Project 5 – How to learn

Rather than looking at an aspect of film production, in this project you will focus your attention on how you can develop your own understanding and skills. 

Look back at a piece of work you have produced so far including any notes and blog entires that went with it.

For each piece produce a short list defining:

  • What you set out to achieve?
  • How you can identity what you achieved?
  • Whether you achieved it?
  • What you learned from this?

Now reflect on these important questions.

  • Is it better to struggle and improve your weaker areas or should you cut your losses and focus on your strengths?
  • How can you ever really know what your strengths and weaknesses are?
  • How do you know what you need to know if you don’t know what it is yet?
  • Who can you ask or where can you find out?
  • How do you know if you have improved. When is it times to move on?

 

I decided to choose the last video I made, the Stranger. Purely because so far that was my favourite video to film and I was pleased with the result. Also I worked hard on storyboarding it and sticking exactly to the plan.

  • What you set out to achieve?

I set out to create a feeling of fear and vulnerability conveyed by the angles. I wanted to create a bit of a twist as the camera angles were reversed and the supposed bad guy was suddenly seen from above to make him seem not quite as safe as he thought he was first. Otherwise it would have been fairly predictive, guy comes to the door, lady is scared, man breaks in, attacks woman. But adding this twist kept the viewers interest engaged.

  • How you can identity what you achieved?

I used low angles to create feelings of drama and power and high angles to show how the person was vulnerable and in danger. The music increased the impact booming in at suitable moments to heighten feelings of fear. I used a panning frame to include the man and and the woman and to highlight the respective feelings between them both. The man has come for the woman and she is scared and hiding. This shows that she knows this person, the fact she’s hiding means she has been waiting for this moment. I left the reason he was there out so it was ambiguous and the viewer could try and come up with an explanation of the predicament. A subjective view lent the viewer the chance to see through Anne’s eyes and how fearful she is. An extreme close up of Anne’s eyes shows how she is not going to put up with this anymore. And the tracking shot bumps up the drama and makes the moment very tense as you wonder what will happen next.

  • Whether you achieved it?

I think I did achieve this. A fellow student commented that in the second frame it might have been more powerful to show the man walking towards the camera as opposed to walking away and diminishing in the frame. This is a great point and one I will think of when I next shoot. My actors were excellent and worked well together and (mostly) followed my instructions.

  • What you learned from this?

In the past when I’ve made videos I’ve had a plan in my mind but never storyboarded it. The storyboard was fantastic to use and worked on two levels, one it gave me chance to come up with the ideas, explore what would work, what wouldn’t, how to achieve the angles, how to convey emotion. I also ticked each frame off as I filmed so I knew exactly how long was left, what I needed next. This also was good as my actors weren’t always available together. I could shoot first with Ken, then Anne and then gathered them both together for the other shots. They also looked at the storyboards so they knew what was expected of them though I constantly gave them information before each ‘action’ and told them how they would be feeling but also allowing them to convey the emotion in their own way. Just like in script writing you are given the words and it may have an emotion written down but then you control how it’s said, the body language etc.

Now reflect on these important questions.

  • Is it better to struggle and improve your weaker areas or should you cut your losses and focus on your strengths?

I am a perfectionist and will work to the bitter end to ensure it is as good as I can make it. I deliberately set out and give myself the hardest challenges possible so I feel like I have achieved and learnt something. Sometimes it doesn’t always work out, that’s life, but I fight on, wring my mistakes out to gain information of how to do it better. I also focus on my strengths, so if I feel I am good in a certain area I will include it, for instance, I think I’m ok at tense moments or conveying different emotions so that features in my stories. Maybe my weakness is trying to create mood without music, I love music, it’s a huge part of my life and everything you watch generally always features music.

  • How can you ever really know what your strengths and weaknesses are?

I think you can always see what you can do well and what you can’t. In art I’d say I’m pleased with my line and wash watercolours, my portraits of people and drawings of animals. I definitely know my weakness are vehicles and horses. I would love to create photorealistic drawings and am constantly working towards it. For me that is my biggest goal in art but I wouldn’t call it a weakness that I can’t yet do it because I am working really hard to one day achieve it. Yet at the same time I focus on cartoons, and line drawings, landscapes and all sorts of media. So yes I think you can always know what your strengths are weakness are.

  • How do you know what you need to know if you don’t know what it is yet?

You start to do something and realise, oh actually I’m not pleased with that, I didn’t realise I didn’t know that. For instance, cooking. I started to make my Mum an afternoon tea on Mothers Day and started and was suddenly stumped, I didn’t know where much of the things were, I wasn’t prepared for how hard it was to cut a curl of cucumber like the photos on the internet. So in that respect I hadn’t yet been faced with having to do that and then realised I needed to learn fast.

  • Who can you ask or where can you find out?

You can ask friends or family, people on the internet, google, websites, books, libraries, there’s a huge source of places. Magazines are brilliant too.

  • How do you know if you have improved. When is it times to move on?

