Wk 6 What Leads Me: Lyrical Movement

Hashtag, latest obsession.

No, that’s a lie. Sort of. I’ve been thinking about this for the past year now. “This” refers to camera movement in relation to a character’s movement. Take David Moore’s dance videos below as an example. He moves the camera and edits in a way which highlights or compliments the dancers’ movement, emotion and change in music. The camera has turned from a passive voyeuristic tool into an active participating dancer.

I’m not interested in contemporary dance.

Modern dance and its choreography videos are usually led by sound. Their movements are based on the beats and story of the song. (Generally, or at least back then, movement in Asian traditional performing arts are created concurrently with its music. I would love to film it one day. Oh but I digress.)

I’m interested in being led by camera movement – the performance quality of the camera itself. I want to explore how camera movement can enhance the lyrical value of a human, organic action.

The film “Departures” (2008) by Yojiro Takita gave me a direction: rituals. They are actions which are both performative and “natural”. Varied movements also give the camera more room to play with. Below is the opening scene of the movie.

Thus I have been inspired. What activity then should I film? Let’s try to make the bed. Why? Like the couch, the bed is both an object and a venue. It also has relationships with other objects in the room. On the other hand, it has bigger space which allows both big and small movements by humans, accompanied with different objects. This allows the camera more space to dance too.

Wk 3 About Sound (Part I): Confused

Below is a one-min edit made last semester. I roughly explored the significance of sound preceding a cut and the impact of music. It was not previously uploaded on this site and now seems like an opportunity:

The above video is not what this post is about. I am writing to explain why I am confused:

For our third exercise, we had been assigned to film our individual “expertise” on the condition we record sound effects before recording videos on a later date. I did not understand the reason for the specific task sequence.

Paul explained that films usually have their original soundtracks and background music prepared before shooting scenes. I was quite surprised but immediately comprehended. In most cases directors and music composers are not performed by one person. Both leaders need to orchestrate a different group of people. Both the visual and music of a film can feed off and affect each other. Furthermore, the director/editor may want to compose the visual action in relation to the beats of, or change in music because sound is a powerful manipulator of emotions.

The purpose of our exercise is “so that the sound leads the images. When you record sound after vision, it’s often an afterthought. When you record it first you concentrate solely on the sound.”

However I do not understand how sound can lead. It seemed impossible because I visualise the shot before imagining possible sounds present in the scene. So isn’t the film still being led by the image?

Then Paul advised us to “shoot to edit” and “it’s just another way of doing things, good to disrupt, do things differently”. Something clicked in place, albeit softly.

Perhaps, I had been regarding sound effects as unimportant. To “shoot to edit” gives me the idea to imagine, creating rhythm with sound effects and the moods it could evoke. In this way, sounds effects would lead the editing process. Ahhhh, ok typing this right now I finally understand what he means by “sound (leading) the image.” I had misunderstood. I was overcomplicating things and did not see the bigger picture. Something just clicked in place, loudly.

Unfortunately, at 0457 in the morning, I am unable to illustrate my finding with appropriate vocabulary and grammar. So allow me to present somebody else’s work and words. The video below has rhythm and harmony between action, sound effects and narration. Meet Sonia.

My completed exercise is uploaded on About Sound (Part II). Stay tuned, the fog is lifting.

Don’t You Love Taking Personality Tests?

If you do, you can take one here.
I took one to receive a general assessment of my strengths and weaknesses as a team player.
I believe in being adaptable and improving. So my past and present personality may be labelled differently. Well, for now, I’ll move forward from here.

What’s an INFP-T like? Website states:


In the workplace, INFPs face the challenge of taking their work and their profession personally. To INFPs, if it isn’t worth doing, it isn’t really worth doing, and this sense of moral purpose in their work colors everything from how they respond to authority to how they express it. Though the way the INFP personality type shows through depends on the position, there are a few basic truths about what INFPs seek in the workplace: they value harmony, need an emotional and moral connection to their work, and loathe bureaucratic tedium.

INFP Subordinates

As subordinates, INFPs prefer latitude, and would much rather immerse themselves in a project, alone or with a close team, than simply be told what task to do and move on. People with the INFP personality type aren’t looking for easy, forgettable work that pays the bills, they’re looking for meaningful work that they actually want to think about, and it helps for their managers to frame responsibilities in terms of emotional merit rather than cold rationalization or business for its own sake. INFPs would rather know that their work will help to deliver a service they believe in than to know that the bottom line has been boosted by 3%.

If these standards are met, managers will find an extremely dedicated and considerate employee in INFPs. As idealistic opportunity-seekers INFPs may not always work well in technical applications, where the facts and logic really matter and critique is often necessary, but they work beautifully in more human and creative endeavors. While some types, especially Analysts (NT), respond favorably to negative feedback, taking criticism as an opportunity to not make the same mistake twice, people with the INFP personality type would much rather hear what they did right and focus on what to do, rather than what not to.

INFP Colleagues

INFPs feel most comfortable among colleagues – they aren’t interested in controlling others, and have a similar distaste for being controlled. Among their colleagues, INFPs will feel freer to share their ideas, and while they may maintain some psychological distance, they will make every effort to be pleasant, friendly and supportive – so long as their coworkers reciprocate. INFPs don’t like conflict or picking sides, and will do everything they can to maintain harmony and cooperation.

Most of this comes down to good communication, which INFPs prefer to conduct in person, for that personal touch, or in writing, where they can compose and perfect their statements. People with the INFP personality type avoid using phones if they can, having the worst of both worlds, being both detached and uncomposed. INFPs also like to feel like their conversations are meaningful, and while they enjoy exploring philosophy more than most, their patience for arbitrary hypothetical brainstorming or dense technical discussions is limited.

