Reflection on Sound and Image

‘The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.’

Malcolm X


I started studying Master of Media at RMIT University three months ago. I have to say this is the most exciting experience ever. Three different courses at the first semester have left me not only valuable knowledge, but also one step closer to my career pathway. One of them is Sound and Image course, which turns me from a person who had no idea about filmmaking, to a student who now knows every basic step of being a filmmaker.

During the first days at school, I had so many difficulties from pre-production to post-production. Knowing how to operate professional camera was hard, using software to edit the footage was even harder. I used to be the one who could only come up with an idea in imagination, now I can work with those heavy filmmaking equipments from camera, sound recorder to lightning system. The course structure was designed so well. I learned from the basic knowledge of how many camera shots are there, how to perfectly focus on an object with camera lens circles, and how to organize a faultless frame with ‘the rule of thirds’.

I was so thankful that we had opportunities to advance our skills with our intensive days. We had various topics, from producing a movie scene to a documentary. It was hard but interesting. We learned to set up a plan for pre-production, get our hands on drawing storyboard, worked in team to decide which camera shots and angles most suited the scripts. We now figure out what it is like to manage the production and how to work in a team. Different roles in a film crew have different responsibilities. Lower self-esteem and support each other will always bring good results.

We now also know what Vox Pop is. We were struggling with our confidence when asking strangers to do the interview in front of camera. But it is no longer a problem. A refusal can never bring us down. This is not only an experience in producing documentary, but also a lesson for every person. Be patient and never stop trying.

However, the most compelling skill I learned from the course is editing. It was really hard and it took so much time to know every function of the editing software, especially Pro Premiere. Each tool has its own function. And when there were too many ‘terms’ to learn, I started being panic. I overcame by dropping at the suite when I had no class. Practicing is the only option to develop editing skills. Now I know a lot of short keys in Pro Premiere to save time, as well as how to polish my product with different video and audio effect tools.


Sound and Image course is almost ended. After three months I now acknowledge every step of filmmaking from pre to post production. I wish we could have more class for this course so we can advance our skills. Advancing editing skills is essential and I would never stop practicing to achieve my goal.

Color Grade

Colour Grade is the process of altering and enhancing the colour of a motion picture, video image and it is always my favourite part of editing a video. We use colour to describe objects, express emotion, and evoke a response. It is descriptive beyond what we see. Therefore, colour grade in post production is essential. Different colour grade will generate different themes and styles of the video.

originalThis is the screenshot of my project “The One”. We filmed the scene in a “not too sunny” day in Carlton Garden. However, this footage is a little bit too much exposure.


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For the 1st grade, I reduced the brightness to -20 and contrast by -0.4. The Three-Way Colour Corrector was used to change the “mood” for the video. The Shadows, Midtones and Highlights were adjust by the following image. The Master Saturation was also changed to 45 to fade the video. Now I have a red artistic look to create a vintage theme.

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colorgrade2For the 2nd grade, I kept using the Three-Way Colour Correction. I want to have a bold, dark and mystery look, therefore I decreased the brightness to -12, contrast by 3. I like how this function had the colour wheel for the Shadows, Midtones and Highlights. This one so far is my ideal tool in Colour Grading.


colorgrade-3

With the final grade, I decided to bring a “hope” for my character by using bright,
colourfultheme. The RGB curve is quite easy to use. When I used the red and blue together, it made the clip more liveable. I feel I needed to get a better idea of what I wanted to do with this footage, but I enjoyed giving a try on RGB curve. screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-4-37-23-am


Colour is a fundamental element of design and visual storytelling, and Colour Grade is an indispensable element in post-production. This is a creative process where decisions are made to further enhance or establish a new visual tone to the project.

Documentary in a Day

Producing a documentary is not easy as I expected. We formed a group of 6, switching our roles frequently to produce our own documentary of “Home” theme.


Production

Each of us took different responsibilities. We had a cameraman, 1st AD, a recordist, a key grip, an interviewer and an interviewee.

We used MCU to do the interview. The interviewer sat to the right of the screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-8-00-56-pmcamera so that the interviewee did not look straight into the camera. This made the audience feel more comfortable with what was being said by the interviewee than they would if the interviewee was staring straight at them. For best results, we placed the interviewer and the interviewee level with the camera, to avoid making the interviewee appear to be looking up or down.

