Research

To summarise what has been mentioned already in my blog, I have approached and researched many aspects of practical production and theoretical research. When researching practical production I found that in order to get a perfect peice of video I would need a large budget, to require equipment such as a steadicam and dolly track. However, I can use other techniques to gain the smoothness and unnatural look i need to portay the camera as an ‘entity’ by filming very slowly and then speeding footage up to obtain smooth footage. I can also use my own materials such as a skateboard for example to run the camera along in a more professional un-shakey way. I have also research how to make my production look better in post production, by using transitions and edits to avoid the shaken footage, or speed up sections to create a fast and smooth video.

I have reasearched theoretical areas surrounding the ’embodiment’ of the camera and the way in which we become captivated by a movie to the extent that it feels as though we are watching it as it happens in a present time.

I will need to carry out further research in this area to really understand what I intend to get out of my project. Also I want to full understand the power behind getting the viewers completely involved in the video. Also more practical reasearch in editing and filming will always be of use!

Similar Work

I have looked into many examples in this medium and the specific area of video I am aiming to produce. However, I have not found very much that is extremely similar to what I intend to do, but i feel this is a good thing, as it shows that my piece is fairly individual. Some of the work that is quite similar to my idea as mentioned below is that of Ito Takashi. The two videos that stood out to me by Ito were ‘Ghost’ and ‘Thunder’, there are links for them both below. These videos presented very intersesting uses of lighting and projection screesn, which helped to create another dimension to the videos. I am particularly interested in the use of lighting that Ito approaches, he speeds up portions of the video and perhaps plays with the shutter speed to create very impressive visual displays of light. The videos also have a lot of light flashing, which adds to the intensity of the video and allows him to speed it up and cut the video more smoothly. I have not found many other pieces of work that use lighting in this way, or that focus on lighting so heavily, which is why I am very excited to approach this area. Lighting is usally just used to get a nicely visable video, yet if you use lighting actually as an essence or visual effect in video it can be very powerful, and quite unfamiliar.

Some other examples of similar work l looked upon were some surrealist, dream-like films such as ‘requiem for a dream’ and ‘fear and loathing in las vegas’. This films use drug use as a gateway to producing unnatural and exciting visual scenes and use this gateway to produced anything they want. This is an area that I will be incorporating into my film, I feel the dream-like state is very exciting to watch and will allow the viewer to become immersed within the video. It will also add the to unnatural, unknown feeling of ’embodiment’ of the camera and watching wonderful, unusual scenes unfold.

Watching these films has helped me to shape my own ideas and gives me a nice building block to refer my work to and help me ignite more ideas. I have learnt a lot from Ito’s work such as using lighting as an element in my piece and the power that speeding up footage has on the outcome. Also I like the way it is all shot at night, yet the lighting allows for powerful visual elements to still be seen. ‘Requiem for a dream’ in particular stood out to me as it was extremely tense and stressful to watch. I found my self feeling very uneasy, which is a good example of how video can ignite certain emotions. I will be reffering back to this film throughout production to help my ideas shape. Another aspect of this film that built up the intensity was the soundtrack, which really worked well to build up my feelings of stress, this is a factor I will put a lot of time into during my production, hence the reason for producing my own sountrack.

Proposal

My ideas have developed a fair bit since my initial proposal that I wrote at the beggining of the year (which is below on the blog) and new aims have come through due to the practice of actually getting out there and carrying out filming and post production. So having had the experience of producing my pilot I will now express what I wish to produce for my final piece.

I want to create a video piece which would be defined as more of a video art project rather than a short film, as it will hold no solid narrative. I am producing a video with no narrative as I find this area of video quite intriguing to watch, as it steers away from the common conventions of what we usually watch in film today. It will also hopefull keep the viewer in suspense, wondering what will happen next and trying to make much sense of the video. The not knowing, is in itself the experience. This is the reason I have chosen to produce a video with no real narrative.

Another aim for my final piece is to portray the camera as an ‘entity’ or a ‘being’ of which we are sharing and expierencing the journey that unravels infront of this ‘entity’. I want my video to give the viewer the sensation of ’embodiment’ or ‘becoming’ the camera and that they are witnessing everything they see with there own eyes (made possible by the camera). I hope to create the feeling that what they are seeing is unravelling in real time as they watch it, that it is all happening in the present. The reason I want to explore this area of film is because it has not been focused on too much, it is a experience that most of us get when we become very invovled with a video, yet it is not really explored openly.

