Saturday, 25 October 2014

Coverage Assignment

What is Coverage?


The original storyboard
In professional filmmaking, 'coverage' is a term used to describe the shooting of a scene from various different angles and perspectives. This gives the post-production editor a variety of options when putting a film together. If a scene does not have enough coverage it becomes difficult to make a sequence work. The less footage one has, the less options there will be. Creating a scene with a broad amount of angles is far more likely to keep it's audience engaged than one with just two. In general, good coverage includes a variety of close ups, medium shots, wide angles, establishing (setting the scene) and cutaway shots.

The assignment criteria was as follows:

"Shoot a short scene of your own devising that will last for around 30 seconds. This must involve 2 characters and must involve a small narrative between them. Shoot the scene with enough coverage that you can provide 2 totally different edits of the same scene that convey different meanings."


The Idea


The basic idea for the assignment was to film a roadside incident involving two characters. It was therefore necessary to film from both perspectives so that the blame could be shifted between them.

Still from Coverage Film
https://vimeo.com/109916692
The main shots from the driver’s angle were close-ups and medium shots that were kept motionless to create a sense of calm. However, in the alternate film, the driver is seen to be detached from the situation (texting on her phone, and messing with the radio); the still shots then create a suspenseful atmosphere instead. The audience would be in a panicked state if the shots were jolty, whereas still shots keep them waiting in suspense.

When filming the runner’s point of view, the camera language varied from moving close ups (that were purposely shaky) and wide angles to give a larger sense of space. The close-ups were filmed out of focus to stimulate a rushed and pressurized feeling and also centered the character in the middle of the shot so that the audience could - literally - follow them on their journey.


A shot used in both versions was a shaky video of a flock of black birds all calling out, which is interlinked with the running girl because it gives the scene an uneasy atmosphere as if the birds are an irrational fear. Although this shot was initially completely unintentional, the fact that the scene could be interpreted in such a way that the girl is seen to be running away from her fears only enhances the suspenseful atmosphere further.

Although both versions of the film are similarly paced, each contains a broader variety of shots to enable a tenuous change in angle.The changes between both films are subtle, but on closer inspection there is a significant difference:

  • Version 1 shows a driver starting her car, and, at the same time, a girl runs down a road. In this film, the driver is seen to be concentrating on where she is driving, trundling along the road quite calmly and in no rush at all. This is in stark contrast to the runner, who is bolting down the street in a hurry with only a few quick glances behind her before running across the roads. The film is broken in pace by one shot of the car's indicator, which gives a pause in which the audience should feel something is about to happen.


  • Version 2 starts in the same way as Version 1, but the driver is now seen to be detached from the scene: she is texting on her phone and messing around with the radio almost carelessly. Ironically, one shot of the radio gives an audio clip of the lyrics 'I'm wide awake' from Ellie Goulding's song 'Human'. Although it is only just audible it is meant to act as a reminder for the driver to pay more attention to the road ahead. Although Version 2 is edited in a similar way to the first film, the change between the clips is only subtle.



But what is interesting is that although the driver isn't paying attention to where she is driving, the audience doesn't seem to register this information as dangerous, as (when asked) they thought both films were almost exactly the same. Whilst the first film insinuates that it could have been either characters fault, the other leans more towards the driver because of the amount of shots that convey a different perspective. 

You can watch the finished film here: https://vimeo.com/109916692

Thursday, 2 October 2014

The Hobbit - Defining the Look




A look into the use of lighting and colour to create emotion.


Originally published in 1937, The Hobbit was written by J. R. R. Tolkien.

It has since been made into a Trilogy by the film director Peter Jackson consisting of:
  • The Unexpected Journey
  • The Desolation of Smaug
  • The Battle of the Five Armies
What is most notable about these films is that they are very different to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Although set in the same universe of Middle Earth, there is a tangible contrast between them. The Hobbit, some might say, is lighter, funnier and more suitable for children when compared with The Lord of the Rings. This being said, J. R. R. Tolkien did write the book for children and it was aimed at young readers around the ages of 9 and 10.

One difference, for example, is the use of lighting and colour - which is used as an extension of a particular character - to provoke an emotional response from the audience.

In general, the film is brightly lit, and, visually, light is used in contrast to the darker elements within the films in order to represent the running theme of hope. Darker scenes, from a lighting point of view, are specifically used for the literal dark characters - such as Orcs and Wargs etc...




It could also be said that the colouration of the film changes depending on the character to create a specific emotion or atmosphere. For the dramatic, danger-approaching, dark-and-evil sort of scenes, the tonal colouration used concentrates on mainly blues and greys. Deep, dark shadows are created in contrast to bright, highlighted or over-exposed areas such as the sky. (See above).


