Everyday Media

An everyday blog about media by everyday blogger Louise Alice Wilson.

Month: September 2017 (page 1 of 2)

The Unseen Pan

For our filming projects it was likely there would be limited pans, as our tripods were essentially moulded plastic made to look like a tripod, yet certainly not act like one. This has inspired in me a deep yearning to create a beautiful pan, the likes of which are best left unseen – if you know what I mean.

A lot of the time pans are used in obvious ways, they almost act as an obvious cue for you to look at a certain character, object or space. However, many pans in film remain unseen and it is these which work to the greatest effect. When a pan follows an action so smoothly that you don’t even notice it, you are drawn further into that action, character and world. One director that does this with great effect is David Fincher.

David Fincher tends to keep his camera super controlled, i.e. he sticks his camera on a tripod and rarely uses handheld. This means that when Fincher wants to follow the action of a character that he often uses panning shoots, even when it comes to the smallest movement. This means that Fincher or I guess his cameraman, must be capable of following a characters every movement; with appropriate pacing and timing. So appropriate that the audience shouldn’t even notice it.

 

In this three minute sequence we have over 10 pans, with all of them feeling very smooth and natural – almost unnoticeable, as they move with the characters. The camera does not move every time a character or object moves, but it does always move when the main object or character of focus is moved. As the audience should be guided to look at this main object it makes sense that the camera is purely following their actions and not the reactions of other characters also. In between pans the camera is locked off and we get to watch the action unfold. David Fincher makes it feel as if you are an omniscient being getting to watch the action unfold, only moving as something or someone propels the action to unfold in front of your eyes.

Pan #1 – 0:01

The camera pans slightly to the left to follow Christy’s (Brenda Song) movement as she enters the room.

Pan #2 – 0:09

The camera pans upward precisely following the movements of Eduardo (Andrew Garfield) as he raises his head to speak to Christy.

Pan #3 – 0:47

The camera pans slightly to the right to follow Eduardo’s movement as he leaves the room.

Pan #4 – 0:53

The camera pans slightly to the right to follow Eduardo’s movement as he answers the phone.

Pan #5 – 1:19

The camera pans to the left to follow Mark’s (Jessie Eisenburg) movement as he paces.

Pan #6 – 1:41

The camera pans to the right to follow Eduardo’s movement as he searches the cupboards.

Pan #7 – 1:47

The camera pans to the left to follow Eduardo’s movement as he puts out the fire.

Pan #8 – 1:49

The camera pans downwards to follow Eduardo’s movement as he squats slightly.

Pan #9 – 1:54

The camera pans upward as Eduardo leaps for his phone.

Pan #10 – 2:03

The camera pans to the left to follow Mark as he paces.

 

Until next time,

Louise Wilson

 

 

 

 

 

The Setup

This blog post is all about the setup, which means location and gear, am I right?

The Thornbury Bowls Club was a sweet location, but being the insecure introverted younglings we are, we decided to have multiple backups. These backups included:

The Croxton Tennis Courts:

Whilst certainly suburban and pretty close to all of us, it was maybe a little too edgy and certainly had no ‘club room’ facilities to speak of. Unless an abandoned public toilets counts?

 

The Eltham Tennis Courts:

Super pretty in low lights and right next to a super sweet train station which added to the visual appeal. However it was in the middle of essentially nowhere and the club room was pretty drab.

 

Both these locations pale in comparison to the ~ Magnificent Thornbury Bowls Club ~ :

I mean look at this place, it’s a fucking dream. Super close to all of us and with a superb club room. This place would require minimal art department – a dream for povo film students such as myself.

The other two locations were pretty easy to gain access to, but we were intimidated by the bowling club, it was too good?! Still we sent them an email, hoping for a positive reply and alas, they were quite happy to accomodate us and receive essentially nothing in return. It’s always worth asking, I guess?

Once we had the location setup we decided to start organising everything else we needed to get these films done. Which meant organising emailing the ‘AV Loans Guys’ and the ‘Building 9 Tech Dudes’ asking for a: Canon EOS 60D, Canon EOS 6D, Rosie’s Canon Cam, Canon 50mm Prime Lens, Two Canon Kit Lenses, Three Dedo Spotlights + all the accessories, two tripods, a Sony Zoom and a monitor.

