The Cinematic Control Room

The video essay, like its written counterpart, enjoys the freedom to take just about any imaginable aspect of a movie as the starting point for its investigation. Certainly, many essays chose a filmmaker or one particular film as their object of study, but why stop there? It is precisely idiosyncratic choices for more mundane, more obscure, more unexpected departure points that make the video essay, well, essayistic. This effort is a case in point.


Cormac Deane‘s video essay focusses on the changing layout and design of control rooms in movies and television shows. Cross-referencing geopolitical developments and media images of warfare, Deane compiles a forty year history of the look of these cinematic control rooms. It is an impressive overview of how fictional environments and their narrative function adapt to real world conflicts and politics. This piece stands on its own, but can also be enjoyed as an audiovisual companion piece to an equally insightful written essay that delves further into this instance of media archaeology.