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.