Friday, 8 June 2012

Assignment 1

Objective: Produce a short sequence, of no more than 5 shots that tells a simple story using images alone.
Planning: After much thought I decided to use the simple narrative of a journey. It has a beginning, a middle and an end which can fit into 5 frames. It will start with an the view of a finger tracing a route on a map, a car being loaded with luggage, the same car being driven past an iconic landmark that everyone will recognise (Stonehenge), arrival at an address and finally a greeting.
1. Look at the map.(close up) This shot needs to introduce the journey. I will do this by showing a finger tracing the route, close up, from above. I will restrict the frame to only what is absolutely necessary to give the information.
Assgt 1 Frame1
2. Load the car. (Mid to long) This frame will show the car and luggage being loaded into the boot using  a medium to long shot. I will probably include the driver getting in starting the engine and pulling away.
 Assgt 1 Frame2
    3. Journey (Driving + significant landmark - Stonehenge) (wide, mid, low or high angle from the back seat) From the moving vehicle I’m planning to show that time has passed and the journey is passing Stonehenge. I’m using an open topped car and this would be the ideal shot if we are able to drive with the roof down. Traffic conditions and weather will play a major part in the success of this shot.
    Assgt 1 Frame3
    4. Arrival (sweep into the drive POV) The plan for this shot is to follow  the movement of the car off the road, through the gate, onto the drive of the house. This will show the arrival at an address and the end of  the journey. It needs to show an end so the car will stop and movement will cease.
    Assgt 1 Frame4
    5. Greeting (mid to close) The final frame will show the driver emerging from the car to greet her son. There is little movement here other than the hug and greeting and there is no need to show more than just that in this final shot.
    Assgt 1 Frame5

    Untitled from Richard Down on Vimeo.
    Production Notes: This sequence was shot in one day on a journey from Hampshire to Devon on the Jubilee weekend. I wasn’t sure how I was going to get the shot of Stonehenge if it rained but luckily we were able to put the roof of  the car down. Shots 1 and 4 needed two takes. As the brief called for a story using images alone, I muted the sound on each clip to avoid distraction..
    Frame 1 works well. There is not a lot of action but the shot is close enough for the map to be readable. This was filmed outside on the bonnet of the car when the sky was cloudy. Perhaps a little reflected light may have improved the contrast. The map and the moving finger quite clearly indicate a route is being planned. Timing: 7 seconds
    Frame 2: I automatically zoomed in on the rear of the car and panned right as Angie opened the door, got in and started the engine. I could have left it as long shot but I think zooming in confirms to the viewer that the main action is about the car and driver. I did think about showing the car driving off but the brief was quite specific about confining the action to the frame. Timing 16 seconds
    Frame 3: I shot this on the move with only vague idea of what I would be able to shoot. As it was, in one pass I got two sequences. The first included here, of the monument as it comes into sight as you drive towards it and a second, where I filmed it from the drivers eye level and zoomed in and panned right as it passed along the passenger window. Unfortunately both of the windows were up and were distracting as they are tinted. This was quite a lengthy shot at 29 seconds. I was pleased to have kept fairly well to the frame just by raising and lowering the camera and all of the action is through the frame top to bottom rather than across it.
    Frame 4: This frame contains more movement as I wanted to show the car pulling off the road at a recognisable location that was the end of the journey where the car pulls to a stop. I have managed to keep the camera fairly steady. My attempt to “read” the house name as I passed was not successful but this final part of the journey comes to a clear and definite end at this point. Timing 15 seconds
    Frame 5: This final shot could have been made outside of the car but I maintained my point of view within it as I wanted to give the impression that the camera is a close observer of the action but remaining at a discrete distance. I think shooting from within the car at a low angle ties the journey, the car and the reunion together. Timing 15 seconds
    This is more of a narrative and I was aware that this could be documentary footage. Indeed, all of the action is what happened on that day anyway, just not necessarily in the order shown. There is a lack of continuity in my shots, note the car roof is up, down and up again.
    This was a good dry run for a proper shoot. I could have benefitted from more planning rather than grabbing footage in a documentary style during a routine journey to visit family. I’m hoping that my approaches to the local drama group give me the confidence to ask for help with my projects so I can plan more interesting sequences. My camera techniques are improving but I pan and zoom almost instinctively. This may be good but I have a feeling that my tutor may ask me to think more about each shot before pressing the record button.


    1. Lovely piece of work Richard. Enjoyed the thought process and also the end result.

    2. Thanks Dave. I'm still waiting for tutor feedback but I hope it is positive.

    3. Sorry for delay with my comments Richard.
      You started off by giving the viewer information about the journey, which I liked. I thought the movement you created within the scenes was good - from the open top of the car, moving the camera above the roof too kept interest. At the end, filming Angie from the car getting out and going over to greet the man was great - felt as though I was watching something from a hidden place perhaps. Liked it.

      1. Thanks for the encouragement Margaret, I still have a lot to learn and Robert has given me valuable tips to help me improve.

        I'm getting to grips with Sony Vegas at the moment.I may ask your advice if I get hopelessly lost! I'm afraid the Nero software I have been using for the past few years is no longer up to the job, it's OK for SD but the new HD version is disappointing.

    4. Hi Richard.. I know what you mean! Over the last 10 years (!) I have tried various software packages, all of which seemed to create different problems. The Vegas software (I have the HD Platinum 10 version) is really capable but difficult to pick up easily. But the results are worth it. Good luck

    5. Sorry it's taken so long to reply, Richard!

      I get 'stalker' feelings from the second shot - because of the camera movement and the zoom. One thing to think about is wether you want the audience to be aware that they're seeing the image through a camera or not - this isn't necessarily a bad or a good thing, it just depends on what feeling you'd want to portray. In assignment 3, for example, I shot the whole film with a shoulder rig as I wanted the camera movement to possibly signify a feeling of surveillance or a possible extra person.

      Frame 3 felt too long, a bit like it dragged on. I did the same thing in my first assignment and Robert politely told me off about it. ;) I found out the hard way - but it was well worth it!

      I think you made a good choice by staying in the car. As you said in your write-up of the assignment, I feel it gives the impression of observing. I actually liked the small zoom that happens right at the end, just when the couple are hugging. To me, the small tightening zoom draws attention to them a lot more and, more importantly (for me), it gave me a negative sense of the couple - meaning that they were possibly having an affair. So as far as emotion goes, I think the zoom worked well.

      1. Thanks for the comments Stuart, always welcome whenever they come. It makes me look again which is never a bad thing. Robert picked up your point about frame 3 too and gave me plenty of other advice which I found very useful. More and better planning is required. I seem reluctant to rethink an idea once it is in my head.