Monday, 28 January 2013

Pre-digital, or why limits are a good thing.

The year is 1963, your sitting in a movie theatre waiting for the main feature to start, the film is a comedy that everyone's been talking about. The curtains lift and the screen illuminates. Before you Saul Bass's block of solid color occupies a wide expanse in "Ultra Panovision". The orchestral circus score by Ernest Gold is doing a lot of the work and after it all starts to have its effect the titles kick in. Up on the big screen are crude, sharp, keenly drawn cartoon scribbles, and they're making you laugh. Welcome to the title sequence of Stanley Kramers "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World".

Watch it here at...

Many pre-digital works are better conceived and executed than today's more technologically fluid work. Making visuals with real world materials meant the idea behind the vision was stripped of unnecessary and difficult to do fluff, making the end result clear and strong.

 It's akin to how a very simple set of painted flats filmed with two locked down cameras somehow looks more together visually than the million dollar staging of event shows like IDOL. Typically today's sets are a dazzling jumbo-tron multi spot lit combo crowning the show's logo, the camera's swoop and glide where they please, all up in the performers space taking in everything from warped angles. The end result has nothing to do with the artist and everything to do with branding a performance to a franchise.  

 60's STRONG

But what's going on here?

 Performers become iconic against pure backdrops and crisp art direction, they are lost among noisy clutter and a wealth of camera positions. This applies to an idea, how it can drown in a soup of cleverness, or be over shadowed by the slick trickery of presentation. With less and less limitations on our creativity, we should start setting our own, if only to clarify what it is we are trying to say.