Analysis/Reflection #1, Q3

In this week’s lecture, scenes from Scott Ruo’s ‘Four Images’, Brian Hill’s ‘Drinking for England’ and Chantal Akerman’s ‘D’Est’ were screened. Choose one of these, and consider, in a single paragraph, what might have intrigued, interested, displeased or repelled you.

Chantal Akerman’s ‘D’Est’

There were no words and no music, but it was so, so beautiful. I went into Film-TV 2 expecting to make a documentary that was straight up interviews, with little artistic direction. But I’m discovering that documentaries don’t have to be dry and interview-based; they can be minimalistic and poetic, like Akerman’s D’Est. The scene had an observatory quality about it that captured precisely the sombreness of life in Eastern Europe post-USSR. The low angle used was also really interesting. More importantly, the scene showed me that less could be more – allow the images to speak for themselves; avoid overstimulation. I’m amazed Akerman managed to make such a fascinating doco without much description/interviews – definitely something I hope to experiment with this semester.

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Analysis/Reflection #1, Q5

Listen to the audio you recorded in Tute #1. Here. Write a paragraph or two about your recording from a technical and/or “poetic” perspective.  

What these sounds evoke for you. What associations they have. 
Do any of your recordings suggest images? What might they be?
Do any of your recordings suggest the possibility of other recordings?

The first sound Crystal and I recorded was the humming of the heater (? I’m actually not sure; it’s some machine) in building 9. We wanted to evoke a sense of eeriness, as though someone was alone in a long, desolate hallway – something out of a horror movie.

The second sound had us walking towards an automatic door and having it buzz open when we passed the sensor. I can imagine this sound in a hospital during a quiet night shift, where an elderly patient could be wandering the halls, walking through automatic doors. He could be pontificating about life and death, or missing his family, etc.

The final (semi-successful) sound was footsteps up and down a staircase. We recorded this in building 12, where students use the stairs often. I had Crystal walk up and down for me, but there were also others who were using the stairs at the same time. The various footsteps evoke a sense of busyness and urgency. I think this sound could be used in a documentary set in school, office buildings, or even a scene that portrays the monotony of life (i.e. everyone is busy and always rushing for time).

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Analysis/Reflection #1, Q4

Listen to the first 10 minutes of Glenn Gould’s radio documentary, “The Idea of North”.

The idea of North 10min.wav or Files are here (experimenting with different sizes and file types) If possible, use headphones. Record your impressions in a paragraph or two.

The soundscape in general is confusing. The initial overlaying interviews were chaotic and unpleasant. They were difficult to comprehend, but less so the second time I listened to it. I suppose they were meant as an “introduction”, to display the varying opinions and perspectives of the North. Even as the interviews fade into the background, they remain somewhat annoying. The second half is much easier on the ears, even though some sound effects, such as a train going through a tunnel, don’t seem that relevant.

However, the premise of the documentary is fascinating. Paul said we could also explore an idea/concept in our documentary, so I think The Idea of North is a good example of that. It is also informative; it provides various first hand accounts and sheds some of the mysticism that surrounds the North. Some other things I drew from the doco was the usage of various interviewees to ensure a variety of opinions and insights – it helps keep the doco interesting. Verbal descriptions of the topic are also very helpful (e.g. in the very first interview with the woman where she described the North in vivid detail).

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Blood Simple

In this clip screened in the lecture from the ereCoen brothers’ ‘Blood Simple‘ describe what is happening in terms of the edits specifically in terms of the audio and video. Also name the different kinds of audio you can hear.

The Coen brothers cut betweem clips of the men and the props, like the fish and the gun, and use voiceovers and diegetic sounds (from the objects) to contextualise the role of the props. So they might have recorded the sounds of the objects separately and inserted them in post=production, overlaying the CU shots of the lighter, gun, etc.

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Keyboard shortcuts

Most applications reserve keyboard shortcuts for the functions that use most often. It is really good to learn all of these as it will speed up your editing and additionally alert you to functions that the software developers and other users find important. (You can learn much about the software by looking at keyboard shortcuts).

Find the keyboard shortcuts for Adobe Premiere and note two or more functions that you’ve never used before that may be invaluable to editing.

I’m not going to include this in the “two or more functions” I’m supposed to note because I’ve used it before, but I just have to get it out of the way because it is the most crucial.

