misc The Cinematic Experience

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
In college if i took a 50 page exam designed that nobody can finish it, you flip through quickly and focus on the problems worth the most points first
It's all about using what limited time you have to make the biggest impact!!! Then it was graded on a curve.

How can you make the biggest impact unless you know what are the problems worth the most points?

Therefore I ask you -

What factors into the cinematic experience for the average audience member?
You need to know this stuff to know where it is most important to be putting your time.

I tried to make a pie chart for the audience experience, do you guys think I got close? What would you change?
I felt it was really important to put expectations in there, because so many people have movies ruined by their expectations or their preconceived notions about particular people or events, etc.


I've heard on this website for seven years that sound is half of the experience.
Now that we have a pie chart its easy to see where to put the majority of our time and creative energy.

Wow look at these numbers, sound is 10x more impactful than editing and 10x more important than acting

sexy dean winchester GIF


How would you change this pie chart?
 
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Fascinating. Thank you for this.

One thought I have is: I'm not sure your time and energy should or could be apportioned in quite this way. The chart gives a weighted value to various kinds or portions of audience experience, but I'm skeptical the division of time and energy (I want to say labor) would match up. Wouldn't time and energy need their own chart to achieve the distribution you want in the experience chart? Or are you only trying to determine the right distribution of mental-psychic attention or care filmmakers should give to each constituent part of the process?
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
Fascinating. Thank you for this.

One thought I have is: I'm not sure your time and energy should or could be apportioned in quite this way. The chart gives a weighted value to various kinds or portions of audience experience, but I'm skeptical the division of time and energy (I want to say labor) would match up. Wouldn't time and energy need their own chart to achieve the distribution you want in the experience chart? Or are you only trying to determine the right distribution of mental-psychic attention or care filmmakers should give to each constituent part of the process?

You know its funny the day after I posted this a really famous cinematographer (the guy that did jurrasic park, apollo 13, roger rabbit, etc) had a lecture uploaded to youtube and he had it huge letters on a black screen

"80% of how we perceive our world is visual"


So as I suspected the sound half of the pie chart should probably be scaled way back.

As for your point richy i think what youre saying is that certain aspects would require a lot more effort?
For example my latest film I am learning how to sew to make my own costume and thats a lot of effort because i have to learn from scratch

To that I would say when someone watches a film they don't care about your struggles, they dont care if you lost your location the day before shooting, if you only had 6 days to shoot the film or if you had 3 months. all they care about is the end product.

all the audience cares about is the audience experience. and the director needs to be keenly aware of what the audience is experiencing.
We are always making compromises and time is always against us so if you have a good view of things in context of how important they are maybe it can help. Mostly we've just been talking about "the cinematic experience" since i joined IT so I wanted to quantify it.
 
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We all know that sound is a hugely important and yet often underestimated part of the film experience. I don't know that I'd scale it way back, but I would reduce sound a bit. A movie after all is moving pictures.

I think you have grossly underestimated acting. My belief about the cinematic experience hinges on the concept that a film is intended to trick us into believing it's real. We know a film isn't real, but a part of our brain does experience it as real. If that weren't the case, horror wouldn't work. So, anything that ruins the illusion the film is trying to create in our brains, ruins the experience for us. That could be a story point that rings untrue, that could be a bad special effect and most importantly that can be a bad or miscast performance.
 
Also, you could break down sound further (music, SFX, dialog). In a way, you've broken down the visual elements on the right while lumping sound all together on the left.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
We all know that sound is a hugely important and yet often underestimated part of the film experience. I don't know that I'd scale it way back, but I would reduce sound a bit. A movie after all is moving pictures.

I think you have grossly underestimated acting. My belief about the cinematic experience hinges on the concept that a film is intended to trick us into believing it's real. We know a film isn't real, but a part of our brain does experience it as real. If that weren't the case, horror wouldn't work. So, anything that ruins the illusion the film is trying to create in our brains, ruins the experience for us. That could be a story point that rings untrue, that could be a bad special effect and most importantly that can be a bad or miscast performance.
Okay well if we bump up acting % then we have to reduce something else. keep that in mind with your suggestions.
I guess we have lots of points to redistribute from sound right now :)

I think youre right.
So what should sound be - 30%? and how would you break it down, i think "acting" covers dialogue already.

music composer, and foley/sound design. anything else ?
 
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No offense but I think STORY is more important than what you've got in your pie chart. How much more? Depends on the audience. I'd have to perform some real research in order to get the average demographic of an audience member.

In my humble opinion? This is where Indies don't perform as much due diligence as they should.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
Personal opinion and absolutely reflecting my roles as (1) screenwriter and (2) producer of 2 features:

1. story: 40%
2. acting: 30%
3. sound 10%
4. cinematography 10%
5. editing 10%
No offense but I think STORY is more important than what you've got in your pie chart. How much more? Depends on the audience. I'd have to perform some real research in order to get the average demographic of an audience member.

