August 2017 - Blog
AVERAGE SHOT LENGTH
Analyzing the average shot length (ASL) of films / TV / music videos can be very telling or completely irrelevant. Taken as its own metric…it is just a number. The supposition that action / thriller / sci-fi films genres have a shorter ASL is statistically accurate but that does not mean a longer ASL means less tension, action, drama or intensity. I have been deep-diving into ASL statistics for several years and shared a lot of SHAREABLES to help filmmakers and cinephiles further comprehend the mystery behind the numbers.
David Fincher is a precise and peerless filmmaker that accepts nothing short of perfection. On the spectrum of ASL as attributed to directors…he falls on the quicker end. Fincher’s average ASL for feature films can be calculated at 3.87 seconds. No matter what the number and how it compares with other filmmakers…his films never feel rushed. In my opinion, they bloom and play out at a sublime pace that suits each individual film. The amount of craft and care that goes on behind the scenes (and never seen by the audience) is second to none. I’ve been lucky to see the process first hand and helped create the post production workflow for GONE GIRL as his team made the transition to Adobe Premiere Pro from Final Cut 7.
Stephen Follows has an amazing article that further breaks down ASL by genre and number of shots to further delve into the analytics. Here’s a sneak peak at the ASL Genre Breakdown but please visit his site for the full story.
THE FINCHER NUMBERS
Back to David Fincher, it’s important to note that his films I’ve documented have a higher number of average shots than most films. Combining all genres the average feature film has approximately 1200 individual shots. By importing a full-length feature film into Davinci Resolve and using the Scene Detection function…I have been able to automatically recreate all the separate edits in an entire film. I then removed any edits that were created in dissolves or scenes with flashes that would add false edits to the final count. Here are my results.
Click on the images to enlarge to full 8K high resolution:
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO – 3.2 AVERAGE SHOT LENGTH
GONE GIRL – 3.7 AVERAGE SHOT LENGTH
Until next time…
His second feature film as a director was The American starring George Clooney. The story of an assassin hiding out in Italy for one last assignment is the short version of a much more layered tale.
Corbijn chose to use epic wide shots to help balance the internal conflict of the lead character and at the same time show his place in the greater scheme of things as microscopic. One of my favorite cuts as a film editor is to go from a close up to a majestic wide shot. It signals a change. Often it is a dramatic change of thought / point of view / location or story point. When done purely through visual means it creates a moment so that you can absorb what just occurred and prepare you for what may yet come.
Corbijn uses wide shots as connective tissue to bridge scenes but to also release tension and remind the audience of the beauty of the Italian locations. Here are all his massive vista wide shots in chronological order:
Until next time…