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Monday, May 24, 2010

The perception filter

I've been thinking about a new technique for the moving image. It is based around using a point of view (POV) shot and the idea came out of a discussion with games designer Stephen Hardie.

A POV shot is normally used sparingly in TV and films. A notable exception being Peep Show, which used it exclusively.

Peep Show POV shot
Peep Show

In games, the first person view is much more prevalent. It adds to the excitement if you are placed in the hot seat. Plus, playing a game is much more akin to you 'playing acting' in the role of the central character rather than observing their actions. To successfully play act - you need to see what they see.

Mirrors Edge POV
Mirror's Edge

However, with all these examples, you see what the the character's eyes would see. You don't see what they would see, as a fully realised character.

What do I mean by that? An example of one scene that does show it is when Jimmy Stewart is hanging from the clock tower in Vertigo and looks down - then you see what he sees! His own sense of vertigo adds a filter to the scene, distorting reality.

Although not shot in a POV style, Shutter Island (itself a Hitchcock homage) plays with this idea also. We see the Island as the main character would.

Shutter Island viewpoint
Shutter Island

What I'm proposing as an interesting visual experiment is to combine this ideas and bring the 'perception filter' look to the fore.

Presenting the world as each character sees it, with all their quirks, neuroses and blindspots presented to us.

Whilst this seems like an idea best suited to animation I feel doing it live action is more eye catching and exciting - but does place a strain on the art direction and post-production budget.

I may try to follow this up. But what story would best suit the perception filter style?


Anonymous said...

That's quite an interesting idea. If I remember correctly "The Diving Bell and Butterfly" used the POV shot quite a lot, with filters and stuff being used to show the characters new look on the world after suffering a massive stroke and can only communicate through blinking.

Tim Clague said...

Good reference Ciaran. You are correct, another great example.

With this idea though I am thinking about moving between eyes - if that makes sense.

JB said...

I love Peep Shows use of POV. Such an interesting way to shoot a series.

Tim Clague said...

Indeed - but I guess I am asking - can we go further?