Presentation: Static Movement and the Narrative Form

My project is summarised under what I would like to call as Static Movement. This phrase stems from my directorial inspiration, Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki, a master filmmaker who uses a combination of simplicity and the essence of humanity in his films to tell a powerful and evoking story.

My research on his works has then led me to question as to how animated feature films “soothe the spirit” and envelop you in its fictional reality better than some of those found in non-animated feature films. And this is where static movement comes into play.

The answer to the enigma of static movement is on emphasis. Miyazaki doesn’t just choose the main protagonist or a certain character in his films to show movement and action, but he complements this with another feature that also moves before making everything else static so we viewers are attuned to only what moves on screen.

Us viewers are given a different form of entry into the world of the characters that you are following on screen: we are given entry to not just what matters to the advancement of the story, but to them as characters whether they be a child or an adult, a monster or some form of creature.

In saying that, my project will be a narrative short film using static movement and normal filming principles.

My approach on this subject is simple:

  • First, I will be making a series of my own cinemagraphs both for practice and investigation – these cinemagraphs will help me in figuring out whether their use is specifically as an establishing shot, a transitional shot or something I can use in the middle of an action.

In terms of the filming process, I will use either a DSLR or a video camera. I will use both in two different investigations and see which one yields the result I want: a crisp, as high-quality as possible cinemagraph.

  • Then, I will be compiling a shot list – this list of shots will be governed by two things: capturing the emotional intensity of certain characters, and shots that can be used for the progression of the story (i.e. a cinemagraph of a moving train then cuts to a crowd of people walking towards the station).

This particular area will allow me to improve my skills as a filmmaker in regards to directing actors, setting up the frame and the dressing the set also.

  • I will also be investigating a particular locale where the film will be set. I was previously thinking of an “ancient world” and mythology aesthetic based on a novel that I am interested in, but I have to assess the feasibility of this option. My other option is setting the film in the 1930’s or 40’s because there is already an underlying conflict there (the world wars happen at this time) and would be a great setting for emotional intensity and to set a narrative.

I am thinking of approaching this in two ways too: I write a script or I stick to a shot list.

I’ve made a 30 second sample of what I hoped to achieve with this project below:

Note: cinemagraphs here were used as establishing shots. Further investigation would be using cinemagraphs in a different way.

presentation ideas: an outline and cinemagraph research

presentation talk:

For the presentation on week 7, J. Master Paul has decided that I must don my Julius Ceasar toga and speak oratory, the details of my project – approach, process and methods. To supplement my speech, I also intend on providing a neat visual aid through a blog post with some pretty pictures and diagrams, mood boards, etc. and top it off with a sample video of what I would like my final project to look like.


I’ve been doing some researching on the web for some cinemagraphs and collecting them to create both my sample video and mood board. Below are some I have in mind:

If you’ll notice, these cinemagraphs does not exactly align with my vision of the “ancient world” aesthetic and of course it boils down to those who are credited for making above cinemagraphs. To stage and dress in the ancient world aesthetic is a challenge in resources and budget restraints. I am glad I found these cinemagraphs, however, for they opened an avenue of new thoughts for me in regards to this project.

How about I centre my project in a more feasible and easily-accessible era, also one of my favourites, the 1930’s-40’s? It is very possible…

Also, a last note, most of the cinemagraphs I have collected and am interested in is for the purpose of “establishing” my scene. As I have mentioned in my post here, I am interested in investigating the use of static movement and normal filming principles to portray a narrative sequence that evokes emotional empathy. As such, should I use cinemagraphs in the midst of an “action” in the story or are its uses limited to just establishing and transitional?

reflection: production mixer – an audio activity

Today’s class particulars were around production mixing and the use of audio equipment. Does my musical brother’s background and my talent for being incredibly rudimentary with unnamed musical instruments give me a slight edge in this area of expertise?

Absolutely not. But the main thing is the fact that I took something out of it and will therefore not look as “uncool” as I was in my previous disarray.

