A Dreamer Walking

Film Mediums: Live Action!

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on August 11, 2010

Live Action is the most common film medium in film business.  In this day in age almost anyone with ambition can make a good quality film. The tools used to make film is getting more and more affordable, the knowledge in what is needed to make a good quality film is becoming more and more accessible.

With live action you are allowed many different takes from many different angles on any given scene. Unlike both 2D and CG animation, it does not take a vast amount of time to do just one second of motion. Everything is done in real time on the spot, which allows the actor to explore different ways to execute his or her performance. All the angles and shots are not planed out in pre-production.  On the spot inspiration is a huge bonus for live action film. You are allowed to see all the things around you and enhance your performance through those things.

The director of the film is allowed to see the big picture more clearly.  With 2D and CG animation you are given curtain aspects of any given scene individually. You go to one department to look at the acting in a shot and then go to entirely different department to see the landscapes and lighting for a shot. With Live action you are allowed to see everything at the same time, the performance, the setting, the lighting, and so on. The time it takes to do a live action film compared to a CG or a 2D film, is often cut in half. You are allowed to see the big picture much more quickly and it is not nearly as hard to make changes with live action as it is for animation.

One great aspect of live action is the individual performances that you are allowed to clearly see on screen. In both types of animation mediums you can not possibly create a main characters individual performance by yourself. It takes many people working together to act out a character such as Woody from Pixar’s Toy Story or Beast from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. In live action one person often carries out the entire performance of a character, because of this the public often create “stars” from actors that have accomplished great performance after great performance, such as Tom Hanks or Julia Roberts. More weight is often put  on one performer to make or break a movie.

With live action film, chemistry between actors is key. Each actor uses the things and people around him or her to enhance his or her performance. There is a famous saying about acting, “acting is reacting”, and there is no better medium to see this applied in then live action. The immediate reaction an actor can get in live action, can not be completely copied in any other medium of film. The performance is entirely built on the interaction with the surroundings around you. Steven Spielberg talked about trying  not to have much of a rehearsal time with his actors because he wanted his actors to give a sort of “in the moment” performance. There is a such thing as over working a routine where the natural flaws of an action disappear and the performance looks a little too mechanical. Usually a good actor has a good idea on what he or she would like to accomplish in a scene and an idea on how he or she is planning on going about executing his or her performance. However, all this planning can not be set in stone for it will change based on who you are acting with. An actor is only as good as the person he or she is performing with.

Post-production is a very important part in live action film. With animation you have a very clear idea on how you are going to cut the picture before any final footage comes to the table. However, with live action film you are allowed to be a little more loose with cutting, you have the ability to shoot many different takes from many different angles. Because it is so easy to shoot the film, you are allowed more options when the footage gets to the cutting room floor. It is the editor that has control of an actors performance. Although the actor has done his own characters performance, there is a vast amount of footage of the performance to choose from. If a actor is on screen for 20 minutes  all together in the final film, it is likely that there has been several hundred hours of footage shot of the actor. In these hundreds of hours, there no doubt has been some bad takes where the performance was not to it’s highest degree.  Thus, the performance is often based on the good judgment of the director and editor.

Live action film is a medium that has flourished for more then a century. From the silent days where a actor with a false mustache made us laugh  through his vast skill in physical humor to modern days where actors like Tom Hanks and Russel Crowe have shown us how life like and impacting a performance can be. An actor is allowed to be put in a position where they do not need to imagine anymore, where the costumes, props, and sets truly feel real. Live Action film is a medium that will last through the ages, because it shows us a reality that no other medium can.

(This is a scene where I think the surrounding had a vital impact on the performance. Because everything was right in front the actor Liam Neeson, he was able to create a performance that touches the core of my heart. My hope is that animation will one day be able to do the same)

(Here are the links to the rest of the posts for this series, Film Mediums, 2D Animation, and CG Animation)

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