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Filmmaking at the speed of pink

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Filmmaking is becoming a brain science. According to an article “Bringing New Understanding to the Director’s Cut” in the Science section of the New York Times, cinematic language is beginning to align more and more with our natural brain patterns. Researchers at Cornell University have discovered that directors are increasingly using groups of shots of a similar length, edited together in clusters. They call it 1/f (one over frequency) or they call it “pink noise.”  Apparently this pattern of pink noise is everywhere in our world…. in a heart beat, the flow of tides and traffic, the movement of our stock market, in the movie BACK TO THE FUTURE (apparently a very pink movie) and most interestingly in the way we think! So the fact that movies might unknowingly take advantage of this pattern almost sounds like accidental brainwashing – perhaps a very good kind of brainwashing but certainly with some questionable side effects. It could at least give me a good excuse for why I sometimes involuntarily cry during the cheesy sad moments of mediocre films  (on an airplane with no audio)…

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According to the research, THE PERFECT STORM and CHARLIE’S ANGELS were pretty pink and films like WALK THE LINE and Billy Wilder’s THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH ranked not so pink. I have a lot of questions. First off, I wonder if studio execs are going to take this to heart and track the success of the pink noise films. You can just imagine the editors at the test screenings navigating the feedback… “well I know it looks like it’s working but our data says that the pink noise really dips in the second half… can you fix that?” Will the editors start to count the shots in a sequence that are “longies” and make sure they have enough “shorties?” And then you have to wonder if it’s good that films are beginning to mimic our thought process. Couldn’t we all benefit by taking a break from the usual stop and go of our often distracted, overloaded, multitasking pink noise minds?  Or is pink noise the best part of our thinking and filmmaking… the “sweet” spot that should be embraced?

-LR