You know you have improved when you look at something and think, actually, I’m pleased with that. And then compare it to something you’ve already done and realise how far you’ve come. I compare how when I started learning guitar I was faced with bar chords, (where you need to stretch your finger across the fret and select other strings) At first it’s agony, it really hurts and you have to build it. The other day I was playing my medley which is packed with bar chords and realised how it doesn’t hurt anymore and is starting to become second nature. My problem is, I don’t move on, I make sure it’s perfect until I let it go and even then I still do it every day so I will never forget it and can only improve it.

Also you can ask friends and family of their opinions and if you’re brave enough, random strangers.

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It was really interesting answering those questions, I feel I learnt quite a lot just from taking part in that.

 

And with that I turn the page to see the next part is Assignment One ūüėÄ Can’t wait.

Exercise – An Objective POV

Look back at the sequence you produced in project 3. 

Now record the same scenario from an objective POV. Alternatively you can chose to record one of the other scenarios you imagined. 

The Visitor from ChloeClik on Vimeo.

I was going to be filming the alcoholic scene but unfortunately my model wasn’t well enough to film it.¬†I planned the door scene for her but her health went so downhill she was unable to do that either so I roped in two other models and continued to film the door scene as I had created the storyboards and was excited to film it.

Think very carefully about what you wish to frame, you will then also need to consider where this is scene from and what camera angle would best suit your purpose. Also consider what other meanings and feelings will be implied by your choice of frame and angle 

It will help if you have an actor (Luckily I do)

What to do. 

  • Sketch out some basic storyboards. Ensure each new angle is justified.
  • Record the shots.
  • Edit them into a short sequence.
  • Upload the sequence to your blog
  • Look back at your finished sequence and reflect on it’s success. You can also compare it with other examples on the course discussion site. What works? What doesn’t? Why is this the case? Can you think how to improve the piece? Make notes in your learning log.

 

With that in mind I started my storyboards thinking hard about the angles I had just studied and how best to produce the short video.

As I’d been studying about the effects of different camera angles and how the low angle and high angle shot especially created feelings of vulnerability and empowerment I decided to create an ominous story of a man¬†visiting a house. I needed to denote feelings of fear and darkness and a dramatic start to the sequence to introduce the character.

Here are the storyboards

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There is a dip in the pavement that always becomes a puddle in the rain but on the day of shooting, typically there wasn’t a drop to be seen. With a watering can we created¬†our own puddle. I made it as deep as possible so a really dramatic splash would be generated.

Positioning the camera at a canted angle to create feelings of drama I sat back on the driveway and zoomed in not wanting to subject my camera to the water. I feel it worked very well and used the first take though I took several from multiple angles. I also introduced the music as the foot stamps into the water.

Shot two was when the stranger walked towards the house. I held it on the ground for a low angle to create feelings of fear, this man is not someone to be messed with. I held it just above the ground for the right composition but there’s a touch of camera shake so I will bear that in mind in future productions.

I sat back in the bathroom which is level with the corridor and kitchen and instructed my actor to ring the doorbell then panned across to show the owner of the house terrified inside. I felt this worked well and had connotations of the raptor kitchen scene in Jurassic Park with the two levels and different angles.

The camera flips to a subjective view as Anne peers around the door before ducking back to an objective shot.

A close up on the letter box with the man’s fingers coming through showed how this man was not going to give up.

I stood off a step ladder (and almost fell off when I hit my head on the ceiling) and used a high angle shot to show feelings of vulnerability and weakness. This is reinforced by her emotion and body language.

I flicked to a close up of the man with his eye through the letter box. This was quite a challenging shot as we couldn’t hold the letter box open at the same time as pushing the black draught proofing material away. Hence the piece sticking up.

Another high angle shot of poor Anne looking terrified.

Then the music changes and so does the camera angle. Suddenly the high angle is on the man which signifies that he is no longer the stronger party. Something is happening.

I added a tracking shot pulling backwards from the man.

I wanted to show how Anne is fed up of being treated like this and scared out of her own home and used an extreme close up on her eyes as they go from terrified to vengeful.

Then I panned down from her face and to her hands and the pan she is clenching. Originally in the storyboard I drew a weapon but decided to use a pan instead.

The music is gone and there’s just a hum of atmosphere as Anne walks slowly to the door with a tracking shot framing only her legs and the drying pan concealed behind her back. It’s a tense moment, what’s going to happen?

Then a shot of the man at the door over Anne’s shoulder, this is usually how conversations and such are filmed including part of the character especially programs like Vera.

A close up on the man’s face shows he is triumphant and gloating.

The drums come in, Anne throws the door open and whacks the man. The scene goes black and is left to the viewers imagination. For the sound of the pan hitting the man I experimented a bit before discovering that hitting the table with the pan (more or less gently) made a pretty realistic sound. I then added a cosmic effect to make the sound more dramatic. (note Anne didn’t actually hit the man though I was pleased how realistic it looks)

I thoroughly enjoyed this exercise and found using storyboards a very effective way to film something. My actors weren’t available much in the day but by ticking off every frame as I went I could shoot all the scenes with the man, then the woman and finally the two of them together. The shoot took about twenty minutes over all due to the planning and would have probably¬†taken a reasonable amount more if the only plan had been in my head.

