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Mise-­‐en-­‐scene project  by  David  Blackaller  0950490    

Journal   Date:  20th  September  2011.     Today  the  class  had  an  introduction  to  our  first  project  entitled,  Mise-­‐en-­‐scene.   The  French  term  that  translates  as  “in  the  scene”  is  used  when  describing   attributes  that  create  the  atmosphere  within  a  still  or  moving  image.  The  aim  of   this  short  project  is  to  analyse  the  work  of  photographers  and  to  apply  this   analysis  to  help  us  develop  our  own  short  one-­‐minute  film.     Objective  to  be  completed  for  next  lesson:  research  the  work  of  up  to  five   photographers  and  present  to  the  class.       Date:  27th  September  2011.     Over  the  past  week  I  have  been  examining  the  work  of  a  number  of   photographers  and  assessing  what  elements  of  their  work  I  would  like  to  use,  as   inspiration  for  my  own  piece  of  work.  While  studying  the  photographer’s  work  I   will  have  to  assess  if  it  will  be  realistic  to  achieve  in  the  time  given,  and  with  the   equipment  I  have  access  to.  Another  consideration  to  take  into  account  is   location  and  props.     Tim  page    

                                                                                                                The  image  above  shows  the  repatriation  of  people  after  the  Vietnam  War,  and   shows  an  example  of  the  work  that  photographer  Tim  Page  is  famous  for.  What  

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caught my  attention  about  this  photograph  was  how  light  has  been  used  to  frame   the  rest  of  the  image,  presenting  the  image  as  being  some  form  of  inverted   negative.  The  photograph,  at  first  sight  appears  to  be  almost  black  and  white,   with  only  a  hint  of  colour,  most  notably  with  the  yellow  of  the  bananas  that  are   placed  on  the  table  between  the  two  figures.  The  two  silhouettes  looking  out  at  a   pale  blue  sky,  is  a  thought  provoking  aspect  of  the  image  that  directs  the  viewers   attention  to  where  the  photographer  wants  you  to  look.   I  feel  that  reproducing  a  short  piece  of  work  that  reflects  the  look  of  this  image   would  be  achievable.  Filming  on  a  train  could  be  achieved  as  long  as  the  correct   time  to  film  could  be  organized.  Lighting  could  be  controlled  through  a   combination  of  camera  settings  and  postproduction.     Imogen  Cunningham    

                                  Photographer  Imogen  Cunningham  became  most  well  known  for  her  portraits  of   people  and  flowers.  She  also  had  a  fascination  with  reflections  and  often  used   double  exposures  in  some  of  her  work.  The  somewhat  ghostly  look  of  her  earlier   work  in  particular  is  a  product  of  the  developing  materials  and  methods  

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available at  the  time,  with  the  use  of  light  sensitive  platinum  salts  on  paper,   rather  than  the  use  of  silver  based  materials  that  later  became  available.     It’s  this  ghostly  quality  that  drew  my  attention  to  the  photograph  in  the  first   place,  along  with  trying  to  decide  what  was  happening  between  the  two  people.  I   feel  that  there  is  a  very  good  opportunity  here  to  build  up  a  short  narrative   around  this  captured  moment.  Maybe  the  female  in  the  image  has  died,  after  a   tender  exchange  of  past  memories  with  her  partner.  We  then  find  out  that  her   partner  has  maybe  been  the  cause  of  her  death.     The  setting  is  a  photographic  backcloth  that  appears  to  have  been  shot  in  a   studio.  Lighting  would  be  made  easier  and  very  controllable,  avoiding  the  need   for  a  location  shoot.     Brassai    

                                                                The  photograph  above  formed  part  of  a  collection  of  work  published  in  1933   entitled  Paris  By  Night  by  the  Hungarian  born  photographer  Gyula  Halasz,  better   known  as  Brassai.  The  official  description  of  the  photograph  is  as  follows:     A  young  prostitute,  one  of  the  tribe  that  roam  the  streets   between  the  “Sebasto”  (Boulevard  de  Sebastopol)  and   the  old  Beaubourg  quarter,  is  standing  at  the  angle  of  the   Rue  de  la  Reynie  and  Rue  Quincampoix,  a  little  street  

