Tutor Feedback – Assignment 2

Please click the link for my tutor’s feedback for Assignment 2 peter-owden-2

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Assignment 4 Constructing a narrative

For this assignment you’ll gather documentary footage and use it to create a short documentary sequence representing a portrait of a place. You should try and capture the spirit and feel of the place as well as representing what happens there. Choose a location This could be a train station, a market, a housing estate or a car park. It will help if you choose somewhere that you can get to easily as you may want to film at various times of day. You will also need to consider any restrictions on your ability to film there. (Military bases and children’s playgrounds may cause concern. See note below.) Recce your location at different times and think about:
• What happens? What are the important events that occur daily in your place? Are there any unusual events that might be interesting to follow?
• What or who is there? What and who do you need to show to represent the various elements of the place and paint a full picture of it?
• What is the character of the place? Can you apply any of the ideas of characterisation to the place? What elements typify its mood and atmosphere? What kind of pace and rhythm does the place have?
• What is the timescale of the place?

Can you represent its essential elements over a minute, an hour, a day, a week? Plan a narrative. Considering the information you have, try to think of the best way to represent the place you have chosen. You could go for a day in the life, starting early in the morning and showing events as they occur in a chronological order through the day, or you may choose to visit the location for the same hour every day over a week, compiling a rapid montage of the frenetic activity that takes place at that time.

Draw a chart of your narrative structure. Identify the climax. What is the story you are telling?
Create a shot list – Note the essential shots that you will need to represent your place and construct your narrative, the shots you might like if they are available and any ideas for possible shots that may arise. Obviously you will have to be flexible and respond to events as they occur but this will be easier if you have the confidence of knowing that you have basic footage already. Record your footage. Don’t record too much. Remember every hour of footage will take you over three hours to watch, capture and edit down to useful clips. Try to follow the shot list you made.
Review your footage carefully Watch it through on a TV and make notes (it’s useful if you can see the timecode). Identify useful sections, the elements you knew you needed and anything else unexpected that crops up. This may seem like an unnecessary step, as you could just capture it straight off, but it helps you to focus your mind and become familiar with your footage. You may start to see something different from your original narrative emerging… Capture and edit Start by trying to throw together something like your original plan. Does this work? If so, you can work through it carefully choosing the very best shots, trimming and fine cutting. If not – by far the most likely outcome – you will need to reconsider your structure, narrative ideas and footage. Don’t be afraid to make radical changes. Put your original pre-conceptions aside. Look at what you have and think how to use this to create an impression of the place you know. If in doubt say less. Pick one or two key elements to focus on.

Evaluation
Write an evaluation of your finished sequence (500 words). Submit your sequence online to your tutor with the pre-production notes and evaluation.

Assignment 4:
Ralph Martyn – Turn Up The Silence

Pre- Production:

I had decided from the outset to avoid a literal interpretation of the imperative –  a “place”.  I felt that my long term friend Ralph Martyn and his studio at his home in Sussex, was an interesting setting of its own. Many years I have seen this location as one of creative sanctuary and of channelled energy. As a subject matter, Ralph’s musical output is an interest worthy of focus, one that has been fruitful since his teens in the mid seventies. So my selected place of discussion would be that of Ralph’s mind, or at least his studio.

Initial planning for the film was to discuss with Ralph on what particular aspect of his work would be suitable for presentation. He is currently involved with two acts other than his own work. It could have been possible to follow him at the studio of one of the bands he is working with, the veteren Sussex based act Josi Without Colours, also now on their fourth decade of existence. However, it was a personal journey for myself, as I have such a close friendship with my subject, that it was his unique self-produced ambient electronic music that I wanted to celebrate most, even though I have been involved personally with a number of other musical projects with him throughout the years. But it was his musical journey I wanted to document, and that alone.

Ralph Martyn is a spiritual individual and his studio contains a Buddhist shrine. This has become a factor of the energy that he develops his music within. I have seen over time how this has been integrated into his work and this has added a further dimension and profundity to his art.

