Week 3 Epiphany – The Scene in Cinema

I thought Wednesday’s class was great in regards to the ratio of theory versus practical learning. Although classes where you learn something and then you put what you learnt into practice seem quite commonplace, I don’t generally appreciate how beneficial this process is to my understanding. In this class we looked at a Cohen Brothers’ film Blood Simple (1984), which helped to demonstrate what an L cut and a J cut is. (An L cut being when vision leads and a J cut being when audio comes before vision in a sequence). This concept was also illustrated with a diagram of an editing timeline.

I felt that this method of learning (auditory and visual) aided my retention of information. Immediately after this we also physically practised these concepts in our own work, which I think helped to fully supplant this new knowledge in my brain and also improved the quality of my edit.

Although Friday’s practical exercise was quite rushed, this was probably my favourite out of the exercises we have done so far. Firstly, we went over the technical skills of using the camera and and audio equipment, which gave us all a good chance to revise before going out into the field. We were then each handed a script from a previous week’s exercise that we had to choose a shot out of to direct individually. I received the script that I worked off for the first exercise we did for this studio. At first I thought it would be boring to cover a sequence that I had already done before; however, having played around with the camera and actor positioning for this scene already, I was able to configure an interesting idea for a shot rather quickly. Because I had had the experience of working with the script in physical time and space before, I could immediately start to storyboard the shot I wanted to create and map out the camera positioning, knowing what would and wouldn’t work to a certain degree. Having this planning done on paper made the actual shooting process much more efficient in comparison to usual as well. Even before really seeing the place I was going to shoot in, I already knew what camera angle I wanted, what shot type I wanted, what camera focus I wanted, where the camera was going to move, how it was going to follow the character in the frame and where the microphone could be positioned to enable best signal to noise ratio. ‘On set’ I was able to clearly and quickly explain what I wanted the camera and sound operators and the actors to do, so that after only five minutes, one rehearsal and two takes, my shot was recorded successfully. In saying this, it would have been beneficial if we had gotten the chance to block and rehearse our shot in the location before settling on a particular type of coverage, as well as having more time to shoot alternate takes.

I think I am coming close to discovering what the ‘ultimate shooting process’ for me might be. This would include a thorough rehearsal and experimentation process in front of camera within the real life constraints of time and space (as done in week 1’s exercise);  as well as ‘refining time’ where the ideas for the sequence are put onto paper and concreted so that the shooting process is relatively simple and problem-free (as done in week 3’s exercise).

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