Friday, May 11, 2012

Week Six: My Experience With Assignment One

Week Six: My Experience With Assignment One:

For me, the scariest part of the film manipulation process in Assignment One was that I was never quite sure how the results would look projected onto a screen.  However, this was also a fun aspect of the process, because it gave me a little bit freedom to not over think what I was doing and allowed myself to experiment and to think, “Hey, we’ll see what happens!”  I feel that a more experienced filmmaker has a greater understanding of what their film manipulation will look like once projected, because after projecting our film, I feel like I learned a lot about the timing of the film and how certain manipulations look once projected; it is almost like a trial and error way of making a film.  If you thought a certain manipulation was going to look one way when projected and it didn’t, then you can always go back and rethink what you did and try to tweak the manipulation again.

One of my favorite manipulation techniques was creating the Rayograms and the contact printing.  It was great fun to be in a darkroom only lit by a red safelight and place random objects onto the unexposed film and then flash the room lights on to expose the film.  This was my first darkroom experience, and it was awesome to get to soak the exposed film stock in the developer and see the film develop before your eyes.  It is a magical process, and one that I wish to do more often from now on. 

A couple of the objects that I exposed to the film that I particularly liked how they turned out were the nuts and bolts and the pencil shavings.  Andre instructed me to dip my film into the developer for only a split second, so that when the film was fully developed that the objects on the Rayograms would have a lava-like appearance, and he was right!  The nuts and bolts especially looked like their images had been slightly warped.  I would have never thought that by quickly dipping the film into the developer that you could achieve such an effect, and this kind of thinking has cause me to ask questions about how else I could manipulate film during the exposing and the developing processes.  I also really liked how the pencil shavings turned out.  I was surprised how much of the pencil shavings’ rigid texture the brief exposure was able to pick up.  The contact printing looked amazing; by laying a separate strip of film over the unexposed film stock and then lifting it up and twisting it you are able to make it look like the film is running of the reel when you are projecting the film.

I was most worried how the frame animation would turn out.  I have worked with key frame animation on a computer before so I had an idea of how the animation would work, but I had never drawn an animation frame by frame by hand before.  It was definitely helpful in Andre’s instructions to break down the animation by drawing the key frames as your midpoints so that you where you will end up with your drawing.  I made symbols to represent each of the four elements, earth, wind, fire, and water.  I was inspired by the symbols used to represent the four elements in Nickelodeon's Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoon to make my own symbols.  My symbols are simple in design to make them easy to animate, and hopefully easy to tell which symbol represents which element.  The idea behind the symbols was that I wanted the symbols to morph into one another to cover all of the elements.  I felt that the requirement of animating 100 frames might make the animation go by too quickly, so I ended up animating 300 frames, making each animation cycle 100 frames to create a looping effect with the transformations in the animation.  Andre also provided another helpful tip when he suggested using your sharpie on both sides of the filmstrip so that you get a solid dark line instead of a watery-looking line.  All of these tips and making it a 300-frame animation made it turn out well and I was surprised and happy with how it looked projected on screen.  I wish there were videos that I could watch that would explain Bårbel Neubauer’s process that she goes through to make such complex animations like in her film, “Passage,” that we watched in class.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Week Three: My Cameraless Filmmaking Experience, So Far

Going into our 6X1 class, I had no previous experience with cameraless filmmaking, but over the last few weeks I have gained an understanding and appreciation for the aesthetics of cameraless filmmaking and how cameraless films are made.  My first experience with cameraless filmmaking started with the need-to-know basics:  splicing film and making film loops.  After all, most of the filmmaking we have learned to do so far in other classes has been digital filmmaking, so it has been very educational to work with actual strips of film, and in such a hands-on manner.

I would recommend that film studies students take this class as early as they possibly can in their academic career, because of the filmmaking comprehension you obtain by physically touching and manipulating the film itself.  With this class, it was the first time I had ever spliced film together, and it was a really exciting experience that was just too cool.  And then the next step was making a film loop, which went hand in hand with splicing the film (to my understanding, it is essentially the same thing).  But again, this was my first time making a film loop, and then I learned how to run the film through the projector.  All of this was a great experience and it made me want to work as a film projectionist like a few of the other students in the class.  Working with the different film stocks and the film projector made me realize all of their complexities in their construction, and this has been a fascinating experience as a result.

