Coverage, Decoupage & Scene Construction

To the average filmgoer, terms like ‘decoupage’ or ‘scene construction’ probably have little meaning. Even in the professional world, they might only be applied retrospectively to a series of mainly pragmatic decisions. We often ask, “Is the scene covered yet”? In this case, 'coverage' relates to the idea of providing adequate options for the editing process. The creative significance of coverage is often overlooked in favour of focusing on more explicitly noticeable and universally celebrated aspects of film such as 'mise en scene'.  Throughout this semester of The Scene, our studies of coverage have proved this attitude wrong. In our studio, we have discovered all the ways that the construction of a scene can have artistic merit. We have conducted deconstructions of various films that use segmentation to produce uniquely creative works (e.g. Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Red Desert), as well as considered a range of academic readings on the subject.  A significant amount of ideas we have uncovered this semester have been shaped by Luis Bunuel’s writings on ‘decoupage’. To him, coverage is more than just the choice of placing one shot next to the other. Rather, it is “the intuition of film, its cinematic embryo”. If there is a scene where, for example, two people are talking at a bar, there are endless possibilities about how a director can choose to present it. According to Bunuel, it is these choices in segmentation that separates film from any other art form. When we carefully consider the connection between one shot and another, the relationship between space and time, and the rhythm that makes a scene flow; this is when a film becomes distinctly cinematic.  During the second half of the semester, each student has conducted individual research projects regarding an aspect of coverage that intrigued us according to the learnings from the first few weeks. A wide scope was covered, including investigations into both technical and creative considerations of coverage. We have each created a series of practical exercises and written reflections which are documented here.  Jess

Siobhan Bird

For my research project I wanted to look at the different methods and techniques used in cooking videos and tutorials. I asked the question ‘What makes a cooking video engaging?’. From my research I discovered there are different types of cooking videos and there is a variety of popular formats. I touched briefly on the traditional cooking show format. This consisted of a host or chef talking to the audience in a conversational manner and narrating their actions as they cook a particular dish. The main format I focused on was the ever growing revolutionary format of the ‘Tasty’ Video. This is a company that produce short, sharp, snappy cooking tutorials that are generally always filmed from a birds eye view. They are generally viewed through Facebook and are consumed within a matter of minutes. Facebook is a good platform of dissemination for these videos as people don’t have to actively seek them out, they simply pop up on your news feed if people you know have liked them, commented on them or tagged you in them. They are also well suited to Facebook because they are short in length, people can just view them quickly without having to commit to a half hour program. With new media development peoples attention spans are becoming shorter, they become disengaged more rapidly and require more stimulation in order to grab and maintain their attention. This way viewers get an understanding of what the video is about after only watching for a number of seconds, then they can decide if they would like to continue watching the remaining few minutes or not.
In my Meatloaf video I chose to use a range of fatty products to see if the indulgent food was more popular with audiences. These included meat, sausages, bacon, cheese, bread and butter. This was my 1st video attempt and I wanted to use it as some what of a control. Here I familiarize myself with the typical ‘Tasty’ style of video and experimented with the birds eye camera angle and elliptical editing. I used a variety of ellipsis by either cutting chunks out of the footage and removing them entirely or speeding up the action. In some cases these techniques blurred, when I sped up the action fast enough it would remove chunks of footage on its own. I was worried about this being jarring on the viewer but in conjunction with the music it worked quite well. The music gave them another aspect to focus on which distracts from the cuts. I also think they ultimately the audience would be less perturbed by jumpy cuts and editing then they would be by watching the tutorial in real time. I still did my best to edit to the movements so the action appeared somewhat continuous and cyclical.
My choc chip pudding video experimented with desserts and sweet ingredients. I focused on the technique of zoom in and zoom out. I wanted to look at this as an element of visual intrigue and see if it makes the video more engaging. I think it was successful although it was over used in this video. Maybe it could have been used in conjunction with other techniques. Otherwise it could have been minimised by only showing each ingredient once rather then zooming in and out on the packaging, zooming in and out on the product in its raw form and then zooming in and out once the ingredient has been incorporated into the mixture.
The Cheesecake was formed using entirely still photography. Although this allowed the video to be even shorter I think there was too much foreshortening of time which took away important details and makes it more difficult for the audience to string each cut or separate image together into a unified thread of chronological information. This video also experimented with narration vs visual/written instructions. Written instructions worked well on the other forms of video but they provided insufficient information in conjunction with the still photos. This required a voice over narration. Otherwise there were too many separate elements that the audience have to piece together, taking the focus away from the cooking. Whether you are making a easy or technical recipe the tutorial should make it as clear, simple and easy to understand as possible.
The Sweet Potato Burger tested the popularity and appeal of healthy food. Although the ingredients are good you the recipe is not complex. It is a quick and simple one bowl cook which appeals to time short people.
The Peanut Veggie Burger was the traditional cooking video.
I asked questions such as how important is the technical ability of the chef? How important is the personality of the chef? How important is it to be able to see the chefs face?
My final video was a Mushroom Strudel in which music and rhythmic editing was my main focus. I edited the footage according to the beats in in the music. I think this makes the editing less jarring and unites the audio with the visuals to create 1 unified product. I’m not sure if I took the editing and motion too far and turned it into an experimental piece rather then a cooking tutorial.

