Anand Fadeout

Mdeii Life - Anand Krishnamoorthi's blog

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

Framing in Cinemascope
Choreography and composition are important facets of any art (performing or visual). Cinema, which borrows heavily from theatre in terms of choreography, has a few distinct features of its own that can be exploited. One has to watch Welles� Citizen Kane to see what can be accomplished in the cinema frame, especially with regard to the third dimension. Directors like Kurosawa had excelled in horizontal composition with a long lens. But you necessarily cannot term the frames �flat�. (The opening scene in The Hidden Fortress is a good example) Currently, almost all mainstream Tamil and Indian films are being made with cinemascope lenses. One has to just watch a group song number in any arbitrary film to know what this has done. You have the case where a group of 20 or so dancers are placed in a flat composition (like one in a group photo) and dance to the camera. This is one kind of composition that comes straight out of standard theatre. And audience cannot take any other position while watching a stage show, but the film camera can. Yet these long-lens, wide-frame pictures don�t seem to acknowledge that. Another thing I feel, a 1:2.35 frame finds difficult to do, that a 1:1.33 frame can do easily, is stage in depth effectively. The technical failings of the anamorphic lens can be surmounted, but the aesthetics of a wide frame cannot be altered. A triangular composition (one of the primary types of depth-compositions) is flattened out in cinemascope, almost defeating the purpose unless used properly. In the widescreen format, there is a definite propensity to make effortless, flat pictures; and most of our filmmakers are doing it. This is in addition to the fact that there is hardly any on-screen or camera choreography. Using cinemascope is a tougher art. One can easily create flat pictures. While composition & choreography within the frame is a challenge in itself, composing despite the frame is a bigger one.

11:31 pm



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