August 9, 2017

Here's Every Single One of the 2,400 Shots in 'Gone Girl' and Other Fincher Movies

Here's a new way to study the modern masters.

We recently posted about how the simple exercise of counting a movie's shots can help improve your own directing. Now, thanks to film editor Vashi Nedomansky, you can take the exercise a step further by taking a bird's eye view of some popular David Fincher films and analyzing every single shot used. 

Nedomansky, who helped Fincher's team create the post-production workflow for Gone Girl as they made the transition to Adobe Premiere Pro from Final Cut 7, shares some general stats about Fincher's work before presenting the shot breakdowns. The average of Fincher's average shot length (ASL) is 3.87 seconds (as opposed to, say, Spielberg's 6.5 seconds) and, thus, his films have a higher number of shots than most. Nedomansky notes that "the average feature film has approximately 1,200 individual shots," whereas Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has 2,964.

Despite that fact, Nedomansky insists that "his films never feel rushed. In my opinion, they bloom and play out at a sublime pace that suits each individual film."

The average feature film has approximately 1,200 individual shots. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has 2,964.

So how did Nedomansky break down Fincher's shots and create these impressive graphics? According to his site, "By importing a full-length feature film into Davinci Resolve and, using the Scene Detection function, I have been able to automatically recreate all the separate edits in an entire film." He then removed anything that might add a false cut to the count, like edits that were created in dissolves.

Theoretically, you could recreate this exercise for any film that you'd like to study. See the images below, and click on them to enlarge to full 8K high resolution (which will redirect you to Vashi's site):

Girl with Dragon Tattoo
Click to see the full-res version at VashiVisuals.
Gone Girl
Click to see the full-res version at VashiVisuals.

Analyzing these shots is a valuable exercise for beginning to understand many cinematic techniques, from the use of color to pacing to the variation of shot sizes.

How do you think they can best be used? And which films would you like to see a  Nedomansky-esque breakdown of? Let us know in the comments.      

Your Comment

18 Comments

It should really be 2,964 "cuts", not "shots".

August 9, 2017 at 2:18PM, Edited August 9, 2:18PM

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It can be either. But the number would be different. There are 2964 individual shots but only 2963 cuts. To further complicate it, a cut can be an edit between 2 shots or an entire version of the film...The director's cut, producer's cut etc.

August 9, 2017 at 10:57PM, Edited August 9, 10:57PM

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Vashi Nedomansky
Filmmaker
151

Na man, look at the timeline. There are dialogue scenes there where it's cutting back to the same shot over and over. You can't count each one of those as an individual shot.

August 10, 2017 at 4:22PM

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I understand what you are implying but it's much more complicated than that. I was there for the edit and can assure you that in every scene (including dialog close ups that go back and forth) there were up to 20+ takes for every shot. That's 400 minimum permutations for editor Kirk Baxter to consider on every single edit. Every shot by definition is an "individual shot". Every shot is numbered and passed down the pipeline to color and sound. If you want to count only different shot sizes used in the film as "individual shots", that's completely fine but a professional post production workflow cannot function without individual shots being itemized and cataloged. With over 500+ hours of footage shot for GONE GIRL...so many options exist for every shot used and every shot is an integral component to create the final film.

August 11, 2017 at 12:19AM

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Vashi Nedomansky
Filmmaker
151

what a fab idea! are there any other websites that offer such shot-by-shot breakdowns out there?

August 9, 2017 at 3:44PM

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Manya Kay
Independent Filmmaker
74

I guess https://www.cinestills.eu comes close!

August 9, 2017 at 8:13PM

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evanerichards.com has a pretty good collection.

August 15, 2017 at 10:14AM

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Like seeing this but, after clicking on the images here, I see single hi-res jpegs on Vashi's site of the entire group of cuts. Even in 8K(?) the thumbnails are so small they provide only a modicum of value. Thanks but, if they were only larger...

August 9, 2017 at 4:12PM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
559

Try clicking on the individual shot groupings on Vashi's site. You should get a much bigger version when you do.

August 9, 2017 at 5:28PM

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Liz Nord
Editor-in-Chief & Lead Producer
Documentary Filmmaker/Multi-platform Producer

Yes, I did that. Thumbnails measure approximately 1/2" by 1". Still too small to make an effective study of it.

August 10, 2017 at 11:13AM

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Richard Krall
richardkrall.com
559

The analysis is on total shot length not so much the actual frames themselves. There's not really much you can gain from these thumbnails - where as you can learn a lot more by actually watching the scenes play out

August 9, 2017 at 5:33PM, Edited August 9, 5:33PM

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Hi John! ASL is one metric that I was absolutely analyzing. Speaking only for myself, I find great value in the thumbnails. As a feature film editor, I always focus on the macro and the micro at the same time. Every edit will influence every decision before and after but also impact the scene / sequence / act / whole film. I created the thumbnails for my interest in spotting patterns (if any are there) and to study (as Liz mentioned at the end of the article) color, pacing and shot size. I love a graphical representation that I can open and investigate anytime instead of re-watching a film linearly. I like to 'look under the hood'. When I'm smitten with a film, I will often use this thumbnail technique to get really granular and try to reverse engineer certain elements of a film. Last example...It's really effective when you analyze parallel narratives and see how they intertwine and how they affect rhythm and pacing. Now I'm rambling! I'll stop now. But bottom line, I find the thumbnail view of all the shots in a film very inspirational and eye-opening.

August 9, 2017 at 6:09PM, Edited August 9, 6:11PM

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Vashi Nedomansky
Filmmaker
151

Huge thanks, a great way to study Finchers composition and framing.

Great site btw, you have some great vimeo videos people should check out:
e.g. The Best 2 Pages of Screenwriting Ever https://vimeo.com/223069953

August 9, 2017 at 8:34PM

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I run a website where I post a selection of stills from movies I watch for reference, etc. if anyone wants to swing by!
https://www.cinestills.eu

August 9, 2017 at 8:08PM

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August 10, 2017 at 6:41AM

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VAN
5

Does it seem like sometimes we might just seriously overthink things??

August 10, 2017 at 9:32AM

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Interesting idea. Would be cool to see this done with The Game, Fight Club and The Social Network.

August 10, 2017 at 5:11PM

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Vic Barrett
Screenwriter. Unit Stills Photographer. Beginner Filmmaker.
37

I find it interesting just how much of the movie color scheme can be observed from looking at these frames from a distance. I would be curious to do this with some of my own videos as I am pretty sure it would give me some unexpected results.

August 11, 2017 at 12:55AM, Edited August 11, 12:55AM

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Rohan Merrill
Director of Photography
13

But is the scene detection accurate? I mean, I can count eight thumbnails just for the 20th Century Fox logo in Gone Girl.

August 17, 2017 at 12:54PM

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