新年伊始 做一些对的事

2015年12月,读完了RMIT的master,一切似乎才刚刚开始。回想起当时出国时的愿景与想象,似乎一切都有偏差,不过还好,遇到了许多对的人。

其实年底也有一件幸运地事,那就是见到了安东尼。那天要搬家和送室友回国,一切都是那么急急忙忙的,面了试,回答了些问题,满怀期待的回去了,只是,那些见了面的欣喜感由于忙碌,不见了。

来墨尔本的第三个年头要开始了,两年间身上的锋芒与执念都磨平了棱角,欣慰的是,看了些好电影,听了些好音乐,还有能在这样一个艺术之城享受文化的侵蚀,一切也就满足了。

那天面试时,安东尼说的一些话似乎警醒了我,该动手去写写自己对这个世界的想法了,无关乎他人的意见和看法,只是出于本身的考量,写写影评、书评,记录些生活,把写wordpress作为一种看电影和读书之后外的,最重要的事。

 

IM- Reflection 5

I always regarded Industrial Media as a basic course that we need to master various skills. Actually, this course really delivered me what I hoped to get in this semester. What I learnt in IM helped me solve the practical problems I faced such as setting the lights, recording the sound, color grading as well as editing with Adobe Premiere.

Through completing fiction and non-fiction project, I become familiar with how to use shotgun mic to record high-quality clean ambience sound and dialogue. Zoom H4n becomes my most useful gear after learning usage in class. I used it to record sound of fiction project and acquire interview dialogue of fiction project. Besides, the knowledge about lighting that Paul taught us help our team to set the LED panel lights to increase the brightness properly at a dark underground car park.

I really appreciate the tutors who taught us in this course. They allow us to contact closely to the gears and relative knowledge, rather than to stay on the surface, which make me realize this is what I need to do as a media student, or a media worker in the future. My goals have been almost met. Therefore, this course is my beginning of learning professional media knowledge, not the end.

Reflection 4 – color grading

Color grading is an essential step in creating beautiful, professional videos, also last step through the whole process. Actually, Adobe Premiere is not a professional color software for color grading. The following examples are my color grading process with Adobe Premiere.

1. Fiction project clips

Sequence 01.Still004

Before

Sequence 01.Still003

After 1

In this case, this shot looks so plain and there is no any contrast between dark side and light side. So I add Cineon Converter effects to the sequence. The black point is set to 88, meanwhile, white point is adjusted to 570. Therefore, it is noticed that the darkness of shadow is obvious and highpoint nearby forehead, face and nose is lighter than original frame.

Sequence 01.Still002

After 2

At this frame, I tried to add three-way color corrector to adjust the saturation of details. The highpoint and mid-tone turns to be green-blue obviously, which looks like a stylized film from David Fincher to give people with a distinct look and more gloomy.

2. Fiction project clips

Sequence 10.Still001

before

Sequence 11.Still003

After

In this case, the images look so plain because of the cloudy day, and there is no enough sunshine can make the image colorful. I add the three-way to adjust the mid-tone to green and expand the volume of green. And then adjust the master saturation properly to make the frame more colorful because the previous image is so grey.

3. Fiction project clips

4 (1)

before

3 (1)

After 1

2 (1)

After 2

In this case, I intend to colorize the clips that I chose from our fiction project called Backfire. , the original frame is a little overexposed as it displayed on the monitor of school editing room. However, the clip displays on my Mac’s monitor, it looks darker. Therefore, I chose the luma curve to lower the brightness to balance the exposure. Next, utilize the RGB curve to enhance the blue part in the frame to emphasize the sky’s color.

4. Abstract editing

F3

Before

F1

After 1

F2

After 2

Footage is from the materials of abstract editing. I colour-corrected it in Premiere by decreasing the luminance slightly using luma curve, and using the three-way color corrector. The first version looks so warm because I adjusted the mid-tone to make the background warmer and yellow avoiding affecting the foreground color of green plants. The second version is to present cool hue, so adjusted a little highlight to light blue and mid-tone to green.

IM – REFLECTION 3 Article Reading

1. Rabiger, M. Directing : film techniques and aesthetics,  (p. 385-400). 3rd ed. Boston : Focal Press, 2003.

Before I read this article, I have learnt some knowledge about the structure of crew members and division of labor. I have to admit that the crew is really similar to a sophisticated instrument. Shooting a film is a challenging and big task for crew members. Only can each element operate smoothly, the whole crew will go well as well. No one is able to responsible for actor, director, cinematographer, editor etc by his or her own effort, because filming is a kind of art that needs cooperation within a group.

One of the first points in the reading that makes me impressive is Rabiger said everyone you recruit must understand and accept your commitments to the project and to the importance of drama, which is first and foremost. Actually, the situation that the same crews appear in two different movies  will never happen. The director and producer always select the crew member who have a good cooperation before. It doesn’t have to spend too much hours communicating about trivial details or extra stuff. According to Rabiger’s argument, a good director is exact leader who possess of a lively mind, broadly knowledge in the arts and other traits like these during the film production. As I know, every director has their own way of working. For different films, a director has their various ways to deal with and direct a film even if the film is directed by the same director. A director who comes from art director tends to concentrate more on artistic expression, however, assign others to take responsibility of shooting techniques. The well-known director Alfred Hitchcock is exactly an good example.

Another point I picked up and excited me is the figure of crew structure. A producer holds total power over other positions including the director. However, a director is the exact leader when implementing a film. The audience always expect that director can play full to exert his or her creativity to shoot a film. Besides, only should everyone take care of their responsibilities and not to interrupt each other’s areas, the crew would function well. Because in a well-established crew, everybody is professional in their areas and can constantly strive for excellence. Only in this way, the final film would be perfect under the director’s leadership.

2. Mackendrick, A. On film-making: an introduction to the craft of the director, (p. 1790194). London:Faber and Faber, 2004.

Actors are the central to a film, because they are the main body that will be presented on the screen. Director and actors have a close relationship to work for achieving better performance.

Antonioni argues that actor does not need to understand, he needs to be. To some extent I do not think this sentence he said is wrong. Excellent actors expect to act their roles in an immersive way to show protagonist or key support’s characteristics and behavioral patterns. However,

The first point I took from reading is that the director is an interpretive artist and is often called upon to be critical and self-consciously analytical in his approach. The responsibility that a director can take is trying to lead the performances of the actors and the development of the story, without being overly used. Every actor has their own performing ways to be the role. Directors must have absolute respect to the actor, sympathize as well as understand actors’ job. Actually, to some extent, actors are not only the people who show themselves out, are also the main reason that a story is worth being into a film. An actor who are intelligent and instinct do not need too much critical and intellectual comprehension.

Another tip I chose is that theater is predominantly an art of the spoken word, and in an effective  stage performance a skillful actor can, through shifts of intonation, phasing and subtle timing in the delivery, reveal the subtext of his lines. It has to admit that a good stage performer is always a good screen actor, but there are difference between stage and film of acting. Many characters have been played over and over, so actor is so familiar with the role he or she plays. However, stage art is a kind of live performance that has only-one-chance to play a role. If there is something wrong with the performance, actors need to fix it immediately based on many years of experience and try not to let the audience be aware of. As for the film performance, the director and producer are looking for the person who fits the world they are creating and no actors has played it before, therefore there is no reference point. So director and editor are able to deal with subtle relationship between roles and polish characters artistically further. Additionally, performance in a film doesn’t rely totally on actors’ ability and experience, sometimes depends on editing, lighting or other methods to make it more fluent.

Refenence

Gross, S & Ward, W 2007, Digital Moviemaking, Wadsworth Publishing, United States of America

IM – Reflection 3 Abstract editing

video link   https://vimeo.com/107819271

How would you have done things differently? Technically, logistically and creatively.

The course is divided into two sessions – audio recording and video recording. For the audio recording, the field is restricted within the area of city campus and the time is in the afternoon. In the course, I learnt how to use sound recorder Zoom H4n which can record high-resolution sound in stereo. It’s a regular busy day and the sound we can record is around the city campus. There is so much background noise and unnecessary ambience sound might be recorded within the limitation of distance. We were trying to use two different ways to get clear audio. First way is with windscreen, because the sensitivity we are able to hear the wind is less than the capacity that recorder can capture and the wind can produce low-frequency noise when blow through recording components. The usage of windscreen is able to be avoided for maximum to record the noise that wind generates, thereby getting clear and high quality sound. The second way is to use onboard X/Y stereo condenser mic to record directly without shotgun and boom. Even though the final sound has a little bit noise, the mic allows variable recording patterns at either 90 degrees or 120 degrees. So it can record sounds in a wide range, meanwhile, sound elements can be saved as much as it can. 

For the video recording session, I was absent. So I used the footages taken by other groups from Media Server. I checked each of clips saved in Server, I found that most of them are monotonous and a little similar because of the restriction of shooting field and time. However, it would be a good work if relying on editing technically and aesthetically. Actually, some close-up shots are more interesting- flowering shrubs, fountain, smoky chimney and so on. And I found some static shots are more useful than motive shots to complete transition effects.

The edit

For my editing part, I was figuring out how to edit all the footages I carefully selected together to achieve a smooth and seamless effect. Basically, all the footages shot in courses are little boring and monotonous – almost static shots of sceneries around RMIT, but that is we need to learn how to make inanimate clips vividly.

In the course, I learnt how to use Premiere to achieve dissolve transition, namely, lay more than two layers over to transit one image to another image naturally, which is really a practical way. At first, I inserted a copy free song in the editing sequence as background song, and then insert different footages according to the tempo and rhythm of the song. The soundscape I used is from the footages themselves, when I tried to insert the audio we recorded into the video, it seems to be a little disharmonious. All above, through the process of editing these footages, I found the each part of sequence can affect the whole video, however, integrity of a video is contributed from the sum of parts.

The song in the abstract editing is Endless Possibilities from Teamwork Makes the Dream Work by LocOmotiveX

IM- task 2 Qs 2- Analysis of Clown Train

In short-film Clown Train, sound is used to play up or create tensions of the environment in the train carriage. I didn’t hear any soundtrack in the whole film The film starts with sound of hitting the brakes on the steel rail, but with black screen, which is prepared for the following opening scene. Next, there is no any music or dialogue in the film, only ambient sound in it. This sort of ambient sound can be called as room tone – record the sound around the train carriage such as sound of air-conditioner or wind going through the carriage, which makes the cutting between images more fluently and realistic in the post-production. It would be so abrupt, if there is no room tone in the audio track. Another sort of ambient sound that is called atmosphere sound is applied skillfully to the film. The sound like crushing the rail, actors’ movement, the broken cable that is sparking and so forth all belong to the atmosphere sound. Additionally, some sound effects also help to increase tension. The wired sounds that are produced completely by digital aids become a sign in horror or thriller films. Therefore, different types of sound is applied to reinforce the dramatic conflict and be helpful to narrative.

L’accordeur is a French short film that utilizes sound to the extreme, which is well executed, tightly scripted and perfectly paced. When you see this film, you would feel so quiet at the beginning and suddenly enlightened at the end. The style of it does not seem like a crime film, but an elegant romantic film with piano music. All of this drama is a voice-over accompanied with a classical piano score. Being that the majority of the music is diegetic, the suspense builds naturally, never feeling manipulative. When it comes to the climax, the film utilizes a series of synchronous hard effects to reflect that protagonist intrudes into crime scene and helps the old woman tune the piano. It turns out that simple and oddly suspenseful, the beautiful piano notes are far more effective than standard, hackneyed suspense drones. Therefore, no matter which types of sounds have been used suitably, it is the best to get a good effect.

Then deconstruct the visual aspects – analyse the lighting, the colour, the framing and the shot construction.

Visually, many reverse shots are applied to the whole film including inner reverse and outer reverse. Inner reverse shot appears single person to concentrate on character’s personal emotion and action, however, outer reverse shot appears more than one person and shot of over-the-shoulder, over-the-waist etc can be used to describe the spatial relationship between character. In film, the protagonist always is framed to left, looking right to the clown; however, the clown is reverse. When the protagonist and clown appear in a same frame, profile of clown is always bigger than protagonist, which emphasizes that one side has the upper hand over another side.

As for the lighting, it’s supposed to be one key light in the scene to simulate real lighting ambience in a train. I think the best point of this film is to avoid reflection that the camera and lights bring when facing two sides of mirror.

IM-task 2 Qs 1 Reflection of documentary reading

The first reading I undertook was Malkiewicz, K’s ‘Lighting a Scene’ and ‘Lighting Faces’, in which he writes about actual creation and control of light on the set, which I found very enjoyable and informative knowledge about practical lighting skills and techniques.

As I understand it, lighting is by no means to pursue appropriate exposure, but is one way that directs the audience’s view properly in the frame and one approach that builds characters, emotions and a kind of texture for dramatic effects. Besides, lighting can be used to emphasize or not to emphasize the depth, which is helpful to ensure spatial awareness of three-dimensional space.

In the reading, the author emphasized the importance of the bounced lights. In a congested interior scene, the way of getting back light or fill light is to bounce the light back to the scene. The lights are positioned on the floor, and pointed upward to the ceiling, white wall or bleached muslin, the light bounces off the medium, thereby achieving highly diffused, evenly light as well as the basic brightness. The reflective material needs to be white or other light colors, because the bounce light would absorb the superficial color of that kind of material. However, I realize that small variations of these colors through bouncing light are not easy to be processed accurately for film, but is so simple for digital camera via while balance function, by Gross, L in Digital Moviemaking. If the reflective lights don’t work, the practical lights in the scene should be brighter to solve the issue, and another way is to hide several nooklite at the different corners to achieve the same effect.

In the reading of ‘Lighting Faces’, I learnt that the layout of lights can help add atmosphere of the scene and highlight the protagonist. Actually, the lighting between stage and film is rather similar but remains a little different. I remembered when I saw Les Miserable in Her Majesty Theater, I found the lighting of there brings a strong sense of layers, which add depth and realism to the stage. Fantine out for the first time, Fantine and sewing girls are divided into three layers obviously in which are highlight, middle bright and dark, which is able to reflect character’s primary and secondary distinct as well as unevenly power. In addition, the back light on protagonist’s back shapes main body, especially for the area of head and shoulders, sets apart from the background; soft and diffused light is often used as a fill light where is placed at the other side of key light and the brightness of it is never beyond the key light; the light that is small and can focalize is used as eye light to increase the brightness of character’s eyes nearby.

The second reading I choose is Documentary storytelling for film and video maker, written by Curran Bernard, which describes the relationship between a documentary and storytelling in a narrative way. I always thought that the purpose of executing a documentary is to reflect the history and to reveal social phenomena by recording from observer’s perspective. Actually, the  types of documentary are much more than these, and the angles of shooting documentary is more than merely from observer’s.

The first point excites me is Bernard states that documentary storytelling does not refer only, or even primarily, to films that are narrated. Actually, when you come up with an idea to shoot a documentary about a topic, you need to find stories to support or reveal the topic as well as to collect enough materials as much as possible. However, that is not to say that you can record anything without taking narrativity of the story into consideration. When we grab the possibilities of capturing raw emotion and passion from characters, these are greatest moments to  present a non-fiction film because of the reality and irreplaceability. Whereas, the film-makers need to know a basic, straightforward narrative of documentary they are doing so as to edit the clips to produce an entire film.

