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When is Slo-mo Cheating?

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I get it that there are all kinds looks and styles, but considering how slo-mo tends to make many things look juicy, when is it just a just lazy artifice?

When I look around, it's being done to death, thankfully it hasn't really invaded long form quite yet where it would most probably be a distraction from the narrative.

How many of you use slo-mo in your personal projects as a creative decision?

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

I haven’t been shooting in slow motion for my projects because it’s overused. Also it feels kind of lazy because it makes it easier to get b-roll, stabilize shots, etc. I have to work harder to get smooth shots in 24fps, but that just helps make me a better filmmaker. 

Shooting without IBIS, slow motion, things like that just help to improve your craft. My g7 has useles AF and no IBIS, but I just think of it as two skills I can learn so that I don’t need these features or become lazy, and can become a better filmmaker. Also not having amazing color science forces you to dive deeper into color grading, which also improves your skills. Use limitations to your advantage. Use them to hone your craft. 

Slightly off topic, but I really believe this. 

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1 hour ago, User said:

I get it that there are all kinds looks and styles, but considering how slo-mo tends to make many things look juicy, when is it just a just lazy artifice?

When I look around, it's being done to death, thankfully it hasn't really invaded long form quite yet where it would most probably be a distraction from the narrative.

How many of you use slo-mo in your personal projects as a creative decision?

Use it a TON when doing corporate because the clients like it.  

Otherwise, when I have the leeway, regular speed is default mode. 

It is nice to bust it out for sentimental dramatic moments in a doc. But you need to be judicious with it, just like drone shots. 

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I don't know that slo mo is ever cheating when used in a project. If it looks good and creates the feeling that you want, then use it. If it is repetitive and boring, don't use it. Like with any effect, it can spice up a shot, or get boring with over use.

It is only really "cheating" when over used in camera tests. If i shoot 90% at 24fps, a review that is shot 90% in 60fps doesnt accurately review that camera for me.

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I always shoot all my b-roll at 60p, especially for corporate projects, just makes everything easier and feel a bit more glossy. I think most clips running at 40% speed are actually very subtle most of the time, it looks and feels better in the edit but most ordinary viewers would be hard pressed to call it out as actual "slow motion," especially when it's just office-style b-roll of workers typing, using the phone, their computers, etc. 

That being said I rarely use 120p or higher, unless the shot really calls for it, and I want it to be noticeable, like obviously stylized speed ramping on movement, fountains, sparks, etc. 

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As long as in moderation it's nice.  Kinda like drone shots.

However, recently I've been thinking...  For those of us that like taking photos and personal project video from time to time. 

Is slomo like the nice medium between those 2 art forms?  I think for family/personal stuff it's really nice and could be a good intermediate format between photo/video.  Especially when there is nothing interesting dialogue wise.

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4 hours ago, KnightsFan said:

If it looks good and creates the feeling that you want, then use it.

"...creates the feeling."
- Yes but what is this feeling? Some kind of heightened drama that isn't really there in the first place?
I appreciate slo-mo when used in a original and motivated way, but my concern is that it has become ubiquitous to the point that it feels cheap and I wouldn't feel comfortable using it on personal projects where I'd want to maintain some level of self respect in front of my contemporaries in doc film.

This isn't really my thing, but here is something I remember seeing a few years ago: 



Does anyone have an example of slo-mo they like used in an original way?

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9 hours ago, KnightsFan said:

I don't know that slo mo is ever cheating when used in a project. If it looks good and creates the feeling that you want, then use it. If it is repetitive and boring, don't use it. Like with any effect, it can spice up a shot, or get boring with over use.

It is only really "cheating" when over used in camera tests. If i shoot 90% at 24fps, a review that is shot 90% in 60fps doesnt accurately review that camera for me.

I completely agree.  It's only about if it's appropriate for the project or not.

We wouldn't say that any other creative choice was cheating - it's a good choice if it helps the creative vision of the project and it's a bad choice if it doesn't.  Everything is an artistic choice.

[Edit: I will say that if you think it's being overused, then it's that you're not a fan of the type of aesthetic it makes, or people are using it badly and you're reacting to that]

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7 hours ago, User said:

"...creates the feeling."
- Yes but what is this feeling? Some kind of heightened drama that isn't really there in the first place?

It depends on the project. You can't create universal rules, because as soon as you do, it's open season for everyone to try to break that rule. Like if you try to define film genres, someone will make a crossover. The only real rule is that you need to be able to watch your own work and evaluate what feeling a tool creates in the specific case of your project. But anyway, here are some examples off the top of my head:

- In Children of Men, there are amazing long takes that show the real-time unfolding of events. Slow motion would be inappropriate as it would eliminate the realism.

- Thor Raganarok uses extreme slow motion at a few key moments to show look like a slightly moving 2D image, like a comic page brought to life. It's a montage use, where we've got Led Zeppelin, popcorn, and are ready to groove with the movie.

- In Leone westerns, like Once Upon a Time in the West, I don't believe any slow motion is used. Instead, the actors move slowly as they feel out each other's defenses in these drawn out duels. And then it's over in the blink of an eye. Slow motion would take away from the blink-and-you-miss-it tension, and would sacrifice that overwhelming tension for visual spectacle

- Hacksaw Ridge used a lot of slow motion in battle scenes. I thought it was a bad choice, as it turned this terrible, violent war into a Hollywood action spectacle. The story is about a pacifist medic, and instead it's like "whoa! look at that explosion! that dude is flying! Yeah, action movie!" It looked cool, but was at odds with the movie's theme.

- Action movies almost always use slow motion for really cool set pieces so we can better see the effects or action. Terminator 2, when the frozen terminator explodes, is a good example. It's entirely about pacing: A single slow motion shot to wrap up an intense action scene, a moment that tells you to breath after you've been holding your breath.

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9 hours ago, Adam Kuźniar said:

When is using salt and pepper in cooking considered cheating? I mean it completely changes the taste of the dish! 

- What's the dish... distilled water?

6 hours ago, kye said:

[Edit: I will say that if you think it's being overused, then it's that you're not a fan of the type of aesthetic it makes, or people are using it badly and you're reacting to that]

I guess it's all about the project and the way slo-mo is being the used and what's motivating it... but I do see that in some cultures and genres of media (ie. fashion industry/ music videos) it's almost expected. I guess I just find myself at odds with it when it is used as a stylized gimmick for no other reason than to bring some kind to drama to an otherwise boring shot/ project.

- Anyway, thank you to everyone for their insights... I'll now pick myself up from the EOSHD sofa recliner, take a deep breath (in slo-mo), and gently leave this discussion as a slightly better(?) adjusted member of society ;)

Onward!

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2 hours ago, User said:

I'll now pick myself up from the EOSHD sofa recliner, take a deep breath (in slo-mo), and gently leave this discussion as a slightly better(?) adjusted member of society ;)

This sentence is rich with things to ponder...  EOSHD forums are The Pub, but now I hear there's a couch recliner??  and that it's possible to leave here as a better adjusted member of society???

I guess you learn something every day!

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It's hardly cheating. I can't stand it when other  film makers put themselves up on a pedestal, gloating about how they are better cause they don't shoot slow mo and those that do are cheating. It's a tool, it's a stylistic choice. Is a gimbal cheating? Is using 4K over HD cheating? Nope. You can chose to capture a subject however the hell you want. Besides, I'm not out to impress you - if my clients like it then that's all that matters.

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