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Visualisation of theme/ideas/story


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#1 montauk

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 08:33 AM

Hi,

This question probably applies both to DOPs and Directors, and its a very general question, but something I'm trying to learn more about:

- What is the process or the tools you use to create a visual style to suit your script/characters/mood etc....
For instance, if I say the character's world is dark and isolated because she's struggling to look after her son, while she is battling a life illness. How do you translate this into a tangible visual thing? I understand the basics, use of lighting, lenses, costume, setting, colour etc... but I can't seem to envisage a strong vision still.
Can anyone suggest any tips?

Thanks!
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 10:36 AM

I understand the basics, use of lighting, lenses, costume, setting, colour etc... but I can't seem to envisage a strong vision still.


You mean ideas OUTSIDE of lighting, lenses, costume, setting, color, etc.? Because that covers an awful lot right there.

It also depends on how stylized you want the image to be. A skip-bleach look, for example, might emphasize the harshness of her life, but it may be too strong of an effect.

You could either use a lot of wide shots to suggest her isolation in the empty frame, or you can use tight handheld shots and shallow depth of field to suggest her life fragmenting into subjective confusing details.
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#3 elvworks

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 12:03 PM

I would say go back to the script.

I don't know if you wrote it or not, but maybe the script isn't painting enough of a visual picture for you, whether in the dialogue or the action. Alot of people don't realize how visual words really are.

So try going back to the script, rework it if necessary and when you can see the scene play out in your mind as you read it, then you have the picture inside you, then you will have the picture outside of you.

The script is the blueprint.




All the best,
Rick
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#4 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 17 February 2006 - 10:32 PM

I would say first storyboard at least some key sequences to get onto paper what's is in your mind then do some tests to further refine the look your trying to achieve. Altough knowing that these variuos elements will effect the look of the piece, without expirence, that doesn't tell you what combination of different elements will give you the particular visual impact that bests conveys the emotional quality of a given sequence or the entire piece itself. Though you may have a general idea of what you want, you will be able to make it specific with storyboards and tests. You can probably save money by using a still camera to get close then tweek the look while on set before rolling. If it's not possible to work out these combinations on a location prior to shooting, use an available area, (wherever you can find one) and go as far as you can then adjust everything when you get to location. Take pictures of your locations for reference. If non of this is possible make your storyboards very detailed. If you can't draw, find someone who can and make your ideas completely clear to them. Work closely with your DP costumer and production designer to translate what's on paper into what's in the frame. Listen to their advice but make your own decisions. Ultimately it's your vision that will give the film it's look so try to think visually and be specific in your mental image of how a scene should look. Directors who don't know what they want or can't communicate what they want are looked down upon by their cast and crew and that is death to a production.

Edited by Capt.Video, 17 February 2006 - 10:37 PM.

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#5 Tom Bays

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 01:33 PM

Read it like a book and the truth will find you my son.
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#6 LondonFilmMan

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 01:52 PM

I don't know the story, but wanted to give you a 'boost'. At least, I hope you will consider it so. my main point to you here is: explore the story and in doing so, visualise it.

First, a question:...why do you assume that your "character's world is dark and isolated because she's struggling to look after her son"? I mean, it could be...but 24 hrs/day? Perhaps you might show *how*, through her illness she has found different freedoms and values which before she didn't realise. (Her son being the main one?). Maybe she notices small things or enjoys simple pleasantries as opposed to before where she was absorbed in her motherly chores. So I am not saying that before she didn't care about her son, just her values/attitude might have changed. I imagine her son commenting openly "I wish you had always been like this" with reference to her 'carefree' attitude. Maybe they'll go on a cruise..or to europe...

Perhaps, years ago, her husband left her, so she started smoking because of stress, which gave her cancer. Now, her aim is to teach her son how to be a good man/future husband. Maybe the girl next door likes her son and so she advises her son before each visit. Seeing her ex-husband in her son might concern her whereas other things may show inspiration and hope that he won't be like his Father. This could be incredibly heart-warming.

You say that she "is battling a life illness".... so, yes, we need to see her downward spiral, if there is one. Perhaps we might discover what made her ill.. will she campaign?

Also, she is still alive, so what does she do all day? Paint? Can she move? What does she do? Does she gaze through a favourite window? What does she see? Does she reflect on her past? Does she reflect for a moment that her 'situation' is karma? Did she ever wrong-do anyone? Mother's can. They are people too. Does she set out to put this right?

Who is her son. What does he do? Does she watch him grow? Does he watch her die? Will *SHE* (ironically) out-live her son?

How important is he to her and her to he? Who else makes up this family? Is her son now the 'man' of the family? or is he just like his Father no matter what she does?

Is she a single Mum? Does an old flame of hers visit because he's heard of her fate? Does her son listen through the door and learn about his Mum that way? How does he feel about that? Who does he tell? Do relatives visit her? Is there one that doesn't? Why not? Is it a close family? How has it changed, if at all?

Perhaps she can't/won't show her pain for fear of upsetting the son she loves so much. I imagine her putting on a brave face as her son arrives to visit (if she's in hospital).

Isn't her son her 'light' in this 'dark life' and, perhaps new-found sole inspiration/window to the world which she lives through?

If she is destined to pass away...when? wouldn't she want to 'leave' something behind? E.g. the teachings that she feel she must teach to him to be better than his Father? Does she have time to teach him everything before she passes away? or not? During her final breath does he lean forwards and say "Dearest Mother, don't worry...you taught me all I need." (?)

Perhaps you might explore the story more before putting everything in order and representing it visually - because that's what you are doing. Talk to me about the story first... do you appreciate your story?

Keep it simple. Just tell the story.

A good story should have a twist of irony...shouldn't it?

Maybe she is an eternal optimist... in that case, instead of a 'woe is me' attitude, she might 'woe down the hospital corridor in a wheel chair, racing another patient. A nurse may try to stop her and there is a 'hilarity' and laughter as her son trips up the nurse causing a commotion in defending his Mum's optimism - a highlight moment where they bond even more, (because they won something together!)

Good luck!
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#7 Landon D. Parks

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Posted 13 March 2006 - 07:52 PM

Can you see the film in your head? When i mean see, i mean the whole thing, complete with sound and music?

Close your eyes and visualize the words on the script, visualize your characters, even add "imaginary" lighting effects, like Skip bleach or a dark-blue look.... Visualize the WHOLE thing, as you want it to be on screen. THEN, communicate that to the rest of the crew.

If you can't manage that, there are probably 2 problems: #1 the script is not detailed enough to paint the world or #2 you don?t have the ability to visualize the scene in your head... Let?s hope it?s not #2...

One other reason could be that you?re not really "Interested" in it. Like for instance, I can sit down and read a Harry Potter book and visualize the whole thing from beginning to end without a script, but some books I try to visualize that I'm just not into don't become visual, because I'm not interested enough in what I'm reading.

Think it over, really think about it, as long as you can visualize the script in your head, and how you want it to look, AND you can communicate that vision too the rest of the crew (2 of the most important jobs of the director), then you should have no problem realizing your vision for the scene.
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