The Magician (aka the filmmaker)

title page image for multi-cam experiment film

The Magician (aka the filmmaker)

If you go back in movie history you can’t ignore the contribution made by Georges Méliès. Probably my favourite filmmaker. Without him there would be no Spielberg or any other of your favourite filmmakers. Unless your favourite filmmakers are Auguste and Louis Lumière.

I digress… 

What Méliès brought to filmmaking was magic. Literally.

He was a stage magician and having witnessed a Lumière show he saw potential beyond their documentary style. 

So, a long time ago, before George Lucas transported us to a galaxy far, far away, Méliès took us to the moon where we found moon men and space dragons and elaborate explosions that magic them away.

Considering only few years earlier the Lumières had people running from a theatre for fear of being run over by the train arriving at a station being projected on screen, Méliès movies must really have blown people’s minds.

We take the magic of filmmaking for granted now. Creators on TikTok click their fingers and they’re in a new location – there are apps that will clone you in shot and bring all sorts of special effects to your mobile movies.

However, the exercise illustrated in my 40th film-of-the-week is an even simpler example. In fact it’s basic editing and it shows how multiple angles, when edited together, can create the illusion of one seamless moment, scene or process  – in this case, a ‘flight’ on a zip line.

The primary aim is to show the zip line experience. 

I could have used a GoPro for a single point-of-view (POV) perspective. However, having additional camera set ups shows more of the environment and perhaps helps build the tension of what the stakes are in jumping off the platform.

If I’d had four cameras I could have captured one person’s experience. Or I could have had them go through the process four times and shot from different angles. There’s more risk of matching lighting conditions using that method. 

So what I’ve actually done is show the experience of four people but with only one single complete process and it shows how economical you can be with storytelling.

Each flight is roughly 30 seconds. To show all four would be 2 minutes. In my film you have 15 seconds of set up – where are we, who are we with, what are they doing – and then one single flight, all within 60 seconds, with an additional few seconds for the outdo and titles.

You only see a small portions of each person’s flight but when assembled together you get a sense of the whole experience. From a storytelling standpoint this is an efficient and economical use of the technique because we don’t need to see the entirety of everyone’s flight. 

You could use this effect in illustrating all sorts of processes or procedures and it can be a really creative way of sharing them.

How would/could you use it? Let me know in the comments and for more of this kind of content register (on the home page) to follow the blog!

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