Can one song convey more than one meaning?

During this course I made friends with a fellow course mate, Ashley. It feels like we have crossed the finished line together.

It was Ashley who introduced me to the the fantastic data base of music, Incompetech. There are thousands of songs on there, each one individual and unique and without knowing we both used the same song, Ashley in her assignment and myself in a personal project video.

It was an interesting discovery, to see how the same song can be used to convey completely different emotions.

My Video

 

Ashley’s video

Things they had in common were

  • Both used to convey a melancholy mood. The main melody (harpsichord) highlights a specific part.
  • In my video the main melody sounds when the life ring and ‘danger’ sign are shown. Conveying that something terrible happened at this point. In Ashley’s it begins when the mug of tea is knocked over.

Things that were different.

  • In my video the song is the main focus, there is no diegetic sound or narration. The song essentially tells the story.
  • Ashley’s featured at the end to illustrate the moment when Ahad tells his father he has failed his exams, to convey the pain and create a contrast of the party atmosphere and the darkness inside that he is feeling.

Whilst they both focused on sadness and loss they were each used in a different way to convey a different story. With that in mind I decided to find other videos the song had been used in and research the emotions it provokes.

Here the song has been used to highlight it’s medieval melody. It is the background to the world of Skyrim which we are shown around. Interesting to see where the harpsichord melody is used, after a slow pause showing a Skyrim character, the melody begins again and we are on a journey through an underground canal.


It sets the tone for this video by Dragonfly Productions as we soar over a landscape where the story takes place. It seems it always used for dark powerful moments. I wonder how it could be interpreted with a different theme that isn’t melancholy.

Jordan Turner Vegas shoot from Travis H. Lane on Vimeo.

It would appear that using an especially somber song out of context doesn’t always work.  In this video it is used in a video of a  modelling shoot. While the photography is successful I don’t feel the two match well. The music is dark and haunting whereas the shoot is light and doesn’t feature anything dark or upsetting at all. They clash throughout, like two opposite poles of a magnet.

So therefore it would appear that whilst there are many stories that can be told with the same song in a variety of genres, sometimes a song is so specifically made for a certain genre that is clashes when used for any other purpose. Even if you were to make an optimistic video of say a girl blowing out birthday candles, to play this music over it would give a very different feeling to the happy birthday. Perhaps the girl is mourning her childhood, maybe it is the film makers way of warning the viewer that all is not as it seems.

Through the analysis of these songs and the way in which they have been chosen and used, I have come to the conclusion that this song in particular is powerful in that it conveys variations of a dark mood, that one mood can have connotations of sadness, fear, death, worry, but it generally is on the dark side of things. This shows how important it is to choose the right song. If you choose the wrong song it may end up conveying the opposite meaning, the story and music will not work harmoniously, it could ruin a sequence yet choosing wisely it could make that sequence.  It’s essential to spend a little time working through the selection of songs. The music is like a main actor and just as a bad actor can spoil a movie so too can the choice of music. Overall it highlights what an essential part the music plays.

I decided to experiment with something conducive to the course, similar to the Mosjukhin experiment, using one clip what emotion could be conveyed with the music.I created a new file in iMovie and grabbed some of my video clips. It was clear which worked and which didn’t. I realised that the song could be used not just for darkness but it also worked very well with landscape shots and animals, such as the red kite flying over the landscape. It captures  a primeval, raw connection with the earth.

Below is the video I made. Please comment what you feel from it. I had to change the file size hence the lower quality. 


I felt of all the clips the strongest was the snow leopard in the Zoo. I can really feel her sadness. It wasn’t the best enclosure I had seen and this reflects it. It will be interesting to see what anyone else sees.

 

Assignment Four

Constructing a narrative 

For this assignment you’ll gather documentary footage and use it to create a short documentary sequence representing a portrait of a place. You should try and capture the spirit and feel of the place as well as representing what happens there.