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Because of rule #1, we complimented the interview’s eye line, by observing the Rule of Thirds. We considered our camera shot as cut into thirds and place the interviewee in the opposite third to the direction that they are looking. This gave our shot a sense of balance and removed any empty “dead space” behind them.

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When framing up our shot, we also considered the interviewee’s surroundings. A tree was placed in the background to reduce the emptiness of the blank white wall. Because we filmed with a single camera, as I mentioned above, we framed our interviewee with a medium close-up. This will allow the audience to see the interviewee’s facial expressions.

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Three lights were set up. We used a square panel light as the key light. The key light was the most important light because it was the brightest light in the frame. In this case, we had a lot of shadow off to the camera left side and below interviewees’ heads because the key light was placed to the right and high. We used the fill light. It was not as powerful as the key light, but what it did was to adjust light to the exact part of the frame that was in the shadow. The last light was in the back. This light created a shadow of the tree which made the background more interesting.

The interview was really interesting. Each of us switched our roles as an interviewee. Because the theme was “Home”, we asked each other with questions comparing our hometown to Australia, where we are studying abroad. We are classmates, it explains why the atmosphere was really comfortable. Everybody was doing great, both asking and answering. Our different personalities and confidence contributed to a pleasant and laughable documentary.

We are quite happy with our interview, however, the camera was not placed properly when we interviewed Evelyn (at 0:18). She was a little bit in the centre of the frame. Also, the gem should have been adjusted to create soft light. More details of lightning should have been considered to make our interviewees’ skin smoother. And also if we have a chance to do another interview with people whom we do not know well, we will have to warm up the atmosphere before filming in order to produce the interview exactly how we want.


Post Production

The documentary was edited individually. We had two types of footage separated in different folders, one was the interview and one was “B-roll”. We went out to film extra landscapes for the “B-roll” after interviewing but I did not put it in my documentary because the duration of the interview is enough.

I begin my documentary with a short introduction. The graphic world map was adjusted to the background then followed by a number of houses popping over it to illustrate the theme “Home”.

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Editing the documentary is really tricky, especially when I had to cut the footage. We did not have a list of questions and we switched our role as interview, therefore it took me time to find and cut footage in groups. However, we had common questions for the interview, every group of answers began with a question which was showed in text. There are 5 questions. Opening with greetings, then followed by “What’s your name?”, “Anything special about your name?”, “Where are you from?”, “How long have you been in Australia?”, and “How different is your home from Australia?”.

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The answer of each interviewee was cut just right. I used cross dissolve in every beginning and ending of each group. The part of asking names were attached with text in order to clarify the audience with each interviewees’ names. The video also was colour corrected and I reduced the saturation to lower the yellowish. The documentary was ended by some footage of behind the scene.

Our interview was recorded right, the interviewees talked clear and loud enough, there was no noise in the background. However, I put some chill music in the background to avoid the awkward silence.


Forbidden Lies

Forbidden Lies is an Australian documentary released in September 2007. It was directed by Anna Broinowski. A dramatized documentary investigating accusations that “Forbidden Love” author Norma Khouri made up her biographical tale of a Muslim friend who was killed for dating a Christian.


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The first 30 seconds the clips shows two characters in a several different settings. The audio includes some sound effects, such as: birds chirping, sparkling sound, car, weird sound when throwing scarf and landing on the ground, footsteps, wind, etc.

Perhaps the sound of car, footsteps and wind could have been recorded during filming these scenes. However, the rest of the sound may come from sound library. The car sound was adjusted as it approached and drove away. However, no car sound is heard when the couple is in the car. The sound of the scarf removal is too unrealistic. The editor may do it intentionally to emphasise this action.

When the couple is the shop, we still hear the bird chirping. The editor perhaps wanted to maintain the liveable feeling when layering the sound effects.


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The previous sound effects are cut off when the documentary turns into the interview. The woman said, “This is not the truth”. A new set of sound effects was create, it has the feeling when you shut down something immediately. The audio is followed by a cash register sound. All we can hear from here is the woman talking with the sound when she types on her computer later. The audio matches the image, therefore the scene may have been film and recorded on site. When the woman talks about the book, there is a chime sound in the background like a sign.


