You must have come across FilmakerIQ. If you haven’t, what have you been up to? Watching more films? The time has come to do a petit Godard*, take your iPhone iPad or Android and get out there to make a film. Well, don’t stop watching films, of course, but try a little something even if it is to prove film-making is not your forte. A film mind you is not a wobbly bit of video of a disemheaded body. It’s lots of wobbly bits editing together. Even a soundtrack. Apparently the young folk tell me you can do this all from a mobile nowadays which leaves me impressed but well behind. For me it’s editing software on a PC because I can’t see a keypad very well …(when is software an app? Is everything an app nowadays?)
Strangely since making and particularly editing film is a big preoccupation of mine (more a preoccupation than praxis mid you..), I don’t seem to to have either highlighted FilmmakerIQ yet or put up a video. Unless that is as well as not being able to see tiny keypads I’m losing my memory as well.
A very informative and personable video by John P. Hess. There are lots of others equally informative and interesting. A pairing with this one, perhaps, The History of Cutting – The Birth of cinema and Continuity editing.
Why is it that crusty academics (all over the web nowadays..) come to mind droning on about their considerable knowledge of film, to little effect, when a dynamic presentation like this wants to make you learn? It’s in a nutshell, but some nutshell, some nut, as Winston Churchill might have said if he used the words nutshell or even nut.
*Godard mention – aah, so satisfying to have got one in another post….he recommends in his latest interviews qua his new film wot he did in 3D but thinks 3D a waste of time, you all get out there with your iPhones alors recherche la femme et le pistol – or is it revolver with the accent on the -ver – et bien aussi le chien which might be a dog or a bitch and have some significance to the overall message of the film.
Conscious of the underlying significance of this term and its many interpretations within the context of visual culture, particularly as related to film and screen media, Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media set out to provide a forum to explore the myriad of interstices that exist both within the medium of film and between film and other media, firstly in the form of an international conference held at University College Cork in September 2012, and now in a special issue of Alphaville dedicated to the topic.
Lot’s and lots to read.
I was drawn in by the word interstice. A wonderful sounding word which most people couldn’t pronounce let alone define. The editorials starts with:
The interstice: something empty, something minute—a crevice, a chink, a narrow gap—yet, in spite of this definition of something apparently slight and inconsequential, one perhaps may make the claim that the interstice serves as a foundational element of film. The “intervening space”, as the OED defines it, in its celluloid form provided the connection between multiple images, allowing them to run together to form the illusion of movement. While this interstitial black strip that imperceptibly framed the moving image is no longer a constituent part of cinema in its current digital format, interstices continue to proliferate in screen media, perhaps to a greater extent than ever. Indeed, just as cinema originated in the interstices between theatre, painting, literature and photography, this intermediality takes on a redefined role in the digital era, with the lines between cinema, television, art, video and new media becoming increasingly difficult to define.
And so I was off, thinking about black bars between frames of pellicule. Though I knew in my bones, chasing a few rabbits down their holes, this was the entre to a lot more things of interest and use among a whole swathe I probably wouldn’t understand or be bothered with. But how do you know till you read?
And so what exactly are the film things I am bothered with? Think, Think. One, how films are made, particularly cinematography and editing, aesthetics goes without saying (but there, I’ve said it), and the limits of film (and the sort of questions that cropped up when Godard started writing in the Cahiers and then made films himself which, if we use A Bout de Souffle, was often about how film was not up to the job he wanted it to do – and/or was dead and gone in the terms in which he saw it: in two words Eisenstein and montage. Godard a writer trying a new medium and as I see it often being disappointed and expressing this disappointment in his own films. Alright, I admit it, I’ve been trying Histoires yet again). Phew! How hard it is to attend to three things at once and have the added disadvantage of English subtitles. Perhaps better without enough French to read La « partition » des Histoire(s) du cinéma de Jean-Luc Godard by Céline Scemama as a companion-piece to Histoire(s). My ideal: watch it first, then the transcription,then both together. But it becomes a study not an experience, where it has to be watched on DVD to stop it at will.
The start point – stimulated by the Alphaville editorial’s first para – was that black gap between each frame. Faux naively (sometimes the ridiculously obvious can turn up insights) I mused the black dividing lines had to be there because of the way a roll of film running through a camera exposed individual frames. A shutter or shutters opened to expose each frame and it couldn’t do it quick enough to have no gap between frames. Though of course even if that were feasible, with each frame abutting directly to the next, the separation of frames as they are by a gap might well be needed to help create the moving images at a certain speed of projection. Who knows – not many – if the movie would work projected without the few millimeters of black space?
It wasn’t there in order to. It was there because it had to be there, and then they found a way to get over these leetel black bars between frames by projecting the film at a certain speed both to eliminate them from perception, and eventually at 24fps to get a movie that wasn’t jerky as the early silent films were.
Then the assertion that
[..] cinema originated in the interstices between theatre, painting, literature and photography
made me think some more – and this is the first paragraph of the editorial! – what interstices were these exactly? That later.
The fourth wall. We know that cinema was distinctly theatrical in it’s beginnings. But surely, film rather than being in cracks between the traditional arts – once the theatrical style was left behind – was a new art form which superimposed itself on them as a whole, using them; or perhaps that the arts fed directly or indirectly into film, rather than the other way round. Or even that it parasitised on them or was in symbiosis with them. Or both. Or saprophytic. Or even commensal. But it did become the predominant – as in popular and wide-spread – art form the 20 century. Pretty quickly it was the flicks people went to see instead of music hall – certainly not art galleries or museums. Though come to think of it, music and film became close partners in a way that art and theatre did not. Theatre and ballet became favourite subjects of film and have remained so to the present day. Opera became the musical. But film technique has developed on its own.
→ Film Studies at University College Cork
Well, better start reading. Might learn something.
The Altering Eye
Robert Philip Kolker
Preface to the Online Edition
The Altering Eye was published by Oxford University Press in 1983. The book spoke to a vital, worldwide movement in film, a movement full of energy and experimentation. Politically and formally adventurous, it claimed the world for cinema. The movement is over, but the films and their influence remain. The print run of The Altering Eye is over, but because there is now another movement full of energy and experimentation in the digital, online community, it will have a second run in electronic form.
The electronic edition maintains the original text with very, very few alterations. What is new, in addition to easy access, is a rich and changing panoply of visual elements: still and moving images that prove how appropriate the Web is for the serious work of film criticism. The electronic Altering Eye will now continue to be a fully present visual work in progress.
Mark Le Fanu
(author of The Cinema of Andrei Tarkovski ; Mizoguchi and Japan )