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July 17th, 2008

Annoying camera techniques

I found myself getting really annoyed a few times recently when watching television. And, no, it wasn’t because they’d pre-empted a repeat of The Golden Girls, but because of a specific camera technique that seems to be taking hold on news/documentary-ish programs.

The offense occured on an Ovation channel show called Jazz Heroes and on the craptastic episode of Dateline (or one of its equivalents) where they hunted down people who were owed “forgotten” money and gave it to them. The shot goes like this:

Head-on shot with person being interviewed or providing commentary. Then, a cut to a second camera that is shooting from another angle. The subject continues to look and gesture at the first camera and the second camera zooms in and out and back and forth a couple of times quickly, in an attempt to make it look like they’re still setting their shot up. Then, cut back to the original camera. Sometimes the second camera is even in black and white or using a “grainy” effect.

It’s incredibly jarring and annoying because it feels so calculated. It adds nothing and ends up distracting from what the person is actually saying. Not everything on television needs hyperactive cuts. Especially not a 30-minute profile on John Coltrane or Tiki Barker describing how he made a phone call to someone.

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

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