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The next shot is an outdoor interview with Dr. Amal. The audio mainly concentrates on her speaking, we can hear the sound of the bird as well. This could have been recorded on set, or could have been added. When Dr. Amal talks about the same book, we hear the same chime sound again. The scene leads us to another women holding the book. When she finishes her sentence, a photograph capture sound is adjusted as the frame becomes still. Dr. Amal continues her talking with the bird sound in the background like the beginning.

The scene then moves back to the first woman, she reads the book out loud and her voice is connected and recited with the woman’s voice, who holds the book we mentioned above. The editor layered the recordings the part which both of the women do the reading.


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The next scene shows a map. A sound effect of heartbeat is added with a pretty scary music. When it zooms in Jordan, we can hear the sound of paper tearing. This sound effect may have been taken from library. The interview of the woman is layered in the background, running along with the sound effect.


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We are taken to the woman’s office again. She closes the book and puts it on the table. These sound could have recorded during filming. Then the woman started talking about a unisex salon shop. The scene then was filmed outdoor. We hear the man’s voice selling newspaper with background noise while the woman keeps doing her interview. When the camera zooms into the shop sign, a musical instrument sound may have been used.

We then jump back to her office. The woman is making a phone call and dealing with the papers. These sound could have been recorded on the set.


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We go back to Dr. Amal’s interview then continue with the seperate women’s and men’s hair salon. The sound effects of cutting and spraying in women’s hair salon seem to be taken from sound library while the shaving sound in men’s hair salon may have been recorded during filming.


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The outdoor scene was recorded well. We barely hear the background noise. The audio only focus on the women speaking. A mini microphone may have been used to record her voice.  However, we can hear the noise in the background when the scene changes from outside to inside the shop. The re-enactment begins with the voice reading the book. The sound of the money sheet and coins could have been recorded there, then is followed by the sound of camera shutter effect. The voice is kept playing along while the re-enactment continues with the sound of the woman taking the pack of cigarettes and the lighter, then lighting the cigarette. It is really compelling when the editor used the reverse sound effect to illustrate the reverse footage. After that, we hear the sound of turing a page when we see the book.


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The final part of the clip was filmed in the street with Dr. Amal’s interview in the background. The sound effect of pulling down the hotel could have been sourced from sound library. There are three layers during this scene, Dr. Amal’s interview, sound effects and the music. It then is followed by the first woman’s talking about the gym. Dr. Amal’s interview in the background is brought back then the scene continues with the gymnastic trainer’s interview with background noise. We can hear a “ding” sound when the camera focused on the Music Box sign on the van. The woman’s phone must have turned on the speaker mode so we can hear their conversation while she is talking over the phone. The clip ends with the sound of her closing her phone and the sound of a bus driving through. These could have been recorded during filming.

No Direction Home

No Direction Home is a documentary which traces the life of Bob Dylan, the famous American songwriter, singer, artist, and writer. The documentary was produced by Martin Scorsese. The film focuses on the period between Dylan’s arrival in New York in January 1961 and his “retirement” from touring following his motorcycle accident in July 1966. The 2 minute sequence edited by Thelma Schoonmaker that opens has left an unforgettable impression of narrative style in documentary.

It begins with archive screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-11-18-48-pmfootage of Bob Dylan’s performance. The footage was not edited with any kind of effect in order to remain its original. Both Schoonmaker and Scorsese were really good at expressing human emotion at the beginning of this scene. This generates a “young Bob Dylan” with full of enthusiasm, he was singing on the stage with a guitar and a harmonica around his neck. It then followed by a cross dissolve effect of a black and white image, between a MCU of the tree branches and a WS of the forest covered by heavy snow with a silence.

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Bob Dylan started to talk about his past from here. The picture of an old house was attached with “Many Years Earlier” to emphasise his interview in the second part of this documentary. His folk music was played along in the background. Bob Dylan stated that he was about 10 when he first found the guitar, when he first played guitar, when he heard music on the big mahogany radioscreen-shot-2016-10-28-at-11-33-04-pm

that had the 78” turntable, followed by a video of a turnable. It was really interesting when Dylan mentioned the song “Drifting Too Far From The Shore”, the song as well as was played in the background at the same time. And I guess that was the moment he made decision to step into his music career. Schoonmaker used Dylan’s archive material to mix with his interview.