Locations that are deemed 'good' or used in the more peaceful and happy scenes are therefore the complete opposite. Hobbiton and Dale (that is before it was destroyed) are very brightly lit and contain a wide spectrum of colours that linger on warm rather than cool tones. The temperature of these tones reflects on the mood of the image greatly.


In general, the film is quite contrasty in the sense that the shadows are vivid against the highlights; the colours are over saturated and, where appropriate, have a romanticised viewpoint.

Even in the darker scenes, there is a level of fantasy that does not inflect a realistic atmosphere. These scenes also appear desaturated, and use very few warm  tones. Although the images are dark, there is a stark contrast to how the darkness is represented. For example, today's fantasy stories are very dark in comparison and there is a level of darkness that they cross where it becomes disturbing, instead of remaining a fantasy; it becomes all too real.


Whilst The Hobbit is dark in places, there is a certain boundary that the filmmakers do not cross in order to retain the film's childlike quality. Perhaps this is why the use of lighting and tonal values are so incredibly important.


And yet, even in the darkest places, there is still light where logically there should be none. It is this very reason that the film acquires a child-like quality, using light and colour to remind it's audience that even in the darkest of times there is still hope.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Cardiff Comic Con - David Warner



David Warner, best known for his roles in Titanic, The Omen, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Planet of the Apes and TRON, shared his experiences, acting history and his opinions on competing for acting roles with the audience at Comic Con in Cardiff earlier in 2014.




Q:‘Who do you admire most out of your fellow actors?’


“What I admire about my fellow – I’m in a very interesting group, of my age group, of competition, (which is not the question you asked) but my competition at the moment when we compete for parts – and that’s why I don’t do so many anymore – are, my age group: Patrick Stewart, Ian Mckellen, Michael Gambon, John Hurt… well, you know what I mean?

As we get older there aren’t so many parts for people like us. But these are all people that I know and I admire. I have no problem with admiring my contemparys even though they might get the jobs that I might want, cause I’ve been round long enough to know that that’s how business works. They’re the top of the list, they all have higher profiles, and even if I was in fact more right for the part it doesn’t work that I would get it.

What I admire about the people I see or I’m merely acquainted with, and not because of their acting talent, but actors who do things other than act. Quite a few that I know write; they paint, compose – Anthony Hopkins composes music, Michael Gambon can fly a plane. Simon Callow who does – he’s the one person who I’d actually rather like to be because he can do so much. And this has got nothing now to do with the acting, or whether I, or what kind of actor he is, I mean, that’s what I look for now (in my envy and my jealousy and all those kind of things – I mean we all have). Thinking, ‘Boy! They can do all that!’, you know, even drive a car! People who can drive!

So there’s not one particular name I could say, that was the person I could really admire. Everybody I’ve worked with, everybody I know has something that I wish I had. And I don’t.”


Q: Can you tell us anything interesting about when you were in Time 
Bandits?

"Yes, there are lots of interesting things about Time Bandits. Those of you who saw it, could imagine I wore a very uncomfortable costume, if you remember. This is going to be brief, and not rude.

If you remember I had long nails. Okay? Can you imagine going to the bathroom? So, I had to stop shooting every time, take off the fingernails – both sets – stop shooting, go, and then I had to come back, embarrassed, put them on again…

I didn't win any acting awards, and that’s cool, I have no problem with that, my ego’s too intact. But, I would have loved to have won an award for Time Bandits, so that I could have thanked all the little people."

Q: Did you ever want to play the Doctor?

“At Big Finish I’ve played Doctor Who twice. And, in fact, one of them that I did, the person who was playing one of the tiny Scottish supporting roles was David Tennant – before he became the Doctor. So I was the Doctor before David Tennant. And Mark Gatiss was the Master. It was great to be eventually asked to play the Doctor! There were rumours going round a few years ago that I turned down Doctor Who (it’s been on the internet or something). Years ago, I don’t know which transition it was, my agent called and said, ‘Would I be interested in going to a meeting about the possibility of playing Doctor Who?’ But I wasn’t free, so no; I never turned down Doctor Who."

David Warner - On his Dream Job:

video


Monday, 8 September 2014

Cardiff Comic Con - Nicholas Briggs


Nicholas Briggs, known particularly for his role as 'The Voice of the Daleks', shared a few experiences with the audience at Comic Con in Cardiff earlier in 2014.



Nicholas Briggs - On Re-watching Episodes of Doctor Who and Jon Pertwee:

“I watch them all regularly on DVD.


I’m just having a bit of a renaissance with Jon Pertwee, actually, at the moment, and he’s a much underrated Doctor. I was particularly down on him as a kid, because, when he left Doctor Who, the headlines read: Jon Pertwee – ‘I-can’t-stand-the-Daleks’- quits Doctor Who. And I thought, because he’s – and I love the Daleks – so I thought, ‘The man’s an idiot! He’s rubbish! He’s a terrible Doctor Who!’