Sound’s prevalence in film is to the utmost, whether it comes from a musical score, a soundtrack, dialogue or diagetic energies in each scene. Noting that in every feature film, sound plays an incredibly important part in the orchestration of each scene by scene, one after another. Even if it’s a silent film, silence itself is integral to the message the filmmaker is conveying to their audience. As a filmmaker, to know the basics is to know how to breathe.

I wished someone had given me “Top Ten Tips on Sound Recording” by David Carlin, a SCENARIO:

Team (un)cool cats decides to film a short film on location at a fellow filmmaker’s friend’s restaurant. Two main characters, boy and girl are on a date. Outcome is a dialogue-heavy short. 

  • Light set up looks good, very au naturale
  • Actors look spiffy though a little nervous and tense (it’s 8.30 in the morning) but that’s easily fixed, thanks director.
  • A.D. with the shot list – CHECK
  • Camera Operator ready to go – CHECK
  • Headphones plugged in on camera jack – CHECK
  • Audio guy with headphones on and boom pole as close as appropriate – CHECK
  • Refrigerator background noise in the background – CHECK
  • 8 hours of filming – DONE AND DUSTED

Enter post-production stage and the background noise from the refrigerator has completely destroyed our audio. There is nothing we can salvage from it, especially with using different types of footages with different distorted sounds thanks to said refrigerator. We even recorded atmos/room on location but the voices are underscored by the buzzing fridge so it was of no use anyway.

No, we didn’t follow rule number one which is to 1. reduce background noise nor rule number 6. never allow sound to distort or 7. monitor dialogue to understand every word.

It’s a shame since the visuals look top. *whispers to self* learning curve, learning curve, learning curve…




movie list – what inspires me?

So folks, I’m sure I’ve been quite nasty with my abundance of descriptions underlined with much excitement towards the project that I have in mind. This post will begin the journey towards its making by listing down some of the movies that I could garner some inspiration from. I move towards making my mood board and a sample video of what I would like to see for my final project.

At the moment, I’m still very much on the “ancient world” mindset so here are some movies/television shows that are centred around this particular world.

After my chat with Paul previously in regards to the novel that I would like to base my project on, I have decided, instead of explicitly adapting the material, to take some scenes, characters, motivations, and themes, and underscore that with mythology free and in the public domain. By converging these aspects together, I rid myself of the “copyright” inferno. Score.

I will be re-watching and taking note of particular clips and scenes in the list above and will be archiving them on Premiere.


Investigation: location scouting and static movement + normal filming principles + narrative = could it work?

Destination: Yarra Valley

Mission: Scout, Locate, Film

Chance of success: A bucketful of sunshine

The Yarra Valley Roadtrip from one end of the earth to another proved aplenty:

  1. Nature churns the creative bubbles. As soon as I sat myself down, I haven’t stopped writing my thoughts and plans, which I hope to regale you all here too.
  2. There are so many dashing locations that are, of course, obstructed by “Private Property” signs, electric fences or a huge lake and you do not own a boat . Shame.
  3. Good establishing footage, check. Shoot to edit, not so much. Abstract, but it gives one a sense of place and further practice of framing, composition, exposure and pull-focus.

In all the trip’s entirety, however, what I garnered is yet again, something that alludes to static movement and its use. My premise? Static movement and the mundane must be shot in consequence of each other.

I know that it could be rather ambitious to include a narrative into the picture, but I want to investigate the possibility of it anyhow because I cannot help but be empathetic. Example of such wizardry below:

Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 10.27.13 PM

Excusing the liberties I’ve taken with scriptwriting rules above, I’ve been contemplating on how I could possibly introduce Static Movement into a short film without just making a series/sequence of cinemagraph scenes one after another. What I want to achieve is the collaboration and the amalgamation of static movement and normal filming principles to make one, cohesive film/short without making it too stunted nor overtly artsy. I would like to be able to tell a story, evoke emotional empathy and at the same time use above filming principles all in one project.

Using the scene above, I would like to investigate the fluidity of the transition from the static movement shot to the Close Up of The Roman’s face, which leads to the progression of the story. What will the outcome be? Will the transition be too jarring? Or will it punctuate the emotional resonance I am trying to achieve in this scene? And if it turns out incongruous and incompatible, could the application of 2D animated static-movement techniques (i.e. Studio Ghibli films) help even this out?