A fairly reclusive life allows Ralph some thinking time and with this his prolific output is phenomenal. Countless new songs, poems, prose and compositions have adorned my emails from Ralph for years. After his long walks with his dog Murphy, Ralph often retreats / ascends to his studio in the spare room of his home to bring thought-waves into reality, I am the lucky recipient, often, of the first drafts of these fragments of ideas and concepts. In turn, Murphy must be described as the healthiest dog in the South East.

However Ralph’s health has been an issue of late, and we had to postpone time for shooting a few times, but finally we managed to set aside a day together to get the film shot. As my assignment deadline quickly approached, it became apparent that certain ideas had to be re-thought.

The narrative is presented below in the diagram. I am pleased to see that the final edit,  remained true to the plan as far as possible.

IMG_20170417_1048142

Final Film and Evaluation

The principles that I wanted to communicate were as follows.

  1. A life in music. Not of musical theory or notation, but of experimenting, a love of instruments, especially of synthesizers.

  2. Music as a spiritual journey, of atmosphere and creative output.

  3. People like Ralph are dedicating to this grass-roots approach, not just the mainstream of commercial music, whatever the genre.

As explained previously, Ralph has had some health issues in the past few months and it had proven difficult to commit to a day of shooting, after our initial discussions to make this film. I had alternative ideas, but eventually we managed to arrange a day of shooting.

Focusing on ambient music, it would require a slow paced, long-edit style. I wanted the first sequence to reveal synthesizers and studio “electronica” – Ralph’s workstation. I blended this in with shots of Ralph meditating alongside his Buddhist shrine, however despite capturing footage, Ralph disputed whether Buddhism was relevant as an ingredient within his work. Instead I selected a shot of his Buddha light, which was a “joke” gift he had acquired, more in-keeping with his humour.

Going through the footage, it was interesting to show what Ralph had revealed about his creative process. He had not learned to read notation and that it was a tactile approach, the actuality of learning to play by feel. I had footage of when he was a drummer in one of my own bands, we were recording live drums in a rock venue. I thought it would be an ideal cut, to show the extent of his excellence in percussion.

In the next section I wanted to document Ralph’s extensive career playing in various acts throughout his adult life with archive photographs and video footage using a list of bands. The footage seemed distracting to the focus on the titles, therefore I opted to use solely a slideshow.

The final act of the film would show Ralph explaining the process of recording, whilst explaining that music should take people on a journey and create an inner emotion. Throughout the film I had weaved footage of Ralph walking his dog, where much of his creative thoughts are allowed to breathe. The final frame to show him returning home as dusk approaches and Ralph’s narration describes that music should make you feel that “you’ve been somewhere”.

In evaluation of the completed film I can see that the intended atmosphere has been reached. Ralph’s personality and his ambient music style is apparent. I note a few things I would have liked to have improved upon.
1. Had more opportunities to film his day been available, I would have had more footage. I believe this is a downside of my film. I had plenty of interview shots, but little cut- away footage.
2. If more archive footage had been available, I would have made more of the slideshow and used video edits as well as stills.
3. The final title sequence is rather long, but this allows the song “ Turn up the Silence” to have enough airplay. I wanted to focus on the mood and lyrics of this song as they represent the current focus of Ralph’s latest project.

Peter Owden

Assignment 3 – tutor’s feedback.

Please see the link for my tutor’s feedback for my film for Assignment 3. I was very pleased to receive such encouraging words from Robert, as I expressed in my assessment that I was nervous that my approach was too literal. But Robert pointed out that whilst this was possibly true that the showing of the weapon of suicide was indeed, on-the-nose, the emotion of the piece and the approach made up for this by suggesting multiple layers of emotion.