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-11-47-37-pmIn the third part of the scene, a video of a main street with the sign “Iron Mines 1 Mile North” with fast tempo music in the background. Dylan started talking about his home town, “what happens to a town after its livelihood is gone, it decays and blows away.” The scene continues with footage from the mines with low tempo background music.

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Dylan talks about mining company and farmland, it was a really hard summer time and cold in winter. Dylan even said people did not have clothes.

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“The pit was on there, out of the limited of the town. You could be a rebel, it was so cold there. There was not any philosophy, idiom, ideology to really go against.”

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The final part of the scene was the pictures of the town and his father’s electrical store. Dylan discussed his father’s store and the first job he had was to sweep up the store. He learned the “discipline of hard work and the merits of employment.”


I guess we will see how Bob Dylan grow up and be a successful music artist in the upcoming movie. The two minute sequence lets us know his childhood and how he feels he was “born to the wrong parents”. It is expected to show more about his family, his home town, and his life and his personal philosophy of life through music.

Introduction to Documentary

What is Documentary?

Documentary is a non-fictional motion picture. It describes some aspect of reality for the purposes of instruction, education and maintaining a historical evidence.

Modes of Documentary Film

Documentary mode is a theoretical scheme which was developed by American documentary theorist Bill Nichols. Documentary mode distinguishes particular traits and conventions of various documentary film styles.

Bill Nichols describes four different documentary mode in his reading, including Observational, Participatory, Reflexive, and Performative Modes.

This article will discuss the hallmarks of Observational mode in documentary film.


Observational Mode

Observational documentary attempt to simply and observe lived experience with a minimum of intervention.

Bill Nichols has stated, “what we saw was what there was”. This mode ensures the authenticity of what happens. A pure observational documentary has no voice-over commentary, no supplementary music and sound effects, no inter-titles, no historical reenactments, no behaviour repeated for the camera, and no interviews in post-production.  Observational documentary tends to simply observe, allowing viewers to reach whatever conclusions they may figure.

The filmmakers are neutral observer. They are normally out of shot so they cannot influence what is happening. Nothing will be rehearsed or staged. This means filmmaker has to rush around, resulting in poor shaky looking footage. Bill also has said, “We look in on life as it is lived. Often the characters are caught up in pressing demands or a crisis of their own. This requires their attention and draws it away from the presence of filmmakers.”Observational documentary arises from available lightweight portable synchronous recording equipment and dissatisfaction with moralising quality of expository documentary. The filmmakers have to be patient to catch the right moments,  they will be in a “waiting position” or else missing a really tiny “piece” of footage will make the documentary unfinished.

One of the most controversial conflicts of our time, the Vietnam War inspired untold numbers of films, songs and books, and most of historical records are observational documentaries. The truth of the most disastrous battlefield in human history are revealed. Every footage taken by courageous reporters and filmmakers from all over the world will remain its previous eternally.

Bill mentioned in his work about whether the cameraman should have refused or tried to dissuade the Vietnamese monk, who set himself on fire to protest the Vietnam War. This is an issue that the filmmakers consider when producing documentaries. Should they ignore the obstacles and continue with what happens in reality, or should they intervene to save a person, or simply a creature of the wildlife? The filmmakers have to pull out their boldness to witness and work in the battlefield, where they can sacrifice their lives to catch these valuable survival moments

However, observational documentary aimed for immediacy, intimacy, and revelation of individual human character in ordinary life situations. Every historical record should be honoured to certify its originality.

Making an observational documentary brings a lot of benefits. It allows filmmaker to record unobtrusively what happens when not explicitly addressing the camera. Although it stresses the non-intervention of filmmaker, this mode raises the ability of filmmaker to include representative and revealing moments. Filmmaker cedes control of events more than any other mode, it helps with building patience and filmmaking skills development while they have to properly record sound and images.

 

Reference:

Nichols, Bill, 2010. Introduction to Documentary . 2nd ed. America: Indiana University Press.

 

A Scene

“Violence is one of the most fun things to watch.”

Quentin Tarantino


It was Autumn 2003 when I was reading a teenager magazine. There was a column written by a fashion blogger. It was attachedGogo.jpg with a picture of a Japanese student wearing her uniform,  and “Gogo Yubari, Kill Bill” was in the caption.

