Things That Are Neat: The Concept Of Persistence Of Vision!
CRT monochrome
CRT monochrome (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m big into film, and so I sort of have to think this is neat.  But even if I wasn’t, I’d still think it’s pretty cool, since it’s your brain putting together a series of stills together and presenting it to you as motion and you don’t even know!  Or, well, you know, but you can’t tell unless you actually take a look at each individual image.  Which is pretty cool.  I mean, I suppose this could probably go under the TV section since TV’s got the same principle going on but persistence of vision is so neat it deserves credit on its own.

Actually, I suppose the main thing I think that’s so neat about is indeed that it’s what gives us film and animation and stuff, but that’s cool too, because film and animation is really mind-blowing when you think about it.  And why is it mind-blowing?  Because of persistence of vision.  Just so we’re all on the same page here.

Anyway, though I admit that I probably take film a little farther than most people.  I mean, film to me is a bit sacred; I don’t like people talking during it (unless it’s a really bad film, but more on that later) or interrupting it, or having to get up to go to the bathroom while one is playing or even eating during a film.  I like it best when I don’t have anything else to focus on and can just get immersed in the film and be pulled along by the material on screen.

Granted, I do also like heckling bad movies, a la Mystery Science Theater 3000, but I can justify that — after all, film is incredibly beautiful and wonderful and really cool, and if a film isn’t living up to that, it’s our duty as responsible filmgoers to help it along, and if that happens to involve making jokes about Joe Don Baker moving slowly and smelling of pork, so be it.  We must do what we must do to help films transcend in that way that only film can.  And while it’s preferable for all involved if that help involves sitting and watching quietly, if we must make fun of B-list actors, that is something we need to do.  (Full disclosure: I’ve done a bit of acting in student films and such, and I fully recognize and accept that my acting skills are probably a notch or two below Mr. Baker’s.)

So, yeah, I tend to take film a little seriously and want others to do the same.  In fact, I’ve often thought about how at some point in the future, it would be exquisitely wonderful to take my five-year-old daughter (who is not yet either five years old nor extant) to a theater and explain to her the magic of everything.  How what she will see shortly is a series of images that her brain puts together and these images when viewed in sequence will show her something about the human condition and beauty as it is.  And how even the single images can still convey this, but when they’re all run together, they’re more than the whole of the parts.  To get down on my knees, pick her up and show her the movie poster so she can get a full view of how these bits of art can be seen both as objects d’art (I do not believe in speaking down to children) and as advertisements for other works of art.  Show her to watch the credits and read all of them for if she enjoyed the film, these are the people who made it for her, and if she didn’t, to remember these people so they couldn’t break her heart again.  Show her to understand the ways of the theater, of picking the right seat, not too close where things get distorted, nor too far back where the screen is surrounded by darkness, but right in the middle where the screen properly fills her field of vision.  To explain the difference between aspect ratios and what can be conveyed by wider ones.  Showing her how music can change a scene; how things aren’t necessarily real; how editing can change your feelings about a character or a scene; to show that there’s no shame in lingering on shots; to absorb the smells and experiences of the theater; of seeing the film with other people whom you don’t know but are sharing an experience with.  To make her own flip-books.  To appreciate the miracle that allows us to put images together like musical notes to create a visual symphony.  To thank her brain for performing this feat.  And to enjoy the ability to appreciate this art form.


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