I am therefore delighted that this was seen as the case.

peter-owden-31

Assignment 3 Creating meaning -“Tea”

For this assignment you will create a short sequence that tells a basic story and conveys implied meaning. The sequence should be based on one of the scenarios below. The sequence must be no longer than 90 seconds. (You may choose to have 60 x 1.5sec shots or 1 x 90sec shot – or anything in between.)
You will write a script, design the shots, record and edit the film. You should focus on meaning. Clearly describe the action or sequence of events and imply a second layer of meaning. Consider the techniques you have already explored for creating meaning with composition. Think about mood, atmosphere and where the audience’s attention is focused. Consider the space on and off screen and the assumptions your audience will make. Planning
• Choose a scenario from the list below
Action                                                   Implied Meaning

Somebody chooses a drink              One of the drinks is poisoned.
A snail makes a journey.                  Humanity fails to progress very quickly.
Somebody posts a letter.                  Somebody is following them.
Two people meet                                They have slept together.
Somebody makes a cup of tea     They are suicidal.
Or you can invent your own scenario along similar lines. Be clear about the action and the implied meaning. If you do invent your own scenario it must be agreed with your tutor before continuing.

• Consider carefully what information you must show on screen. Think about what you need to show. Think about the best framing and composition to clearly achieve this.
• Consider what information you wish to imply. Think about how you can create meaning by re-ordering your shots. Think about other elements you may want to include such as additional shots or sound.
• Storyboard a short sequence. Include as much detail as possible about each shot. Consider the composition, framing, camera movement and sound. Remember you cannot show the implied meaning directly – no flashbacks of the couple in bed, no shot of someone pouring from a flask marked ‘poison’, no shots of your suicidal person imagining themselves hanging from a rope. If you are in doubt about this check with your tutor.

OCA Assignment 3 Creating meaning
You may not convey the exact implied meaning to everyone, but try to get close. Choosing a simple action will not necessarily make your task any easier. You have a free choice about the style and form of your sequence. You can be as literal or as abstract as you choose, as long as both pieces of information are understood. Record and edit your sequence
• Try and stay true to your storyboards during the shoot.
• Do not worry excessively about the quality of the image. Concentrate on what message it conveys.
• At the editing stage start by following your original structure but experiment. Try different versions, see what happens when you change the order of shots. Write an evaluation of your finished sequence (500 words)
• Critically assess your finished product.
• Identify and analyse the reasons for both successful and unsuccessful techniques that you have employed.
• Explain any major changes you made from your storyboards.
• Consider where you need to strengthen your own skills and understanding and explain how you will achieve this.

Tea

I had initially opted to shoot the sequence with a snail on the decking of my garden. I had filmed him making his way from the left of the screen to the right, and I had positioned an A1 green card behind him with the intentions to edit in images of World War 2, the thwarted Budapest uprising, VietNam, the Balkan conflict, 9 /11/ 2001, the Gulf war and Syria. Time has not allowed humanity to learn… I liked this idea but I opted out as I felt I would not be able to use the skills I had learned in this course, as most of it would be green-screened news footage and not anything I had shot.
Secondly I had arranged to shoot the sequence involving two people meeting. I had written a piece featuring two women dining at a restaurant,  with the implied meaning they had slept together. But the logistics of shooting the two actors I had lined up had finally proven impossible during the time available. I was  disappointed I could not make this happen.

Therefore I had to shoot a sequence using myself again as the actor. I am not best pleased that I have had to do this as I really wanted to use other actors, but again, the time frame and organising performers has not been possible this time. Given these unfortunate issues, I am able to submit work that I have worked on with the knowledge that I have at least achieved what I set out to do, despite having to act in it myself again.

Therefore, I present “TEA”:

tea-script

tea-storyboard

An evaluation of “Tea”

From the outset, I am fully aware that this sequence prohibits the image of the tool of suicide. No nooses, pills, razor blades etc. However I chose to show the gun despite this, to convey a possible red herring, maybe a homicidal act rather than a suicide. The character apologises to his daughters, perhaps he is going to kill their mother, for example.

I chose to make sure that the man’s face was not seen during the film, or out of focus from a distance. Specific props were used. The “Best Dad in the World” mug, bank statements and utility bills, for example. I wanted the viewer to be aware that there was genuine love in the household or at least there once was. However the pressure of money, alongside whispered self-doubts and the words of an unloving partner, the breakdown of a marriage etc, is leading the man to desperation.

