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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Contrast

The latest Spline Doctor Roundtable ends with a great note on contrast, how you need to focus on what you want to show in your shot, what emotion has to come across, and just because a joke is really funny doesn't mean that you have to cram one in into every shot. You need room to breath and sometimes a joke is funnier because there was a more quiet moment happening before. Contrast is key.

Same goes when you choose an audio clip or you prepare your "weight" assignment, decide on your acting, etc. When I ramble about contrast in class, really try to remember it and to apply it whenever you can. Try to limit your gestures (less is more) for instance. If you point at something all the time during every beat, the audience will miss the important "pointing" because it's buried, that important moment gets lost.
Or in your audio clip you have someone shouting all the time, you don't give the audience time to relax. The classic thing to do is to have something quiet at the beginning and louder at the end, maybe with a gradual build up or surprise explosion. But sometimes a subtle change in line delivery coupled with great acting can be fantastic. And again, great acting doesn't mean throwing the characters around.

There's a funny scene in "Raiders of the Lost Ark", during which Indy is in this crazy action scene and that sword wielding thug shows up. With everything that happened in the movie and during the sequence, you'd expect a huge fight, basically going from loud to louder (which is your typical way of contrasting action in movies). But in this case Indy just takes out his gun and ends the fight right there and then. Going from loud to quiet gives it much more contrast and by playing against the audiences' expectations it creates a much better pay off.

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