Critique

There’s so much stuff out there these days; photos, video, “digital art”, whatever that is; and it’s production seems to be increasing at an exponential rate. Along with this outpouring of creativity comes an equally vast amount of critique about what’s good and what’s not. I use the word ‘critique’ in it’s loosest possible sense, as so much of it takes the form of the very briefest of comment, “that’s cool” or “that’s crap”; which suggests to me an equally brief amount of thought has gone into the assessment. With so much media to look at, I suppose it’s inevitable that rapid assessments become compulsory, but I think it’s important to regularly take some time to really figure out what makes a piece of work good or not. I also think it’s more beneficial to establish the good bits rather than pick out the bad. Identifying ‘good bits’ can form inspiration and ideas on which directions to explore with one’s own work.

So, watch this video from director Jack Henry James and inspiring company ‘Really Creative Media’, and I’ll pick out just a few of the things which I think make it fantastic.

The title of the piece, ‘exclusion’, as part of a shadow of a hand rail, cast onto concrete, is simple, elegant and instantly sets the ‘urban’ feel. Then as the shots opens up we discover we’re looking directly down. An unusual and unexpected angle that is very much a premonitory shot to tell the viewer they’re not watching run of the mill TV tat. This notion is then reinforced by the ‘surreal’ disappearance of the title word under the freerunner’s shadow. An effect which works effortlessly rather than jarring to the eye because of it’s seamless technical execution. So beautifully subtle that it could easily missed.

The classic, uncomplicated shot of runner crossing the screen left to right is the ideal set-up for the sudden rapid flicker through multiple shots, which really effectively jolts the viewer into full wakefulness and motivates them to pay close attention. This effect is maintained throughout the piece, with frequent motion jumping, where a subject moves through the shot then instantly cuts forward a few fractions of a second. This persistently forces the eye to skip rapidly across the frame and generates an edgy, fast paced feel and keeps the eye active and engaged. These rapid motion jumps are then intersected with beautiful, flowing, slow motion shots, including exquisite close-ups which convey the rich details in the clothes and movements. The two styles perfectly compliment and accentuate each other.

Every shot, without fail, has been composed beautifully; expertly utilizing the setting with either spot on verticals juxtaposed against strong leading diagonals, or intentionally converging verticals that focus upon asymmetric hubs of activity. This artful placing of the architecture in every shot gives the perfect framework for both the model and the freerunner to move through and accentuates the fluidity of their motion.

On the subject of framing, the exquisite beauty of the shots 2:05 – 2:32 and 3:09 – 3:25 deserve a special mention; you only get results this good when a great director comes together with a great DOP camera operator and jib crew.

A big tip of the hat must be given to the colouring and post production treatment. The vignette, the ‘cross-processed-esque’ colours and the contrast sharpness have all been applied to give a distinct and achingly beautiful visual feel, whilst avoiding the all-too-often-seen pitfall of over doing it.

Clearly, as a photographer, my interest lies mainly with the cinamatography, but it must be said that all aspects of the production must deliver at the highest standard; in this video the concept, the casting, the performances, the music, the styling, (I could go on and on) are all sublime.

All in all, a perfect example of skilled execution of a host of elements which combine to give a result which is much greater than the sum of it’s parts. Combining creativity with technical excellence to produce a truly fantastic piece of work.

Jack Henry James

Really Creative Media

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