I found the French singer An Pierle’s cover of Tubeway Army’s Are ‘Friends’ Electric? online and I thought that the obscure lyrics and the haunting piano score would suit. I am pleased with how this seemed to work. There is an almost uplifting rise to the song, that I positioned alongside climbing the stairs and I wanted to represent a “computer game” ( à la Tomb Raider, Medal of Honor ) involving a first person POV shot as he ascended the stairway, the gun in display.

Finally back to the close up of the tea, the camera steams up as it zooms in,which suits the fade out not only of the piece but of the life of the protagonist. I added some non-diegetic moody synthesiser to the fade out, for dramatic effect!

I stuck closely to the storyboard, only removing a shot of a picture frame of his daughters, as I thought this would be too obvious.

In conclusion, I do believe I was very close to being too literal with my piece, but as I pointed out, it was intentional to offer an ambiguity. There is a number of clues to suicide. Feedback that I  received was that the implied meaning was spelled out too closely, but also the ambivalent nature was also noted, one even thought the children were to be the victims and the note was a twisted decision to absolve himself. One particular point was made of why did the character de-robe before going upstairs? I put this in to cloud the intention. Upon reflection, it may have been better to have removed this.

I felt very comfortable with the technical aspects, and despite some probable narrative issues, I am pleased with the outcome. In future, I would most certainly not use myself as the actor, as I feel I need to focus deeper on my film making rather than be spread across different roles in the shoot.

Peter O.

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

Assignment 2. Creating Atmosphere

For this assignment you’ll create a scene with a strong sense of atmosphere.
You will explore in practice the range of techniques and concepts covered in Part Two and
demonstrate an ability to employ them in your own work. You should be able to demonstrate a critical awareness of the effectiveness of the use of these techniques in your own work.
Planning
• Choose an everyday scenario and an atmosphere or mood in which to represent it. Be
creative or, if your creativity fails you, pinch an idea from the suggestions below.
Describe what you hope to produce and the techniques you will employ to achieve this.
(50 – 100 words)

• Storyboard a short sequence. You should not have more than 12 shots. Think aboutevery shot carefully. Consider what information you need to convey about the actionand how you will compose the shot to create the mood or atmosphere you have chosen.(See notes on page 60)

Record and edit your sequence
• You can include diegetic sound but not music or any non-diegetic sounds, or it can be
silent.
• It should contain a maximum 12 shots.
• It should be no more than three minutes long – but shorter is often better.
Write an evaluation of your finished sequence (500 words)
• Critically assess your finished product.
• Identify and analyse the reasons for both successful and unsuccessful techniques that
you have employed.
• Consider where you need to strengthen your own skills and understanding and suggest
how you may achieve this.
——–
Early to Bed
As the end of the day approaches a woman sets off to bed with a cup of tea and a small cake, even though it is yet to get dark. Reclining into bed she reads her book whilst the radio is playing. Suitably relaxed, she settles down for sleep. The atmosphere is of contentment, relaxation, perhaps even solitude, but not loneliness. Using various creature comforts, hypnotic radio chatter, soft lighting and warm colours such as reds and golden tints, I hope to achieve the atmosphere intended.
Storyboard:
Instead of storyboarding the scenes with my illustrations, I have chosen to substitute them with stills of the frames I took, as this was stated as acceptable for the assignment remit, for submission. However I had originally drawn up some rudimentary sketches as an initial idea, to allow me to plan for mise-en-scene, set-up etc.
1. A woman is seen from the outside of her kitchen window. She is in her dressing gown, preparing tea. The outside shows that the daylight is approaching its end, but it is certainly not dark yet.