I was so amazed, the girl was holding a large meteor hammer connected with a chain. I decided to watch this movie right away. Unfortunately, later I learnt that “Kill Bill” was banned in Vietnamese cinemas because of its violence. I had waited for several months and finally I got a DVD from a local shop. I was thirteen then, a little bit sneaky. Otherwise, I would not be allowed to watch this bloody violent movie if my parents found out.

Honestly, Kill Bill was far more than I expected. It was crazy! I mean everything, the story plot, the Japanese animated scene, the black&white colour changing, everything. I jumped from intense to excited. The Bride has made so much effort to do her revenge. Every villain has their own characteristics.  The Samurai fighting scene is beautiful. Quentin Tarantino, the writer and director of Kill Bill, has made a really brilliant masterpiece.

One of the most impressive scene, I have to say, is when Ella Driver, as known as California Mountain Snake, tries to assassinate the Bride with poison when she is in coma. 

It begins with a blonde long hair lady wearing a white coat and she is holding her red umbrella. Ella Driver whistles the melody of the song named Twisted Nerve by Bernard Herrmann when she is walking from outside into the hospital down the hall. Ella turns into the room on her left while the camera keeps following its track to the room on the right side, where we can see the Bride is lying on her bed.


The screen starts to split. 

Left Side

Right Side

CU The Bride in her coma. EX CU of Ella taking her gloves off.

INSERT: of her leg stepping into a sheer, white stocking.

INSERT: of her buttoning upward on a white nurse’s uniform.

CU The Bride’s finger in pulse oximeter. CU of Ella’s sheer stocking feet stepping into white nurse’s shoes.

INSERT: of a syringe needle stuck in a vial. The red liquid is drawn up into the syringe.

INSERT: of Ella doing a test with the syringe.

INSERT: the syringe is placed on a nurse’s tray.

EX CU The Bride’s closing left eye. CU of Ella placing a white nurse’s cap on top of her head.
CU The Bride’s face. A medium tracking shot of the door is opened, Ella in a white nurse’s uniform, with a matching white eye patch over her right eye, carries the nurse’s tray with the red-liquid syringe on it, stepping out.

She walks down the corridor towards the sleeping Bride’s room.

The split screens are merged when Ella looks at the Bride through the window.

The scene then followed by an MC of Ella holding the tray, with subtile:

ELLA DRIVER 

member

DEADLY VIPER ASSASSINATION SQUAD

codename: 

CALIFORNIA MOUNTAIN SNAKE


The Bride is about to be injected with that deadly poison then such relieved, Ella has a phone call by Bill.

The whole shot construction makes the story more intense. It is incredibly creepy but artistic. Especially, the split screen has created a significant effect. One side is the silence of the sleeping Bride, the other side is a sequence of Ella’s transformation into a freaking nurse. One side is unawareness, the other side is intentional homicide.

However, the ‘coma scene’ would be nothing without Ella’s whistle, or I say, the melody of Twist Nerve. Both cheerful and haunting, this bouncing whistle tune quickly turns into a tormenting barrage of dread. It is said to be one of the most greatest moment of Kill Bill Vol.1, a hesitant but terrified melody is played along with the most suspense scene.

There are a lot of remake versions on the Internet. People try to set up the scene, actress attempts to act “cool”. But no remake version can defeat its original. A citation to praise Quentin Tarantino for his shooting script, his direction and his post-production team including editors and sound designers.


Kill Bill and Quentin Tarantino’s other movies may not be enjoyed by everybody. His work is characterised by nonlinear and storylines, forward and backward; disorder segments;  a synthesis of violence and gore, multi-culture and of course, not normal. However, with some one is willing to experience new sensation, let your mind free and enjoy his uncommon craziness.

It might be a surprise.

Lenny – Reflection On

During the first semester of Master of Media – RMIT, I enrolled in Sound and Image course. We had an incentive day to produce a one-page script and more than two hours to shoot three scenes. I was assigned to direct the shooting with other four students, a First Assistant Director (First AD) to manage the whole production, a Cameraman,  a Boom Operator, and a Camera Assistant.


Pre-production

It took us nearly three hours to finish the storyboard for just only 1 page script. To be honest, it was the first time I was the director. I discussed with Miro, the cameraman and another group member to do the drawing. We analysed the script, determining what to shoot and where to shoot. The storyboard was drawn by a student who has a back-ground of Bachelor degree in Games Design, she took our ideas about the duration of the shooting, camera shot types and the transition to transform into drawing. There were 18 drawings in total, filled with details. When we were about to finish the storyboard, we found out we had miss-understood about the genders of the characters due to the sample we had worked with previously, so the drawings were fixed all over again.