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famed in  the  reign  of  Louis  XV,  as  the  headquarters  of   the  eighteenth-­‐century  financier  John  Law.   (Brassai,2011)      While  Brassai  worked  as  a  journalist,  he  continued  to  practise  painting,  but   became  frustrated  at  being  unable  to  capture  the  atmosphere  of  Paris  by  night  in   the  way  he  wanted.  In  1930  a  friend  of  Brassai  named  Andre  Kertesz  persuaded   him  to  try  photography  instead  of  painting.  Using  a  6x9  cm  Voigtlander  Bergheil   glass  plate  camera  and  a  tripod  he  started  taking  the  photographs  that  have  now   made  him  famous.  Later  he  would  move  on  to  using  a  Rolleiflex  camera  even   after  the  introduction  of  the  35mm  Leica,  which  had  become  popular  with  a  lot  of   other  photographers.   The  major  technical  problem  that  Brassai  had  to  overcome  was  the  absence  of   light.  To  overcome  this  he  used  very  long  exposures,  which  meant  that  his   subjects  had  to  remain  perfectly  still,  to  avoid  any  blurriness.  It’s  been  reported   that  in  keeping  with  the  bohemian  life  style  that  artists  were  living  in  1930’s   Paris,  that  the  photographer  used  cigarettes  to  measure  the  required  exposure   for  his  photographs.  Lighting  cheaper  cigarettes  would  result  in  short  exposures   because  it  would  burn  quicker,  while  lighting  more  expensive  American   cigarettes  would  burn  more  slowly,  resulting  in  a  longer  exposure  time.  Whether   this  is  true  or  not  is  questionable,  but  Brassai  did  take  advantage  of  the  weather   conditions  of  late  night  Paris  and  use  them  to  his  advantage.  By  using  mist  and   fine  rain  in  combination  with  the  long  exposures  he  was  able  to  extend,  and   smooth  out  the  limited  tonal  range  of  the  photographic  process  at  the  time.  As   well  as  this  he  continued  to  use  flash  powder  instead  of  using  the  more  modern   and  newly  available  flash  bulbs  that  other  photographers  had  decided  to  use.     After  presenting  my  selection  of  photographs  to  the  class  and  finding  out  more   about  the  people  that  took  them,  I  have  decided  to  concentrate  my  efforts  on  the   photograph  by  Brassai.  I  feel  that  I  have  made  a  connection  in  some  way  with  his   work  and  that  it  draws  comparisons  with  Film  Noir,  which  I  also  have  an  interest   in.  Brassi  has  managed  to  give  his  photographs  an  almost  magical  quality,  using   very  little  equipment  and  using  what  little  light  is  available.  If  I  can  reproduce   this  in  some  way,  I  feel  that  it  would  provide  an  atmospheric  backdrop  to  a  short   narrative.  It  would  also  allow  me  the  chance  to  incorporate  some  of  the   cinematic  aspects  of  Film  Noir,  the  film  genre  that  became  popular  in  the  1940’s.     Film  Noir     An  aspect  of  Brassai’s  work  that  appealed  to  me  was  how  it  reminded  of  films  of   the  1940’s  and  50’s.  Known  as  Film  Noir,  which  translates  as  film  black.  Films   such  as  Night  and  the  City  (Dassin.J.1950)  and  Touch  of  Evil  (Wells.O,1958)   featured  high  contrast  lighting,  dark  shadows  and  camera  angles  that  became   known  as  Dutch  shots.  These  shots  had  the  camera  tilted  at  unusual  angles  were   used  to  make  scenes  more  dramatic,  and  to  highlight  tension.        