https://youtu.be/Ppu3QWVBgEA

Serena Carter

For my individual project this semester I decided to study the monologue. After watching another student’s individual experiment in which they shot a monologue, my mind drifted back to Kevin Spacey’s performance in House of Cards. These monologues are incredibly powerful as he addresses the audience through breaking the fourth wall. For my presentation I showed a clip from this show in which these monologues are often used to deliver information such as plans and character development. I then contrasted this with a different style of monologue in which a letter was read aloud. This served to heighten the significance of the letter and amplified emotion that would otherwise be excluded with a standard voice over. My original plan was to mimic the coverage of these two monologues and learn from the experience. This would then lead to me developing my own coverage of a monologue. What originally drew me to monologues is that they are designed to captivate an audience. They require an intense amount of focus and command this by usually playing on peoples’ emotions. I hoped that by exploring these monologues, I would find what makes them so successful and engaging.

I began by attempting to shoot the scene from Gossip Girl. Whilst I had initially planned to follow the exact coverage for the scene, it was bound to change due differences such as location. The original scene was shot in an undercover outdoor area with a bench and lots of space. I settled for a narrow corridor which altered the position of my actors because of the tight space we were working in. This lead to me having my actors standing almost directly in front of each other as opposed to side by side. Since their positioning was thrown out and I attempted to follow the original coverage, I accidentally crossed the line. After the shoot in the edit where I realised that our attempts to record sound had failed, I began to notice the significance of reaction shots in this particular monologue. In this scene the character Blaire reads an emotional letter in which she confesses to the character of Serena how much she missed her and needed her. Whilst this scene centres around the monologue performed by Blaire, it is highly successful in drawing the audience in with its reaction shots of Serena. Whilst I unintentionally deviated from the original coverage of this scene, I began to get a feel for how monologues are shot.

When it came to shooting the monologue from House of Cards, I had to change the coverage significantly. This is as the original was an incredible single shot that used tracks and other types of equipment that I didn’t have access to. I had wanted to still use a single shot that would simply pan and zoom but this didn’t work out as I couldn’t master a smooth zoom. During the shoot I improvised and included a close up with my subject facing the camera, a profile and a separate tilt down to a prop relating to the scene. Whilst some of these shots were successful most of them were slightly over exposed. This was due to my use of the view finder as opposed to the eye piece. This was because I was working with a 6’3″ actor which meant that the camera had to be adjusted to this height and I therefore couldn’t reach the eye piece. Whilst there is one part of a shot I’m particularly proud of because of my framing, I did make the decision to reshoot this scene. For the reshoot I figured out a way I could make the scene work with one shot. Rather than attempt to have my actor look at the lens in the reflection of the mirror, I had him simply turn to the camera. This made for a much smoother shot and changed the dynamics of the scene. It was far more confronting to the audience to have me character directly address them from a low angle. However, as I wanted to have slightly more variety I did capture a quick profile in the lead up to the monologue. It is from this monologue that I had the revelation that monologues rely heavily on the reactions of others. I was particularly inspired by the how the House of Cards scene demonstrated an alternative way of doing this. This scene depends on the reaction it illicits directly from the audience.

For my final exercise I found a monologue from the T.V show Scrubs to adapt. I altered the script, setting and coverage dramatically. My fixation with monologues now became the role in which reaction plays and contributes to them. However rather than comply to the norms of reation shots (such as the ones from the Gossip Girl scene), I decided to deviate from conventions and create a certain suspense around the reaction shots. I chose to have my subject rant about the fickle complaints of others at the dinner table. However, instead of having him yell at his parents or siblings, he would be yelling at his pets and this would only be revealed at the end. Therefore I chose to begin with an ‘over the shoulder’ shot of my subject beginning his rant. This shot included a portion of the back of one of the dog’s heads that looks similar to the back of a curly haired man’s head. For the majority of the scene I focused entirely on the monologue. I used a wide and close up to do this. I chose a wide as opposed to a medium shot as my actor was highly animated and filled the frame well. I ended the scene with my main character storming out from the dogs’ perspective which then cut to an eye-line match of the dogs watching him leave the room.

From focusing so closely on monologues I’ve discovered a great deal about them. The majority of monologues rely heavily on reactions to them. This is why I was interested in creating a final exercise that created suspense around the reaction and gave it almost a kind of punchline feel. A good monologue has to captivate their audience enough to make them want to listen to a large amount of dialogue. This is why acting and writing are major contributors to successful monologues. Whilst I don’t think I’ve quite mastered the coverage of monologues, I’ve learnt a great deal about coverage and working with people from studying and exploring them. I will continue my exploration of the monologue as the subject still fascinates me.

Bryan Cheng

When I started this project, my main goal was to achieve multiple storytelling in multiple timelines through the manipulation of time and space. The end results makes for a nonlinear form of storytelling. Being able to understand this technique meant I could alter time and space while at the same time keep my audience captivated. Besides that, being able to understand this technique gave me a better understanding of planning and teamwork.

What I have managed to achieve from this research is a better appreciation for film productions. Having to take up most of the roles to shoot my experimental film, I understood the importance of a strict timeline and how essential it is to have prepared everything before the actual shoot date. A lot of planning had to be done prior to the shooting day.

To make this blog easier, I will break it down to a few points and elaborate on those.

