The Long Portrait
When you photograph a face . . . you photograph the soul behind it.
I found the Photographing The Face task fascinating and challenging. Choosing everything thoroughly starting from the location and finishing with the character’s movements we created a silent one-minute portrait. My work is a portrait of a man who is demonstrating his scars, his wound and emotion marks he gained in the past. The idea was to show that scars have they own history and they may be physical as well as mental. The cut on the body itself don’t tell the story or at least do not tell the full story and the inner scars or pain are very hard to show.
I’ve decided to use an interesting technic to solve this problem. I projected a short film on his body that tells where had he got the scars from. The fist piece of video shows his childhood. In this fragment he fell from the bicycle and father is behind to comfort and calm down the child. This scar on his arm rise only positive emotions and remind him of sweet childhood and the good relationships with the father. Next fragment is from his teenage years where he broke the nose in a fight protecting a girl from villains. The man feels brave and proud and the small scar on his nose just a reminder that he can be a hero when the situation needs him. Another piece is about a car accident in which he has been involved because of the alcohol. Hopefully resolved without casualties but sometimes he feels a pain in his back after the surgery. This explained to him how easy a human can lose his life and reminds him to take responsibility for his actions, think about the consequences before do something reckless. The last piece shows the deepest scar that was caused by a woman who left him. At the end of the film, he touches the heart. There isn’t any physical damage. The last piece shows the incapacitating pain that is deep inside.
The inspiration for this creative problem solution comes from relatively new art form called Projection Mapping that “uses everyday video projectors, but instead of projecting on a flat screen (e.g. to display a PowerPoint), light is mapped onto any surface, turning common objects of any 3D shape into interactive displays”. The Projection Mapping, also known as “Spatial Augmented Reality” or “Video Mapping” appeared the first time in 1969 opening of the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland. Before and after Disney the patent that combines optical physic and art together was developed and now we have a huge collection of original pieces of art. For example, incredible works of English photographer Mads Perch and art director Gemma Fletcher. The Projection Mapping was an ideal solution for me. Using it I was able to experiment with lights, shapes, colors and tell character story in only one minute without using any words and sound. Combining that with actor’s emotions and movements I got the full picture of my vision and embodied it. I think I have done a good job. I worked alone what improved my multi-tasking and time management skills.
The only thing I would like to change in the video is camera option and lighting decision. For filming, I used Canon 700D camera, Dedo Lights set, and Projector in one of the basement room. If only I had a camera with bigger frame sensor that catches more light without any noise I would not light up the actor. I think this spot of light on his face ruin the Projection Mapping conception and highlight the man out of the whole composition, even though, he must be a part of it. Now I understand that and next time I will to my best to avoid the same mistakes.
Inspiration now (2016) Projection mapping portraits, Available from <http://www.inspiration-now.com/projection-mapping-portraits/> [8 December 2016]
Projection mapping central (2014) Projection mapping, Available from <http://projection-mapping.org/whatis/> [8 December 2016]
Projection mapping central (2014) The Illustrated History of Projection Mapping, Available from <http://projection-mapping.org/the-history-of-projection-mapping/> [8 December 2016]
The Lighting from a Photograph (RE-MIX)
Without atmosphere a painting is nothing.
-Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn
This task was something very new for me because I’ve never recreating a painting in a video before. Tara, Daniel and I worked on The Scholar Reading by Rembrandt. The greatest artist of Holland’s “Golden Age”, a prolific painter, draftsman, and etcher had made a contribution in World Visual Art destiny and heritage. On his painting is portraited a man sitting at the table reading the books. The table is located by the window and it throws nice smooth shadows on the floor and on the scholar’s face. Our team goal was to duplicate this shadows. I made a research and found out that Rembrandt used a special pattern of light in his paintings that were named after the great master. It can be identified by “the triangle of light on the cheek”. To create it “the subject must turn slightly away from the light. The light must be at the top of their head so that the shadow from their nose falls down towards the cheek”.
This technique has been widely used in Cinematography, for example, in Orson Welles’s 1941 classic Citizen Kane. Typical dark background while the main lighting is only the foreground subject in the cinematography of Kane remind of Renaissance painter. Using a window as a light source we can clearly mimic the lighting and replicate the shadows from the picture. Furthermore, we tried to save the round shapes of the table and arcs on the picture in our set design. Also, we stick up with orange and sea blue colours as on the original. We used the 4:3 aspect ratio to keep the sizes as much as it possible because painting is vertical.
