Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cinematic Storytelling: Camera Shots

Hey all! This time we're taking a look at different types of camera shots and how they can impact a scene. First, we were told to take pictures of people or objects from certain distances or angles. I will post the shot type under the photo to help show the differences.

Long view
Medium view
Medium view - 2 people
Medium Group shot
Over-the-shoulder shot

Extreme close-up
High-angle view
Low-angle view
Dutch angle view (This is an angle at which there are no parallel  lines in the scene)
Bird's-eye view
Worm's-eye view

After we gained a knowledge of the camera angles, we were asked to incorporate them into our storyboard, adding more shots in the process.

The storyboard is starting to flesh out really well, I think! Next time we add in camera movements, as well as shot descriptions. See you then!

Until next time.

Cinematic Storytelling: Character and Personal Profiles, plus an Updated Storyboard.

Hey all! This time, I'm going to post the profile I was supposed to create for my character, listing off personal quirks, background, likes and dislikes...anything and everything to give my character depth. I also will be posting a profile I created about my best friend, as well as a portrait of her that I drew as part of the assignment (her name, as well as those of her friends, have been changed to protect their identities). Well, here we go!

Character Profile - Harry Dreesen

This seemingly unremarkable man is Harry Dreesen, a 29-year old with an average body and a seemingly unremarkable demeanor. He was born in a suburb of Chicago. His parents are fairly laid back with him and his two sisters, Libby and Ashley. As the middle child, Harry had a fairly unremarkable childhood, though he always had difficulty living up to his older sister Libby’s example. He made fairly good grades in school and did not have any trouble making friends, but he is a fairly private person, with only a few close friends. His best friend Shaunda is one that he had met in college, and while Harry had a fairly big crush on her, he respects her wishes not to be committed to a relationship at this point.

In the scene, Harry has come home from a long day at work and is extremely tired, wanting nothing more than to sleep. Because he is inattentive when he’s sleepy, Harry does not realize that he has disturbed his cat, who seeks to disrupt Harry’s sleep as he disturbed it.

Harry works at a firm that specializes in packaging and marketing. He works as the secretary for the head of public relations, using his easygoing nature to help screen calls and spread the department’s policies to the other workers. He lives in a small suburb of Chicago in a modest but modern home. It is sparsely decorated, with family pictures in the entryway. The kitchen has some artistic photos of food and wine on the walls. In Harry’s room, a poster of Matt Smith and Karen Gillan as Doctor Who and Amy Pond adorns the wall over his bed. There is also an Xbox and a laptop on a desk on the wall opposite his bed, with a 22” tv hanging on the wall above the Xbox.

Harry loves to go out for sushi and drinks every week, though he also enjoys eating Italian and Thai food. Harry can not stand intolerant people, and will verbally fight back against any instances of discrimination regardless of circumstances. While his fervor is admirable, more often than not it gets him into trouble. However, outside of those situations Harry is incredibly laid back, and he likes to joke around and generally get along with everyone.

Harry has black hair that is usually worn spiking forward slightly, though not overly so. He usually wears jeans, a white t-shirt, and a button-up shirt, which is frequently left unbuttoned. At work, he wears khaki dress pants and a nice button-up shirt, usually red as it’s his favorite color. Harry frequently listens to oldies and indie music, though he sometimes listens to country as a guilty pleasure or when he’s feeling stressed.  He likes action movies and comedies, but refuses to watch horror movies. He talks quietly, but his voice has a mellow tone that carries well and makes people stop to listen.

Harry is fairly reserved with his emotions, but he unconsciously runs his hand through his hair when he’s feeling nervous or uncomfortable. He also ends most of his questions with a drawn-out “eeh” sound.