Some of the manipulation techniques I have worked with so far have been scratching and puncturing to mark the film, as well as, the application of oil and various colored inks to the film stocks.  Some of the film stocks I have worked with in class have been the 16mm clear leader and the print stocks.  It’s interesting to be able to see the sound recording alongside the images, outside of the perforations on the print stock.  I have not seen the film that I had applied the oils and inks to projected on screen yet, so I don’t know how it has turned out.  I have seen the film that I manipulated by scratching with pushpins and different types of sandpaper, and the results were very dynamic.  I found that when you create a repeated pattern in the scratching that the images could leave a real impression on you as opposed to a series of more random scratches.

The magazine transfer ended up being a really fun tool in our increasing arsenal of film manipulation techniques.  The range and variety of looks with magazine transfers is endless; from making vivid color patterns, to the difference in the hard edge look of cut images versus the frayed look of ripped images, to adding inks to the magazine images, etc.  The smaller the images the better with the magazine transfers.  I found a series of tiny “yes's and no's” in vertical columns, and they showed up quite when blown up on the projection screen, due to their patterned formation.  I also learned that the longer you soak your taped magazine images in hot water, the more vivid the colors will turn out once you make the transfer onto the film stock.  Now, I am looking forward to the next class in which I will learn how to photogram/rayogram and contact print on film. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Week Two: Synesthesia (Art & Neurological) and Cymatics

I really enjoyed this week’s topic of synesthesia (neurological and in art) and cymatics.  The subjects go hand in hand, and I would say that cymatics are a form of synesthetic art.  Just for the sake of organizing my thoughts, I will go ahead and define these terms.  Synesthesia is the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body, which occurs involuntarily and automatically (This literally means joined sensations).  For example, a person with a synesthesia, called a synesthete, can hear music but also see it and/or feel it.  Also, in other forms of synesthesia, a person can see colors in numbers, letters, and words, or words can have flavors, and flavors can have color.  This is not any type of disorder, but it does mean that the person has certain senses connected that create an effect that is not normal for every person, but is normal for the synesthete.  Now, cymatics is process of visualizing sound, which some synesthetes actually do see sounds.

Synesthetes are more common than I ever knew.  It is reported that it’s possible that synesthesia is common in every 1 in 23 people.  I have never personally known someone with synesthesia, though.  It is possible that they don’t even know that he or she has it because the potency of synesthesia varies greatly from the people who have it.  I thought it was interesting that synesthesia is known to be hereditary, but we still know so little about it that we don’t know how it carries over in the genes especially when it is not the same type of synesthesia that is passed down in the family.

All of this information was new to me, as I had just vaguely heard of people having these types of cognition responses.  The type I had previously heard about was grapheme → color synesthesia, which is when individual letters of the alphabet and numbers are tinged with color, and this is the most common type of synesthesia.  I personally would find it very cool to have different colors associated with words or to be able to see colors when listening to music.  But it would be strange if different sounds and words had a flavor that I could actually taste, and this type of synesthesia is called lexical → gustatory synesthesia.

I find synesthesia fascinating, and I especially synesthesia’s relationship to the arts, with the some non- synesthete artists trying to replicate what a synesthetic experince would be like for an audience and synesthete artists who attempt to either draw, paint, etc. their own personal synesthetic perceptions to create their art.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Week One: First Response Exercise (Bårbel Neubauer's "Passage")

One of my first thoughts while watching the short film “Passage,” created by Bårbel Neubauer, was that it reminded me of the opening title sequence in Alfred Hitchcock’s film Vertigo.  Saul Bass created this title sequence, and in it he used a series of spiraling and colorful images against stark black.  I liked how “Passage” had a similar style, but its swirling images were more geometric, which created a kaleidoscopic look and effect.

I’m not quite sure how Neubauer created this camera-less short film, but I was constantly pondering the time and effort put into the animation techniques that had been employed, and I was consistently amazed by what I was watching.  I think I was even more amazed by the film because I knew that it was made camera-less.  So, however the film was manipulated to create all of those psychedelic colors, dynamic shapes, and twisting movements, I am thoroughly impressed.

“Passage” was not just a visual experience, but a sonic one as well.  All of the camera-less films that I had seen up to that point had been silent films, like Stan Brakhage’s work.  However, “Passage” used interesting music and recorded sounds that worked well with and sometimes against the animated images.

The runtime of “Passage” was seven minutes, and that was a little long for me because the image patterns started to become repetitive.  But with the thought of how this film was made in mind, the film was always captivating.

My overall impression of “Passage” was that Neubauer had a total control over the relationship between the visuals and the sounds to create a vivid and distinct sensory experience.