After we sorted out the gear, Sam and I started compiling costume ideas, potential soundtrack songs, potential title cards and inspirational screen grabs regarding tone and composition (some of these images can be seen in a previous blog post of mine). Whilst Rosie and Bell further developed their scripts so we could begin sending them out to interested actors, as well as creating draft storyboards.

 

Until next time,

Louise Wilson

What is Lynchian?

When presenting our film projects to the class, we suggested that our film was ‘Lynchian’. That our film was more interested in creating a world than telling a story. This world would be colourful, abstract, everyday and slightly eerie – giving it a surrealist vibe, but was it Lynchian? I haven’t see all of Lynch’s films – not even close, nor fully understood many that I’ve seen. There are so many iconic filmmakers today where the essence of their ‘filmmaking’ is more know than their actual films. Ask someone what a Hitchcock film explores, or what a Tarantino film looks like and I’m sure they could tell you. I’m sure they could describe to you scenes from films that they’ve never seen and concepts they don’t even fully understand. For me, Lynch is that filmmaker. I know of him, I’ve seen some of his work, he’s probably the kind of filmmaker i’d love – but do I know that much about Lynch’s films? Not really. I decided to explore the world of Lynch’s filmmaking to understand how he has become known as the master of modern surrealism on film.

David Lynch’s film are often described as Lynchian, but what does a David Lynch film actually entail?

  • Mundane images turned macabre: representation of the wholesome, with the gruesomeness lurking below.
  • Surrealism: universe dictated by dream logic – representative of the subconscious.
  • Film noir tone: dark, edgy.
  • Americana settings: often small town American life, Industrial wastelands.
  • Recurring themes: 1950s America, the American dream and the dark underbelly of suburban life.
  • Recurring motifs: red curtains that obscure the passage of time, deformed bodies.
  • Recurring characters: complex females that play on archetypal expectations of the ‘femme fatale’ – often reflected in dual roles for single female actresses.
  • Light & Dark/Dualities: thematic and visual juxtaposition.
  • Noise: eerie and ambient.

Overall vibe/message:

  • Exposing the strange within the familiar and the reality within the dream.
  • Everything is stranger than it seems.
  • No personality is static.
  • No perspective is objective.
  • Exploration of the deeper layers of consciousness’ reaction to/understanding of experiences.

Now, once you read all of this, you kinda go – well your film is nothing like Lynch’s films. And you’re kind of right.

  • Our film doesn’t make mundane images macabre, rather it makes mundane images weird.
  • Our film is surreal. 
  • Our film doesn’t have a film noir tone, but it does have a dark tone.
  • Our film explores suburbia, but it’s not American suburbia, it’s Australian suburbia.
  • We explore the 1950s -’70s Australia, we explore the Australian dream, we explore the dark underbelly of suburban life.
  • We have no red curtains, just a red light and certainly no deformed bodies.
  • No complex women here – bad feminists we are (as Yoda would say).
  • We kinda explore dualities? dualities of fantasy maybe?
  • Noise is defs eerie and ambient.

Or maybe it’s a little like Lynch’s? It’s like a poor mans Australian Lynch that is seriously under-baked and lacking of budget.

 

Until next time,

Louise Wilson

 

The Story

I’m not going to give you a re-run of every little thing my group and I did over the last few weeks, as that would be immensely boring and of little value. I will however break the project down into five major sections written in individual blog posts. These sections will include: the story, the setup, actors, filming and finalising.

Welcome to the first blog post in this series entitled ‘The Story’.

All good films start with a good story – not true, but it sounds like something a student would open a blog post with right?

All good films don’t start with a good story?

Our films didn’t start with good stories, rather they started with tidbits of an idea. The studio was averse to mythologising the script, being much more interested in the exploration of ideas, so I guess thats why we started with tidbits.

