Assignment 2 Re-Submission: Creating Atmosphere – Meditation Time

The feedback from my tutor was thorough and encouraging. You can view it here. peter-owden-2. I was particularly pleased that my coursework journal blog is “excellent”, although I intend to avoid complacency and continue to work on improving it. However, although many very positive comments were made on the overall work on Assignment 2, there were various issues that have not helped the project towards the desired result.

Therefore, I decided to revise and in fact take an alternative approach to what I was trying to achieve. I have re-shot various parts of the scene and this is a re-submission of the work, with a detailed analysis on the feedback and focusing upon the advice that was given.

For this assignment I have slightly adjusted the proposed atmosphere to be that of “MEDITATIVE” showing the lady still going to bed early, relaxing in bed, listening to the radio, before settling to sleep listening to a relaxing meditation app on her smartphone. Focusing on unwinding from her day in her daily ritual.

Responding to the feedback:

Shot 1
This hand-held movement of the woman making tea, shot from outside, sets up an expectation in the viewer that there is someone (or something) watching her. This conditions the way the movie is viewed, making is seems as if something will suddenly ‘upset the equilibrium’. So, this shot should probably have been left out or thought through more deeply.
Hand-held camera is tricky. It can depend entirely on the type of scene for how the audience interprets it. But we’ve all seen the ‘woman at home alone’ horror movies and this is the association here. If your whole movie is made with hand-held camera (like a Dogma movie – “Breaking the Waves” or “Festen”) then the camera is more likely to assume a pseudo-documentary role. In Hollywood movies, it nearly always signifies “danger” or “fear”!

I accept fully this comment and I was attempting the “Dogma” style – some of my favourite film makers were part of that movement. However my attempt to blend this with tripod shots, lead the handhelds to create an unwelcome aspect ( ie, the Hollywood slasher effect ! ) Therefore, I have removed the opening shot and replaced with an external shot of the house at just before dusk, the bedroom lights visible through the curtains. I used diegetic sound for this frame, but not from the camera – I used a soundbyte taken in my previous atmosphere project shot of the relaxing afternoon, the wind rustling, which was similar to that of the raw footage of the shot taken, minus the sounds of cars in the distance.

New segment: Frame 1.

mt1

Tutor feedback from Shot 2 of previous work:

Shot 2
There’s something here about a boiling kettle that also suggests a ‘boiling tension’! Boiling and relaxation, does it work together?
Showing someone making a cup of tea is really not interesting, especially in a close show of the kitchen surface! Use of a ‘cut-away’ could have helped you contract the time of this scene.
Wide focal lengths can exaggerate and distort objects and space – the effect of this is often to add a hint of ‘strangeness’ to even everyday things and places. To an extent that is happening here. And because we can see out of the window where ‘someone’ was just watching, we could expect a boogie man to suddenly appear at the window. The fact that you leave the duration so long also increases this expectation because the audience is thinking, “how long can nothing go on?”

This was another experiment which, upon reflection, did not work out as planned. I had it in my mind that the slow process of making tea, as boring as it is, would serve as a hypnotic. Her evening ritual, making tea before bed. It is true that it is devoid of interest and therefore could make the viewer lose interest. Boiling kettles, as symbols of brewing tension, perhaps not fitting for this film either, hehe!

New segment: Frames 2, 3 and 4.

I removed the scene in the kitchen entirely, going straight into the third, fourth and fifth shots of the previous film.  I changed the diegetic sounds of the radio broadcast, aware that the shipping forecast and the subsequent radio play were possibly causing unintentional tension or weirdness. I opted for a female voice reading the story A Respectable Woman by Kate Chopin, a softer voice with a rather less intensity, something that the character would be more likely to listen to.

mt2mt3mt4

New segment: Frame 5.

Cut-away, a darker frame of outside the house, showing that dusk is now upon us. Allowing the illusion that some time has passed.

mt6

New segment: Frame 6.

Re-shooting the scene where she puts the book down and settles into bed. I took note as to not use a wide-angle shot and moved to a medium shot. She replaces her tea cup and book, turns off the radio, sets up her headphones and starts her relaxation app. She is seen switching off her fairy lights before settling down to a comfortable sleeping position.

mt7

New segment: Frames 7 and 8.

Diegetic sounds of what she can hear through her headphones: the sound of the app narrator’s voice suggesting her to imagine that she is heading downstream on a river, the sound of the scene and the sound of her breathing as she descends into her mindfullness exercise. Interspersing between the image of what she is imagining and various close ups of her sleeping face in the calm blue hues of nightfall.

mt8mt9

Assignment 2 Creating Atmosphere Re-Submission: Meditation Time

Evaluating “Meditation Time – Assignment 2 ReSubmission”

After reading the tutor feedback regarding my Creating Atmosphere assignment “Early to Bed”, I was determined to attempt an improvement. The assignment task was to define a specific atmosphere using mis-en-scene, colour, balancing, diegetic sound and the golden rule. I believe that I did not quite reach the desired atmosphere, which was to be “contentment” and in fact unintentionally I added tension and confusion to the piece.

I decided to focus on a “meditative” atmosphere using parts of the original scene and adding an exercise of hypnotherapy and mindfulness to the ending of the scene. I added a shot of a river journey, that I filmed last week in Norfolk, straddled by various zooming shots of the character asleep to portray the sense that she is entering a dream-scape or a meditative state.

By changing the diegetic soundtrack of the radio broadcast to a softer piece, removing confusing wide-angle shots, using cut-away shots and deleting overlong sequences, I feel that I have at least streamlined the film, as well as re-shooting some new scenes. It was important to maintain a sense of satisfaction for the character in her situation, alone but not lonesome, content, relaxed and habitual.

Using a blue hue on the character’s face at the final sequences of the film, I wanted to portray a sense of calm, but cautious that these tones can identify coldness, or even worse, foreboding. I felt though, that this would be more suitable than to use a brighter, more white lighting hue, as I did not wish to portray moonlight, as this would lead to assumption that it was later in the night. I’m hoping that this experiment has worked.

Overall, I am a little more confident and somewhat grateful to have had a chance to re-visit this, as I feel that the second version is closer to the intended atmosphere.

Peter O

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One thought on “Assignment 2 Re-Submission: Creating Atmosphere – Meditation Time

  1. I really love this new version, I loved the old one too but the inclusion of the relaxation tape and the journey across the water is beautiful and inspired. I have to say I liked your tutors comments about the shipping forecast. It conjured up images of a wife waiting for her husband to come, listening to the radio frenetically worried about him. Of course that would have changed the whole atmosphere but I would love to see a video you could make of that   I also love your cat, she/he is so cute and yes a very good actor. I thought the jump shot of her looking at the cat and vice versa was really good and sad to remove. He looked at her so lovingly it was lovely to see. I liked the close ups too as she sank deeper into the relaxation. The fact that the viewer turns a corner on the water shows how the relaxation goes on but you could also have had it zoom into the water and maybe a dissolve transition over her eyes. Just a thought. I loved it though so well done. I’ll post this on your blog too!

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