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):
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.