Double exposure, 1929 and today

Man with a Movie Camera, another in the excellent Edinburgh Filmhouse Introduction to European Cinema season I've been enjoying this year, is a film of special interest to any graphic designer.

It's a 1929 film that pioneers the use of cinematic techniques, including slow motion, fast motion, split screens, jump cuts, tracking shots, freeze frames and stop motion animations. It's essentially one long collage of images providing an impressionistic account of a day in the life of a city (in this case three cities, Odessa, Kharkiv and Kiev in the Ukraine).

Shot and edited by the Russian avant-garde filmmakers Dziga Vertov and Elizaveta Svilova, the film seeks to explore the unique characteristics of the then new medium of film, and so help develop a visual grammar appropriate to the form.

As a Photoshop addict I was struck by the similarities between Vertov and Svilova's collages and the double exposure style so fashionable amongst today's graphic artists, which is really a very simple technique involving the use of a couple of well chosen images and just two or three Photoshop layers. Much the same as what Vertov and Svilova were doing nearly a century ago with the simplest tools.

The full movie is available on YouTube - here are a few images I've picked out.

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