Early Impressions of Star Trek: Picardfebruari 15, 2020
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After seeing the first 4 episodes of the new series Star Trek: Picard, I think it’s just okay so far. It seems to be setting up a potentially interesting story arc, but in other ways I find it disappointing.
The acting feels a bit off, as if Picard has consumed a few too many cups of Earl Grey and is overly caffeinated. It feels more like the dorky movie version of Picard while I was hoping for more of the chill version of his character from The Next Generation. It doesn’t feel like a believable future version of Picard, at least not yet.
I also remind myself that Star Trek: The Next Generation took a while to get its footing, especially with Deanna Troi’s first season character, who’d cry whenever they ran out of chocolate.
The main thing I dislike about ST: Picard is the show’s approach to visual editing, with camera angles switching every 1-2 seconds during many scenes. I can understand doing this during fast-paced action scenes, but it happens even when characters are just sitting around talking. It feels like they’re following some odd rule to keep the camera moving at all times, so when it’s not cutting around rapidly, it’s panning or doing the Ken Burns effect.
This is visually annoying. It’s harder to pay attention to what’s being said and to absorb a setting when the visuals are flipping around like someone is playing Whack-a-mole with the camera selection. It makes the show feel more shallow, like they’re trying to artificially make it punchier than it is.
I noticed that Star Trek: Discovery does the ADHD camera thing as well in many scenes, especially when characters are talking on the bridge. I’m curious why someone thinks it’s a good idea to switch camera angles every second or two, sometimes with every line of dialog. I can imagine some value in doing that now and then to convey a rushed or stressed vibe, but it just seems so overdone. It feels like the camera is buzzing from a raktajino overdose and can’t calm down.
I haven’t studied modern filming and editing techniques, so I imagine that someone must be teaching that this constant camera motion is a good idea. There is one reason I think it shouldn’t be used so much though. And that reason is that it’s stupid.
I liked it better when Star Trek was more visually chill but mentally ponderous. Now it feels visually chaotic and mentally shallow.
My visual cortex is only about 0.5% of my brain. Overstimulating this part isn’t going to satisfy the other 99.5%.
Instead of flipping the camera around so much, which seems like it’s being done mainly to punch up weak dialog scenes, maybe just let the camera rest on a scene for a while. Let the characters speak. Don’t force added stress and motion by overdoing this goofy camera technique. Let the actors do their jobs to create more tension if it’s important to the scene. Save the ADHD camera technique for when it’s more appropriate, like maybe during an occasional space battle.
What does this post have to do with personal growth? I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader. We can’t stay on this scene for too long since the camera wants to move. 😉