Project 14 Camera movement

Some examples of the effect of camera movement:
• to create atmosphere – such as tension
• suggest a character’s situation or state of mind
• to represent a specific POV – for example using handheld camera with intentional movement to represent a subjective POV, or a slow tracking shot to represent POV of a person cruising past in a car
• a dramatic moment – the sudden movement of camera at a dramatic moment.

Find about six good examples of moving camera work that alters the feel and/or meaning of a sequence and add them to your blog.

Below are my selected examples. Mostly genre films, as I have grown up on a diet of these pictures and their specific uses of camera skills are among the reasons why they stand above the rest.

Jaws ( dir. Steven Spielberg, 1975 )

The famous dolly shot, previously a stalwart of Alfred Hitchcock in films such as Vertigo, Psycho and Marnie, here in the monster blockbuster of the mid seventies, “Jaws”, which uses the dolly zoom to extreme effect. Whilst relaxing on the beach, an already suspicious police chief, is shocked as his fears are realised when the shark attacks it’s second human victim right in front of him. By advancing the camera on a dolly track at the same time as zooming out, the subject of the frame moves closer as the background dreamily falls further away. Supported by John Williams’ startling music, it perfectly projects the true horror and shock to the audience. Not only has the shark attacked again, but in front of the eyes of the protagonist, who had previously spent twenty minutes of screen-time trying to convince the island’s committee that this was not a one-off accident and that they open the beach at their peril. It is the climax of the first act, the shark is not moving on, whilst there is food available. The town has to react. (1)

It Follows ( dir.David Robert Mitchell, 2014 )

The opening sequence of 2014’s superb horror film “It Follows”, uses a 360° camera turn to wonderous effect. A semi dressed teen, Annie ( Bailey Spry ) runs out of a suburban house at dawn, startled and aware she is being stalked. She stops in the street, runs further up the street before going back to her house to get her car keys, finally driving speedily away. The camera tracks her as she confusedly panics before deciding what to do. This movie projects way above its contemporaries as it packs multiple splendid frames and set pieces, but this opening scene is a fine example of a skillful cameraman and director at work. (2)

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre ( dir. Tobe Hooper, 1974 )

Cinematographer Daniel Pearl is the unsung hero of Tobe Hooper’s horror classic. The film deserves the crown as a superior in the genre by the relentless attention to preventing the audience of graphic visuals, but at the same time, one is subjected to uncomfortable scenes of a disturbing nature. The result is truly excellent.
The tension in the scene I have posted below is so beautiful executed. An ultra-hot day and the young couple are about to walk into violence that is beyond comprehension. My particular favourite shot here begins at 04.18, just after the first sudden outbreak of horror in the film. Pam ( Teri McMinn ) is waiting for her boyfriend, whom we have just seen beaten to the ground with a hammer, as she swings on a house swing outside. As she decides to get up and find out why he has not returned, the camera creeps underneath the swing and follows her as she approaches the house. Pam’s hot-pants are obvious here, but its the image of the approaching house that looms above her as she walks forward, almost as if she steps into the monster house’s “mouth”, that is the most startling. The beautiful blue sky is pushed aside as she advances closer and closer to the house. It is a perfect shot, one that is stacked with atmosphere. Pam eventually discovers further horrors that surpass the ghastliness of her boyfriend’s demise. Perhaps the last beautiful image of the film before true terror descends, a monumental and lasting image, in my opinion. (3)

Enter The Void ( dir. Gaspar Noé, 2009 )

Argentine director Gaspar Noé is famous for his French extreme films such as Irreversible ( 2002 ), but it is the experimental English language -shot in Tokyo – movie “Enter the Void” that allows a unique and continual floating camera style to truly utilize his vision to maximum effect. The film is shot entirely as first person POV ( á la “GoPro” ) as we follow a young American drug dealer whilst living in Japan. The scene here is his fatality as he is shot by the police whilst hiding in a bar toilet. It is extremely effective. The following scenes are told by his astral body as he floats away from his corpse to watch upon his beloved sister as she deals with his death and the horrific world of Tokyo’s under belly. (4)

