The term ASL (Average Shot Length) was introduced by Australian film scholar Barry Salt as a tool for stylistic film analysis. Take the full duration of any given movie, divide it by the number of shots in that movie and you have its ASL. It’s a simple yet effective way of gauging the rhythm of a movie, or the propensity of a certain director when you use ASL to study various of his or her films. The seminal site Cinemetrics has compiled statistical data on thousands of movies using this approach.
But those endless lists of numbers fail to convey the actual feel, the affect that a particular ASL has on the viewer. This data visualisation project by Hungarian digital artist Sámuel Setényi aims to remedy that. Kinoritmus is a web installation that can be viewed online. It is as simple as it is elegant: Setény takes the ASL of a famous director and visualizes it by generating a pulsating rectangle. That rectangle goes from black to white in the exact duration of the average shot of that particular director, in an endless hypnotic loop. The absence of any visual information aside from the emerging light focuses the attention completely on the experience of time. (Incidentally, each of the pulsating rectangles also uses that director’s typical aspect ratio. How “typical” that aspect ratio is, is up for debate – especially for directors like Scorsese who have worked in various aspect ratios).