Friday, 30 March 2012

Project 3 The feel of a frame 2

Exercise 4 –Shooting a short sequence -  feedback and reflection
After nearly a week I have  looked at my sequence again and received some very constructive feedback from my fellow students, most of which is posted directly onto my blog but also I have this from Emily:
Hi Richard I just tried to post a comment on your blog but it refused and lost the comment. I'll try to remember what I wrote: really liked it - especially the storyboard, and that you'd kept to the storyboard in your filming.
Good idea to lose the first shot of the person waking up.
I agree with Margaret about the pace at the beginning but I like the pace of the rest of it.
I like the blurring at the start, and wonder whether that might be a way of showing the hungoverness of alcoholic rather than the slow pace at the start.
I like the phone ringing and not being answered. It works very well.
Only thing I wondered about was the final shot of you pouring the drink - I thought it would be better starting the shot with you holding the bottle, rather than being put back on the table. just a thought
great stuff
Reflection: What worked and what didn’t?
Although I filmed  the first frame, the eyes, I could see during editing that it just wouldn’t work.
The blurry light fitting seemed to work quite well and the volume of the radio in the background was just enough to indicate that this was perhaps what had woken the sleeper.
Feedback indicates that the pan around the room was too slow and I agree. I was conscious of my tendency to pan too fast and I think I laboured it a bit. The interference from the phone was unfortunate. I will see if I can silence the camera’s speaker while recording as this could be a problem anywhere there are mobile phone signals.
Emily mentioned the final shot of the sequence, pouring the wine. I think she is right. I included the action of picking the bottle up again to emphasise the break in what would be a priority task for an alcoholic. Thinking about it, the action does break the flow of the final shot. When I shoot the objective viewpoint, I may well not put the bottle down at all, just pause.
The pace of the sequence was also affected by the switch from the ceiling to the door. If I shot this again, I would not use a subjective view for this part. It would involve too many changes of  panning direction.
I was quite happy with my choice of frames, as a subjective viewpoint was required, I think I conveyed what the person would ‘see’ rather than what was in their field of view which concentrates the action to what is necessary for the narrative.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Project 3: The feel of a frame

Exercise 4: Shooting a short sequence
Objective: To produce a short sequence of shots to illustrate a given narrative, visualise the important elements in the frame and choose a suitable sized frame to contain that element. Make a storyboard to remind you of the shots you wish to make, annotated to show what information is being conveyed.
Ex 4Frame 01 I thought I would start the sequence by establishing that the person is asleep with a close up of their eyes, restless as if about to wake.
Ex 4Frame 02 Then the shot changes to a POV as their eyes open and see the light bulb, out of focus on the ceiling. Medium close up. The light is off. The viewpoint is a prone position on the sofa.
Ex 4Frame 03 The bulb then comes into sharp focus.
Ex 4Frame 04 The camera pans left and pauses on the scene as far as the open door
Ex 4Frame 05 … and then right to show the rest of the room.
Ex 4Frame 06 Then there is a medium close up of the bottle and glass on the table next to the TV.
Ex 4Frame 07 A close up of my hands unscrewing the bottle cap. There is the sound of a telephone out of shot.
I put the bottle down as if to answer the phone.
Ex 4Frame 08 The telephone rings twice and stops. Medium close up to isolate the sound.
Ex 4Frame 09 I pick the bottle up and pour the wine. Medium close up again.
Shooting the video; practical considerations
  1. The angle of view of my video camera is much less than my visualisation
  2. I tried the first frame (the eyes) but  the sudden change from objective to POV viewpoint didn’t work.
  3. The ceiling lights are spots, not a single lamp, not that it matters too much
  4. I panned right from the door to the table with the bottle in two shots as planned. The reason for this was the reflections in the cupboard doors and the TV screen.
  5. The speaker on my camera picked up some interference from the wireless phone when it rang. Noticeable but a lesson learned.
  6. I’ve uploaded the video to Vimeo.