Cujo (dir. Lewis Teague, 1983 )

Before becoming the world famous cinematographer that he is known as today, Jan de Bont is the driving force behind this low budget horror-soap based on Stephen King’s novel. The story, which is often accused of being rather flat, is animated perfectly by Jan de Bont’s superior choices of camera techniques and framing. Countless moments of run-of-the-mill shock tactics are enhanced by interesting dolly shots, angles and ingenious set pieces. Atmosphere is this film’s strength. If you watch the sequence posted here, starting with the rabid dog’s POV as the mother and child arrive, to the clip’s climax and action, the scene is filled with interesting shots that stack up the tension. (5)

Peter O.

SOURCE:
(1) Film Art – An Introduction, Sixth Edition  – David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson (University of Wisconsin Press) p231
(2) New York Times website film review and interview with director David Robert Mitchell by Stephen Holden 12th March 2015
(3) Interview with cinematographer Daniel Pearl, 40th Anniversary of the film at The Housecore Horror Film Festival, October 2014 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRUB4xbWW30
(4) 
Gaspar Noe – What’s the Problem? by Steve Rose. The Guardian, Thursday 16th September 2010
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2010/sep/16/gaspar-noe-enter-the-void
(5) Nope Nothing Wrong Here, The Making of Cujo by Lee Gambin ( Bear Manor Media, 2017 )

Project 13 Non-diegetic sound

Research
Try to find examples of the following:
Intentional confusion of diegetic and non-diegetic sound / • Sound that is hard to identify as either diegetic or non-diegetic
David Lynch, as much as an auteur of distinction, stands out as a master of sound design. His first theatrical release Eraserhead ( 1977 ) has a phenomenal and thoroughly impactful soundtrack. Much of the non-diegetic score blends with the diegetic sounds of an industrial city, based on Lynch’s experience of living in Philadelphia. Factory machinery, blasting sound-horns, chimney reverbs, distant locomotives, all blending in with a continual droning score. The sounds ARE the music score. As most of the film slips into the main character Henry’s ( Jack Nance ) internal daydreaming, the sounds in his head are signified by a deep drone, blurring the line between score and sound design. This continued to be a trait used in almost all of Lynch’s work, The Elephant Man ( 1980 ) , Blue Velvet ( 1986 ), Lost Highway ( 1997 )   and Inland Empire ( 2006 ) being notable examples. (1)

• Music (non-diegetic) used to identify social and cultural references
John Boorman’s Deliverance ( 1972 ) and Walter Hill’s Southern Comfort ( 1981 ) are similar in their plot lines as well as their location in the southern states of the USA. Deliverance has a soundtrack of banjo bluegrass that is significant of its geographical area, whilst Ry Cooder’s score for Southern Comfort is based solidly in blues and Cajun music of the area. With both scores, the mood and atmosphere of the pieces are crucial for the films’ relevant atmospheres. (2) and (3).

• Music and other non-diegetic sound used to create, for example, atmosphere, tension and emotion
Music is such a key part to stacking up tension, creating atmosphere. I have selected The Mission ( dir. Roland Joffe, 1986 ) as my example. The reason being that it was Ennio Morricone’s outstanding score that lead me to see the film at the cinema in the year of its release. I was fourteen, and I fell completely in love with the film, its imagery, its music. So much so that I made it an ambition to visit Iguazú Falls on the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay myself. I have actually been there twice and on both occasions, the film score was my ohrwurm for the entirity of my time there. (4)

• Non-diegetic sound that sets the pace of a scene
John Carpenter’s classic monster sci-fi The Thing ( 1982 ) has a score again composed by Ennio Morricone, but based on Carpenter’s previous film scores.  An excellent example of building atmosphere and one that has a superiority  in setting the pace of the scene. The opening sequence in particular.

