For the last ten years I’ve seen a worrying development in film and television. I know ~I’m not alone in hating it. It is the shake-o-cam, where film makers seem to think that by shaking the camera and making it look like the cameraman has not yet discovered the invention of the steadycam, or standing still, or even not jogging on the spot whilst filming, that this somehow adds something to the image filmed.
Actually, it doesn’t. Not by a long way. The argument for the shake-o-cam is that it makes it look like the viewer is there, looking on and that we are seeing everything from an observer’s point of view. I have news for these film makers: if that is how you really see the world, then there is something wrong with the muscles in your eyes and your brain’s ability to compensate so that what you see is smoothed out. When I look at the world around me, I don’t see everything jiggling madly around. Of course, I can mimic this effect by placing my head on the side of my washing machine on the spin cycle and watch my kitchen appear to jiggle around. But it isn’t how I normally chose to see the world.
Try for yourself: look at what you are seeing and think about it. Jog on the spot and look at something. See! It doesn’t move around as wildly as you think, because the muscles in your eye and your brain are working together like a steadycam would for film and television. What the shake-o-cam does is make it look like the cameraman is an amateur who has no talent, and the director and editor didn’t bother looking at the film when they were editing it up.
Film and television producers and directors please take note: shake-o-cam looks sh!t.
This public service message was brought to you by me, after having had to sit through too many films and programmes that looked like the cameraman was practising his body-popping moves whilst shooting each scene.