DFP Exercise 4 - Alcoholic from Richard Down on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Powerful emotive frames “The Debt Collector”

These stills are taken from the psychological thriller directed by Anthony Neilson for Film Four.
Anger: This still from the “The Debt Collector” shows Keltie (actor Ken Stott) venting his displeasure to a fellow policeman. The frame is tight on the two actors, and the camera follows them downstairs. The camera movement is halted as Stott turns to his colleague and looks up spitting venom. I think it is important that both figures are in the frame, up close and personal.

Despair: Having been attacked in her home and raped by Keltie, Dryden’s wife Val, desperately implores the police to find Keltie before he kills her husband. Although in all of these shots, close framing helps to reveal and reinforce the emotion, the accompanying soundtrack and the actor’s dialogue make an equal contribution.

Fear: In another scene, a young thug is confronted by former Debt Collector Nickie Dryden (Billy Connolly) as he angrily berates him. Again the framing is close enough to show the fearful expression the lads face. It also gives the viewer a feeling of being involved and very close to the action. In this way the emotion is communicated in such a way as to perhaps scare  the viewer also.

Joy: At the end of the film, Annette Crosbie sheds tears of joy as she looks out over the impressive grounds of her new home. A close up enables the viewer to see the tears welling up in her eyes and the smile that forms on her lips as she takes in the scene.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Project 2–Function of a frame

Exercise 3: Visualisation
The objective of this exercise is to image three scenarios and visualise them from a subjective point of view. I have used my graphics tablet to make these drawings in an attempt to get used to controlling the stylus. It’s almost like learning to write and draw all over again. I’m getting used to it and time will only improve my technique.
The first one is your view of a man in a shop,  talking in an animated way and facing you:
I’ve included enough information to suggest that this is a shop, with signs saying what’s for sale. a counter and some folded newspapers. I’ve used a frame to enclose enough of the man to show that he is animated and using his hands to gesticulate. I’ve left a lot of the details out as they are not important in communicating the story.

Next, you knock on a door,
Here I’ve included my left hand knocking the door, I’m aware of  the door’s construction. the number of the house, the letterbox and on the edge of the frame, the exterior light.

you wait, examining the lamp by the door
Because the lamp was in the periphery of the frame, while I wait I am examining it closely and become aware of the bricks in the wall too. The door is left out, only the door frame delineates it from the brick wall.

the door is opened by a familiar and friendly face.
Again, I’ve included enough to show a doorway and a part open door, the central part of the frame is the person and I have concentrated on showing his face and expression.

The final exercise imagines you are having an illicit affair. In the first frame you are having a passionate conversation with your lover and in the second, a sudden sound in the background causes you to glance round.
Here I have included only the face of the lover. I felt his was most important as the conversation needs to be shown as passionate and you would be concentrating on their eyes and mouth as you converse. Nothing else is important in the scene. (I  think I’ve over emphasised the eyes a bit – scary or what!)
The sudden sound is the cat knocking over a milk bottle. A glance is a quick look to confirm something, quite casual and very brief. In this case I would probably know the sound of a bottle tipping over and once I had identified it, I would continue with the conversation. The frame contains only the information I would need to confirm the source of the sound. Although there would be a lot of detail there, I have only included what is relevant, the cat, the milk bottle and a corner of the table. The cat stealing the milk is also analogous of the illicit affair and it looks guilty too. (not by design I assure you, my drawing is not that good)
These questions were asked at the end of the exercise. I have related them to the learning notes but I'm not sure that the might be asked of other students posts:
Q. Which sequences are the most effective and why?
A. It depends on the reason for choosing a particular viewpoint. Subjective (POV) viewpoints are very powerful devices,  they can show drama, enhance tension and emotion. They bring the viewer right into the centre of the action. Objective viewpoints have the distancing effect of viewing the scene from a third party point of view. The viewer is only an observer, uninvolved.
Q. What makes a convincing subjective sequence?
A. Concentrating the frame on what the actor will be seeing. The example in the notes about “seeing” rather than “looking” is important. The viewer needs to be convinced that he is “in the head” of the actor. the film maker needs to provide only the information to do that, include nothing that detracts from the point of  the story. Close-ups and movement will help in this regard.
Q. What gives the sequence a sense of atmosphere or tension?
A. Close ups, movement, lighting and dialogue.
Q. What information is conveyed in each frame?
A. I think this question relates to other students work. I’ll write that up when I’ve looked.
That is the second project completed.  To my fellow students, if you get a chance, please comment either on Blogger or email me. Thank you .

