Speeded-Up motion in movies NOT for comic purposes

Pepper Mill and I received a copy of a set of ALL the Avengers episodes with Emma Peel, and we’ve slowly been working our way through it. (16 discs!) some of them I’d never seen. In one of them, at the end, in the “joke” stinger, Steed s pulling Mrs. Peel in a Ricksha. For humorous effect, the motion is slightly speeded up. It looked ridiculous – not The Avengers style at all.

We’re all familiar with cases where they use speeded-up motion. the “Yakity Sax” segments at the end of what seems like every Benny Hill episode is a common example.

the absurd and inappropriate way that scene in the Avengers episode looked got me think of cases where a serious movie uses speeded-up motion, apparently in the belief that the audience won’t notice. Directors seem to think that, since they can get away with so many virtually subliminal tricks, they can get away with all of them. It ain’t true. If something looks weird, people will notice, even if they can’t exactly tell you why.

So what are some cases of this, especially if it bugged you?

My list:

1.) The Day the Earth Stood Still - when the saucer opens up, the crowds gathered around the ship runs away. Robert Wise wasn’t satisfied with the speed the crowd was backing away, thinking it didn’t look hurried enough, so he ran the segment faster. It looks blatantly false.

2.) Goldfinger – in the scene where Bond sabotages Tilly Masterson’s car, the accident is clearly shot slowly and speeded up. It looks weird.

3.) Thunderball – similarly, the entire final sequyence with the fight aboard the Disco Volante is run in sped-up motion. Coupled with the bad matting of the background (also sped up), it looks incredibly fake.

Sorry – my computer shut me down before I had a chance to finish.

4.) Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer - I know it’s supposed to be a comedy, but in one scene they show Lou sliding down in a cave and fortuitously getting stopped by a stalactite. They shot it in slow motion and when they run it at normal speed – which sped up, by the standards of the action – it looks like something dangerous that’s happening quickly. I list it here because it’s not supposed to be funny simply by virtue of moving fast, and because it looks blatantly false.

There are other cases that don’t fit – in the 1978 Superman when Clark is racing the train (and afterwards) the action is sped up, but of course, he’s supposed to be running at Super-Speed, so of course it looks unreal. Similarly for the Flash, and that Star Trek episode “Wink of an Eye”, where you have that super-speed existence.

When Harpo moves really fast in A Night at the Opera, or in the chase scene at the end of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, though, that’s intentionally done with the purpose of being funny, so those don’t count.

I often used to watch movies on analog TV.

I can’t say that I ever noticed the 4% speed-up characteristic of 24fps film shown on 50Hz TV. (Aus PAL)

Take a look at the large-scale fight scenes in the Errol Flynn Robin Hood. They’re clearly speeding up footage to make the fight look more impressive.

Not exactly what the OP meant, but very fast motion shots are often used in serious movies to show the passage of time - the sun, moon and clouds zooming across the sky, car taillights leaving streaks through cities at night, sprouts bursting from the earth, and so on.

Koyaanisqatsi. In that movie, speeded-up action is used to show both the “flow” of nature (clouds moving like sea waves over mountaintops) and the frenetic pace of urban life (really hammers the point home).

No comedic effect whatsoever, at least in my opinion.

Also: the credits sequence of the TV series “The Expanse”; centuries of human exploration and colonization of the inner solar system compressed into less than a minute. Very, very effective.

Yeah, that’s pretty common. Sometimes it’s used for other purposes. In the 1979 John Badham version of Dracula 9the one with Frank Langella) they have the sun setting in super-fact motion. I think they may have done it in Francis Ford Coppola’s version, too. (As I pointed out in an essay, vampire films frequently screw around with camera tricks to impart a sense of unreality).

And, of course, there’s the relatively recent trend in showing speeded-up motion alternating with slowed-down motion just 'cause it looks cool. They did this in the James bond film Die Another Day, but it’s ben in a lot of action films in the past twenty years.

I got the same set, and I’m only on Disc 3. I’ll have to retire just to find the time…

But something I’ve noticed in a lot of 60s British shows is the attitude of “Well, it’s not perfect but what the heck, it’s only television.” I’ve watched The Prisoner series many times, and the special effects and fight scenes are clearly the first take. Punches often miss by a foot as the “bad guy” jumps backward. And don’t get me started on the horribly-cast stunt doubles…

In the original The Terminator, James Cameron (or whoever edited) sped up some of the car chase footage to give it more pop, except that also sped up the police cars’ rotating lights, so it looks kinda wacky-hijinks-ish.

A technical nitpicking one: Avatar. Pandora has a lower gravity than Earth, and the Na’vi are taller than humans, and yet every scene with Na’vi in it has them moving the same number of body-lengths per time as humans on Earth would.

e just finished disc 5. I can’t wait to get to the color ones, but I think I’ve missed more of the black and white episodes.

Incidentally, the pre-Cathy Gale Avengers episode “Tunnel of Fear” just recently became available on DVD

Wouldn’t the lower gravity and added size even each other out? They’d move faster because of the gravity, but relatively slower because of their size.

Besides, they’re aliens with alien muscles, bone structure and metabolism. There’s no reason they should move the same relative speed humans do.

No, lower gravity would make them move slower. Compare the footage from the Apollo missions.

And it’s independent of what sort of musculature they have. The relevant cues are things like how long it takes a body in free-fall to fall (or jump) some set multiple of its height, or how fast they tip over when their center of gravity isn’t over their feet (which happens all the time in walking or running). Those are the same cues that make action at the wrong speed in Earth-bound movies look subtly “wrong”.

In Brian DePalma’s, “Carrie,” when the boys go to get their tuxes, some of the scene is sped up, ostensibly as “Let’s get the mundane aspects out of the way,” but, as a bonus, it is a quick chuckle.

I thought the Apollo astronauts moved slowly because of their big bulky suits. Why should you move slower in lower gravity? What physics are involved?

I think it’s quite common in car chases or especially scenes that show driving from the car occupant’s point of view.

Even discounting the suits (assume there’s a dome on the moon with an Earthlike atmosphere so people can walk around in normal clothes), I have to figure humans would be moving gingerly just because the lower gravity would be upsetting their sense of balance and moving quickly would lead to them falling down a lot. After a few days or weeks of acclimation, you’d no doubt have people loping along like gazelles.

Of course, they’d be similarly screwed up for a while after returning to Earth.

As for the OP, there’s an oddly jarring moment early in The Phantom Menace where Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are on the Trade Federation ship, being attacked by Battle Droids. The two Jedi, as I recall, are standing by a giant metal hatch and decide to retreat, abruptly whisking off screen to camera right at cartoonish speed. In an earlier film, The Empire Strikes Back, Luke’s leap from the carbon-freezing pit has him blurring momentarily across the screen.

Firefox with Clint Eastwood has the model planes flying at one speed but the film is obviously sped up to make it look like they’re flying super fast.

Also, the Racer bike scenes in the Redwood forest on the planet Endor.

Well, it’s not like Luke and Leia and a few stormtroopers were slowly riding hoverbikes and the footage got sped up. For some of the footage, the background was photographed by a crew moving through a forest, snapping one frame, moving six feet, snapping another frame, moving six feet, etc. Played back at 24 frames/second, it looks like ~100mph, then composed with actors in the foreground on stationary bikes.

Two shots (heh) in, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” were sped up: one during the opening card game and another during the “Who are those guys” chase.