Monday, April 30, 2012

3D experience

I had fun with the 3D film for class. Although I don't have any experience shooting 3D it was fun to see a ghetto version of how they do it in Hollywood.  Our prompt was to make a sea monster porno / commercial. Our idea was to create a Godzilla-like environment where the monster could walk through and destroy a few buildings. He would then find a building and start having sex with it (the monster would have a raging hard-on). Then after banging the building the monster would drink a giant beer that randomly appears. After finishing the beer the monster would fall asleep due to exhaustion.

I think what I enjoyed the most about the assignment was designing the sets. I'm not really a production designer and don't have much experience with that but it was fun creating a set completely out of cardboard. Creating the sets of out cardboard really reminded me of the movie, The Science of Sleep, which had dream sequences where certain things were made out of cardboard or similar material. We created a city backdrop and put that up high so that it looked like the city stretched on and on. For our set we made a bunch of buildings out of cardboard and colored in windows. We also made the entire costume out of cardboard. We made a head with a tongue sticking out and we also made eyes that kind of stick out. I made a 4 foot long tail which was attached to a belt-like piece. Chris made the wiener and I went out and spray painted it along with the spikes on the tail and back of the body.

We had a good time shooting the project. Amy was on the cameras, Chris was the sea monster, and I was a gaffer/2nd AC/whatever else we needed.  We had fairly simple lighting set-ups and we also had pretty simple camera placements. What we really focused on the most was the set and costume of the monster. The simplicity of creating something 3D was surprising to me since I figured there was a bit more to it (and I'm sure there is when you cross over into the professional 3D filmmaking world) but knowing that the cameras just needed to be placed correctly and we had to edit it together in after effects was simple enough. Overall it was a good time and I got to learn the basics for shooting a 3D movie.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Rough Theatre

I think independent film making relates to this article extremely well. Making a film on a low budget is definitely a type of rough theatre since it is a group of people who share the same or a similar idea and are trying to make something out of basically nothing. That is what makes independent and student films fun and potentially great pieces of art. It relates to the section in the article that discusses the german audio technicians and how they tried to make "synthetic dirt" that more closely resembled real organic music. Major Hollywood cinema can be very pristine and almost too perfect or digitally enhanced at times. Look no further than Michael Bay or other CGI filled hollywood blockbusters. Independent cinema usually doesn't contain anything like Michael Bay films and recently many hollywood films have been trying to incorporate the more organic independent cinema aspects while also containing classical hollywood elements. While a student here at UNCW I have learned the basics of the rough theatre since most of the funding for films I have worked on has been either non existent or been based off of donations. The power to get the film done has been due to the crew all believing in the project. Money doesn't always make a great film, sometimes it is just due to the commitment of everyone involved.

Saturday Long Take

I was excited about the long take from the minute we started planning it out in class. I love challenges and shooting a long take of any scene is usually some sort of a challenge, wether trying to keep the camera steady or keep the audiences attention. Long takes have always interested me too. Stanley Kubrick utilizes  long takes quite a bit in most of his well known films like The Shining, 2001, and Eyes Wide Shut. Some times a lot of cutting can be a bit ridiculous thus its nice to shoot long takes every once in a while to see the action play out in a different kind of way.

My group had a lot of ideas at first, like a kung fu fight sequence, to a ridiculous dance sequence. We finally settled on an idea. We planned to shoot a sequence that would resemble a phone call across campus (or chancellor's walk) via tin cans. Like a phone on a string that children play with. We would have a super long dolly/tracking shot where the camera operator would sit on the dolly (which eventually became Chris' moped) and ride down the campus filming the scene. Starting on one person, then following their string, and ending on the person they are talking to. I think the basic story behind the scene was that the first person was telling the other person something important yet since the phone line was so long when it finally got to the other person they couldn't hear it at all. ITo me it definitely resembled something from an early silent film, relying more on body language than any sort of dialogue.

Although I had to leave early on Saturday I was able to stay long enough to see the whole shoot take place, and even act in it! Casey was the camera operator and Nate and I acted. It was a pretty simple sequence the only issue we had was that there were tons of prospective students on campus that day for some sort of tour or orientation event. It took a while to clear out chancellor's walk but we eventually got it cleared and got the shot. From what I heard it came out really well. Even for the brief amount of time that I was there I had a lot of fun shooting the long take and I would call it a nice warm up challenge to the video race that is coming up.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

48 Hour ideas

I've been involved in a few video races before, so I definitely have an idea of the pacing I will need to get the actual shooting and editing done. After thinking about it I think I'm gonna use my Iphone to shoot the project. Now normally I wouldn't really think to use my Iphone for this kind of a video race, I'd rather go with something a little more unique. The reason I did choose the Iphone was because I recently got some Iphone lenses for Christmas. I have a wide angle, a fish-eye, and a telephoto. With these lenses I think i can make something really cool and unique that people wouldn't expect from an Iphone. As for basic ideas of what the film could be about, I was thinking of creating a film where it is a first person perspective of "A day in the life" of an Iphone. Still not quite sure how it would work out (and how I would fit the mystery prop into the equation) besides the POV shots form the phone. Maybe I could have two Iphones left alone together and they fall in love or maybe they fight each other or maybe they just communicate and talk shit about their human owners. Also, I was thinking about possible making a stop motion. I could use the Iphone as the "camera" and shoot it. I'm not totally sure what the premise would be as of yet but I want to have inanimate objects come to life, such as the film "Roof Sex" by PES. Also, another idea could be to make something of a spoof film, like a fake trailer or a something similar. I would still be using the Iphone, but I would add in the mystery prop and some other goofy themes to make the trailer funny. Another idea could be to make a pseudo-doc/mockumentary type of film with the Iphone such as have someone film something at a party. The person is documenting the night when something goes terribly wrong. Someone could get hurt, killed, or arrested at the party. The film would be like a short thriller. I'm getting pretty psyched about the video race. I know as the days get closer and closer to the start date I'll come up with more and better ideas. Maybe the mystery prop will help me decide what will be the best story idea to go with.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Assignment #1

I had a pretty fun time with the first assignment. I enjoy actually working with film as a whole, it is more organic and, to me, easier to use than digital (even though we weren't shooting with film I still like the idea of working with it). Out of all the processes we did with the film stocks I think my favorite thing was a tie between making the rayograms and doing the magazine transfer. After watching the finished product in class on Monday, I loved the effect that the rayograms had, especially what happened when i twisted a film print over top of the rayogram film (it made it look like the film image was falling off of the film). Also, I really liked the effect that the magazine transfer had. It was like a blur of collage images.

I think the hardest part of the process was definitely making the animation on the film stock. The animation I was going for was trying to show a star being born since our theme was going from creation (earth or grass and water) to destruction (fire and wind/black smoke). The star is a blue circle that is supposed to form into a star; different little points begin to sprout as it transforms. Then it comes apart and loses its color. I thought it was a cool transition from birth to the beginning of death.

In relation to the first post I made about camera less filmmaking, I think that it is really fun to be able to mess with film in different ways than expected. Manipulating the film stock is like a fun experimentation, a sort of arts & crafts way of making a film; It allows for more freedom of experimenting and implementing new techniques than one would think. It is also a less stressful way of filmmaking for sure, haha, especially when compared to larger projects like 495 narrative or 495 doc (I'm working on both this semester). While working on this project I felt like it is something that students should definitely learn how to do, since it could provide new techniques that would apply to other forms of filmmaking. I know some films that utilize film manipulation/cameraless filmmaking into their stories for aesthetic or other reasons.

Lastly I really enjoyed using the splicer to cut together the film. I wish more of the classes would utilize this technology, even though for narrative filmmaking at a student level it is probably rare and obsolete. It would be fun to shoot a short, 3 minute film and splice the whole thing together by hand, rather than run it through final cut pro for the millionth time.

Monday, February 27, 2012


Sound is such a powerful element in cinema. The reading describes examples such as how things in a horror film wouldn't be necessarily scary because the sound is a major element that works with the overall mood of the film. A jump scare like in the stair-case scene in Psycho wouldn't be nearly as horrifying if there wasn't that shrill screeching soundtrack to accompany the scene. The article addresses this concept as the audiovisual illusion. The sound in cinema is utilized to focus the audience's attention to a certain thing happening in the film. It could be the pop of a balloon or the squealing tires of a police car off in the distance. Music is also used as a device to get the audience to feel what certain characters are feeling such as fear or sorrow. A sad, slow melody may be played in a film like Babel, but Psycho has a shocking score that causes the audience to be as scared as the killer's victim is in the film.

It is crazy to think that the human ear can work faster than a human eye. The reaction time to a sound being quicker than an image at first seems crazy but after thinking of things that have shocked me in my lifetime, usually it has been more from a sound rather than a quick image. The reading goes on to describe how sound temporalizes images on screen, mainly in such ways as tempo, definition, how it's sustained, etc. The examples of how sound can mess with a viewer's mind, such as in the Empire Strikes Back example, really blew my mind. I actually went back and looked at scenes form the film on Youtube haha. Also, the examples of deaf people being able to visualize faster than normal people is really interesting. I've heard true life stories of things like that. I've also heard about how some blind people develop better hearing over time. The article really shows how important sound is in cinema. It frustrates me to know that a lot of student films overlook sound quality and focus more on image quality. A movie could be shot beautifully but if the sound recording/sound mixing/score is bad then the film could end up being a piece of crap.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Animation Theory

Interesting reading regarding different forms of animation. Having worked on stop-motion animations I have some experience with a mixture of orthodox and experimental animation. A project I worked on last semester had orthodox figures and orthodox narration but had a multiple of styles to get different effects and an evolution of materiality similar to how PES uses house hold items for certain things (candy corn for fire). The film had minimal dialogue (only on captions/title cards) but also had a musical element to it, since a majority of what is heard is score. This project was a slight mix of the elements addressed in the reading. I have seen some experimental animations as well, my first probably being from shows like "Kablaam!" on Nickelodeon or "Robot Chicken" on Cartoon Network. Others I have seen are short films by PES and some early animated shorts by David Lynch. I'm definitely excited to work on films in class that are similar to these.