Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cloverfield Special Effects

Cloverfield directed by Matt Reeves is a film that uses hand-held video camera footage to show a group of friends struggle to survive an attack from an unknown being on New York City. This style of filming has begun to be more and more popular within recent years, and some other examples are the Paranormal Activity installments, Chronicle, and Project X. This type of filming which you can see in the videos I have attached creates a personal first-person vantage point of all of the action. Now, this first-person point of view has its advantages and disadvantages. I think that Cloverfield was faced with some of these challenges while filming. For example, when you use the hand-held camera to film it gives the viewer only one vantage point for an action sequence or scene. There is no other view of the action and things can be happening off screen that may actually be worth seeing. 
In the scene where the characters are on the Brooklyn bridge, something is happening in the cars below but it cannot be seen because the person holding the camera is above all of the action. Then all of a sudden this large tentacle or arm slams the bridge causing a collapse and the viewer is left confused. The visual effects of this scene are heavily computer generated and pretty suspect, but on the other hand, the audio effects of the bridge collapsing is very appealing. You can really hear the snapping of the cables and crumbling of the concrete and that helps the scene's believability. Also, the shakiness of the camera creates a certain level of anxiety and mass confusion that hinders the actual action occurring in the background. Another scene that I have attached is when the group is making their way down the street and they encounter the monster close up for the first time. This scene is very action-packed and involves fire, explosions, and even military firearms and weaponry. The special effects in this scene seem pretty realistic, especially when the soldiers are firing their weapons, but unfortunately since it is all filmed from the hand-held camera, a lot of the action is missed. This is another example of how the filming of the movie takes away from the actual action.
As the viewer you almost get a headache from all of the movement and change of focus created by the camera. Because all of these large explosions are computer generated, the physical acting involved in these scenes are affected as well. Some of the movements of the actors are a little out of sync with the explosions, and sometimes they are heavily over-exaggerated. All of these obstacles come with the territory when filming from the first-person perspective. I think that in this movie the disadvantages really outweighed the advantages of filming in this new style, and the constant movement of the camera takes away from the actual action scenes of the movie. The director tried to make this movie seem too real, and by doing so he really hindered the viewing experience. Although the plot line of the movie is not bad, the combination of shaky camera movements and the below average acting and special effects make this movie hard to really enjoy. Because of this I give it two out of five slurpees.

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