Pre-Production:

By far this was the toughest step among them all. A clear understanding on what story I want to tell and how I wanted to tell it was crucial before shooting. I had to plan three stories in order to achieve this effect. The first story, which is the main story had to be properly written before I was able to write the other two. This is important because I had the built the other 2 stories based on the first storyline in order to get the story to relate.

Besides that, deciding the types of cuts for the transition was very important as well. I didn’t want to go with the very cliche “dip to white” kind of shots because I felt it was overused was a lazy form of storytelling as well. So I decide to go for two kinds of cuts, a match cut and a quick jump cuts. The match cut was mainly inspired by Edgar Wright’s film because I thought it was a pretty interesting film technique to be done. Not only was it useful in comedy, but I wanted to see if it could work on the emotions of intimacy as well.

The quick cut on was meant to be a quick way of narrating both the main stories and the fight to show the intensity of the fight. The quick cut allows the audience to register what they think is going on, at the same time give them room to interpret why the main character was depressed. This form of cutting shows how we as an audience can quickly understand and register both stories, while giving room for interpretations as well. This also shows that we are visually stimulated as a whole.

Production:

Since I’ve spent quite some time on planning, shooting was a breeze. I communicated well with my crew and understood that most of them had to leave by the afternoon.This gave us a gauge on the limited amount of time.

Understanding the lack of time we had, I scheduled the shoot to be done early in the morning where the sun was our main source of lighting. Having the sun as the main source of lighting really saved our time because the overall lighting for the set remained consistent, and not much lighting changes need to be done. Besides that, the lighting also set a very nice mundane look on the actor and actresses face, helping to set the tone of the film.

On the set day itself, I had help from a guy who’s name is Bryan as well. With Bryan’s help, we manage to shoot coverage of the scene in a very short time. Having to work with Bryan on previous shoots, we understood how we wanted to cover the scene, this helped us a lot in saving our time and he as well understood my vision for my film. Communications among the crew is very important in a shoot like this, especially since we don’t have the luxury of time.

Being creative on set remains to be one of the most important aspect of shooting. There were a few minor hiccups on the day of the shoot, for example the actress not being able to cry. Our solution to that was we chopped up some onions and put the bowl next to her, making it easier for her to shed tears while we shoot. Another problem was getting the hot water to fog up the room, so what we did was turning on the hot water from the shower and let it fog up the room. Small things like these helped us figure a way to complete shooting the film and I was satisfied with the final results.

Post-Production:

In post-production, I bumped in to multiple problems as well. Even Though I had the continuity sheet to help me out with the editing, there were a few minor details that bugged me. Since I decided to go for a quick phase cutting style, many of those little details either remained unoticable or too slow for the audiences to catch it.

Besides that, on my first draft of the export there were a few narrative problems which could leaves the audiences confused. I had to rearrange the scene, which in the final product allowed the story to be narrated more clearly. These minor tweaks and attention to detail of the film plays an important role to the overall narrative to the film. One small mislead in details can leave the audiences confused and astrayed from the real meaning of the film.

Conclusion:

Overall, I learnt a lot from this little experiment. Not having to worry too much on the technical point of the film really made me understand narrative in the film clearly. Attention to detail remains to be very important in a film as it can really mislead audience’s interpretation of the film.

Although jumping between space and time is an interesting and powerful technique for storytelling, it remains to be pretty complex and very time consuming to pull off. The planning really took up a lot of time, but overall I was very pleased with the final result of the film.

Robert Corica

In which ways can dialogue/written word be used in order to act as a unifying vehicle to deliver information and emotion from within a piece?

My research task over the last 5 weeks has involved the research and exploration of dialogue/written word and the different ways it can be used to convey both narrative and sentimental information to an audience.

Over the course of the last 5 weeks, my research idea for assessment tasks 4 and 5 metamorphosed from simply focussing on dialogue between characters, to focussing on all forms of written/spoken word. Although this was not my intention, I feel as though it was an appropriate direction to follow considering my interest in both film, writing and poetry.

In the beginning, I intended to create one cohesive clip with different elements of dialogue littered throughout it. However, upon research, reflection and practical endeavour – I realised that it simply would not be possible to produce something cohesive, refined and conceptually dense in this space of time. Subsequently, I decided to produce a set of 4 clips, each exploring a different mode of dialogue/written word. Some of the scenes were excerpts from movies/theatrical productions and manipulated to suit the sentiments I intended to portray, and some of the scenes were written by myself, drawing inspiration from outside sources such as Su Freidrich’s Sink or Swim (1990).

Each clip focusses on a different aspect of dialogue/written word, I decided to explore: dialogue between two people, the poignancy of monologue within a scene, the effect of an internalised soliloquy, and a more abstract idea of using subtitles and spoken word over a series of unrelated footage. I decided to create 4 separate clips in order to create something dynamic and diverse, and to embody the prompt I had set for myself and investigate how dialogue can be used as a unifying device within a cinematic scene.

This final clip is an excerpt from my BOY sequence. I decided to use a 2 minute sample from this sequence because not only do I think that it is the most fitting clip to suit the prompt I synthesised for myself, but also because it is one of the clips I am most proud of, and satisfied with. The clip focusses on the use of dialogue/written word in conjunction with snippets of footage I filmed in order to create narrative. I believe this clip most suits the self-assigned prompt due to the fact that it is the written/spoken word that creates a sense of unity within the clip. Without the written/spoken word, the footage would seem out of place, disjointed and nonsensical. Although this aesthetic embodies the ideas of abstract cinema and experimental film, the dialogue provides the footage with yet another facet of meaning and allows the footage to transcend the barrier between footage and film.