But of course I think it’s the best performance of Jon Pertwee’s career actually; it’s a beautiful piece of subtle, naturalistic acting. I think he did a tremendous job, and I’m watching some of these old episodes again and there’s a beautiful, reassuring quality about him."


Nicholas Briggs - On Acting and applying for Acting Roles:


“Acting is acting is acting. 

Voice acting requires some other technique as well, but, you know, a good acting training will give you that. Really, you know, we’re always looking for good actors. And it’s always – sometimes it’s always just down to chance. I know lots of great actors who sometimes say to me: ‘Oh, I’d really like to work with you,’ and, ’Oh, yes, yes absolutely,’ and then I’ll forget all about the woman I’m casting, and then sometimes I’m casting and I’ll get an email on one of them saying: ‘Oh, by the way,  here’s my latest clips,’ and I think, ‘I’m just casting something know, and actually, yeah, you’ve got the job.’

So, yeah, there’s a lot of chance (as I discovered with my career) and luck involved.”


Nicholas Briggs - Telling a Story from his Experience on Set:

video

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Amy's Eton Mess

Amy's Eton Mess - a quick video guide to making the perfect Eton Mess.


In the height of summer the best dessert is considered to be strawberries and cream, however this alternative is without a doubt a popular favourite. 



Eton Mess is a classic British dessert made up of a mixture of strawberries, meringue and cream. The dessert has been known since the beginning of the 19th century, and is traditionally served at Eton College's annual cricket game.
"I always thought that the Eton Mess was 'invented' around the 1920's when, during the annual cricket match at Eton College, a rather giddy labrador sat upon the picnic blanket containing the strawberry pavlova, squashing it. The plum-mouthed boys didn't care a single jot that their dessert had been essentially ruined (and probably covered in dog hair) and ate the thing anyway, preferring it to the pavlova. And so the Eton Mess was born and served up as a summertime pudding ever after." 
 - http://britishfoodhistory.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/eton-mess/

This quick guide was created as part of my sister's Queen's Guide Award, (which is the highest Award one can achieve in Girl Guiding). It was filmed at Essington Farm in Wolverhampton using two small Canon Ixus cameras. 

The entire film relied on improvisation as nothing was planned fully. The majority of the film was shot in the farm, whereas the guide to preparing and making the dessert was filmed in the car park from the boot of my mother's car. Whilst my mother filmed the wide shot (by sitting in the boot), I filmed the close ups by sitting in the grass next to the table just out of shot.

Inspired by many cooking programs, especially Jamie Oliver's 15-minute meals, it was interesting to see how two shots - one wide and one close - could make all the difference to giving information to the viewer.


In the video, the close up camera is at times quite visibly blurred. There is no particular reason for this, except perhaps the inability of the fixed lens to cope in bright sunlight. However, from a viewer's point of view, I and several others have found it gives the film an almost warm and soft vintage look in appearance. Of course from a filmmakers point of view, it would essentially be a disaster. On the other hand, as it has not deterred from the message or hindered the film, it can be counted as an unexpected attribute.

The film was edited on Adobe Premier Elements, but (DISCLAIMER) the music does not belong to me in any way, shape or form. No Copyright Infringement intended.


You can watch the finished video here:

Monday, 4 August 2014

Blink - The Importance of Accompanying Music

"The Angels are coming and they are fast! Faster than you could ever believe! Don't turn away, don't turn your back and don't blink!"


Doctor Who is perhaps one of the best TV shows of all time - 50 years in the running is by no means an easy feat. But one of the best episodes as rated by the fans is 'Blink' - known to most as the Weeping Angels episode.

The Weeping Angels have been considered one of the most scariest enemies of all the Doctor Who villains and monsters,(http://onepopz.com/doctor-whos-top-20-scariest-monsters-get-behind-sofa/4/) never moving when you look at them, but as soon as you blink or turn away they are at liberty to move. And they are fast.

As part of an editing experiment, I was given an idea by Lifeline which was to make a short video edit of the Weeping Angels to the music of 'The Blue Danube' in an attempt to see if the creatures were still just as scary when accompanied by ridiculously contrasting music. Once complete, the video was analysed to see if the viewer still thought the Weeping Angels as scary as they had been when accompanied by the tune of the Blue Danube. The main prognosis was no.

(WARNING: SPOILERS FOR ALL WEEPING ANGELS EPISODES!)


DESCRIPTION OF THE EDIT

The music fades in along with a black screen showing Sally Sparrow - the main character in the 'Blink' episode - walking though a graveyard past a Weeping Angel. The music then slowly builds up in speed, and the video shows several Weeping Angels following and watching Sally. An over-voice is then inserted of the Doctor saying 'The Angels are coming for you' - thus introducing what the creatures are. 
The video then shows several angels covering their faces with their hands, followed by: 'Creatures from another world'. 