To keep the spiritual and antic style of Rembrandt’s painting the parable about the scholar and his student became the basis for a script. We found the perfect one where featured a window that combines everything together in a full complete picture. The window isn’t just a detail on the painting, now it’s a part of the story and the main source for Rembrandt’s lighting technique. Tara and I have done cinematography for this project. For filming we used Canon 5D with 50mm lens, Red Head 800W light set and Dedo Light collection, Edirol R09 sound recorder with the rifle microphone. All filming happened in the Dome where we create a vintage and little bit mystical looking room with the window using the theatre department’s props. We set up the Red Head light behind the window replicating the sun and one Dedo light on the left to light up the shadows on the actor’s face. The assistant shook a bunch of leaves in front or main light source for more artistic effect.
I choose this project for a remake because I wanted to fix some small mistakes that we did in hurry. Firstly, I was aiming to change the colour correction in some moments, make a title for actors, change the sequence of the scenes and improve the sound syncing in the postproduction process. Also, I realised that 50mm lens has a small focus space. We got short depth of field that made it hard to focus on someone who moves. I’ve tried to change it with Sharpen effect in Premiere Pro. Suddenly the sharp pixels made the video textured and now it looks even more like a painting. I believe it makes the project more atmospheric and thematic. During this project I’ve learned how sensitive lenses can be and concluded for myself that the selection of it should be more selective and it cannot be picked without a firm comprehension of its designation and application in the process of filming. Also, I have a great chance to practice the Rembrandt lighting technique from a cinematographer’s point of view as before that I was studying it only as an artist.
Digital Photography School (2012) 6 portrait lighting patterns every photographer should know [Online] available from <http://digital-photography-school.com/6-portrait-lighting-patterns-every-photographer-should-know/> [12 May 2012]
Gorilla Film (2012) Chiaroscuro Lighting [Online] available from <http://gorillafilmonline.com/features/film-stuff-explained/chiaroscuro-lighting/> [27 September 2012]
Schwartz, H. (2006) The Rembrandt Book, Harry N. Abrams publishing house, extract from the book available from <http://www.rembrandtpainting.net/rembrandt_life_and_work.htm> 
By manipulating what you hear and how you hear it and what other things you don’t hear, you can not only help tell the story, you can help the audience get into the mind of the character.
This task gave me the chance to practice my new knowledge in the sound area and show of gained experience from previous projects. I generated a sound design for a one-minute scene with originally captured sounds.
I decided to image a scene where a lady sitting alone at the table in the full restaurant and reading a poem-letter by my favourite poet Sergey Yesenin. This love letter is in Russian and it’s from her lover. I chose to keep the original language of a poem for four reasons. Firstly, I wanted to make the letter her personal secret that nobody in the restaurant will understand. Secondly, it will separate her from the public in the restaurant. Thirdly, the language of her Motherland will bring back all the sweet memories and raise the warm emotions from the depth of her heart. Also, I wanted the non-Russian speakers to listen to melody and rhythm of the language to focus on the musical part of the ongoing. Even without the understanding of the context of the letter people can recognise its sad motive and follow the reader unconsciously in her emotions. I’ve recorded my own voice in the Radio Room using the Zoom H6 audio recorder and built-in microphone.
The soundscape begins with the opening of the envelope and touching paper sounds. After the crowd noise and plates sounds fade in. All this sounds I’ve recorded at home using the Edirol R09 sound recorder and the Rifle Microphone. When the lady starts to read a letter the background sounds volume slowly lows down and we can hear the music. This soundtrack was made on the request by a very talented friend of mine, it perfectly suits in the restaurant’s atmosphere and obviously was used without violation of the copyright. At the end of the scene comes the waitress and asks if she wants to make an order. This character is needed not only to finish the story. With her question, the waitress brings the lady, the reader, back into the reality where the background sound hits her. I believe this was a good and probable twist for the story to illustrate the sharp contrast in a change of sound in the end, while in the beginning, this change was soft.
I’ve done some noises reduction work in the Adobe Audition and that’s it. I wanted to keep the sounds natural like how do we hear them in real life because it’s a true story about real feelings. The audience becomes a part of this story and feels it from the inside.
I was inspired by Walter Murch who is the alive Legend of Sound Design World. Before him the sound design as a concept didn’t exist and of course he got the first official credits for this. With the majestic work that he did for “Apocalypse Now” in 1979, Murch “showed the world the possibilities of cinematic sound”. Unbelievable but for the famous entire helicopter scene sounds Walter Murch used a synthesised blade sound. It even sounds like a reversed helicopter that makes feeling that at the protagonist having a flashback. Walter Murch was the first who looks at sounds differently. He’s the reason why nowadays we can affect the audience emotionally not only with visual but with audial too.