 

Different Angles

I am several days behind on this course due to the fact that my M.E fluctuated and I was¬†rendered unable to do anything, just feeling really ill. Of course the course states that you don’t need to worry that you’re missing study because whatever you do in the day adds to the course. So my days sat on the couch feeling ill didn’t cause me to miss the course, instead they helped as I watched the entire StarWars¬†prequel trilogy along with a James Bond or two. And as any budding cinematophrapher knows you can’t just watch a movie, your¬†subconscious is¬†automatically¬†analysing the scenes, noticing the famous slide transitions, the¬†camera angles, music, effects.¬†

Today though I am back to the practical work.

Try to find good examples of camera angles used to create atmosphere or alter the meaning of a scene or shot. As you watch consider whether the angle effects 

Viewpoint –¬†does it indicate a special POV?

Relationship Рdoes it changes your relationship with the characters on screen?

Status Рdoes it indicate the status of the character on screen?

Suspense Рdoes it create suspense, tension or expectation? How?

Mood Рdoes it create a particular feeling or mood?

Make notes and if possible upload clips or stills to your blog to illustrate this.

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Low angle shot. This is achieved by shooting upwards at the subject, it can convey, dominance, fear and power. Darth Vader is often shown like this in StarWars. It shows the viewer he is a force to be feared and I remember as a child certainly being scared of him. The black clothing reinforces this as well with psychological connotations of death. Also in his suit he towers over anyone at 2.03 metres tall.

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An example of the low angle shot can¬†be seen in the song ‘Eyes Shut’ by Years and Years. The music video opens with band member Olly Alexander¬†walking towards the camera. The whole of the movie is filmed ¬†in one shot, a tracking or dolly shot. As the chorus starts though ‘Nothing’s going to hurt me with my eye’s shut’ the camera changes¬†to a low angle (still in one shot) so Olly Alexander is towering over the camera. It gives the feeling of strength and empowerment and ties in the cinematography¬†with the song lyrics.

The house in Psycho was also shot using a low angle to create a feeing of terror and to show the evil inside.

High Angle.

The High angle shot is used when the camera is looking down on the subject. It can be used to create feelings of weakness, submission or danger. Depending on context it can feel like there is someone watching the subject from afar causing the subject to seem vulnerable. It can also be used to show a taller person looking down at someone smaller.

In this frame below Thor and Captain America are staring up at the viewer, fear and uncertainty plastered on their faces, they’re clearly in the midst of battle and shooting down at them like this makes them seem small and vulnerable. The canted angle also serves to reinforce the drama and tenseness of the situation. This type of shot also connects with the viewer as they are staring directly at them.

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The same high angle shot is in action here in Jurassic World as the Indominus prepares to sink it’s teeth into the Gyrosphere and it’s helpless victims. The teeth of the I-Rex provide a natural frame, one of terror. I also like the structure of the Gyrosphere, a circular composition always draws the eye straight to it, it can be overpowering in some situations but is an ideal and extremely effective way to lead the viewers eye to where the cinematographer wants it. And as the viewer is always drawn to another person no matter how small the fact they are enclosed in it makes a very powerful composition. It flips from low angle shots to accentuate the power of the I-Rex. There are also subjective viewpoints as the boys stare up at the fearsome creature.¬†Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 11.52.55.png

 

 

Canted Frame

Also known as Dutch Angle¬†this shot is created when the camera is tilted, distorting perspective. It can be used to add impact or more drama to intense scenes. It can also confuse or disorientate the viewer and conveys a changing character. It can be incredibly tricky to get it just right The technique of getting it right is to populate one side of the frame more than the other and not have the subject at the centre of the frame.”

This technique is used excessively in Slumdog Millionaire. Almost too excessively judging by this video

J.J Abraham’s uses it to good effect in Star Wars – The Force Awakens

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Point of View 

As discussed in an earlier post, this is the subjective view, i.e shooting from the view point of the character. Usually from the main character but it can work extremely well shot from say the enemy’s POV, staring down at the protagonist.¬†520084695_640.jpg

This technique can also be used for when a character has passed out and it changes to a subjective shot as the blurred world comes into focus. Also they may wake up with several people staring over them. Or in this scene in Divergent when Tris is kicked in the face and stares up at Peter. The low angle shot makes him seem really powerful and scary. It makes the viewer feel like they have taken the brunt of the attack.

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Eye level shots

This is the most used in movies as it is a simple portrayal of the character, there is nothing dramatic, in fact they are rather neutral. A lot of romantic comedies use them.

That said if you look at the still below from Harry Potter, it is a very powerful shot, the intensity in his eyes, the fear, the colours and lighting all suggest something ominous. It is an engaging shot as it puts the subject on eye level with the viewer.