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Objective to  be  completed  for  next  lesson:  conduct  a  recce  in  London  and  shoot   some  test  footage  to  present  to  class.     Date:  29th  September  2011.     Spent  the  day  finding  suitable  locations  in  and  around  London  that  I  may  be  able   to  use  for  my  project.  Due  to  the  photograph  that  I  have  chosen,  and  the  period   that  it  was  taken  I  am  limited  to  where  I  can  shoot.  Visited  locations  along  the   Embankment  and  around  Westminster,  as  I  felt  that  these  might  have  the  type  of   buildings  that  would  best  reflect  what  were  in  my  reference  photographs.   Lighting  was  my  biggest  concern,  or  rather  the  amount  and  type  of  light  that   would  be  in  my  film.  I  would  be  shooting  at  night  or  possibly  late  evening  (if  I   choose  to  adjust  the  cameras  aperture  to  simulate  night).    

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Date: 1st  October  2011.     Made  arrangements  with  talent  to  film  some  test  footage  in  London  at  St  James   Park  on  Sunday  2nd  October  2011.  Will  start  filming  at  approximately  8pm  when   lighting  conditions  should  be  correct  and  streetlights  will  be  on.  Being  a  Sunday   there  should  not  be  to  many  people  walking  around  that  area  at  that  time.         Date:  2nd  October  2011.     Spent  the  evening  filming  test  shots  in  London  at  St  James  Park.  Found  the  area   to  be  very  atmospheric  and  that  the  low  lighting  was  not  as  bad  as  I  thought  it   would  be,  in  fact  the  older  and  more  traditional  type  of  street  lamps  proved  to  be   a  bonus.  Most  of  the  filming  took  place  along  Horse  Guards  Road  and  King   Charles  Street.    The  image  below  shows  a  screen  shot  taken  from  Google  maps,   which  was  used  to  help  plan  the  evening’s  shoot.            

                           

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The images  below  show  stills  taken  from  some  of  the  test  footage  shot  on  the  2nd   October  2011.    

                                   

                                     

                                     

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Equipment taken:  Panasonic  HDC-­‐HS700  High  Defenition  camcorder.                                                                          Nikon  D90  SLR                                                                          Tripod                                                                          Notepad  and  pen                                                                          Map  taken  from  Google     Date:  3rd  October  2011.     Spent  today  reviewing  and  editing  a  rough  cut  of  the  test  footage  shot  the   previous  evening,  ready  for  tomorrows  presentation  to  the  class.  Footage  was   imported  into  Final  Cut  Express  for  editing,  and  then  exported  as  movie  files  into   After  Effects  for  colour  correction.    

The  screen  shot  above  shows  test  footage  being  colour  corrected  in  After  Effects.    

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After reviewing  the  colour  corrected  footage  I  would  say  that  I  am  quite  happy   with  the  results,  although  there  are  some  things  that  will  need  to  be  taken  into   consideration  for  the  final  shoot.  The  first  thing  that  I  noticed  was  that  there  was   a  limit  to  how  far  the  contrast  and  brightness  of  the  image  could  be  pushed.   Secondly,  trying  to  add  noise  to  imitate  film  grain  seemed  to  detract  from   watching  the  footage.  Thirdly,  by  having  the  camera  set  to  record  in  full  auto   mode  caused  too  much  colour  and  brightness  inconsistencies  between  each   shot/scenes.       Date:  4th  October  2011.     Presented  the  test  footage  to  the  class  and  had  some  positive  feedback.  Points   that  were  raised  related  to  how  dark  some  of  the  shots  were  and  that  to  much   detail  was  getting  lost  in  the  shadows.  It  was  also  suggested  that  I  reduced  the   amount  of  camera  movement,  instead  locking  the  camera  off  and  having  the   talent  enter  and  exit  the  scene  as  required.  It  was  also  agreed  that  the  footage   would  look  better  without  noise  being  added,  especially  if  it  was  going  to  be  a   distraction.     Objective  to  be  completed  for  next  lesson:  complete  sequence  concept  and   storyboard.     Date:  6th  October  2011.     Sequence  concept/script       The  short  sequence  follows  the  arrival  of  a  female  character  into  central  London,   after  she  has  made  arrangements  with  a  mysterious  stranger.  Unknown  to  her   the  mysterious  stranger  has  no  intention  in  meeting  her,  but  instead  only  intends   to  observe  her  from  a  distance.  The  female  character  waits,  stepping  in  and  out   of  the  shadows  cast  by  a  nearby  lamplight;  until  finally  she  feels  that  there  is   something  wrong.  Feeling  threatened,  she  leaves  and  we  are  left  wondering  what   the  mysterious  stranger  decides  what  to  do  next…       Date:  11th  October  2011.     Today  the  class  had  a  review  of  everybody’s  work  so  far.  We  presented  our   concepts  for  storyboards  and  gave  our  thoughts  of  how  we  were  progressing.  I   did  not  have  any  more  footage  to  show  this  week,  as  the  person  that  I’m  using  in   my  film  was  working.  I  have  arranged  for  final  filming  to  be  completed  on   Sunday  16th  October,  which  will  give  me  time  to  show  an  almost  completed  film   at  our  next  class.  This  will  leave  me  another  week  to  make  any  alterations  before   final  hand  in  of  the  project  that  is  on  the  25th  October.     Objective  to  be  completed  for  next  lesson:  To  have  a  almost  completed  cut  of  the   film  ready  for  critical  review  by  the  class.    

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Date: 16th  October  2011.     The  evening  was  spent  re-­‐filming  in  London.  Some  alterations  had  to  be  made  to   the  storyboards,  as  some  of  the  shots  did  not  work  the  way  that  I  had  hoped.  Also   this  time  the  camera  settings  were  set  on  manual  rather  than  full  auto,  to  help   improve  the  over  all  picture  quality.  This  included  setting  the  white  balance,   making  sure  the  aperture  was  open  as  much  as  possible  to  allow  as  much  light  in;   and  to  manually  set  the  focus  to  stop  any  shifting  between  foreground  and   background.  All  shots  were  locked  off  using  a  tripod,  which  helped  with  creating   the  new  shots  that  I  wanted  to  try.          Equipment  taken:  Panasonic  HDC-­‐HS700  High  Defenition  camcorder.                                                                          Nikon  D90  SLR                                                                          Tripod                                                                          Notepad  and  pen                                                                          Map  taken  from  Google           Date:  17th  October  2011.     Today  was  spent  re-­‐editing  the  new  footage  from  last  nights  shoot  ready  for   showing  to  the  class  tomorrow.  I  have  noticed  that  by  setting  the  camera  to   manual  has  made  a  big  improvement  to  the  picture  quality  of  the  raw  footage.   Apart  from  desaturating  the  colour  image  to  black  and  white,  very  few  other   adjustments  had  to  be  made.  The  run  time  for  the  film  is  currently  twice  as  long   as  requested  and  will  require  another  edit,  which  will  be  done  after  the  viewing   tomorrow.  Also  there  is  currently  no  sound  on  the  film,  as  this  to  will  have  to  be   remixed.      

                            The  screen  shot  above  shows  editing  being  completed  in  Final  Cut  Express.  