ETB1

2. The kettle boils and she pours out the water into a cup. Specific mise-en-scene shows cup and saucer, a cake, kitchen apparatus etc. Keen to show the daylight still present in the window in the background, the camera is low enough to feature the action in the foreground whilst allowing enough background visuals of the light from outside. ETB2

3. Walking into her bedroom, we can see the radio on the bedside, her cat lying on the bed and the bed itself has fairy lights illuminating it. To the right we can see daylight still clearly present coming through the gap in the curtains. The room is lit by reds and yellows, signifying a warm cosy atmosphere. She removes the cat, speaking softly to it.ETB3

4. She puts the cat in her bed which is next to hers. Specifically aiming to add further sotness to the scene, by showing the cat’s very cute bed and that she settles down too. It was fortunately only a few takes before Spell the cat, undertood her cue and rested down in her bed!ETB4

5. Settling into bed, drinking her tea, the woman contently reflects on the day. We can still hear the hypnotic “shipping forecast”on the radio. Again a specific intention to build on the atmosphere of relaxation. The radio four feature has survived as long as it has, purely from the support of its fandom amongst BBC radio 4’s listeners, as a hypnotic relaxation broadcast, perhaps more so than its intended service to sea workers. Also because it usually represents early evening broadcasting, I chose this to add to the realism of an “early to bed” scenario. ( ironically, I lifted the sample from iPlayer at approximately 7.30 in the morning! ) ETB5

6. Returning back to a shot of the cat. An intentional second shot, almost as a transitional shot as the following frame will represent a step forward in time. The radio continues as before.ETB6

7. Crossfading into the next shot, which reveals the room has got darker, and reds have deepened to purple. The woman is reading her book and the radio programme is different, now a radio play performance. She puts her empty cup back on the tray, places the book on the table and switches off the radio. ( Radio clip : BBC Radio 4 adaptation of James Follett’s Earthsearch )ETB7

8. Now all we hear is the diegetic sound of her bed, her bedclothes and finally she turns off the fairy lights and she closes her eyes.ETB8

The completed exercise video is shown below.

Evaluating “Early to Bed”

From the outset, I was keen to avoid melodrama. I wanted to take a risk and opt for an atmosphere that would be subtle, to offer a challenge. Despair, paranoia, threat, or any disturbing atmosphere traits, such as dread or terror, even melancholy or sadness, to me could appear hackneyed and obvious to use for this main assignment, despite some of these included as suggestions.

I opted to choose contentment, represented in the last remaining half hour before bed. Everybody has a ritual for this period of time, at whatever part of the day. Some like to watch televison, read a book, even drink alcohol, etc, but generally we as creatures of habit, have formed our own patterns of unwinding in the twilight moments of the day.

Recruiting Catherine again to play the protagonist – a character that goes to bed early, as dusk has yet to arrive. It was important to show a contented facial expression, she’s more than happy to be off to bed. Her rituals of tea, a good book, radio companionship, her beloved cat beside her. She is solitary but not lonely, her face does not appear full of longing.

Setting up the frames, I made sure that all items in the shots were either purposeful, or undistracting. Props included the kettle, tea cup, saucer, cake, tray, radio, cat and cat basket, book, bed, teddy bear, bedroom lighting, curtains. Catherine to be dressed in dressing gown and pyjamas, her hair plaited – signifying bedtime ritual.

Lighting from outside to be that of twilight, therefore the shots were taken at this time over a few nights. Additional lighting inside from the kitchen and bedroom lights, with fairy lights around the bed-frame – a character quirk. Red curtains and golden lights add a cosy atmosphere to the room, daylight still creeping in from the window.

Again, I chose to synch diegetic sound from an additional device, both taken at the shoot and also an extra dubbing of various other sounds and background noises. I enjoy the process and creativity of this aspect of editing, but specifically it offers flexibility of separate audio tracks. The radio broadcasts were added to suggest a time of day, also to advance the tranquility of the scene, ie, the shipping forecast generally broadcasts in early evening at weekends on FM.

Overall, I believe my ideas were successfully carried out. However, I note again a few technical aspects that were disappointing, with issues of over-exposure on frame 1 and some un-natural shadows behind the cat in frame 4 and 6. I tried to follow the rule of thirds as much as possible, with a few strays.