Choose a location

Recce your location at different times and think about:

  • What happens? What are the important events that occur daily in your place? Are there
    any unusual events that might be interesting to follow?
  • What or who is there? What and who do you need to show to represent the various elements of the place and paint a full picture of it?
  • What is the character of the place? Can you apply any of the ideas of characterisation to the place? What elements typify its mood and atmosphere? What kind of pace and rhythm does the place have?
  • What is the timescale of the place? Can you represent its essential elements over a minute, an hour, a day, a week?
  • Plan a narrative
  • Draw a chart of your narrative structure. Identify the climax. What is the story you are telling?
  • Create a shot list
    Note the essential shots that you will need to represent your place and construct your narrative
  • Record your footage
  • Review your footage carefully  – You may start to see something different from your original narrative emerging…
  • Capture and edit
  • Throw together something like your original plan. Don’t be afraid to make radical changes. Put your original pre-conceptions aside. Look at what you have and think how to use this to create an impression of the place you know. If in doubt say less. Pick one or two key elements to focus on.

Evaluation 

Write an evaluation of your finished sequence (500 words).

Submit your sequence online to your tutor with the pre-production notes and evaluation.

Assignment Four

Finished video


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/180633502″>Tiny Cities -ChloeClik</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user26938305″>ChloeClik</a&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

I wanted to do something quite different for assignment four. As the final assignment it was important that everything I learned during this course was incorporated. Initially I began a shot of the local seafront and did some research. However it felt static and not what I was looking for.

I thought about what my friend said, taking the brief then honing it down to something specific. With that in mind I took the idea of a place and thought how could the garden be minimised. A comment about life from a bees point of view inspired me. The assignment was born. The garden as seen from the inhabitants viewpoint. Not completely subjective though with a few of those shots included. Shot from low angles to immerse the viewer in the world. I also read an article on the OCA website on how best to structure written work. It said that examiners don’t want to wade through loads of flowery language, instead to have the main points. With that in mind I have written the assignment in this manner.

Research. 

Documentaries were the first place to start. Yellowstone, Life on Earth, Anima Mundi, Scottish Highlands I watched them making notes about what makes a documentary. Whilst often differing it came down to a rough structure.

The documentary introduces the landscape or subject as a whole. Focuses on specific animals and their story. Usually life and death drama. Classical music illustrates scene. Personifies animals (not all documentaries do though) Narration can be serious, humorous, educational. Carries a message. In Yellowstone, how the wolves dominate the landscape and all animals fight to survive. The Highlands, the same story again exploring how individual animals use the land.

My plan was – 

  • To show garden from wildlife’s point of view
  • Focus on three main creatures. Bee. Woodlice. Originally it was to be a butterfly but on discovering the Centipede I couldn’t leave it out. Contrast of different levels. Bees – Flying. Woodlice – Land. Centipede – Under ground.
  • Events of the day. Bees collecting nectar. Woodlice family reunion. Rain. Evening.
  • Chronological over the day. Impact of humans and people. Humans only seen as distant blur or machinery.
  • Message of the impact of human contact (this came later as I worked on it).

Locating wildlife

The most important essence for a movie is the actors and they threw up big obstacles. The lavender bush was flooded with bees and I camped out in the garden filming them. From this

  • I charted their process, their patterns until I could almost predict the next flowers they’d go to.
  • Experimented with various auto focus modes. Occasionally manual focus.
  • 18-55mm lens ensured closeness. 50mm just wasn’t fast enough.
  • Looked into expensive kit but was pleased with footage from lens.

Woodlice.

The woodlice weren’t too bad to find. Several lived under the ornamental tortoise. I ensured I caused minimal disturbance to them. Replaced stones as they were.

  • Favourite shot. Woodlouse uncurling. Found it curled up. Waited. Held my breath as it uncurled. It was magical moment.
  • A whole conglomeration lived under the empty water butt.
  • Gardener discovered many while cleaning leaf litter.
  • Shot of woodlice with slug worked well with sequence.

Centipede. 

This was unexpected. There was an old fuchsia bush removed from the pot. Discovered centipede by chance.  Needed manual focus to track them fast enough. Created contrast, the underworld.

