Monday, 4 October 2010

Assignment 2 - Creating mood and atmosphere.

Just like the last assignment I will post this assignment up with my tutor's comments, and also the amended version of the assignment taking into account my tutor's comments

Assignment Outline:

Action: Making and eating breakfast
Mood: Happy/blissful

A warm feel to the scene, plenty of light, new dawn sort of look to the scene. Actor looks comfortable, plenty of space within the scene. The scene starts with the actor making breakfast in the kitchen. Light coming in through the window, homely feel to the kitchen. The action then moves to breakfast room, plenty of warm light about again. The room is simple, homely, and spacious. A paper comes through the door, and the actor moves to the door picking it up. Again plenty of light in the bright hallway. Finally the actor sits back down and opens up the paper.



My Evaluation:

For this sequence I decided to go with trying to create a mood of happiness and serenity as most of my other work has been in distinct contrast to this. For this I wanted a very bright, colourful, clean, simple and spacious feel to each scene. I will breakdown the techniques I employed in order to achieve this and how successful I think each were in doing so.

Scene 1: Putting the breakfast out
For this I have used my own kitchen. I chose this specific part of the kitchen as it has colourful tiles on the wall, a big bright window letting light into the scene, and lots of spacious work surfaces that I have cleared to only leave a few key objects in the scene. I also used after effects to place the title in 3D space so it appeared to be parallel to the right wall, so that it felt part of the scene and helped keep a natural, happy, quirky feel to the frame
This has given the impression of space and light well. I feel the oil bottles on the left of the frame are surplus to requirements and probably should have been removed too, but at the time I thought they added to the feel of the kitchen. I also originally shot this scene handheld as I felt this would feel more natural, but second time round made a move for the tripod, and I believe this had the effect of allowing the viewer to focus on the action, and atmosphere much better.
I have also colour corrected the scene to give it a warmer, bright feel. There is a slight orange glow to the scene and this does fill the viewer with a good feeling, helping them to share the feeling of happiness that the actor is supposed to be feeling. There are also a lot of whites in the scene, the bowl, the milk, the window, all helping to add to that bright feeling.

Scene 2: Walking through the hall
I actually storyboarded this scene of the walking between the kitchen and the breakfast room, however when filmed I felt this added nothing to the scene, and felt it was a pointless transition shot. It did not work with a fixed tripod and felt that adding a handheld shot to the scene would have felt weird, so I cut this from the sequence

Scene 3: Breakfast Room
Again there is a large window in the back of the shot. This again was deliberate, to bring plenty of bright light into the scene, and be quite visible in the frame as well. I’ve kept the large majority of the frame being the table, to keep the open, simple feel, but also left a few “homely” items around the background, such as the clock and picture on the TV. By blowing out the window as well I have created even more sense of space around here by losing most of the detail.
I have also tried to keep the sounds simple, clean and crisp. I think this has again the atmosphere that everything is complete, there is nothing hidden or menacing about the scene, what we see is what there is, and this helps the viewer to relax. I would probably try and reduce the amount of noise the sound of the spoon against the bowl made, but the only bit of ADR involved was adding the sound of the paper coming through the door, the rest was recorded as filmed, as I wanted it to feel totally natural.

Scene 4: The paper
This scene was again deliberately short and simple. A close up of the paper, and just the actors hand appearing was a conscious choice to keep the frame clean, bright, and easy on the eye. I think this is a particularly strong frame in the overall sequence as it does exactly what is needed in a short space of time.

Scene 5: Reading the paper
Again short and simple. I decided to do it this way as I did not want any wasted time in the scene, I wanted to keep it comfortable for the viewer, and deliver the information. The framing and lighting, as well as the colour correction are exactly the same as in this room before as I wanted to keep the same feel, and not give the impression to the viewer that anything at all had changed. I think this again was particularly successful.

Overall the main issues I ran into was the lighting. I think that a couple of good quality lights really make a difference to the scene and it was something I was struggling to work around. The main weakness I would say is occasional issues with balancing the lighting within the scene, but this was partly due to trying to create a bright scene without having an awful lot of natural light to work with. Despite this I am happy with what I achieved and feel that I did successfully fulfil my criteria I set out with.

Tutor's report:

Overall Comments

This is good studious work showing what you’ve learned from the previous chapter.  The sunny, luminous light effects are excellent, filling every shot.  I think you’ve achieved a lot here in technical ways by using light, colour and composition in a unified sequence.  You can certainly be happy about what you’ve achieved here.

I notice you’ve cut it down to 4 shots from the storyboard of 6 – it’s important to identify with a storyboard what info you need but often only minimal info is required, as you discover in the edit.

Feedback on assignment


Make sure your titles are visible by placing black titles against bright areas or vice versa white titles against dark areas.  This title is placed in the mid-toned area, too far from the action.  But having said that, I can see you designed it thoughtfully to follow the line of the tiles.  Experiment with a larger title in that place and see if it works. 


The mood of the film is positive and sunny, and that’s largely due to the skillful use of light and colour.

