Thursday, September 27, 2012


                                                            Creating an allusion

           In the movie, Clockstoppers, the idea of 'hypertime' is captured on-screen by special effects. Johnathan Frakes, director of Clockstoppers, was also the director of "Star Trek," which had just premiered when this movie idea was in the early stages of becoming a production. Frakes was enthused by the thought of creating a sense of hypertime in Clockstopper. "The rule of thumb was that we didn't want people to be really stopped dead," explained Fink. "We wanted a little bit of motion in everything, just to keep it alive - which makes everything quite a bit harder to do, but certainly looks more interesting." One way the producers shot this film is through simple camera actions. In order to keep the scene static, even when time is virtually frozen, the camera operator would move the lens is a circular motion to capture the dynamics of the scene. However, the majority of the film's shots used the computer technique of compositing. This is when, for example, 20 frames are turned into 2,000. This speed change technique can be used to speed up or slow down an action. After re-watching certain scenes, everything still seems motionless. Ultimately, the scenes can be a bit quirky and unrealistic, but in the end, the special effects do what they were set out to accomplish.  

            In the case of Clockstoppers, the character, Zac, is the one with the magical watch. In the scene where he first discovers the watches power; everything is seen through his eyes. Throughout the film this is a common theme used by Frakes. I believe this helps the viewer understand the idea behind all the crazy special effects. By keeping this a steady on-going theme, it is easier to discriminate the story line apart from just the idea of hypertime. Although one may think a movie where time is stopped, so is everything shown on screen. A motion control camera is able to portray that everything on the screen is motionless, including the water. If the viewer looks extremely closely at each scene, there are certain moments where one can depict slight movement. This could be due to the presence of mimes. Since there are so many different actions to capture with such a low budget and time frame; mimes were placed throughout scenes. The use of frames came into play here. The compositing technique could slow the actions down to make everyone look motionless. 

               Although this is not a 3-D movie, there are a few 3-D affects used in order to shoot the scenes where the watch freezes time. Some of the special effects seem a little over done and rather fake. The birds which appear in numerous scenes, are awkwardly placed and do not seem like part of the picture. Subsequently, the movie is cheesy. I do believe the special effects and camera angles made for an overall enjoyable film. The plot is meant to be comical and lighthearted. The different techniques such as compositing, 3-D, and camera angles all worked together to create the allusion of a sudden motionless world. This is a difficult concept to wrap ones head around. It is said that This movie sets out to show both the positive and negative side to hyper time. Louis Giannetti, in Understanding Movies, points out that due to technology "Acting is often cold and mechanical, with none of the human subtleties that can be found in scenes where performers are actually interacting" (p.34, 1). The main characters, Zac and Francesca are typical teenagers; at least until they discover the mystery behind the watch. In scenes where the rest of the worl seems to be 'taking a time out' they seem to interact oddly. I feel this is because unnatural effects are occurring.

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