Production

It was on a Sunday morning, we went to school to get the equipments. We asked another group to be the actors for the film. While other members were setting up the camera, I asked our actors to read the script and did some practices. The trouble was that they were not real actors and also it was the first time I directed. We were all students, my actors did not get paid for their jobs, so I had many difficulties of trying not to be bossy. Although I was not satisfied enough, I was so respectful for their help.

We spent a lot of time finding the exact locations we wanted to shoot. I was my fault, I had not checked the location properly before producing. Furthermore, the constructions nearby caused too much noise, we were interrupted whenever a truck passed by.

Finally, when we were ready to shoot, there were some technical problems that Miro could not adjust the focus on the camera properly. I was “freak-out”. It was always about the time-management. On a real production, every thing needs to be on time. Otherwise it will cause money-related trouble when the budget is limited. However, we decided to keep shooting.

The whole process of film-making did not only have problems, we had fun as well. None of the group member remembered how to call in a video shot procedure, except me. I got only “Action!” and “Cut”. First AD had so many lines, she had to hold the instruction to read her lines and even she needed to remind every member.

Fortunately, we finished on time. I now know that being a director is really troublesome. I was struggling in transforming what was drawn on the storyboard into reality. I had to keep my eyes on every detail, every movement of the actors. I had to watch the time, decided whether to move forward or to retake the shot. I had to maintain the positive atmosphere because none of them getting paid. I needed to balance between my high requirement and satisfaction of what I had.

Nevertheless, we have learnt how to do our roles and how to work in a group. We helped and encouraged each other. We all tried to focus and maintained positive attitudes. No matter how imperfect our product is, we all had a chance to know what it is like in a film-production process.


Post-production

It was only when I started doing the post-production, I realised how bad I was a director. The shots did not have strong connections to each other. Some scenes were too long, some were too shot so there were not many choices of editing. And even our reflection was showed up on the window, you can see it at 1:15 on the Version 1.

Lenny Version 1:

The content of the film generates a little bit of suspense, so I decided to edit the film with green and blue tone. I used the Fast Colour Correction in Video Effects to balance the white in different shots. The colour was adjusted with Temperature: -10 and Tint: -15. Some footage was adjusted with exposure of -10 and contrast: 10; highlight: -10 and shadow: -16. To avoid the “suddenly appear and disappear”, I used Video Transitions with Fade in and Fade out, beginning with Cross Dissolve and ending with Dip to black.

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The background music was a little bit creepy to increase the thrill and suspense. Due to the noisy background, I used some filter in Audio Mixer to lower the unnecessary noise.

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After reviewing several times of the first rough cut, I noticed that the same scene when the two actors had their conversation did not match the tone of colour, I adjusted some more Temperature and Tint to make them look-alike, also to cover our reflection on the window as much as possible.

Lenny Version 2:


 

I have learnt a lot from doing the Lenny Incentive exercise, including the three stages of production. Although I have experience of working in Media, I have never had my hands on the whole film-production, from Pre-production to Post-production. That was a really valuable experience not only for me but also for all of Media students.

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Prompt – Readings Pt.2

The relationships between Actor and Director

 

The connection of Actor and Director is so essential that it is almost the greatest element determining the success of the performance. By performance I mean the whole visual product.

A few years ago, I took part in acting in some several TV Dramas and even my own Music Videos. To be honest, it was so much more complicating than I could have imagined. I had never been to an Acting class. I struggled to build up my confidence in front of the cameras. I had difficulties in understanding my lines and was too demented of how to use my body language.

There was once when I shot my music video, it was the part I had to walk in a really crowded coffee shop. The whole teamhands had to retake up to 10 times, the way I sat down in front of the piano to start my performance was too awkward. It was the first scene of the video and definitely a really bad beginning. I started to be panic, I was afraid I had wasted so much time and we could not have finished filming by the end of that day. The director came up with a solution. He showed me how to sit down and put hands on the piano. It was so funny that I realised I was good at copying. I acted exactly the same way as his gesture. However, the director said I had no feelings, I was like on duty, not willing to give performance to the people in the coffee shop.