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Birds Eye View 

Similar to an extreme wide shot you can see the whole environment, used in scenes such as Lord of the Rings. In the CBBC series Worlds End the scene begins with a birds eye view following a car through the Northumberland countryside to the castle.

 

A mixture of high angle and low angle shots are used in Roald Dahl’s classic, Matilda. The low angles are used to show the power the Wormwoods have over Matilda, making them seem more powerful and threatening, perhaps to show the force Matilda has to fight against. In contrast when Matilda is shown it is often using a high shot to make her seem weak and vulnerable. Miss Honey is also shown in this way when being overpowered by the fearsome Trunchubull.

 

Exercise – Shooting a short sequence

You are an alcoholic alone in your home

  • You look around your empty room
  • Nothing interests you
  • You notice a bottle
  • You hold the bottle and unscrew the lid
  • Something attracts your attention, you look round
  • Nothing happens
  • You look back at the bottle and pour yourself a drink.

Sketch out some basic storyboards to remind yourself of the images you visualised.

I will scan the storyboards tomorrow. 

Look back at your finished sequence (after leaving it a day or two ideally) and reflect on it’s success.

Here is my finished movie below (due to file size issues I had to use a medium quality setting on uploading)

Alcholic – ChloeClik from ChloeClik on Vimeo.

 

I didn’t launch straight into this exercise, instead I¬†wrote up several ideas and ways to produce this. For several days I had the idea of a phone call between myself and ¬†my sister she was inviting me to a party, I couldn’t care less and hung up especially when she started nagging about my drinking. As she was telling me not to drink I went to the kitchen and poured myself a drink. Then I decided I would go to the party but drove there and the scene went black, an advertisement of don’t drink and drive (I may work with this later) I had to postpone this as my sister was feeling ill and made some casual videos of my day out at the Zoo and a trip to the local park. I returned to the project feeling fresh with new ideas and enthusiasm. I started filming in the lounge but it felt really static so I decided to use by best asset. The wood. In the time it took to scan the room I was out in the wood. My new plan hit me in seconds. I was alcoholic who was partying in the woods so hard that I passed out and woke up in the leaf litter confused and disorientated the next morning.

In photography I generally don’t mind¬†what I have to do to get a photo, I’ll crawl in the mud, lie on the ground and hang upside down to just get that angle. But lying in the wood leaf litter with who knows what lurking beneath was a little bit too much so I just placed my camcorder there instead. I had originally shot it on my Canon 70D 50mm lens, the quality was nice but it suffered from camera shake and I really needed to hold it. I opted instead for my Canon Legria HFR56. I was hesitant at first as my 70D had manual settings to change the focus which the Leigra didn’t. So I decided to add any blurred effects in iMovie.

The video begins with the disorientating swirl of tree branches spinning round and round like something out of the Omen. This was filmed by me pointing the camera up at the canopy and swirling around on the spot. I converted it to night on iMovie and put a cathedral effect on the vocals to make it sound unearthly and to represent the feeling of passing out.

A thud signifies this.

With the romantic filter applied blurring the images and creating a true representation of hungover vision (though I wouldn’t know as I don’t drink much) I added some dictation to further show what had happened ‘I’m never drinking again’ Making the camcorder slightly jerky and panicked added to the disorientated feeling of waking up in the wood.

Watching it back a family member commented that I sounded more like a smoker with all the coughing and choking.

Moving into the house (after slipping on ice) I collapse on my bed and the duvet fills the frame. I stare aimlessly around my room, throwing a book aside and strumming mindlessly at the guitar. This bit seems a bit repetitive but it’s to get the feeling of boredom and show how my character is not interested in anything, anything except drink.

Moving to the kitchen in a hungover state, vision slowly returning, I grab my phone to create some diegetic sound, then hone in on the drinks cupboard. Shooting from above makes you feel powerful.

As I don’t drink the first footage didn’t work as I couldn’t find where the wine glasses were kept, I went through about four cupboard until I found them. I cut this and jumped straight to the glass.

I worry I hear someone and look hurriedly at the door but it’s fine. I return to the glass and gulp it down. The screen sounds black but my frantic breathing still continues as the credits go up.

I’m pleased with this video, I tried to make it visually interesting and while I followed the plan I also added my own story and beginning. Next time I’ll ensure the kitchen is tidying. Moving the kitchen roll doesn’t add much to it but it was in the way. I left the knife and scissors there to signify threat of the danger of the alcohol.

Fellow students thoughts. 

Jane 

I think this is a very creative interpretation of the exercise, however it is not really the sequence that you were asked to film. It’s difficult to see your thinking process without looking at your stills and storyboarding which you haven’t included in your blog. I’m not sure how many frames are included in this sequence and I think it’s a lot longer than it needs to be for the purposes of the exercise. I think at this stage of the course you need to focus on planning and storyboarding much more than the filming and editing, though you clearly have a talent and passion for film production.

Paul

The piece is longer than I would have expected, I feel that there are parts that aren’t needed, everything before bedroom really, while they establish the drunken state I think that can also be established in a shorter sequence. The cuts in the kitchen are reflected in the music playing in the background, what about overlaying the music if you want to keep it in?