I intended to use long shots within this clip in order to captivate the audience and draw their attention to each minor detail that occurs within the frame. Opposed to my other scenes, this clip has little to no editing in order to employ a more unobtrusive, observatory feeling. Additionally, my use of timely shots is intended to evoke an almost apprehensive feeling throughout the scene, building up anticipation only to be relieved by the introduction of dialogue.

The feelings of trepidation and anticipation are heightened by the lack of sound within the clip. I toyed, tentatively, with the idea of introducing a soundscape to play in the background of the clip, but I later decided against it as I found it to be too distracting from the most pivotal aspect of the scenes, the dialogue. The use of spoken word over the top of the footage separates this clip from my other three, because it gives an almost documentary-esque feel to the footage in the way that it narrates and breathes life into the subtleties of what is happening on the screen.

I decided to employ the use of black and white within this sequence because I feel as though the footage is able to embody a more sombre feel to the piece. My reason for thinking this came about when experimenting with the colours within the footage. Because each segment of footage is visually unrelated to the last, I found the constant change in colour scheme and lighting to become extremely distracting and almost visually volatile. However, when I used a monochrome effect in Adobe Premiere, I felt that the footage had a visual harmony and offered a more stable medium for the dialogue to be expressed within.

Ultimately, I count myself lucky to have been able to work with a multitude of different people in order to create a piece that investigates dialogue. I enjoyed all aspects of the assessment, from writing the dialogue, to filming the footage and editing them together. I enjoyed the creative license I was allowed when manipulating the footage into something that meant more than a sequence of fragmented clips. However, it is perhaps the knowledge that I have gained from an assessment task such as this that is the most invaluable to me. I now consider myself to be more informed when it comes to recognising the use of dialogue within a film, and the importance of it when intending to convey meaning and information. Finally, although my piece is not as refined as I would have liked it to be, I am ecstatic to have created something that I am not dissatisfied with and is echoic of something that I would like to produce in the future – I count myself lucky that I was able to explore the poetic nature of written/spoken word and how it relates to film.

Luke Egan

As a student filmmaker who often just wanted to get things done I found myself neglecting the potential of focal length, using it as a mere zoom to frame my shots. However, I knew choosing a focal length was a more complex decision than simply what’s convenient to frame a shot. For this reason, I chose to focus on focal length for my individual research project for the second half of the semester. I set out to explore the function of different focal lengths and its effect on perceived perspective.

I began my research journey with an exercise that compared physical focal lengths in relation to different camera sensor sizes. I shot the same scene with two cameras that had different sized sensors: the Sony Z7 which has a tiny 1/3 inch sensor and the Canon 5D which has a full-framed sensor the same size as 35mm format film. By shooting on the same settings on both cameras from the same position changing only the physical focal lengths and ISO when needed I was able to compare the aesthetic and practical difference.

I knew from the beginning I would have to use much shorter focal lengths on the Z7 to obtain the same framing as the 5D footage in which I shot first. The shorter physical focal length corresponded with a smaller entrance pupil size resulting in a larger focal area. Furthermore, the perceived distance between characters and the background is exaggerated on the wider focal lengths. Moreover, by being forced to use ultra-wide focal lengths such as 6mm and 10mm the scene was visually warped which distracted from the ‘illusion’ of film. Overall, the shots taken on the full-framed 5D were more aesthetically pleasing with most of the shots using close to the ‘standard’ focal length of 50mm.

For my next step in my investigation I wanted to explore a different application of focal length. When I first proposed this idea to my studio I showed a scene from the film Return of the Prodigal Son which consists of a POV shot from the backseat a vehicle on a relatively long focal length. I found this particularly interesting as shots from inside moving vehicles are normally shot on shorter focal lengths as it minimises the apparent shake of the vehicle.

I decided to compare the perspective and resulting effects of shooting with a short and relatively longer focal length from inside a vehicle. I shot using a focal length of 24mm from the front seat and then 70mm from the backseat providing similar framing. I found that the shots taken at 24mm where noticeably less shakey.  However, there were some instances within the clip where the 70mm provided a smoother image. This was due to me being able to better stabilise the camera from the backseat. In addition, being in the backseat minimised the physical movement of the camera especially when the driver hit a speed bump with one wheel first.

Shooting on the 24mm from the front seat displayed more of the surrounding houses and more of the road immediately in front of the vehicle. While this is the most common techniques and was generally a lot smoother, there was advantages to choosing to use a longer focal length. For instance it enables you to shoot from the backseat and as a result the centre of vehicle, while still minimising the amount of interior visually present. Furthermore, you are able to achieve a narrower field of view in order to focus the audience’s attention on a vehicle, object or character directly in front of the car. Moreover, the longer focal length tends to give a more observational POV and may be suited to a ‘tailing’ scene. Ultimately, the two techniques give different perspectives and while shorter focal lengths are generally used it really depends on the situation and the desired effect.

