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.


The filmmakers used bluescreen 90% of the time, and greenscreen for 10%. They chose blue because it better matched the lighting paradigm (green would have been too bright) and because red garments (a la spartan capes) look better when shot over blue.

Above is a trivia from Zack Snyder’s comic epic 300, a movie about King Leonidas of Sparta taking on the the Persians at Thermopylae in 480 B.C. alongside 300 of his best men. Now, I’m a HUGE history buff. I go nuts for it. And as a film stude, it is one of my great dreams slash ambitions to helm in a historical blockbuster epic; and my sights are set on Ancient Rome 70 A.D.

But I’m getting a little side-tracked here…

Something you just can’t dodge from watching Snyder’s epic is the use of the aforementioned ‘bluescreen’ and ‘greenscreen.’ I have yet to encounter these formidable screens (the post production team oh so love these things) but that little trivia gave me a nice insight as to how it works. Looking at 300, we see that the overarching tonal colour is almost white-washed; comic-strip variations of the dark shades. The battles were almost always consumed by a sudden shift to sepia and faded blacks and whites and I believe that Snyder et. al. did this on purpose to reinforce the tenor of the graphic novel.

I say, spot on. The red (or is it blood orange?) Spartan capes outshone the Persian blacks, maintaining the focus on the big and buffed-up superheroes of the 117-minute film. Even the blood-splatters weren’t given the spotlight as one would expect from a violent-looking film. I admire this type of editing and such use. I haven’t seen a movie these days that has done the same thing, specifically with the Marvel and DC superhero tsunami we’ve been having lately. I am both excited to explore this genre of film and immerse myself in its technicalities.

But not that I’m getting ahead of myself since I will be studying Advanced Production: Directing in the coming months for my overseas studies so we shall see how the colours will help me somehow, well, see.