The Art and Science of Filmmaking
From the CTY Course Catalog (2019):
In the last scene of The Great Train Robbery (1903), the leader of a group of outlaws breaks the fourth wall and unloads his pistol directly into the audience. While this short clip has very little to do with the film’s narrative, it is arguably one of the most memorable moments in cinematic history. Is the success of this scene attributable to the novelty of a new technology or can we analyze it as a scientifically measurable phenomenon? Why do contemporary audiences continue to have such visceral reactions to film? How do the physical properties of celluloid (and now digital film) connect to the biological and psychological responses of the viewer?
This course examines the cinematic experience from the perspective of those who create films and those who consume them. Students gain insight into the biological and psychological processes activated during film-watching and question how humans can differ in their perceptual experiences of the same film: Do we all “see” the same story on screen, and, if not, what makes our responses different? In order to complete their introduction to psychocinematics, students work with the science behind visual and audio effects, designing experiments to assess the human experience of film.
Students address the myriad factors that inform film-making and film-watching. In addition to discussing abstract questions of history, philosophy, and art, they explore concrete connections between film and ecology, neurology, physics, and technology.
Note: Because this course involves work with film production techniques, students are required to bring a smartphone with video recording capabilities. The smartphone can be any brand, but must be able to shoot in HD quality (1080p), have at least 2 GB of free memory, and have a USB cable to connect it to a computer.