In order to suck the viewers in and produce this ’embodiment’ with the camera I will portray a video which uses different types of  imagery to ignite certain feelings in the viewers, to gain there attention. The area I have approached so far is trying to produce an uncomfortable feeling when watching the video, a certain uneasiness and eerieness that I feel adds to the not knowing of what is going on, yet it is to intense to stop watching. I feel this ignites more powerfull feelings and emotions than an action or romatic video which follows a set narrative as they can be quite predictable, in my case I hope it to all come as a surprise (again reinforcing the idea that it is unravelling infront of the viewer as it happens in the present time). This will hopefully make the viewer uneasy about what they are ‘seeing’ as part of the camera, rather than what they are watching on a screen.

The video will be shot in a 1st person view allowing the ‘becoming’ of the camera to take place. Other figures or people will be witnessed by the camera, but will not be main characters as such. For example in the pilot the camera hallucinates and has a dream-like vision of a figure, yet the figure comes and goes as is only part of an illusion which they camera is witnessing. Also members of the public might be seen in some of the video and this will make a concious effort to show that they cannot see the camera or ‘entity’. So therefore, adds to the experience as the viewer can feel that they can gaze upon the world and people but not be seen themselves, perhaps making them feel more comfortable in the embodiment. The viewer will not be in control of what they are seeing, yet it will still feel as though it is happening in front of there very own eyes.

I will also be approaching techniques to with lighting in my final peice. I will be using lighting such as bike lights to create a flashing and intense visual presentation, also to give transitions between shots. I also will be exploring the use of camera flash or strobe lighting in my project, this also helps to build the intensity. Other lighting like street lights, car lights and moon light will be used to add to the eerie feel of the video and to help give adequate lighting as it will all be shot at night.

I will also be creating the sound effects and soundtrack myself, in order to get it to match the visual images perfectly. I think it is very important that sound and images go well together as it adds to the whole experience and will make it easier for the viewer to get sucked in. I have already mixed the soundtrack for my pilot, so will work on extending this or making another song for my final project.

Overall I hope to produce a visually pleasing and powerful piece of imagery, accompanied by a correlating soundtrack. This will invite the viewer to ‘become’ one with the camera and expereince the video as it is happening in the present time infront of there eyes.

Pilot

This is my final pilot accompanied by the soundtrack I mixed to go with it. The video is a 3 minute long video art piece that attempts to depict the camera as a an ‘eye’ or ‘being’ and hopefully invites to viewer to feel as if they are ‘becoming’ and ’embodying’ the camera, seeing what it sees in real time, as if it is happening in front of them. It hopefully takes them away from the reality that the video was shot in the past. It also incorporates different uses of lights and lighting to add another level to the piece. The video is viewing the camera as an unknown entity which presents an eerie view on the world, the piece also shows a ‘dream-like’ hallucination of a figure which the camera is seeing or even being haunted by. The ‘being’ as the camera does not want to be seen by the world, but couldn’t be seen even if it wanted, as it is just a view of the world intended to be felt as if it were unraveling in front of its eyes.

The video has no sturdy narrative and is aimed to be more of an experience or a pleasure for visual and sound senses. It is intended to be viewed in a gallery space or a cinematic screening. Hope you enjoy!

Below I have mentioned what I learned about my medium during the post production process of editing. During the process of filming the production I learned a fair bit to do with the techniqual behind filming. For example to gain the smoothness of shots I had to use a tripod and pan the camera extremely slowly to make the shot smooth enough, this then needed to be sped up in post production. Also in order to gain some of the floating effects of the cameras ‘eye’ I have to be extremely gently with the camera movements, which took alot of trial and error. Also I had to improvise during some of the filming, by making a botch job of a dolly track, which allowed me to drag the tripod and camera along in a smoother fashion. Overall filming went well and had its expected difficulties, but it all worked out in the end. The main thing I will remember for my final peice is to shoot a lot more footage rather than less, as problems with shoots are usually spotted during editing.

Production Schedule

Picture 3

Picture 4

This is my production schedule right up to the deadline of the Independent project, I have included dats in which I will definately not have time to work on my project due to other deadlines. This should leave me enough time to get everthing done, with some extra time for emergency shooting and editing.