The number one, absolute most important shortcut ever is CMD+S. SAVE YOUR WORK. ALL THE TIME. EVERY MINUTE. EVERY SECOND. And if possible, save it onto your hard drive because RMIT’s server is packed and can lag sometimes. Two weeks ago I was working on a radio documentary in Premiere and just when I was finished, Premiere froze. I couldn’t retrieve a backup and the edits I slaved over for hours were gone. Trust me; abuse that CMD+S shortcut because it will save you a lot of time and a lot of tears.

Now, onto the “two or more functions” I’ve never used but are now essential to my shortcut arsenal. I use the following functions the most, so shortcuts really expedites the editing process (and makes me feel like a pro!):

  1. Mark In (I) and Mark Out (O)
    The (I) and (O) shortcuts are used for marking the first and last frames you want in a certain clip. When I first used Premiere during Broadcast Media, I didn’t know of marking. I did the editing in a—on hindsight—very menial way; dump an entire clip into the sequence and shave off the bits I didn’t want. Learning how to mark using the (I) and (O) shortcuts in the past few weeks has streamlined my workflow and enabled me to make fast and accurate edits.
  2. Zoom In (+ or Z) and Zoom Out (-)
    When you’re editing, every second in the clip seems to matter, so precision editing is very important. For that, you’ll need to zoom in quite often on the clip to make sure your edits hit the mark. Sometimes, when the sequence is zoomed out, it may be difficult to spot errors, e.g. a split second of black ‘gap’ between two clips which wasn’t meant to be there. Zooming in while editing helps minimise and correct these mistakes.
  3. Snap (S)
    I usually leave the ‘Snap’ function on, but sometimes when I accidentally turn it off, it’s useful to just click (S) to have it back on again. ‘Snap’ is so crucial to the editing process. Before Film-TV 1, I had no idea what ‘Snap’ was even though I was using Premiere and was aware of this strange, magnetic force that would align clips together. There were periods of time when I would be editing and the ‘Snap’ function would be disabled and I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. It frustrated me because that “strange, magnetic force” was so useful and I honestly couldn’t edit properly without it. Now that I know it’s called the ‘Snap’ function with the shortcut (S), I can turn it on and off as and when I like.
  4. Undo (CMD+Z)
    The CMD+Z shortcut isn’t new to me – I have used this because CMD+Z is the shortcut for ‘undo’ in many programs (e.g. Photoshop, Illustrator) but I find this vital. You make tons of little mistakes during editing, like cutting a scene too short or adjusting the gain too high/low, so the CMD+Z shortcut takes the time out of scrolling to ‘Edit’ and clicking ‘Undo’ time and again.
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Analysis/Reflection 6 (Q6)

Consider Sandra’s lecture “Directing Actors” and describe at least a couple of points that you took away from it (even if you’re not the director).

I wasn’t the director, but I felt some points in Sandra’s lecture rang true when we shot our short film two weeks ago.

It seems obvious, but Sandra mentioned that the director has to direct the actors, tell them what to do in a concise and succinct manner. Since most of us had no prior experience or knowledge of filmmaking, we wouldn’t have a comprehensive idea of what the role of each crew member entailed. On the day of shooting, we had a schedule we wanted to stick to; there wasn’t time for our director Georgia to dilly-dally and ponder over what to tell the actors. Georgia was fantastic as director though – she was decisive and to the point. She communicated well with the actors and directed them in the way Sandra would have advised us to – with straightforward and succinct sentences.

As there is always a schedule to adhere to, there is often little time to think and mull on set. Hence, I would recommend directors to believe in a good amount of preparation. It is crucial to understand each of the characters inside out, so you have a steady grasp of how you want the actors to portray them and how you can direct them.

It is also important that no one (absolutely no one!) besides the director directs the actors. I’ve heard stories of other Film-TV groups tussling on the day of shooting, e.g. when the DOP attempts to direct the actors. It is confusing for the actors and the director. The actors are meant to listen to the director and the director alone; any other’s opinion might leave the actors (especially inexperienced ones) wondering who he/she should listen to. Also, if the DOP (or any other crew member) directs the actors, there would be an inconsistency in directing and directing style and the director might be unable to follow up.

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Analysis/Reflection 5 (Q3)

Blow Up is a 1966 film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni.

In this scene we can see the choreography of the actors, camera, frame and focus. As covered in the lecture describe what Antonioni would have considered when directing the actors and the camera.

In the beginning when Jane (I think?) enters Thomas’ apartment, she stops right at the crack and is perfectly framed. Antonioni must have told the DOP to place the camera at that specific angle and told Redgrave exactly where to stop when she came in. In the following seconds, Jane and Thomas walk out of the frame and continue walking thereafter – evident from the sound of their footsteps. So Antonioni must have paid heed to sound as well.

