie action scenes

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Just wondered if this is a known annoyance - or is it just me. Movie action scenes where all you see are disjointed, out-of-context, jerky flashes of movement: one second, two seconds, half a second, several separate 1/4ths of a second strung together. In a fight scene you don't see any real fight, you see an elbow flash for a tenth of a second, a fist, there's an explosion, metalwork flings across the screen, a face distorted with fear, a car skids.

 

I'm just watching Eagle Eye and it's full of that. Not a great movie but a decent movie spoiled by action on the cheap. Almost anyone could string together this stuff. No need for an expert fight choreographer, just shoot an arm lashing out, a dark figure in a gloomy room running, a gun at someone's head - it's all in the editing. Maybe by replaying the same scene over and over you can figure what actually happened - or just skip over it and see who's left standing.

 

Is there a name for this cheapskate rubbish? I can't search the net for something I can't name or describe. All I get is list of movies that are confusing for other reasons: plot or whatever.

 

Maybe the producer and director think these flashes of disjointed action are clever? Exciting? Or do they know and are short of funds to do the job properly?

 

Okay, I'm cooling off as I type this. Think I'll just delete it. No I won't. ;)

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Heard a lot about bad editing on channels like Red Letter Media or Rossatron, found this one about good fast cuts.


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I recommend checking out this video.

 


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I hate it, too, especially in conjunction with low fps cinematography. That's why I loved high frame rate in the Hobbit: Finally I could actually see the action, rather than just "guessing" what's happening.

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The term is "Shaky Cam":

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaky_camera

 

It is not a universally loved technique, but it can work in some scenes if not used in excess...


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Bourne movies

 

Yeah, but even before the Bourne movies there was a lot of experimenting with this technique. Look at this glorious scene from Snatch (by far and away the best Guy Ritchie film):

 

 

Like nbohr1more said, its a great technique that is sadly overused nowadays. I think it has to do with a lot of things: much easier to describe a sequence with a series of shots instead of longer ones, you can do stuff on the fly and then give it a body in the editting stage. Its also has a "coolness" factor to it, all those fast images are supposed to excite the senses and give you a lot of different perspectives. It also relates to the DIY aesthetics, of guerrilla documentaries and how everyone nowadays can shoot things from their own points of view using a portable camera. But obviously, as soon as a language becomes popular, a lot of people who dont necessarily understand it or master it start to use it for all sorts of purposes.

 

Recently the opposite technique has also become more and more popular, you can check out the stairs fight scene in Atomic Blonde for a recent example, the knife fight in Saving Private Ryan (so disturbing), or my personal favourite, Children of Men (though I wouldnt watch this before checking out the whole thing, its a brilliant film):

 

 

There are some concealed cuts here and there but the scenes are designed as a single experience, and its very powerful and authentic this way. But it can also be overused, like in some scenes in Gravity or the Revenant, where it becomes way too choreographed and you can feel how it all happens in a convenient way to give the observer the maximun amount of cool POVs. BTW, this technique has become a staple in cutscene-heavy action games, which are very influenced by the films Im mentioning here.

Edited by RPGista

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blame lazy action scene directors.

 

that first hobbit film was viewable at the cinema in high definition, 48 fps, and imax 3d, and looked and felt like you were there, and not watching a movie.

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Yes one of the Transformers movies--I guess 2007; it had a ridiculous city battle for the finale--was very guilty of this, beyond the point of even parody. I got that flashes of metallic CGI figures were flitting about surrounded by gunfire, smoke, explosions, and the like, engaging in something that might be charitably described as "fighting", but I couldn't say exactly how things were progressing in the narrative sense of the term.

 

Now the right way to do this was Requiem for a Dream, where the cuts were pretty thoughtful and artistically done, in line with the soundtrack; and they fit thematically, like someone's reality disintegrating under the effects of heroin addiction.

 

As a pure trope of "frenetic action" to justify "blockbuster" ticket sales, meh... I wouldn't trust the movies using that technique with that attitude to begin with anyway. But I don't like it as it's a symptom of a deeper problem, selling an empty shell of an "experience" than anything more meaningful. The thing to worry about is indie movies starting to take these tropes up and cinema just rolling over and dying to thoughtfulness.

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Some good clips here. It's a while since I saw the Bourne movies but my memory of the first movie - that fight in the Paris hotel room where the other guy ends up going out the window was very good with clear action but the later movies not so good. Why that guy thinks those techniques were better or even good I don't know. He seemed to contradict himself when he said some things were confusing at first until you reviewed them - but that's not how you're supposed to watch movies! Another really good clear fight scene was at the school reunion in Gross Point Blank in the corridor. Very convincing to me (not that I'm an expert but I could see what was happening, and the results of each action made sense.) I think that was done in silence too as I recall, apart from the action noise of course and probably distant sound of music in the main hall.

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You may also be thinking of Jump Cuts, or Jump cuts combined with shaky cam.


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Here's the scene me and Jaxa were talking about, to give a pretty flagrant example.

It really starts to get ridiculous after the four minute mark.

 


What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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Here's the scene me and Jaxa were talking about, to give a pretty flagrant example.

It really starts to get ridiculous after the four minute mark.

 

While you do see a lot of shaky cam and blurriness, the YouTube video might not do my 2007 theater experience justice since it is in 30 FPS rather than 24 FPS. :o

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Unfortunately, I watched the first Transformer at the theater, I came out with biggest headache I've ever got. Why did they even bother with detailed VFX, if there was so much motion blur applied to everything.

 

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