kottke.org posts about Walter Murch

Particle FeverMar 12 2014

Last year (spoilers!), CERN confirmed the discovery of the Higgs boson. Physicist-turned-filmmaker Mark Levinson has made a film about the search for the so-called God Particle. Particle Fever follows a group of scientists through the process of discovery and the construction of the mega-machine that discovered the Higgs, the Large Hadron Collider. Here's a trailer:

Two additional data points: the movie is holding a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and legendary sound designer and editor Walter Murch edited the film. Particle Fever is showing at Film Forum in New York until March 20. (thx, james)

Walter Murch on why 3-D won't workJan 26 2011

The problem with using 3-D for feature-length films is not so much the technology or its lack of contribution to the storytelling, it's that human eyes were not designed to focus and converge on images at two different distances. Walter Murch, the legendary sound designer and editor, explains in a note to Roger Ebert:

The biggest problem with 3D, though, is the "convergence/focus" issue. A couple of the other issues -- darkness and "smallness" -- are at least theoretically solvable. But the deeper problem is that the audience must focus their eyes at the plane of the screen -- say it is 80 feet away. This is constant no matter what.

But their eyes must converge at perhaps 10 feet away, then 60 feet, then 120 feet, and so on, depending on what the illusion is. So 3D films require us to focus at one distance and converge at another. And 600 million years of evolution has never presented this problem before. All living things with eyes have always focussed and converged at the same point.

Synchronized blinking during moviesJul 29 2009

Due to blinking, viewers of a 2.5 hour-long film like the latest Harry Potter will have their eyes shut for up to 15 minutes. But researchers have found that movie goers synchronize their blinks:

The synchronised blinks occurred at "non-critical" points during the silent movie -- at the conclusion of an action sequence or when the main character had disappeared from view. "We all commonly find implicit breaks for blinking while viewing a video story," Nakano says.

In In the Blink of an Eye, film editor Walter Murch wrote about the blink as a natural place to cut between scenes, a marker of the boundary between two ideas.

Michael KontopoulosMar 20 2009

From artist Michael Kontopoulos, a video of machines that almost fall over.

A system of sculptures that is constantly on the brink of collapse. My intention was to capture and sustain the exact moment of impending catastrophe and endlessly repeat it.

I do this too, only I use chairs and my own body and frequently tip over and hurt myself. Anything for my art.

Kontopoulos also did something called Conversation Piece, inspired by legendary film editor Walter Murch.

Film editor Walter Murch, who edited many of Francis Ford Copolla's films, developed a theory about edits while working on The Conversation (1974). He noticed that in many cases, the best place to make a cut was when he blinked. Subsequently, Murch wrote about the human blink as a sort of mental punctuation mark: a signifier of a viewer's comfort with visual material and therefore, a good place to separate two ideas with a cut.

Fascinating. (via this is that)

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