Upon viewing many of the top films this year there is one thing they all have in common, the lack of focus. I do not mean story focus but camera focus. Why is this? Most filmmakers/cinematographers strive to achieve focus, that beautiful rack focus between two characters drawing attention from one to the other. When something isn’t in focus it shouldn’t matter? Right? Or should it?
The two that stick out the most with me are Moonlight and Arrival. In both films, they use lack of focus as a story tool, but what are they trying to say? Are they invoking the audience to try and stay focused, or maybe the audience should focus more. Or is it because we carry these little cameras around with us that double as communication devices that achieve perfect focus, almost always. Are these filmmakers trying to wane poetic by shooting parts of scenes out of focus so they draw attention to the scene, making it feel different than the 99.99% of all the images we see in a day, making us think more about what they’re trying to say? These two films are my favorites of the year, mainly because of the visual landscapes directors Jenkins and Villeneuve achieved. Kudos for making me think differently on how I will approach a scene in the future.
VR has been one of those things I’ve been debating about for months as to whether or not I should dip my creative toe in to. I’ve donned the headpiece/eye set before but those experiences paled in comparison as to my experience this past New Year’s Eve at a friend’s house where I also wore earphones. I crept through the jungle shooting at dinosaurs, I traveled the world, I took a roller coaster ride, I even took aim with a Glock down range, yet in the back of my mind I kept thinking about the entertainment experience. What is this and how is it best consumed?
Was I entertained? Absolutely. But I feel VR is more suited for the arcade and short form content where the creator wants a single viewer to empathize with the content they’ve created or to play a game. It’s an isolationist experience albeit an awe-inspiring one. Chris Milk is probably the best at creating stories in VR right now. He’s been a master at using the latest cutting edge technologies to tell his stories.
I’m very curious as to where this medium will go. Will it be consumed by single user consoles or in 100 person auditoriums where the attendees rent their headsets and earphones after dropping $30 for the experience? How do you keep something like that clean? Will people be required to stand or will they sit? These are all trivial challenges I know, but things to consider.
If I were to produce and create in this medium, I would want complete environmental control where I could raise or lower the temperature, inject smells, create wind, and control the humidity, thus creating for audiences not just the single user. There is far too much isolation in our world with everyone spending copious amounts of time in their own world and not sharing real experiences with others.