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Discussion The cinematography of The Force Awakens - Based on the teaser trailer

Discussion in 'Star Wars: Sequel Trilogy (Released Films)' started by ray243, Nov 28, 2014.

  1. Darth Nerdling Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2013
    star 4




    When you see JJ's Falcon shot from the above trailer from a fixed angle in the video below it, I think it shows just how unnecessary J.J.'s additional camera swerves upside down and back again and all over the place really are. In fact, the Falcon's trajectory doesn't really make much sense when you really look at it. It begins and ends the shot going the same direction. It's flying one direction upside-down at the beginning, it flies down, and by the time it's at the bottom, it's right-side-up but going in the same direction it was initially.

    A more logical way to fly the same route would be to flip from upside-down to right-side-up at the beginning, and the Falcon has shown it can do this almost instantly, as for instance, it flips completely over in less than a second when "outmaneuvering" Star Destroyers in TESB at the :30 sec spot in the vid below (in a special effects sequence that GL oversaw). Then, in JJ's trailer, after righting itself, the Falcon could then be piloted down towards the TIE-Fighters as if going down an invisible ramp. However, in the fixed angle shot above, you actually realize that flying down towards the TIE-fighters doesn't really make any sense either because the Falcon doesn't fire at them, and they fire at it. Consequently, it would make more sense if the Falcon just flipped over from upside-down to right-side-up at its highest point and kept flying straight because then its path wouldn't at all cross with the paths of the TIE-fighters that are shooting at it and could crash into it.

    But you see, since Abrams adds all these additional unnecessary loop-d-loops, you can't really figure out what's going and you don't realize that the path that Falcon is taking doesn't make much sense.

    Of course, I'm sure some will say, "That's only what we're being shown. There could be another reason for why the Falcon takes that path." Of course, that's true, but right now, we're only able to judge the shots on their own merits, and the Falcon's path doesn't make sense from what we see here, and the camera's loop-d-loops don't help the viewer make more sense of the situation, but instead confuse what's going on, and so, even if there is more at the beginning of this shot, JJ's loop-d-loops are unhelpful, unnecessary, and distracting.

    To me, JJ's shot is clearly not a traditional Saga shot for this reason, and I can see why GL never chose this approach to cinematography. It takes something that's simple and makes it complicated. In fact, in TESB, GL has a beautiful shot from a fixed angle of the Falcon flying in a much similar path to the path of the Falcon in JJ's trailer except in this case the Falcon flies over and then into a crater in an asteroid (in a flying maneuver that actually makes sense -- Han's scoping it out, then looping back over to enter it once he knows it's a good hiding spot). It's right at 3:30 in the video below.






    (BTW, personally, I prefer the upper version's coloration, but that's just me, or maybe how it looks on my computer.)
    Last edited by darth ladnar, Dec 1, 2014
  2. phatdude1138 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2005
    star 4
    Not sure why everyone is hating on ray243, he's just stating his opinion. I agree to some point on "some" of the shots, but not all. Here's my list:

    Boyega shot: OT look
    R2-FIFA: PT look
    Stormtroopers: JJ shaky cam
    Daisy Speeder: PT look
    XWings: OT look
    Sith & Saber: ROTRs & gimmicky saber
    Falcon: OT+PT+JJ =
  3. Artoo-Dion New Films Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2009
    star 6
    If everything had to be necessary and logical, we'd have no SW to begin with.

    I think a lot of fans get so mired in the minutiae of the universe that they lose sight of just how visceral the experience of seeing ANH for the first time was when it was still at the cinema. Seeing ANH at the movies in '82--five years after its initial release, mind you--it was still considered the premier theatrical experience in terms of being a visceral thrill ride. The trench run put you right there, flying with those X-wings, for example. The story and the mythic underpinnings made SW more than a passing fad, but it was that "Wow! Holy ****!" factor that grabbed people in the first place. All the talk of Campbellian/Jungian themes has obscured that.

    To me, JJ's Falcon shot does exactly what ANH did in '77: it puts people back on the SW rollercoaster, flying with Han's famous ship. It doesn't do it in the same style because the style in ANH is now rather conservative, and it just doesn't have the same punch anymore.

    I'm a traditionalist at heart, but when I watch that Falcon shot, I'm back to being a kid again. It doesn't deliver the same visual experience necessarily, but it does delivery the same emotional impact. A friend of mine, who isn't a hardcore fan, got teary when she saw it. My wife, who hadn't seen any SW until I met her, immediately asked to rewatch the teaser after seeing the Falcon shot. Abrams is doing what Lucas did in '77, just with different tools.