For my final experiment I decided to compare using a zoom lens and a 50mm fixed lens. This was an appropriate follow-up to my original exercise where I discovered that the shots on the 5D which were mostly close to a standard focal length were more aesthetically pleasing. I shot the same scene twice with the same framing on the two different lenses.

Ultimately, this practical investigation has expanded my knowledge of focal length and its application in filmmaking. I will no longer use focal length as a ‘mere zoom’ and will think carefully about which focal length is most suited to what I am shooting. I have become familiar with both the practical advantages/challenges of various focal lengths as their visual aesthetics. A Scene in Cinema has not only educated me on focal length but also coverage/decoupage as a whole. I hope to apply everything I’ve learnt this semester to all of my work in the future.

Samuel Glover

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4n5E5A7Upf0bnBlZXBEeUw3Tms

So, after a long (but not long enough) thirteen weeks, The Scene In Cinema draws to a close. I’ve learnt a lot. But, five or so weeks ago I set out to discover what I could about the act of “re-framing” a shot. I wanted to know what possibilities it allowed access to in the coverage of a scene, what its strengths and drawbacks were, and how it could be most effectively utilised. I’ll start at the start, and try to answer all of those questions in this post.

Firstly: what is re-framing? Re-framing is the act of creating multiple distinct frames in a single shot by altering the position of the camera or subjects. As opposed to cutting in between these two frames (cut-framing), as a more orthodox coverage would tend towards, re-framing moves the actors or camera, and retains this movement as a part of the shot without cutting. The frames are the same, but the way they are achieved is incomparable. A re-framing coverage can be so precise and decisive in its movement between frames that it can be hard to tell that it has not in fact cut, or it can flow more slowly between frames. The former is often employed for a tighter coverage, a scene in a small room or with otherwise restricted space, for example the scene viewed from The Night Train. The latter tends to be in larger spaces with more room for both actors and camera to move, for example the scene viewed from Return of the Prodigal Son.

In my exploration, a main part of my focus was the creative possibilities that were allowed by re-framing which weren’t as natural or available with a cut-frame coverage. While I explored this question specifically in my second experiment, it was inherently underlying all three of my experiments, simply because filming a scene using re-framing is a conscious decision to avoid a cut-frame coverage. In my second exercise, I filmed the same scene with the same frames twice – once moving between the frames, and once cutting between them. I deliberately intended for the cut-frame coverage to be jarring and not technically well constructed, not to imply its inferiority, but to demonstrate that if a director has a certain set of frames in mind but they don’t necessarily flow well together by cutting them, a re-framing approach may allow him/her to include all of these frames in the scene’s coverage while not making the scene visually unappealing.

Naturally, the biggest different between re-framing and cut-framing is the time in between the frames. In cut-framing, the two shots follow each other instantaneously, but there is some slack in re-framing. So it therefore becomes necessary, when looking at the difference between these two, to look at what this ‘dead space’ as it were can contribute. I think my first and third exercises provide good answers to this query. In my first experiment, the hesitance of the camera mirrors the hesitance of Matt’s character, and it follows him as he moves unsurely around the space. These ‘microframes’, fleeting frames born out of reluctance, give a great depth to the scene. After he walks away, the camera assumes a frame with Matt on its left side, looking to the right, but it almost immediately reverses and places him on the right hand side as Luke steps in to occupy the left. In my third exercise, two moments I think are very representative of the strengths of re-framing occur in the second half. First, when Luke gets out of his chair to go to cry against the wall. When one character leaves the frame, a decision has to be made whether to follow that character or to linger on the remaining character/s. I followed Luke, and because it’s a re-framing coverage, the decision is felt and has more impact because the move is taken with the character. The second moment is when Luke walks to the back of the frame. This is a slow and subtle re-framing, and one example of the actual period of re-framing being as important as the frames themselves.

But re-framing is hard. And it’s dangerous. To shoot a scene in this way is to put all of your proverbial eggs in a single basket. If something goes wrong, it ruins not one shot but a whole scene, or at least what would be multiple shots in a cut-framing coverage. Look no further than my third exercise. For some reason, I wasn’t shooting with audio. Although Matt’s shots were all fine and sounded good, but my scene, my single one shot that I took, was mute. This represents my basket dropping and not only breaking the eggs, but it falls on the expensive camera I was borrowing from Uni. Thankfully it was only an experiment, but it’s just as likely to happen in the ‘real world’. 

Re-framing, as I now understand it, is a technique which, if used correctly, can enhance a scene both aesthetically and objectively – it can add elements which increase its depth, its intrigue, and its value as a scene. It offers a way to shoot the unshootable, a way to involve characters more, and countless more artistic opportunities. It does, however, need to be handled by a very skilled director who is aware of the challenges it presents. I think that’s me.

Jaimie Jin

This semester I did a research about how to make shots look like as a dream environment. I studied 4 elements to explore this research project, slow motion, spatial relationship, extreme close up shot and lighting elements.  All of the elements I mentioned above were successful in fitting in my research project.

