Videoworkshop - Thomas Büsch/Sabine Küper
Video workshop:
Using the one single shot technique for story telling in film and
publishing it on the Internet
Thomas Büsch/Sabine Küper
Istanbul Bilgi University, April 2008
This workshop is a result of entropyTV created and designed fort he association
diyalog 2007: http://www.dynamic.diyalog-der.eu/index.php?id=381&L=0 entropyTV stands for a 'television network to reduce the hegemony of broadcast
channels and film industries’.
Objectives of the workshop:
The workshop focuses on creating short video narratives, shot in a single take.
The whole process is an act focusing on the economics of video narration.
Because shooting single takes requires knowledge, creative vision and
organizational precision.
The videos, shot from the moment of turning the camera on, to the moment of
turning the camera off, with no interruption and no editing, are published finally
In a director’s cinematic bag of tricks the long tracking shot is the boldest way of
making a statement. It’s the flashiest and most attention-grabbing egotistical
way of flexing one’s muscle. In most cases it's a narcissistic maneuver, “look-atme” filming technique, but rare ones, the best ones, serve to reflect and further
the story in a way that can’t be reflected with traditional editing.
After having sessions for developing ideas for short single take digital narratives,
the participants move into the hands-on process of shooting. The course
highlights the difficulties of the single take and concentrates on ways of
transforming the idea from conception into a narrative. The narratives focus
mostly on the environment, documenting the surrounding and the participant’s
Examples from the history of the moving images:
The Lumiere Brothers' - First films (1895)
A collection of short films made by the Lumiere brothers, a team of pioneering
filmmakers in turn-of-the-century France.
The Lumiéres' films are called actualities shot in one take, with no camera move.
The Lumieres' first movie was of the workers leaving the Lumiere factory. A few
hundred of them pour out of the gates, including a man on a bicycle, a dog, and a
horse. You can tell that they've been asked to not look at the camera. What a
simple scene! And yet how shattering in effect. For it was not only the sensation
of seeing the living, breathing reality around us reproduced in motion on a screen
- it was not only this that was so novel, but the sense of seeing time itself
Videoworkshop - Thomas Büsch/Sabine Küper
Alfred Hitchcock - Rope (1948)
One of Alfred Hitchcock's weirder films, Rope is based upon Patrick Hamilton's
In fact the first films didn’t have any edits. Perhaps the first most notable film to
use long unedited takes for storytelling purposes was Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope”
(1948) which was an entire film shot in real time created by seamless cutting
together a series of long 8-10 mins shots made to look like one. In 1948 it was a
bold and unprecedented experiment for Hitchcock. The film works because its
takes place entirely in one room for 80 minutes, so there was limited movement
and lighting changes.
Hitchcock took the opportunity to use a new directing technique for the filming of
Rope. Each shot was to be 10 minutes long, and never a cut in between those 10
minutes. This process had to be carefully planned, for the camera was to be
moved around while the actors were, well, acting. One mistake would mean 10
minutes of mistakes.
Another interesting fact about this movie is that it is shown completely in real
time. So, the movie is much like the play, which makes the movie very intriguing
to watch.
Orson Welles - Touch of Evil (1958)
The difficulty arises when the camera is forced to move which complicates the
logistics i.e. Focus changes, lighting changes and hiding production equipment.
And so perhaps the first true, universally-accepted “long tracking shot” is Orson
Welles’ opening shot in “Touch of Evil” (1958). This shot was a large step up from
Hitchcock’s experiment because of the extensive movement of the camera.
This shot is perhaps the greatest, because it actually has a specific purpose to its
length. The shot starts on a bomb being placed in the trunk of a car. The camera
follows the car into the street. As the camera moves back we pickup Charlton
Heston walking with his date. Though we’re concentrating on Heston,
subliminally, as the audience, the bomb is still in our minds. The sheer length of
the take heightens the tension for the payoff at the end. It’s important to note
that on its first release Universal placed the opening credits over the shot, which
severely retracted from its power and suspense. In a later re-release Welles
original intention of the scene was re-instated.
Jean-Luc Godard - Weekend (1967)
Jean-Luc Godard's classic, Weekend features a series of long tracking shots, as a
you can pointed out, 'before it was in vogue'. On a farm 4 minutes take...
Michelangelo Antonioni - The Passenger (1975)
A rare feat is a final long take shot:
The Passenger's final shot is a 7-min long opus which starts inside a hotel room,
where we see Jack Nicholson’s character lying on a bed, the camera then pushes
in to catch the action outside. It actually goes through the window and outside
into the courtyard. By the end of the shot, the camera has turned itself around
and is looking into the room where we discover Jack, while out of our sight, has
just been murdered. It’s one of the more sly and devious long take shots of this
Videoworkshop - Thomas Büsch/Sabine Küper
Andrei Tarkovsky - Stalker (1979)
Stalker describes the journey of three men traveling through a post-apocalyptic
wilderness called the Zone to find a room with the potential to fulfill one's
innermost desires.
The title role is played by Alexander Kaidanovsky, who guides two others through
the area, the Writer and the Professor.
Stalker relies on long takes with slow, subtle movement of camera, rejecting the
conventional use of rapid montage to explain the narrative and achieve artificial
dramatic peaks. Instead, Tarkovsky's prolonged shots capture a poetic reality
that is naturalistic and yet far removed from ordinary perception. As he did with
Solaris, Tarkovsky took great liberties in adapting the screenplay to emphasize
the philosophical and metaphysical angles that concerned him the most.
Alexander Sokurow - Russian Ark (2002)
Alexander Sokurov's unique tour of the St Petersburg's Hermitage museum,
consists of one, 96-minute-long, continuous tracking shot - the longest of its kind
in the history of the medium.
To have pulled off such an ambitious task proved no mean feat but the film's
achievements are not restricted to its technical prowess.
An elegant, observant camerawork is sustained through each of the 30-odd
rooms visited but conditions differ behind each door. In one room, modern-day
tourists flutter around the Hermitage's world-famous art collection. Move into the
next room and we see real historical figures such as Peter the Great. Shooting on
high-definition video the steadicam work by Tillman Buttner lends this bold
experiment a certain dreamlike quality.
Alfonso Cuaron - Children of Men (2006)
Children of Men Six Minute Gun Battle in "One Take"
Alfonso Cuaron manages to take a 6-minute gun battle into one take.
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