When I saw Mad Max: Fury Road, I had the experience many people have talked about. I sat, staring, seemingly unblinking, at the screen for two hours. I had never had this experience with a film before, action or otherwise, so what was so different? How had George Miller managed this intense focus and speed?
Vashi Nedomansky of VashiVisuals.com has an answer: center framing. By keeping the crosshairs on the action, the audience doesn’t need extra time to locate the focal point. Frames can be shaved off in editing knowing that the audience eye will remain centered and thus ready for the next cut of action. Vashi likens it to a big screen flipbook.
Vashi compares this to the popular “chaos cinema” technique found in most action scenes, wherein chaos of cutting is meant to build tension and the illusion of heavy action. But when done in a prolonged way, the effect is exhausting, and then numbing. The following video essay by Matthias Stork introduces the classical concept of continuity editing and then how it was broken more and more in modern action scenes.
With Miller’s filming and editing, the viewer never gets lost. The continuity of the scene is maintained, which is why many critics are calling Fury Road a return to classical filmmaking.