Equipment

  • Canon EOS 70D
  • 18-55mm
  • 80mm lens
  • Voice over – used iMovie recording function.

Music

Whilst it is good not to always include music, the music was important as I’d noted from my research, needed to convey mood, illustrate the story. Incompetech provided me with the perfect tracks which I edited and cut from occasionally to achieve the effect best for the video. It took longer than expected to adjust the sound levels to the voice over wasn’t overwhelmed or the music volume to differ greatly.

  • Upbeat dance music mimicked intensity of bees pollen collecting.
  • Magical created the atmosphere of the woodlice world.
  • Tribal beat for the ‘drone’ shot of the woodlouse running.
  • Gentle and classical like rain drops for rain storm. Brought sequence to a gentle close.

For the diegetic sounds I mostly used my own footage, the bees humming were achieved by getting very close to the bees (with my iPhone)  I used the bird song from copies of my own music. Some were from free sound, the rain and water droplets were from iMovie.

Narration

Minimal, a gentle narration allowing footage to tell the story. Anthropomorphism of animals.

Story

Giving animals human characteristics showed relationship between people and animals and reinforced message at end.

Final shot. Sums up the movie I feel with the tiny cities hidden in the undergrowth.

Reviewing 

Reviewing it on the TV changed things. Earlier in this unit I had researched the different types of documentary. Initially I wondered whether to do a poetic documentary, letting the music and footage tell the story but when it came to it I realised it would be more suited to a narrative so I chose to go for a mix, an expository narrative but poetic as well especially with the music sequences.

Then it was a matter of editing. I cut the film down to just over six minutes.

Narrative Structure

IMG_4947 (1)

Evaluation 

I experimented with a variety of beginnings. At first I panned down the tree but felt it was important to show the small space where the tiny cities were. I panned around but it felt static. Then I included the sky, this had more impact and I could pan down from the sky, the plants and even capturing a spider web. Finally ending on a lavender bush which motivated the next shot. Documentaries often show a collection of footage to introduce the film.

Early Morning Time was represented by the early morning dew, I would have liked to capture a sunrise but it was just too early with my health.

Introduces Bees. Decided to use jolly music to show the frenetic activity of bees. Edited so they represented musical notes. Jumping from the leaves on the beat. The hornet shakes about. Adds a circus like feel with the trapeze and high wire act. Sets a false scent of security. Bee flies away as music ends.

Strimmer.  Dark music.  Creates a contrast of dark and light. Uses connecting shots. Strimmer goes with music. Bees all fly off. Butterfly in holly (filmed at different moment) shows the creatures there. Time lapse. It was pure serendipity that the woodlouse appeared during filming and the leaf speared down. Edited to go with music which I felt worked well. The leaf also represents danger.

Bee hit. This caused a lot of problems. I thought about the Mosjukhin Experiment that we had studied and how the story came from the viewers perception. As with Assignment Three, implying meaning, I wanted to imply the bee being caught by the up draught and not show it. At first it showed the bee flying then the strimmer then the bee but the effect wasn’t strong enough. I decided to add shock. The bee is shown on a flower then in the next frame the strimmer goes down.. Empty space of flowers creates feeling of fear. Cathedral sound effect on strimmer and blurred focus of people add to the disorientation.

Woodlouse – Works well with the magical music as it is unfurls. Depicts mother on her journey searching for her scattered children. Shows garden and other inhabitants.

Drone shot. As I craned the camera up a woodlouse came running. Almost like the drone shots in nature documentaries.

Centipede. Woodlouse motivated shot into underworld. Dark. Pans down twisted roots to reinforce going down. Creepy music. Tartarus in Greek mythology being the equivalent of Hell.

Rain storm. The rain storm was a chance to show more of the garden, the flowers, the insects and to give it a bit of contrast, a gentle moment often used in documentaries to bring things to a close. It served the perfect function of guiding into the closing sequence.

