Style and substance

Playing about with the colour grading can accentuate the mood of a film

Stylisation for films comes in many varieties. Virtually any aspect of filmmaking can be stylised. But what is stylisation? Well, I would consider it a unique aspect consistent over a sequence. Short, possibly over generalised point, but I think it’s fairly suitable, and here’s a couple of examples.

In terms of colouration, we can have a colour grading. O Brother, Where Art Thou? has a slightly sepia tone look about it, going for fairly strong yellows and browns. Sucker Punch has a variety of stylisations, based upon which “reality” the main character is in. These are very easy to do and provide a unique look for the film.

Another aspect is the general editing. Now, with editing a lot of work is designed to make the cuts look as invisible as possible. Refereed to as zero-style editing, not using transitions, making thing flow without detracting from the story to make sure that people get sucked in. While it works as a whole, it’s also very mundane and not inspirational. Having instead, effects such as those in Speed Racer, where the editing is very obvious and visual adds to the general aesthetic of the film. Having transitions, picture in picture, etc… sacrifice a little bit of verisimilitude for aesthetics. The story is still there, and it still sucks you in, but the presentation of the story can be vastly enhanced.

In this sequence, we can see a potentially bad future for Speed whizzing by in his head

Last but not least, a favourite technique of the action genre of recent years, playing with time. There’s two basic ways of doing this – slow down the contacts or speed them up. What do I mean by contacts? That’s the point of contact between two characters – where one character affects the other. Slowing down on the contacts allows the audience to soak in the impacts, while being dazzled by the lightning speeds of the moves. Having the other way around emphasises the moves while the hits go quick enough to actually hide many bad contacts – where two actors don’t actually meet – you know in bad fighting sequences where one character punches another, only the punch is about an inch away from the body.

The first scene where the comedian is chucked out of the window

Anyway, as stated previously stylisations allow a product to be unique – having a look or signature not present on any other products. These can be a calling card for a director, or even just for the film itself. It makes for a more artistic and cinematic experience. Try it out!

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