2 posts • joined 24 Feb 2010
Ever heard of "sneakernet"?
Faster for fools
What actually happened, and is not in the paper referred to, is that the cutting rate in Hollywood feature films has got continuously faster over the last 60 years. In the 'forties, the mean Average Shot Length (ASL) was about 9 seconds, while nowadays it is about 4 seconds. Action films were always faster than the mean for the period, and now they usually have and ASL of a bit over 2 seconds. This development has been quite consciously intentional by American film-makers over the last 30 years. The actual distribution of numbers of shots of different lengths in a film usually follows the Lognormal distribution. The Standard Deviation for shots lengths in a film is usually about 1.2 times the ASL for that film. E.g. "Dark City" (1998) has an ASL of 1.9 seconds, and a Standard deviation of 2.1. The wave-like structure in the succession of shot lengths results from the alternation, even in recent action films, of a standard script structure of scenes of faster cut action with dialogue scenes of slightly less fast cutting.
The same speeding up of sensory jolts for the stupid audience can be observed in literature (where the sentence lengths also follow the Lognormal distribution), with the movement from the nineteenth century multiple clause sentence to 21st. century text-messaging.
(I am the guy who invented the statistical style analysis of movies 30 years ago.)