In celebration of the 40th anniversary and special re-release of the famous movie that made us afraid to swim in the ocean, we present Jawsography, an interactive app that analyzes the cinematography of the 1975 film, Jaws.

I've always been fascinated by the art direction and cinematography in Spielberg's classic film. While he executes many amazing filmmaking techniques throughout the movie, the strong compositional shifts from the left, center, and right hand side of each frame are striking. 

I wanted to see if the actual compositional shifts were as strong as my initial memories watching the film, so we built a tool that allowed us to look at all the frames of the movie. We started by looking at 1 frame per 10 seconds of film, but we ended up with too many transitional frames. The final app pulls 1 frame per minute of film.

Jaws at 1 frame per minute

The compositional patterns started to emerge pretty clearly. We built another tool that allowed us to cycle through the frames quickly, and mark which ones had left, center, or right visual weight. In due time, we began describing the positioning with nautical nomenclature: Port and Starboard.

I had so much fun swiping through the frames and determining which compositional weight was the strongest that I managed to wrangle most of the office into another boondoggle. I was determined to bring the app into reality. Quickly Jawsography was born. Take a look on your mobile device (or laptop) to see the cinematography of Jaws in a whole new way. Dive in!

We’d love to hear what you’re working on, what you’re intrigued by, and what messy data problems we can help you solve. Find us on the web, drop us a line at hello@fathom.info, or subscribe to our newsletter.