Francesca Da Rimini

Following yesterday’s post about a music video featuring modern dance and computer visual effects, here is a video featuring classical dance and a robot controlled camera.

Francesca Da Rimini was a historical figure portrayed in the Divine Comedy and numerous works of art, including a symphonic poem by Tchaikovsky. In 2014 the director Tarik Abdel-Gawad and his team recorded a performance by two dancers of the San Francisco Ballet,¬†Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada, using a robot controlled camera. Tarik was also the technical and creative director of the demonstration video featuring the same Bot&Dolly robots (a company acquired by Google in 2013) and which turned viral, “Box”.

In the accompanying back stage video, he explains how seeing dancers rehearse over and over gave him the idea of experimenting with a pre-programmed robot, in order to make the camera part of the choregraphy, and allow the viewer to have a closer, more intimate, view of the performance.

The Chemical Brothers: “Wide Open”

Earlier this year at Tokyo Demo Fest 2016, we were honored with the presence of Solid Angle‘s founder, Marcos Fajardo, who did a long presentation of the Arnold renderer. Various examples of productions that involved Arnold were included, like captures from Iron Man or Elysium, but between those blockbusters one production in particular held my attention.

It was a long shot of a dancer turning limb after limb into a lattice body while performing. That film is in fact the music video of the song “Wide Open”, by the Chemical Brothers, and directed by Dom&Nic. It is a brilliant piece of technical and artistic work, that I can only recommend to watch.

Some of the details of the creation are shared in an article by the excellent fxguide, as well as in this interview for Solid Angle, like for example how they dealt with the challenges posed by a single long shot under varying natural light. Finally, there is this behind the scenes video from the studio, The Mill:

Making of the “spinning house” sequence in Twister (1996)

Earlier this year filmmaker Stu Maschwitz posted on Twitter a series of messages recounting the work he did, as a then junior visual effects artist, on the scene of the house crashing on the road in the 1996 summer blockbuster, Twister. He later copied them to his website: go read it there.

The story comes with a fair amount of detail, hacks and tricks to make the best of the technical limitations of the time, and gives an idea of the amount of work such a scene in a prominent Hollywood film entails.

Every Frame a Painting

The filmmaker Tony Zhou is the author of an ongoing series of fascinating essays on analyzing film form: Every Frame a Painting. Covered in 5 to 10mn with a critical and passionate eye, his topics vary between directors, actors or single film scenes.

Every single one of them is worth watching, but my personal favorites are the study of the scene when¬†Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter meet for the first time in The Silence of the Lambs, the analysis of Mickael Bay’s intense visual style, and the presentation (and praise) of Edgar Wright’s use of visuals to support comedy.

Those essays can be found on Youtube or Vimeo, with additional comments on tumblr and Facebook. Interestingly, they can also be supported (as in, financially) on Patreon.

The Art of Framing Primer

In a much less detailed way than the cinematography analysis I previously mentioned, yet still very interesting, the film-making site Mentorless covers the visual composition used in the independent film Primer. The article, The Art of Framing Primer, outlines in particular how simple techniques allowed to make up for the extremely low budget (the film was completed for $7000).

The cinematography of The Incredibles

On his blog, director Ron Doucet presents a thorough analysis of the visual constructions in the Pixar animation film, The Incredibles. The articles include breakdowns of complete scenes in term of visual components. It is a great read on how the picture can be designed to support the storytelling.