    The old way of doing things won't reach the people necessary to sustain this franchise. As I said about Trek, we have two choices: SW that deviates slightly from tradition, or no SW at all. Those are the two choices.

    As it stands, TFA will, IMHO, be the biggest film of 2015 and the third biggest film of all time. I'm up for that.
  4. Red_Leader_313 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 30, 2014
    star 2

    Yes. Directing a film is about curating an emotional experience, period. The tone of the OT is intact. The look and feel of the world is coming straight from the early concept art.
  5. JunoSynth Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2014
    star 1
    This is about where I'm at on the trailer too. When I first saw the trailer I thought it felt too much like JJ's Star Trek but after watching it multiple times now I feel I can distinguish the two. It has sort of has a JJ/OT/PT vibe going on and I like that!
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  6. ray243 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 26, 2006
    star 3

    It's a logical fallacy to assume that JJ's approach is the only way to introduce new visual style to Star Wars. To a number of us in this forum alone, we don't think his approach will make us enjoy the experience. It's ridiculous that you are essentially forcing us to either like the new film by Abrams or reject all new Star Wars film altogether. What can't we enjoy a Star Wars movie that isn't directed by Abrams ( which is what Rian Johnson and Edwards are doing, and they happens to be more "traditional" directors in regards to the use of camera)?

    Stop trying to force us to like what we have seen so far.
  7. Chewbacca's Stylist Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Nov 30, 2014

    Nah.

    The Falcon is flying parallel to the surface, being chased by the TIEs, it flies upward to do a loop and halfway up is when the scene starts. It flies up, orients itself to be parallel the ground again, and dives down and flies into the TIE's in the opposite direction it was going before. And as for this making sense, it sort of does. If the Falcon continues to fly straight in the same direction as the TIE's, it's a target. If it flies up and straight and doesn't make the dive, it's a target. The only thing that gives it breathing room is if it flies into the ties and forces them to circle back around.
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  8. TK327 Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 7, 2001
    star 4
    I realize this is a little off topic, but I'm genuinely curious. @ray243, what are your thoughts on JJ's talent in casting and getting strong performances from his actors?
    Last edited by TK327, Dec 1, 2014
  9. Red_Leader_313 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 30, 2014
    star 2

    As someone who has been debating against you in this thread, the thing I take issue with isn't that you and I harbor differing opinions on the trailer, but that you (and others, I don't want to put words in your mouth, so forgive me if I'm lumping you with someone else) are forming an argument that positions your own perception of the look, feel, and tone of the original films as an objective standard which this trailer seems to deviate from. No one (well, maybe I shouldn't speak for others) is going to tell you to like something that you don't like, period.

    I and others feel as though the trailer accurately captures the look, feel, and tone of our beloved films, and believe that the stylistic flourishes you are taking issue with are not as problematic as you are making them out to be.

    But as for Rian Johnson being a more "traditional" director than Abrams... I think you've outed yourself as someone who has no idea what classical cinema looks like with this comment. Please watch Super 8, and then watch Brick, then tell me whose style is more in line with classical cinematic conventions.
    Last edited by Red_Leader_313, Dec 1, 2014
  10. Artoo-Dion New Films Manager

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    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2009
    star 6
    @ray243, you can like or dislike whatever you want. But let me put this question to you: Would you rather have an emotionally hollow SW film that nonetheless adhered to the rules of shooting SW as you see them, or a SW film is shot differently but delivers the emotional core of SW at its best?
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  11. Darth Nerdling Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2013
    star 4

    You've been really cool to discuss this stuff with and also very respectful, so I hope you get the impression that I'm trying to be the same way to you.

    The 2 main points I'd make about JJ's Falcon shot is that I personally don't like it and that it doesn't fit with the visual continuity of the rest of the Saga, and I think you can see where I'm coming from on that point, but I don't disagree with you on some of your other points.

    I see why some people would like J.J's shot. It's like riding on a roller-coaster. However, I think there's more than one way to create excitement. Yes, the shot at 3:30 in the video of the asteroid sequence above is a slower and more elegant shot, but that fits what Han's doing there. He's lost the TIE-fighters and he's coasting at that point. Go back and watch the rest of that asteroid sequence. There's nothing boring about it, and that excitement is created with mostly fixed shots, as well as a few tracking shots, pans, tilts, and a tracking shot that follows directly behind the Falcon with no swaying of the camera this way and that. Also, look at the comments below that video. No one thinks it's boring, or unexciting. They all think it's great and they want Ep. 7 to emulate it.

