Soderbergh goes old school

David Bordwell has an edifying post on Steven Soderbergh's attempt to pay homage to a more classical style of shooting in The Good German. Bordwell's post builds on a Dave Kehr article in the NYTimes about the same topic.

Some of Soderbergh's lens creative restrictions--black and white only, no zoom lenses, and no sound that couldn't be captured by a boom mike--amused me because that's what I basically lived with for my first student project which I shot with my crew two Sunday's ago. I shot on Kodak's 16m Double-X black and white film stock, used prime lenses wherever possible (except for two OTS shots because I didn't have a prime lens in the range I wanted), and captured all sound through the boom.

Kehr's discussion of coverage versus cutting in one's head in the article seemed like a happy coincidence because we're being taught how to shoot coverage in one of our classes right now.

"Don't cut in your head!" we're told again and again. On our first projects, it was unavoidable. I had only 400 feet of 16mm film and needed to shoot a three-minute two-person dialogue scene. I just didn't have enough film to shoot the whole scene all the way through from each camera angle. So I had to make some decisions in my head about what portions of the script to shoot from each angle.

When I was in NYC editing, I could understand the appeal of shooting coverage. Having options as to how to cut a scene was liberating. As directors mature, though, I suspect they shoot less and less coverage because they know what they want out of a scene and can work more quickly by cutting to the chase. Over the years, for example, Scorsese realized that he could jump into a scene without a master or establishing shot, and so he did. A lot of times, you don't need that master shot. The modern audience member is very quick to process what they're seeing.

Soderbergh is also often his own editor, and directors like Scorsese are knowledgeable on the art of editing, so they may be exceptions.

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