Sunday, June 19, 2011

Theory of Animation

I have always held animation in high regards not only as a form of entertainment, but also as a form of art. I was captivated by the Disney movies as a child and appreciated the subtle differences in styles between my favorite cartoons as a kid. Still, I am continually irritated by the general public's view of animation as nothing more than kids stuff. I believe this opinion arises from the oversaturation of both simplistic plots and what the readings called orthodox animation. I remeber the cartoon The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics as being revolutionary to me in concept and artform. Still, it's a relatively orthodox animation: the touching love strory between geometric shapes. Even the hyper-realistic Disney company experimented with unorthodox animation in its underappreciated masterpiece Fantasia. True unorthodox animation is more like what we did with the cameraless filmmaking assignment; although, that still had a theme of the elements to it, and recognizable shapes from the rayograms and magazine transfers. I guess even after the reading, I'm still a little hazy on the idea of an unorthodox animation, but I would like to see it become more prominent in the film viewing circle. A piece of animation that includes variety in style and material, abstract concepts, and an unstructured form would be a refreshing change from the norm. Just as the readings asserted that orthodox animation has a place in art, I assert that does unorthodox animation deserves a place in the general public's eye.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rating the 6 Projects

I found each of the assignments in the 6x1 class to be far more enjoyable than the projects usually given in a film class. The only real complaint I have with any of them is that we were all under a great deal of pressure to complete each one on time while still completing the stuff from other classes. The vague details of the assignments allowed for a lot of creative freedom, but also occasionally left us without direction.

1. Cameraless filmmaking was the best assignment. The materials and techniques we were given along with the timeless theme of the 4 elements made for a very creative project. In that first assignment, we learned so many different and easy ways of making experimental films, it was very interesting. Magazine transfers were my favorite.
2. The 48 hour film race was exciting. I really liked the chance to film and edit a movie all on my own.
3. Anaglyph Filmmaking was fun. I liked the chance to shoot in 3D.
4. Multi-Plane Animation wasn't particularly my favorite. I liked using the Super 8, but moving each image frame by frame was TEDIOUS! The pixelationaspect was more interesting.
5. Pinhole Camera was the one of worst assignments of the 6. Although I still enjoed the editing process of the project, the actual creation of the pinhole cameras wasn't easy. Additionally, my photos failed to develop, which was very upsetting. Though I liked the idea of the synesthesia component, It would have been much more easy for me to complete my video if I'd been able to upload music into Final Cut.
6. The Bolex Long Take was the worst assignment. I like the idea of a fully mechanical camera, but the Bolex was very difficult to load. Additionally, it just wan't as exciting as the others.

3D Shoot

The 3D shoot was really interesting. I kind of consider 3D to be a gimmick, an opinion that I believe is shared by many of my fellow film students. The fault comes from the directors demand that the point of interest in the film be projected as if it were coming towards the audience. While this makes the 3D effect more apparent, it also is very unnatural and brings far too much attention to the craft. 
However, after putting in all the work necessary to create a 3D film, I now appreciate the complexity that is involved in the illusion. Setting up the cameras is an easy enough effort, the only problem is focusing them on the subject and making sure that the settings on both cameras are exactly the same. Our shoot was easy enough. We mostly just came up with our plot once we arrived on set. Our central movie genre was the gangster film with subgenres of spaghetti western and samurai action film. I really enjoyed the experience of making a movie based on the random genres as it stretched our cinematic creativity and adaptability.
Editing the whole piece together was something different. The downloading process was tedious, but luckily we only filmed 4 shots. It is difficult at times to determine what exactly is the proper focal point to line both shots up with in After Effects. I may have chosen the wrong point, but fortunately the 3D effect still workerd. Other than that, the editing process was the same as on any other film. The addition of sound effects really brought out the samurai and western genres in both films. I hope to do a 3D film again if I get the chance.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Rough Theatre

Personally, I like the idea of the Rough Theatre. In my opinion, one of the beat ways to engage the audience is to draw them in with a set that adds to the performance. Of course, this is especially successful if the play calls for sets that aren’t so grand. This adds to the suspension of disbelief. Still, the concept of Rough Theatre is a bit limiting. It would be difficult, or jarring, to put on a production of “The Phantom of the Opera” with the Rough Theatre model.
I really prefer the Rough Theatre theory when applied to film. It seems like the model of filmmaking is a demand for more, more, more! In today’s practice of grossly over inflated budgets, ultra-high resolution cameras, and special effects excess, a little simplicity can come as a breath of fresh air. Black and white 16 mm cameras, and their film stock, add character to a movie. The more modern digital cameras may be able to increase the resolution and detail, but they are not necessarily adding to the texture of the film. As for special effects, modern computer generated images can be very impressive, but increasingly, something seems lost. The audience is far too aware that what they are looking at was rendered on a computer and does not occupy the same space as the actor. Some of the older effects, like the dinosaurs from the first “Jurassic Park” movie are far more visually stunning. There’s a certain feeling that the older technology has more validity to it. A feeling that, although the older 16 mm cameras require more work, the filmmaker put more effort into making their movie.
As for the idea of the shower curtain screen, the simple feeling that one did the work themselves is gratifying enough. Sure, it’s not Hollywood, but it has heart.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Long-Take Shoot

The idea of the long take shoot is completely contrary to the normal process of filmmaking that I am used to. In all of my experience in amateur filmmaking, usually the camera is setup, we run the dialogue once or twice, then film it and refilm it again and again until we get it right. This time we did not have that luxury, as our instructions dictated that we film only once as we could not edit our film. Consequentially, the aspects of preproduction such as camera setup and blocking were of key importance in this shoot. In a way, I suppose that it is more like a professional Hollywood shoot than anything I have previously done. In a professional shoot, film must be conserved in order to keep costs down. Likewise, here we had to have everything perfect.

After looking at some of the other groups’ videos and participating in another group’s shoot, I regret not having any camera movements in our group’s video. However, considering the constraints we were under, the issue is minimized. The Bolex is an ingenious piece of equipment: a completely mechanical camera. That being said, it’s a pain in the ass to load. I would have to have an assistant or become better acquainted with the camera before ever using it again. Developing the film immediately after filming was great and relatively easy; I believe we got a decent amount of contrast on our filmstrip. The whole process of planning, shooting, and developing our film in just under 4 hours was very interesting. I look forward to editing the film in Final Cut.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cameraless Filmmaking

I had never really considered the idea of cameraless filmmaking as a viable form of cinema before this class. Yes, I had seen examples from films such films as Mothlight and others, but the practice never held any interest for me. I found the process to be very artistic, but too abstract and too "hobby shop" for me to take it seriously. However, upon actually practicing cameraless filmmaking, I have been pleasantly surprised by how creative, intensive, and liberating the process has been.

I have found magazine transfers to be the most enjoyable as they allow for a lot of diversity in the film depending upon what the image is of and how it's cut and placed on the clear leader. Painting on film with ink is probably the most accessible to first timers as it almost always looks good and most anyone can paint. Still, the use of olive oil with the ink allows for some very interesting designs for people who know what thry're doing. Using bleach to alter the film was also an interesting way to effect film and the process produced beautiful shades of blue. I probably would have enjoyed the rayograms and contact photos had the developer not been so concentrated. As for the process of scratching and distressing film, there is a certain value to giving an old piece of film new life via scratching new images onto it.

Although the project has been a little hectic, and the theme a little vague, I look forward to doing this again.