The first person view is great at showing that drunken, uncoordinated state and it works really well in your piece. And the blur gives that impression as well.

The location is something I have had to think about, although I’m not at this exercise yet, to find an empty room as per the exercise requirements is proving a little difficult. I’m wondering if the book and guitar provide an unnecessary distraction?

Its certainly a decent effort and only the second one I have seen so far.

Catherine
Very well thought-through. I enjoyed i. I felt quite dizzy in the woods! Particularly noticed the checking through the door to see if someone was outside before you opened the fridge. the music was very fitting as well.
 

My thoughts after a few days. 

I realised that I had once again got carried away and that had made me add to the brief. In future I should focus on the brief and save any creative flair for the assignments. I think in the other photography units I was always asked to follow the brief but then interpret it in my own way. It seems here that isn’t the case. With that in mind I re edited the video removing the beginning part in the wood so it started solely with the duvet filling the cover.

I will focus on the storyboarding from now on and ensure the videos are not too long. I edited the music as well so the transitions were more successful. I couldn’t record straight as it would have missed all the diegetic sounds of the clink of the bottle.

I spoke to Paul about the empty room as I didn’t think it required an actual empty room, empty of items. I kept the book in as the brief stated that ‘nothing interests you’ so there had to be an element that you could use be it a book, guitar etc.

I agree that the first person POV is a great representation of someone being drunk, the blurring of the camera portraying the blurred vision and the shaky handheld camera being like that of an alcoholics vision at that moment in time.

Below you can see the newly edited video. 

Alcoholic Reprise – ChloeClik from ChloeClik on Vimeo.

 

What works? 

How did the choice of frame affect the meaning and feel of each shot?

The diegetic sounds of heavy breathing work as do the effect I put on the camera to replicate vision blurring at the edges. The slow panning of the room.

The close up of the door and the phone turning on. When the music arrives it signals that something is going to happen. It’s a mysterious, creepy background song so you know they shouldn’t be doing what they are.

I like the canted camera angle as the cupboard with the drinks is opened and the bottle fills the frame to show this is the focus.

The chorus starts up as the drink is opened in harmony with the harsh breathing.

I like how my hand hesitates over the drink as I know what I’m doing is wrong. Then the sudden draw back and flick to the door.

My hand is shaking emphasising the mood.

I also like how it goes to black and all you can hear is the chorus fading away and the coughing as I swallow the demon drink.

What doesn’t work and why?

The one thing that annoys me in this video is the removal of the kitchen roll. I shot the whole thing in one shot in the kitchen and was pleased with. The only other option would have been to leave it in and then suddenly it was gone but I didn’t want it to be one of those ‘movie mistakes’ I added a blurred transition so it wasn’t as noticeable.

 

How could you improve the piece. 

I would forget the kitchen roll moment for sure and maybe work on recording sound on an external device as opposed to relying on the built in microphone on the camcorder. Also I will concentrate more on storyboarding and following the brief.

Exercise – Emotive

We are looking at how emotion can be conveyed in a single frame and the emotions and feelings you respond with. Also how the frame causes this.

 

Jurassic Park

I took the following screenshots of Jurassic Park. This is one of my favourite movies of all time and the plot, the characters and the action are all created to perfection. I know that there are more accomplished dinosaur movies where they may look more realistic and special effects are more explosive but this movie never fails to impress not the first time I watched it or now. It could have been filmed round now the effects are so good. You can’t look at the creatures in it and think ‘Well that’s clearly fake,’ it’s all real and infused with the childhood fears from when I first watched it this is an unforgettable movie.

I remember the first time I watched Jurassic Park. I think I was about six or seven, I’d heard of it but I’d never seen it. My friend invited me round and after locking me in his garage and being rescued by his Mum he ate a whole piece of paper in front of me and then switched on Jurassic Park. I don’t remember much of it apart from the kitchen scene. And for some reason I thought that was set in an old shop after they’d run across a field of pylons “my friend told me how his cousin had climbed a pylon so that’s probably why”

Several years later we watched it again and needless to say I was terrified. The T-Rex, The Velociraptors, the electric fence, the kitchen scene (not shop) and the fight at the end. My sister and I were riveted, terrified and enthralled all in one. I don’t know how many times me and my sister have watched it but it never fails to disappoint, never seems monotonous even though I can recite a lot of it.
Lex and Tim, they look terrified as the velociraptor has entered the kitchen. The close up allows the viewer to see their fear and emotion, wide eyed, Lex staring straight ahead¬†Tim with his hands jammed over his ears frozen with terror. It’s filmed on the children’s eye level to make the raptor seem even more of a threat large and oposing.¬†The framing ensures that one half is the children hiding, terrified, whilst ¬†the rest of the frame occupies the velociraptor. It’s like a ‘it’s behind you’ clip and there’s nothing they can do. It gives information showing the viewer everything they need, the position of the children, the creature, the fact that there is nothing on the left hand side makes it feel like they are cornered. The low key¬†lighting adds to the mood creating a feeling of fear and darkness. The viewer is on the edge of their seat fearful for the children and what is going to happen. Even though I’ve watched it so many times, this part still scares me even thought I know what’s going to happen.