Another my inspiration comes from Richard King who was Interstellar’s Supervising Sound Editor and Sound Designer. He used natural sounds for the intriguing and dynamic blockbuster, “to capture the essence of a dust storm, King and his team built a sand gun and fired it against a rusty car; to convey a car ripping through a cornfield, they built a rig and did it for themselves”. This innovative approach from the Production team and Christopher Nolan, the director, especially, brings the movie on next level.
Designing the scene for this tasks I was able to use my creative thinking and learn something new about the Sound Design World and its legends.
DesignSound (2009) Walter Munich Special: Apocalypse Now [online] available from <http://designingsound.org/2009/10/walter-murch-special-apocalypse-now/> [9 October 2009]
Filmmaker Magazine (2014) Watch: Behind Interstellar’s Sound Design [online] avaliable from <http://filmmakermagazine.com/88429-watch-behind-interstellars-sound-design/#.WEniCZOLQb0> [24 November 2014]
IndieWire Magazine (2015) Oscar-Winning Editor Walter Murch: The Man, the Myth, the Legend [Online] available from <http://www.indiewire.com/2015/11/oscar-winning-editor-walter-murch-the-man-the-myth-the-legend-54732/>
The Cinematography Project
Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.
The biggest and most challenging project is a cinematic response to Probably Picasso’s most famous work, Guernica. This blue, black and white, 3.5 meters tall and 7.8 meters wide canvas painted in oil “shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians”. The mysterious anti-war symbol by legendary Spanish painter has different interpretations that we used in the script.
When I’ve started writing a script I took into consideration all historical aspects of the painting. The protagonist, Bonifacio, is a regular Spanish soldier who gets the secret documents under strained circumstances. The document states that Guernica will be bombed at 16:30 on Monday, 26 April 1937 by German Army. I used a real date and time of this tragedy in the document to bring historical realism. The Protagonist decides to go there and evacuate the citizens before the catastrophe because he also has a personal reason, his family is living in Guernica. At the same time, our character has the gift of foresight and sometimes he has a vision. The first vision happened in the ex-soldier house after Bonifacio seen a mother and crying baby. These two characters, mother and her dead baby are from the original painting and Bonifacio sees them in the fire after the bombing in his vision. Also, in his vision, he hears the last scream of dying horse. The horse in Picasso’s work represents ordinary people of Guernica. The next vision approaches Bonifacio in the bar when he heard a German speech. The vision of the rampaging bull represents the attack of Fascism. Picasso said, “it meant brutality and darkness, presumably reminiscent of his prophetic”. The bull and a horse, traditional characters in Spanish culture shown as two opposite political sides. After Bonifacio is running in the forest chasing by spy and hears a raging bull sound that smoothly transits to bombing sound. At the end, the Protagonist sees a light’s flash on the horizon that means he is already late and Guernica already were bombed and he is late.
The cinematography for this project was done by Atanas, Lavinia and me for some scenes. For the filming, we used Black Magic Ursa mini with the ND filters that gave use sense of blue, black and white colours from the original painting by Picasso. For this reason, most of the scenes were shot day for night. Also, we made dynamic scenes using different shooting angles and fast-paced editing in post-production and without using a handheld camera operation. Mostly, we stick up with the natural lighting, while artificial was used only in the bar scene, at Bonifacio’s place and Shadows scene. At the bar we set up the LED panel from the LoCaster LED Kit Collection at the back that lights up the whole scene and especially bartender’s face. For the Bonifacio’s house scene when he was packing a bag we set up the main light source behind the glass door with the rhombic pattern on it that gave us beautiful ornament on the wall. Finally, the shadow scene where two people are talking was made using one powerful light source on a high stand.
To conclude, I really enjoyed work on this project. However, I would be happy to change some things. Most of the decisions were discussed and taking in the rush during the filming. I suppose that more clear planning of shots and planning it in advance would free us from stress on the stage and some mistakes made because of the rush. Also, planning would give us clear picture how each shot must look like and their sequence. I found out that this fascinating story that I wrote on the paper (Script.pdf) looks kind of boring on the screen. It is depressing when something that look so good in the theory suffer from the lack of good realisation on the screen. Hope next time we will be more organised so we could coordinate our actions according to the initial plan and achieve all our stage goals.
Arnheim, R. (1973) The Genesis of a Painting: Picasso’s Guernica. London: University of California Press
Barton, S. (2004) A History of Spain. New York: Palgrave Macmillan
Blunt, A. (1969) Picasso’s ‘Guernica. London: Oxford University Press
Hensbergen, G. (2009) “Piecing together Guernica”. BBC News Magazine, Available from <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7986540.stm> [14 August 2009]
Pablo Picasso (2009) Guernica, 1937 by Pablo Picasso, Available from < http://www.pablopicasso.org/guernica.jsp>