    So, I would agree with you that the JJ's camera movement brings excitement, but where I disagree with you is that I think that kind of excitement can be achieved using the camera techniques GL used in the OT such as in the asteroid chase above. And again, just to give credit where it is due, GL oversaw that asteroid belt sequence, not Kershner.
    Last edited by darth ladnar, Dec 1, 2014
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  12. ifleninwasawizard Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 2, 2014
    star 4
    Over the past few days I've been thinking that Abrams should aspire to making a great roller coaster of a movie. I love SW mainly for its mythology, but I will fall in love with TFA if it can pack a similar emotional punch to ANH. If Abrams can give us that roller coaster without screwing up the mythology it will an ideal start to the trilogy. Once people are invested in the new characters and settings the next two movies can focus a bit more on the philosophical themes.

    I agree with you that the falcon shot is a very good sign that Abrams can deliver it. People can call it unnecessary but it simply worked for me at an emotional level.
  13. phatdude1138 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2005
    star 4
    But this is apples and oranges. I don't know why any Star Wars film would be "emotionally hollow" (unless this is another pot shot at Lucas and the prequels). This is saying "if you film it like all the other ones it will suck", which is not true at all. 6 great films came out of the "standard Star Wars style".

    In that same token just by adding extra camera tracking spins, shake cam and lenses flare you'll get an emotionally charged performance.

    I think what Ray is saying is that the previous Star Wars films were all commercial successes and are a formula that works.

    I've given into the fact that Lucas has passed the torch and I too am apprehensive that anyone else besides him can make a Star Wars film. It remains to be seen.

    So far I'm okay with the trailer. I'd rather have no shake cam. No silly saber and a non spinning Falcon shot. But it is what it is.
  14. Artoo-Dion New Films Manager

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2009
    star 6
    Exactly, and all this talk of "But is it in keeping stylistically?" is missing the point. Cinematography, such as it is, is a means to an end. Each of the films in the OT has its own look in terms of the way it's lit and shot, but emotionally, all three exist in the same universe. That should be what matters, IMHO.

    The ESB sequence is lyrical and majestic, but it serves a different purpose to the space scenes in ANH. ANH was the bombastic opening salvo; ESB could afford to be more playful and gentle. TFA is, like ANH, the first act, and as such, needs to hit audiences right between the eyes, otherwise people won't see EpVIII no matter how good it is.
  15. Darth Nerdling Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2013
    star 4

    I think you're missing my point. The shot of the Falcon flying in a vertical circle into the asteroid is lyrical and elegant at 3:30 in the video above. However, the asteroid belt chase that proceeds it is exciting and heart-pounding. There's nothing gentle about it. Asteroids are flying all over the place and TIE-fighters careen out of control this way and that. It's one of the great chase sequences in all of film, and it's achieved mostly through fixed shots, with a few tilts, pans, and a couple of tracking shots. It's shot very "conservatively," but it's still incredibly exciting. I agree that JJ brings excitement (along with some confusion) to the Falcon teaser trailer shot. It's like a roller-coaster, and I can see how some would dig that. However, it's not an either or proposition. GL creates an incredibly exciting chase through the asteroid belt using conservative techniques alone, and I think if that ESB asteroid sequence appeared for the first time in Ep. 7, a modern audience would think it's great.
    Last edited by darth ladnar, Dec 1, 2014
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  16. Artoo-Dion New Films Manager

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    star 6
    Each were commercial successes in their respective eras. ROTJ looks like a film that came out in the mid-'80s; ANH looks like a film from the late '70s; the PT now very much looks its age. You try and make ANH today and see how much success you have. TPM is a hell of a lot more fast-paced than ANH, for example, so it's not like the formula hasn't already shifted over the years.

    What's so odd about this whole discussion is that the PT already represented a shift in the sensibilities of SW. The idea that the six current films are visually indistinguishable simply isn't true. People freaking out about TFA looking different need to rewatch the films we have.
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  17. phatdude1138 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2005
    star 4
    There's a feeling I have about "how much can you change Star Wars before it's not like Star Wars anymore"?

    I've said so far from this trailer JJ has done a 1/3 OT 1/3 PT and 1/3 JJ feel to this film. And I think that's a good thing. You don't want to alienate PT or OT fans. But JJ wants to put his "spin" on it (pun intended). Sure I'd prefer no shake cam or extra twisty Falcon scene, bit so far I HAVEN'T said "JJ destroyed my childhood". However of the film is 3/4 shake cam, lens flares and twisty shots then IMO it isn't StarvWars to me.

    Honestly I don't think filmmakers need to bow to the A.D.H.D. generation where everything has to be a roller coaster or epileptic fit to enjoy. Also I don't think a filmmaker needs to bow to the "EMO" generation where everything needs to be "dark and sad" for it to be good.

