Everyday Media

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

Month: March 2018

Reflection – Film Scene

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966) – When you have to shoot, shoot scene.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is a great film, and often regarded as one of the greatest films of all time. I never much paid attention to how the film was lit, but on examination I don’t know what I think of the lighting. Maybe i’m totally wrong, but the lighting seems quite obvious when you pay attention to it, which makes me thing it could have been done better? Certainly the lighting is masterfully done, in the way it properly exposes the characters faces and splashes off and around certain props and objects, adding a great deal of dimension to many of the shots. But it does look quite obvious, once you pay attention to it, especially when you can see multiple shadows coming from a single character. All that said, the lighting is still pretty masterful and I’m very intrigued to properly analyse it.

The first shot of the scene has extremely beautiful (even though it is obvious ūüėČ ) lighting. As the cowboy stands in the hallway you can tell that there is a strong key light coming from the left of the frame, that will light his face once he steps out of the shadows. It seems like there is another light, maybe coming from high up near the roof, lighting the right hand side of the frame, near the back of the hallway. Most likely facing towards the character to light him from his right hand side, to seperate him from the background. The lighting setup of this shot is extremely beautiful the way it enhances the various pieces of wood and props within the frame, and how they’ve managed to keep the cowboy drenched in shadows as he sneaks around, even though there is quite a lot of light within the frame. It looks like they may have used a cutter to achieve that effect as its a very specific area, essentially just the top half of the cowboy thats drenched ins shadow. Theres also this curious black circular shadow which exists at the very top of the door near the cowboys head which permanently stays extremely dark, much darker than the rest of the shadows in the frame. I wonder how they achieved this effect? Maybe a very specifically located circular cutter.

As we switch to the frame of Tuco and the bathtub we can clearly see his shadow defined on the wall, telling us that there is a strong key light coming from the right hand side of the frame, probably just above head height which is why his shadow is slightly downcast. We can also see a slightly lighter shadow against the wall on the left hand side making it obvious to us that there is also a slightly dimmer fill light coming from the left hand side of the frame. The shadows are relatively defined, which makes me think the light is somewhat hard and I assume the lights were relatively close to Tuco on set.

As the cowboy moves through the frame we see him walk into that key light coming from the left hand side of the frame, as he makes his way towards Tuco, assumedly the lighting setup was designed for exactly that to happen. The next shot of Tuco in the bathtub shows another key and fill light setup, with the key coming from the right of the frame and the fill from the left, coming from a height slightly higher than the actor. Once we see the reverse-shot this actor is suddenly slightly in shadow as the lighting setup priorities the face of the cowboy, lighting him with a key and a fill in the same fashion as the previous shot.

I love the wide shot that follows as we see the cowboy stumble out of the bathroom. The lighting looks so great, even though its so obvious and maybe even because its so obvious. The room very much looks like a stage setup with pools of light coming from the bathroom, a strong light on the front of the bed frame and another light highlighting the fireplace in the back of the room. It’s hard to imagine how many lights they used to light this shot, but it must have been quite a few!


Until next time,

Louise Wilson

Week 4 – Reflection

This week of Film Light was like a jam packed exercise week. On Monday we went straight into shooting scenes and then on Wednesday we were reviewing them. The group I was in was super proactive so we’d already planned the shoot out on the Wednesday prior as we realised we’d have to no time to plan it out on the day. So we went through each scene, talked through how we’d shoot it and then organised roles for everyone. This meant that when we got in Monday we could just go straight into shooting our scenes.

Even before shooting our scenes we knew that we’d feel the time crunch, but it became super evident once we began shooting how much time we were eating up even just organising basic things like where an actor would stand, how to not get something ugly in frame, or how to light the back of someones head. It felt like we could have spent two hours on each of those scenes and only just have enough time to shoot everything the way we wanted. One thing that was very evident to me at the time of shooting was how much everything that you’ve learnt seems to go out the window. Suddenly you forget to make sure someones lighting is effective, or you don’t frame the scene up properly, or you mess the dialogue up and keep it in.

These things become especially obvious when reviewing the footage later, which we did on the Wednesday. One of the shots from our scenes Robin said was essentially pretty useless and we could have easily shot that scene in a much more effective way just from a slightly different angle. It’s things like this that people point out and your like “ohh yeah, why did we shoot it that way?”, and generally it seems that the only reason you shot it that way is because you just weren’t really thinking about it, or you didn’t think long enough, or well enough about how to get the best shot. I guess the more you shoot, the less you make these silly mistakes, because you become more aware of how such mistakes will drastically reduce your chances of getting the shots you want.

