From seaside chic, to Disney’s Paperman to Keanu Reeves’ new movie about Film vs Digital. And the trend of “Lost and Found”
Sitting in between the red-blooded action of the SuperBowl and the red-carpet action of the Oscars, is red-hearted romance of Valentine’s Day. For pragmatic professionals, the day is a palette of redness – roses, hearts, ribbons wrapped round chocolate boxes. Valentine’s is a classic “stock photography” event – it connects people through a set of shared visual symbols.
Nowness, the LVMH Culture/Fashion/Luxury webzine that is ‘curated’ in the older sense of the word (not just “a whole bunch of stuff I like”) pulled together a week of classy and diverse movies about “Romance” that included this evocatively retro movie “Puppy”. Directed by Robert Francis Muller it’s a promo for Whinnie Williams’ debut single, “You Don’t Love Me.”
Shot in Hastings, in the south coast of England, the location has a down-at-heel seaside chic. There’s instant melodrama in the off-season seaside town (as students have been known to take advantage of for graduate show projects), with the slightly shabby “hungover” feel after the tourists have left, and the money’s all gone. Muller’s promo makes the most of the locations – the laundromat, the holiday trailer park, the caff/diner where the lovers go on a date for fish and chips. It all adds to the song’s 1960s nostalgia vibe (look out for our upcoming analysis of the ‘Nostalgia’ trend soon).
Points of interest for photographers are the simple playful male/female colour palette of pink and blue, and most of all the fact that you never see the lovers. The camera’s point of view is at “puppy-level”, an incredibly effective device which heightens the sense of innocence and enhances the mystery of romance. Sometimes you don’t need to show faces, just leave it to the viewer to fill in. As lovers know, romance is about imagination.
A central motif in the Romance genre is the dynamic of “Lost and Found”, from Cinderella, to an Affair To Remember, to When Harry Met Sally. The appeal for an audience of the “Lost and Found” plotting is that it suggests that love is destiny – that there is a “One” out there which the cosmos conspires to make sure we find. It’s an idea charmingly played out in Disney’s short movie Paperman. Nominated for an Oscar, Paperman’s visuals mesh CGI with hand-drawn animation.
Director John Kahrs tells Jerry Beck on Cartoon Brew that the new technique is the result of a software package called Meander – a vector-based drawing tool. “It’s just like painting on the surface of the CG,” says Kahrs. He continues, “One of the things I’m most proud about is that it really celebrates the line. I mean it’s right there on the forefront of the image. It kind of reminds me a little bit of a little of what Milt Kahl, on 101 Dalmatians, was pushing for with the Xerox line. He didn’t want his line to be sanded away. He wanted that original energy and the speed of his stroke and the expressiveness of the line to be intact.”
What does this mean for photographers? It goes back to the observation about craft we featured in last week’s 7 Days by Ignacio Oreamuno, Executive Director, Art Directors Club, who argued that agencies will return to craft after having being lost in the marketing buzz around new technologies. Kahrs argues that the studios are all being driven to create a “stylized form of realism”, everything has to look ‘real’. For Kahrs there is an older, more expressive, crafted image-making that feels “totally alive and full of emotion.” The perfect, polished and rendered image isn’t necessarily the most truthful or revealing one.
On a similar note about the impact of different technologies on the creative process, Keanu Reeves’ article for The Guardian in London explores the issues in his new documentary, Side By Side.
The movie examines the difference between Digital and Film, and while Reeves is open-minded but wonders what the industry will lose in going digital, his co-director is interested in the opportunities.
The Digital versus Film debate isn’t just about the ‘look’. Reeves explains how new technology had a major effect on the ‘content’ of movies. Making the movie A Scanner Darkly with director Richard Linklater, Reeves observes, “I realised pretty quickly that digital had changed the rhythm of film-making. We no longer had to stop every 10 minutes to change the reel. The director could keep filming without worrying about the ticking clock costing so much. You still had to stop to change the card, but breaks didn’t happen anywhere near as frequently. It meant that we could shoot for as long as we wanted and afforded us actors more improvisational opportunities.” Digital offers a creative freedom that’s played out in the edit.
And finally, with the advent of social networking, the “Lost and Found” story is part of our everyday culture (and part of the Nostalgia trend), and at the centre of it is the photograph. Mashable reports on a youtube campaign that unites a vacationer with her holiday snaps. While Colorado mine inspector Bruce Stover finds a camera at 12,800 feet with a card full of images. He’s trying to track down the climbers (anyone recognize the couple?).
For many people, the perfection and smoothness of Digital removes the charm and accidents of Film. But Digital’s robustness means it’s certain to generate it’s own romance and mystery.
See the full Paperman movie here