I’m hoping that the desired atmosphere has been gathered. I have left the work and returned to it after a few days, recommended by the assignment, but it is still very difficult to view objectively, as to how successful the work has been. I look forward to feedback from course-mates and tutor.

Peter O

Tutor Feedback to Assignment 1

Very pleased with the tutor’s comments. Please click the link below to view.

Peter Owden 1

I was overjoyed to have read the feedback and also a big sigh of relief that the work was met with a positive  view.
With the feedback in mind, my focus will now be on the following issues.
1. To find actors to play in my short film exercises. I have recently moved to a new area and I have put posts up on local FB sites and on Gumtree asking for help. So far I know very few people locally, but in the worst case scenario I have friends from my ex home town I can call to act, in the meantime.
2. To use better formats to upload with. As I have explained previously, currently my camera equipment is rather old and therefore I am using older editing software to put it together. To upload quickly to YouTube I used MPEG2 format and that has meant the frame rate is rather small, and the tutor suggested at least MPEG4. I plan to be upgrading my gear soon, once money is more available and once I have decided on what to buy ( the latter probably the main reason for hesitance ! )

I’ve been gathering ideas of film treatments, as I know it adds further cannon if already armed with ideas and scenarios. I’ve always got stories in my head so its not hard to gather. Its interesting though, that this particular idea just jumped into my head only a day before I embarked on my assignment, overtaking previous scenarios. It has often been said that ideas fly around the ether like radio-waves and its our own antennas that detect them.

Anyway back to Section 2…

Assignment 1. Framing

This assignment has a diagnostic element in that it will help your tutor to get a feel for your work and decide how best to support you during the course. When you’ve received your tutor’s feedback, you can if you wish repeat the assignment. If you choose to submit your work for formal assessment, only this revised work will be submitted for assessment.

For this assignment you will produce a short sequence, of no more than five shots, that tells a simple story using images alone.

Planning
• Write down the details of a simple story, similar to that in Project 1.
• Storyboard a short sequence. It should contain no more than five shots. Include as much detail as possible about each shot. Consider the framing and camera angle carefully.
Think about:
– what information you must show on screen (what do you need to show?)
– how you want to show it (how do you want each shot to feel?)

Although you’ll be recording moving images, think about each shot as you would a still frame. Don’t try and include extensive action. Provide the information by what is included in the frame.

Record and edit your sequence
• Try and stay true to your storyboards during the shoot.
• Do not worry excessively about the quality of the image. Concentrate on the meaning it conveys.

Write an evaluation of your finished sequence (500 words)
• Critically assess your finished product. Consider each frame individually.
• Identify and analyse the reasons for both successful and unsuccessful techniques that you have employed.
• Consider where you need to strengthen your own skills and understanding and explain how you will achieve this.

Submit your sequence to your tutor online with the pre-production materials (written story, scan of storyboards, any production notes) and evaluation.

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BEACH

 

A man ( played by myself ) is driving his partner to a place where she had always wanted to go.  At first seen through her POV . They arrive at a beach where he leads her to follow him. Setting up things from his bag next to one of the groins, he reveals a birthday fairy cake, a bag of sweets, a flower, a birthday card and a mobile phone with a picture of her on display. This reveals that he is actually alone and that he is either imagining her presence or is talking to her metaphorically.

He whispers “Happy Birthday” to her. “ I’m going to let you go now, I love you.”

We hear his footsteps on the pebbles as he leaves – out of shot.

We close-up on the picture and hear her voice-mail, obviously that of her last message. One that it is so normal and routine, but clearly shows that she never made it home. We are left to imagine what happened to her.

She asks him to remember to pick up some sweets for her, they were obviously going to have a relaxing evening together. She says she loves him, as normal, the message is just one of the usual “check-in”.

Finally, we see the sea breaking on the shore. We know that the sea will take the phone and other things away eventually.