The first of the tidbits were compiled from our presentations to the class. Each of us had a variety of different interests but what overlapped was our interest in: limited dialogue, shooting at night, suburban settings, elements of surrealism, beautiful cinematography and interesting shot choices.

Bell and Rosie were keen on writing scripts and me and Sam we’re keen on doing the dirty work? the clean work? the non-writing work! We ended up with two different scripts, with two different sets of actors but both set in the exact same world, perhaps decades apart, or perhaps days apart – it was ambiguous, but we liked it.

Rosies script was an aus-core love story featuring two octogenarians, whilst Bell’s was a surrealist tale of two young preps wandering around a bowls club. Both seemed cool, so we decided to shoot both at our one dream location: The Thornbury Bowls Club.

Until next time,

Louise Wilson

 

 

 

Scene Analysis: A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

AGWHAAT: The Dance Scene

From the beginning of this clip Sheila Vand who plays ‘The Girl’ (a vampire) looks quite poignantly like a fish out of water as she wanders around this modern apartment with its ridiculously decadent yet tacky decor, such as the glowing fish tank which she stands aside at the beginning of this clip. On first appearance ‘The Girl’ feels like a pastiche of Count Dracula (Dracula, 1931), Patricia (Breathless, 1960) and Mathilda (Leon: The Professional, 1994). But it’s her movements that take on a distinctly non-human quality that make her feel more like a serpent waiting to strike, than any kind of pre-used character archetype. ‘The girl’s’ slow turns – keeping her head so upright it feels almost tilted slightly back and striking black hood – that drapes softly over her body – make her appear like a cobra arched upright, slithering slowly through Saeed’s (Dominic Rains) apartment. We watch ‘The Girl’ watch Saeed as he listens to music, snorts coke, smokes a cigarette, counts his money, lifts some weights and dances provocatively. As ‘The Girl’ watches Saeed fulfil a number of gluttonous and self-obsessed human behaviours she aligns herself with a snake watching it’s prey. She’s uninterested in what he does, or why he’s doing it, the only reason she is watching him is to to keep track of his physical body as she waits to strike.

Saeed unaware of her ulterior motives is parading around the room like a walking testosterone advertisement, indulging and feeding his own ego. Unawares to him, is that he is also indulging ‘The Girl’, wetting her appetite as she prepares to literally feed on him. As ‘The Girl’ strikes one of the drum kits cymbals – hitting a discordant note, Saeed walks directly to her as if beckoned by this ancient sounding chime. With her back to Saeed ‘The Girl’ appears as the typical victim, about to be done in or sexually assaulted by this young, huffed up, drug dealer. Saaed approaches all beady eyed and eager, reaching out to ‘The Girl’s’ basilisk shaped hood, and in keeping with her cobra inspired mannerisms she turns her head and body around slowly to face him – neck and body moving as if one solid formation. Saeed strokes her face and places his finger in her mouth, unaware that the balance of power had in fact shifted even before this scene had begun. ‘The Girl’ then reels back and strikes, biting his finger clean off, Saeed staring at her in disbelief.

The films title ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ makes much more sense after viewing this scene, as it suddenly becomes apparent that the title is not to be read as the usual ‘A girl walks home alone at night – potential victim trope’, that statement is intended to be read as a warning. No longer is ‘a girl walking home alone at night’ scary for ‘the girl’ involved, but rather it is scary for the people who run into her, becoming one of her victims. As this scene portrays the girl appears like the typical victim – petite and superficially submissive, but behind that delicate (however stone cold) exterior is a cold blooded killer.

 

Until next time,
Louise Alice Wilson

Colour Me Confused

Colour Me Confused:

This colour grade exercise was both and enjoyable and frustrating. As someone who loves regularly taking photos and editing them, I’m keen to learn more about how to do the same with my videos. However one major frustration that cropped up during this exercise, was the serious lack of image quality for video files, which leads to a serious lack of nice looking colour grade options. However, you gotta work with what you got. Below is a video that features multiple examples of various colour grades, plus a breakdown of each colour grade used.