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This frame is fantastic, the low angle gives the velociraptors an extreme height and prominence in the frame, they fill half of the frame and Tim looks so small and terrified backed against the kitchen. The light behind them touches the creatures head so the eye is drawn there straight away. The tense moment as the raptor sniffs the ladle that Tim has knocked increases the tension and fear. Is he going to be caught?

These two frames are also very powerful, the camera moves to floor level so you are dragged into the chase. Tim is framed between the raptors legs, showing the terrifying size difference but also it feels to the viewer like Tim is going to be caught.

Finally, Tim is gasping for breath after having escaped the second raptor. His sister grabs him and his look of terror and fear that another raptor has got him make the viewer jump too. It also reminds the viewer that whilst they are safe for the moment other raptors are out there!

Series of Unfortunate Events

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Another of my favourite movies and book series as well. We follow Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire as they find themselves orphaned and in the care of their crazy, murderous Uncle, Count Olaf. The children find themselves in situations that get more dire as it goes on from being deliberately stuck on a level crossing with a train coming to having to escape a house perched on the edge of a cliff as it literally is torn apart.

This is the action sequence I am focusing on here and have chosen this frame below.

Netflix wouldn’t allow me to take a screenshot so I had to take a photo of my laptop screen hence the bad quality and reflections.

Nethertheless you can still see the powerful frame. As above the low angle view point heightens the feeling of fear and show how the three children are so defenceless compared to what’s happening above them. There’s a sense of trepidation as they look down into the jagged abyss watching the burning oven falling to the sea below. Violet clutches baby Sonny to her, a maternal instinct protecting her, showing she won’t let any harm come to her. The diagonal composition makes everything seem unnatural and violent. It’s like a cubism composition representing chaos and unnatural moments.

 

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This scene in Italian job is a very memorable and striking scene as the bank robbers cower in the van which is jutting out over a cliff. The man is crawling towards the back of the van struggling to reach the gold so it doesn’t pull them over the edge and in the background his comrades back against the wall watching in terrified fascination. The shot I’ve chosen however is the one as the camera draws back from the stranded robbers, it’s a feeling of helplessness, they’ve just been left there, on the edge of everything and can’t do anything. The smaller it gets the more vulnerable it appears until it’s just a tiny little dinky toy and the viewer has no idea what happens next, the diagonal of the cliff edge representing danger and uncertainty. Leaving the viewer with a feeling of ambiguity has a very powerful effect though it has to be created carefully, no one wants to leave a mystery film not knowing any more than they did when it started.

 

 

Exercises – Visulisation

Find a quiet moment or two and try to imagine the situation described below. Think what you would¬†see¬†if you were there. Once you’ve conjured up the images go back to each and sketch out basic impressions of what you see (yay more drawing ūüôā )

You are talking to someone in a shop

The person is facing you talking in an animated way using their hands. 

Knocking on a door

You knock on the door. 

You wait. 

The door is opened.

You are having an illicit affair. 

You are alone having a passionate conversation with your loved one. 

A sudden sound in the background causes you to glance around. 

Consider the following. 

What was left out at the edges?

Note the things you were aware of but did not choose to see.

Why did you leave them out?

Will the viewer be aware that they are there?

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To start with I visualised myself in one of my favourite shops, the bookshop in town. I was originally going to draw myself in the little Costa because I love that place so much but decided it didn’t really define itself as a shop.

With this decided I closed my eyes and imagined myself walking through the actions. My Mum gave me some strange looks as I smiled at seemingly no-one and started knocking on a door. I decided to link the three of them and used the same character, Tristan, book loving, enthusiastic and kind but held prisoner by his malicious and twisted wife.

Meeting Tristan Bookshop- ChloeClik.jpg

  1. I chose a mid shot composition of Tristan behind his desk. He has a big grin and is waving his hands enthusiastically describing his favourite books. He looks very at home in the bookstore. The background is mostly made up of books and an occasional business card.

Consider the following. 

What was left out at the edges?

I left out the cash register and a display of bookmarks. Also causal shoppers.

Note the things you were aware of but did not choose to see. I would have been aware of shoppers, but only at the periphery of my vision. And as said above, the cash register.

Why did you leave them out. 

As¬†I like this man my focus would have been soley on him, that’s why I made him more or less central in the frame, as a bullet point composition draws more attention in symmetry.

The till was originally featured but looked a bit strange so I decided to add a pile of books instead. I didn’t feature the bookmarks because I felt there was already a lot of elements in the drawing and it would have unnecessarily¬†cluttered up the frame.

Will the viewer be aware that they are there.  

I think so, it is a bookshop after all and there are always customers milling around. The desk is clear but perhaps, in hindsight, a name badge may have made it clear that he was working there.

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You knock on a door.