Beach

  1. Passenger POV shot looking at the man driving them to the beach. As they drive, he tells her he’s taking her to somewhere she had always wanted to visit. In the frame we see him to the right of the shot and in the background the beach area in the driver’s window.
    Its essential to clearly show he is driving but close enough to give the impression of the POV of his passenger.
    I want this to give the idea that he is about to take her to a place of surprises and that I will attempt to shoot this with a high shutter speed to show the background flashing by to create some anticipation.

  2. Same first person POV as they arrive at the beach on foot. He comes from the left of the screen now and looking back to tell her how perfect and beautiful the scenery is. In the background we can see the shoreline and the beach ahead of them. He entices her to follow him.
    Essential to show that the beach is calm and blue and that this place is relaxing and fits suitably into the serene fantasy that she had anticipated. It’s important that we see him happily presenting the area to her, smiling and excited.

  3. Objective shot of a groin on the beach, looking over his shoulder which is to the right of the frame. We see him place a flower, a card, a fairy cake with a candle on it, a bag of chewy sweets and finally a smartphone with a picture of his girl highlighted, on the wood of the groin.
    This is where we learn that all is not fine. A sombre change to the scene. The shrine that he is developing indicates that this is a memorial to his lost love. He whispers how much he misses her and that its time for her to be set free from his grieving. A long shot, giving time for him to fill the shrine with artifacts. Just enough of his body to show what he is doing but with the majority of the frame shows the scene in question.

  4. A zoom close-up of the picture on the smartphone as we hear the voicemail of the deceased. A lingering shot to show her face as it gradually goes out of focus, and blending into the final frame. The mood is meant to play on the heart-strings as we hear her almost routine message and how poignant as such it can be, as we gather that this was her last.  Voicemail and photograph courtesy of my partner, Catherine.

  5. Blending into the shot of the gentle crashing white tide against the groin. We know that eventually the sea will take away the shrine. Slowly fading away, bringing the scene – hopefully – to a thoughtful end.

 

My Assessment

I wanted to give the scene a powerful emotive mood. As the assignment was to include just five frames, the story should have emphasis on atmosphere rather than be swamped by exotic visuals. The exercise dictates carefully thought-out shots and I tried the best ways to tell the story with each frame.

The first of which proved to be most difficult due to lighting restraints. I chose to use a high shutter speed which would reveal a frantic background, e.g, whizzing by the parked cars as they approach the destination. Sadly by doing so I compromised on the brightness of the shot, and upon re-shooting I would allow this to be lit better. I do believe that the first person POV was successful in getting across a feeling of two people in the scene.

Shot two allowed some colour – a bright sunny day as they are walking towards a calm blue sea . Still filmed from a POV continuing the illusion of two people. Only a short shot, as he leads her further down the beach.

The third shot, filling the frame with a beach groin. The most essential frame, a third person canted angle view revealing that the man is in fact alone and he is creating a shrine saying goodbye to his deceased partner. Time for him to whisper his eulogy to her, and placing various items there.

Final two shots: a close -up on the picture of the girl on the phone whilst we hear her last voicemail followed by a blend-in with the sea.

I wanted this to explain that the sea would eventually wash away the shrine and thus allow closure for the man. The message left on his phone since her death, has probably lead to scenarios of him talking to her, imagining words from her last message as part of their dialogue.
( e.g, “Yeah” cut from her message to represent conversation with him ). Employing the concept that he would sacrifice his entire device rather than simply erase her message or photographs from it.

The shoot and the edit were pretty straight forward, only made complicated by synchronising diegetic soundtrack by using a separate audio recorder and also adding the music score. Lighting was an issue in the first frame, I would certainly focus on this in future shoots, especially when attempting high shutter speed capture. In hindsight, simple lighting of the man’s face would have improved this.

I feel the need to brush up on my understanding of aperture, shutter speed and ISO. I felt comfortable visualising each frame and shooting, however using the camera efficiently would make me feel a lot more confident. I will be watching various tutorials on this matter.

I am pleased with how emotive the piece could be and I feel that it is successful in that. I was wary of using cross-fades, but I felt especially between frames four and five, this transition effect would add to the sorrowful nature of the scene.

Peter Owden