 

Colour Grade Video: Rosie Being Rosie

 

Colour Grade 01 – Original Colour Grade – Unedited

This is the original colour grade of the video footage, completely unedited.

 

Colour Grade 02 – Pink Hue

Lumetri Color > Basic Correction

Temperature: +30

Tint: +12

Contrast +30

Highlights: -70

Shadows: +54

Whites: -9

Blacks: -17

 

Colour Grade 03 – Film Style

Lumetri Color > Creative

Look: Fuji F125 Kodak 2393

Intensity: 50%

Faded Film: +20

Sharpen: +20

Saturation: -4

 

Colour Grade 04 – Blue

Lumetri Color > Creative

Look: SL Blue DAY4NITE

Intensity: 100%

 

Colour Grade 05 – Sharp Yellow

Lumetri Color > Basic Correction                                      > Creative

Temperature: +149                                                                      Faded Film: +25

Tint: -106                                                                                           Sharpen: +100

Contrast: +30                                                                                  Vibrance: +70

Highlights: -10

Shadows: +27

Whites: -8

Blacks: -3

 

Colour Grade 06 – Beaut Edit

Lumetri Color > Basic Correction                                         > Creative

Tint: +2                                                                                                   Sharpen: +99

Highlights: -38                                                                                   Vibrance: +70

Shadows: +7                                                                                        Shadow Tint: Red/Orange

Whites: +11                                                                                         Highlight Tint: Red/Orange

Blacks: -8

 

Overall:

Getting to experiment with different colour grades was pretty cool and it’s nice to get more comfortable with Premiere Pro’s color correction software. I think overall I like my ‘film style’ edit and ‘beaut’ edit the most as the look the most natural, however the ‘sharp yellow’ is pretty sick also. I often like colour edits that are either hyper natural or super extreme, so it makes sense that I like those three. If I had to pick one I’d probably pick the sharp yellow cause its a bit wacko.

 

Until next time,

Louise Alice Wilson

Step Into The Light

Step Into The Light:

In this exercise we tried to utilise lighting present within our environment to light our characters in specific ways. I decided to utilise the dappled lighting present outside the RMIT buildings on Ceyda as she read through our script. The epiphany I had whilst working through this exercise, was that it is extremely difficult to consciously notice light and therefore be able to utilise it. Unlike framing, which once displayed on a monitor is generally quite easy to decipher and thus adjust, lighting remains elusive. It seems that from a young age were often encouraged to decipher why a certain painting is good, or what you like about a particular photograph. This deciphering often includes references to things such as framing, subject, use of space or angles utilised. However, unless you are speaking to an art critic you are unlikely to hear someone say I like this painting because of the way the artist has depicted the light. This lack of experience in consciously noticing light, seems to lend itself to an inability to read it when required. Even whilst I had Ceyda physically standing in front of me, it was quite difficult to work out the best place to position her, to use the light in the way I wanted. I’d say move to the left and rotate your head to the right more, then realise I’d pushed her in the complete opposite direction to what I wanted – framing generally isn’t this hard. I must say however, that the most difficult exercises are generally the most enjoyable. So often you feel like your going through the motions whilst learning the ins and outs of filmmaking. That when you are truly challenged you suddenly have an eagerness that wasn’t never present whilst you were sitting well within your comfort zone.

The second epiphany I had whilst working through this is exercise, was that Ceyda is a great actor, even though she vehemently stated that she wasn’t! Lesson learnt: trust no (wo)man. Even if someone states that they’re a terrible actor you may be pleasantly surprised and they may even bring something to the character that you never even thought about.

 

Until next time,

Louise Alice Wilson

Who’s That Lady?

How to shoot a script for dummies:

If you ever need to shoot a script just call “1800-who’s-that-weird-lady-in-the-background?”

This was meant to be a post about how to shoot a script, because that was technically what this class was about, but I’m definitely much more interested in that weird AF lady in the background. She was the best (because she’s given us this solid gold footage), but also the worst (because she ignored me trying to shoo her out of the frame) (but I’m actually the worst, because I should have had enough foresight to realise, “hey, this is some good ****”).

