Point of View, Depth of Focus
November 29, 2012 9:57 AM   Subscribe

Scott Eric Kaufman examines the visual rhetoric of Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, Mad Men, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, and more.
posted by Iridic (15 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Well, that went right into my RSS feed. What does he mean by "eyeline match"?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:15 AM on November 29, 2012

The writing style is far too full of itself – the way he phrases his observations nearly turns me off – but he's talking about some interesting things. Thanks!
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:18 AM on November 29, 2012

SEK is also a regular contributor at Lawyers Guns & Money.
posted by Eyebeams at 10:43 AM on November 29, 2012

In the Naussica example he links to this on the words "Eyeline match."

In his example, there's a little more to it, that Lord Yupa's looking at the skull, and the skull could be looking back at him. Note that the two are close to mirroring each other in terms of the angle they are looking relative to the camera. Which, as he says, would be a conventional way to shoot the two of them having a conversation.

But now that he's got me thinking about it, the connotation of the skull looking at you might actually be the coventional one by now. How often do people in movies discover a skull in profile?
posted by RobotHero at 10:48 AM on November 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

SEK is great!

I add that I like his writing style, although de gustibus and so on.
posted by Frowner at 10:58 AM on November 29, 2012

Yeah, when he's talking about the "eyeline matches" in "Winter is Coming," he's describing an alluded-to technique rather than a true example of the thing.

To hopefully explain more clearly, a normal eyeline match would be something like going from a shot of Bruce Willis turning his head to a POV shot (or similar equivalent) of the bomb he's just noticed. The cut conveys the information "Bruce Willis sees the bomb," about as effectively as that information can be conveyed on film.

In the beginning sequence of "Winter is Coming," Van Patten does the same technique over and over, but instead of cutting to the crucial object or whatever that Will would be seeing here, we cut to shots of brightly-lit, deep-focus snowy woods, so our eyes find no natural landing point and no clue as to what we're supposed to be seeing there. It's disorienting and dread-inducing and really pretty damn clever, especially in the way that when the White Walkers finally do show up, Van Patten switches to shallow focus for the first time for their reveal.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:29 AM on November 29, 2012

As with Rory Marinich, I find he has a huge gap between the interesting ideas he brings up, and the clumsy, malapropism-prone prose he expresses them in. In one of his pieces on Fight Club (dismissively titled "On Teaching Fight Club to Students Inclined to Love It", he lays the blame for its perceived failures at the feet of Chuck Palahniuk, who in SEK's view has been writing the same novel over and over again.
Fight Club, like its latter-day counterpart Inception, is the sum total of its wasted talent. Unlike Christopher Nolan, for whom Inception represented his personal white whale chased, captured, and carved, Fincher can't be held to accountable for the many weaknesses of Fight Club. That can be blamed on his source material: the singular novel Chuck Palahniuk's been writing for the better part of the past two decades—Fight Club is merely an early incarnation. Read in isolation, it's possible to believe than any one of Palahniuk's books contains the potential to be more than it is—that its strengths, few though they are, may augur the arrival of a more sophisticated writer.
For the love of dog, if you want to smack Palahniuk down, it is single novel. Infinite Jest; Ulysses; The Magic Mountain -- these are singular novels.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:37 AM on November 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, "to accountable".

Wanted to read the Nausicaa one. Turns out it's half a paragraph and some screenshots. Disappointing as hell.
posted by cthuljew at 11:42 AM on November 29, 2012

"He is a funny old man with a magic blue blox whose Wikipedia entry is longer than New Hampshire's, so I'm not sure I'll be able to briefly sum up who and what he is."

posted by ocherdraco at 1:58 PM on November 29, 2012

I like this stuff, but I can geek out on film and video all day.
posted by Mister_A at 2:18 PM on November 29, 2012

The writer justifies his use of the word "singular" here...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:25 PM on November 29, 2012

I pretty much stopped reading LGM because of SEK. He's insufferable and calls himself a "professor."

He's not. He's a graduate instructor who can't get a real job.

Tedious beyond belief.
posted by bardic at 12:27 AM on November 30, 2012

He's not. He's a graduate instructor who can't get a real job.

SEK (who I know IRL) asks that I point out that he's a lecturer, not a professor and not a TA.
posted by thomas j wise at 4:50 AM on November 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

The writer justifies his use of the word "singular" here...

Well, I am very flattered he singled me out. Or singulared me out.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:16 AM on November 30, 2012

"he's a lecturer, not a professor and not a TA"

How can any graduate department in good conscience give a graduate teaching spot to someone who has finished their degree?
posted by bardic at 5:07 PM on November 30, 2012

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