Conclusion

I am happy with this documentary. It means quite a lot to me as I really immersed myself in the wildlife’s world. Realised our garden was not really our garden. But a shared space. It taught me a lot and I was fascinated by the amount of nature on our doorstep. I managed not to be stung by bees despite staying in a close proximity to them, something which I regard as an accomplishment. It was almost like they knew I was there as an observer and not a threat. I even rescued several sugar starved bees in the process.

I felt I got unique footage such as the woodlouse uncurling and explored every dimension of the place. I am pleased I went for this and not my original idea of the seafront as I learnt so much from this and produced footage which I am pleased with. This assignment means more to me than all of the others put together. They let me share their world and now I can portray it and show it in the best way I can.

I ran it by several people I know and didn’t know and while there were those who felt a bit squeamish watching it some said they would keep an eye out for the tiny cities, others liked the touch of humour in the narration that didn’t overshadow the themes and message and some even said whilst before they wouldn’t have been able to watch woodlice on TV they now regarding them as cute.

And so ends digital film production.   My life will feel almost empty without the enjoyable exercises, fun research and community of the film students.  I would like to thank my tutor for his support in my ideas, feedback and invaluable advice. It has been a long and fantastic journey through this course, I have learnt so much, challenged myself and I look back at the first assignments and noticed errors I hadn’t before such as the introduction of diegetic sound in one scene only to be cut out in the next. Things I wouldn’t have noticed at the beginning now feel second nature, this course has been wonderful.

Techniques. 

I went through every page of the course writing everything learned from exercises and incorporated it all.

  • Storyboard
  • Low Angle
  • High Angle
  • Canted Frame
  • POV – Subjective
  • Objective
  • Mise-en-scène
  • Depth
  • Lighting
  • Texture
  • Atmosphere
  • Diegetic sound
  • Non diegetic
  • Sound – smell, colour, emotion, physical
  • New soundtrack
  • Screen space
  • Connecting shots
  • Pan
  • Tilt
  • Crane/jib
  • Tracking
  • Zoom
  • Narration
  • Motivation
  • Speed up
  • Transitions
  • Jump cutting
  • Cutaway
  • Empty drama
  • Slow motion
  • Overlapping or repeating action
  • Intercutting
  • Time
  • Documentary

 

Assignment Three – Tutor Feedback

assignment 3_

annotatedtutor report assignment 3

I was pleased to receive the above tutor feedback of Assignment Three. You can read the whole thing in full but I will highlight below some comments to reflect on.

“Is the nature of the drink clear enough. I didn’t get the poison idea the first time wrong”

This is an interesting question. I ran it by several people both on the course and off and they all got the poison idea. He did say it could be just him but will the assessors see it the same way. If I was to change something I would perhaps add in her frowning at the drink to convey something was wrong. Though I don’t want to make it too obvious as it is meant to be implied. Something to think about. It’s 50 50 as to whether I edit it.

“Whenever possible try shooting some test footage in new locations/lighting conditions to assess exposure as well as any other issues”

This is a very good idea and one in which I’ve been experimenting with. The same can be applied to sound, checking the area before beginning.

“Perhaps you need to think about a separate recorder for dialogue or at least a supplementary gun microphone”

As this unit has now ended and I am moving onto Landscape photography I haven’t invested in external audio however had I been continuing this was something I would most definitely have done. As such I have been using the video recorder on iMovie for narration in Assignment four and filming sounds separately on my Canon DSLR.

“I think that this video has much to commend it”

A very nice comment to read.

“You should practice tracking (walking!) with the camera to get it smooth. There are times when slight movement up and down of the camera can add to the mood but often what is wanted is a smooth track.”

I did experiment by being in my wheelchair for this assignment however we have a crazy paving driveway and even laying down cardboard for the wheelchair didn’t ensure a smooth pan. I did find that working with my iPhone at one occasion in Assignment One was smoother, perhaps because it’s so light and easier to navigate. Image stabilisation on iMovie isn’t the best it gives it an almost distorted feeling of looking through water though I used IS on my camera.