I was originally going to edit together a string of shot reverse shots as an example of how we intended to complete this exercise, then discuss it. However, after reviewing the footage and remembering the weird lady in the background I realised that it was actually more poignant and revealing to display this excerpt as it’s own unedited stand alone piece – that which reveals a moment in time. Giving insight into our learning process and the hurdles/joys of filmmaking.

This is the annoying part where I talk you through the video you’ve just watched: I like how this video begins as ‘sound’ is being called, making it obvious that we’re only privy to this unfurling scene because someone pushed the record button. As the scene moves along the visuals are also  introduced as we hear ‘video’ being called – and we get to watch the scene slowly play out. We then see this woman enter frame, which no one seems aware of except the director, who then waits til she leaves to call action. Then as the clicker snaps down, the elevator doors open almost instantaneously after.  The scene plays out and the visuals end, but we get to keep hearing the scene until someone eventually presses the record button once more, disabling us from being privy to this scene for any longer.

I had a few major epiphanies after watching this video. The first being the realisation that when your ‘filming’ something or planning to film something your often so caught up in what you ~ should ~ be doing. That you fail to notice the much more interesting things that are unfolding in front of you. This not only disables you from being truly creative, but inhibits the work from being as interesting as it could possibly be. My second epiphany was that you can create a much more interesting scene by having multiple actions occurring in the same scene at once. And you can also relate these seperate actions by timing each action, to work well with another in the frame, suggesting some kind of relationship between the two. My third epiphany was that drawing attention to how highly constructed filmmaking is, can be extremely interesting and it doesn’t necessarily destroy the audiences relationship to the onscreen action, but can actually deepen it.

 

Until next time,

Louise Alice Wilson

 

Shot Reverse Shot

Sussing out that ‘shot-reverse-shot’:

Learning how to create a shot-reverse-shot is – I guess – super important, considering it’s utilised in (most likely) every film you’ve ever seen. Not only would it have been utilised in every film you’ve ever seen, but it’s probably been utilised a butt load in every film you’ve ever seen. The reason that the shot-reverse-shot is so prevalent in mainstream filmmaking is because it’s one of the easiest ways to establish the location of characters and their relationships to the objects and people around them.

I’m sure there is an art to creating a smooth shot reverse shot, that feels ‘real’ and ‘natural’ but what most surprised me about this exercise is how easy it was to create shot-reverse-shots that smoothly went together. When you shoot an exercise like this you think, “omg how am I gonna piece this **** together”. Then you get to the edit suite, bang the clips side by side and voila, your scene actually seems to makes sense. This was a pretty major revelation to me, but keeps in line with what Paul’s been speaking about since day one; which is that filmmaking is more a process of getting things done, rather than some mythical creative endeavour, only achieved by those who are truly gifted.

My second major revelation was how amazing of an actor I am, I was honestly just truly blown away by my own performance. Especially that killer death scene at the end and my ability at maintaining ‘dead eyes’ throughout that dramatic pan. If you ever need an actor?

 

Until next time,

Louise Alice Wilson

 

Blog Post: Week 8

Blog Post for Week 8

This week in class we worked on lighting as you can see in the example above. We essentially attempted to create a three point lighting setup that lit up both me and Rosie. However due to equipment constraints we only had two lights to work with.

Originally we had one key light on the left hand side to light both me and Rosie and then we had one light behind to backlight us, using light from the room as fill. However, because me and Rosie we’re standing so far apart we ended up using the two lights as seperate key lights for each of us. The reason we were standing so far apart is because we were also attempting to master focus racking whilst panning. This clip doesn’t show an example of the panning, but rather a shoddy kind of zoom out, to capture both of us within the frame.

The lighting in this clip could almost be described as an extreme style of ‘split lighting’. Where you split the face into two equal halves, with one side being in light and the other in shadow. Often split lighting would be done with a less bright fill, adding some light to the shadowed side of the face, but since we were one light down we had to make do. I think it looks pretty cool, because it’s super dramatic. However, you’d be limited with the number of practical ways that you could utilise it.

 

Until next time,

Louise Alice Wilson

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