Dan Hume's Blog

Koyaanisqatsi style of Filming
January 19, 2012, 3:49 pm
Filed under: Extended Major Project

Koyaanisqatsi, also known as Life Out of Balance, is a 1982 film directed by Godfrey Reggio with music composed by Philip Glass and cinematography by Ron Fricke. The film consists primarily of slow motion and time-lapse footage of cities and many natural landscapes across the United States. The visual tone poem contains neither dialogue nor a vocalized narration: its tone is set by the juxtaposition of images and music. Reggio explains the lack of dialogue by stating “it’s not for lack of love of the language that these films have no words. It’s because, from my point of view, our language is in a state of vast humiliation. It no longer describes the world in which we live.”

The style of filming that he’s created is something I want to explore using the iPhone. With popularity of DSLR cameras, which are the best at re-creating this effect to a high standard, I’d like to take a step backwards to see if a mobile phone can be just as superior in this technique. I’ve already created a few time-lapse videos on my  iPhone and they seem to come out really well. I haven’t tried any at the nighttime, which will be my next experiment.

It’s very clear that this style of filming has become a huge influence on other filmmakers over past few decades. It’s certainly influenced me and the fact that I have access to more advanced cameras to execute this technique to a really high standard. I managed to find Koyaanisqatsi’s longest and arguable best piece, ‘The Grid’.

The main uniqueness of this film is that it doesn’t have any dialogue; therefore allowing the audience to watch it freely as if they are trying to interpret a piece of art. “It’s meant to offer an experience, rather than an idea,” said Reggio in a 2002 interview. “For some people, it’s an environmental film. For some, it’s an ode to technology. For some people, it’s a piece of shit. Or it moves people deeply. It depends on who you ask. It is the journey that is the objective.” Reflecting back on my last project, I must have been influenced by tis film, because I didn’t want to have any dialogue in my video. I wanted my audience to observe what they were watching without the interruption of an narrator. For this project, I again don’t want to include any audible dialogue, however I think I’ll include some text embedded into the video to help justify some of the messages I’m trying to convey.


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