In my humble opinion? This is where Indies don't perform as much due diligence as they should.

No offense taken, I was not expecting it to be the final version of the chart but rather to kickstart this discussion.
Unfortunately these day and ages I think people will not even give story a chance if the cinematography isn't there.

You upload it to youtube and they see some boring looking picture thats not lit professionally and boom theyre done just like that.
But that is a little different topic than being part of the experience. this is assuming they watch the whole thing.

Story didnt have much room in my pie chart bc sound was taking up 50% :)
 
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I think that the conversation should be split into three parts, and you need three different pie charts.

One pie chart is the for the story, plot and characters. This actually is not a pie chart, but a tapestry of all of the intricate interweavings.

The second pie chart is the technical/production/budget allocation pie chart. This is where production and post sound come in at about 10% or so. Sound is amazingly cost effective for what it does.

The third pie chart is the actual "mind-set" pertaining to the technical aspects of the film itself. Since "Sound is half of the experience" it becomes obvious that visuals are the other half. In the original pie chart in original post from sfoster it breaks down the visuals into cinematography, wardrobe, H/MU, editing, color grading and the like. Sound for picture is not simply "Sound." There is production sound, dialog editing, ADR, Foley, Sound Effects, score & source music, and mixing/rerecording. Well, there I go jumping on my sonic soap-box again.

My point is that without a great story everything else is moot. So that becomes a separate issue. The actors are also, in my opinion, another separate issue. When it comes to budgeting sound-for-picture is, as I mentioned, very cost efficient, so does not take up a lot of space in the budgeting pie chart. However, when actually doing production the mind-set has to be half sound.

You hang everything on the story and the characters, they are the canvas upon which you sonically and visually paint. Your paints are all of the film crafts. You cram everything you possibly can into the budget and make adjustments to take best advantage of them. When you actually produce your project the mind-set should be half sound and half visuals.

Anyway, that's my take on this topic.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
I think that the conversation should be split into three parts, and you need three different pie charts.

One pie chart is the for the story, plot and characters. This actually is not a pie chart, but a tapestry of all of the intricate interweavings.

The second pie chart is the technical/production/budget allocation pie chart. This is where production and post sound come in at about 10% or so. Sound is amazingly cost effective for what it does.

The third pie chart is the actual "mind-set" pertaining to the technical aspects of the film itself. Since "Sound is half of the experience" it becomes obvious that visuals are the other half. In the original pie chart in original post from sfoster it breaks down the visuals into cinematography, wardrobe, H/MU, editing, color grading and the like. Sound for picture is not simply "Sound." There is production sound, dialog editing, ADR, Foley, Sound Effects, score & source music, and mixing/rerecording. Well, there I go jumping on my sonic soap-box again.

My point is that without a great story everything else is moot. So that becomes a separate issue. The actors are also, in my opinion, another separate issue. When it comes to budgeting sound-for-picture is, as I mentioned, very cost efficient, so does not take up a lot of space in the budgeting pie chart. However, when actually doing production the mind-set has to be half sound.

You hang everything on the story and the characters, they are the canvas upon which you sonically and visually paint. Your paints are all of the film crafts. You cram everything you possibly can into the budget and make adjustments to take best advantage of them. When you actually produce your project the mind-set should be half sound and half visuals.

Anyway, that's my take on this topic.
Without a great story someone can still sit through a movie and have an experience. nothing is moot.
in fact most movies i've seen do not have a great story.

but this is about the average experience for the general hollywood film.
not some extreme example of blaring audio or trash bag costumes or something that isn't mainstream.

but just a typical movie experience, what is that composed of
 
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CamBlamo

Pro Member
indiePRO
IOTM Winner
That's why I think short films are a great way to see what really works well as a complete cinematic experience.

It's why some videos do better than others.

I've seen plenty of short films that had an amazing story... And they do okay in metric views and likes... But I've seen visually stunning, almost completely abstract films blow them out of the water. Mostly because of the cinematography and style.

Example is "The Lighthouse". Very strange in the story department... But the acting and visuals brought it into cult popularity.

I'd say unique visuals combined with escapism is ultimate. Story is definitely important, but probably more how the story is spun... Rather than the story itself.

If visuals weren't important, cavemen wouldn't have painted on walls or made shadow puppet shows.
 

CamBlamo

Pro Member
indiePRO
IOTM Winner
I know you're right about that, but I found it unwatchable because of the complete lack of an interesting story - meaning interesting to me.
Crazy thing was it was an Oscar nominee, wasn't it?

It's funny, if you watch the interviews with Robert Egers... He even laughs a little when people tell him it was an amazing film. He's a very humble director, but kinda crazy.
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
Having never gone to college I'm always fascinated by these experiments. To me,
admittedly non-college educated, attempting to break down “art” is silly. The only
piece of advice I have ever fully embraced is, “Nobody knows anything.”