    Both the PT and OT succeeded by having action and fun.
  18. Artoo-Dion New Films Manager

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    star 6
    I'm not sure I agree.

    Agreed that it's not Abrams' way or the highway, but I'm hard pressed to think of any shot in the six current SW films that still packs the same sort of punch--maybe some of the space battle in ROTJ. The trouble is that the impact of the old style has been diminished by over three decades of reuse--it wears it away until there's nothing left. Audiences don't exist in a vacuum, and each time they see the same thing, they get a little less excited by it. SW needs to keep running just to stay in the same place.
  19. phatdude1138 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2005
    star 4
    I've seen ANH countless times. From the 70s until now. I still get goosebumps when Luke is in the trench and about to fire his torpedoes. Obi-Wan's voice tells him to turn off his computer. John William's score is playing in the background. Han and the Falcon swoop in and save the day. Everytime I see that screen my heart skips a beat and I'm 5 years old again. That's the feeling I have EVERY TIME I watch ANH (as in last week). Just an FYI that scene was filmed from the back of a pickup truck..

    If a teenager today won't feel that way today when watching ANH then @#$% him.

    So what we are saying is today's generation is only going to like the ST and not watch the PT or OT because they are old generational crap? Sad. That isn't a world I want to live in then.

    I do hope there will be young people that will see the ST and then watch the PT and OT and love them just as much.

    Not to get all sentimental but we need to bring ALL Star Wars fans together. OT and PT fans need to be open to the ST and the ST need to be open to the "classics".

    That's the whole point of Star Wars, it's "a classic". That's what classics do. They transcend time.

    For the ST to earn the title of "classic", it has to NOT adhere to being "trendy" or "topical".

    Very few movies do that now, mostly because they are trying to be trendy instead of timeless
  20. Darth Nerdling Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 20, 2013
    star 4

    Then I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree. Have a nice night!:)
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  21. Artoo-Dion New Films Manager

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    star 6
    You know, I absolutely adore Hitchcock's Psycho. It's simply a great film all 'round. But I'll never be able to experience the impact it had on audiences in 1960. So I respect it and enjoy it, but it's a different film for me than it is for someone who was there when it opened. This is my point: for TFA to translate SW to modern audiences, it needs to use modern filmmaking techniques, otherwise you're not giving those audiences the experience of SW but merely the shell of what was once a great franchise.
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  22. phatdude1138 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Feb 2, 2005
    star 4
    But Star Wars is uniquely different. It's one continuous story. It's not even a reboot like Trek was. It literally is a continuation from the previous films.

    It has to resemble a lot of the previous films otherwise it won't fit. I'm mostly am playing the devils advocate in these posts because I've already said I believe JJ is staying stylistically close to not just the OT but the PT as well.

    BUT we really only had 30 seconds of footage. The other 2 hours might all be shake cam, lens flare and twisty Falcon flier. Sure you may get some new teens with that, but a lot of ole OT people will be turned off.

    My gut (or at least my hope) is JJ keeps it in the filming style of OT & PT. Heck, Super 8 was 80s stylistic and it was great.

    I have more faith that JJ will keep it old school, because he's smart and even the "demanding youth of today" will still be able to enjoy a movie that looks like the 80s.



    Another way to look at it is forget the video, let's only talk audio. Since Electronic Dance Music is so popular now, should we scrap John Williams and his score for EDM? I mean we want to stay relevant right?
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  23. Artoo-Dion New Films Manager

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    star 6
    As I've said throughout, we're not talking about some radical departure that removes a key element of the franchise. I'd put a sweeping orchestral score in the same category as having wipes and an opening crawl. Obviously the key elements should remain in place. My argument is that the cinematography of SW changed in the very first sequel, so it's absurd to claim all six films have been as visually consistent as a TV series. In terms of cinematography, SW has always been varied, and that variety may be in part what will keep it alive in the future.

    Anyway, I think we mostly agree. JJ isn't going to make some sort of "found footage" monstrosity.
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  24. Darth PJ Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2013
    star 5
    Hey? People were going nuts over the trailer for TPM (and the Duel of the Fates music video) when it came out. I personally don't remember a single negative comment about it breaking consistency of art direction etc. etc. People were going to the cinema just to see the trailer. It wasn't until after the film was realeased that there was some backlash and every facet of the film started to be critiqued (from 'shiny' ship design to Maul being killed off).
  25. Darth PJ Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 31, 2013
    star 5
    I think the single biggest leap is the one from ANH to TESB and TESB to everything else. TESB is almost like its own movie, visually speaking.