We start with the basics first, so like above, capturing the emotions before moving on to something like an action scene or ones with lots of movement.

In approaching this investigation here’s a list of to-do’s:

  • Make my own cinemagraph…or a thousand because practice makes perfect
  • Ask the fellow padawan learners and J. Master Paul of what he thinks of above
  • Re: feedback, work on writing a shot-list/script
  • Create a mood board
  • Presentation of ideas to class for feedback
  • We start from there

ps. A sample mood from Julien Douvier, simulacres, simulation

Initiative post: inspiration and the study of Static Movement

On my previous blog posts, I have listed a number of directorial inspirations who all shape my creative endeavour in the industry. I focused on Studio Ghibli’s master filmmaker Hayao Miayazaki for a number of reasons that are all encompassed under simplicity and the essence of the human condition. I would like to point out one of the main reasons as to why I think the 2D animation of Studio Ghibli (complemented superbly by a powerful and evoking story), encapsulates this simplicity and essence in an almost indecipherable way to those who are entranced by them:

Static Movement.

You may think that this is a contradiction, but I’ll give you a few scrolls down to see for yourself the very meaning of this phrase.






I inundated myself with titles upon titles from Studio Ghibli and of the same type of animated feature films as an investigative initiative, propelling myself to come down to a conclusion as to why animated feature films really does “soothe the spirit” and envelop you in its fictional reality better than some fictional realities of non-animated feature films.

I found Julien Douvier‘s cinemagraphs, a combination of cinema and photography (black and white photos above), as the answer to the enigma of static movement. Miyazaki doesn’t just choose a certain character (mostly the protagonist) in his films to show movement and action, but he complements this with one another feature in the scene that moves before he completely makes everything else static so the viewers are attuned to only what moves. Miyazaki builds upon the innate ability of humans to sense movement and draws his viewers through this and the explicitness of it, thus making for a profound play on the senses.

Example: the everyday and the mundane


Miyazaki juxtaposes the idiosyncrasies of fantasy and realism in an understated energy that flows though the powerful tool of scene selections. The sounds of the scratching of pen on paper, the scene of the protagonist turning a prawn tempura cooking on oil (above), or even a character simply breathing. In previous studies of films and even in writing books and novels, most discourage the inclusion of the everyday, the mundane or the innate (the human elements that we take for granted i.e. breathing) for it does not egg the story on.

But that is the power behind these films: the marriage of static movement and the inclusion of the mundane. Instead of jarring the viewers, they are instead given a different form of entry into the world of the characters that you are following on screen, you are given entry to not just what matters to the advancement of the story, but to them as characters whether they be a child or an adult, a slippery monster or a gigantic frog.



I did my internship with a great team, super talented, incredibly professional and who knew the ins and outs the film life very well. I admired the director because she knew exactly what kind of shot she wanted and what lens to use specifically in each shot and when the cinematographer would ask if this length is good, she would sometimes agree and sometimes she would suggest a different length instead and I know for sure that to learn this is very very supercalifragilisticexpialidocious- important.

These above gifs make it seem really simple and easy but how does one actually do it? Please, someone actually explain this to me because I will be extremely grateful. And depth of field, I am still very much at a loss as to how to calculate this and how to actually do this using a cameras but I WILL KNOW by the end of this class and don’t you forget it!



Under this context, I venture off in this class particularly, to study the elements of cinemagraph (how exactly to do this using a video camera) and static movement, and to play around with characters and actions and cinematography that would yield results similar to above: an experience of the human condition and the simplicity of realism and fantasy at the same time.

I am also very much interested in learning the the basic technicalities of types of lenses and depth of field to be able to further experiment and successfully make happen combination of cinemagraph and static movement for my final project.


Final Project Inspiration:

For my final project, I have decided to research, build upon and produce a project that is focused on static movement. This could be a non-animated short that feels like and is shot using the principles of static movement and cinemagraph. More on this very soon!