The first element, slow motion, I did a slow motion with my friend Bella at abandoned rail track in Footscray, at the beginning, I just explained what kind of performance, I just explained what gonna happened in this dream sequence, then she understood it,  but I did not tell her this was a dream sequence, the reason I did not tell her it was a dream sequence because I just want to rely on the slow motion this element to create the dream sequence, although performance is important, but I just tried it by my way. And also, the only require for my actress that is I need she to wear the clothing without colorful, no paintings in her dressing, less make-up on her face as well, because I do not want when people watch this video, and they are focusing on costume and make-up part. Because I just want to make the slow motion as the key elements. This video looks not bad after I finished it, so slow motion do really effect on the dream sequence.

The second element, spatial relationship, this idea came from my real dream, it just like using a camera as my eyes and doing what I do in my dream. I used a lot of uncommon ways, such as straightly low angle as my standing way, my camera is forward to the sky with buildings. The reason I use the low angle that is when people sleep in the bed, the position should be lying the bed, in my opinion, it should be open the eyes and look up at sky, and another reason is almost dream in my sleeping time were differents angle, so using uncommon angles could set up the dream environment very quick. Other shots I reduced the shutter speed as 1/6 to 1/10 to shot, I used for running in the corridor, with a low shutter speed, this shot will  have a lot of shaking feeling and shadows, in this way to create the dream atmosphere I think it is successful.

And third element, extreme close up shot, as we know in the films, filmmakers are always using the extreme close-up shot of character’s eyes, in this way to tell audience that people fall asleep, but I want to try, how to using extreme close-up in each shot, in this way,  to create the dream environments. Actually, is this not easy to do, because when you let your camera lens as much as close to the objects, the lens might have damage issue, so the first thing I have to do is figuring out how to protecting your equipment, so during my filming. I just try my best to choose a good angle, and measure the distance between the lens and the object, to tell myself is possible to shot or not. It is worth to mention that my first shooting plan of this element was collecting differents eyes from the human being and animals, the reason why I gave up this idea because it is very hard to catch animal’s eyes in extreme close-up shot.

The last element, lighting,  this is my favorite part, the reason why like lighting that is I believe a good lighting design could tell a story. But I am not very happy with this last video, because using  house lighting is too hard to get a good result in this time, I only used one light, Lamplight to create the dream sequence,  but this is very hard to relocation it if you move it, and also I can not adjust the light be stronger or weaker, so once I feel it looks so bright or too dark, I can’t move the lights, the only thing I have to do is, fix it in final editing part. In additionally, the last clip I directed and acted by myself, and my friend Polly as my camera operator. And also in order to create a little bit tense feeling, I decided do not  use the tripod, all the shots were using handheld, I think it looks good in a handheld way, a bit shaking, to create a big nervous…

To explore the dream sequence, all of the clips I used the color grading and had music, the most clips are black and white, because I can’t remember what kind of color in my dream, and also black and white with a bit of over-exposure could tell the audience this is not from reality. The function of music works good, does really enhance the effects of dreaming.

From above mentioned, I can understand that a dream sequence has used influences in my life combined with slow motion, spatial relationship, framing( the extreme close-up shot),  music and lighting to effectively explore it. And compared to the beginning of this semester, I believe I have much more ability to direct people, I am much clear to understand how to make a dream sequence. All my friends helped me to research the dream sequence were very easy to cooperate, thanks.

2 mins videos link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcTpVb-GppM

Dusty Johnston

TOPIC OF INQUIRY:
The exploration of unconventional coverage and representation of the movement of skateboarding in film

Over the past five weeks I explored my inquiry of ‘unconventional coverage and representation of the movement of skateboarding in film’ – this inquiry was altered slightly throughout the process as I was still trying to solidify my idea through progressive research and discovery. Originally, I set out to look at many wheeled objects, but several constraints led me to having to stick to just the skateboarding. I did trial some footage from the bus a few times, but I found that it seemed irrelevant to put in with my final work as I already had a lot of dynamic shots/angles to work with from the skating footage. I decided that the addition of this would muddy my project by giving me too many elements to cover when analysing this final piece.

Over the course of both assessment four and five, my work turned into something that has little to no storyline, it’s more a poetic representation of skateboard movement as I ended up collecting quite a random but dynamic bunch of skate clips from days spent filming. The final product is disjointed and awkward, the polar opposite to what skateboarding filmmakers strive to create. But, I’m happy with that, it’s not ordinary to your typical skating video – and that was my intention from the beginning (after presenting original idea and deliberating a little more). This final clip focuses heavily on an unconventional montage element within decoupage. In the editing process of the clips I used effects such as repetition, reversing and cutting of movements to draw a focus for the audience to the actual motion which is taking place in the shots. All of the clips are segmented, with fades to black and fades from black to separate them. The first shot and the final shot are really the only cohesive parts to the piece as a whole. They somewhat basket the other clips together. The beginning and end shots also seem to hold this fly-on-the-wall type feel which I really like, the subjects are not acting for the camera as they have their backs to it. It’s very natural. I particularly find the last shot captivating in this way as it captures (in an off-guard manner) the friendly nature of the boys and draws on the idea that skateboarding is a bonding hobby to be interested in – it’s not just about showing off, it’s about entertainment in companionship.

The clips give example of creative ways of representing skateboard movement. This final clip is dynamic in the way that it involves POV, low, high, tracking, following, handheld and steady shots. I would call this project a starting point. A journey of experiment and discovery which figures out ways to create something of purpose for a skating scene in a film.

