Polly Li

This semester, I have been investigating on how to utilizing mirror/ reflection to tell a story. During the investigating process, I extended the topic to how mirror/ reflection can express characters’ inner thoughts; how does mirror/ reflection to emphasize the relationship between characters; how does mirror/ reflection become symbolize of beauty; and how does mirror/ reflection combine with lighting to create a sense of fear.

At the beginning of the semester, I had no idea what would I go to do, until a day I watch Wong Kai-wai’s “Happy Together”. I was attracted by the way he used to mirror and window in the film. The placement he used to embody characters’ relationship, and the framing he used to drag viewer’s eye-lines onto a spot he wanted the viewer to look at. These raised my interest on it, so I started to do some researches on mirror’s clips in different films, which shocked me sometimes. Therefore, in order to find out how the clips were filmed and the reasons the directors wanted to film them, I decided to make it as my research project for the semester.

Although my idea came from film Happy together, the examples I found after that mainly came from Horror and thriller movies. Because mirror and window’s reflections were always a way to threaten audiences, and they always symbolized horror and thriller movies, that might be a reason why the clips I did throughout the semester were felt like horror genre all the time.

The first two clips I did were using bathroom’s mirror to show a ghost behind, and another one used mirror’s reflection to show a person’s face; the distance and different levels between characters. The ideas I had for these two clips were coming from the images I found while I was preparing the presentation. And I thought would be easier to tell everyone what I would do by showing the clips I did and used them to compare the original source in class. This actually better than holding a paper to read out what my proposal, because I got feedback since the week I started to do my project.

Started from the second week, I realized would be boring if I kept filming something that peoples in the shot and just kept talking. Therefore, I did some research online and watched some clips on Youtube, I found out what I wanted to do – showing different images inside and outside of a mirror in one shot. After that, I sort out the method by watching analyzing videos, but all the clips showed that I needed to do it in After effect, which I hated to use all the time. While started from the week and the idea, I started to get used of AE, and now, I kind of like it, because I learned how to use some new effects from it, and they were really cool and gave me more options for my other project if I needed to use in the future.

After this, I have done another clip on a mirror, but in a different way. I tried to use point of view shot to on mirror, which was a little bit hard to do, but actually looked cool from the outcome. I had two options before started to do it. First, using the green screen to film a person’s movement, and then placed the clip on top of another layer, this would be an easier way to do it. However, I did not have time in the week for doing green screen, so I chose the second option, film a POV clip and a clip while I held the camera to catch the environment shot, later, mask them together in AE. It took me a while to mask them and made sure they were matched. I felt bored when I was doing that and was thinking why did I choose this as my research project, it took me a long time to get these things right. But, after I completed it, I felt another way. This might not be interesting and boring all the time, but it was how editing supposed to be, and if I wanted to get into the post – production industry, the first thing I need to learn is how to convince myself to sit on a chair for hours, and make sure I would concentrate on the thing I need to do. Therefore, it was not a bad experience for me to edit a clip frame by frame. At least, it made me be patient.

My personal final filming was to make a story which contains the elements I have been used in the last few weeks. And because I really wanted to use the green screen for one of my clip, I chose to use it, but it raises an issue for me, timing, the timing of matching different images together. Because I did the green screen before I filmed the environment shots, I lost track on timing, I should have to do this in another way, so I could count that when I was filming the green screen (or edit the green screen shot first, before I did the environment shoot). The outcome was, I needed to adjust the duration of each clip, tried to make them at the same pace. While, it could see few crack moments during in the final clip. Although this made me felt disappointed, I was still happy with that, because I did something I wanted to do.

The last filming I did was a collaboration project with Allison. We combined our research projects together (lighting and using mirror/ reflection) to create a new clip. I was very satisfied the outcome of the clip. While, there were something I need to put my attention on in the future. First, make sure to contact the manager of the location I want to use, otherwise, it might be kick off like what happened to us this time when we were filming. Second, double check whether the gears are ready and have all the props on hand. Because I don’t want to keep going forward and backward for preparing the prop (luck we filmed in school and borrowed gears from school, which save us some time, even we started late). Beyond this, I knew that I need to spend cooperate with someone else for editing. Because I always did editing by myself, it was hard for me to listen to other person’s opinions. But I think if I entry into the industry, I could not have objection on others’ ideas all the time. I need to learn to listen from others and collaborate with them, to make sure everyone are happy on during the process and for the outcome.

Throughout the semester, I might not learn something that I was expected before it began, while I learned something else that also helped me to get in touch with the industry. I have learned how to use mirror/ reflection as a platform to show what I wanted to express in the story; I learned how to use technical stuff to help me to achieve what I want, and I also learned how to cooperate with others when we were doing on the same project. I think I will bring all these stuff with me when I entry into this industry in the future.

Polly Li, Ways of Making, 2016.

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