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Project 2–Function of a frame

Exercise 2: Building a story
I was looking through my recent photographs and came across this image of “Fishwives” that I had taken on the quay at Tarrafal in Santiago. There was a lot of chat going on (in Creole of course) so I have put my tongue firmly in my cheek and thought up a possible conversation to tell a story:

Renata: (while dialling her mobile) ”Augusta, have you seen Sofia this morning? This is the fourth time this month she hasn’t shown up.”
Augusta: “She’s probably got a hangover again, she’s getting too fond of the bottle that one.”
Carina: “It’s true!  There’s a pile of bottles this high next to her bin. Last week she fell flat on her face in the pigsty. You could smell her long before you could see her.”
Rosalina: (whispers) “Why don’t they leave the poor girl alone? She’s got enough to cope with. Everybody knows her husband is carrying on with that floozy Helena. It’s no wonder she drinks.”
Rita: “Shhh, Helena is over there behind us, she thinks nobody knows about her and Roberto. It’s none of our business. I’m staying out of it.”
Constanza: (whispers) “Well I hope you’re satisfied Helena, see what you’re doing to that poor woman. I still don’t understand what you see in that waster, if he can cheat on his wife, he’ll just as soon cheat on you.”
Helena: “Oow, stop pulling! Did it occur to you that Roberto might be looking for a girl  with some self respect? At least with me he has the chance to show he’s a real man and not tied down to some lush!”

A bit like a soap opera I know but you can image the situation quite easily.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Exercise: Telling a story - my own story

I’ve chosen a very simple narrative as my own example. I’ll wait for comments before reflecting on my efforts.
Ex01 DFP_pt2
Ex01 DFP_pt2c
Ex01 DFP_pt2b

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Telling a story 2 –other student’s sequences

I’ve found these exercises via contacts on the OCA forum. It seems that a couple of students are not longer active but I have commented on their stories anyway.
Stuart  - The Nursery Rhyme “Three Blind Mice” Stuart chose well for his story, just the right number of ideas expressed in rhyme to match the frames.
Frame 1: Three blind mice, shown with dark glasses. A very good way to show blindness. I have seen this done with shades and white sticks before.
Frame 2: See how they run – just that and appropriately shown in a farmyard setting. They look as if they are legging it at a fair pace too.
Frame 3: Running after the farmers wife who is carrying pails of milk. This identifies her as the protagonist.
Frame 4: The bloody deed! Suitably low key (there may be children watching!)
Frame 5: This frame sums up the story. They started off blind and now they are blind and tail less. No wonder there are tears being shed.
All the information is included here and it illustrates the story well. There is nothing superfluous as far as I can see.
Paul – Fable  “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”
Frame 1: Establishes the shepherd boy and his flock.
Frame 2: Boy cries “wolf” when there is no wolf in sight.
Frame 3: Unnecessary measures are taken to protect the flock from no threat .
Frame 4: The boy cries “wolf” again when a real wolf appears, there is no help available.
Frame 5: The wolf has eaten all of the sheep and the boy is disconsolate.
This was a difficult story to tell in five frames. My understanding of the fable was that the boy who cried wolf once too often suffered the consequences. I feel that somehow, there should be at least two false alarms. Perhaps the first frame could have included this as well as establishing the boy and the flock.
Samantha – Fairy Story – “Cinderella”
Frame 1: Cinderella is shown scrubbing floors with the two ugly sisters looking on.
Frame 2: The Fairy Godmother and the mice help Cinders. The pumpkin is included in the frame.
Frame 3: Cinderella at the ball with Prince Charming. The clock is showing  nearly midnight.
Frame 4: Cinderella runs off and loses her slipper.
Frame 5: Cinderella shown with Prince Charming  - the glass slipper fits. The ugly sisters look on.
All of the information needed to understand the story is present (it has just occurred to me that because these stories are universal, there could be a tendency to unconsciously fill in the gaps) but having checked back, all of the characters are there (except the wicked stepmother who manifests herself in the ugly sisters), Cinders, the sisters, a prince and a godmother. The props are all there, the pumpkin and mice, the glass slipper and the clock.  I think Samantha has included everything necessary in her five frames.
Margaret – Nursery Rhyme – “Rock a bye Baby”
Frame 1: Shows the tree top, the cradle and the baby. Rock-a-bye Baby in the treetop
Frame 2: The wind is blowing (effective representation of the wind) and the cradle is rocking. When the wind blows, the cradle will rock
Frame 3: The bough is shown in close up, breaking. When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall
Frame 4: The bough is breaking again – a longer shot.
Frame 5: The baby and the cradle falling. Down will come baby, cradle and all.
Unlike Three Blind Mice, this rhyme only has four ideas to illustrate. Margaret could have used the fourth frame to show the baby and cradle falling and the fifth to illustrate the predictable reaction of the baby or perhaps a concerned parent. There will be a political and sinister theme behind this rhyme (there usually is but I haven’t researched it yet) So perhaps the fifth frame could make some reference to that.
I’ll await comments on my frames and start work on my own story.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Project 1 Frames in the film

