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What Makes a Film?

Eadweard Muybridge’s The Horse in Motion

What Makes a Film?

Workers coming out of the Factory by the Lumière Brothers

What Makes a Film?

George Meiles’ A Trip to the Moon

What Makes a Film?

Robert Zemeckis’ Polar Express & Beowulf

What Makes a Film?

• Avatar
• Use of CGI (70%) and advanced
stereoscopic techniques
• “Performance Capture” stage 6
times larger than anything used
• Motion capture allows filmmaker
to move the camera with the click
of a mouse making 3D much
easier but also more like creating
a video game, not a movie
• Cameron developed virtual
monitor so he can see the actors
and the digital backgrounds at the
3D explained same time
What Makes a Film?

• Also developed a filming rig that

consists of a number of
stereoscopic cameras that each
use a pair of lenses built to mimic
human eyes – positioned close
together and able to move a little
in order to focus on objects that
are nearby or far away
• Allows the cinematographer to
capture two images
simultaneously, which align
perfectly with and provide the
illusion of depth

5 Steps to Avatar
Telling a Story
Realism, Classicism, Formalism

Realism in A Perfect Storm

Telling a Story

Formalism in Gold Diggers of

1933 by Busby Berkeley
Telling a Story

Formalism in
Rhythmus 21
by Hans Richter
Telling a Story

Classicism - Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

Telling a Story

or Gladiator
Telling a Story
Realism Classicism Formalism

Documentary Fiction Avant-Garde

Battle of Algiers The Seventh Seal

Salesman Rhythmus 21
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington,
Telling a Story

Telling a Story

The Battle of Algiers

Telling a Story

I am Cuba
Telling a Story

Hans Richter’s Rhythmus 21

Rhythmus 21

Man Ray’s Le Retour à la Raison

Le Retour à la Raison

Banksy's The Punking of Paris Hilton

Telling a Story

The Seventh Seal

Telling a Story

Form and Content

“One way of understanding better what a film is trying to
say is to know how it is saying it.”

André Bazin

Content Pure Form

Reality, Subject Matter, Abstraction, Style
Simplicity & Formal Beauty
Telling a Story

Form and Content

“The way a story is told is part of that story. You can tell the
same story badly or well; you can also tell it well enough or
magnificently. It depends on who is telling the story.”

Herman G. Weinberg

Weinberg's 1931 Autumn Fire

Telling a Story

Visions of Light, 1992

Who’s Who in the field

discuss the art and craft of