“[A good artist is] one with imagination and the ability to tell a good story. How well a man draws cuts no ice with me, if what he’s trying to express comes out vague and choppy.” ‐ Jack Kirby
(Sherman cited in Morrow (ED.) 2004, (vol.1) p. 181).

Friday, August 10, 2012

Week 3: Recap on Tute film clip examples

Ok, so just a brief recap on most of the examples we watched in class this week. Pay particularly close attention to the choices in camera, and the movements, that are used to tell the story. As some of you pointed out in class, very little dialogue is used to covey what a character is thinking, feeling or doing.
Which goes back to the point of "SHOW, DON'T TELL".

With many of the shots below (particularly the animated examples) it is plain to see the importance of perspective in relation to creating your 3D world on the 2D plane of the page/screen.

Sergio Leone's 'The Good the Bad and the Ugly'

For the life of me, I couldn't seem to find a proper formated version of the opening sequence. However, you get the idea. A couple of things to take note: The often-used trademark of Leone's directing of cutting between grand long shots, with close ups of gritty faces, often of incidental or no-name characters. Not only sets the mood and tone of the world/period depicted but it's almost like the faces themselves are landscapes or settings. You know what I mean ;P
Also, the longer, relaxed pacing of the overall film (you need to rent this for sure.) From a storytelling/shot selection point of view, it's engaging in a sense that really, we're just watching a posse walk down a "street". But the choices made are interesting to the audience. And lastly, the fight. We don't see it, but our minds allow to piece together what happened. And in one shot of the main character bursting thru the window, juxtaposed with highlight music theme, the words "ugly" which a comedic overtone, we have a little bit of empathy and engagement with him already (through comedy, and his obvious "skill" of cleaning up other gun fighters.)

Contrast this with 'The Spirit' opening scenes, for which we had no idea what was happening, and did not care for the main portagonist at all, despite all the stuff we're presented with at the beginning (or perhaps, BECAUSE of...)

For your convenience, I did not include a clip. You don't have to watch it again ;P

The intense little scene where Lee van Cleef's "Angel Eyes" sits down to eat with Stevens in his home- remisinent of the Tarrintino 'Inglorious Basterds' Opening scene with "Hans Landa", because of the similar character interaction, choice of using Close ups/Extreme Close ups, subjectively drawing the audience right into the middle of these tense conversations, ending with the musically highlighted violent conclusions.

A selection of still frames to refresh your memories of the camera conventions used in the 'GB &U" scene. The point of showing you these seemingly mundane "talking" scenes is to show you the possibilities in creating conflict and tension in your stories through not only script, but more so through your choice in camera, movement and composition, particularly in scenes which are basically two guys sitting at a table.

Acting helps too ;) But when you're an animator, you drive the acting.

This scene again shows the juxtaposition of the long shots with close-ups. Action and drama come from editing and juxtaposition of shots between the characters "eye balling" each other (which by the end of the sequence, are "extreme close ups", cut with their itchy trigger fingers. Note the 180 rule is always in effect- made easier by the fact the men are just standing there, but they never confuse the eyeline of the actors, and maintain their side of the shot when looking to one another.

(And what an awesome Morricone musical score ;) )

The Rule of thirds in play with this composition, and an interesting angle choice, due to the change in the normal eye level.

Extreme Close Ups towards the climax of the "stand off".

The Establishing shot- the circular shape of the grave yard centre, with the triangular shape of the three men, juxtaposed with a "sea" of crucifixes and tombstones.

Over the shoudler shot.

Fleischer's "Superman": The Mechanical Monsters.

One of my all-time favourite cartoon shorts, and my favourite in the series. Take note of the many uses of Upshots, Down shots, POV shots, Camera movements such as 'Tracking shots', that 'Dutch Tilt' establishing shot at the Museum...there's heaps in this cartoon. Plus, the diagonals at play in every composed shot.

The use of shadow and the silhouette is used throughout this short, and adds for an interesting storytelling device (what is shown, what is left for the audience to imagine).

Depth of field in play, and a nice composition example of using a darker foreground element to draw the eye into the main focal point (the primary-coloured 'Superman'), wit a blurred, soft/cool coloured background.)

Upshot, diagonals.

Depth from light/dark elements, composition seems "claustrophobic", as Superman is trapped under the fire and beatings administered by the mechanical men.

Notice these shots cut back and forth between one another when the Robot returns with the cash, and how the diagonals "balance", between one another.

The shots above and below are part of that tracking shot that takes the audience from the lab (where Lois was last seen) to where the mad scientist has Lois in an elaborate death trap. What is interesting about the tracking shot is the "pockets" of information we are fed about the location and it's relation to the lab, where the robots came from and what's in-store for Lois and Superman, without one word of dialogue, or cut to another shot. Storytelling through composition and camera movement.

Now that's a Down Shot!

A great long shot, using diagonals again, and light/dark elements/depth of field to  create that powerline focal point.

I really like the poses the Fleischers utlised in their series. I'd say the above example is almost "contrapposto", but the feet seem to have even balance. Nevertheless, far more interesting to look at than just an evenly balanced stance.

It's also a point towards the fact that apart from the closeup of Superman using his X-ray vision, we never see a close up of Superman, or even rarely a medium shot of him in action. They are almost always a full body, or an 'American' (cropped to knees) shot. What does this mean? ;D

We learnt that "power" is conveyed through upshots, such as the ones always used to show the robots. Is it that the feats of Superman verses the dangers he faces in his environment need to be shown, and therefore his characterization (in costume) comes from his abilities? Curious to know your thoughts.

POV shot.

Great Close up/POV shot of Lois.

Huge POV Upshot!

Batman: TAS Opening credits:

In my humble opinion, one of the best show intros ever- sets the total Mise En Scene for the series, we "get it" all in a one mintue intro. It doesn't even have a title. Who needs it? It's the Goddamn Batman ;P

Inspired by the Fleischer Superman series, I don't have to point to the similarities in shot dynamics, camera movements, angles etc. And, in the case of the credits, fully utilising the power of the silhouette, rim lighting, the importance of pose to relation to the "readibility" of a particular action or shot, and positive/negative spacing. Bruce Timm and Co. were not afraid to use Black. Compare this to other cartoons before this, and at the time. Strong Compositions and focal points, and the usage of Upshots/Downshots to convey power, and weakness/defeat. Barely any detail in objects, but enough understanding created through the use of shapes( to represent buildings, walls etc.), light (again, as a shape in itself) and pose.

Gotta go, see you next week! Don't forget, I want to see your 6 panel Shot selection exercises in class too ;)

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