Category Archives: MDA2400 – The Filmmaker’s Vision: Style & Theory

Practical Project – Final Submission

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/126908010″>MDA2400 – Practical Project</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user5511308″>Middlesex University Films</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

So in the end, I opted to go for sound design and how that can be used to convey character subjectivity. Ideally I would have wanted to completely reshoot this project and tailor my film to really focus on theory behind a technical aspect but alas there wasn’t enough time to do so toward the end of the semester.

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Practical Project – Feedback

My basis for my practical project was inspired by the short film Good Morning by Satoshi Kon

I wanted to focus on the technical aspect of editing and how that can be used to convey how we feel when we wake up. Hence my focus on the afterimage the subject of my film leaves behind as she wakes up.

The feedback I got from my practical projects was that it was too narrative based and that it didn’t really explore a theoretical aspect of the techincal side of filmmaking. In hindsight, I think I should have consulted my tutors before embarking on shooting this project as now I have to re-structure my film to focus on another aspect of filmmaking that adheres to the brief.

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Sound Design Exercise – Building a Soundscape

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/118366432″>Reign – Alex, Erin &amp; Rita</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user5511308″>Middlesex University Films</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

For this exercise, we had to take a short animated film without it’s original sound and create a new soundscape for it from scratch. This was a challenging assignment as extensive Foley recording was needed in order to create an engaging and evocative soundscape.

I ended up working with Rita and Erin on this project and together we came up with a list of sound effects we wanted for each specific action that occurs within the film and took that into the recording studio and set to work.

After spending a lengthy amount of time in the recording studio, we managed to put together a soundscape for the short animated film that we were proud of.

At the screening however, our use of music in our film wasn’t looked positively on. We decided to include music into the film in order to create a sense of humour, using music from the Django Unchained soundtrack. Such songs we used included:

The brief did not state that we could not use music at all so we decided to include these songs in our film in conjunction with all the additional sound effects we created in order to create a cinematic soundscape. I liked the effect the music had overall in establishing a mood although I do agree with the sentiment one of classmates made in that the use of the first song lasted throughout the film and made it feel tiring to listen to as there wasn’t a change in tone or style when something happened on screen that would have warranted a change, such as the main character of the film picking up a stick and cutting through branches.

Looking back, perhaps we could have used the music and other sound effects to directly react to what was happenign on screen. If we had done so, perhaps we could have created a more interactive soundscape which would have made it more fun to watch.

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Filmmaker’s Vision – Camera Exercise

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/110667129″>The Fan</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user5511308″>Middlesex University Films</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Along with Amnah and Andre, for this exercise we had to come up with an idea that would enable us to film an ordinary space, object or area and make it extraordinary through the use of cinematography. After brainstorming various ideas we decided upon filming a fan and through the use of sound and extreme close ups, making it sound and feel like a propeller from a plane.

Initially, we had decided on filming the fan within a room in the university, but we had failed in booking a room in advance so there were no free rooms available to us. Thinking quickly, Andre proposed filming it at his house which was close to the university so we opted to head there.

When we got to the house, we had an issue with the lighting of the room. We decided on using natural light to film, but the room didn’t have a nice visual texture to it as it appeared on camera. After filming the fan for a bit on the desk, Andre moved the camera next to the window where we got a very nice back light from the outside light, allowing us to film more extensively of what we wanted. We each took turns with the camera filming the fan from different angles, from wides to extreme-close ups.

 

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The edit of the film was pretty straightforward. We decided on showing extreme close-ups of the fan and inter-cutting them with the wide as it slowly tracked in; all the while, the sound effect of a propeller plane engine, which I found on the internet, plays in the background. Originally the sound effect of the engine starts up and gets more intense as the clip goes on but on Premiere Pro I reversed the clip to give the effect of a plane winding down so it fit with the image of the fan getting slower.

After screening it to the class, the general feedback that we got was that the general idea and concept of our film was interesting, but that the wide shots of the film didn’t help the film, and in fact the the film was more interesting with close ups. Also some of the lighting was overexposed (which was intentional as we thought it looked better that way) and some commented that the film itself was too long. Also a point was made in which what we filmed was only an object and not an actual space. I agree with most of these criticisms and in hindsight would have probably opted for a different idea in which we made full use of a space instead of a particular object.

I feel that I’ve learned a lot through this camera exercise in regards to framing, exposure and composition and I feel a tad bit more confident using the Canon 7D in filming moving images and look forward to using it again to film different projects.

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Introduction to DSLRs – The Canon 7D

canon 7d

As part of our MDA2400 workshop this week, were formally inducted into using the Canon 7D. We were given a quick tutorial on its basic functions as well as utilising it practically for a short filming exercise which I incidentally found trouble with.

I’ve never been familiar with using a DSLR for filming as nearly all the productions I have been a part of in the past have employed the use of a professional camcorder. If truth be told, I’m far more comfortable with using a big professional camera than using a DSLR for filming. There is something about it that for me feels bizarre. This probably stems from the fact that I’ve always viewed DSLRs as being solely for photography and never for motion picture filming.

In regards to filming my short exercise, I found trouble with the focus and the different strengths and weaknesses of each lens that the 7D comes with. Previously I have never had to switch lenses on cameras that I have used so this was and will be a new experience for me when I use this camera for my own productions this year.

However, having said this, I think I’m pretty confident in my ability to adapt to change and will eventually get used to operating a DSLR when it comes to shooting my films in future. The prospect of changing lenses could potentially provide a new learning curve for me as now this would force me to consider my framing and the composition of my shots a lot more vigilantly. I am very much looking forward to this.

 

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Eraserhead – The Auteuristic Side of Filmmaking

eraserhead

For my first screening for MDA2400, we watched a screening of David Lynch’s 1977 surrealist body horror film Eraserhead. Admittedly I’m not entirely familiar with David Lynch’s work, having only seen Mulholland Drive (which I absolutely loved), but I am aware that he is a very far-out filmmaker who is renowned for his vivid surrealist imagery that he depicts in his films.

The screening of Eraserhead made me realise what this module would hold for me for the duration of the academic year. To present, the films I have made and have been involved with were straight-forward narrative films that have bog-standard plot to follow and feature consistent film grammar and style. I have now realised that the films I will be making in MDA2400 will involve me exploring a different side to filmmaking, an auteuristic side, that I have never personally engaged with. I find myself looking forward to the challenge and hope that I can figure out what my own style and form is like when it comes to this style of filmmaking.

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