Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blog 2: The Camera as a Player, Wed. section

There were many thought-provoking elements in Time Code, but the most significant for me was the way the cameramen have such an integral role. Having no way to cut scenes and having exactly four cameras rolling at all times, it was necessary to organize a new method whereby different characters could take stage for their roles. No character is on camera the entire time (Lauren the jealous girlfriend does, however, live in the top-left for most of the movie). And, although having four cameras is superfluous at times, there was a lot of careful work done to ensure that there is always the right camera on the right character at the right time.

The "passing" of characters between cameramen helps to achieve this task. Every character fades in and out of the film, because the four cameramen pass them around and share them. That is, no character or scene belongs to a particular camera or vice versa. Characters are sometimes not visible or present, which brings up the problem of how to reintroduce them back into the shot. Since each cameraman is following a certain subject, that subject must get close to the character who is the next subject of this camera. Therefore, the characters have to be brought together, and the cameras naturally follow. Sometimes one camera "absorbs" an additional character, by stealing it from another camera. Then the newly liberated camera then finds another nearby character to follow. Having multiple cameras meet up and view the same subject makes the cameras seem more physical; not just windows for the viewers, but unseen participants who have to flow along with the story. In a sense, the cameramen would meet and leave each other in the same way the characters did. This ultimately brought a greater sense of presence to the cameramen.

Another important characteristic of the filming was the shaky cameras and unrefined picture quality, which results in two things. The first, less pleasant one, is that at times the film took on the airs of live news reports or reality TV. The other was constant reiteration that this was being filmed in one take, in real time, about characters who weren't real people. Without the reinforcement of the four imperfect cameras, this movie would have lost much of what made it interesting and creative.

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