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.


  1. And I thought I would post my tutor's report in here for those interested:

    This is a good first assignment, you’ve generated a mysterious mood with light and shadow, and managed to convey feeling in the framing.

    Your evaluation is thorough and your storyboard explains the kind of coverage you want if not exactly the angle.

    There are some minor problems and I’ll explain what works and what doesn’t.

    Frame 1
    The establishing wide shot works well with the man entering the shot with a hoody on. I think you needed a more aggressive entrance given that you are implying the man is a data thief. Nevertheless, he’s entering a darkened room, and the feeling is he shouldn’t be there. I realise you may have been limited in space, but keep in mind how much information you are giving and withholding from the audience. Here the computer is on and the chair looks very ready for him to sit down. This appears to make it look too easy – although for the purposes of your film, it was simpler. You can always pan to your destination (i.e. the computer screen) to give your audience the reward of a revelation that wasn’t in the first framing. Also, you don’t need to remain so long on this shot before you cut to the next. This first frame has one essential technical problem: it’s relationship with the next frame…

    Frame 2
    You have jumped over the ‘direction line’ making the man appear to be sitting facing right rather than left as in the first shot. That is why the edit has an jarring feel about it. The close, over-the-shoulder framing is just right to convey the sense of illicit activity and to even make the audience complicit. But the computer screen is way too bright and the shot too long. It’s not fair on the viewer to show the screen and the activity but not the content on the screen.

    Frame 3
    This simple close shot of the man’s hand plugging in the memory stick works well for information – and you had his hand going out of the previous shot to blend it with this one. In terms of colour, you can always remove any other colour spot in the frame so that the key narrative objects stand out all the more – i.e. the memory stick.

    Frame 4
    This really needed to have the obvious graphic of data being downloaded. The actor’s turn of the head is effective – all the more that we don’t see his whole face, but just his rim lit profile adding mystery and tension to the scene. One turn would have done the job. Because this is essentially the same shot as Frame 2, I think you needed to focus on conveying information: the data transfer, because it’s not clear enough in this film. The tense turn could’ve been moved to shot 2.

    Frame 5
    This final low viewpoint is somewhat misleading. What are you trying to convey? The distant shot of the man appearing in the corridor works very well, but this needed to be connected to the thief’s anxious expression, which is lost here because you’ve gone behind the chair he’s sitting on. I realize you may have been trying to convey more story than you had shots for, but perhaps you could’ve composed the thief’s face in the foreground with the man arriving in the background. I like the dramatic turn and freeze-frame ending.

    In conclusion:
    This is a well constructed little narrative. The framing decisions work well. I think you could cut out quite a lot of the waiting – viewers don’t like that. You can always contract time in films as long as the essential information is there. Check out this ‘essential information’ in the movies you see to learn how subtle pieces of information are being ‘told’ to you.

    Good luck with the next assignment.

  2. A very comprehensive post, the combination of your notes and the tutors comments make for a very informative read.

    I was wondering how you did the editing, Mac or PC and what software?

    I have found using the inbuilt microphone on the 5DII to be poor, do you use an external mic?

  3. I'm on a PC at the moment, but when I can afford it, I'm looking to get a Mac and Final Cut Studio (student pricing on Final Cut is very favourable, about £600 off). I currently use Sony Vegas Movie Studio Platinum 9.0 however, I found it to be the most advanced editor for under £100, containing a lot of brilliant tools.

    The sound is currently recorded using the internal microphone. This is why I haven't included a lot of sound in my films to date, but as long as it is in a controlled atmosphere, it copes. However I will also be looking to get an external sound recorder as soon as it becomes necessary, probably the Zoom H4 (I think its called that) As that has some great reviews.

  4. Just to let you know, I actually stuck with a pc in the end, and upgraded to an i7 pc with adobe production suite. Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere and other useful programs at a very good student price, definitely worth considering over the Mac, works very well!