Friend profile - "Kim"

What is the character's backstory? This must include the following:
What are the character's name, age, gender, and body type? "Kim", 22, female, slender
Where was your character born? Madison, Indiana
Who are his or her parents or siblings, and what was his or her childhood like? "Kim" lives with her mother and father when she’s not in school. Her sister, "Mary", is usually in Korea teaching, but occasionally comes home for family get-togethers.
Who are his or her friends, and who is his or her significant other, if any? Apart from me, "Kim" has several friends at college, including the ridiculously accident-prone "Lacy" and her kind but easily frazzled roommate, "Alice". "Kim" doesn’t have anyone she considers a boyfriend, though she constantly gets teased for hanging out with me so often.
What does your character like to do in his or her spare time? "Kim" loves playing video games (mainly Tales series titles), watching anime, and watching crime dramas.
What is your character's job? "Kim" does not have a job at present, though she is planning to apply at the campus bookstore at her college.
Where does he or she live? She lives in St. Charles, MO when she is not in school, which is located in Maryville, MO.
How is the character's home decorated (name at least three personal items found in the place where the character lives)? Her apartment is fairly plain, though she has stuffed animals on her bed. She has a picture of her family over her desk, and she has a dolphin curtain on the shower.
What is the character's favorite food? Being Korean on her mother’s side, she loves Korean food, especially Kimbap.
What annoys the character most? In her own words, “stupid people.”
What is your protagonist's personality like?
Is the character bubbly, surly, funny, quiet, stupid, clever, shy, bold, or something else? "Kim’s" fairly quiet when she doesn’t know someone, but is very boisterous around people she knows. She is extremely intelligent, and has an extremely large sense of humor.
What color is the character's hair? Dark brown
What sort of clothes does the character wear (personal style)? She mostly wears loose-fitting clothes like sweats and boy’s t-shirts, though she occasionally wears jeans or nicer clothes for special occasions. She refuses to wear dresses or skirts, as well as heels of any kind.
What is his or her favorite color? Green
What kind of music does he or she listen to? Her favorite groups are Celtic Woman and Girl’s Generation (K-Pop girl’s group). She also loves country and showtunes.
What's his or her favorite movie? Tossup between Tokyo Drift and Fast Five.
How does the character speak (fast, slow, with a stutter, with an accent, quietly, or loudly)? Fairly quickly, with a midrange pitch and occasional pauses as she searches for words.

After creating our character profile, we were told to redraw our storyboards to include details which were mentioned in our character profiles. I used Photoshop and my VisTablet to create the storyboards, since they gave me more control and a cleaner product than pencil and paper would. I also ended up deviating from my original storyboard, deciding that my original idea would take up far too much time.

I hope you like it! I had fun creating it. Next time I'll be talking about camera positioning and shot types, so stay tuned!

Until next time.

Cinematic Storytelling Final Project: Initial Storyboard

Hey all! This time, I'll be posting my rough storyboard for my final project. Our goal is to create a scene that relies purely on visuals rather than dialogue and narration. Let me know what you think!

I had a lot of fun creating this. I'm still struggling a bit with keeping character consistency, but hopefully the point came across.

Until next time.

Cinematic Storytelling: Creating a Visual Story

Hey all! This post is going to introduce my Cinematic Storytelling class by talking about my first two assignments for it. My assignments were:

  • To create a visual story in which a male and female character meet on a park bench and encounter conflict, without any dialogue,
  • To create a visual story in which a character sets out to deliver a gift to his or her fiancee or fiance, encountering at least 10 obstacles along the way.
This post is going to be a little bit different, because there are no pictures to go along with the stories. Hopefully you're the type of viewer who likes reading, because that's what you get to do now, ha!

Before I post my stories, I have to say that any plagiarism of these stories (for any reason) is illegal and can lead to severe punishment if you get caught. So if you came to my blog just to take my ideas, think twice and try to be creative on your own, because you're only cheating yourself if you steal my work.

Anyway, now that that's out of the way, I hope you enjoy my stories!