Exercise:
Abstract image sequence Choose a short musical sequence (1 minute max). Listen to it a number of times. Make a note of the emotions and feelings you experience as you listen and any images or ideas that come into your mind. Don’t worry about trying to create a coherent narrative, just try and record what pops into your mind. Find images to represent the thoughts, feelings, ideas you have. Record your images and edit them together. Allow the music to guide the rhythm and pace of your edit.
Upload your finished sequence to your blog and invite people to comment on how they interpret your sequence. Look at other students’ work.
• What meaning do you take?
• How does the sequence feel?
• How does it accompany or contradict the music?
• Are there any images you particularly like? Why?

Recording some incidental music for a space between songs on one of my music projects, I had realised was suitable to be added to my previous Stalker exercise. Therefore I decided to see if the would fit well. With a few tweaks and re-recordings I managed to make them synch well together.
The music has a trashy grindhouse early 80s slasher soudtrack feel, and the Stalker scene is particularly set to be the same. I was overjoyed to see how suited they were together.

REFERENCES:
(1) David Lynch fansite. http://www.davidlynch.de/ – accessed 7th January 2017
(2) Southern Comfort soundtrack:
http://www.fast-rewind.com/music_southerncomfort.htm – accessed 7th January 2017
(3) Dueling Banjos used in John Boorman’s Deliverence:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dueling_Banjos  – accessed 7th January 2017
(4) Ennio Morricone interview. The Mozart of Film Music by Adam Sweeting, The Guardian, February 2001  https://www.theguardian.com/film/2001/feb/23/culture.features1  – accessed 7th January 2017

Project 12 – Connecting shots

When considering what else occurs when two shots are joined together it is impossible to ignore the theories of the Russian formalists. This movement in early cinema is typified by classic films such as Eisenstein’s ‘Battleship Potemkin’ which is the mainstay of any introduction to film theory. Essentially the Russian formalists realised that when images are connected together other thoughts and meanings emerge that were not contained in the original images. Up until this point cinema had been very literal, showing simple sequences of events. The Russians pioneered the concept of montage where (what seemed at the time to be) abstract images were cut together with footage to suggest other meanings. The classic example is that of Kuleshov and Pudovkin who cut images of soup, a dead woman on a coffin or a little girl playing with a toy over the expressionless face of the actor Mosjukhin. In each case audiences enthusiastically described the excellent acting of Mosjukhin convinced he had reacted differently in each example. In fact his expression had never changed (see below). The audience had connected the images in their own minds, creating a story of the actor’s internal emotional state.

Exercise: Repeating the Mosjukhin experiment
Find yourself an actor who can keep a straight face, or a human figure or doll. Record them staring motionlessly ahead. Record some images that can represent the thoughts of your character. Cut the images over your actor in different combinations. Attempt to create an impression of what they are thinking. Upload your best sequences to your blog. Ask other students to comment on what they perceive the sequences to mean. Analyse your own sequence and the work of other students. Which sequences work best. Why? Is there anything about the composition or content of the images that makes them work especially well? It is also possible to create meaning by re-ordering elements from within the scene.

For this exercise, I chose to use an action man doll to perform as Mr Mosjukhin. I had attempted using an actor but the opportunity to do so did not arrive in time for me to work on the experiment. However I’m happy to use the humanoid doll, as I feel it adds a further irony on to what I used as scenes that he ( it ) was looking at.
Part 1 – I grabbed a scene from the German TV series Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter (2013- ) showing lots of wartime action. Flicking back to the action man, one can almost see a twinkle of excitement in his eyes, or perhaps a feeling of dread ( PTSD )
Part 2 – Two handsome tattooed men embracing in an act of love. As we see our hero again, there could be a sense of longing, or lust, or perhaps, sadly, a sense of disgust. Only the viewer can ascertain the thought.
Part 3 – The 2016 FA Cup final between Crystal Palace and Manchester Utd. Maybe our action man gets elated or bored by the image of twenty two men and a ball.
Part 4 – As my girlfriend stated upon viewing, the model in the frame has a juicy bottom! Again, the viewer can decide what the action man is thinking about the image.

