Sunday, April 6, 2014

Down and out in Berlin

This little film was originally a 'quick and dirty' entry for a monthly competition on Photogdography where we create images/video to match a Tom Waits song. The full gallery is here.

For March's competition I got a little confused and started shooting video and stills for a song called Emotional Weather Report. At the eleventh hour, I remembered that the chosen song was actually Nighthawk Postcards so I had to lengthen to footage substantially and it had a very negative effect on the project.  

Without the soundtrack/lyrics - and after some re-editing on the fly - it just looks like a very amateur mish-mash with a messed up soundtrack.

I did however take some learnings from this which I thought I should add to my blog.

  • The combination of moving and still images can work well but the frames need to be planning carefully and fit together smoothly - the narrative is as important as ever
  • The pacing is crucial
  • There needs to be a strong beginning and ending. And, ideally, a middle...
  • Matching colour frame to frame is surprisingly easy in FCPX and quite exciting!
  • A dirty lens will ruin at least half of your shots
  • Some very cool footage can come from very ordinary things - I love the reflections of car lights on the tarmac and the shop lights in the puddles
  • The image quality is pretty poor (shot on a Fuji compact) - this works more for some of the images than others
  • It is definitely always worth recording atmos and having some interesting soundscapes to use for still image montages
  • The coming out of the bar onto the street segment could have been repeated to good effect
  • I deliberately blurred some of the shots and I think they work well in this context
  • I like the trees and special effects at the end - a dreamy abstract feel

Overall, I am not satisfied with the final outcome of this experiment, although I am heartened by knowing that I could have got a better result (even with the irrelevant footage I had) if I'd devoted much more time to the editing.  A montage really can be much greater than the sum of its parts.  This is something I will take with me into the rest of my photography study - even when I am finished with this "silly film course" as Clive teasingly calls it.

Next time, I can plan and execute more effectively so it has been a useful process, and there are elements I really like.  Plus I was flattered that a friend commented that the film had an Edward Hopper atmosphere (which was of course one of my aims) - he even created this image to illustrate his observation:

Here is a version of the sequence (with the Waits soundtrack removed and some of the clips re-edited):

Down and out in Berlin from Helen Rosemier on Vimeo.

Edit: I have just read this post from WeAreOCA which mentions Tom Waits and Hopper...

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