He told me to think of the moment when I started playing piano as usual, think of the emotion I want to express through a song. He inspired me with his gentle guide. We took five minutes to talk and I have to say, it worked.


 

Therefore, a part  of “On film-making: an introduction to the craft of the director” written by Mackendrick has reminded me how the Director and me – an Actress, communicated with each other.

“Just as the most careful tracing of any drawing will always seem inexpressive compared with the original, so an actor’s copy of somebody else’s performance is liable to be unconvincing and false.” It was true in my case.

An actor can exactly copy someone else’s body language, even how to speak out his line, but no way he can imitate the feelings. Instead of showing actor “you need do this, you need do that”, the director should motivate and let the actor reveal his true feelings. Let him control his own act through your inspiration. You will have your actor perform like the way you want, with his pure imagination and real emotion.

Mackendrick also indicated on his book, “Never ignore the actors.” The director may be “freak out” when everything is on wrong direction. There is no need to put your anger on the actors. This not only improves the situation but also makes it worst. When the actor has to make too many retakes, talk to him. Be sympathetic and figure out what can make his performance better. And when he does his work well, admire him. A compliment might be the best component, it is a motive for the actor to maintain his good effort continuously.


I found Mackendrick’s work really helpful. It causes me to remember when I was an actress for my own video. Whether there is a chance to take part in acting or directing in the future, I now know what it is like from both sides of Actor and Director. A close positive relationship needs to be built up and the output result, of course, will turn to be successful.

Reference:

Mackendrick, A. On film-making: an introduction to the craft of the director, (p. 179 – 194). London: Faber and Faber, 2004.

Music in Movies

“Perhaps no other form of human communication is as effective as music in providing atmosphere, feeling, or mood.”

Alten, S. Audio in media, (p. 276).

 

Music is one of the most powerful factor which contributes to the successful of getting audience’s emotions. Whether it is a horror, action or a romantic comedy film, music can imitate  a deeper message and feeling.

As mentioned in Alten’s book, “Since 1971, when Oscars were first awarded to individual sound mixers, film credits for sound production have expanded to include recordists; sound effects, music”. Music has become an indispensable feature.

When I first watched The Holiday (2006), Hans Zimmer, a German composer and record producer, soon became my favourite music composer.

 It is the opening scene when Kate Winslet (Iris) talks about the different kinds of love. The music is so amazing that I have always been thrilled with emotion in my nearly 10 times watching this movie, over and over again.

Alten has stated in his book, “Style is a fixed, identifiable, musical quality uniquely expressed, executed, or performed.”

The Holiday completed soundtrack includes 20 songs with various musical instruments, but has a same tone colour of melody and rhythm. It is likely a brand-identity. For everyone has seen ‘The Holiday’, I ensure that whenever you listen to these masterpieces by accident, you will be reminded of the lissom combination between the background music and other sounds, including the actors’ dialogue.

Alten described “Depicting Identity” as “A dark, brooding theme can characterise the “bad guy”. Tender music can indicate a gentle, sympathetic personality. Strong, evenly rhythmic music can suggest the relentless character who will destroy the character who is depicted by thin-sounding, syncopated music.”

There is no doubt to agree. However, a really soft, tender music tone which is inserted in a bloody violent scene might be new exciting experience. 

 Angel of the Morning, performed by Juice Newton, is played along with a frozen messy killing scene in the beginning of Dead-pool (2016). It has created a really unique impression for the audience, including me.

Contrast with the fight scene on the high way is an 80s music theme, which has a slow tempo, bright colour and a chorus line “Just call me angel of the morning, angel”, is a big surprise when the screen is shown with Dead-pool wearing a red tight body suit with his mask, is in the middle of the air killing other guys.

I have to say, the music editor has done a really good job. I was astonished and laughing at the same time. The interaction is hilarious, and yes, the movie is successful in creating its first impression of its protagonist, a not-too serious character, and the movie as well.


Alten’s work is so much in detailed. It not only includes his vision and perspective of sound design in film and electronic media, but also rich audio technical knowledge. As a ten-year music student, I appreciate and admire his understanding, as well as his book. “Audio in Media” is really high recommended for every sound student and designer in media industry.

Reference:

Alten, S. Audio in Media, (p. 5-12, p.266-286). Belmont: Wadsworth, 1994.