As the clip does not use a musical track and keeps almost all of its original sound (except for a few alterations where some speaking was replaced by the constant sound of a travelling board in the ‘reverse manual’ section) it does not adhere to your classic skate video, the repetitive noises of the boards are usually muffled by a song. In all of my clips I showed for assessment three, where we were presenting our ideas, each selected video had accompanying music – my piece steers away from this nature.

Last minute I decided not to use the soundscape I’d created as I just didn’t end up liking it at all, and it wasn’t really powerful enough in the right moments – I attempted to cut and rearrange in Premiere Pro, but I couldn’t seem to get it right. I got quite frustrated with creating the soundscape and figured it wasn’t worth using if I wasn’t happy with the end product. My soundscape definitely could have been worked on more, had I figured out more interesting effects on GarageBand – I guess, at least I had the best intentions to create a soundscape which aided to the unusualness of the piece/s. It just didn’t go exactly as I had imagined, but that’s what the process of creation is all about – trial and error. Definitely feel like the soundscape had very powerful sound in some parts, but lacked in others – only really realised this after exporting it. I feel as though the original sounds of the skateboards (although not of very good quality due to the recording being directly from the cameras) were appropriate in reinforcing the power of the movements which the boards encompassed. However, the original sounds do not create as much of a disjointed feeling – the editing of the clips (changing speed/duration and using repetition/reversal) had been the main factor in toying with the flow of the work.

I’m really glad to have worked with friends who were cooperative and interested in what I was doing, that was definitely a positive element I encountered. I’m pleased that the footage came out as interesting and multi faceted, I loved having the ability to manipulate the footage in the editing process to further express the beauty of movement in an environment less typical to skate films. Even though my piece doesn’t have a particular storyline, I was compelled to focus more closely on the unusual, experimental and poetic representation of skateboarding once I had completed the filming. I found it to be more interesting and strayed away from your everyday representation.

Luna Lu

Finally finished all my shooting and editing work. I have been shot three times for this project here is my reflection of this project.

Actually, this final video is not the one I want to shoot initially, my original brief idea is based on having fixed light and showing the actor’s moving through these fixed light. Because it is so hard for me to find a place to satisfy all y conditions especially the permission and distance, I took my second best choice which is shooting at home. One of my apartment’s bedrooms has sliding door with matte glass and I can shoot the changing of shadows on the glass as people moving in the bedroom. I did use in my second shooting and the reason I deleted in my final video is if I used this part in my video it did not connect from the room to the living room. Because the shadows only show by lighting in the bedroom but dark in the living, which will obey the next scene which has the light in the living room.

The first part in the video was shooting at building 9, which is the classroom we used to have classes. And the idea for shooting this part is from my favorite Korean video “Eyes, Noses, Lips”. The whole music video is shooting in one shot and I think it is so cool, especially form time 1:50, the background light is blinking slowing and slightly showing you the surroundings with the mist which gives me a visual enjoyment.

I really wanted to try to shoot with this feeling, of course, another place problem I needed to face and finally I used the class room which is not big enough but is bigger than my apartment.

Here is my story board and I used the method —-Rule of Thirds in my first shot which can make my composition better.thumbnail_FullSizeRender

The sliding light shot is my only two favorite shots in all the three shooting time. As the same, I found the initial idea from a Chinese music video called “The Key” from JJ Lin. I got the idea from time 1:44. Only a section of light is on his face and when he moves his head, his head goes to the dark and shows up. Because of the equipment limitation, it did not success neither this time. I borrowed the LED panel which has too many small bulbs in the whole panel and cannot combine the light in to one, I think if I want to shoot like this, I need to borrow the single bulb light. Luckily, because of the plenty number of bulb, it made the light is sliding on the wall which is sooooo cool. I think I will definitely use it in my next music video shooting.

Another my favorite shot has been deleted in the final video which is been shot in the second version. When the actress is standing in front of the video camera, I moved the LED panel below the camera’s frame, the lights changing on the ceiling and the actress is like falling into a fantasy atmosphere. I think it is good to use this shot in a love movie with pink lights, which will give the viewers the feeling of falling in love.

The final shot is about the smoke. Firstly, all I want to show is putting the light on the smoke and as the smoke moves, all the space that the smoke goes will be brighter. However, my smoke machine is not very follow my words and sometimes it performs worse than testing time, which took me a long time to shoot and did not get the feeling I want to show.

The biggest change in this final version is I used two actors (the boy is wearing all black and the girl is wearing all white) to made a contrast, the duration those two showed up in the full version is almost the same, but I used the girl’s shots more in the 30 second version is because I just want to use the all black shots as a transition and played a collision effect to the following white.

To be conclusion, I am still lack of shooting experience and I need to collect more life inspired elements during my lifetime and also need to improve my professional tech skills. Meanwhile, I can feel I started my shooting too late and next semester’s final project needs to be started earlier to leave more time to improve.

Matthew Manning

Throughout the second half of this semester, I decided that I wanted to get some experience focusing on the specific framing of shots whilst trying to cover a scene. I was inspired my many films, for instance ‘Mad Max: Fury Road,’ which have been specifically framed in a way to have action and visual emphasis situated in the center of the frame on screen. In Mad Max’s case, all the action was specifically framed in the center. And with this type of visual style in mind, I wanted to do the opposite of it. I wanted to create an emphasis on the other sides of the frame; I wanted to create an asymmetrical balance whilst covering my scene and to not have everything be conventionally covered in the center of the frame. This created a few challenges. I wasn’t exactly sure how I would make this type of coverage obvious. When I pitched this idea to the class, I received a lot of very helpful feedback as to how I could successfully explore this. One idea in particular became dominant which was: How can you make this asymmetrical framing appear dominant to somebody? The idea came up in this class consult that the frame should remain symmetrical, only to then become asymmetrical by one way or another.

