Podcast - Adam Savage Project

Birdman SPOILERCAST – 2/3/2015

Adam, Norm, and Will discuss current movies. Norm makes a few recommendations, then the gang talks about Birdman. And by “talks about”, we mean spoiling. Enjoy!

Comments (51)

51 thoughts on “Birdman SPOILERCAST – 2/3/2015

  1. If you guys were really going to filter, (edit), out the Sara Silverman joke, you failed. If you decided to keep it and my sarcasm just has not had coffee yet ignore this.

  2. I didn’t know beforehand, and I didn’t think about it during the movie. I just enjoyed Edward Norton. Loved his character (and acting)

  3. I still haven’t seen it yet, but I already knew about the “one take”/hidden cuts trope. I’m usually pretty quick to spot them, though. If you’re looking to see the true no cut masterpiece, look no further than Russian Ark, which was filmed in one 99 minute continuous shot with a Steadicam rig. It’s really marvelous.

  4. I went into it cold and I definitely noticed that there were plenty of long interconnected shots. I did NOT notice that it was the whole movie though. Just was enjoying the ride. Great flick.

  5. I’ve never found any of your spoilercasts to really spoil much at all. Also, am I the only one who has never heard of this movie before now?

  6. Just logged in to say that I didn’t know it was a single shot when I saw it, but noticed after either the first character transition or after he leaves the stage the first time. Really cool photography.

  7. Another great mirror moment is the scene in T2 where Sarah Conner is pulling out the chip in Arnold’s head. That is actually a synchronous performance between Linda Hamilton and her twin. Outstanding.

  8. I’ve caught a few of those in the podcast over the last few months. They say they are going to edit something out and they don’t. Its kind of jarring.

  9. I feel kinda dumb, but this discussion is the first time I realized there was no camera in the mirror. It’s an easy effect to lose, i suppose, since any other visual would be jarring given our everyday experience.

  10. Am I the only one that really disliked this movie, took me two tries to get through it. I guess I’m stupid I didn’t notice the one cut thing.

  11. I never noticed that Birdman was basically a single-shot. I love details such as that, but I truly didn’t notice. I did love the effect in Gravity. I agree that long shots immerse you in the world with a sense of tension.

  12. Also I noticed that there wasn’t a cut when they were rehearsing for the first time with Ed Norton’s character. I was thinking how the steadicam operator must be touched by god to be going so long.

  13. I always though she was dying in Gravity from the moment she got flung away from the ship before Clooney got to her, everything after that seems too coincidental.

    Not seen Birdman, still intrigued.

  14. If you want a classic spoiler: “Soylent Green is -PEOPLE-!!”


    Hitchcock did a continuous take in one of his films. IIRC, because of the limited capacity of the film reels in the cameras, they did include a number of ‘invisible’ cuts– like someone walking in front of the camera, etc.


    And I agree– for a spoiler it didn’t spoil much about the plot, just about the technical issues!


    There’s a ‘reverse vampire’ gag at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-V9erhJU-A (as well as a number of ‘how to do it’ videos).


    –Paul E Musselman

  15. It was Alfred Hitchcock, and the movie was Rope. From Wikipedia:

    With Rope (1948), Hitchcock experimented with marshaling suspense in a confined environment, as he had done earlier with Lifeboat (1943). Appearing to have been shot in a single take, Rope was actually shot in 10 takes ranging from four and a half to 10 minutes each; a 10-minute length of film being the maximum a camera’s film magazine could hold at the time. Some transitions between reels were hidden by having a dark object fill the entire screen for a moment. Hitchcock used those points to hide the cut, and began the next take with the camera in the same place. Featuring James Stewart in the leading role, Rope was the first of four films Stewart would make with Hitchcock. It was inspired by the Leopold and Loeb case of the 1920s. Somehow Hitchcock’s cameraman managed to move the bulky, heavy Technicolor camera quickly around the set as it followed the continuous action of the long takes.

  16. I didn’t know going into Birdman, but I figured it out within a few minutes. It was a thrilling movie. Watching the trailer after watching the movie is strange because of all the cuts.

  17. A huge underrated part of the boisterous tension in the movie is Antonio Sanchez improvised jazz drum score — the soundtrack is just basically drums and cymbals. That long tracking show down the street when Keaton and Norton are arguing with each other, with drums pounding away on the soundtrack… and they walk right past the Sanchez playing that exact track on the sidewalk. I literally fist pumped the air in the theater at how awesomely cool that was.