Exercises on Capture and Edit: Three-shot

I enjoyed this particular exercise for the reason that though it was rough, the team was able to pull together, find a location, and think up a sequence of shots on our feet, film it and rock and roll through the editing process.

Title: Blissception
Scenario: Bliss ties her shoelaces, gets up, walks towards the elevator, enters then exits out on a different level.
Goofs: *spoiler alert* Continuity goof because which floor did we start in again?

Types of shots:

  • CLOSE UP – tying of shoelace
  • WIDE SHOT + PAN – Bliss gets up and walks towards the elevator doors
  • LONG SHOT – Bliss presses the elevator button and enters
  • MID SHOT – Bliss enters the elevator, turns around to press the button and the elevator door closes
  • MID TO CLOSE-UP SHOT – Elevator doors open and Bliss walks out straight towards the camera before FADE

Simple, quick and easy. The main character is motivated and goes through each shot with ease. Shooting the scenes in sequence allowed us more time to shoot other shots (i.e. establishing shot of the elevator numbers going up/down) that then in turn, helps in the editing process.

I know that on a professional film set, it is rare to shoot films in sequence (Paradise Road team, I salute you) but that is exactly why it is important to have a SHOT LIST that dictates what will be shot on certain days and the kind of shots these will be too. These are important for the editors, especially, to make their work a lot easier also.

Learning learning.

Choosing your shots wisely gives the final product colour and texture. Unlike in the first exercises we did in class where most were simply mid-shots and wide/long-shots of this or that that was, for no better word, boring, it is useful to think up of a scenario and picture it not as you would see it with your naked eye but see it as one would see it on screen or whilst you’re reading a book or even dreaming. An example of such experimentation (because we know what the outcome will look like) below:

Exercises on Capture and Edit: Abstract Image

Abstract Sound & Vision Exercise

During the Abstract exercises, I conclude that my strength is filming intimate, subject-driven shots and that my weakness…is the very same thing. Whilst editing the footage we captured, I was struck-dumb in three things things, mostly: one, we did not have enough shots to work with, two, it may/may definitely have been a hot day and my brain was a fried, burnt egg, and three, I could not think of a story that will put two and two together to create even a something. I do not have the edited footage right now but I will update once I’ve got them compressed and exported, but I hit a stump staring at our footage we captured. I tried to add some effects like slow-motion and some form of colour distortion to make the video appear bizarre and poetic (yeah, right). That made me feel worse.

I reflect on the fact that natural-occurring sounds in this exercise is the bane of my existence BUT, I could work around this by removing the sounds and adding a music track instead because abstract videos are often not dictated by a narrative and I need to embed that in the back, front and sides of my head. Sound has a profound power that can give meaning to what seems to be inconceivable. 

After having a quick chat with our Jedi Master Paul and further explaining to him what I want to get out of the course, he motions me to focus instead on the other exercise (whose name escapes me) that focuses on shots, framing and composition. However, with abstract image, I am still determined to overcome this particular creative bane of mine and experiment on what sounds and music could do. It would help particularly since I am also learning much about documentary studies and the incredibly contradicting cinema verité and how this form of documentary is motivated by the all-seeing behind-the-scenes eye of the filmmaker.

How does the filmmaker do it? How did D.A. Pennebaker collapse the footages in “Don’t Look Back (1967) because I, personally did not enjoy the abstract ride he put me through mostly because I felt that nothing was going on and nothing was motivated to push the theme forward. If there even was a theme?

Inspiration: actions and locations that inspire the creative machinations

Roman Polanski said,

“…we had no design or definite idea what we would be writing about.  It wasn’t, “Hey, I have an idea so let’s write a screenplay.”  It was, “Let’s write what we’d like to see on the screen – the kind of emotions, the kind of feelings, the kind of characters, atmosphere we’d like to see in a film.””

After much discussion with my yoghurt-eating self and eventually having the courage to also share my ideas to my tutor last week, I have finally come to the conclusion that “courage is not the absence of fear, but the judgment that something else is greater than fear” and in my instance, this “something” is my love for this certain set of books that has me in blissful creative raptures.