I wouldn’t say it was a ‘happy’ or ‘serene’ film, as you intended because such feelings have more to do with actions or the way something happens.  You can’t make an ordinary kind of scene happy simply by using light and colour – the essential quality of the scene is sort of plain.  These are normal, everyday sorts of actions.  So go with that. 

The areas you need to work on are:
·         what’s happening
·         how it happens
·         at what tempo 

Here, the mood is sunny but downbeat, not because of the event of having breakfast and picking up a newspaper.  It’s downbeat because the tempo is slow, the actions happen silently and possibly because of the static camera.

a)    You could recut this sequence, trimming the actions like the unnecessary amount of time it takes to pour milk etc, right down to the essential actions: man enters> JUMP CUT pouring cornflakes> JUMP CUT man exits> JUMP CUT man eating breakfast>>>etc.  Jump cuts are often used in TV ads to speed up a sequence.  Try it and see how it affects the mood.  
b)    The way things happen here is slow; you make the viewer wait, which isn’t too good.  Alternatively you could speed things up by asking the actor to act as if he’s very late for a meeting.  He rushes in, pours out his corn flakes, spills them all over the place, takes the milk etc to the dining room, pours it out standing up, newspaper arrives, he goes to get it with cereals in hand, picks up the paper etc.  The energy of the actor is important in this, to get them keyed up you can have them run a few hundred metres before every shot!
c)    The wide static camera works very well in this sequence; and your framing and composition is consistent and thoughtful throughout the film – with your angles joining well together in the edit.  But the static camera denotes a more tranquil and steady gaze.  Moving the camera a little, even using hand-held camera for this sequence could have imported some energy into the scene, connecting with the mood and providing more feeling. 


The lighting is excellent throughout the film: well balanced, bright without burn-out or bright spots and providing great colour.

Particularly the first shot in the kitchen against a bright sunny window is well rounded, giving good form and saturation to the man.

What can happen with bright areas in the frame is that they grab the attention and you lose compositional balance, but you’ve managed to balance the foreground well with both shots here that have bright window backgrounds.  And you’ve evidently done this with a skillful balance between natural and artificial light.


The choice of angles work well together with good diagonal lines through each shot and well-defined spaces. 


Every shot is well balanced in the frame and the overall juxtaposition of the shots and the movement of the man through the shots fits well together.

Mise en Scene

The sense of ‘home’ is probably the easiest for a student to create, but you’ve done well to compose the variety of objects within the frame, retaining your sunny atmosphere without ever detracting from the storyline. 


The sound is fine; no distractions, cars or aeroplanes.  But careful where you place your mic; there’s a thud when the man places his breakfast bowl on the table!  It sounded like your mic was there too!  Always keep your mic freestanding – if possible on a stand or tripod. 

The sound effect of the newspaper coming through the door was almost inaudible: make a wild sound recording and add it to give a punchy and decisive shock to the scene.  You need the paper coming through, the click of the letter box and the paper landing on the floor.

I know the brief says the sequence can be silent, but I think you could have included more atmospheric sounds to give the scene more energy:
·         A blaring radio or TV
·         A boiling kettle
·         Someone outside mowing the lawn
·         Someone out of shot calling for something
I appreciate this may not be what you intended with the notion of serenity in your mind.

It can be a good idea to sketch out an idea of ‘feeling’ either in keywords or images.  These can help add to and loosen ideas about what creates an atmosphere.  But also try to recall memories that fit the mood you’re working on so that ideas can grow.   

Other notes

When it comes to mood you need a checklist that corresponds to your scene’s character:

·         Brainstorm for ideas/memories/associations that reflect the mood of the text.  These may not be used, but they will help you to identify the mood.
·         How do the actors’ behave in the scene?
·         What is the temp of the edit, the scene’s pace?
·         What is the light doing to emphasize the feeling?
·         What objects (or lack of them) can be used to the scene to emphasize the mood?
·         How is your camera interacting with this mood?

Learning logs/critical essays

Your written work is good.  You’re thinking about each shot in detail, and putting your ideas into action.  Use the check list above and expand on it. 

Edited video to take into account tutor's comments:


Please do comment and let me know your thoughts and opinions on these sequences

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Research: Aspect Ratios

So I have just been looking about lately, and one thing that has interested me are the different aspect ratios that films are shot in. There are the obvious aspect ratios of 4:3, and then the wide-screen 16:9 that TVs are produced in, but a good many films are shot in a wider aspect ratio than either of these two. So I thought I would look into the development of aspect ratios throughout cinema.

An aspect ratio is the ratio of the images long side in ratio to it's short side, expressed as X:Y or X x Y where X represents the width, and Y the height. The motion picture industry convention however assigns the height a value of 1.0, and so films are often described in the form of 1.33:1 rather than 4:3.

4:3 was the original standard for televisions, because it meant that films previously photographed on film were compatible with the television format. 4:3 just so happened to be the aspect ratio that best suited the medium of 35mm once sound once also captured on the film. This standard was maintained through televisions development, up until the fairly modern day, when wide-screen was introduced. It originally started off as 5:3, but was adjusted to 16:9 when Dr. Kern H. Powers discovered that if he drew out all the other aspect ratios commonly in use across both film and television and made them all of equal area, the resulting frames all fitted perfectly inside a rectangle of ratio 16:9, and said rectangle also fitted perfectly inside all aspect ratios. (see below)

So despite these being the two main aspect ratios for television broadcast, the motion picture industry looked beyond this and began to create their own aspect ratios. Because the television bought the moving images into people's own homes, the cinemas were looking at a massive decline in business, so the industry saw the development of new aspect ratios as a way to set themselves apart from the television broadcasts.

Common wider aspect ratios within the film industry are 1.85:1 (just a bit wider than wide-screen at 1.78:1) and 2.39:1 which developed from the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, commercially branded as cinemascope or panavision.

These wider formats are often shot with something called anamorphic lenses. These compress a wide image into the usual recording area of a film, and then in playback, the opposite lens is used to re-stretch the image back out to it's original shape. If done digitally, this is done by just stretching the pixels from squares into rectangles. If the image were not re-stretched, everything within the frame would appear tall and thin.

To me 2.39:1 is an excellent aspect ratio to view films in. Although we are not aware of it, naturally our field of view is fairly wide, and not particularly tall, and I believe this 2.39:1 is much closer to how we see the world. I have started to try and frame my footage for the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, and will try to do so throughout this course.


Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Project 10: Sound (production)

Next I had to rerecord the sound for my production (the alcoholic) in project 3. The updated video is below:

I made sure the lid dropping on the floor was the loudest sound as this is what was meant to spark the reaction. I think it works well recording all the sounds at a different time to the actual video, as it allows fine tuning over each individual sound volume, and placement. Each sound is much crisper and clearer as well by having a dedicated recording of each. The atmos. track certainly makes a difference as well, although it is not really noticeable in this recording, when I played through the video on my editor with the atmos. track muted, it's absence was quite obvious, and the whole scene felt odd.

Project 10: Sound

The sound of silence:

Listening in my bedroom I can hear a variety of sounds. I can hear the sound of numerous birds outside my window, the sound of my computers fan whirring, the sound of my computer's hard drive, the sound of distant traffic. This is all what I would consider a quiet location, but all these sounds are helping to make up the atmosphere of this room.

Sounds in Project 3: (The Alcoholic)

In project 3 I recorded the sounds of what I was doing live. This exercise involved listing all the things within the scene that would make a sound. My list is below:

- Picking up the bottle
- Undoing the lid
- Dropping the lid on the floor
- Putting the bottle on the table
- Moving the glass
- Picking up the bottle
- Pouring the wine
- Putting the bottle down

This is a fair number of sounds in a simple 1 minute long clip.

The next task was to describe each sound. This wasn't very easy to do for me, as it's hard to put some sounds into words. My attempts are below:

Picking up the bottle: Crisp, short sound. Kind of clunky
Undoing the lid: Long drawn out sound. Slight scrape type sound. A kind of sharp sound
Dropping the lid on the floor: Short sharp sound followed by a longer drawn out rolling kind of sound
Putting the bottle on the table: Short clunky sound
Moving the glass: shortish scrapy sound followed by a clink or two
Picking up the bottle: Clunky sound with a couple of clinks
Pouring the wine: Longish rolling, swishing, flowing sound, gradually slowing
Putting the bottle down: Short Clunky Sound

Monday, 12 July 2010

Project 9: Production - creating a feeling

For this production exercise I filmed two short scenes, one about a depressed man alone at home, and the second about a stalker arriving. For the first I wanted to create a downbeat, dark atmosphere to help portray the depression of the man. For the second I wanted to go for a bit of a mysterious feel to the scene, and a scene that created a bit of tension. My two scenes are in the video below

The first scene was shot using mainly light sources within the scene, the computer screen to light the face when sitting at the computer, a small amount of natural light creeping through the window to act as a small amount of fill light and lighting the room. I also used an extra fill light by the bed to light this area when the actor was reading the paper. I went for a slightly unsaturated look, to emphasise the feeling of depression, and the large areas of darkness throughout the scene I hope also portrayed this.

The second scene was shot on an overcast day, and I used a trick I had learnt to make it appear like evening (underexpose the image by a couple of stops, and set the white balance to tungsten, then desaturate and correct the colour a bit in post production). This not only created the look of evening, but also created a frame with a lot of dark, masking a lot of the detail, creating a bit of tension and mystery about the frame.

If I had more lights to use, I would have lit the first scene much more, and had more control over the lighting. I had to work at a fairly high ISO as I had cut most of the light out of the room, in order to control it better, but if I had more lights I would have added more fill light to the room to balance out the light and dark a bit better, and remove some of the shadows on the back wall. I would certainly keep the strong contrast between the light and the dark side of the actors face though.

The second scene I'm not sure I would have shot much differently. I might have shot it at night with some lights to light the scene a bit, but I am satisfied with the look I achieved. Overall as well I would have used some gels on my lights to balance the temperature better, as I couldn't use tungsten lights in with the lights in the first scene as the colour temperatures were different.

Lighting is key to a production. Good lighting often sets apart a big budget production from an amateur production. Control of lighting certainly helps create a mood to a scene, and can give a sense of a location or a time of day or something similar.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Project 9: light and colour

This project was to look at using different materials to bounce light back into a subject and see what effects can be created. Luckily for photography I have lots of different coloured card so I largely used this to see the different effect colour had.
This image above was with no reflection. There was a little bit of reflected light back on the left hand side of the picture from the wall behind. Firstly I went for a black piece of card to remove this fill:
It's quite clear this black card has darkened the left of the image as we look at it by preventing any light bouncing back from this side. I then replaced this with a white bit of card:
This produced a much softer image with more even spread of light across the face, but still allowing enough of a shadow to mould the face slightly. I then tried a piece of foil, on the slightly less reflective side:
This has created a much more even spread of light, and apart from the harsh shadow on the nose, there is very little shadow to mould the face. I tried some different coloured cards next:
There is quite clearly a colour cast thrown in each of these images. The yellow gives quite a weird look, but if it was replaced with orange I could see it being quite useful to warm up the shadows. The blue is an interesting effect, and looks quite natural actually, producing quite a cold looking shadow. The red warms up the shadow, maybe a bit too much, but may give the impression of some emergency light about combined with the right lighting effects.

It is amazing how much you can change the look of an image just by using simple objects to bounce light into shadows. I can certainly see the use of some of the coloured effects, and definitely the white card to create much softer shadows. I even experimented with the shiny side of the foil, and when moved right, could create the effect of the reflection of water ripples moving across the face, which shows how an everyday object can be used to simulate certain locations in an image.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Viewing: Use of Colour

Finally for this section of viewing I looked at the use of colour in film, and how this was used to portray change of atmosphere and emotion. I saw a short film shot on a Canon 7D on the internet called USB Dream. It is actually in french, which was interesting, because due to the language barrier, I was really in touch with the aspects other than the language to help me understand the story, including the use of colour. Link to the film is here USB Dream

This first image is right at the start of the film. It is a very neutral colour scheme, bright, and effectively a blank canvas. This partly portrays the feeling the film is set in the future some time ahead, with a very contemporary feel, but there is also something not quite right about everything being so stark white.

We then move to an outdoor scene, which the colour temperature is much warmer, perhaps used to portray the time of day. However there is something a bit off about the colour, it's not quite evening colour, and again it just creates a bit of an uneasy feeling, which helps to portray the mood again that something is not quite right.

Later in the film, when things are more clear, and there is something sinister going on we are presented with this dark screen, with green highlights. The lack of light, and the green colour together work well to create a very intimidating feel to the scene.

So here it is quite clear that the colour of the film can change throughout to really help emphasize the mood of each scene. Even though the general same feeling is portrayed throughout, the colour changes to gradually strengthen the feeling as the film progresses and we learn more.

Finally this is an image for a series of films called Underworld. It is about Vampires and Werewolves and the battle between them. This series is generally coloured with this very cold blue feel to the entire film/series of films to really give the films a very stylized feel as well as portray the dark, vampire nature of the film. It is obviously a clear choice to present the whole film with this colour scheme as it really emphasizes the mood of the film as a whole

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Viewing: Light levels

Just a small comment about sudden changes of light levels in films which I was told to look out for. I watched "How to go out on a date in Queens" and noticed a few examples of sudden light changes to represent actions, or even things happening off screen. Below is an example where we do not physically see the character flick the light switch, but we see the suggested action and the change in light level and we piece together the information to assume the light switch is out of our sight:

Throughout the film there were a number of other small instances of sudden changes in light levels, when couple were sitting in car, sudden changes of light level indicating to the view that they are sitting by a road and cars are passing. Again, we do not see this, but the sounds of cars, plus these sudden changes in light levels are all very important for piecing together the scene around what we actually see, and this is very important in a film, so light levels are a key part of setting the scene.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

500 days of Summer

So I've literally just watched this film (on Blu-ray from Lovefilm, got to love that service, so many high definition films!), and I just had to write about it on this blog.

500 days of Summer I could tell from the start was a film with a different idea about what a film should be. Right from the beginning you are told that this is a story of boy meets girl, but this is not a "love story", immediately telling you that it is not going to be a clich├ęd story about love, and it certainly does nothing to disappoint you on that front.

First thing we see is actually the main character just after the relationship has ended. The 500 days of Summer in the title refers to 500 days since the main character met the girl called Summer, and we are thrown in at around the middle of this period, which the film conveniently lets you know by a screen telling you which day of the 500 we are viewing.

Now this is key to the film. As I just said, we are thrown in around the middle of this time, and the film is constantly jumping around the timeline, jumping from within the relationship, to after the relationship, to towards the end of the relationship, gradually revealing how the relationship developed and ended, but unlike most films, doing it all at the same time.

It may sound confusing, but it actually works really well, and really kept the story fresh, whilst also leaving you wondering about the inbetweens, how the parts you are seeing link together.

This was not the only unconventional technique the movie used. There were a couple of split screen moments, once briefly used to indicate two characters far apart at the same moment, but the second time was a very clever use of what the character expected to happen, playing alongside reality at the same time. It worked wonderfully with the viewer constantly flicking from his ideal imagined view to the reality and how it is all going horribly wrong for him. It is a very clever technique and is used brilliantly in this film.

Technically 500 days of Summer is an unorthodox film, but it worked beautifully on screen, and the break from convention is a refreshing way to tell the story. The story itself is unconventional, and certainly kept me enthralled, and also got me laughing out loud at some genuinely rather funny parts. I think overall it is a brilliant piece of cinematography, and is worth watching both for the different approach to telling a narrative, and for the funny, refreshing, and interesting story itself.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Viewing: Balance of Composition

Whilst watching Sherlock Holmes I saw an excellent example of balance of composition between frames in action, but in an unorthodox way, so thought I would talk about this example:

Above are the two frames of the characters talking to each other. The scene flicks back and forth between these two frames as each character speaks. However they are positioned the wrong side of the frame to feel natural, both characters looking out of the frame rather than into the negative space. This is because the viewer is meant to feel uneasy, as it is a tense conversation, and it works very well, along with the lighting in the frames creating a sense of mystery. The balance is then broken in the following frame, as a character enters down the stairs in the background of this scene, the sudden change and breaking the balance, also doing a good job of creating the uneasy atmosphere that greets the entrance of the "bad guy" in the film

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Viewing: the rule of thirds and composition

I was watching the film "I could never be your woman" when I was thinking about the rule of thirds, and the use of composition to create a mood or feeling within a film, and have some examples of the use of composition in this film to create a certain atmosphere:

Above is a scene from a film. It's a comfortable, mildly amusing scene. The frame is laid out very much according to the rule of thirds. Graham Norton and Michelle Pfeiffer are both around the line of thirds on one side of the screen, whilst Paul Rudd fills the negative space in the mirror, creating a sense of balance across the frame. This then transitions round to a new frame shown below:

The balance is kept within the frame, with the three characters evenly spread out across the frame, Graham Norton roughly on one line of thirds, Michelle Pfeiffer the other, and Paul Rudd in between helping to balance out the frame. This still is very comfortable framing, and doesn't do anything to upset the relaxed atmosphere already created.

Above is another scene from later on in the movie. There is an argument going on. The frame is very uneven. No one is quite on a line of third, and the characters are on one side of the frame, leaving a fair bit of negative space between them, and who they are arguing with. This certainly is a more uneasy frame, creating a feeling of tension to go with the argument that is in progress.

The argument is over, but is left without a resolution, and the scene transitions to this frame, with Michelle Pfeiffer on her own. She is positioned slightly off center, but not close enough to a third to still create some tension. It is helping the viewer feel the lack of a resolution from the argument, and the uneasy mood that still lingers with this character.

These are just a couple of examples of composition to create an atmosphere from this film. It was frequent throughout the film. It is certainly a large part of filmmaking, being aware of how composition affects the mood of the piece, and even a simple comedy, such as this film, can benefit greatly from the use of good composition.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Project 7: Images with Depth

This exercise was to create images that represented certain atmospheres using perspective, foreground and background detail, lighting, colour, texture and depth of field.

Dynamic / Exciting / Adventurous

I created two versions of this image, above and below. The frame is split quite obviously in two by the path, which creates a line which draws the viewer off into the distance. In the first image the entire image is sharp, but I believe the second image is better, using depth of field to create a more of a sense of mystery in the distance, adding to the sense of the adventure. The fact that the path is curvy adds to the dynamic feeling too in my opinion. The neutral colour also adds to the mystery.

Oppressive / Dull / Stifling

This one took a while to get the right location. I had in my mind the idea of an empty room with white walls. The lines of perspective of the side walls are bought to an abrupt halt by the end wall before they can really lead anywhere, creating a sense of oppression. The lack of detail adds to the dull nature (white walls) however ideally I would not have the doors there, or the beams, so there was even less detail to catch the attention of the viewer.

Complicated / Confusing / Uncomfortable

Again I have created two versions of this one. I was looking for a mess of many lines without any lines of perspective so the viewer didn't really know where to look within the image, giving a very uncomfortable feeling. The neutral tone across the image is also for the same reason, and the mass of different textures, from the smooth water, to the plants, ground, branches and even a bit of sky gives a very confused, jumbled feeling again. I think both images have something different about them, the shallow depth of field giving a bit of an uncomfortable feeling as there is a lack of detail in the background, but my preference would be the first image with detail all the way through as it just feels more confusing to me.

Refined / Mature / Reasonable

I had two ideas for this. One was a perfectly ordered living room, very symmetrical, neat and stylish, but the setting of this proved a bit too complicated (mainly because I couldn't get the living room to myself long enough to arrange it such a way). So I went with my second idea which was an estate with very regular similar houses, ordered neatly in a mature and reasonable way. The road acts as a line of perspective that draws you evenly from one house to the next, and the houses themselves create another line of perspective. Everything feels very ordered, and sensible, there are no outlandish colours, and everything seems to work together.

Overall I think I found that the best way to create depth in an image are through lines of perspective, either allowing them to lead off into the distance to give the sense of depth, or cutting them off abruptly to help create the opposite feeling. Depth of field also goes some way to creating a sense of depth, when the background is out of focus, the viewer instinctively knows it is further away.

Visual depth is very important to a shot. It definitely sets a mood for a scene. Lots of visual depth creates interest and adventure, lack of it creates a stifling, oppressive feeling. However lack of visual depth is also good for focussing attention on foreground activities within a scene, whereas depth in this situation could create a bit of a distractive element away from the foreground action.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Project 7: Depth

This exercise was all about creating different illusions of depth within the same space. I was to use lighting, zoom and depth of field to create different feelings of depth. I chose to shoot the same layout, and didn't move any objects about to try and create different feelings only using the lighting and zoom alone.

The above image was shot using the room lights. It provided a very even light on everything. That combined with a wide angle lens and deep depth of field, provides a very natural view of the room. It doesn't look too deep, but still gives the impression of some depth. This is very natural lighting, and can be used for a very natural feel, one where no particular tension is required, and the viewer is being made to feel at home.

Above the camera set up is the same. I have however stopped lighting with the room lights, and used a light, lighting the rear of the table, and a light lighting the objects in the background. This masks a lot of detail in the room, and doing so creates a claustrophobic sensation. It also gives more of an illusion of depth. I also tried this set up with the foreground lit, but this lighting created more of an illusion of depth, by just lighting the background objects, the distance is exaggerated. This would be good for drawing attention to something deep in the distance, and making it appear as though it was even further way, the attention is drawn to the background. It would also be good for creating a bit of an uneasy feel, as when our attention is in the distance, it's not particularly natural, and there is a lot of darkness around our viewpoint, all creating unease.

This one is now completely changed. I have zoomed in and created a shallower depth of field. I have lit just the foreground as well. The lack of detail, and darkness in the background, as well as the greater zoom, has created a much flatter image, compressing the perspective, and really giving very little sense of depth within the image. The three changes combined have given a completely different feel to the whole scene, and really makes the letter the center of attention.

Monday, 15 February 2010

project 6: Production exercise

This exercise was creating, or looking for locations to create different moods (using the mise-en-scene). I decided to look for the locations because I decided it would be interesting to find the locations, as it would give me a bit more of a challenge. Also it was a good opportunity to get out and about after recent poor weather!

This first image was to show an oppressive cluttered space. These trees really create a claustraphobic sense and a cluttered space. They obscure a lot of the view too so it would be quite easy to create a feeling of something hiding within the scene working well for a scary scene, or just building tension. However the irregularity is a bit annoying in my mind, I think this would work slightly better if the trees were slightly more regular

This is meant to portray an open honest space with one intriguing item. I placed the item in the middle of the frame so it made it a bit more intriguing. Because there is this one item of interest it makes the stark open space appear more friendly, as it is broken up a bit. Above I would have liked the trees on the left not to be there as they detract from the main tree being the point of interest

This is meant to be a stark hostile space. It's essentially the same area as above, removing the trees and it gives the feeling of a far more harsh environment, the sun helps add to this effect, giving the impression of no relief from it's beating rays. It's quite a tense feeling frame, as there is nothing in it to relax the viewer, it feels quite punishing. Again I would like to remove the trees and hedges at the edge of the frame to make it feel a bit more open, they just close the frame off a bit and detract from the overall feeling

This was meant to signify a warm cosy space. My original thought was using a room, but I wanted to stick with the outdoors, and just so happened to spot this scene with the road and buildings. It's not too open or two oppressive, it has a good balance between the two, with a nice range of buildings and natural plants. I feel I could have given it a more friendly look if there were some children playing or similar, but it gives the impression of a friendly, cosy neighbourhood.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Project 6:Mise-en-scene

Well, this was just a little instruction in the course text, before any exercise, asking me to look at the Mise-en-scene in a scene of a film of my choosing. I just so happened to watch the film 'Marley and Me' after reading through this section, not expecting to see much suitable, but I was pleasantly surprised by the amount I could see that this had been thought about in the film.

Now these two are two stills from the scene that I decided to look at. The film, featuring Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson, is about the dog that these two bring into their lives just after they marry, and this is a scene towards the end of the film, with just Owen Wilson and the dog.

This is a comfortable, close scene between the man and his dog, and these two stills both help show how the Mise-en-scene helps promote this feeling. In the top image, the man and his dog are the two main objects in the scene, with vast expanse around them. The position of the two, roughly aligned with the rule of thirds within the frame gives an easy feeling, the path acting as a lead in line, and their relative positions to each other compared to the rest of the frame, shows their closeness. The way the majority of the frame is filled with the grass, very similar and unchanging gives the feeling of neutral space, and really is very relaxing the way the whole frame is put together

In the second frame, again their is a comfortable closeness, with the close proximity of the two main characters, based around the rule of thirds, and surrounded by a large amount of negative space, and the edge of the path helps add to the separation between them and the rest of the frame, helping to give the feeling of these two sharing a connection, separate from the rest of the world, all done by the clever use of Mise-en-scene.

I can see that Mise-en-scene is a very subtle way of creating a feeling within a scene. It largely goes unnoticed, but can help set a viewer at ease, create tension, romance, or even a part atmosphere, without the viewer really being aware of where they are getting this feeling from

Friday, 15 January 2010

Assignment 1: Framing - File Transfer

Now I’ve completed the first assignment, and I’ve already got my report back, so I thought I would post it all up here. This is going to be a long blog post, so be prepared.