Secondly, the author tells us that documentary requires to be visualized. If not, it needs additional foresight on the part of film-maker. Actually, as for the cinematography of documentary, fiction and non-fiction began to learn from each other in mutual emulation earlier. We can see delicate composition, vivid colors, fluent editing like a fiction film in a non-fiction film, the good example is my favorite series called A Bite of China. Besides, clipping of documentary is not dogmatic, it also pays attention to the fluent sentiment and mental feeling of spectator, which is similar to fiction. Some fictions like The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield learns too much from non-fiction, we can see a strongly handheld style and high rate of noise applied to parts of film.

IM-Qs 5 Reflection of Lenny exercise

https://vimeo.com/104076867

Lenny exercise is my first time to shoot something formally in this semester.

Pre-production,

In pre-production, the actors need to learn the script very well and analyze every sentence appears in script and remember any actions they need to do. And then, we decide to design several reverse shots and over-the-shoulder shots to apply to our exercise. In the intensive, I have learnt much knowledge about how to use the recording devices and professional camera Z5 that I never touched before. Before starting film, we did many times of trials to test recording devices, make sure that mic inputs and line inputs have been inserted in the correct location, and whether the automatic gain controls (AGCs) have been opened to command the recording volume properly.

Before shooting, we have reached an agreement in terms of blocking, camera movement, sound recording requirement and then rehearsed several times.

Production,

Initially, I was as a boom operator to hold the boom and tried to extend the recorder close to the directions that characters’ saying. At that day, the rain was accompanied by a high wind. At the first times, I found the sounds we recorded weren’t so clear even the mic was too close to the actor’s mouth. Then I found that the directionality of the mic is related to the pickup pattern, so the area within 1’~3’ above and  1’~4’ in the front can get the best recording quality. Besides, the mic at the end of boom needs always point to the mouth and change the direction when actor moves.

Post-production,

Even though picking up useful clips, separate the clips into different scenes are so boring, but the final presentation is to be expected. Although the method is similar to the editing of animation clips that I did before, they are a little different. So it’s a quite new challenging for me. So far, the exercise I did was all about technical reason, such as cut the flawed shots, pick up useful shot to achieve the continuity of short clips. Besides, J and L cuts are very useful when the voice from actors does not match each other to achieve the continuity between sound and images.

 

IM- Question 4 Analysis of Nostalgia for the Light

Nostalgia for the Light, created by Patriccia Guzmann in 2010, is an absolutely impressive documentary. The good points that is praiseworthy are lighting,composition, sound and camera movement.

The images are composed with beautiful cinematography, superior framing and good utilization of light and shadow. Nostalgia for the Light opens with a view of a telescope and the dome gradually opens with a low-angle from camera. In this section, only ambient sound can be heard. And then, it follows with exposed images to cut to the scenes of moon. In the section of moon caters, the details of moon caters are so obvious, it is clear to see the dark side and light side in the same image. In the next several shots, still subjects are as the main objects appearing in the every image, the sunshine as key natural light shines on various subjects through the leaves on the tree swaying by the wind. If the clips are not the motive images, they would be perfect photographs using brilliant light and shadow.

Besides, in terms of the composition, most of pictures shows homely items are symmetrical,which are clearly found. The long table with low-angle, the opening window, two yellow old-fashion sofa and blue-yellow flat wall are all bilateral symmetry. It is revealed apparently that the composition was meticulously designed with film aesthetics before shooting. Different frames are used for this clip to reflect the inanimate subjects, and many close-up or extreme close-up to show the items’ details.

When it comes to the audio, I am a little confused about the visual parts related to the narrative content. Even though the images look nothing in relation, the good ambient sound, voice-over and music lead to the main character invisibly. The most interesting part that I like is the dreamlike transition using specks of dust. A extreme colorful image fade into the flying specks of dust with the voice-over that tells the pro’s experience, which is so interesting clip.