I enjoyed this experiment, and how the image can insinuate emotion within what the subject is thinking. This is a powerful and yet non-obvious tool. How a character can be charged with thoughts and elevated emotions by how the viewer is interpreting the action.
Most impressive.

Project 11 Screen space : Exercise – Two people communicating

For this exercise you’ll produce a short sequence in which two people communicate across an off-screen space. Don’t use a wide shot – create the impression of the off-screen space through the composition of the shots containing the individual subjects. Read the script on the next page. Carefully plan a series of shots (each containing only one of the two characters). Sketch out each frame. Think about how the size of the frame you choose and the space you place around the characters affects the perception of the off-screen space. Record your sequence using actors or models. You can add an atmos. soundtrack if you wish. Upload your sequence and invite comments. Compare sequences, look at other students’ sequences and leave comments describing what you understand from them. Read the comments other students have left for you. Did they understand what you had hoped they would? Look again at your own sequences, those of other students and any other films. Think about the meanings that the framing and composition in each shot can imply.

Try to identify examples of the spatial composition contributing to:
• the mood or atmosphere of a shot
• your perception of the relationship between the characters
• your understanding of what is happening or what is going to happen
• your perception of how you as a viewer relate to the characters or action.

Script for screen space production exercise.

Fill in the gaps to complete this script before carefully planning what shots you will require. Try to use the minimum number of shots possible. For each shot carefully consider how the size of the frame, and the space around the character, will influence the perception of the wider space outside the frame. Also consider what the frame will suggest about the characters’ emotions and the atmosphere of the shot.

-SARAH is seated alone. She is holding something (a book, mobile, or other item) that has her attention. She seems distracted, absorbed by what she holds.
-DAN is standing [insert some distance] off across the [insert the location that separates them]. He notices Sarah but looks away.
-SARAH looks up for a moment and notices Dan. She reacts with [insert emotion / reaction].
-SARAH continues to look at Dan.
-DAN becomes aware that Sarah is looking at him. He looks up at her.
-SARAH smiles at Dan.
-DAN begins to walk towards Sarah.

“Sorry”

With this exercise I chose to avoid non-diegetic sound and just use the sound of the sea as the main aspect of atmosphere. The characters have clearly fallen out.
Storyboard Frame 1 – Sarah is sitting upon a groin on the beach as the sea in the background is heading towards high tide. As the exercise prohibits wide-shots, I chose a mid-shot, to still allow some of the background info to be apparent but to make sure Sarah is noted as sitting alone, perhaps not in the best of moods. She has her mobile phone with her. ( She is situated to the left of the frame )
Frame 2 -Dan is further across the beach sitting on the next groin along. He has noticed that Sarah is holding her phone, so he takes the opportunity to make peace by texting her. We can tell that from the two shots, that they are not sitting next to each other but a distance of beach is between them. ( By placing him to the right of the shot, it is possible to show distance between them. )
Frame 3 – Sarah, in the meantime has placed her phone next to her, responds to the notification that a text has arrived. She picks it up.
Frame 4 – Close up on her phone. Dan’s text: I’m sorry forgive me?
Frame 5 – Sarah reads and cannot hold back a smile.
Frame 6 – Sarah’s POV shot as she sees Dan set off from the distance to meet her. She heads to join him.

Try to identify examples of the spatial composition contributing to:
• the mood or atmosphere of a shot
The calm sea dictates the scene. Distance is presence by the empty beach that they are situated in.
• your perception of the relationship between the characters
Hopefully its clear by Sarah’s expression that she isn’t particularly happy. She seems pensive at least. By showing her sitting alone, and sitting upon a beach groin, she is contemplating something that is not present.
• your understanding of what is happening or what is going to happen
Once Dan is in the frame, and especially that he is texting his apologies, it is clear that there is a tension between the two characters.
• your perception of how you as a viewer relate to the characters or action.
Dan has clearly upset Sarah. But not so much that they cannot make amends. Who can really be mad at another when next to the calming nature of the sea?

 

sorry-storyboard