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Date: 18th  October  2011.     Today  is  the  last  day  that  the  class  will  meet  before  the  hand  in  of  this  project,  so   it  was  important  to  get  as  much  feed  back  as  possible.  Over  all  the  feedback  that  I   received  was  very  positive.  It  was  agreed  that  the  running  time  needed  to  be   reduced  and  which  scenes  could  be  shortened  or  removed  altogether.  Luckily  I   had  already  placed  the  scenes  that  I  thought  were  to  long  on  a  separate  time  line,   so  their  removal  should  not  be  that  difficult.  The  only  other  alteration  that  was   recommended  to  me  was  to  alter  the  brightness  and  contrast  of  one  of  the  scenes   that  seemed  a  bit  to  bright  when  compared  to  the  others.     Date:  21st  October  2011.     The  day  was  spent  re-­‐editing  the  film’s  runtime  down  to  the  required  1  minute,   making  a  few  colour  adjustments  and  remixing  the  sound.  When  mixing  the   sound,  I  tried  to  keep  the  left  and  right  channels  consistent  through  out  the  film,   and  did  my  best  to  make  sure  that  it  provided  the  right  atmosphere.  Once  this   was  completed  I  then  checked  what  settings  the  website  Vimeo  required  people   to  use  when  uploading  projects  to  their  servers.  I  then  exported  the  completed   film  from  Final  Cut  Express  and  uploaded  to  http://vimeo.com/30900092        

The  screen  shot  above  shows  sound  tracks  being  edited  in  Final  Cut  Express.    

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The screen  shot  above  shows  my  completed  film  after  it  has  been  uploaded  to   the  Vimeo  website.      

Critical review    

To conclude  this  project  I  would  say  that  I  am  happy  with  the  completed   film,  and  now  feel  more  confident  about  how  to  manage  a  project  in  a  restricted   time  period.  I  enjoyed  completing  the  research  part  of  the  project,  finding  out   how  other  artists  produce  their  work  and  the  creative  thinking  behind  them.   What  surprised  me  was  how  the  visual  aesthetic  of  an  artists  work  is  influenced   sometimes  by  the  lack  of  resources,  or  the  limitations  of  their  equipment.   Sometimes  these  restrictions  work  in  a  positive  way  and  allow  more  creative   work  is  produced,  such  as  that  of  Brassai.  He  was  forced  to  work  within  the   limitations  of  his  equipment  that  he  had  at  the  time,  using  light  and  weather   conditions  to  create  his  visual  aesthetic.  Although  even  when  more  modern   equipment  and  materials  became  available,  Brassai  continued  using  the  same   techniques  and  equipment,  to  keep  the  look  of  his  work  consistent.    It’s  this  aesthetic  that  I  tried  to  recreate  in  my  own  project,  and  to  some   extent  I  feel  that  I  have  succeeded.  What  I  did  discover  is  that  whatever  medium   is  being  used,  it  still  has  its  limits.  Trying  to  imitate  the  look  of  an  old  format   using  high  definition  video,  especially  at  night  introduced  its  own  artefacts.   Blocking  or  banding  replaces  film  grain,  and  detail  is  lost  in  low  light  conditions.   In  some  ways  film  grain  looks  more  pleasing  on  the  eye  and  adds  character  to  an   image,  but  after  trying  to  replicate  film  grain  in  my  film,  I  decided  against  it.  The   grain  looked  false  and  was  distracting  as  it  animated  throughout  the  film.  The  