So, for my first exercise, I decided I wanted something simple. I didn’t exactly storyboard it, I just had the idea that I wanted two people throwing a ball to one another. I thought it would be simple enough for me to execute, I had to have 3 camera setups, a wide long shot to cover the two people throwing the ball, and two over the shoulder shots of either person. The catch (pun intended) was, that after a few throws, one of the actors on the day, Sam Glover, was to run out of frame. This left Luke, my other frequent collaborator, visually, the only person in frame. I made sure that this happened in all three-camera setups, as this successfully created an asymmetrical framed scene. What I found worked very nicely, was that despite the relative simplicity of the scene of just two people throwing a ball to each other, the ball acted as a tool to guide the attention of the viewers out of frame. As well as having a fairly nice flow as a scene, it also created a heavy focus on the fact that it was asymmetrical, as one feels as if you have to see both people while throwing the ball, otherwise something doesn’t feel quite right. This is the effect that I wanted to create.

For my second exercise, I wanted to really step it up a notch. At first, I wasn’t exactly sure as to what I would be doing, however I knew that I wanted to create a scene which was better on a technical level. Throughout the first part of semester, it was quite valuable as we were always being practical and proactive, by making experiments and using both the camera, and sound equipment. However, I was still finding my feet when it came to operating the camera, and for this next exercise I really wanted to get the technical basics as nailed as I possibly could. Still, I wasn’t exactly sure as to what I would be doing in my next experiment. After a talk to Robin however, he pushed me in the right direction for what I should be building on for the next experiment. I found the consultation with Robin to be especially helpful, he suggested that, similarly to the first exercise, I should focus on an object, or a McGuffin which would help drive the flow of the scene. I wanted something that would justify the asymmetry as well.

After getting home soon after, I came up the idea for a scene, and was quick to storyboard it. The scene would involve the cup as the object, and two people interacting with it. In this particular fictional story, somebody would slide the cup to the other person, the other person would drink whatever is in the cup, and then they get poisoned and die. I thought it might be fun adding that level of mystery and suspense to my exercise, as that gives me a little bit more of an incentive to have this asymmetrical framing work; it allows me to have something to achieve with a bit of substance. I ended up shooting with the same actors, and had the same kinds of setups, one for a wide two shot (which eventually becomes asymmetrically framed as Luke gets up and sits next to Sam) the classic mid shot of Sam, and a wide shot from the side to introduce the menacing Luke. This exercise’s final cut proved to show I still had some technical short comings, such as the continuity wasn’t as nice as I wanted, and the tripod wasn’t levelled so I shot the majority of the scene crookedly. But that is to be expected. I’d improve for the next one. I was quite happy with how the rest of the technical things turned out. I applied most of the basics, each shot was in nice focus, there was some level of continuity in each shot (mostly) and there seemed to be a good level of tension between the actors. I also applied a skill I learnt in class in the previous week, focus pulling, to show the cup being slid across the table, which again helps with my technical confidence. Overall, I consider this exercise a success.

Again, I wasn’t exactly sure what I would do for my third exercise, which turned out to be my final. I decided to rely upon the feedback I received from the last exercise to try and guide how I would continue experimenting with asymmetrical framing. Again, the process of consultation was really valuable, as Robin advised me to not just take what experience I got from the last exercise and do something else, but to redo the exercise completely to make it as perfect as I possibly can. What he pointed out was valid, the last exercise worked fine, but it would be more enjoyable to have the frame have the clutter taken from it, and to have more focus on Sam, Luke and the Cup. I made sure to implement this, along with making sure that, technically, there were as little errors and blunders as possible. In the first iteration of the the cup mystery, the coverage was lacking as I found that the continuity would be way off, so I had to resort to long takes. This time, I was more cautious to make sure that not only is the continuity going well, but also that there is more asymmetrically balanced coverage. Ultimately, I feel as if I achieved that with the final cut. Despite a few small continuity errors, the final cut has the tension and mystery that I was initially after when I devised the idea. Also, the cup as the McGuffin allowed again, for a nice movement on screen which helps the flow of the scene. I couldn’t make every shot asymmetrical unfortunately, however hopefully the emphasis upon it should become evident.

The entire experience was a very successful one. The idea of creating experiments, in which you put the constraints, is a really cool alternative to a plain, set task of a final assignment, as it really allows you to find your own feet in the creative process of devising an idea and making a scene. I hope that my idea of having the action be asymmetrically framed becomes evident. There were probably other things that, as allows, if time permitted I could have explored, for instance a long take which had the camera moving whilst maintaining asymmetry for instance. However, I’m very happy with the outcomes that came along. Not only did I learn a lot during the process of the first six weeks of class, I learnt just as much by having this idea and learning about the technical must-do’s and don’ts, and finding creative ways of making the scene’s coverage and flow as seamless and successful as possible. Overall, it was a very rewarding experience.

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