But I enjoy reading peoples opinions and I'm enjoying this pie chart as it changes.

What factors into the experience for audiences and where it is most important for
filmmakers to put in their time are very different.

I'm going to (for now) stick where it is important for a filmmaker to put in their time.

Alcove Audio's statement that audio is 50% of the experience doesn’t mean a
filmmaker should devote 50% of 100% of their time to audio. It is a warning to
beginning filmmakers to focus as much time to audio and to visual because the
audience is affected by both equally. Most of us – and I am guilty as sin regarding
this – do not put much effort into recording audio and the final mix as we should.

So my question is; can a pie chart be useful? Is making a film segmented like a pie?
If you but in 50% of your time into audio does that really mean you can only put in
5% into on screen talent and costumes and sets? Shouldn't a filmmaker put 100%
into everything?

This is a great topic to discuss![
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
Having never gone to college I'm always fascinated by these experiments. To me,
admittedly non-college educated, attempting to break down “art” is silly. The only
piece of advice I have ever fully embraced is, “Nobody knows anything.”

But I enjoy reading peoples opinions and I'm enjoying this pie chart as it changes.

What factors into the experience for audiences and where it is most important for
filmmakers to put in their time are very different.

I'm going to (for now) stick where it is important for a filmmaker to put in their time.

Alcove Audio's statement that audio is 50% of the experience doesn’t mean a
filmmaker should devote 50% of 100% of their time to audio. It is a warning to
beginning filmmakers to focus as much time to audio and to visual because the
audience is affected by both equally. Most of us – and I am guilty as sin regarding
this – do not put much effort into recording audio and the final mix as we should.

So my question is; can a pie chart be useful? Is making a film segmented like a pie?
If you but in 50% of your time into audio does that really mean you can only put in
5% into on screen talent and costumes and sets? Shouldn't a filmmaker put 100%
into everything?

This is a great topic to discuss![
Part of this discussion is that i am stuck at home bored from covid so it may admittedly be silly.
Can this pie chart be useful? Yes if someone is very misguided.

Maybe they dont realize how important story is or how important audio is.
even if audio is 30% instead of 50% they should look at the chart and realize how significant high fidelity audio is.

certainly this chart is not useful to the advanced producer
but we have a lot of newbies that join the forum.

alcove says audio is 50% of the experience. it prompted me to wonder.. what is the other 50% ? and pie chart was born.
 
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Part of this discussion is that i am stuck at home bored from covid so it may admittedly be silly.
Can this pie chart be useful? Yes if someone is very misguided.

Maybe they dont realize how important story is or how important audio is.
even if audio is 30% instead of 50% they should look at the chart and realize how significant high fidelity audio is.

certainly this chart is not useful to the advanced producer
but we have a lot of newbies that join the forum.

alcove says audio is 50% of the experience. it prompted me to wonder.. what is the other 50% ? and pie chart was born.
Like @directorik said... Totally worth discussing which is why I chimed in on story. I've seen a lot of Indie films over the years that had really good cinematography and sound but no story worth investing an hour and a half of my time in. I just watched a film partly written and totally directed by Cuba Gooding Jr. the other night... BAYOU CAVIER. I've always liked Cuba Gooding Jr. even when he ended up making direct to video films (like this one). I was interested since he had a writing credit and directed it himself.

I had high hopes... Sound was good. Cinematography was good. Even the story I think COULD have been GOOD but it was too fragmented for me personally. I got it but I think it could have been SO MUCH BETTER had he just focused MORE on story.

While certainly not all-encompassing... I still think too many Indies just knock out a script and think, "It's good enough."

Not from what I've seen.

Just my two cents of course.
 
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mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
I think it's useful just to think about these ideas & recognize that there's no single right answer.

An interesting experiment - which I have NO intention of doing - might be to test people by having them watch a clip of a movie, then change different things to see how they react. So shoot the same thing with different actors, sound design, story development, music, etc.
What causes the biggest change in what people "like" would be interesting input.

My emphasis on story is completely driven by the fact that I'm a screenwriter first - but when I produced, I often needed to put that aside and focus on other things. The woman who helped to produce my 2nd feature also acted in it - but became obsessed with finding the best songs for the sound track after we wrapped the shoot.

I try to put 100% in a given moment into whatever that day's focus is - set design, editing, music, whatever.
 
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I agree with Directorik when he says that no one knows anything.

I don't think an aspiring mogul should break it down to a scientific or, in this case, logical formula. Many people have tried to use such tools, including statistical analysis, to find the winning formula, but the real world doesn't work that way. That said, to me, the story is the most important part. You can have crappy shooting but still a good film, if the story is good. I understand the first few episodes of Doctor Who were shot in a junkyard.
 
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