Learn How Camera Movement Affects a Scene in 'The Career of Paul Thomas Anderson in Five Shots'
While you might have already seen the recent video featuring the history of the Steadicam in cinema, today we’ve got a video from Kevin B. Lee — who most recently gave us his best films of 2012 — that gets much more specific, and follows the career of Paul Thomas Anderson and his use of camera stabilizers. Not only does the video focus on specific shots in his films, but it also goes into the psychology of what the shots do (or are trying to do) for the scene in the context of the movies.
Here is a brief snippet from Sight & Sound Magazine, which originally featured the video:
Thinking on what sets The Master apart from Paul Thomas Anderson’s earlier films, what strikes me most vividly is a marked difference in camera movement and staging. I wouldn’t be surprised if a proper cinemetric analysis found that up to half of the film’s running time consists of close-ups with little to no camera movement.
This is a far cry from the run-and-gun days of Boogie Nights and Magnolia with their stunning array of sweeping Steadicam shots, push-ins and whip pans. But upon surveying his career film by film, one can trace an evolution in his technique. This video essay examines one signature tracking shot from each of Anderson’s five previous features, showing how each epitomises his cinematography at each point, from the flashiness of his earlier films to a more subtle approach that favours composition over movement.
We’ve had a few conversations recently about the role of the DP, but I think beyond just documenting the evolving use of camera movement in Anderson’s films, the video explains perfectly why the DPs job is so important in relation to serving the director’s vision. It’s easy to have camera movement that doesn’t really do anything, and while it will probably make a scene more interesting to look at (and look good on a cinematography reel), it’s not necessarily going to move the story forward. In the clips above, the camera movement is always serving a purpose, even if that purpose is to disorient the audience or set the pace of the film.
What do you guys think? Can you think of more examples of camera movement that really help to move a story forward?