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4 Second Rule

  • Still from 4 second Rule, Chris Oakley 2015
    Still from 4 second Rule, Chris Oakley 2015
  • Still from 4 second Rule, Chris Oakley 2015
    Still from 4 second Rule, Chris Oakley 2015
  • Still from 4 second Rule, Chris Oakley 2015
    Still from 4 second Rule, Chris Oakley 2015

In 1960 the average shot length of cinema films was around 9 seconds. Today, it is 4 seconds. In web design, the 4 second rule is based on the belief that 50% of viewers will have left a given web page within 4 seconds. 4 Second Rule is a reflection of film and contemporary culture. In a media-saturated world, competition for attention overrides all other aesthetic considerations.

The project is based on the production of a piece of film work reflecting on the fragmentary influence of digital media on our conciousness. This will be explored using the concept of cinemetrics (the statistical measurement and analysis of film’s visual qualities) as a starting point. Average shot lengths, mean shot lengths and Standard Deviation from these trends form the basis of cinemetrics. These principles are far removed from aesthetic or subjective evaluation, and offer a parallel to the fragmenting effect of smartphone distraction on the stream of consciousness.

4 Second Rule takes the statistical metric of average shot length and employs this as the main grammatical element of production. Disparate film materials, shot both in a verité from life and fictional set-ups will be edited according to a ‘4-second metre’, aiming to reproduce the easily-digestible montage pattern of contemporary cinema, whilst stripping the film of all narrative content and replacing this solely with visual rhythm and obscure relationships between each shot. Materials will be shot that are disparate in nature, but reflect the consumption of digital media and the ‘distraction factor’ of ubiquitous digital devices.

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