THE KULESHOV EFFECT: the real magic of movie editing👨🥘👻💃
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Lev Kuleshov’s name isn’t familiar to most people but many cinematic techniques were originally defined by Kuleshov in the early 20th century. Today we’re going to explain what the Kuleshov effect is. Enjoy the episode!
The montage process gives film directors and videomakers the opportunity to augment reality shot with a camera and play with viewers’ perceptions of that reality. The Kuleshov effect is a classic example of montage that can make viewers interpret things the way the director wants – which might be different from reality.
The world-famous filmmaker and film theorist Lev Kuleshov introduced several new terms that are integral to today’s cinematography, along with two specific experiments that carry his name. The experiments prove that a careful frame arrangement and a particular order of scenes can affect a viewer’s perception of the on-screen activity.
The first experiment showed three clips for which four sequences were shot: the bowl of soup, the kid, the young woman, and the actor. The picture of the actor was then divided into equal parts and spliced with the beginnings of the other clips. When Kuleshov showed this example to his colleagues, everyone claimed unanimously but independently of each other that in the first clip the man was hungry, in the second he felt grief about a girl’s death, and in the last he’s interested in a young woman.
Another similar experiment is called “Kuleshov’s geographical experiment”. It proves that, thanks to the montage, actors’ actions that have been carefully arranged by a director can seem uninterrupted and happening in the same place even if the footage was shot in different locations. This means you can film your actors separately in different parts of the world but, if the frame is carefully constructed and the actors’ actions are coordinated, viewers can be convinced that everything happened in the same place.
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