“There seems to be a good quantity and quality of research going on. Remember to look beyond the confines of the unit to get some appreciation of the wider implications of cultural theory and then their implications for the particular medium we are dealing with. Look at ideas about The Gaze, Feminist and Poet-colonialist criticism, the implications of the questioning of the nature of The real and so on and so on.”

I’m very pleased about this especially as I have sought out variety of subjects to study, researching everything I come across from photography to psychology and the meaning of dreams and movies. On the first two courses, The Art of Photography and People and Place I don’t feel I researched enough but I suppose the point of making mistakes is to learn from them. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.”

Perhaps you should think about keeping a scrapbook type journal as well as the blog ion which you can put tear-sheets, cuttings, etc as well as more personal and random thought on life the universe and everything!

I wish I had done this at the beginning of the course but it is not too late to start now so I have been gathering today work for Assignment Four which I will upload here. And I have already chosen a sketchbook and started it for the Landscape course.

Pointers for the next assignment / assessment

  • Think very carefully about the different ways that the idea of narrative can be approached and plan and shoot accordingly.
  • Think whether you want to inform your audience in a documentary sense or place the narrative in front of them for them to interpret.

I have posted a blog article on the many types of narrative and have chosen to do an expository documentary for Assignment four. It is also a mix between poetic. I decided to go for a telling documentary, whilst the end may be considered as an asking, on the whole it is indeed a telling.

 

Assignment Four – Initial Idea

And so we reach the final assignment. I feel on the edge of a void ready to jump into the next course but first I have the abyss to cross of the final assignment. Despite describing it as an abyss I am really looking forward to this. At the moment ideas are flowing and need the restriction of a blank piece of paper to harness them.

For this assignment you’ll gather documentary footage and use it to create a short documentary sequence representing a portrait of a place. You should try and capture the spirit and feel of the place as well as representing what happens there.

As I’ve worked through this unit I have come to some decisions on how I want the documentary to go.

My first idea was to film Lytham Seafront as my destination. Initially I had wondered about shooting it at the Zoo yet while sitting on the seafront the other day I realised just how many stories were being written on the seafront, small stories, big stories, from the tall windmill to the tiny cinnabar moth clinging for a grim life to a flower in the sea breeze.

Lytham is important to me. It’s where I was born and where I grew up. Whilst we lived in was for several years we returned back here when I was fourteen and I plan to spend the rest of my life here. It’s part of who I am, I love the sounds, the people, the culture, the energy, the flowers abounding in the town, the art galleries and cafes. But I wanted to focus in on a smaller part. The seafront.

My plan was to shoot Lytham from dawn until dusk. Ideally beginning with a sunrise and ending on a sunset. To focus on the nature, the people and the monument such as the iconic Lytham Windmill. As I write this the proms are taking place, the whole green has dissapeared under stages, people, and helter skeleters. I could have focused on this but I want to focus on the smaller stories. After all it is usually the small stories that produce the strongest memories.

Early Morning 

  • Dawn until dusk
  • Credits start with time-lapse of myself doing a watercolour. Picture fades to video and starts
  • Expanse of sea to set the scene.
  • Quiet and peaceful
  • Then
  • “Something in the air.” The pound of excited paws. Bedraggled dog owners. A volley of barks fill the misty air. Que dramatic music. Dogs everywhere.

Late Morning 

  • Not sure yet. Will go to seafront and analyse.

Lunchtime

  • Busy. People with ice cream.

Afternoon 

  • Peaceful again. Focus on nature. Cinnabar moth footage.

Evening 

  • Again, unsure. Will have to research.

Night 

  • Ends on beautiful sunset from jetty.
  • Blurs to watercolour drawing.
  • Credits roll.

Some photos of Lytham seafront that I have already taken through the years.

Edit –

I decided not to go for this option after having the idea of the Tiny Cities. I felt the seafront was rather general and wanted to do something that would challenge me in every way, inspire me and create something unique.

Exercise: De-edit a sequence

Choose any scene from a film or TV programme. Load this into your editing package.

I was slightly concerned starting this exercise due to copyright issues and I noted that some of my course mates had the same problem so for that reason I have uploaded the finished video into a separate file instead of uploading it to Vimeo.