Sally walks away from the house and clips are taken from the episodes 'The Time of the Angels' and 'Flesh and Stone'. At this point the music is gradually getting faster and the volume is building into a crescendo. Amy Pond is then introduced. Don't Bink. Don't Even Blink'. Amy thinks she is being turned into a Weeping Angel, and with a little help from the Doctor and River Song, she has to walk through a forest of Angels with her eyes closed. Despite the fact that this scene is quite terrifying in the episode, when put to the tune of The Blue Danube is it rather understated and sedated. 'Blink and you're Dead'.

The voice of the Eleventh Doctor is then heard saying: 'The Angels will come and I think they're coming for you'. A transition is then made to 'The Angels take Manhattan' episode where Rory and Amy struggle to get away from the Angels. 'They are fast, faster than you can believe. Don't turn your back! Don't look away and don't Blink!' 

As the music continues to crescendo, the video turns into a quick-cutting edit of fast moving images which is intended to cause slight disorientation and confusion before pausing an image on a long note accompanied by a smiling weeping angel. The video then comes to an end as River and the Doctor find themselves trapped by the Weeping Angels. River asks the Doctor: 'Any Ideas? and he replies: 'Run!' Images are then shown of Amy and Rory disappearing after being touched by a Weeping Angel and the Doctor firing a gun. An image of a Weeping Angels' shadow is then shown which fades out as if on a TV screen.

STYLE AND CONCLUSION

In the episode 'Blink' Sally Sparrow first communicates with the Doctor through a TV screen, and in the episode 'Flesh and Stone' Amy Pond sees an Angel through CCTV footage. The main idea of the edit was to create a similar old-fashioned CCTV/TV type experience. It was not intended to be clean cut or viewed in high definition, but rather to portray an off-beat, distorted and unpredictable series of images.

In conclusion, if a scene is supposed to be scary then the music should be suspenseful or disturbing; if a happy scene then light and uplifting. The accompanying music for a film or series is extremely important in creating a definite mood or atmosphere, and when an image is combined with a contrasting piece of music then the mood or feeling will inevitably be changed.

You can watch the finished video here:

Saturday, 26 July 2014

RED - Film Review

"When his peaceful life is threatened by a high-tech assassin, former black-ops agent Frank Moses reassembles his old team in a last ditch effort to survive and uncover his assailants".

Directed by Robert Schwentke and written by Erich Hoeber, RED is an action-packed adventure, full of mystery, suspense and comedy. 

Although this movie may not be the action-packed film one might expect, it still manages to shine with its undeniable wit, classic style and a star cast including Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman. RED is not a fast-paced film, but neither is it slow; in comparison with the characters, the film is set at a steady speed with insane action sequences that intertwine throughout and leave the audience wondering where the story line will take them next. As for the characters themselves, they are all brilliantly written with a good dose of humour, wit, romance, regret and sobriety.

For some, the comedy may make up for the lack of action, but with action sequences like this (see below) it is not lacking drastically.



In hindsight, RED is almost placid compared to most action-movies today. Whereas one might expect an action-film to be literally jam-packed with action from the beginning to the end, this film allows the audience to step aside from that and see that a good action movie is not just made up of action, but of the relationships between the characters that are so often understated.

It is for this reason that RED has managed to divide the crowd entirely. Some have labelled it mediocre and bland, whereas others have described it as playful with a refreshingly unconventional concept.

What many critics fail to see is that beneath all the drama of exploding bullets and crashing cars there is a strong and solid story that is brought to life by a few well-cast actors and actresses. In RED, the fluidity of the characters interactions are not over-shadowed by the stereotypical concept that the elderly are not fit for anything but sitting in care homes - in fact quite the opposite. Although at times the film may seem a little over the top and ridiculously unfathomable, the message follows through. 'Old people' are not 'old'; they are simply young people who have grown up.

Critic Reviews:

  • It's very silly and runs out of steam well before the end, though there are one or two gags Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
  • RED may look tantalizing on paper, but the end product is nothing to smile about - Adam Woodward, Little White Lies
  • What RED lacks in incomprehensible muscle-bound meatheads it makes up for in humour, story and action - Joe Utichi, Film4
  • A visually explosive film that leaves you little time to catch your breath - Roger Tennis, Cinemaclips.com
The simple truth is that the majority of viewers across the world are not able to sit down and watch a movie without their senses being over-whelmed by action, horror and the like. A film that endeavors to try something new will always be in the line of fire, but what remains to be seen is whether a steady-paced film can be watched by audiences who are used to watching fast-paced movies.

You can watch the official trailer here: