Every movie buff has a set of films they love over all the others. I will watch and re-watch these classics again and again, in unspoken hope that I will feel the same wonder and thrill as I did on the first viewing. Of course, I never can or ever will. My brain is so used to seeing these images that it almost previews each frame, pre-rendering from the memory of that image, so that when I watch I am seeing both the live frame and my memory of that same frame and the exact same time.
This can take the shine of the experience, the viscerality of seeing is reduced by the memory of seeing.
The same issue can develop in editing – you look at a frame so many times that its impact can be watered down. An action sequence can seem stilted, slow, or too fast. An important emotional beat can seem drawn out or too short. The movement and direction of a character within the frame is mapped out before it begins.
The saturation of visual repetition can distort the proper read of the shot or scene.
I try to avoid this with flopping the scene or sequence in Premiere Pro. I find that this breaks my brain’s natural tendency to anticipate a frame – the memory is called up as the frame plays but the memory does not match the frame shown and is discarded. This allows me to experience the shot anew, almost (but not quite) like the very first viewing.
NOTE: In film, there is Flipping, and there is Flopping:
- Flipping mirrors an image vertically along a central horizontal axis.
- Flopping mirrors an image horizontally along a central vertical axis.
Doing this to a classic movie as a whole can be very refreshing. I recently flopped Blade Runner, while keeping some scenes that are heavily text (such as when Deckard and Bryant are reviewing the Replicant files) in their original, non-flopped state to avoid breaking the immersion.
If anyone is interested I have loaded this version to Vimeo, for my private, personal education under fair use. Email me for the password and enjoy.
I’ll upload some clips at a later point, to better illustrate the experience.