Korsakow final project essay: “A Full Circle of Lights” by Courtney Jones, James Huynh and Kimberly Yeong En
For our final project, we decided to work with the idea of day and night within the city and its surrounding suburbs. It was our intention to create a film that gave viewers a sense of a collage whilst portraying a linear narrative. Pattern was incredibly important and it needed to be noticeable in our project, or else the narrative would not make entire sense to the viewer. Through the use of readings from Bordwell and Thompson and Sheilds, we were able to complete our project to the standard we had hoped for. Throughout this essay, examples drawn from the film itself will be used for wider depth into the discussion of our work.
The content of our piece was changed a few times throughout the process of creating it. We had difficulty deciding on an idea and then eventually how we would bring this idea into a Korsakow film. Originally, it was decided that wide shots of well-known Melbourne places were to be used – day time shots would be taken of a place, and then compared with the same shot at night. However after hearing feedback in the classes, it was clear that further focus was needed for a K-film. Close up shots were far more effective in a project like this, therefore our content changed from ‘day and night time city’ to ‘lights and shadows of day and night time city’. The extra focus gave our piece the appearance of a collage – the shots are of different places, but the theme is still similar. However, it still shows a linear narrative in its representation of day to night. In the Bordwell and Thompson reading, abstract form within narrative is discussed, stating that “it is possible to organize an entire film around colors, shapes, sizes, and movements in the images” (Bordwell and Thompson, pg 11) which is exactly what our K-film does through the use of light and shadows. The narrative of our piece is evident through the way the videos have been shot. Close up shots of shadows cast by sunlight show viewers that it is day time. Close up shots of bright and colourful lights then show the viewer that it is night time.
Our narrative clearly shows through the use of a well organised pattern, the day and night time life of the city. It shows through an unknown person’s perspective the different stages of the day. They wake up to a peaceful morning filled with bright green colours and natural surroundings. They then venture through the busy city streets of Melbourne, on their way to work or university. It is obvious that the first half of the day appears quite simple and somewhat dull. However, once the transition into the night time occurs, the footage shows that the city comes alive at night with an endless array of lights and entertainment. Eventually the footage seems to slow down as it gets later and returns to the peaceful shots of nature, similar to those in the morning sequence.
The Bordwell and Thompson reading also talks about how a narrative starts by saying “a film does not just start, it begins…the opening provides a basis for what is to come and initiates us into the narrative” (Bordwell and Thompson). To begin the ‘story’ of our piece, we needed to have a clear opening shot with the sun being the main focus which would hopefully portray the beginning of the day. This shot and the thumbnail videos around it intentionally create the appearance of morning, or the beginning of the day.
From this point on a pattern is established throughout the K film. All SNUs were given one life so they would not reappear and upset the flow of the film. It begins with a group of shots showing peaceful scenery of the morning in the city. Birds, trees, grass and the colour green are the main themes within these beginning videos.
From here, the narrative moves towards a less colourful group of videos that focus on streets and people. Most videos have the same grey scale and dull look to them, putting heavy emphasis on the shadows cast by sunlight. These shots are are similar in the way that they give viewers the feeling that they are a person with their head down, walking through the streets of the city, perhaps on their way to university or work.
To mark the change from daytime to night time, a transistion shot was used about half way through the film.
This shot invites the viewer into a new perspective of our narrative; the night life of the city. As the pattern in the day time shots followed the sequence of nature, shadows, people, streets and buildings, the night time sequence is the same but reversed; buildings, streets, people, lights then nature. The reason behind this was to be persistant with the idea that within 24 hours, the day goes through a full circle, beginning and ending in the same manner. We believe that the pattern in our work represents this well. As veiwers make the transistion into the night time shots, they will notice that the focus here is on the lighting of the city. Although this focus is different from the day time footage, it is clear that the pattern is still being shown.
This shot shows the same grey scale that was used earlier:
And this shot shows similar nature shots played in the day time sequence:
As shown through the examples, our K-film had a very thorough pattern throughout the narrative. This was perhaps the most important aspect of our project because it created such a strong sense of narrative that was consistent.
