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  • Our Short Attention Span Future

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on February 12th, 2012 (All posts by )

    One time I was stuck in a hotel room somewhere and an old rerun of “Welcome Back Kotter” came on. For some reason I stuck with the channel for a few minutes and was struck by something.

    At one point the main character starts a monologue. They apparently had only one camera and he seemed to speak into it forever, without interruption. While it seemed like minutes, it probably was maybe 20 seconds or so.

    This is how our brains were wired growing up. We watched TV shows (which supposedly rotted our brains, too, or so we were told) but they were in molasses and had few or no cuts compared to seemingly anything on TV today.
     


     
    This video by a new singer out of England (I am not going to mention her name but it is easy to figure out – we don’t want the traffic) is designed for kids and younger people with the attention span of a gnat. The video is under 4 minutes long and it easily has 200 or so cuts… I lost track trying to count them. It is simply astonishing how much they pack into there. I think the longest pause is essentially an ad for a brand of watch (product placement) at the 2:32 mark – maybe a couple of seconds.

    This is the future of attracting attention and it will certainly be a short-attention span future.

    I am a bit ashamed to admit it but I find this song a bit catchy and certainly her looks did not hurt her choice of career.

    Cross posted at LITGM

     

    10 Responses to “Our Short Attention Span Future”

    1. Carl from Chicago Says:

      Doh I forgot I can’t embed you tube videos if Jonathan or someone sees this you can embed the link or just go here

    2. James Bennett Says:

      This is obvious if you watch any movie more than a few decades old. I watched Operation Crossbow a little while ago, which I remembered as a film with a lot of action, and was struck by how long non-essential scenes would be allowed to run on. There was really an entirely different attitude toward story telling.

    3. Anonymous Says:

      I thought the latest Bond film “Quantum of Solace” was just awful due to the high octane flash cutting. I actually got a headache watching it. Then not long after we saw “Duplicity” and I was struck by how different the editing was; long tracking shots, long stationary-camera shots, long conversations. And you’re right, older films are good at this as well. “The Train” (possibly the last really good black-and-white WWII film) had some tremendous long tracking shots that must have been a bear to set up but work really, really well on the screen. Not to mention wrecking actual trains.

    4. Dan from Madison Says:

      I would get a headache watching a lot of programming so I turn it off. I can’t watch anything where I can’t count to at least “one thousand one” before a cut. I think this may be one reason I like watching sports so much, although even that has a lot more cuts to different camera angles than it used to.

      One other nit, not related, is the typical interview where they show the back of the head of the person supposedly saying something and they aren’t really saying it, which is completely obvious by the way their jaw is working or their head position/bobbing/not bobbing. This technique has been used since I have been watching TV and I am surprised they still do it. In general, modern movies and TV shows are shoddily done with heavy editing and a lot of times things look terribly out of place.

    5. Jonathan Says:

      A few years ago there was a fashion of using jerky video. I’m glad that’s over with.

    6. Nicholas Says:

      “One other nit, not related, is the typical interview where they show the back of the head of the person supposedly saying something and they aren’t really saying it, which is completely obvious by the way their jaw is working or their head position/bobbing/not bobbing. This technique has been used since I have been watching TV and I am surprised they still do it. In general, modern movies and TV shows are shoddily done with heavy editing and a lot of times things look terribly out of place.”

      This!!1!!1!!eleven!!! It drives me completely spare when they do that. How hard is it to at least try to sync up the jaw movements with the dialog?

      And I have to say I really can’t enjoy movies with too many cuts, especially in action scenes. Anybody can make it look like somebody’s fighting someone else if they can cut so that you can’t even see them land a punch/kick/bullet whatever. It’s far more impressive when you can see a whole set of moves in one take from one angle. This is something that makes older Jackie Chan and Jason Statham movies so awesome. Come on directors, when are you going to figure out that lots of cuts is lazy rather than cool.

    7. renminbi Says:

      Quick cuts are Coitus Interruptus-it goes against the natural flow of things and is a literal headache. I am surprised that people will tolerate this. I go for the remote. This has been going on for forty years; people should be tired of it by now.

    8. Verity Says:

      I find this intensely irritating and couldn’t watch it all the way through. Indeed, why would anyone want to as it is repetitive in its effects? Nightmare.

    9. Michael Kennedy Says:

      It’s interesting that John Wayne, back in his B movie days, invented the method of filming a punch in a fight. I don’t know if they still do it that way because I haven’t seen a punch in a movie in years . They just shoot him.

    10. Locomotive Breath Says:

      I blame the Children’s Television Workshop (idea not original to me). They noticed that kids have short attention spans. So what did they do? They reinforced the short attention spans by cutting everything up into small snippets. Which delayed the onset in children, if they arrived at all, of longer attention spans.