Until next time,

Louise Wilson

Week 3 – Reflection

This week we spoke mainly about colour temperature and focal length. It was really interesting to watch the two clips with the differing focal lengths. First the clip from Soy Cuba, where you really feel like your part of the action and then the clip from We Still Kill The Old Way, where you feel really distanced from whats going on. I’ve done photography for a long time now, and often utilised lenses with a different focal length. However seeing two clips like that one after the other really helped me ‘get’ how much focal length effects both the actual look of the image as well as how the audience relates to the visual content.

When we complete the exercise in class where we tried to utilise two different focal lengths, it didn’t feel as obvious when viewing back that content as to how much the focal length had effected the footage. I guess its a very different thing to have content where someone is literally just standing in front of the frame, rather than content which has many actors jam packed in the frame, plus your being intrigued by the pacing, staging and character relationships which are happening on screen that really dramatise the minor effects of the focal length. I guess it’s really how the mood of the piece is relating with the added adjustments the focal length are making to the image, which makes it feel as if there are drastic differences in the two.

We also learnt more about Robin’s undying love for C Stands, which I’m very much enjoying. I never quite realised how valuable those babies are until Robin kept emphasising that fact, and I don’t even own one. I think he even said “If I could have ten c stands and one light, or ten lights and one c stand, i’d always go with the ten c stands.” So maybe I need to buy ten c stands? Only joking.¬†But certainly when witnessing the way you can manipulate even naturally available light just by using some cutters and couple of c stands, it becomes evident how invaluable they are.

Until next time,

Louise Wilson


Posts for Reflection:

Post 1: http://www.mediafactory.org.au/louise-wilson/2018/03/25/week-3-reflection/

Post 2: http://www.mediafactory.org.au/louise-wilson/2018/03/25/week-4-reflection/

Post 3: http://www.mediafactory.org.au/louise-wilson/2018/03/25/reflection-film-scene-2/


Reflection – Art

A painting by Yvan Favre, a french painter from Clermont-Ferrand.

I love Yvan Favre’s paintings, because they elevate everyday scenes into beautiful works of art, such as the painting above which is simple a woman riding the bus. Whilst looking over Yvan Favre’s other work it becomes clear that he finds inspiration in the everyday, rather than inspiration in the surreal. But when you closely at his paintings you realise that just like in films, this painting also ‘reproduces reality’. This painting is not simply a paint by numbers version of what Yvan Favre saw in front of him, but rather a reproduction of what Yvan saw but edited to be much more ‘visually pleasing’, by adjusting things such as the colour palette and the contrast of the scene itself.

The woman in this scene is lit by a key light coming in from the window on her left, which looks like a relatively soft light, that doesn’t have particularly defined ‘shadow edges’ even though it does have quite dark looking shadows. As I said earlier I think some ‘reproduced reality’ is going on here, so I think Yvan has really deepened the darkness of the scenes shadows to provide more contrast and to give the scene an overall greater oomph, which makes it slightly unreliable for understanding what kind of lighting Yvan has painted into this scene, as it may be inconsistent with the kind of lighting you’d actually see in real life. As you can see in the image above, everything the sun is directly touching is illuminated within the scene, whilst the shadow areas virtually fade away into darkness. But nowhere in the image do you see really distinctive shadow lines, expect maybe the woman’s spinal shadow – which may been exaggerated for purely aesthetic reasons.

Within the image above you can also see parts of the woman’s head and shoulder, which in camera terms would almost feel ‘overexposed’ as the colour is almost completely removed by the blown out white which appears to take its place, as the windows sunlight strikes those particular areas. Whilst this image may be a creative reimagining of one woman’s bus ride, it most certainly imparts that feeling of being sun drenched, whilst also simultaneously hiding in the shadows.

Until next time,

Louise Wilson

Reflection – Film Scene

I’m not sure if this is technically ‘a scene from a film’, but it’s most certainly a scene from within a film. As in, its the title sequence of a film. I decided to analyse this scene as its one of the most disturbing scenes I’ve ever watched, not in a disgusting way but rather in the way that it has stuck with me ever since I watched it and it certainly has a most interesting lighting setup.

Nocturnal Animals (2016) – Title Sequence

At the start of this clip, from 0:06 to 0:22 the only thing you can see is confetti falling within the frame. This confetti looks as if it’s been lit by a hard light, separating it from the black background and allowing it to be visible to the human eye. It then fades into a series of montage shots that show various women dancing naked to the music. These women are lit front on, by a relatively soft light that wraps around their body and castes them in a flattering softish yellow light, as if they were old Hollywood starlets. They may also be back lit as they seem quite visually separate from the background, which is heavy red draped curtains. ¬†However these women may have been simply CGI’d in front of the image of the curtains.