When designing the interface, we decided to keep it as simple as possible. We wanted the interface to resemble the content of the film; short, simple and concise. It has a sense of neatness as well which also compliments the footage which is mostly shot with slow pans and close ups. In terms of the delivery of the film, viewers do not have much control over the linearity of the story. Judith Aston and Sandra Gaudenzi in their article ‘Transforming Bisbee: the role of the interactive documentary’, talk about interactive documentaries such as i-docs. They state that in mediums like Korsakow allow the audience to “play an active role in the negotiation of the ‘reality’ being conveyed” (Aston, Gaudenzi, 2012 pg. 126). In our film, this opportunity has been limited to our viewers due to the way the IN and OUT keywords have been designed. Viewers can choose the order of the videos within a sequence, but they cannot choose the order of the sequences themselves. One group of videos must be completed before viewing the next sequence in full. The reason for this is purely because the pattern must proceed in the intended order or else the narrative will appear fragmented or multi-linear. Viewers also cannot return to past videos because they are limited to one life each which will ensure that the narrative continues in the correct order. Originally it was intended that the film would have a background track, possibly city ambience. After some trial and error it was decided that it was not necessary and disrupted the pattern quite a bit. The film works best with the original sound from the footage because it emphasises the different stages of the day more effectively. The plain black background compliments the footage as well, as it especially helps to illuminate the sunlight and lighting shots. It also stays consistent with the simplistic style of the interface. As well as this, the background gives a very obvious cinematic feel to the interface due to its wide spread of the thumbnails.
“The main question collage artists face: you’ve found some interesting material – how do you go about arranging it?” – David Shields.
This quote was the initial drive and focus for our project. Our “interesting material” began as a series of shots from around the city during the different stages of the day. We knew we wanted a subtle linear narrative, but still hoped for a collage based piece. All footage was shot by each group member, so there is a clear difference between the styles of footage shown in the K-film. This initially gives the viewer a sense that there could be more than one perspective being portrayed, thus feeling more like a collage.
“Collage is, in a way, only an accentuated act of editing: picking through options and presenting a new arrangement” (Shields, pg. 5).
Once the material was gathered, the next important step was to make sure that the content of the videos matched the pattern and interface we wanted to create. It had to compliment what we were making. The content and pattern work well together because the pattern helps to describe the average day in the footage. The sun comes up at the beginning of the day and everything is bright and fresh which is presented well in the first sequence – or collage. Colour is also taken into consideration as each sequence has an obvious colour scheme shown in the thumbnails surrounding the playing SNU. Without this type of structure, it would be difficult for the viewer to recognise the theme of collage. This area of the work was inspired again by Shields who believes that the law of mosaics involves learning “how to deal with parts in the absence of the whole” (Shields, pg.1). The idea of the ‘full circle’ that is occurring in our project is subtle in the pattern but not unnoticeable. If the viewer pays close attention, they will notice the reverse of the sequences as day turns to night. The content works well with the interface because it is designed to complement the shots and angles in the videos. Viewers will see that throughout the majority of the SNUs, there are obvious harsh lines, corners and edges especially in the grey sequences. This matched with the rectangular, darkened design of the interface shows a clear relationship between the two aspects. This design works well with the end SNU as it should give the appearance that the SNU is blending in with the background so only the moon in the centre can be seen.
At the completion of our project, it can be confirmed that as a group, we were able to establish the importance of content, pattern and interface in a Korsakow film. We have learnt how to structure work in a way that tells a basic narrative whilst appearing fragmented like a collage. Without a strong relationship between the three aspects, it is difficult for viewers to completely grasp the intentional themes of the project. As shown in the discussion and examples above, our K-film expresses knowledge learnt in class, readings and lectures over the duration of the semester.
- Aston, Judith and Sandra Gaudenzi. “Interactive Documentary: Setting the Field.” Studies in Documentary Film 6.2 (2012): 125-139.
- Bordwell, David, and Kristin Thompson. Film Art: An Introduction. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill, 2013. Print
- Shields, David. Reality Hunger: A Manifesto. New York: Vintage, 2011. Print.