Picture Perfect
A young woman, Sarina, is sitting at the end of a bench in a park, her face scrunched in concentration as she reads a novel. Seeing a movement out of the corner of her eye, she looks to her right and sees a somewhat handsome young man (Rob) settling in at the other end of a bench. Rob is holding a sketchbook and a pencil, and gives her a small smile and nods in greeting. Sarina returns his smile and returns to her book as Rob begins drawing on his sketchpad. 

After a moment, Sarina looks up from her book, looking at Rob with an expression of curiosity. Rob looks up, catches her eye, and quickly looks down again, looking embarrassed. Sarina closes her book and scoots next to Rob, moving her head in order to see what is being drawn. Rob spots her trying to look and tilts the sketchbook away from her. Sarina looks up, surprised, and sees Rob raise his eyebrow in an inquisitive manner. Sarina grins sheepishly and moves away a bit, returning to her book. However, her foot is twitching, and it’s easy to see that she wants to know what he’s drawing. 

She looks up again within seconds and sees that he has returned to drawing. She looks back down and waits for a few more seconds, then glances back in Rob’s direction. Keeping a grip on her book with her left hand, she slowly reaches out her right hand towards the sketchpad. Rob shifts his position slightly, and her hand instead brushes on his knee. Sarina pulls her hand back as though electrocuted and peeks up at Rob’s face. Rob has stopped drawing, and is staring at her with challenging eyes, as though daring her to try it again. Sarina lowers her eyes apologetically and scoots back to the other end of the bench, turning away from Rob slightly, though not before catching a glimpse what looks like a smirk on his face. She buries her face in her book, blushing furiously. Her eyes stare unmoving at the page, and her right hand is clenched in a fist on her leg. 

Within moments, Rob forcefully tears the page out of his sketchbook, crumples it up, and gets up, dropping the paper on the seat behind him as he slinks away, hands in pockets. He does not look back. Sarina waits for a few seconds before pouncing on the paper, opening it up and staring eagerly at the picture. On the paper is a beautifully drawn portrait of Sarina’s own face, with the words 

Call me! Rob”

written underneath. Sarina stares at the page, a bewildered expression on her face, before her mouth quirks upward and she laughs to herself, folding up the paper carefully and placing it between the pages of her book. She closes the book, stands up, and starts walking in the opposite direction as Rob, chuckling to herself. Rob, meanwhile, is strolling slowly away, smiling happily.

Birthday Blitz

Wally leans back in his office chair in his cubicle and stretches his arms out, yawning. He glances at the clock on his desk, which reads 4:45 pm. Scratching his head, he leans forward again and begins to type on the keyboard. A flashing icon in the corner of his computer screen catches his eye, and as he turns his eyes towards it his fingers stop tapping on the keys. He sits frozen, staring at the words “Calendar appointment – Birthday dinner for Cecily, 7:30 (do you have your gift?).” Smacking himself on the forehead, then pulling his hand down his face to rest on his chin, Wally sits back in his chair, looking both horrified and angry. 

When the clock changes to 5:00, Wally closes down his computer, grabs his briefcase, and sprints from the room, shouting a quick farewell to his shocked-looking secretary. As he exits the building, he slips on a patch of ice, landing hard on his backside. Grumbling furiously, Wally picks himself up and hobbles over to his car, fumbling for his keys. In his haste, he drops the keys and, as he flails to catch them, accidently kicks them under the car. Wally pounds his fist on the car’s roof, then lies down on the cold, wet ground and scrabbles for the keys, finally grasping them and pulling them out. 

Pulling open the door, Wally sits down and starts the car. He immediately sees that his fuel gauge is on “E.” Looking livid, Wally pulls out of the parking lot and begins driving down the street towards the nearest gas station. He pulls into a stall and gets out, reaching for his wallet in his pocket. His expression changes to one of shock, and he turns out his wallet-less pocket. Wally starts searching the car furiously, finally finding the wallet between the seat and the center console. 

After filling up his car, Wally drives to the local mall, glancing at his watch the entire way. He reaches the mall, only to find the parking lot jammed full. Wally screams in frustration, but then sees a car pulling out of a parking spot at the end of the row he’s driving down. Looking pleased, Wally drives up to the row, only to see that the driver of the car pulling out is an old woman who is clearly having difficulty navigating her station wagon out of its spot. Drumming his fingers against the steering wheel, Wally looks again at his watch. 6:15. After another moment, the old woman pulls away from her parking spot, and Wally maneuvers his car into the newly vacated area. Wally gets out and walks quickly but cautiously to the entrance, as though remembering his spill earlier. 

Upon entering the mall, Wally consults the map and makes his way to Shower and Figure Factory, where he finds a lotion set Cecily had mentioned wanting a few days prior. Wally walks over to the register to pay, but when he swipes his card it’s declined. The cashier swipes it again to be sure, then asks if Wally has another form of payment he can use. Wally looks in his wallet, and pulls out its only contents: a hundred dollar bill. The cashier takes it, then calls over a manager to make change. Tapping his foot impatiently, Wally glances back at his watch, which reads 6:32. The cashier hands Wally his change, and Wally thanks her with a grunt. 

After making his way back to the car, Wally throws himself inside, starts the car, and pulls out of the parking lot onto the street. Driving down to the highway, Wally edges into the flow of traffic. After only a few moments, though, the traffic slows to a crawl. Frantic now, Wally has no choice but to wait until the flow of traffic takes him to a turnoff, which he takes. Winding his way through half-familiar streets, Wally manages to navigate back to his and Cecily’s apartment complex. 

Pulling into his spot, Wally grabs the gift basket and carries it inside, glancing down at his watch. 7:20. Reaching their apartment, Wally open the door, taking a few steps into the room before stopping in surprise. Cecily is sitting in her chair by the television, wearing pajamas. Cecily looks up at his entrance, eyebrow raised as she takes in his still-wet shirt front. Wally holds out the gift with a confused expression on his face. Cecily looks at the gift, then laughs. She points to the calendar on the wall, which has the words “Cecily’s Birthday Dinner”…

on the same day next week.

And there you have it! Hopefully you enjoyed my writings. Next time I will be posting a storyboard for what will be my final project. See you then!

Until next time.

Digital Audio and Video: The Class that Wouldn't End

Hey all! In this post, I'll be talking about my Digital Audio and Video class. Unlike my previous classes, this class required a lot of video and audio manipulation. Rather than try to explain everything in one post (and because the professor was not very clear about what needed to be submitted when, meaning I actually did everything sooner than I'd needed to), I will instead present my final proposal for the class and the finished video.

For our final project, we had to choose an existing tv show, movie, ovideo game and create a promo video or new opening sequence for it, using video clips and audio. I chose to create a new opening to the Britcom "The Vicar of Dibley," because the official opening does not show the characters and I wanted to provide a bit more of an introduction for the characters and the tone of the show. You can find the original opening (as well as a full episode) here.

Here is my project proposal. The purpose of this was to explain what I was creating, what video clips I would use, any video effects I used, the audio I would use, and any audio effects I would use.

Sargent Project Proposal
For my project, I created a new opening sequence for the British comedy The Vicar of Dibley. I showed scenes from the show that highlight the main cast, as well as scenery to help set the stage for the show. These scenes are all taken from the episodes of the show. The episodes include:

  • Season 1, Episode 1: The Arrival
  • Season 1, Episode 2: Songs of Praise
  • Season 2, Episode 1: The Easter Bunny
  • Season 2, Episode 2: The Christmas Lunch Incident
  • Season 2, Episode 3: The Engagement
  • Season 2, Episode 4: Dibley Live
  • Season 2, Episode 5: Celebrity Vicar
  • Season 3, Episode 1: Autumn
  • Season 3, Episode 2: Winter
  • Season 3, Episode 4: Summer

I used keyframed effects to provide a flow to the video, and included the names of the main actors in the scenes in which they are showcased. The effects I added to my video are thus:

  • On the opening scene, I added a Noise effect with roughly 24% noise at the start of the clip. I also added a 100% sepia tint to the start of the video. I gradually decreased both filters to 0% in 2.5 seconds.
  • On clip 2, I added a sharpen effect at 100. I also increased the brightness to 36 and the contrast to 45. I also added a film dissolve effect to the logo text in that clip so that it would fade in and out.
  • On clip 4, I added a dip to white transition, to give the effect of a camera flash.
  • On clip 13, I added a 25% camera blur to the start of the clip, which I then reduced down to 0% within a second. I also set the initial sharpness to 0 and increased it to 65 in the same amount of time.
  • On clip 21, I sharpened the video to 50.
  • On clip 22, I increased the brightness and contrast to 27. I also sharpened the image to 35.
  • On clip 23, I added a Leave Color effect, leaving the color green. I set the amount to decolor at 30%, the tolerance to 30%, and the edge softness to 5%. I also set the contrast to 35 and the sharpness to 10.
  • On clip 24 (final clip), I added a noise effect and set the amount of noise to 15%. I set the clip brightness and contrast to 15 as well. I added a “Dip to Black” transition to the end, to smoothly fade the trailer to black.

To further set the tone, I set the title sequence to the song "The Little Lady Preacher" by Tom Hall. I have enhanced the audio by adding equalizing effects such as Compress and Invert, as well as adding environmental sounds that tie into the events in the sequence (camera shutters, water splashing). The end result will be a short 57-second introductory video that provides the names of the actors, as well as establishes the setting and tone of the show.

After I created my project proposal, I then submitted my camera storyboard. This effectively laid out exactly what would be happening in the clips I was using, as well as any text that would be used.

Vicar of Dibley Title Sequence (Camera Storyboard)

Snippets from Tom T. Hall’s Little Lady Preacher will play as the video clips are shown.

  • Shot #1- An aerial flyover of a small village in Britain.
  • Shot #2- Fade from #1 to a street view exterior of a vicarage. Title text appears.
  • Shot #3- Cut to view of main actress preaching. Text “Starring Dawn French” is visible in lower left corner.
  • Shot #4- Exterior of church, main actress chained in the front entryway. Text is still visible.
  • Shot #5- Black and white still of the main actress’ head and upper body in three-quarter view facing towards the left of the viewer. Text disappears.
  • Shot #6- Black and white still of the main actress head and upper body in three-quarter view facing left, caught as she is talking.
  • Shot #7- Color still of the main actress dressed in provocative clothing looking seductively at the camera.
  • Shot #8- Black and white still of the main actress’ head and upper body as she is seated in a chair, blouse buttons undone slightly and hair askew.
  • Shot #9- Color still of main actress clutching a red fabric-covered cross from behind.
  • Shot #10- Color still of main actress’ upper body facing the camera. She is wearing a leopard-print shawl and is grinning strangely at the camera.
  • Shot #11- Interior of vicarage, set up as a makeshift radio station. The main actress grabs a supporting actor around the neck, stuffs her fist in his mouth, then leans down to speak into the microphone. Camera tilts slightly to follow.
  • Shot #12- Interior scene, camera about chest-height and zoomed out to take in whole scene. Supporting actress sitting at the table gets whacked in the head by a Bible swung by main actress.
  • Shot #13- Night scene, camera zoomed out. Nativity scene, main actress elevated above supporting cast, wearing a white dress. She fiddles with a device behind her back and wings pop out of the back of her dress.
  • Shot #14- Static camera shot as supporting actress runs down a garden path away from the camera. She looks back over her shoulder halfway along the path. Text “Emma Chambers” appears in lower right corner.
  • Shot #15- Static camera shot at head level, interior of vicarage. Supporting actress, main actress, and supporting actor are standing facing each other. Supporting actress is sliding a chocolate stick in and out of her mouth in an unintentionally provocative manner. Supporting actor has pained expression on his face. Text is still visible.
  • Shot #16- Shot of supporting actress in odd costume. Text is still visible.
  • Shot #17- Head-level shot of supporting actress reading from a large bible, as though in a church service.
  • Shot #18- Close-up of main actor’s face looking affronted. Text “Gary Waldhorn” appears in lower left.
  • Shot #19- Panned-out shot of supporting actor reading text from a pulpit. Text is still visible.
  • Shot #20- Shot of actor speaking into radio microphone. Text “James Fleet” appears in lower right. 
  • Shot #21- Camera cuts to view of supporting actor walking, pans to follow. Text is still visible.
  • Shot #22- Camera pans following cast marching comically out a door, hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them.
  • Shot #23- Zoomed out shot of lead actress walking with another character, jumping in puddles. Actress jumps in particularly large puddle and becomes submerged.
  • Shot #24- Cut to panning view of village. Superimposed text “Written by Richard Curtis" appears in middle of shot. Fade to black.

    Now that you've seen the project proposal and the camera storyboard, here is the final product!

    And that was my Digital Audio and Video class! Hopefully you liked the end result. I enjoyed making it, which I hope shows.

    My next class is Cinematic Storytelling, which deals with storyboards and screenwriting. I can't wait!

    Until next time.

    Visual Communication: Shading, Textures, and Final Project

    So my definition of "soon" apparently means 5 months. Whoops. Well, better late than never, right?

    This entry is going to encompass the rest of the Visual Communication class. It's been a while, so I don't remember all the specifics about the assignments. However, I will do my best to describe the drawings I post. Let's get started, then!

    Shading studies: Basic vs. Texture - In this two-part assignment, we were first asked to  copy a provided value study using grey markers (top). We were then asked to add textures to the shapes, two of which needed to be wood, two stone, and one metal (bottom).

    Shading studies: Color and Texture - In this follow-up assignment, we were asked to create a color version of our black-and-white study, using both marker and pencil to create the illusion of texture. I was still struggling a bit with controlling the marker, which is why it's not very clean.

    Perspective study - In this assignment, we were asked to draw a cube-shaped piece of furniture from our own homes, using the shading techniques we learned in previous weeks to enhance the look of the object.

    Perspective study 2 - A follow-up assignment, we were asked to take one of our perspective drawings and draw an environment for the object to sit in.

    Marker progression - This was an interesting assignment. Starting with a pencil sketch of a book or magazine cover, we had to add first light shades of color, progressing steadily to the darker shades. I chose the cover to the first Questionable Content collection (A webcomic that, despite the name, depicts very little nudity, and what nudity is present is artfully covered. If you like sarcastically funny slice-of-life comics, this one's worth your viewing!), which provided a great range of colors, and an interesting typeface to copy.

    Text study - This assignment required us to copy a magazine ad, paying attention to copying the text and typefaces. This isn't a good drawing in my opinion; I was using a new paper that didn't absorb the marker very well, and it looks unprofessional and streak-y as a result.

    Interior room - In this assignment, we were required to draw a room (preferably a kitchen) in one-point perspective, which contained several different textures, as well as a box (drawn in two-point perspective) on a flat surface. I drew my kitchen, and I'm VERY pleased with how it turned out.

    Final Project: Thumbnails - For our final project, we were first asked to draw 4 thumbnails of an interior or exterior scene in either one- or two-point perspective.

    Final Project: Value and Color Studies - After choosing our favorite thumbnail, the next step was to create two different value studies: One for a brightly lit scene, the other as a darker scene. After drawing those, we chose our favorite value study and created two different color studies of that value.

    Final Project: First draft - After deciding on our favorite color study, we were asked to create a larger version, focusing on texture and values within the scene.

    Final Project: Final Draft - Once we were satisfied with our first drafts,  we began creating our final drafts, which drew upon all the knowledge we learned over the course. I was extremely pleased with how mine turned out, needless to say.

    Hope this makes up for my long absence! I only had a couple of creative classes during my hiatus, so I'll hopefully be caught up on the blog soon! Thanks for your patience.

    Until next time.