Theoretical Context

The main idea I am exploring in my project looks at the way the camera can be seen as a ‘being’ or ‘entity’, and we are watching and sharing everything it sees as if it is happening in real time. The viewer is ’embodying’ and ‘becoming’ the camera, as though the camera is the viewers ‘eye’.

This looks at the way in which viewers get sucked into the experience of watching a video, they become immersed and feel as though what they are watching is real and is unfolding as they watch it.  In a way there is no camera, our eyes are the camera, or the camera is an eye in which we are sharing or making our own, nothing else around us can be seen when we are totally engrossed in a video. One theorists that looks at this is Vivian Sobchack  in her book, The address off the eye: a phenomenology of film experience (1992). She argues,

‘When we sit in a movie theatre and perceive a film as sensible, as making sense, we (and the film before us) are immersed in a world and in an activity of visual being. The experience is as familiar as it is intense, and it is marked by the way in which significance and the act of signifying are directly felt, sensuously available to the viewer. The embodied activity of perception and expression – making sense and signifying it – are given to us as modalities of a single experience’ (1992 p.8)

This shows that watching a film is a visual experience in which we become so involved that we feel it is real, we feel we’re in the movie playing or following the role of the main character, in my case the main character is behind the camera and is the eyes of the camera itself, so we are sharing those eyes and seeing what this ‘being’ is seeing. This embodiment of the actor or camera makes the whole experience even more enjoyable and produces more of a sensual experience of becoming the camera, not just watching it. Vivian also states,

‘Watching a film, we can see the seeing as well as the seen, hear the hearing as well as the heard, and feel the movement as well as see the moved. As viewers, not only do we spontaneously and invisibly perform these existential acts  directly for and as ourselves in relation to the film before us, but these same acts are coterminously given to us as  the film, as mediating acts of perception-cum-expression we take up and invisibly perform by appropriating and incorporating them into our own existential performance; we watch them as a visible performance distinguishable from, yet included in, our own.’ (1992 p10-11)

So in a way we always know we are watching a film and are not in control of the choices made, yet we still play them out and experience them as if its us doing them. Also we can see areas of the film that the actor might be unaware of, so we might know more. Although in my case we see everything the camera/character sees which hopefully will make the embodiment stronger. The added blinks and black flashes between sequences might though perhaps hint that we are not with this ‘entity’ for its whole journey and are missing things, which might bring some uncertainty and unknowing effect to the video.

Another theorist, Patricia Pisters in her book  The matrix of visual culture: working with Deleuze in film thoery (2003) presents arguments on film theory made by Deleuze from his cinema books of the 1980’s and Deleuze’s reactions to Hitchcock’s films in the 1950’s which aimed to enter peoples brains and put them in the eyes of the characters in the films, to make it more real for the viewer. (the idea I am approaching myself) She brings to light that,

‘As Deleuze argues in The movement-image, the essence of cinema lies in the mobility of the camera and in emancipation of the viewpoint whereby cinema stops being spatial and has become temporal. (2003 p. 2)

This argument states that space and time must exist in film and show movement and sensation. The cinema is its own reality and the image shows indication of thought through the space and time used. The mobility of the camera is important in my video as I feel it has a big impact on how the footage is read, if the camera presents a smooth, ghost-like movement it will create a more unnatural effect than a camera shaking with every footstep. So this use of mobility is needed in order for the viewer to become fully involved with the video. Pisters goes on to say,

‘The spectator can identify with the character’s eye/look and at the same time feel his or her guilt and fear of the Gaze of God or the Real, as Zizek calls this impossible entity; the spectator never can identify with the Gaze of God. (2003 p17)

I believe this is stating that when we watch a film we become the characters and we see what they see. we fear the real, the life outside the film, as we want to be engulfed in the moment and we want to experience the life we are viewing as reality. We don’t want to end this feeling by remembering that we are just gazing at a cameras view like we are God looking down on that life. In day to day life we cannot identify with the ‘Gaze of God’ as we are not in a film and no one is watching us. I think that this is the excitement of video and is why it has the power to pull people in. This is all about the imagined part of ‘becoming’ the camera, this vision gives us excitement. Without this film is just merely a show of objects and people in spaces. I want my viewers to become lost within my video and forget that they are even watching. It arises the question that,  when we are so distracted by a film do we actually feel our self sat there? or do we rather just become what we are seeing?