Here is my finished exercise as a file in Dropbox.

I chose the scene from Jurassic Park in which the T-Rex escaped it’s paddock. While watching it I wasn’t sure what I would do to cut it down to the minimum as the scene is fantastically created, each cut works well in amping up the drama.

Watch the scene a couple of times, try to identify if there is any particular rhythm to the speed of the cuts. Does this change as the scene progresses? Is the rhythm suggested by action – dictating how the cuts should be made, or is it created by the cuts themselves? Cut the scene up into each of the individual shots.

Around 30 shots. Varying in length. Characters reactions filmed throughout.

In the beginning T-Rex has more screen time.  The children are arguing in a frenzy trying to turn the torch on . Shot of the T-Rex looking down. Pause in the arguing as they stare up at the T-Rex, it gives a rat sudden break then the T-Rex lurches it’s head through the roof of the car.

I decided to experiment. For every change of shot I played a chord on the piano holding it for as long as the shot was. Listening back I could literally hear the pattern of the screen shots.

Excuse the heavy breathing. I tried it first with humming and had an asthma attack. 

I would have thought there would be more shots than there were to create action but the action was based on fear and most of the shots were fairly long. In contrast the scene in Quantum of Solace was so fast paced your eyes couldn’t focus. It shows how nowadays some directors think we need it fast to be dramatic but looking back at an icon such as Jurassic Park proves otherwise.

When the T-Rex attacked it was fast paced but mostly each scene was fairly equal in length. Apart from lengthy ones. At the finale especially scenes were slower. Giving the viewer time to take things in. Creating contrasting scenes.

I used Collage Maker to create the following collage. 

 

Jurassic Park - Shots _244 (1)

Look closely at each shot. List the elements of composition within the shot and try to think what purpose each element serves. What effect does it have? Identify the motivation/justification for each element. Identify the motivation for each cut. Could you have cut any earlier in the shot?

FRAME 

One – Side shot. T-Rex. Shows contrast car and T-Rex. Fear. The children are in the car. Motivates the change…

 

Two and Three – to their reactions

Four – Side shot. T-Rex pushes the car.

Five – Camera pans as Tim scrambles into back of seat. They struggle to turn off the torch that is luring the T-Rex in .

Six – High angle shot. Children oblivious as T-Rex stares down. Vulnerability.

Seven – High angle. Children look up. Silence.

Eight – T-Rex smashes head through roof. The glass breaks. Side shot illustrates this. Screaming. Sudden. Unexpected.

Nine – Subjective view. Small hands on glass with T-Rex trying to kill them. Highlights how weak they are in comparison. Feels like they won’t escape.

Ten – Digital zoom or dolly zoom? Camera thrust down at children. T-Rex subjective view.

Eleven – Fourteen- Repeating side shots, repeated hand shots. Blurred close ups of children screaming. T-Rex’s eye huge and fierce.

Fifteen – Pan down from T-Rex to children screaming. This shot is repeated several times later. Familiarity though intensifies the fear as their predicament gets worse as they are pushed down into the mud. Sets the scene

Sixteen – Close up of Tim screaming.

Seventeen – Pan. Shows Grant in the car staring in horror. Pans to Ian who clears condensation off the window so he can see clearly. Motivates scene t

Eighteen – Side shot of T-Rex. Now viewed from the angle of the car. T-Rex flips car over.

Nineteen – Car flips over completely. Children screaming.

Twenty – Close up of Grants reaction.

Twenty One – Side shot. T-Rex guts car. Screaming.

Twenty Two – Close up of Ian.

Twenty Three – Pan down again. T-Rex to children who are being pushed under mud by the weight of the T-Rex on the car.

Twenty Four –  Pan as Grant searches through suitcase to get the flares.

Twenty Five – T-Rex shrieks. Pan down again to children. Sinking further under the mud.

Twenty Six – twenty seven  – Close up of Tim  and Lex screaming.

Twenty Eight – Grant leaps out of car waving flare to distract the T-Rex

Twenty Nine – Close up. The T-Rex looks up and roars. Attention away from the children.