In the scenes where both Jane and Thomas share the frame, Antonioni probably directed and choreographed their movements such that either of them wouldn’t block the other from the camera. He also might have told them to keep within a certain distance, so that they wouldn’t be excluded from the frame.

There are a couple of scenes where Jane walks out of the frame. Antonioni takes care to note that the following scenes when she reenters the frame, she enters from the opposite side of the frame, i.e. when she exits on the right, she reenters from the left.

During Jane and Thomas’ conversations—carried out via interchanging MCU and CU shots of either party—Antonioni makes sure their eyelines match. For example, at 5:21 when Thomas looks up to Jane, the following shot has Jane looking in a downward direction, implying she’s looking at Thomas even though this scene was shot in segments. This is probably one of the more important aspects here; failure to match eyelines would simply confuse and frustrate the audience.

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Analysis/Reflection 5 (Q2)

Select from one of the readings from week 5, 6 or 7 and describe two points that you have taken from it. Points that excite you, something that was completely new to you.

As the cinematographer, I thought the excerpt from Oumano’s book Film Forum: Thirty-Five Top Filmmakers Discuss Their Craft particularly fascinating and useful. In it, Scorsese highlights the importance of deliberate framing, that we must pay close attention to what is included and what is excluded. A cinematographer has to be meticulous, on godly levels. Every minute detail matters, even if it’s just a “normal” shot. Everything from “where you place the camera, the lighting, the look of the film” has to be purposeful; what’s on the table, in the foreground and in the background. Each shot and angle must enthral; framing is essentially a grandiose work of art.

While shooting our Lenny, we had passerbys lurking in the corner of one of our beginning frames. I hadn’t realise how disruptive that was until we were piecing the bits together in post-production. But now I know these unwanted details can be unsightly and distracting, drawing the audience’s focus away.

Scorsese also mentions he prefers to “use longer takes, to let things play out” so he can cut them up (even though he doesn’t like the practice at times) and string the best of shots together. That’s a possibility I had never considered. I’ll probably experiment with a variety of shots and angles and edit to my liking thereafter. There’s a bit more legwork involved in Scorsese’s approach, but it’s obvious he strives for utmost perfection and is far from lackadaisical about his art. His passion for filmmaking is simply inspiring.

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Analysis / Reflection 4 (Q7)

Please outline some points that you took away from the Lighting Lecture. Points that excite you, something that was completely new to you, perplexes you or even one you take issue with.

Most things were new to me. I’ve had a go at lighting when I took a course for Studio Photography, but I haven’t had the opportunity to light a film set. I always found lighting tricky and complicated and try to steer away from those responsibilities as much as possible, but it seems I don’t have much of a choice now that I’m doing Film-TV 1 and am part of the technical crew.

I’ve learned that three point lighting refers to the standard lighting set-up. It involves three lights: key light, fill light and back light, even though only one or two lights are used. This set-up basically lends dimension to the characters.

My group and I are doing a little comedy for our short. We have certain scenes depicting our main characters—two high school boys goofing around—in drag, doing drugs, etc. in a dark room, so we drew some lighting inspiration from film noir flicks. We’re going for some very stylised scenes with semi-hard lighting (if there’s such a term at all). This article would probably come in handy.


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Analysis / Reflection 4 (Q8)

List the things that you learnt from this experience – this could be things that went well or not so well.

Check out my group’s Lenny here.

We weren’t given much time to shoot the Lenny, but I reckon it was a good exercise that helped us with time management. Knowing how to work the equipment is possibly the most basic and important aspect; like Paul said, something will always go wrong and it’s vital that every crew member (including the director and producer) has some technical knowledge with regards to equipment.

Pre-production is also crucial. This is where all the planning takes place and like they say: if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. We came armed with a marked up script, a detailed shot list and a well-illustrated storyboard that made shooting Lenny relatively smooth.

As the DOP, I got to experiment with various shots and angles, familiarised myself with the camera’s functions, i.e. adjusting white balance, temperature, focus, etc. Because of this Lenny exercise, I was able to sort through the shots and angles that worked and those that sucked. According to Paul, we had great lighting on the day of our shoot—cloudy and overcast—and we were able to avoid overexposure. It might have been good to have had the opportunity to shoot in extreme sunlight, just so we could learn how to troubleshoot that situation.


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