Exercise 1 Telling a story
I chose this story to illustrate in five frames. It should be fairly obvious what it is but I guess from the learning notes that I should allow the viewers judge for themselves.

Ex01 DFP
To my fellow students and any other viewers, please comment, (not on the drawing please, I know it’s rubbish)

This comment from Stuart (pasted from his email)
I immediately recognised the story to be Jack and the Beanstalk. However, I must admit I couldn't remember how it ended, so I had to do a bit of research.
After reading the whole story, it seems this was quite a task for Richard to try and squeeze into just five shots. For example, the harp and money being stolen aren't present. However, I think he’s managed to capture all of the important details – admittedly, I think it’s hard to fit even the shortest of nursery rhymes into just five shots.
Shot 1 shows the cow has been sold and Jack received beans in return.
Shot 2 shows the beans being thrown out of the window by (presumably) jack's mother.
Shot 3 shows Jack climbing the beanstalk in his back garden.
Shot 4 shows the house belonging to the giant couple with their gold-laying goose on the table. It was this shot that threw me as I couldn't remember the story that well. To make a distinction between Jack's house and the giants' house, I think I would have used a slightly wider shot for frame 3 and shown a very small house close to the top of the beanstalk - I think that would have also helped show Jack's intended destination and help define the location of shot 4 a little better.
Shot 5 is very clear as we can now see the tree stump after it's been cut, so it's obvious he's now back on the ground - and seeing Jack's house in the background reinforces this. And Jack’s motion of running with the goose (also connecting shots 4 and 5) help to show that he’s stolen it (or at least done something he shouldn’t have).
Thanks for your comments Stuart, very welcome.
I think my memories of the tale are coloured by various pantomimes I’ve seen over the years. They can be fairly liberal with the story line, depending on the number of actors/size of budget etc. I’d forgotten about the Harp and the money. The most important thing is that we got to think about the frames and how to construct a narrative using just the most important elements.

This comment from Emily (pasted from the OCA Forum)
I had a look at your Jack and the Beanstalk story and really liked it especially the first 3 frames. I wondered at the 4th frame whether you could make it clearer that it's right up the top of the beanstalk,.. so maybe looking down? And also some way of showing that it's a giant. I can see you've made Jack small, but his smallness could be mistaken for being in the distance.
The last frame is really clear as well, though is it possible to show that it's the beanstalk that has come down. - perhaps some bean leaves (whatever they look like!)
I love the picture of Jack running away with the goose.
Thanks for your comments on my post. Most of the things you suggested I thought about but my drawing skills are limited. I could have spent a lot of time on it but I'm not sure if it would have improved it that much. I'll paste your comments in. I'm struggling with the second part of the exercise - I think a proverb may provide the basis for a story................

Saturday, 3 March 2012

New course, new blog………….

I’ve just received my learning materials for the DFP course and am looking forward to getting stuck in. I’ve updated my OCA profile and contacted my tutor. I’m all ready to go………

Edit: May 2012. I have included Study Visits and Exhibitions in this blog which may not necessarily be directly related to the DFP course but they do fit into the timeline and are still relevant to past and future courses. RD 06/05/12