Thirty – Steps back in fear. He is in trouble now.

Very interesting to see the repetition of shots to reinforce the predicament. I read that  in writing you should always make things be really bad but then make it worse. If your characters a trapped in a room make it worse and fill it up with water, add a crocodile. Make it so bad until you think there’s no hope. And that is the same concept with this, the T-Rex is bad enough but then to almost drown in the mud, quite literally out of the frying pan and into the fire. It keeps the viewers interest and ensures they keep watching.

 

Try to cut each shot down to the absolute bare minimum.

Reconnect your shots and see how short you can make the sequence without losing its meaning.

I was worried as to whether I would lose the energy of the scene but feel I have captured it. I cut each shot down, removing repeating shots as aforementioned. I especially like the shot where it shows the T-rex then Grant then the T-Rex, Ian’s reaction and finally the T-Rex again. I feel it captures how they would be feeling.

Upload your finished sequence and invite comments.

Here is the finished clip as a file in dropbox

• Does your sequence still convey the meaning you intended? • How does it feel? Has it changed? Why?
• Has the feeling affected the meaning?

The sequence still captures the intense drama feeling. The fast paced scenes build up energy. I think it would work as part of an action sequence but feel the slower shots of the original give the viewer time to stare holding their breath before being hurled into it once more. I repeated one scene to make it even more horrifying. I let it end on the final slow scene of the T-Rex shrieking to capture that nostalgic moment that can’t be replaced.

 

Dreams and Movies -Cuts

I produced this mind map to explore and document my research 

Dreams_and_Movies

Despite my scathing review of Colin McGinn’s book, the Power of Movies there was a chapter in which I found fascinating and devoured the pages with interest. Dreams on Film (I only wish the whole book had been as insightful)

“By producing visual images in narrative form with an emotional theme, movies and dreams convert those repressed and free-floating emotions into visible form, giving them shape and definition. The visual becomes a way for the visceral ti channel itself, thus allowing for release. Both film and dream serve not just to represent and express emotion but to open the emotional valves to let emotion flow freely (and perhaps safely”

McGinn wrote that he believed dreams and movies were locked together in the same category. He wrote about the fractious nature of dreams always cutting and splicing, transferring oneself to a completely new destination within a second and the mind never questioning the improbability of the dream. “I can’t be being chased by a T-Rex they don’t exist,” never seems to cross my mind as I spend most of my night running for my life.  And I was interested to read that the same is in movies. No-one even questions the fact that we see someone getting ready for work in a movie then as they walk from the frame they are suddenly there. Life does’t work like that so McGinn questions why is there not an uproar, that’s not plausible, what’s going on?

Walter Murch (who also developed the theory of the cinema screen being like a giant wide window) provided an answer

image1

So the fact that dreams and movies both interlink in that sense prove that dreaming and watching movies is a skill innate in all of us. As McGinn says young children who can follow a narrative take it in their stride, they don’t react to the cutting and changing, a fascinating fact, why aren’t they confused? I admit it’s something I’ve never even thought about. Perhaps it is like the research undertaken at Cambridge University.

“It deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a whole.”

Translation

“It doesn’t matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first and last letter be at the right place. The rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without a problem. This is because the human mind does not ready every letter by itself but the word as a whole.”

So perhaps this is like in films and dreams, we carry with us an innate problem solving talent to automatically fill in the gaps between elements that are not linked, the scrambled words, the cuts in movies, the spatio temporal discontinuity of dreams. It would seem so as an experiment was undertaken by Sermin Ildirar from Birbeck University of London and Stephen Schwan, Knowledge Media Research Centre in Tübungen, Germany,  to see if people who had never experienced TV before would understand film cuts. The experiment was undertaken in remote villages in Turkey and appointed local actors to act in everyday situations (so as not to confuse the villagers)

