Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blog 3 – Production Notes

The biggest challenge that I encountered with in this project has been the editing process as I realized that it requires a great amount of creativity to compose a sequence which flows in a logical way and is visually interesting. The editing process required the need of adequate footage or visual elements that have a strong relation to the sound, which in this case was a sort of a monologue. This required often either a literal or a referential visual representation, and became a challenge when I didn’t have an adequate raw footage of my own. Therefore, I had to search for and extract footage from external sources and websites such as “youtube”, and use visuals that are logically related which I then tried to incorporate in the video and make it look cohesive and unified. Having this problem taught me that next time it would be better to spend more time on planning which includes making a thorough story board and an organized shot list with also extra alternative shots to cover unsuccessful ones. Having an abundance of relevant footage for immediate use can make the editing process much quicker, more productive, and less frustrating.

In addition, the shooting process made me realize that it is important to have the right equipment available on the shooting day, such as a tripod, to make the necessary shots. Using a shaky camera for a shot that meant to look stable and clean can result in a very different shot that may look more choppy and dynamic, and rescheduling a shooting may not be always possible, which can lead eventually to not having the needed shot taken at all.

In general, it seems indeed that making a video or a movie requires an extensive planning, and struggling to accomplish that for a short video makes one think how challenging it is and time consuming to produce much longer videos and movies.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Blog 3.5 – John Canemaker Screening

John Canemaker’s approach to animation is using a great degree of stylization, imagination, and fabrication, and emphasizing the emotional and expressive aspect of his narrative. By using symbols and visual representations for abstract ideas, such as the emotional conditions or states of mind, John Canemaker constructs his own style to reach a deeper truth than what may be possible with live action.

John Canemaker alters between a literal image/sound relationship and a metaphorical one. While he often uses a literal representation in a symbolic way and as well as to personify people and characters, the expressiveness of his drawings, such as the sensibility of lines, forms, and colors, is used as well to convey a sense of mood and dramatic tension in his animations. Furthermore, John Canemaker uses a variety of medium/materials for his animations, such as water colors, pastels, ink, and combines them all in the same movie. This creates a sense of a richer context and a lively and dynamic setting and action in the movie.

In “The Moon and The Son”, John Canemaker is using a documentary/interview narrative style to tell the story of the frustrated relationship that he had with his father. John constructs an imaginary conversation between him and the father, a conversation that reveals all the truth and secrets that his father kept hidden, and which led to a great degree of anger, shame, and frustration in John Canemaker’s life. The movie takes on an aggressive investigative approach to emphasis the urgent need of the son to express his rage towards his father, something that might not have been possible to do in real life when the father was alive. The use of expressive animation style, stylization, and abstraction, allows John Canemaker to achieve this urgency and passion, and to deliver an intense and unique personal story as he fuses imagination with actual truths.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Blog Post #2: Sound-Image and Image-Image Relationships

The scene that I chose is from a Twin Peaks episode by David Lynch. In the scene the detective is entering a strange room which has an allover black and white zigzag floor and red curtains all around instead of walls. The visual impact of the images is very compelling. The red color is very dominant and evokes an intense mysterious feeling. The overall color scheme is of red, white and black, which gives a sense of a dark and hunting place, and the zigzag pattern of the floor creates as well a sense of tension and unrest.

As the detective enters and walks down the corridor we hear his footsteps and some music is starting to play in the background. The music has a slow beat and is dramatic, and establishes as well the general mood in the scene, which is a strange, serious, and puzzling one. The music has vocals too and we hear a performer singing about sycamore trees. While the sound of the footsteps is realistic, diegetic and composes a literal sound/image relationship, the background music seems rather metaphorical of the strange mood in the scene.

We see the detective entering a room which has a few armchairs, and then a little man dressed in red emerges as well from behind the curtains and starts walking and dancing slowly and crossing the room till he reaches a chair and then sits in it. During all this time the music is still playing in the background, we don’t hear the little man’s footsteps, just the music, and the light in the room is flickering. The detective is just standing at the edge of the room observing.

As the small man sits down he is looking over to the side, and then we see a performer holding a mic, singing along with the lyrics. At this point, the music stops from being non-diegetic sound and becomes diegetic and literal, as it seems to be part of the performance in the room. Or is it not?...

The approach to storytelling in this scene is a synthetic one, as the narrative is mostly conveyed through the sequence of the shots as a whole, and the cuts are visible. All the shots relate strongly with regard to composition, color, and movement, as they seem to take place in the same space and time, in addition, they all deliver the same sense of mystery. The music as a sound element is very dominant and important in this scene, as the shift from a non diegetic sound to a diegeric one creates yet another puzzling aspect, which is part of the overall theme in the scene.

Monday, February 13, 2012

"What I Hear"

It was about one o’clock in the afternoon on a cold windy winter day when I decided to do the "Soundwalk", and so I bundled up and went for a walk for tuning my ears to the sounds of the streets of New York. I live on the Upper East Side, on 92nd street, between 1st and 2nd avenue, so I started by walking down 2nd Avenue. The major construction work along the avenue made me realize right away that it would be better for me to make a turn and walk away and find a quieter place. I wanted to be able to focus on some more “subtle” sounds perhaps, and not be overwhelmed by the loud construction noise. Luckily, I found a sunny spot on the corner of 89th street and York Avenue, and a place to sit down and listen to the sounds around me.

The first sound that I “heard” was the cold wind blowing right on my left ear, it was a relatively soft sound, which varied continuously according to the speed of the wind. I could hear it because it was right in my ear, otherwise I probably would not have noticed it. Then came the sound from what I realized to be the engine of a heating unit right from the building behind me. It must be nice to be inside a warm apartment now, I thought to myself, and continued with my listening activity, taking a note that the sound from the heating unit was not too loud, and more like a constant humming noise in the background.

Traffic made the major loud sounds and noises as cars went by across the avenue. The traffic sound varied with very loud noise from big engines of buses and trucks, and a somewhat more muted one from small cars and far away traffic. Sound that quickly changed from soft to loud to soft again for cars going fast and a more solid load sound for slow cars, and then the loudest from a UPS truck waiting at the traffic light.

I then got distracted by the sound of wheels of suitcase dragged on the sidewalk, it was an ongoing sound that changed just a little based on the surface and bumps on the sidewalk, and then I heard footsteps of people walking by, it was a soft and flat sound. Next, I heard people talking somewhere behind me. I didn’t have to turn my head to tell that it’s a women talking to the doorman in the building behind me, she sounded louder and demanding, and he was softer and accommodating. And then some other people coming down the street, and the sound of light chains, I had to look up – dog walkers, and tiny hardly noticeable sounds of dogs’ paws as they walked by quickly and softly.

A roaming sound was coming from the sky above, it was a helicopter slowly hovering up and away and disappearing in between the tall buildings. And then back to the sidewalk, footsteps again, but this time more solid and short, a woman on high heels. And then some more talking, but this time in French, it came from a woman talking to her child. Back to traffic again, I heard higher sounds this time. I realized that these were some squeaking car breaks that should be fixed. And then a few car horns, short but loud. I then could detect the sound of remote whistles, although faraway, still noticeable, these were policemen directing the traffic a few blocks up the avenue.

Lastly, I noticed what seemed at first as an unusual, somewhat softer and erratic type of sound. It was the wind again, moving and shifting around small dry leaves and papers on the sidewalk around me, they made tiny clicking sounds as they hit the hard ground on and off. This was the sign for me to wrap up and go back home before the wind picks up again and blows in my ears.