Opinion: Visual Geniuses of Film

August 21, 2017 by Maryn Jacobs

Who doesn’t love movies? I dare you to find this mystery person. No matter your feelings, you have to admit that film has come a long way since it’s advent in the 1890s. It has progressed from black and white, soundless, minute-long films to epics filled with CGI and surround sound so powerful, it feels like you’re actually there. It’s pretty amazing. But outside of today’s over-the-top special effects, have you ever taken a minute to appreciate some of the purest visual choices filmmakers have made to transform their movies into a distinct and unique experience? Well, we have! Each of us has our own personal connection with a different filmmaker whose visual styles have impacted us as creatives. We’re going to share with you what we see when the lights dim and the reel rolls with our top six picks for visual geniuses. Don’t blame us if you blow off work and go running to the nearest Blockbuster…err…TV with on demand? Moving on… Sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

Andrew // Tim Burton

• Exceptional animated films: Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie, Vincent
• Uses eccentric/bizarre characters: Edward Scissorhands, Captain Jack Sparrow, Pee-Wee Herman, The Joker
Beetlejuice (Beetlejuice. Beetlejuice.)

Filmmaker Tim Burton

Chad // Darren Aronofsky

• His use of montaged short shots, also known as hip hop shots or fast cutting, are creatively used to to create character isolation.
• His use of the Snorricam, which now sort of looks like a go-pro video perspective, gives you a focal point from the perspective of the character. Sometimes it even gives the feeling of Mania.
• I love his muted palettes and use of grainy film. I especially loved Pi‘s use of high-contrast black and white grainy film mixed with classic 90’s drum and bass and jungle music.

Filmmaker Darren Aronofsky

Cara // Ang Lee

• Uses color and light like a painter.
• Discerning use of digital effects and animation.
• I like that he takes on really diverse projects that require him to empathize with, and translate, stories from different cultures.

Filmmaker Ang Lee

Maryn // Wes Anderson

• Each of his films uses a distinct color palette, often muted and retro-inspired, that really sets the tone of the film and defines characters and locales.
• His chronic use of symmetry when it comes to filming nature, architecture and other environments. His composition is bold and focused, debunking the theory that asymmetry is visually more captivating.
• Whip-pan. He can perfectly and quickly pan a space to land dead center (naturally) on his target. It’s a strong and fun way to transition from one character to another without cutting the frame.

Filmmaker Wes Anderson

Noah // Akira Kurosawa

• There is a subtleness to the way he frames a shot and relies less on camera movement and more on staging his actors.
• Many of his scenes look like they could also be photographs or paintings.
• His ability to tell a large portion of the story without dialogue and instead, makes use of symbolism to convey deeper meaning.

Filmmaker Akira Kurosawa

Ryan // Ron Fricke

• Ability to use imagery and sound to conjure emotion.
• Unique and interesting filming locations.
• He designed his own wide, high-res camera equipment for his later films.

Filmmaker Ron Fricke

Thank you for reading. Walk, do not run, to the exit.

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