WarLord's WarBlog

Case of the Giant Rat aka Losing Focus

by on Jan.16, 2013, under Production

You are in the midst of your premiere… family, friends and possibly a few not so friendly folks are in attendance. The  movie starts. Everything is going great then… Boom…there IT is.

Later you are watching another movie. Its great… nice story, great visuals then BOOM! There it is… that rat in the corner is the size of a fire hydrant (I’m not from New York City so maybe they do grow to that size). In another scene a car takes up 2 stories of windows on the passing buildings. Is it really that big or the buildings are built for a smaller version of humanity? The door behind the character is too small or way way too large and you can’t blame perspective because the character is standing directly in front of the improperly scaled door.

It GLARES out at you now and yes… it is mocking you and the fact that you just didn’t pay attention. Its generally a small thing… a simple thing that we are all aware of but its still there because we missed it.

I hate being a victim of improper scale. I find myself focusing on the scale problem instead of the story. Maybe this is because I’m oriented towards that but then a lot of machinimist are oriented the same way. We missed the fact that a human being can’t possibly fit into a car too small or see over the dash of a car too large.

This all leads to a loss of continuity… which is a term you really need to know if you don’t already. Losing continuity in a film means losing focus… at least that is my perception. The reason we make films… the reason scenes exist at all is to get a point across. When focus on that point is lost… even temporarily… then the mood is lost to some degree and in many cases to a degree that the scene passes without the viewer seeing the information that was intended for them.

Heaven forbid if the lost focus was during a time when plot holes were being filled or a setup for a future scene! Considering the short length of a lot of machinima productions… that lost focus even for a few seconds can add up to a disconnect for the viewer. Enough disconnect and we lose that viewer. Game over.

Its not just scale… that is an easy example and often overlooked. There are many opportunities to go wrong but at least we can track scale, timing, footage quality, audio levels and other factors if we use a checklist.

There is a lot to keep up with in production so make that checklist and follow it. No shortcuts! No easy button! Listen to Grandma. Do the job right or don’t do it at all. No one is in this field to lose viewers… in fact… I think the whole point is to gain as many viewers as possible.

So… no more giant rats.

1 Comment for this entry

  • Darth_Angelus

    You’re reminding of Aliens. When the marines are inside the APC, they can stand up straight. When they are standing outside, they are taller than it.

    Scale is important though, when used properly you can make a world seem more alive and believable. Had a lot of fun making sure everything was right in CoH season two 🙂

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