Meeting Tristan - ChloeClik.jpg

Frame 1 – I decided to ring the doorbell instead so my hand didn’t obscure the name of the door. I made it bright and cheerful to highlight Tristans art loving character.

Frame 2. Usually when I ring a doorbell I feel slightly self conscious and glance at my feet. This also gave scope to add in the welcome mat.

Frame 3. I’ve just been listening to music so glance at my iPhone to pause it. Listening to Lawson, Roads. This may also highlight the characters age.

Frame four. Tristan opens the door, he is thrilled to see me as I am him.

Consider the following. 

What was left out at the edges?

I left out the wall of the house, the door handle,

Note the things you were aware of but did not choose to see.

As above.

Why did you leave them out?

The door was shown by the doorbell and number, a doorhandles would have been unnecessary as I wanted a strong macro shot and switching to a wider shot wouldn’t have been as effective.

Will the viewer be aware that they are there?

Yes because the door is made clear and the fact that the house walls aren’t included aren’t essential as the viewer can tell it’s a house due to the door and welcome mat.

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You are having an Illicit affair. For the record I would never do such thing so in this case my boyfriend Tristan is trying to escape his evil wife but she has him in her clutches.

The Affair- ChloeClik.jpg

Frame One.

We are dancing in Tristans house, my arms are on his shoulders. Music is playing and he reassures me his wife is out.

Frame Two. Tristan leans in closer for a kiss telling me he loves me. Just as he does so there is a thump.

Frame three. I look round wildly and see it’s just Pebbles the cat on the window sill looking honest.

Frame four. The shock was too much for Tristan. He sits on the edge of his bed, head in hands scared of what we are doing.

What was left out at the edges?

Details of the room. Though I did include the window to show how he is standing up.

Note the things you were aware of but did not choose to see.

I chose not to see some of the furniture.

Why did you leave them out?

I felt my focus would have been on Tristan not on the surroundings. Also I liked the frame, and if I filled it I would have used a wide aperture to hone in on this

Will the viewer be aware that they are there? 

Yes because the window showing a view outside represents they are inside the house.

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I was then asked to look at other students interpretations of this exercise. I was very taken by this blog, the illustrations told the story and the narration very humorous, especially “the cat stealing the milk is also analogous of the illicit affair and it looks guilty too. (not by design I assure you, my drawing is not that good”

This was also good, the powerful images, the romantic passion of the moment and then the shock of the persons wife finding the two of them together! I like her interpretation, everyone else chose something else that disturbed them, a cat, someone falling from a tree. Just shows that lots of different people can create something with the same rules, subject and guideline yet not one of them will be similar. It shows the uniqueness of everyone’s imagination.

I also thought this was a clever sequence¬†on the opening the door, the doormat marked ‘Go away’ was surprising and made you laugh in surprise. Then the creepy person answering the door with the chain still across. I liked the dark colours to show the mood;

The exercise then asked me to answer the following questions.

  • Which sequences are the most effective and why?

Regarding my own drawings, I’d say my favourite sequence was the opening the door. The waiting, who’s behind the door, casual moments of impatience/self consciousness and then the happy face at the door.

From a subjective or objective view, I think both are extremely powerful and offer an insight into the character in both ways. For movies packed full of action or terror, the subjective view is so effective, almost like shoving the viewer right into the movie and nothing is in their control. It’s scarier, and gives the impression of playing high octane video game where you never know what is around the corner. Yet at the same time this can work very well in the objective view, in the movie Shining (which I haven’t watched but it was in one of the top ten movie moments) young Danny is cycling down the long corridors round corner and corner. It’s incredibly tense, the low view point gives a feeling of fear and vunerability. You have no idea what is around the corner, I definitely don’t want to find out either.

  • What makes a convincing subjective sequence.

One which takes advantage of the subjective composition with extreme close ups, honing in on characters faces, even harsh breathing from behind the camera. In an action sequence seeing feet flashing by and the camera being jerky generates great feelings of action and terror.

  • What gives the sequence a sense of atmosphere or tension?

As above, harsh breathing, jerky footage, long sequences where you know there’s something just around the corner but you have no idea. Also when it is filmed on a handheld camcorder, all erratic and hard to grab hold of the action everything is moving so fast. The series Jeopardy was shot partly on camcorders, it made it very hard to watch as the intended effect was they weren’t the most skilled at filming. Camera shake just added to the feeling of drama. I am a big lover of scenes where people are running and in a subjective sequence this would have to focus on feet and blurred imagery but wouldn’t be able to film the main character running, unless however they dropped the camera as they ran out of sight.

  • What information is conveyed in each frame.

It depends what you are filming but in regards to the students work I have highlighted that above.

 

 

 

Subjective viewpoints

For this project I’ve been studying the differences between shooting objectively and subjectively. It’s an interesting concept. Most movies and TV programmes are shot objectively, that is placing the viewer in front of the action, almost like they are an invisible person watching the events take place (quite creepy really, this random invisible person watching you everywhere you go) ¬†To shoot subjectively is to place the viewer behind the eyes of the characters. It’s effectively as written in books, first person, “I raced over and gave my cat Skye a big hug.”and third person, “Amber raced over and gave her cat Skye a big hug.”