INFP Managers

As managers, INFPs are among the least likely to seem like managers – their egalitarian attitudes lend respect to every subordinate, preferring communication as human beings than as a boss/employee opposition. People with the INFP personality type are flexible, open-minded and give their subordinates the tools they need, be they responsible delegation or an intuitive and receptive sounding board, to get the job done. Keeping their eyes on the horizon, INFPs set goals that achieve a desirable end, and help the people working under them to make that happen.

There is a downside to this style, as sometimes the boss just needs to be the boss. INFPs know how they feel about criticism, and are reluctant to subject others to that same experience, whether it’s needed or even welcome. Further complicating this role, when INFPs are under stress, as when someone really does warrant criticism, they can become extremely emotional – they may not show it, but it can affect their judgment, or even cause them to withdraw inwards, in ways that can really hold back their team.

Baby, Hollywood is Dead

So here’s a little background:
Philip Wang (dude above), one of the founders of “Wong Fu Productions”, is a well known creative artiste in the Asian American community. His production company is famed for their YouTube shorts and various web series. Their content usually depict the life of an average American young adult and talents hired are mostly Asians.

Wang says that “whitewashing” is not a new topic. His vlog is a reaction to recent public dissatisfaction about caucasian actors playing asian characters, in upcoming movies “Dr Strange” and “Ghost in the Shell”. He encourages viewers to understand that Hollywood is “old”, “does not know better” and does not mean to be “malicious”; that instead of simply complaining, more asians should “take risks” and create content for their community members.

This reminds me of what my acting teacher used to say, “Hollywood is dying.” Back then, I had a vague understanding of what he meant. He never failed to remind us, our dreams to perform on broadway and in hollywood were… far-reaching.

Then I reflected on Hong Kong and China’s film industry: with the rising popularity of chinese-language movies among international audiences, such as “Ip Man” and “Red Cliff”, is the media attention turning away from stereotypical, conventional Hollywood movies? And I think, yes.

The digital global audience has a better awareness of popular asian trends now. E.g. k-pop “hallyu” wave, japanese fashion brands, reported trends subscribed by mainland chinese youths, popular bollywood stars, etc. Aside from asian news, there is also a deeper appreciation for arts and culture from other countries, from northern Europe to the Middle East to Australasia.

This is possible because of the digital media’s demanding presence. Wang shares, “so much of this (entertainment) industry is changing, towards digital, towards streaming, towards technology. And a lot of the older generation of Asian Americans still want to play in this old model, to jump on this old train (Hollywood)… when there’s so much opportunity in this other space (online digital media) that I am personally a part of. Why don’t we look within our own community and build ourselves up?”

Having watched Wang’s vlog, my teacher’s statement has taken a new meaning. I realise that my acting teacher did not mean to be demotivating. On the contrary, he was being supportive by guiding us to be open to other mediums as a creative outlet. Linking to Brian’s lecture and suggested readings, I now see Hollywood as an outdated institution. It is a very old and grand business model that runs on “formulated” movies or what we may call “conventional hollywood films”.

Every year there is at least one: disney cartoon-turned-live-action film (Alice in Wonderland), a pixar tear-jerker family animation feature (Inside Out), a romantic comedy that ends with one partner dying and the other spiritually liberated (Me Before You), a CGI-heavy superhero movie (Batman VS Superman), a mature-themed action thriller (Bond/Mission Impossible/Jason Bourne Series), a war epic… and more… Hollywood is getting boring. Probably already there.

And I agree with Wang. We are shifting our attention from theatre screens to other online platforms. Most probably because it is cheaper too. One can watch hundreds of episodes on Netflix for $15/month compared to one $20 movie ticket at HOYTS. The accessibility and nature of communication on the web allows audiences to become producers too. So instead of relying on Hollywood to realise one’s greatest epic story, why not garner attention from and release content on the internet, instead!

“Keep on lovin’ what is true, and the world will come to you, you can find it in yourself…”
To end off, here’s sexy Michael Buble playing all of Hollywood’s stereotypical roles.


Facing the Truth: Hitting a Low with Work

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Compared to the previous project, I find PB3 very difficult to do. I’m new to this country and am unfamiliar with people and places. So it took at least a week before finally deciding who my subject is. Even then, I was still unsure what angle the story should take. Only a week before the dateline did a more tangible idea start to form.

This lack of humans as resources also affects my photojournalism projects. I have been assigned to produce a feature article (including photos and text) plus a photo-documentary.  Due to a lack of readily available choices, I looked at local magazines and newspapers to figure out what could possibly be newsworthy. This helps me to be open to everyone and everything in the whole city but now I am spoilt for choice! Even today, I still have one foot out the door. I had chosen a topic that I am not passionate about and thus have no clue how to expand and approach the topic creatively.

There has been a lot of hesitation managing my work these few weeks. Unfortunately, my indecisiveness has resulted in a backlog of assignments and frankly, I feel quite depressed. I hate being half-assed.

This blog post is not meant to be a mindless rant. I am recording what makes me insecure and how I can overcome it. On the bright side, this stressful period has shed some light about my work ethic and stress management. Being more aware, I will continue to learn and shape my approach in a more positive way.

– think that I’m the only one struggling cos there are other students who’ve just moved here
– bottle up my problems
– be afraid of asking “stupid” questions and admitting that I need guidance (still working on this one)

– continue putting up the to-do lists that help you calm down and focus
– allow myself to be vulnerable; recognise that I am not perfect
– have fun in finding and working with people in/for my projects
– have faith that I am capable in producing creative content promptly
– allow myself to break down because I know I can get back up

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
Brené Brown