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A Tricky University Cinematography Assignment


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#1 Anthony Minto

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 10:28 AM

Hello all,

I am a University Student currently studying Animation and I am having a bit of trouble with a Cinematography assignment I am currently working on.

The brief is as follows:

You are to produce a series of storyboards that present the state of mind of an individual in a specific context, purely through use and combination of camera position and shot composition, and mobile framing if appropriate (ie: no facial characteristics are to be displayed in the visual presentation of the individual, and no specific props are to be included).

The storyboards should be based around the following scenarios:

the individual arriving at University for an interview (also his or her first visit)

the individual arriving at University on a normal day (having become a student)

the individual arriving at University on the morning of his/her final examinations

In essence you are to ascertain what you feel the individual’s state of mind
would be in each situation, and convey this state of mind to your viewer
through appropriate and convincing shot composition and juxtaposition.

If mobile framing is to be employed at any time, find appropriate visual
means to convey this within the visual presentation of the storyboard.


I am finding it quite hard to express the individuals state of mind only through camera shots (we are not even allowed to show the individual running, looking at his watch, waving to other characters etc)

I would be grateful if anyone out there has any interesting ideas how to accomplish this.

The storyboard ideas I have come up with so far all look too similar and don't really get the different stories across clearly.

Many thanks in advance.
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#2 Paul Bruening

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 11:10 AM

Hello all,

Many thanks in advance.


You're in luck, Anthony. Your Teach' has only limited face as a device.

Allow me to lay on you my "Communicants" schtick. There are only eight ways (categories) that people can physically communicate their inner states. (I haven't laid this bomb on anyone in so long, it will be an achievement if I can even remember them all):

1. Facial expressions.

2. Body language.

3. Line selection (what people say).

4. Vocal intonation (how they say it).

5. Timing (this lays in with all the rest. For example: A pregnant pause is one of the strongest devices in dramatic presentation).

6. Direct reads (like when you walk into a bar and take a read on the people. You spot the crazy chick at the bar and know instantly to avoid her).

7. Hand gestures (they are so important that they have to be classified separately from body language).

8. Body composition (in real life this one is the least accurate. BUT for an animator it is one of the strongest. From head to toe this will say more than anything else for you).

Direct read is your weakest tool. But, if you combine the others adequately, the viewer will make direct read conclusions and depend on them throughout the presentation.

Dang. I did it.
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#3 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 12:47 PM

Camera height can also be used to show strength or weakness. Camera moves to isolate or empower. Or all of these in combination to show change.
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#4 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 01:07 PM

Most of the teacher's list seemed to have more to do with Directing than the choices made on the technical level.

In addition to camera height, LENS choice and LIGHTING can definitely impact the way a viewer defines a shot for themselves. Not only that, but the set itself has a lot to do with it. You could shoot this in a normal boring hallway or have the character walking past large imposing pillars.

There are so many choices to make to truly tell a non-verbal story, which again, is more of a directorial decision than a cinematography thing. It's the Cinematographer's job to help find the best way to photograph the set that the Director has chosen, from camera format, frame rate, the framing itself, blocking (to an extent), lighting, and camera movement.
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#5 Andrew Wilding

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Posted 22 March 2010 - 06:10 PM

I would say that on a basic level, you should frame the character quite small in the shots of him arriving at school. It is a scary time but also one filled with great possibility - make the character small and the campus spaces vast. The interviewer could be framed from a low angle, so as to seem imposing. Maybe frame the main character in a single shot with alot of headroom during the interview to emphasize that this is their first time truly alone and an adult in a big world.

On the normal day you can frame with the character larger. The space is now manageable and the world is in the solid grasp of your character. Frame from low angles to show this and don't leave too much headroom.

For the test day, do a redux of your opening day shots. the character, at his desk, along with a million other students, framed from a very high angle. He or she has lost control of his/her surroundings for a moment. perhaps as the buzzer dings, a teacher begins to walk down the aisle picking up papers. Your hero is at the end, furiously scribbling before the teacher arrives. You could do a dollyshot from over the teachers shoulders as she grabs papers, getting closer and closer to the student. Then a reverse of that, a static shot from low showing the student scribbling and the teacher getting closer, eventually filling the frame with an imposing figure.
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#6 Rob Vogt

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Posted 23 March 2010 - 04:59 PM

Also a really wide angle closeup to distort the face and maybe a dutch angle shot if hes leaning over his desk at his exam, camera rotates horizontally with character's head. A normal day, I would probably start with a push in POV, have the character walk into the POV shot. Then inside the university, I would reveal the space then show the character, because he knows its just another day (if it was his first day at a new school I would show his reaction to the space, then the space, so the audience experiences his situation at the same time.)
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#7 chris layhe

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Posted 29 March 2010 - 06:49 PM

Also a really wide angle closeup to distort the face and maybe a dutch angle shot if hes leaning over his desk at his exam, camera rotates horizontally with character's head. A normal day, I would probably start with a push in POV, have the character walk into the POV shot. Then inside the university, I would reveal the space then show the character, because he knows its just another day (if it was his first day at a new school I would show his reaction to the space, then the space, so the audience experiences his situation at the same time.)

Can't go wrong with the POV shot, and I'm always a big fan of the close up with a wide angle myself...

Chris
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www.mobile-editing-san-francisco.com
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