15 September 2007

The photography of "Everyday Italian" (now, with other stuff too)

Do you notice anything unusual or perhaps entrancing about the cooking show "Everyday Italian"? No, this isn't a note about Giada's [YouTube] ever-plunging neckline in what might pass in pruder regions as soft-core food porn. It's about the cinematography, or more accurately, the photography.

When I watch "Everyday Italian," I feel like I'm in a slightly disconnected and very pristine food universe. It's like looking over the shoulder of the production squad for the Ikea catalog. It's like eating sushi on a white plate while Philip Glass is piped into my cortex.

It's like having a conversation with the typeface Helvetica.

I've wondered why this is, and it is a little difficult to decode since I'm not trained in the vocabulary of film editing. This morning I spent some time considering it, and here's what I came up with: there are two factors at play. One is that the vocal narrative happens naturally, like a normal continuous time progression, but the editing is very discontinuous in time. I suppose this is normal for various how-to shows like "The Way Things Work," but I get a similar floating-in-outer-space feeling when I watch that, too. She's talking normally over images that skip forward through normally time-consuming processes.

The other factor is that there must be quite a few cameras rolling simultaneously, because the editing seems to anticipate exactly what Giada's about to do next. She reaches for a full head of garlic, and magically you see a closeup of perfectly-cut garlic in her hand. She moves toward a bowl of pasta, and the camera jumps several seconds ahead to a perfectly-framed image of two pieces of penne on her fork.

Sorry, folks, this stuff just really gets me. I don't know why. I'm wired funny.

Wondering if there's any truth to this, I poked around a bit online. It turns out that the show has won several Daytime Emmys for "Outstanding Achievement in Single Camera Editing" and "Single Camera Photography." I looked at the CV of one of the photographers, Richard Dallett, and he's been involved in quite a few award-winning documentaries. (Hey, he did a documentary on Elizabeth Bishop! Why hadn't I heard of that before?)

So I guess I'm not off my rocker...

A Collection of Things in the "Read Later" Folder

-g, who just realized I should have put "Bourne Shell" as the last comic below...

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