The purpose of composition, whether it be photographic, cinematographic, videographer, choreographic, literary–or any other form of art–is to arrange and integrate the parts to communicate a message.
That may be the most fundamental basic there is in art.
It isn’t to “please oneself”, to “flaunt technical skill” or anything else.
It’s to COMMUNICATE A MESSAGE to the intended audience.
Message is senior to technical rendition. One brings his technical up as high as possible without losing sight of or obscuring message.
The Film “Avatar” is an example of near perfect technical rendition that purely forwards the message. All of the technical expertise is channeled toward communicating the message.
Technical for the sake of technical, camerawork for the sake of camerawork, effects for the sake of effects are each a violation of this fundamental principle. People who do this are communicating an altered message of “look at me!”.
Let’s take an example of a standard issue MTV video. What do the fans of “Group or Singer X” want to see in the music video? They want to see “GROUP X” or “SINGER X”. They could care less about the technical people behind the scene. We aren’t watching a MUSIC VIDEO to be wowed by the latest technical effects, the newest style of avant-garde camerawork, or the latest editing effects. In fact, to the degree that you DISTRACT us OFF of what we want to see or hear, you will lose us, or worse, piss us off. It’s the GROUP or the SINGER or the SONG that we want to see or hear.
Conversely, to the degree that you use your technical skill to forward the message of the song and direct attention to the message, you will create a memorable work of art.
This is why some Music videos are crap and others are great. And, of course, this extends to all forms and genres of art.
The difference is that in the good ones, technical expertise is used to forward the intended message to the intended audience.
The worlds’ greatest artists–be it directors, cameramen, editors, singers, actors, graphic artists or painters–are also humble, for they understand the purpose of their activity is to COMMUNICATE. To the degree they do this well, they can hold the world in the palm of their hands.