A Visual Exploration Of The Affect Of Camera Movement

When we watch Amelie we may appreciate the scenery, how each shot seems to seamlessly fit with the next and the skill of the staging. But what about what we don’t see? What about how the director, Jeunet, cleverly cuts out the modern and the monstrous of the Parisian streets to ensure we are, at al times, immersed in a romantic dream-like version of the city.


As part of a project for university, Lessa Rabiger was asked to put together a presentation for her film and video editing course on aesthetics. She chose Amelie for it’s careful and clever attention to symmetry, keeping the focus always on the characters and showing us just enough of their surroundings to set the scene.

In cinema what isn’t shown is almost as important as what is: what we cut out in order to emphasise what is left, what we alter about a scene in only showing a whisper of surrounding. You may have seen Amelie before, you may have enjoyed it, but Lessa’s film will have you re-watching it in a totally different light. Conscious of each camera movement, where each character stands and how the lens manipulates your focus and understanding.


Lessa’s video is much like it’s subject: simple, effective and thought-provoking. We spoke to the 24-year old master student to find out more about the project and it’s creator.

The Plus: What made you choose ‘Amelie’ for this project?
Lessa Rabiger:
I was looking for a film director with a lot of personality, who created his own universe based on a peculiar mise-en-scène. Amélie was perfect in that sense. It portrays an idealized 20th century Paris by hiding its modern or disturbing elements and emphasising its dream-like structure, highlighted by a picturesque visual style and an extraordinary use of different wide angle lenses. Jeunet practises what critics could classify as ‘style over substance’, however, it invites the viewer to dive deep into the unique universe of Amelie. In order to achieve that goal, one of his most obvious features would be the outstanding symmetry contained in every single frame, much as previously mastered by Stanley Kubrick and Wes Anderson. I chose this particular film both because of its visual richness and its great popularity as a cult film.


TP: Why did you choose the clips featured and how long did it take you to find all the clips and put them together?
I was looking for clips that combined a centred point of interest or focus (illustrating symmetry) with more or less camera movement (which would be travellings in most cases). The scenes I picked would be obvious to the viewer, a simple composition that would emphasise the centred objects or protagonists. Also, they would star the main characters or stress one-point perspective in unanimated shots of buildings or architecture.
I don’t recall how long exactly it took me to select and compose the clips as it was an ongoing process during my Christmas holidays. It’s funny, however, because this essay is one of my ‘simpler’ works, as I spent way more time selecting and composing clips for some of my other montages (which is, for the most part, due to the larger amount of material involved).


TP: Why the fascination with symmetry and camera movement?
The idea for a video about symmetry occurred to me after seeing a supercut about Stanley Kubrick’s work, called ‘Stanley Kubrick’s One-point perspective’. I must confess that I was stunned by the beauty of the composition, laid out so clearly before my eyes. I had been familiar with the topic beforehand, but in the end it was the impact of the compilation that motivated me to analyse a similar topic on my own.
It just so happens that the film I chose for the matter was all about camera movements, so I would want to express its particularity resuming its visual style in one single video.


TP: What is your background?
I’m from the north of Germany (near Hamburg), who moved to Spain (Navarra) at the age of 19 in order to acquire the language. First, it was planned to be a temporal thing while working as an Au Pair; later, I decided to move to Madrid to study (degree in Audiovisual Communication).
Throughout my four years at university I developed a special interest in editing, however, my course offered very general knowledge and was lacking practise and more specific skills.
Outside of university, together with a fellow classmate (Gabriela Bossio Garibay) I carried out a series of video projects for international competitions (‘Call To Innovation’: University Singularity). Turns out that we won the 1st place for Spain in 2014 with the project ‘Medroom’, which laid the foundation for job offers such as promotional videos for a national gas provider (‘Gas Natural Fenosa’).
Today, I’m fulltime busy with my master’s degree, graduating in September and looking for internships to improve my work experience.


TP: Your other videos also show other aspects of cinematography, what is different about this particular project?
My other videos mainly focus on creative matters and editing skills, in terms of composing something completely new on the basis of filmed material. I attribute a new meaning to my videos or focus on the visual style.
‘Symmetry & Camera Movement’, however, is rather a kind of analysis of film making techniques. Instead of creating myself, I try to bring a bit of cinematic virtuosity nearer to the viewer.