Story Outline

A man walks into a room, and walks up to a computer. He logs onto the computer and starts downloading some files onto a memory stick. He looks on edge and keeps checking around. The files finish downloading and he removes the memory stick, and at that moment, a sound makes him start.


Assignment 1-Storyboard

The Film


First I thought I would write a little about my thoughts during filming and how I filmed the clip. The entire filming was done in my own bedroom and it used the Canon 5d MkII with a sigma 12-24 f4.5-5.6 lens and a Canon 24-70 f2.8 lens. I wanted to create a dark, mystic look to the scene, so I used one desk lamp as my only light to light the scene, and the light from the hall outside. My brother is the main actor.
I stayed fairly true to my storyboard, but cut the last two frames into one, and decided a close up of the man looking nervous was better. I’ll explain this in the write up.
Frame 1
This frame was a wide shot with the sigma 12-24 lens. I set it up so the door was on one side of the frame, and the computer the other, so our main character was crossing the frame, using him to direct the eye. The initial movement of the door attracts the viewer’s attention, and then it is led to the computer (the main object of the clip) as the character walks over to it.
I think the framing is successful at achieving this objective, if anything I would move the door a bit further to the right of the frame. I also aimed to keep the entire of the head in the frame at all times, at the expense of the legs, and I think this certainly was worth doing. I considered letting the top of the head be cropped into a bit, to allow more of the body in, but out of the two set ups, I think this is the more successful shot.
Frame 2
The scene then cuts to a close up frame from just to the left of the main character. This is designed to focus attention on his typing and the computer screen. The viewpoint does this well, along with the lighting, the screen actually lighting just enough of the keyboard to glimpse the movement of the hands, however I feel the overexposed screen is a bit detrimental to the scene. It was a choice of losing more detail in the keyboard and person to get more detail on the screen, and I decided to overexpose the screen slightly. I think if I had more lighting, I would look to balance that.
With regards to the framing again, the screen is blocked slightly by the part of the desk to the right of the screen, and the wardrobe creeps into the frame. I maybe think this slightly too messy as a look in the frame, and could indeed be made cleaner by moving the camera left, closer to the head. However I think the angle on the head is very good as I have got enough in to show the movements of the hands and head, both very important to pick up on the characters aim.
Frame 3
The scene then cuts to a very short frame. This is to really focus the viewers mind on what is going on. I cut all unnecessary objects from this, and went for the shallowest depth of field I could obtain, to really highlight the data stick being put into the computer. This was key to the scene as a whole, so I thought this warranted a frame of its own.
I made sure the data stick was held by the end so was clearly visible throughout the frame. I tried to direct the eye through the frame with the movement of the hand, going from top left to bottom right, coupling the two objects of attention. I think this worked well. I think the leg in the scene is a bit distracting though and would consider removing this.
Frame 4
We are back to a close up here as the man looks nervous. The camera is a bit higher up in this frame as I have tried to emphasise the character’s movements, however I think this has been slightly less successful looking at the final cut, and think that I may have been better off composing with the keyboard and mouse in the shot again. However I think the slightly further right that the camera has gone has successfully eliminated the distractions on the right of the screen, and certainly focuses the eye better on the character and the screen
Frame 5
Here I have gone for a low shot to show both the character, and another appearing through the doorway. The idea was to use the chair to hide some detail and keep an air of mystery about what is happening. However I think there is a lot of the frame that has been unused and this is slightly unsuccessful. I was trying to keep the eye from wandering too much, but feel that I should have composed to involve a bit more of the frame in hindsight.
Overall I think I have managed to convey the meaning through my frames well. There are a few areas I could improve, and this is a bit more awareness of the frame as a whole and how much of it is being used in the shot. The extra clutter in the second and fifth frame is the main problem in this scene in my opinion. I will look to in future scan the frame as a whole more thoroughly and consider exactly what will happen before I film the scene itself. I will also look round the frame from many angles, to see if I can eliminate the additional clutter without losing my original idea for the frame.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Research: Stanley Kubrick

So, I thought before I embarked on the assignment, I would do a little research into directors, and the one I decided to settle on was Kubrick. He was a very famous, and often controversial director, and quite impressively for a director of his reputation, he only directed 12 major films, and another 4 before he really came to peoples attention. Perhaps his most famous are Barry Lyndon, a Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Kubrick is very much known for being a perfectionist with his films, and especially with the visual elements. Coming from a photography background myself, I already knew that one of the fastest lenses in the world was made for the film Barry Lyndon, because Kubrick wanted to film using just candlelight, to really keep the atmosphere the same it would have been in the period the film was set. He went to incredible effort to find and adapt these lenses to be able to stay true to the time period, instead of using an additional light source to compensate, showing just how committed and how much of a perfectionist he was.

Obviously there are a number of ways Kubrick set up frames, to stick to one formula for placing objects within his frame would not have led to him becoming the respected director he became. However I have looked for some themes. One recurrent theme is the use of lines as graphic elements in his frames, usually parallel walls, or similar, to help direct the eye. The image below is an example of a few, but there are many more examples throughout his films.

However parallel lines is not just a recurrent theme in the frames above, each contains an air of drama, and tension, largely because the parallel lines are the dominant feature in the frames, and the characters smaller and less significant, the darker corridor leading to the lighter room at the end in the top left image is also quite unsettling to look at, because of the largely dark nature of the frame. It is how Kubrick has used different elements within the frame here to create the feeling he wants to in the viewer.

Kubrick also had another recurrent feature, noted the "Kubrick Stare" on wikipedia. His main characters of his films were largely troubled and dark characters, and he would often have a character shot in which the head was tilted down and the eyes looking towards the viewer. This certainly creates the impression of tension again as you can see from the frames below

This view of a person is somehow less natural for us to see, and it sets off a feeling of a character hiding something, a dark mysterious person. This is largely the sort of film Kubrick made. Most of his films were adaption of novels, or were based on novels. They were almost always controversial. A Clockwork Orange was withdrawn from sale in the UK by Kubrick himself because of the violent nature of the film, and copycat crimes were being carried out in the UK. Another film by Kubrick, Lolita, was about a middle aged man, interested in a 12 year old girl. The novel had already created a large amount of controversy, and Kubrick's toned down version as a film, was also disapproved of by many.

Kubrick also seemed to remove any sort of redemption for characters that was present for the characters in the books he adapted. Anthony Burgess did not like Kubrick's adaption of his novel, A Clockwork Orange, because of this very fact. Stephen King also did not like the adaption of his novel the Shining, branding Kubrick "a man who thinks too much, and feels too little". King actually went on to help make a television series of the shining hoping to replace Kubrick's version of his book.

This seems to be Kubrick through and through. He seemed a man who liked to cause controversy with his films. But he also seemed a perfectionist, very interested with the way a film looked and felt. 2001: A Space Odyssey has large periods without any words being spoken, just displaying beautiful scenes of space and the spaceships available in it, all set to classical music (which also featured heavily in Kubrick films from A Clockwork Orange onwards). He was very much a director who knew how to make each shot work within his film.


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

How to Learn

This was more a side note in the course, but I thought I would write a blog post, as it does ask me to write a short list. I'm going through my last piece of work for this:

  • What did I set out to achieve? I was aiming to achieve a similar piece of work to the previous project, on an alcoholic drinking his glass of wine, but from an objective viewpoint.
  • How can I identify what I achieved? Whether or not the video for the project tells the story.
  • Did I achieve this? I think I did achieve this, though as mentioned in my project there are a few weak points in the story, especially the panicked section, where I do not think I conveyed this in the best way
  • What I have learned from this? I think I have learned that a variety of frames are useful, but also that there needs to be some consistency between them, else there is a bit of confusion from the viewer's perspective. I also have learned that framing is a very important part of how a story is told, and that if the framing doesn't quite suit the atmosphere, the story is not conveyed to the viewer as strongly as it could be
  • Is it better to struggle and improve my weaker areas or should I cut my losses and focus on my strengths? At this stage its definitely best to try and improve my weaker areas, but not neglect my strengths. Learning at this stage is very much trying to create a good balance for me to better identify my strengths, and at that stage I will have to decide where to focus, or even whether to try and maintain an all rounded ability.
  • How can I really ever know what my strengths and weaknesses are? Self analysis, comparison to other people's projects, and inviting comments on my own projects are all great ways of determining what I have been successful with, and what I could look to improve.
  • How do I know what I need to know if I don't know what it is yet, who can I ask or where can I find out? Now that is a baffling question, but I think the general point is how do I get help when I am lost or stuck. I would use numerous resources, the internet being great on research point of view, but also other students, my tutor, even various resource books (though I am struggling to find any good ones on video, any advice as to where to find some would be very helpful) all are good places to find out.
  • How do I know if I have improved? When is it time to move on? Again, self analysis is key here. I should be able to tell for myself by comparing where I started, to where I have arrived at, whether I have made a significant improvement. I also can use other people's comments and constructive criticism to help me to analyse whether I have improved enough.
Overall I think that has been quite a useful exercise, it has cleared up the learning process, and certainly made me think why I am doing this, and how best to learn. Next up is the first assignment, that I am very much looking forward to doing. I may add some more research before that point, or it may well be the next post you see, but I have already started thinking of a couple of scenarios I would like to film.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Exercise 4: The feel of a frame (objective)

Now the exercise was to film the same sequence, but from an objective viewpoint. Below is the storyboard and the video for this. The video is without sound this time, as there was a lot of background noise that detracted from the scene.

I filmed this yesterday, so I will talk about the video now. I looked at my storyboard when I was filming and I decided that the wide scene when the person was panicked didn't work to create the tension, so I left this out when filming. I think overall the clip is a bit too short. I should have lengthened the beginning before the tension, had the person look around a bit more, and then create a bit more tension, with a bit more quick movement in that section.

I also think the whole scene lacks the wide view. I would probably shoot the reaching for the bottle scene as a wide view showing the body too, and then move to a close up on the bottle as he opened it, as that would just feel a bit more natural. However I like the close up of the pouring the wine, and the panicked scene I feel benefits from the close up on the face. Overall I think it works fairly well