To shoot my 1 minute silent visual story I used a Nikon D7000 with the combination of a 35mm 1.8 lens and a 10-20 4-5.6. I used my own inventory of equipment because I wanted the option to use a variety of lenses and as I shot at dusk, I needed one with a wide aperture. My idea was to use the prime lens for the handheld shots and the wide for the static and time-lapse shots as I wanted to show both the micro and macro elements of the miss-en-scene, for example using a shallow depth of field with the prime lens on the shot of my actor looking down into the street and getting close up, detailed shots like switching the light off.
The use of the static time-lapse at 00:27 was influenced by the work of Michael Slovis, the cinematographer of Breaking Bad who shot every episode in series 2, 3 and 4 each series being comprised of 13 hour-long episodes. I seem to have developed a time-lapse addiction recently which I wanted to channel into this project. The gliding movement of the clouds as the night draws in was a technique used to physically show it doing so, as apposed to my shorter shots simply each getting darker.
The reason I chose the location I did was to add to the motif of solitude. One car, one man, in a city full of people. I used the shot-reverse-shots at 00:38 to show his disconnection with the world around him. I believe that my shots create a sense of place because they depict a lonely man in what could be a lonely city. The pans across the buildings are intended as POV shots that show him looking around for comfort and the grey colours of the city scape reflect a bleak feeling inside him. I also used POV shots while he is looking down at the road to give the place a sense of disconnection from the rest of the world down below and oblivious. The wide shots of the city at dusk were used to make you realise that the city around you is so big and that the audience are supposed to feel like an outsider in the same way that my character does.
Here is a practice time-lapse I did of the clouds one night. I used a 70s Nikon 135mm 2.8 lens on a Nikon D7000 DSLR to shoot this, the long lens allowed me to capture a small frame of the sky as I wanted to focus on a small amount of the most interesting looking clouds.
In my moving image project, I want to include a time-lapse but use a super wide (10-20mm) which will include a large amount of the scenery, foreground and background as well as the sky and the cloud movements which I am fascinated by.
In today’s moving image carousel day, we will explore:
- The cinematic frame and its importance in defining what we see and also what we don’t see.
- The arrangement of objects and characters within the frame that result in a composition.
- The illumination f those objets and characters either by natural means or artificial. Also the importance of shadow or lack of illumination.
- Correct colour balance and the creative use of colour within filmmaking.
- Movement within the frame or the moving of the frame in space.
- Changes in the optical properties of an image through pilling focus or zooming of the lens.
- Other properties such as slow motion, stop animation and optical distortion.
The above characteristics all contribute to the cinematic mise-en-scene.
As a whole class group, we decided on the theme of an alien coming down to Earth. We began filming at Ashton Court, and followed the movements of our alien (Alex) emerging from the bushes and heading down into the university.
It was really interesting to be able to observe John’s decision making – what shots he chose, how he framed them, their length and his different creative techniques. I was pleasantly surprised by how good our montage of looked on screen especially as there was no post production involved and all editing had been done in camera.
I really liked the look of John’s shots, they were nicely paced, not rushed or too fancy. In fact my favourite shot was one of the reflection of slow moving clouds in a high window. Another I was drawn to was the reflections and shadows of people walking through the automatic doors, again very smoothly paced.
This workshop has made me think a lot about creating mies-en-scene and I will definitely take John’s advice when it comes to creating my independent moving image project and in later productions too.
For my moving image research, I wanted to talk about someone who has recently inspired me, and this is Michael Slovis, the cinematographer of the hit TV series, Breaking Bad. Slovis shot every episode in seasons 2, 3 and 4 each of which were 13 episodes, and some of which he directed and some of which he acted as DoP. All in all, he has rein of the overall look and feel of the show. “My name is closely associated with this show, and there aren’t a lot of shows that let the cinematography be such a big character.” I believe this is due to the distinctive appearance of the show as a whole and the trademarks that he stamps across it.
As I have a background in film photography, the fact that Breaking Bad was filmed almost solely on 35mm truly appealed to me which was the main catalyst that started me watching the show as I have a large amount of appreciation for artists who work on film as a stylistic choice as it is so much hard work (and expensive).
“I carry three Kodak stocks: I use 5203, the slowest, tightest grain stock they have for all the day exteriors in the desert. It eats into the shadows beautifully and holds highlights tremendously and is responsible for the colors and beautiful skies. The color saturation and the resolution are incredible. It’s sharp as can be; you can blow this up to the size of a building and it’ll still be sharp. More importantly, the accuracy of the color reproduction is just tremendous. We also carry 200 ASA stock which is a tungsten balance and a lower contrast stock. I never correct for balance; I let the colorist do that. Whenever we’re at the DEA office where I don’t have the control outside, it helps me on the highlights. We also have the high-speed stock, the Vision 3 ASA 500, which we use for all our studio work, exterior night and interior day and night in the studio. All three stocks cut together seamlessly.
We also integrate other tools in the storytelling. We’re not afraid to use Canon 5Ds and 7Ds or the Panasonic HVX-200a, which I own. We’ll stick these small cameras where we need them. We use Technocranes, Condors and scissor lifts to get the camera up high and snorkel lenses to get the camera low. Our rule is to tell the story organically, to be filmmakers and make it cinematic.”
Another thing that inspired me while watching Breaking Bad is the amount of high quality, visually stunning time lapses that are used generously throughout all 5 seasons. I have previously experimented with time lapses both from speeding up video and sequencing large amounts of images taken over a long period of time and this is something that I want to incorporate in my moving image project.
Here is a compilation of some of Slovis’ time lapses from all 5 seasons of Breaking Bad: