13 Seconds of Pure Spielberg Awesome

I'm beyond excited to see the new movie, Ready Player One. And I love the trailers. 

One great obvious thing about the movie is that, while too many movies use too much CGI in order to be flashy or lower costs, this one requires CGI because much of the action takes place inside The Oasis, a virtual reality platform.

If the trailers tell us anything, it's that director Steven Spielberg is directing the CGI exactly how he directs live action. 

The reason for that, according to this interview, is that Spielberg actually wore VR goggles and directed the CGI scenes like he would in the real world. 

In the "Dreamer" trailer, 13 seconds of blistering action are pure, thrilling Spielberg camera direction (even though there's no camera). 

One signature technique that Spielberg mastered long ago is to bring dialog alive with motion and tension by tracking actors in a very specific way. One actor will be talking, and they get up from a chair as the camera "gets up" and is right up in their business. As actor starts walking, the camera may pick up without cutting on a second actor, then a third, as they leave the building and do whatever they do. With each actor, the camera is framed to inhabit that actor's "space," which gives both action to non-action shots and also brings hyper clarity to what's going on, even to the dialog. 

Spielberg brings a similar approach to a very fast, loud, huge action sequence -- 13 seconds in the trailer. 

In too many blockbuster movies, so many fast, loud action sequences are an irritating mess because you can't follow what's going on. You don't care about what's happening, because it all feels like lifeless "stuff." It doesn't feel like movement from one thing to the next or any kind of physical narrative. It's just explosions and chaos. 

But in this 13 second sequence, you have hyper clarity and focus on specific action, even in the midst of very fast-moving and total chaos. The "camera" direction grips you, and doesn't let go. 

The 13 seconds starts at the 1:25 mark in the trailer, as the "camera" starts tight on a helmeted woman on a motorcycle who's driving very fast. This visual is already thrilling. The CGI simulates a telephoto lens, which blurs the background. 

That cuts to a wider shot where you see a car is trying to run her off the road. She spins to a controlled stop and you realize that many cars are engaged in some kind of death race. You see the woman in the foreground, and the cars flying by in the background. 

Then the "camera" seamlessly pans to one of the cars, and follows it around the corner. "Holy shit, it's the 'Back to the Future' car!" With the camera staying with the "Back to the Future" car as if it was filmed from another car trailing it, you see it speeding towards a giant dinosaur. Huge dinosaur feet are crushing cars, and the "Back to the Future" car barely escapes. As it does, the "camera" spins around nearly 180 degrees to look back, and the gaze "grabs" a monster truck, which has also made it past the dinosaur. Then the Spielbergian gaze transitions from the truck to the dinosaur, which although very large reminds you totally of his own "Jurassic Park" T-rex, going after the truck. 

The sequence ends before the dinosaur reaches the truck at 1:38 -- just 13 seconds after it began. 

It's thrilling chaos, but with the audience remaining very clear about what's happening. 

The action focus on specific "people," cars and dinosaurs, which aren't objects or "action fodder" but real (albeit) instant characters in the action. 

Pure Spielberg. Pure awesome.