The villagers didn’t find it confusing, the shots were taken in their stride however intercutting shots, parallel action, flashing from one scene to the other and back again generated some confusion as the villagers tried to link them. So even if you haven’t watched TV before in your life your mind automatically fills in the gaps to explain everything. Which would imply that there was a connection between your dreams and watching a movie. Interesting further still I read this article here  written by the psychologist Jeffrey M Zacks, who noted that your eyes are continuously moving when you watch a movie. As an experiment he recommended filming yourself watching some footage which I did. At first I was very aware of eye movement as I was looking out for it but after a bit I relaxed into the movie and forgot about the project (being absorbed and removed from my immediate surroundings) I watched the video back and was amazed to see how my eyes flittered back and forth every second or so especially in moments of action or drama. Interestingly at the moment when the father supports his young son my head even tilted to one side something which I wasn’t aware of at the time.

“most of the eye movements we make are these jerky, ballistic movements called saccades. They take a little less than a tenth of a second and, while the eye is moving, the information that it is sending to your brain is pretty much garbage. Your brain has a nifty control mechanism that turns down the gain during these saccades so that you ignore the bad information”

Zacks goes on further to explain “ So, the signal that our brains are getting about the visual world is not like a smooth camera-pan around the environment. It’s more like a jittery music video: a sequence of brief shots of little patches of the world, stitched together. We feel like we have a detailed, continuous permanent representation of the visual details of our world, but what our visual system really delivers is a sequence of patchy pictures. Our brains do a lot of work to fill in the gaps, which can produce some pretty striking – and entertaining – errors of perception and memory.”

This would imply that we accept the transition of cuts in movies because it corresponds with the way in which we view the world. It could be an innate skill but also one which has been fuelled by our own vision. New born babies are born with huge eyes that are constantly taking in the world around them. Their eyesight teaches them about their surroundings, how to sit, crawl, how to walk and so much more. And for the first few days of their life they see upside down. So accepting cuts is pretty relaxed in comparison to this. “You may notice your newborn’s eyes wandering, as she hasn’t yet learned that she can fix her eyes on an object.”

However if we were to turn this theory on it’s head if we dream in such a fractious way and even day dream, perhaps it could be said that the reason dreams and films have so much in common is because we structure films to resemble that of our dreams.

I will conclude this study with the quote by Zacks,

“It’s not that we have learned how to deal with cuts. It’s certainly not that our brains have evolved biologically to deal with film – the timescale is way too short. Instead, film cuts work because they exploit the ways in which our visual systems evolved to work in the real world.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aiming High

I’ve always planned to work towards the full degree and secretly I desperately want to achieve a first. I know that this is immensely hard to accomplish but either way I am inspired and more motivated than ever. Though I put my heart into my work, my results last assessment  didn’t improve by very much. So I  have started doing some research on how to obtain a good mark and thought I’d write them down here.

“To get a first class degree you have to read around your topic (outside of the reading list) and interpret the ideas for yourself – always be critical as while your lecturer may not agree it shows you are driven by the subject.”

“Don’t just rely on the internet as a source of all wisdom; the best students will use a range of different sources from ancient textbooks to online journals.”

“In the case of a written essay, a first class degree student will suggest one of their own ideas and then use critical sources to support them, not the other way round.”

YOU SHOULD TREAT EVERY ASSIGNMENT LIKE IT WILL BE THE ONLY ONE YOU EVER GET GRADED ON

The key is to ask yourself the following when you look at your assignment or exam question :

  • · What have I learned on this subject so far
  • · What will I need to demonstrate I have understood from the course content I have received
  • · What details will I need to research to show I have expanded my knowledge
  • · How can I demonstrate I have used course content, research and practical assignments as a basis for the conclusions in this piece of work.
  • · What can I add to this work that will show I have gone above and beyond the expected standard?.

I also spoke to my friend who achieved a first in her R.E degree and asked her for some tips. Her advice was brilliant. She told me that in GCSE the topic chosen was more generalised. For A Level the subject would be more specific and for degree work she would choose one specific thing, for example, a quote and explore every avenue and branch to obtain the best view and analysis of it.

And of course to do lots of critical reading, research and investigation into cultural theory.