There are not many movies that focus on the subjective, I can think of moments in a movie where the effect has been applied. For instance when a character has been drugged, the frame can switch to their vision to show it blurring or turning to black.

One example is the movie Lady in the Lake. The movie is shot from the POV of the main character Marlowe (played by American actor Robert Montgomery) You only see stolen glances of the narrator in windows or mirrors. It’s really ingenious and as the genre is film noir it seems a very clever presentation, keeping the mystery up of the ¬†murder mystery, never really seeing the main character and instead focusing on everything Marlowe¬†views. It also carries a vulnerable air, you are essentially the main character and whatever happens to Marlowe¬†may feel like it happens to you. However clever it was and a one of a kind the critics didn’t respond to it quite so favourably. The New York times wrote “In making the camera an active participant, rather than an off-side reporter, Mr. Montgomery has, however, failed to exploit the full possibilities suggested by this unusual technique. For after a few minutes of seeing a hand reaching toward a door knob, or lighting a cigarette or lifting a glass, or a door moving toward you as though it might come right out of the screen the novelty begins to wear thin.”

This seems a shame and I wonder how it could have been done to an effect the critics would have approved of?

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The movie The Russian Ark soared into history with it’s¬†unprecedented creation. Just as in Lady in the Lake, The Russian Ark used the subjective viewpoint, this time shot from the viewpoint of a ghost wandering through the Winter Palace of the Russian State with the tale that he had died horribly. This was a high achievement in itself but add to the fact that this was the only movie in film history to film the entire movie in a single shot! Oh and as it was filmed at the Hermitage¬†museum they only had one day to shoot it.

It blows your mind to think of it especially with such a collection of actors and extras, 2,000 (4,500 including everyone backstage) one tiny mistake and the whole reel would have been ruined. I would not liked to have been the film maker who forgot to press record… added to this there were operas and plays featured in this 96 minutes feature and three¬†orchestras. Wikipedia states “...four attempts were made. The first failed at the five-minute mark. After two more failed attempts, they were left with only enough battery power for one final take. The four hours of daylight available were also nearly gone. Fortunately, the final take was a success and the film was completed at 90 minutes.¬†Tilman B√ľttner, the director of photography and¬†Steadicam¬†operator, executed the shot on 23 December 2001.”¬†

“In a 2002 interview, B√ľttner said that film sound was recorded separately. “Every time I did the take, or someone else made a mistake, I would curse, and that would have gotten in, so we did the sound later.”

The critics loved it, Roger Elbert ( ¬†) describing it as “…one of the best-sustained ideas I have ever seen on the screen…. [T]he effect of the unbroken flow of images (experimented with in the past by directors like Hitchcock and¬†Max Oph√ľls) is uncanny. If cinema is sometimes dreamlike, then every edit is an awakening.¬†Russian Ark¬†spins a daydream made of centuries.”

“As successful as it is ambitious,¬†Russian Ark¬†condenses three centuries of Russian history into a single, uninterrupted, 87-minute take. “ (Wikipedia states it was a 96 minute take though I’m not sure which is correct)

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Focusing on a completely different genre from the two above and a sightly different subjective portrayal, Cloverfield, is a sci-fi horror, a monster movie filmed solely from a handheld camcorder.

Hud, the filmmaker is creating a movie to say bye to his best friend, Rob who is moving from the city. The whole movie is filmed on the camcorder, similar to Super 8 and Earth to Echo. The footage is shaky and jerky capturing the feeling of being right in the action. Due to this it caused a bit of a problem in cinemas, it was the trigger for motion sickness, migraines and vomiting. This was so bad that some cinemas released a warning poster. 440px-Cloverfieldwarning.jpg

The effect of it all being filmed from the POV of Hud also generates a feeling of fear. In first person books it is rare for the first person to die (it has happened though) but in this all the viewer knows they are watching footage from a camcorder and does this mean that the main character will be killed and the tape found…

“Marc Savlov of¬†The Austin Chronicle¬†called the film “the most intense and original creature feature I’ve seen in my adult moviegoing life […] a pure-blood, grade A, exhilarating monster movie.” He cites¬†Matt Reeves‘ direction, the “whip-smart, stylistically invisible” script and the “nearly¬†subconscious¬†evocation of our current paranoid,¬†terror-phobic times” as the keys to the film’s success, saying that telling the story through the lens of one character’s camera “works fantastically well”

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Another similar and well know movie is the Blair Witch Project and I’m not too proud to admit that I’m way too terrified to research that.

So whilst the subjective viewpoint to film an entire movie is rare, it makes it shine out when something is created like that. From the eerie¬†still shots of Lady in the Lake to the outlandish, motion sickness, rollercoaster esque of Cloverfield this effect brings something very special to motion picture, catapulting the viewer right into the scene of the action, the only way to escape is to close your eyes because the camera certainly isn’t going to do that until the end.