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Finding Inspiration from a One Take Video

Monday, September 28th, 2009

I stumbled across this video last night, and was both amazed and inspired, and wanted to share this with everyone reading this blog.  As an artist, among other talents, I am always looking to be amazed by the talents of others.  This video fits the bill.

In most movies, the movie is made up of many, many short sequences.  The typical length of a single take in most movies and television shows is 5-15 seconds.  You can see this when the camera switches perspective–perhaps between two or more people as they speak their dialogue, or to show different aspects of a scene.

This allows the video editing team to pick only the best pieces of each shot, so the movie flows smoothly.  This also allows actors to be filmed at different locations or times, but appear to be talking directly to each other.  For example, in the Lord of the Rings, there is a sequence where Frodo and Sam talk to each other seemingly in real time, but in reality, each side of the conversation was filmed more than a year apart.

Much more rarely, a film uses a longer take, which may take 30 seconds to a minute.  It’s very rare for any movie to go longer than that.

However, this video, captured by students at the University of Quebec at Montreal, was taken in a single, continuous shot.  The planning in the video is evident by the complexity of the dance moves and the coordination between 172 students.  The video was filmed on September 10, 2009, and completed in only 2 hours and 15 minutes.

It’s simply amazing to me that people could create this film in such a short time.  I’m inspired to go create something similarly complex with a couple hours of free time.

What does this video mean for writers?

We don’t have the same difficulties with perspective change as those working with video as a medium.  However, there are still lessons we can learn from techniques like those shown in this video.

The biggest lesson is that we don’t need to be “professional” writers to write well.  This impressive video was filmed by amateur actors and videographers,  all in the course of a couple hours.  There’s nothing stopping you from becoming an excellent author–except, of course, your own self doubts.

The second lesson is that you can have an impact simply by writing for yourself first.  While the students did put this video on YouTube, it’s apparent from the video that they were first focused on having fun.  They simply wanted to be a part of the experience…and now we all get to enjoy the result of their creation.

I’m often amazed by the creativity of others.  There are so many “right” ways to create something new…all that it takes is one new insight, or to take an old story a slightly different direction, to end up with something that extends beyond what has been done before.

Were you inspired by this movie like I was?  What other ways do you find inspiration?

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