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solution to  this  problem  was  to  turn  all  the  auto  settings  on  the  camcorder  off,   and  use  manual  settings  instead.     A  combination  of  this  and  careful  planning  while  filming,  which  took  into   consideration  available  street  lighting,  produced  an  image  with  a  nice  tonal   range  and  just  a  small  amount  of  grain.  Given  more  time  I  would  like  to   experiment  with  adding  slightly  more  grain,  but  as  it  stands,  I’m  pleased  with  the   final  outcome.  I  also  only  had  to  change  the  brightness  and  contrast  settings  on  2   shots,  which  looked  slightly  bright  when  compared  to  the  rest  of  the  film.  In   some  ways  I  feel  this  has  led  me  to  working  in  a  similar  way  that  Brassai  had   done.  By  using  only  the  light  available  at  the  time  and  using  manual  camera   settings.     Sound  was  also  an  important  aspect  of  this  project,  and  considering  the   running  time  of  one  minute  I  decided  against  trying  to  use  music.  Trying  to  fit  a   piece  of  music  into  such  a  short  running  time  would  have  required  it  to  be   heavily  edited,  and  in  my  opinion  would  have  sounded  out  of  place.  Instead  I   spent  some  time  separating  the  background  sound  tracks  from  the  footage   recorded  throughout  the  shoot.  I  then  re-­‐edited  the  sounds,  consisting  of  traffic,   people,  trains  and  general  city  noise  into  a  soundtrack  that  would  not  overpower   the  visuals,  but  hopefully  add  to  the  atmosphere.   Overall  this  project  has  been  a  good  learning  experience  for  me  and  I  have   had  the  chance  to  put  into  practice  production  and  preproduction  skills  that  I   have  been  taught  over  the  past  few  years.  Lessons  I  have  learnt  from  this  project   will  now  be  used  in  my  final  major  projects.                                 Bibliography         Brassai.  (2011)  Brassai.  Paris  :  Flammarion,S.A.     Fallis,  G  (2011)  Brassai.  Available  at:  http://www.utata.org/salon/20496.php   (Accessed:  27th  September  2011).     Mann,  M.  (1970)  Imogen  Cunninham:  Phatographs.  United  States  :  University  of   Washington  Press.     Prodan  Romanian  Cultural  Foundation  (2005)  Brassai.  Available  at:   http://www.romanianculture.org/personalities/Brassai.htm  (Accessed:  27th   September  2011).     Page,  T  (2001)  The  Mindful  Moment,  London  :  Thames  and  Hudson.    

Filmography    Night  and  the  City  (1950)  Jules  Dassin  [DVD].  London:  BFI.     Touch  of  Evil  (1958)  Orson  Welles  [DVD].  Los  Angeles:  Universal.    

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Scene

Duration Panel 10:00

Duration 1

10:00

Page 1/4

Action Notes pan down over a dark london skyline

ua

ti

london_skyline

scrip1

on

Film noir

al

Notes

Ev

wide shot

Duration Panel

Duration 1

10:00

Action Notes

locked camera. passing train from right to left

yb

oa

10:00

rd

Scene passing_train

Notes

St

or

wide shot

Scene

Duration Panel 10:00

Duration 1

05:00

Action Notes wide shot. walking towards camera

To

on

Bo

om

lamp_post

Notes camera locked


Scene

Duration Panel 10:00

Duration 2

05:00

Page 2/4

Action Notes waiting at lamp pos, wide shot

Ev

al

ua

ti

lamp_post

scrip1

on

Film noir

Duration Panel

Duration 1

05:00

Action Notes

medium shot, looking at watch

St

or

yb

oa

10:00

rd

Scene

p_post_waiting

Scene

Duration Panel 10:00

Duration 2

To

on

Bo

om

p_post_waiting

05:00

Action Notes POV looking at watch


Scene

Duration Panel 15:00

Duration 1

05:00

Page 3/4

Action Notes medium shot, of a strangers feet walking

Ev

al

ua

ti

nge_approching

scrip1

on

Film noir

Duration Panel

Duration 2

05:00

Action Notes

POV of stranger, tracking shot

St

or

yb

oa

15:00

rd

Scene

nge_approching

Scene

Duration Panel 15:00

Duration 3

To

on

Bo

om

nge_approching

05:00

Action Notes wide shot. the stranger casts a deep shadow on a near by wall. watching the waiting female as she stands under a nearby lamp post.


Scene

Duration Panel 05:00

Duration 1

05:00

Page 4/4

Action Notes Dolly in, to close up of females eyes

Ev

al

ua

ti

close_up_eyes

scrip1

on

Film noir

Duration Panel

Duration 1

05:00

Action Notes

medium shot of female looking at watch. She becomes nervous and exits the scene screen left.

St

or

yb

oa

05:00

rd

Scene

looks_at_watch

Scene

Duration Panel 05:00

Duration 1

To

on

Bo

om

walking_away

05:00

Action Notes wide shot. female walks away down a shadow lit street. Fade out to black


Miseenscene final  

all parts of project in one folder

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