Another theoretical context that could be linked to my piece is Simulacrum, an idea put across by Baudrillard who stated,

‘The simulacrum is never what hides the truth – it is thuth that hides the fact that there is none. The simulacrum is true’.(1994 p.1)

So in the case of my video, I am making a copy of something that didn’t exist, it is a simulation which then in turn creates a simulacrum and a hyper-reality. So what you are watching is no longer there in reality but yet it is present in the video and reveals aspects of reality. This supports the idea that my video will be viewed as if it is happening in the present and all unravelling in front of the viewer.

Production Planning

As I mentioned below some of the materials that would be ideal for my project are very high end pieces of equipment which are far too expensive for me to fund. Such as, a steadicam for a less shaky piece of footage to help give the effect that the camera is an ‘eye’, not a person directing a camera. Or even better a small dolly track, to create extremely smoothly flowing footage in a almost ghosty, floating way, which would be ideal to create the effect I am aiming for. As mentioned below i could perhaps make my own cheaper versions of these pieces of equipment if I come to a conclusion that they are vital for my production.

 

photojojo-camera-table-dolly

I will mainly be filming on the digital SLR Canon EOS 60D as it films in high definition and is much easier to carry around and shoot in most areas compared to the big cameras. The Canon EOS 60D is also very light weight making it easy to create smooth scenes for my piece, to really create that unknown feel from the footage.

Canon_60D003

 

I will be using the software ‘Final cut pro’ to edit my project as I have become quite familiar to this software and got to know its ins and outs. Also as mentioned below I have encountered problems using this software and therefore found the solutions, which will hopefully save me time and effort in the future. However, I may switch to a different software in late January/early February as I have emailed UWE and been offered a special deal on Adobe, which includes ‘Premier Pro CS6’ which is another editing software I am quite familiar with and will allow me to edit from home. The interface is very similar to flash:

premierepro

As for the locations I will be shooting in really depend on what environments I discover or know about in or around Bristol. I have already found some locations suitable for my project during the shooting of my pilot. I will also film some scenes in areas back home which I feel are ideal for the atmosphere and environment I am attempting to create for my video.

 

The Pilot – Editing – Problems and Solutions

Editing as usual turned out to be quite challenging with many problems appearing and of course more time consuming than I expected.

The first problem I encountered was as problem with the soundtrack. I made the soundtrack myself using a mixing website (music shake), but when the mp3 was imported into final cut pro it made a clicking noise throughout the track. To resolved this problem i exported the soundtrack into Quicktime with several different settings until I found one that didn’t make the distorted clicking noise. I also tried to make my footage match the video that was on the screen at that exact moment which was quite challenging but I think it is definitively worth it in the end, as I believe the sound and image relationship is extremely important. It helps the video to flow and pleases both sound and sight senses at the same time.

Another problem I found was that after speeding up some sections of footage the footage had lines across the screen. I researched this problem and found that these speed lines were due to frame blending. I then had to go through every section of sped up footage and un-tick the frame blending box, then render the whole video again. This was very time consuming but was completely worth making the video that little bit more visually pleasing. However, this problem did have a positive  impact as I realised that one of the scenes looked better with the speed lines as it added to the effect and worked well with the flashing light in this shot, so I left that section in.

Several of my scenes use the effect of a blacking out of the screen between shots, to create an effect of blinking as I am trying to create a feeling that the camera is an ‘eye’ or ‘being’ looking at everything the viewer sees. It also adds to the intensity by changing scenes drastically just with a flash of blackness. However, I felt that some of these transitions were too abrupt and sudden, so I used a ‘fade in and out’ filter to help the transition to run more smoothly. Though, this did limit me as the ‘fade in and out’ filter had to be a minimum length of 1 second, so I had to play around with many of the transitions.

Furthermore, I had the slight problem of looking back on shot footage but seeing errors that i didn’t spot at the time. This is a common problem in film projects which is why in my production schedule I have left time for extra shooting for my final piece. To get over these problems, such as bad lighting or un-smooth panning shots, I simply cut the scenes down or added a fade to cover the problematic shot. Next time I will definitely shoot more rather than less to compensate for bad filming.

The final challenge I had was when I came to exporting the video. I was not completely happy with the quality of the video after it had been exported into Quicktime. This required me to play around with the export settings, which was extremely time consuming but gave me the piece of mind that I tried every way to get the video to its best standard.

Overall editing went as per usual, in the respect that it took longer and was more problematic than I expected, yet this always seems to be the case. However, it was very rewarding when I finally got it all done!