It’s quite hard to tell the direction of the light, but it seems like there’s a key light slightly to the right, which is above head height, casting a slight shadow downwards, with a frontal fill light coming from the left. Overall the scene feels quite dark and ominous, whilst still feeling romantic and beautiful. I think this balance was achieved by using a soft light to purely light the subjects, but having a darkened background to give the overall scene quite a dark and toned down feel to it. Whilst this is a pretty obscure scene, I do think it’s an extremely beautiful and most certainly moving scene, that benefits greatly from the dramatic lighting setup that the cinematographer has chosen to use.

Until next time,

Louise Wilson

Week 2 – Reflection

Why do we light? I thought this was one of the most interesting questions brought up in this weeks class. I’d love to create a list of ‘why we light’ and continue to add to it over the course of the semester, so here it is:

Why do we light?

  • Spatial Continuity
  • Temporal Continuity
  • Emotional Impact
  • Necessity (Night)
  • Control
  • Reproduced Reality: Films don’t look like real life.

I’ve most certainly missed some things, but will certainly make an effort to consistently add to this list.

I also loved the concept of ‘Reproduced Reality’ which Robin brought to my attention in class. Robin stated that films, television and essentially most media content is ‘Reproduced Reality’. So rather than being actual reality in terms of look, dialogue and characters (and a whole heap more) it’s actually ‘reproduced reality’ like an attempt by human beings to construct something that both looks like real life as well as looking ‘like a film’ or looking like a fantasy version of reality. I jokingly said to my classmates that next time someone asks what I did on the weekend, rather than say “oh I watched this cool film, or I binged a whole pile of Netflix” i’ll say “oh I just watched some reproduced reality.

I feel like it’s an extremely simple way of consciously acknowledging that no, this isn’t actually reality and yes it does abide by its own unique rules and guiding regarding aesthetics and character development and such. So often we accept media as being ‘truthful’ or ‘reflective’ but rarely do we think about the ways in which we have constructed this faux-movie-reality where nothing ever really looks like that, or no-one ever really talks like that, yet we accept it as somehow being intensely truthful. I look forward to thinking more deeply about this concept and applying this approach to the way I view and make media in the future.

Until next time,

Louise Wilson

Week 1 – Reflection

How I came to be in Robin’s ‘Film Light’ studio is actually quite an entertaining story. Maybe only entertaining to myself though? Essentially when I rocked up to the studio presentation day I ran into my old studio head Paul, and he said to me “Hey Louise, why aren’t you talking to any of the studio heads?”. Because they’d recently introduced this ‘new way of doing things’ where instead of the studio heads presenting their studios to the class, they would simply stand there and you could go and ask them questions about their studios. Which for me is extremely devastating news as I make quite a consistent effort to talk to as few people as possible. So of course I replied to Paul “Well which studio do you think I should do?” and Paul replied “I think you’d love Robin’s studio”. And that was that, it was sorted. I put Robin’s studio as my first preference and indeed I got it and here I am, and Paul was right, I do love it.

I guess I didn’t have a crazy number of expectations regarding this studio, but it’s most certainly exceeded most of those. My main expectation was to understand the technical aspects of lighting a scene to a greater extent, as well as increasing my ability to ‘artificially’ light a scene, with hot and heavy lights and such. However, I was happily surprised to not only be learning those things but to also be learning a theoretical framework of how to view, understand and apply lighting principals.

From the very first lesson Robin focused heavily on getting us to use light that is readily available as well as ‘read’ scenes for their lighting quality and to appreciate what light is available in any given environment. Which is a great fundamental base to start on, rather than to begin with a ‘three-point-lighting’ setup which encourages you to view ‘lighting’ as the simple act of adding light to a room. As Robin made clear light is present in essentially all environments, so to ‘light’ a scene is not only to add addition lights but to work with what light is already there.

Post One: http://www.mediafactory.org.au/louise-wilson/2018/03/09/week-1-reflection/

Post Two: http://www.mediafactory.org.au/louise-wilson/2018/03/09/week-2-reflection/

Post Three: http://www.mediafactory.org.au/louise-wilson/2018/03/09/reflection-film-scene/

Post Four: http://www.mediafactory.org.au/louise-wilson/2018/03/09/reflection-art/

Until next time,

Louise Wilson

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