  18. I went into Birdman almost completely cold, and I couldn’t stand it. It’s not often that I stop watching a movie once I’ve started it, but I had to walk out 30 minutes in. Hated it. Something was off about it that was driving me crazy, and now I know what it was. The soundtrack was also driving me crazy, as I found it extremely annoying and distracting.

  19. I went into this film not knowing a single thing about it, and it was fantastic and strange and left me thinking it was a beautiful film with an amazing soundtrack but I still wasn’t sure why I liked it. I noticed what they were doing with the continuous shot around the time we first meet Zach Galifianakis’ character, and while I did manage to stave off getting engrossed in figuring out the shots, the curiosity that overwhelmed me at some of the more impressive shots only added to my appreciation of this film as a piece cinema and did not distract from the story.

  20. Just listen to this spoilercast and I had to drop a line here. I am one of the 20ish visual effect compositors that worked on this movie. I am very glad most of you guys enjoyed the film. I just wanted to bring specifications about the whole mirror scenes. Norm is telling that the mirror content was shot separately and then added on green screen. The truth is, the whole thing was live and there was a whole team in the mirrors to be removed by our very patient team. The performance you see in the mirror reflection is the real live one and the background (behind the camera crew patch) was all matte painting. If you want to learn more about how this film was made on a post-production viewpoint, FX Guide has done a great piece here : http://www.fxguide.com/thevfxshow/the-vfx-show-191-birdman/


  21. I didn’t know about the one-shot conceit going into the film, but I think 5-10 minutes in I had the same “Hey, they haven’t cut in a while” reaction. I think I realized it around when the actors are rehearsing on stage for the first time.

    Have any of you guys watched a lot of Jackie Chan’s HK films? There’s no one better at editing and cinematography for fight scenes where you never lose track of where you are. I think his best American film in terms of choreography is Shanghai Knights, but it’s nothing compared to his classic films where he films fight scenes for MONTHS to get them right.

    Can’t wait to hear you guys talk about John Wick!

  22. Didn’t know much about it going in, other than it was based on an ex-superhero actor.

    Never figured out that it was all one shot until listening to the podcast, but did take notice of the hyper-realism, and some really long shots (just missed the lack of cuts). Regardless, my wife will confirm that I won’t shut up about the movie – really enjoyed it.

  23. I tried to find The Infinite Man on iTunes and can’t seem to get it. But the Australian iTunes seems to have it. Any other suggestions on how to watch it?

  24. I wanted to comment on the movie “Lucy“. You refer to the rate at which her intelligence increases and not liking that aspect of the movie. If you look at AI for a reference as we get smarter we tend to learn faster and it can become exponential. The increase in human knowledge is doubling every 18 months (Some say faster) and as it doubles that number is DECREASING! The below article is DEFINITELY worth a read. I have been studying AI extensively and this article best articulates what is currently going on in that field.

    Part 1 http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/01/artificial-intelligence-revolution-1.html

    Part 2 http://waitbutwhy.com/2015/01/artificial-intelligence-revolution-2.html

  25. My girlfriend and I had no idea about the “hook” going in and we were a little distracted with work when we started watching. About 20 minutes in I paused, looked at her, and asked “have there been any cuts?” She stared at me blankly, jaw agape. We quickly realized that this film demanded our undivided attention. I promptly turned down the lights, restarted the movie, and it drew me in. A phenomenonal achievement only slightly tarnished by an unsatisfying ending.

  26. I had no idea about it and didn’t catch on until I listened to the spoiler cast. I almost feel like I need to see it again now. It’s much cooler now that I know that. I liked the ending. I like the way you never really find out if he was imagining his super powers and thus never really know his final fate.

  27. I knew nothing about this film – I actually thought it was going to be a lot more like “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.” Imagine my surprise. I noticed the single-shot editing style just after Ralph gets hit on the head with the light, while Keaton and Galifianakis are walking down the hall offstage. My thought was “Man, this is a LONG hallway, and a LONG shot. I wonder why they haven’t cut. Wait, HAVE they cut? At ALL?” I was kind of entranced by that the rest of the film.

  28. I realised at around 6 or 7 minutes in that i had not seen a cut in a while, and i kept notecing… I also noticed that in the podcast you didnt mention the score, which was amazing. Fantastic movie.

  29. I didn’t know about it but reacted to it within minutes. My favorite part was nortons monologue in the street as they pass the drummer. Almost like spoken word or singing, kind of syncs with the beat of the drums.

