Academic Report – Unit 12

Since the beginning of this term I’ve learnt a large amount about my chosen discipline. I have mostly been looking at cinematography throughout and found that looking into classical cinematographers like Freddie Young was a particularly insightful task. As looking at the past and how they produced and innovated has given me inspiration for my future final major project. I will be looking back at the content I have produced over the past 6 weeks and reviewing the types of research I did, what I researched into and how this has affected my Final Major Project so far.

Explain what you have learnt about the contextual perspectives of your chosen discipline, i.e. historical, social, cultural and industrial factors that may have influenced the development of your specialist area (1.1).

I began by choosing a discipline to look into for the rest of the term. I had originally thought about looking into sound design, as I felt that we focus a lot on the camera side of filmmaking and wanted to research more into it. However I really wanted to focus on cinematography for my Final Major Project and so decided to look into this instead.

In our week 4 task I was looking into Fear and Unrequited love. I found the fear part of the task to be particularly useful to me as I learnt a lot about different cinematographic  techniques that I could use to represent a certain emotion in a scene. For instance the use of different apertures on the camera as the tone of the scene changes from calm to extreme anger when Fletcher is shouting at Andrews face. As seen below the shallow depth of field represents Andrews isolation at that moment compared to the deep depth of field earlier on.

capture2whip1

For the next section of this task we were allowed to choose our own topic to research into. I decided to look into the topic of unrequited love and how through cinematography the emotion could be portrayed. One of the most famous films that heavily feature the theme of unrequited love was 500 Days of Summer(2009). I researched into how the shots were composed and framed to show unrequited love over a more classical shot in a romantic film to show love between 2 characters. The distance between the characters and the differences between the shots where the characters are in love and are not are heavily apparent.

Here is one of the shots that I experimented with and where I got the inspiration for it from 500 Days of Summer:

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I found the week 6 task, the practitioner’s report, to be particularly insightful as we were researching into 2 practitioner’s in our chosen discipline; mine being Freddie Young and Emmanuel Lubezki. When researching into practitioners to choose who I would be looking in depth at I found that Lubezki’s expanse of critically acclaimed work made him a good modern practitioner to look into. I had always been inspired by this scene in Lawrence of Arabia(1962):

Therefore I chose to research into the cinematographer for this film; who was Freddie Young.

I found it extremely interesting how both practitioner’s found their way in to the film industry. With Emmanuel Lubezki studying History and then abandoning that dream and switching to focusing on his new found love for film, and for Freddie Young who got a job as a tea boy at a studio in the midst of World War 1 and ended up working his way up to a DoP.

The difference in cinematic style was quite apparent when analysing these two practitioners. I found Freddie Young’s use of large sweeping wide shots and his preference of 70mm projection and lens use to be an interesting style and uncommon in today’s cinema. Emmanuel Lubezki also used a lot of wide angle shots, however not to the same extent that Young did and the rest of his style is quite apparently different. Lubezki’s experimentation and use of long takes compared to Young’s relatively stationary camera shows a lot about the evolution of filmmaking over the past 60 years.

Analyse what you have learnt about these contextual perspectives and discuss how you can use this to inform your own practice (1.2).

I found the researching of practitioners a particularly good task, as it allowed me to research and learn a lot of new and old skills in cinematography that I hadn’t learnt about before. For example when analysing Freddie Young’s work on Lawrence of Arabia I learnt a lot about scene transitions, which isn’t something I expected to, but it has now made me think more about how I should think about where and how I’m going to cut a scene when planning and on set as well as in post-production. It isn’t linked directly to cinematography but finding out about how sound and colour can make a transition smoother has really helped me for my Final Major Project.

The interview task that we performed gave me a lot of valuable skills for my Final Major Project, as when interviewing a subject before the questions that I asked weren’t planned thoroughly enough and could be too simplistic. This task taught me how to properly construct an interview and how to plan the questions and branch further questions off answers the interviewee gives. I found this task to be more journalism based but it will really help me when researching for my Final Major Project.

I found the personality test an interesting piece of work. Personally I doubt the accuracy of the test, as I don’t personally believe that people’s personalities can be categorised. I believe that every person is unique although have similarities. Although what the task did do was make me think more in depth about what kind of person I am, and how that can relate to what I can produce for my Final Major Project.

I’ve also become very interested in long takes ever since looking into Emmanuel Lubezki. Seeing other examples in recent films such as La La Land(2016) has peaked my interest in trying to use this technique in my Final Major Project if it can be achieved.

When looking at Fear and Unrequited Love I learnt a lot about how small changes to camera settings can change the whole emotion in a scene. For instance in Whiplash(2014) simply the change of angle and aperture transforms the scene from a relatively peaceful environment to complete fear in the emotions of Andrew.  As seen below:

capture2whip1

The lighting experimentation that I performed in week 5 of this term helped me to develop my camera and lighting skills. I’ve always pushed lighting to the side when filming, as it’s sometimes something that can be easily forgotten when planning a short film with a small crew. However now that I have done this task and have seen what kind of results can be achieved through simply using gels to create interesting colours I am more inclined to put more thought into it when producing my Final Major Project.

Considering the range of research activities you have undertaken, explain what you have learnt from these activities and discuss how you can use these to inform your own practice (2.1/2.2).

Throughout this task I have used a wide range of different primary and secondary research techniques. The creation of mind maps, analysing film and internet research are some of the techniques that I used for this unit.

Watching and analysing the films that the two practitioners created in their career was a really insightful process, as I expanded my knowledge greatly by watching films I may not have watched if not for the tasks set in this unit. For example the film A Little Princess(1995). One of Emmanuel Lubezki’s first english language films after moving away from Mexico; the story of a little girl in a boarding school might not be something that initially grabs my attention, however as I wanted to see where Lubezki started out I watched and thoroughly enjoyed the film. I learnt new narrative techniques from the film and found it to be very unique and experimental and unlike a lot of films I had seen before.

Although I felt I knew a relative amount of information about Cinematography I wanted to learn and research more in-depthly about this as I wanted to focus on it

I found that the work on fear taught me a lot about how fear can be not just a theme of a film but can be what drives a character, or fear of failure, or even the fear of success and that fear is something that is in every movie and all around us in everyday life. Not just in, for example, horror movies which is quite an obvious place to find fear. This had lead me to want to look more in depth at the motives and reasons why things happen in my films. To make sure there is always motivation and depth to characters and my story.

From all my research I have learnt a lot of new techniques to use in my Final Major Project. Especially in the aspect of Cinematography I feel much more confident that I can create a better FMP with better camerawork than my previous films and projects at college.

Conclusion

Going back through all the work from this unit for my report has helped me to reaffirm the knowledge gained from the research in which I did for Unit 12. Throughout this unit I did a lot of experimentation and research into a multitude of different areas. Mostly looking into Cinematography I learnt through looking at existing pieces of media and experimenting with what practitioners have created before. This research will allow me to apply the skills and techniques I have learnt to my Final Major Project. I found that the work in the first 3 weeks of this unit helped me to learn a lot about myself and how my interests and personality shapes and informs what I do in my life and the kinds of work that I produce.

This unit also allowed me to expand my theoretical knowledge base as well as my practical. As we were given tasks that allowed for a lot of research and analysis via watching films. This meant I watched a lot of new and interesting films over the course of this term.

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Academic Report – Unit 12

One thought on “Academic Report – Unit 12

  1. Gabrielle Novakovic-Thone: summative feedback (document to be e-mailed)
    Grade: Pass

    For this unit you have been concentrating on your chosen discipline of cinematography. You began researching the chosen topic of fear and conducted a sequence analysis of both ‘Ex Machina’ and ‘Whiplash’, picking out several elements such as lighting and positioning within the frame. By doing this you have successfully deconstructed examples of cinematography that portray fear; it is refreshing that you did not choose the more obvious horror narratives (although these may have furthered your understanding of more recognisable tropes), as this shows a inquisitive approach to your studies. The experimental photography is disjointed; you had previously analysed fear but did not carry this emotion through to your work. The images do however, show your understanding of framing and composition in regard to conveying the emotion of unrequited love and relate directly to your source material, ‘500 Days of Summer’. A deconstruction of the film scene this is based on would have bolstered your work and better informed your practice. You then explore colour within film, inspired by various examples including ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘Ex Machina’. By altering the coloured gels, you produce five images of varying success of your model in the same pose. This is a good basis for your own work as this means that changing emotion of the image relies on the altering colour and the set figure becomes interpretive. Again, however, there is a need for greater analysis of others works in connection to your own; you refer to examples and base your own work from these but there is no clear attempt to match practices or technologies, merely a surface recreation. The two practitioners you have chosen for your report are looked at in more detail. Lubezki and Young are well analysed and you explain their styles competently with Lubezki’s famous long takes and Youngs’ expert use of the wide-angle lens. You could have further explained their influence on your own practice/ future projects, but your examples are well chosen. There is a need for greater depth in your work; although many general examples are given to illustrate tropes and commonalities, close readings of individual texts would have really benefitted the earlier experiments, and a greater connection to your chosen practitioners work reflected in your own would have tied your research to your practical tasks.

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