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 🙂 )

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 Büttner, the director of photography and Steadicam operator, executed the shot on 23 December 2001.” 

“In a 2002 interview, Büttner 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 Ophüls) 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.

 

Exercise – Building a Story

  • Choose a picture (either find or create one of your own or choose one from the website)
  • Identity a series of smaller frames within the picture that you can use to create a new story
  • Place your new images in order and accompany them with notes outlining your new story
  • Upload your image sequence to your blog.

 

When you look at a wide angle painting packed full of action it can stand on it’s own as a powerful image but you can also glean stories from smaller details inside the picture.

I searched for some images on google from the Renaissance period and found this painting, detail here. It’s packed full of colourful imagery, people and a nice perspective of characters. When I had finished writing up this article I read about the painting and discovered it was a religious painting of Jesus offering up the keys to St Peter. My story is completely different as I was supposed to create my own.delivery-of-the-keys-to-saint-peter-3915

Going deeper into the image I chose three scenes and created a story surrounding them.

delivery-of-the-keys-to-saint-peter-3915

Pablo gazed around the crowd of people, his eyes dancing across each person, singling each one out and then discarding their image without a thought. Heart fluttering he glanced quickly at his wife who was deep in prayer. Surreptitiously he continued scanning the crowd.

“Excuse me,” a gentle voice said. It sounded like the first note of the dawn chorus, so pure and beautiful. Unlike his own wife’s harsh call that sounded like the rasping croak of a raven. He swallowed hard and gazed lovingly at the woman who had spoken.

“Lady Catherine,” he stammered, “I didn’t expect to see you soon.”
“But surely you hoped.” she purred.

Pablo glanced panicked at his wife but she was oblivious to the meeting.

Catherine held her heart, “I miss you so much . I’m so lonely at night.”

“Silence, someone will hear.” He glanced around nervously and spotted a young man watching him carefully. His red hat resting upon a flood of curls. Pablo smiled nervously but the man stared stoicly.

delivery-of-the-keys-to-saint-peter-3915 (1).jpg

Further along the thrum of people Bastian stared at the man in front of him. To think such carnage was going to break lose in such a peaceful setting. No one had no idea what was going to happen in just a few moments. The man in front seemed oblivious, the fool even had a smile twitching his lips.

His son, Klaus glanced at him nervously, “Are you sure we have to do this. Do so many innocent people have to die.”

Bastian shot him a look that plunged into Klaus like a dagger, “Don’t start backing out now you skinny legged coward! Remember if you back out, there will be no-one to protect you anymore. Do you want to be caught up in this carnage.”

Klaus remained quiet and stared at his Father. How such a cruel and heartless man could be his kin Klaus didn’t know. He’d been dragged into all this by blackmail and violence. He’d done things he could never forgive himself for. He’d much rather have spent his life as a humble farmer, ploughing the fields, whistling to the birds and the animals, but no here he was standing, about to turn this peaceful setting into a place history would never forget.

He scanned the crowd, his fiancee, Lady Catherine was already fawning over some man.  He set his jaw, maybe he didn’t resent revenge, quite so much. Pablo wouldn’t be smiling later that day.

He glanced over at his sister, Marie, it was because of her all of this and she couldn’t have cared less, oblivious and lost in another dreamy discussion. Half the time he didn’t know what language was pouring out of her mouth, all talks of prophecy’s and predictions, he didn’t believe a word of it. Though she had predicted this day as being one none would forget. And that was true.

delivery-of-the-keys-to-saint-peter-3915 (2).jpg

“And so you see, I closed my eyes and saw a bird,” Marie said in her dreamy voice and then, when I opened my eyes, what did I see.”

“A bird,” Sven said struggling to hold back a yawn.

“Yes!” Marie stared at him, “You have the sight too!”

“No, just eyes.”

Marie just smiled, “The strange thing was this bird was a raven. Just like my dream. And you know what they mean.”
“Death and destruction. You said that last week and it was a godforsaken blackbird.”

“Yes, but this time, it’s different. I know it is. Something very bad is going to happen.”

“Why must you always speak such dire and grim words. Why can’t we just enjoy a trip just once!”

Marie remained lost in her world, “Mark my words, by the time the clock strikes the second hour. Everything will change.

delivery-of-the-keys-to-saint-peter-3915

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This was a really interesting exercise, one in which I throughly enjoyed. I gleaned a lot of information taking small chunks of the painting and devising a plot myself.