On my quest for the second scene to compare ‘The Wind Rises’ to in my essay, someone recommended I use a scene from ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’. This now seems blindingly obvious considering it is primarily set in the mind of the protagonist.
The film overall does a fantastic job of creating the world of a memory or a dream as locations fracture into each other, my favorite one being when Joel tries to hide Clementine in a totally irrelevant memory and ends up traveling to his childhood.
Elements of his childhood memory start appearing in the current scene; The rain, the bike and the corrugated plastic roof he shelters under manifests itself as a table. A match cut is also used to create a connection with the two memories as Joel reaches out from under the roof in both. The entire film is rife with match cuts.
The scene that has potential for my particular essay is towards the beginning where Joel is telling the story about Clementine blanking him in the library. A spectacular transition takes us out of the memory and back to where the story is being told.
As he walks out of the memory, the lights start to turn off behind him and the audio becomes muffled. There’s also a blurry glow around him that builds through the shot. Depth of field and false blurs are part of the list of staple techniques used in this film.
Here’s the complete video. I ended up putting it through After Effects and sprucing it up a little. I exported PNG sequences of each layer and recreated the TVPaint project in After Effects.
Once in, I altered the lighting, added some glow to the spotlight and the characters in it. Hopefully these adjustments haven’t diminished the lighting effect I had created in the vanilla design. However, I do like that I’ve now drawn attention to the main characters in Shot 1 and Shot 2 by making a sort of vignette around them.
The render isn’t perfect as it looks a little faded but I’m actually quite pleased with it. It reflects my initial vision of having an old timey, smokey theater vibe.
Today saw me just about complete Beat 6 of ‘The Girl and the Beast’. This was a little more stressful as I realised that I had misinterpreted how we had divided the work and I had missed half of the beat I was supposed to be animating. That said, I think it’s probably the more imaginative of the two and I’m very pleased with it.
This is my first attempt to make it. I animated the blood splat in TVPaint and made the assets in Photoshop with the Polygon Lasso tool. I quite liked the background being stark white. This being the turning point in the story, it seemed appropriate that it was so harsh and contrasting to the rest of the film. But Elizabeth convinced me that red was what we had planned and that it was more appropriate.
Elizabeth also suggested I remove the glow for the final clip. So here it is stitched together with the transition to the next clip and with text.
This week saw me finish off all the tie downs and colouring as well as having drawn the backgrounds for shots 2 and 3. I’m starting to think that I wont actually need to do any compositing in After Effects, but I’ll throw it about in there anyway to see if I can make any embellishments.
I’m very confident with my progress this week. Emily and I worked very well together to match up the 3D castle in after effects. The set for my shot is complete I just need to remake the assets for the inside of the castle for the final shot. I’m also very pleased that I’ve followed the style frames made by Elizabeth. I’m hoping I can help steer the editing process in the coming week.
This week I continued my search for a partnering clip. I ended up watching La La Land in hope that it might have the moment I was looking for. It came close with the scene in the observatory where Stone and Gosling very suddenly transition from a fairly naturalistic moment to taking flight.. But it’s not the one.
For Emily’s and my beat (Beats 1 & 6) we will be using the same assets because it’s more or less the same shot. Here’s the assets I’ve created for the valley in front of the castle.
I’ve made them according to Elizabeth’s style frames, drawn with the polygon lasso. This isn’t exactly how it was storyboarded because I changed it at the animatic stage to make the shot more interesting and make better use of the camera movement. The rest of the group approved of my changes.
Here’s a screenshot of the set for beats 1 and 6.
I’ve set all the assets up in a comp, spread in the Z axis. The castle does not appear in this screenshot because it doesn’t appear in 3D space, it only appears to. The hill the castle stands on had to animate through the Z axis in order to appear within the scene and attached to the castle.
Between each of the assets, I’ve placed a solid layer with a transparent grey gradient to create the impression of fog. This helps make the all black assets stand out from one another and creates the illusion of a great distance. Their opacity is animated to be totally transparent as the camera tracks through them and fade in as it tracks away so the image does not flicker as the camera passes through.
Today Emily and I started the process of integrating the 3D Castle with my AfterFX project. After watching a tutorial on vimeo, I discovered you can export the camera movement of a Maya project saved as an ASCII file and import it into AE as a composition. All I had to do was re-align my assets and import a PNG sequence of the movement in Maya.
It creates the illusion that I have the 3D model in the comp but I can’t edit any of the camera moves because the castle is ironically the only 2D asset in the comp. This makes it very difficult to match the hill to the castle exactly. I’ll make some improvements on that, then all it’ll need is some text before it’s complete.
I shall have to repeat all this without Emily’s help on beat 6.
Here’s the animatic Elizabeth stitched together today. I animated Beat 1, 3 and 6. Obviously some shots are more developed than others, most still using assets from the storyboard but they will come alive further down the line.
It’s great to begin to see some of the transitions come together, but I think there could be some development in that department. I might address that this weekend, but it’s likely going to be spent working out how to integrate the 3D castle asset.
Looking at the storyboard Elizabeth has whipped up today, I decided to make an animatic of my own beat based on that. I drew some very rough assets in Photoshop and laid them all out in a comp in After Effects and tracked a camera through the middle of them all.
The camera move is a tad on the rough side of things, I wanted it to drop as it leaves the throne room, down to the village and finish on a high but I hadn’t quite set it up right for that.
Obviously the actual clip is going to work slightly differently when integrating 3D assets, but this was a good warm up exercise.
Today I strayed out of my comfort zone by watching a musical. La La Land piqued my interest when I first watched the trailer with the ‘City of Stars’ solo piano playing over it. At the time, I’m not sure if I even realized it was a musical but it finally appeared on Netflix so I gave it a go – Surely a dreamy film like this would have the transition I’m looking for?
Baring in mind I didn’t realize it was a musical, I was taken by surprise with the first scene on the highway ramp. This spectacular introduction, though totally irrelevant from the plot, sets you up for the film by demonstrating the films two most important devices; Vibrant colour and dreamy cinematography.
It takes everything it can from it’s own genre to create a modern take on a classic musical. Here’s a handy video to show that:
Colour is used to tell it’s own story throughout the film. Mia’s costumes move from extremely vibrant to less well pronounced throughout the film to indicate her maturity. Red is used to symbolize passion for both characters. Gold is used to symbolize money.
With each song and dance comes an equally well disciplined and choreographed piece of cinematography. The cameras move with such perfect precision to reflect this positively dreamy and magical musical world. The camera joins in the dance. All of these big show tune scenes were shot on a crane, even the intro on the ramp which must have been a logistical nightmare. Much like the musicals of old, all these dance routines are shot in one take or appear to. Despite being so technically advanced, all the dance routines were done practically, as if they were on stage.
It came to my attention while researching the film that the director, Damien Chazelle, uses a technique referred to as ‘whip panning’ in all of his films. Here’s an example.
I like the very simple tap on the cinematographer’s shoulder to indicate the timings of the pans. I feel that had this been a musical performed on stage, this is where alternate spotlights would flash on and off, but the whip pan creates a similar effect but with all the added urgency of such a fast camera move.
The one scene I thought could work for my essay was the dance in the observatory where Mia and Sebastian go from a fairly naturalistic scene to suddenly taking flight and dancing in the sky… But it’s not the one.
Edits made to the script during recording.
Voice recording didn’t go quite as planned as it was the day after our beloved Sam had left and in trying to help us, the new technician spent 45 mins arguing with Karen about how the studio worked.
In the remaining time, we got several great takes with Liam then a couple in the remaining time with me that were a bit rushed and not so good. Elizabeth volunteered to edit the final narration clip.