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


  1. I've just signed up for DFP as well, u seem 2b the only other one currently on it, but your work appears to me as very thorough, am very pleased I've discovered your blog!

  2. Thank you, it is a fun course, and I've learnt a lot from it, I'm sure you'll enjoy it!