When discussing great motion picture cinematography its very easy to think first of moody and emotive lighting, balanced and deliberate composition of the frame, arrangement of figures in deep space or complex shifts in rack-focus between subjects. Yet, too often I find our contemporary appreciation of, and discourse around, the moving image seams to neglect the core element that is the very origin of the word cinematography itself. The word Cinema derives from Kine, meaning motion. And as I have written previously about the GoPro camera “All the the DSLR’s F3’s and RED’s in the world will, of themselves, prompt your creative imagination no further than how sharply you can rack-focus and how pixel-dense your image can be. But pick up a GoPro and you immediately stop thinking about framing and focus, and instead start imagining images and sequences in terms of Space, Motion and Perspective. Hence I feel compelled to suggest that the most ‘cinematic’ camera released in the past few years is NOT an F3, or a 5D, its not a RED Epic or an Alexa, It’s the GoPro.”
I have recently been conducting research and background reading on the history of the middle east and the city of Jerusalem as part of large scale project I’m co-writing, and in doing so I came across this video - part of a forthcoming IMAX film on the Eternal City.
Now of course, it wasn’t shot on a GoPro, but the same visceral feeling states are conjured up by hyper-real kinetic delight of motion on screen, of a camera moving through space in a way that defies our gravity bound, human body proprioception. This kinda of engagement with camera movement through space speaks to the uniquness of cinema, to the kinds of experience it can offer that noother medium can. Lots of mediums can tell a story, lst of mediums can delivery compelling imagery and ideas, but no other medium can transport you bodilly through space in a visceral experience.
Sometime ago I engaged in trying to develop a conceptual way to think through the effect and motivation of different camera movements and, in particular, to unite the technological apparatus of camera movement with the embodied aesthetic of that technology when deployed as a technique. Camera in Motion has been published in various print forms and is available here on my site as well. Perhaps useful for those looking to make their choices around camera movement motivated by more than just what ‘looks cool’.