Movie magic - how it's done, why it's done

This is a thread to have someone explain the technical aspects and traditions in movie-making.

For example, I watch a lot of older movies, and one thing I never quite “get” is why, in a love story, a woman often appears at least once in a fuzzy, out-of-focus shot. Is this meant to signal infatuation? Why do men never appear out of focus to woman in love?

Also: what precisely is meant to be conveyed by a shot of a character who steps out of shadow and the only thing brightly illuminated is the character’s eyes? How did this arise?

Why don’t movie makers concentrate on capturing actual sounds rather than adding in sound effects in later? I’ve never punched someone in the face and had it sound like it does in the movies. Quite disappointing, really.

Is there a name for the dramatic violin score that plays in the background when someone, usually one of two starcrossed lovers, is about to leave forever and the other person doesn’t want them to go and there’s a big dramatic kiss?

  1. It’s often hard to record actual sounds on a set.
  2. Dramatic license. Look it up.

It’s difficult enough to capture dialogue (often a lot of it must be re-dubbed by the actors later), much less other sound effects. They’d need hidden mics everywhere, and aside from being expensive and inconvenient that would pick up a lot of other background noises that would be distracting in the movie. It’s much easier to just do the foley later.

You’re probably thinking of Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet.

I suspect you’re just not doing it properly. It’s really just a matter of practice. Just keep punching people. Punch as many people as you can as often as you can, sooner or later you’ll start to hear that crisp thwaaack! :smiley:

How is this different than in contemporary love stories when the guy sees the girl and she’s walking/smiling/flipping her hair in slow motion? The answer is: It’s not. Both are simply cinematic devices to focus attention on the object of desire, implying a certain entrancement on the part of the hero.

As for why women aren’t treated the same way, read a little Laura Mulvey for one commonly-recognized theory.

Eyes are provocative, personal, and reflect light exceedingly well. The “meaning” behind a shot (revelation, menace, adoration) all depends on the context.

Yes, but it’ll come from the police nightstick whacking down on his skull when they arrest him.

I have a strong suspicion that one of the reasons they don’t record real face-punch sounds is that actors don’t really punch each other in the face.