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Hi. My name is Tony and this is Every Frame a Painting.
And I know exactly what you're thinking: Why am I talking about this guy?
— Oh my god, you're Michael Bay!
— Oh my god, I am Michael Bay. Because I don't like his films
and yet I think it's crucial to study them.
— ...and Paul, I think you have started to watch WrestleMania on television...
— Well, I...
— Because you must not avert your eyes: this is what is coming at us.
this is what what television, what a collective
anonymous body of majority wants to see on television.
Like WrestleMania, like Anna Nicole Smith,
like Jackass, Michael Bay has created something.
— Spectacle!
It's what people want. The Romans new it, Louis Quatorze knew it, Wolfowitz knows it.
— One, two, three...
Boom! Bayhem!!
We may find it crass and vulgar, but if we're going to make better movies,
we have to understand the images that are coming at us.
— Hey, hey!!
So let's talk about Bayhem. Is it a unique use of film form?
If you want to understand Michael Bay, one of the best ways is to watch his copycats.
Consider this shot from 'Battleship', which tries
to do that circular camera move he's famous for.
Doesn't work here. Why?
It's actually really simple. First, there's no background, except for blue sky.
Without a background, we don't get parallax, so the shot doesn't feel like it's moving.
See the difference?
On top of that, the lens is wrong. Bay frequently shoots these shots with a telephoto lens,
which compresses the space. This makes the background whizz by.
Third, the actor's just staring and turning his head,
but the key to the Bay version is that the actors move vertically.
Like here.
And here.
And last, the low angle is there to give us the scale and slow motion is there to sell it.
So what we have here in the Bay's shot is multiple types of movement, integrated:
movement of the camera, movement of the background,
movement of the actors, expansion of time.
Then they stand still and look off-screen, creating stillness.
Even though you're looking at a stationary point in the frame, this shot feels huge.
— Shit just got real.
Breakdown any Michael Bay's shot and that is basically what you will see:
layers of depth, parallax, movement, character and environment
to give this sense of epicness.
None of these techniques is particularly unique.
In fact, most cinematographers will naturally create depth in their images
and parallax, whenever the camera moves.
And the Hero Shot is everywhere.
What makes Bay unique is how many layers and how complex the movement is.
That doesn't make his shots better, it just makes
them more complicated than the competition.
That's why his frames seem to have a lot of stuff going on.
Lots of dust, dirt, smoke or explosions between the layers.
Also, lamp-posts.
Lots of lamp-posts.
If you go back to the first Bad Boys, you can watch this from the opening credits.
Here, the car moves one way, the plane another,
the lamp-posts are in frame for scale and the camera is on a telephoto lens.
Later in the film, you can see the same compositional techinique.
And when the explosions happen...
Once you see this, it's much easier to deconstruct his imagery
and to see its limits.
For instance, Bay doesn't distinguish between when to do a shot
and when not to do it. He'll use the same camera movement,
whether the charachter's saying something important...
— You have any money here in the States?
... or total gibberish...
— What did I say?! Did you hear what I said?
I heard what I said 'cause I was standing there when I said it.
Every shot is designed for maximum visual impact, regardless of whether it fits.
But the Bay style also leads to some fascinating visual ideas.
How can you make something feel big?
Well, you put lots of things of varying size in the same shot
and then you move the camera to emphasize.
This is something "Jurassic Park" also did very well.
— Ah! — It's... It's a dinosaur.
Just as important is off-screen space.
Notice here, this actor isn't looking at the planes we see in the background.
That means there's even more planes we can't see.
So while the shot feels huge, it implies even more scale.
How does a filmmaker come up with images like this?
In the case of Michael Bay, let's look at one of his favorite films.
"When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way
From your first cigarette to your last dying day"
There's a great New York Times interview where he watches "West Side Story"
and talks about how this is a great shot
and this is a great cut.
He can't articulate why they're great, other than "they're dynamic".
But I think that's it: when you put shots from West Side Story
back to back with his work, you can feel the similarities.
I think Bay's goal is to create what he thinks are good shots
and connect them with what he thinks are good cuts.
If Howard Hawks defined a good movie as three good scenes and no bad ones,
Michael Bay seems to think a good film
is three thousand dynamic shots and no static ones.
Apart from West Side Story, Bay's biggest influence is actually other blockbusters.
He frequently borrows the same basic vocabularies and other sequence.
So something like this...
... becomes this.
You'll notice the tight shots of the character become tighter.
And the wide shots become wider.
Everything gets more layers of motion, but the basic vocabulary's the same.
- I got him! - Great, kid! Don't get cocky.
And it's not just other people he borrows from.
Bay cannibalizes himself just as much.
So this...
... becomes this.
You'll notice every motion in the original shot.
For instance, the camera turning counter-clockwise,
while the bomb turns clockwise —
it's just cranked up in this version.
— Autobots, I'm in pursuit.
So what is Bayhem?
It's the use of movement, composition and fast editing
to create a sense of epic scale.
Each individual shot feels huge, but also implies bigger things outside the frame.
It stacks multiple layers of movement shot either on a very long lens or a very wide one.
It shows you a lot for just a moment and then takes it away.
You feel the overall motion, but no grasp of anything concrete.
And yet, it requires a lot of people and integration to do this.
But it's basically a variation on the existing vocabulary of the action scene.
Individual shots are a little dirtier, a little shakier, more complex, few more layers.
Then you cut it together faster than the brain can register,
but not faster than the eye can move.
It's not revolutionary, just the past with a bit of stank on it.
If you want to see a more etxreme version of similiar ideas,
you can look at late-era Tony Scott.
And if you wanna see a less cluttered version, you can look at animation.
Someone like Glen Keane.
This is way more legible than what Bay does, but the basic idea is the same:
character, environment, many layers, one epic sweep.
The world feels huge.
One of my favorite adaptations of the Michael Bay style is actually shrinking it down.
Ironically, Bayhem - which seems to have developed from a kid blowing up his train set -
is actually kind of charming when it's tiny.
Instead of blowing up the world, how about a small English town?
— Swan!
But in the end, I think the popularity of this style is hugely important.
Whether we like it or not, the interesting thing here
is that we are really visually sophisticated
and totally visually illiterate.
We can process visual information at a speed that wasn't common before,
but thinking through what an image means...
— This is not necessary!
... not so much.
And as Wernor Herzog put it:
— You do not avert your eyes. That's what's coming at us.
This might sound a little weird, but the person who loses the most here
is actually Michael Bay. He is a slave to his own eye.
He has a need to make every image dynamic, even
when it runs contrary to the theme of his movie.
— Some people just don't know a good thing when it's staring them in the face.
— It really is the simple things in life...
Yeah, the little things, like a big house,
a dock, a view of the water and a speed boat.
What happens when two great storytellers tackle this exact same theme?
— Heck, Norm, you know, we're doing pretty good.
— I love you, Margie.
— I love you, Norm.
— Two more months.
— Two more months...


Michael Bay - What is Bayhem?

1268 タグ追加 保存
vincent 2015 年 2 月 5 日 に公開
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