Go Deeper: Stanley Kubrick's One-Point Perspective and How This Technique Might Be Used by New World Filmmakers

This video is from Vimeo user kogonada, who cut together clips from numerous Stanley Kubrick films to illustrate the power of one-point perspective.

In addition to being a useful insight into how Stanley Kubrick used the formal elements of cinematography for psychological and storytelling effect, New World filmmakers might also want to spend a few minutes thinking about the potential (even on a small screen) of using a shot with a strong vanishing point.

Yes, a single point on the horizon where lines converge creates a powerful illusion of three dimensional space. And Kubrick's films demonstrate the emotional and narrative power of this particular type of composition. But, in addition, I'm wondering whether - in this New World of online consumption of motion pictures - there might be yet another use for a shot with a strong vanishing point...

Could purposeful use of one-point perspective by New World filmmakers also serve as an invitation to the viewer to go deeper?

For example, in the New World of film consumption, viewers are moving from one device to another to complete a single goal in a behavior Google has called "sequential viewing." Could a shot with a strong vanishing point serve a multi-layered purpose in this New World of sequential viewing?

If users are increasingly receiving films at first on small screens and then transferring to larger screens, can filmmakers use formal elements to entice them away from the small screens?

Could a New World filmmaker, building upon the visual storytelling technique that Kubrick mastered, use one-point perspective to suggest more? Could a camera move that seems to dive into a three-dimensional space serve as an invitation for the user to dive deeper too? Is one-point perspective perhaps one way (more subtle than a pop-up window) to encourage transfer to a larger screen?

Before rushing out to try my idea - and inserting a shot in your film that "pushes in" toward a strong vanishing point to suggest that this might be an opportunity for the viewer to switch to a larger screen - you might also want to consider whether it's even necessary... Do filmmakers need to alert the audience that they can go deeper? Or is the transfer between screens something that is just assumed? In other words, is it the filmmaker's job to create opportunities for transfer - or, going forward, will the switch between screens be accomplished by users without filmmaker prompts?

Assuming that some New World storytellers will still want to control the sequencing of the narrative, how will they indicate to the audience that this is a moment to switch devices?

Could strong visual tropes, like a powerful shot utilizing one-point perspective, become a cue that invites viewers to switch to a larger screen where they can go deeper?

1 comment:

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