  30. I only knew the title of the movie and that it’s supposed to be a good one, not much beyond that – it took me about 2-3 minutes (it starts with a monologue in a closed room, so it is relatively reasonable to see no cuts) then I started wondering if they are ever going to show a cut, then I kinda tried to spot where the transition points must have been when filming.

    I liked the ending… especially the idea with him landing in front of the theater and suddenly a cab driver demanding to be paid runs after him, showing that not everything that we saw is necessarily real in that universe.

    Something that I hoped would be discussed is if single shot movies like this are going to be viewed via VR googles in the future? Imagine birdman being filmed in 360° with both a “free view” option that only shows you the view you’re looking at or a “cruise control” mode, that would be closer to the current movie, so the main action is always in front of you, but you might be able to look around (e.g. to look at the door when you watch it the 2nd time because you know someone will come through in 3 seconds)? It seemed very much like an experiment in this direction (how to transmit information without “teleporting” the camera in cuts and instead dropping in on conversations on the side or flybys).

  31. It’s funny. I went in knowing almost everything about the movie, the single take style, the drum soundtrack, etc., and it did not detract from my actually watching the movie. Which is a testament to the quality of the actor’s performances, the script, the direction and the camera work.

    Even though I loved it in True Detective, the single camera scene in episode four practically screamed for your attention. In Birdman I thought the single camera style helped the movie rather than pulling the viewer out of the moment.

    It’s funny though. I didn’t even think about the invisible camera in the mirrors which in retrospect is so obvious. I thought about the mirrors but just thought about how well they were used to showcase the performances of the actors.

    I agree with Adam. I wasn’t blown away by the arc of the movie but I sure was glad Birdman was made and I got to see it.

    Adam also talked, as he has before, about Spielberg. I’m curious if he has seen what Soderbergh did with Raiders of the Lost Ark. He stripped it of it’s audio and replaced it with an alternative, almost electronica soundtrack, and turned it into B&W film. He said he did it to showcase Spielberg’s genius as a visual storyteller.

    I went into it thinking it was a stunt but I was blown away about how well it worked. It changed my opinion of Spielberg immensely. I’ve always loved his movies but I guess I never really appreciated his genius. I expected to watch a few minutes of it but I’ve watched it twice already and plan to watch it again. It was a revelation. It’s on Soderbergh’s website. If you haven’t seen it you should check it out.

  32. Didn’t realize it was a single cut. I’m guessing this was due to where I watched it, on a plane. The screen wasn’t that great and pretty dark. I did feel I had to keep watching, not to miss a thing. Maybe the single shot was the cause of this. Pretty intense movie. Will be watching it again when it comes to dvd.

  33. I feel like you barely skim the surface on most of these spoilercasts. Maybe my expectations are skewed by the amount of time some of them sit in my queue.

    Did you guys repeat the spoiler joke from the Boyhood spoilercast on purpose (she’s a man, 299 die, he’s Luke’s father)? If not it’s kind of spooky.

    Funny enough Will actual “spoiled” the one-cut thing for me in another video.

  34. Just watched Birdman today and then listened to this podcast. I have to say, I’m a bit annoyed you called this a spoilercast mainly because of the fact it’s filmed as one continuous shot. I wouldn’t have known this if I hadn’t previously listened to your Academy Award podcast!

    Didn’t ruin the film, I’m just annoyed that I waited a month to listen to this and you casually threw out the main spoiler you were saving in this podcast in one just a few weeks later!! I expect an on-air apology!! /sarcasm

    I enjoyed the film, certainly the acting is great. I’m not sure what to make of it and it will leave me pondering for a couple of days. But to be honest, I don’t think I’ll be thinking about it for weeks as I have done with many other great films. I’ll get back to you if I am.

  35. I went into the movie not knowing much about it except some of the actors and the rough idea of what it was about. That said, I noticed that it was one cut around the time that Michael Keaton is on the streets of NY at night and he goes to the shop with all the Christmas light peppers in the hallway. There was a rough cut in there (or maybe not, either way) and I noticed it then. I realized that the movie was flowing a bit aggressively up until then, but didn’t notice the camera tricks until the booze-buying, pepper light cut.

  36. The critic was played by Lindsay Duncan. I liked the part near the end where we watch the opening night crowd standing and applauding for a long time after Riggan appears (to us) to have really shot himself in the head, and one person in the crowd turning ashen-faced and leaving up the aisle – the critic – who after threatening to destroy his play, writes a glowing review. I only saw the movie last night, two years after everyone else. The main promo clip I remembered from when it came out included the war scene and the bird man character, so I went in with quite the wrong impression! I found it very intense, but I loved all of the conceits.

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