The Centrifuge Brain Project

"A documentary on extreme amusement park rides and their effects on the brain."

Editing & Continuity

At an average shot length of 5.2 seconds the average editing pace is slower than current filmmaking standards and uses cuts with just a few fades.

In this number we find a hint of another element used to transmit authenticity: the editing pace of the film isn’t slow, the average number makes it slower because most of the amusement rides’ sequences are usually longer, and they usually don’t feature cuts with varying shot sizes. This, coupled with the coarse camera movements and the characteristic consumer camera aesthetic help transmit the sensation of an amateurish camera.

The amusement rides’ sequences themselves may not feel slow paced because the visual rhythm remains high, thanks to the fast movement of the rides and the camera following them.

On a more macro view, the editing strategy is designed to make viewers believe they are watching a common documentary with a scientific theme. Editing is driven by Dr. Laslowicz’ speech, alternating mainly between two thematic lines, the sequences of the interview (or of the subject portrayed in different situations) and those of the rides, complemented by various illustrative material such as old footage, photos, graphics, etc. This also helps develop a progression in time showing the different rides and experiments developed.

Mise-en-Scène

Set in an urban environment, the whole staging is designed to create a scientific documentary façade. The “Institute for Centrifugal Research” building successfully transmits the image of an old research institute with its spacious rooms populated with desks, racks, old PCs, machines and blackboards.

Also contributing to the scientific documentary image are the way actor Leslie Barany is dressed (his researcher costume) and the props he uses.

Here we find two other key elements that help build the façade: Barany’s great acting performance and the monologue he delivers, which is filled with subdued humor and technical words. The actor uses a naturalistic acting style for delivering the lines, transmitting emotions without being overly histrionic and showing through these emotions that he is more concerned about the outcome of the experiments than about the people taking part in them. He also conveys the feeling that he is indeed recollecting events while he is talking about them.

Image & Aesthetic

Here we find another key aspect for achieving the verisimilitude of the film: the CG amusement rides. These are modeled, animated and composed seamlessly with filmed footage, and they also fit perfectly well with the camera movements that are supposed to be following their action. The CG rides are crucial for making the film work, and have been given a prominent role in the documentary (though they were originally made for Till Nowak’s previous “The Experience of Fliehkraft” art project).

The aesthetic of the image also changes in the park ride sequences, using various post processing effects to make it look more desaturated and blurred, with automatic exposure at work, mimicking the behavior and image of a consumer camera. The aspect ratio also follows this same purpose.

It’s worth noting that this outstanding CG and camera tracking work has been done by Till Nowak himself.

Sound

Complementing the above, sound plays a very important part in helping create the illusion of the CG rides. The ambiance of the theme parks is recreated using appropriate music, along with the sound of the crowds and the screams from the people taking the rides. The screams are carefully synchronized with the CG rides to help make the VFX believable.

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