Before I go on a bit of a spiel on the huge adaptation talk (a nasty kind of conference meeting, really) I will instead be informing you all of the certain set of actions, locations and nasty real-life people who have inspired my creative machinations.


  • A man resting his forearms  on his knees, head bent between them – the raw, masculine image of it
  • The ethereal movement of a young woman
  • How some people carry themselves in an almost otherwordly dignified and graceful manner
  • Someone leaning on a balustrade overlooking a crowd of people and they uncannily spot a person they know amidst the throng and pandemonium
  • The way a person would clasp their hands anxiously whilst sitting down
  • The uncanny way a person notices another without directly looking at them


  • A big lake outlined by old houses
  • Grand houses – villas
  • Old Elizabethan-type roads – unpaved Cobblestone houses, buildings, roads
  • An antique bookshop
  • Old bookstores, libraries
  • A house in Manly – a red entrance door beside two grey buildings, musky scented carpet nailed on the stairs, muffling the sounds of your footsteps.

List of actions (as vague as one can be)

  • A young woman- gracefulness, dignified manner of walk
  • Man – built, posture
  • Man- the way he slicks his hair back all the time and the way the clothes he wears simply sits on him and he carries the grace of an actor with a mission
  • A young woman – ethereal presence, almost aloof but very wise

If I were to be frank, most of the actions listed above are motivated by my need to see them in real life. They are drawn from said favourite set of books, but these subtle movements are what makes the books stand out for me, propelling me to find conclusive evidence through the myriad variations of the human actions of everyday.

This list isn’t exhaustive but these certain actions have in much influence in the final project that I have in mind. I want to explore emotions, characters, sentiments, the human condition portrayed and valued in its vulnerability. Some questions that pop in my head in regards to turning these into a project are:

  • How am I to capture this? What’s the best way to do so?
    • I could write a short 3-page script inspired by said characters. Or I could also just focus on one character and two max. three locations.
  • What kind of shots would best portray a character’s emotion?
    • Research on dramatic movies would help in highlighting which shots can be used.

Reflections – class exercises and motivated shots

I reflect on one class exercise we did titled the abstract image.

  1. The Abstract Image
    Aim: to investigate a place

This exercise involved us directors to choose a certain framing in a specific location we choose to capture. We considered the following:

  • Different planes (of focus)
  • Texture
  • Movement
  • Expressive potential of image size, focal length, focus, depth of field, exposure, colour
  • Implications of framing – what is in and out of frame

What I learned from this exercise is that I am highly in favour of intimate shots whose subject is usually something around us that is often overlooked. I don’t have the videos we have captured but these photographs could give one the sense of what I mean:

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 11.20.19 PM

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 11.19.53 PMObserving the two images that I took above (not from class exercise), you can see that in the frame are two subjects: the tree and the lamp post. These two images, though taken months apart, convey my decision to frame my shots on a particular object that is not my subject. Of course, I deliberately chose to place these objects in my frame, sort of like I was the set decorator and the Director of Photography at the same time. In the exercises, my cohorts and I did the exact same. The shots are motivated by a certain object in the frame that is not necessarily the subject of the photograph/video.

Why do I do this, you may ask? I think for me, this certain framing implies a sort of closeness to the scene; an artefact that you can almost grasp or hold on to, something to fall back on and easily remember when you are trying to recall this scene. For example, with the photograph on the above, taken in Massachusetts last August, I was struck by this lamppost that punctuated the first time I have been in an American neighbourhood. It was the image, the artefact, the object that struck me upon my arrival and my soaking in of the scene. However, I can’t say the same for the photograph below it. I could have simply taken a photo of the lake of shining waters and left the palm tree out of the frame but then it just wouldn’t be the same. For me, especially, that image wouldn’t be special, would not have captured the essence of that lake and its simplistic grandeur if I had not included the palm tree (no matter how many times I have seen one in my life).

In video, I work the same way. I could roll and allow things to happen, but I can encourage something to happen also. I think reflecting back on this work and after I edit the videos we have captured, I would be able to eventually define my reasons for these shots and how I can utilise them in my creative practice and vision.