Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Summer School and Practical Effects


The boys and their mother are off to Oklahoma for a couple of weeks and I'm here in Seattle continuing my education. I'm a lot busier now that school is in session but my life is still basically boring. Of course that won't keep me from describing my life in excruciating detail. Being somewhat lazy and not wanting to write several thousand words before going to bed will keep me from describing my life in excruciating detail.

So here are some highlights. In 2D design we finished our Tangram assignments. I used three Tans (the 7 item set that fits in a square and is used to make silhouettes of objects). I had two Tans using a four inch square (one orange and the other light brown) and one Tan that was from a two inch square (also light brown). With these objects I made a man playing a guitar. The item was well received.

We now have to take a letter and cut out the spaces around the letter and then rearrange those negative space cutouts as a separate art piece to illustrate the way the mind works with foreground and background areas even when they are not part of something immediately recognizable.

I know there are actual design concepts that are being covered but I sometimes feel like I'm doing the arts and crafts equivalent of “Wax on, wax off.” But then again, Daniel listened to Miyagi and won the fight at the end of the movie. So I do the work, pay attention and take notes.

I've chosen the letter M and have a version of that letter that I think will work very well for this assignment.

Photography is going well but is somewhat more frustrating. I'm working on the Photograms and I'm trying to get layers of objects in a way that simulates distance. I think I've got it down.

I guess I should post some pictures to the blog at some point so all of this excruciating detail will have some context.

I'm really into the photograms and when that's done I have to shoot some black and white film in a depth of field experiment. I pick a scene with objects in the foreground and background. Set the camera at 50mm focal length and adjust the aperture and shutter speed to get the same picture with different depth of field (deep focus). After about 8 scenes with 3 apertures each (a roll of 24), I get to develop the film, make a contact sheet and select 2 or 3 (I forget what the requirement is for the assignment) and make prints of those.

Now, I've gone through the filmmaking program at Seattle Film Institute so I'm no stranger to aperture, focus, ISO, and the such. But I've never worked with film in a darkroom so this is all pretty exciting stuff for me.

I've also been watching Sci-Fi and horror stuff from before the age of After Effects. Some of the practical effects and the way things were shot and lit in those movies lends itself to lower budget filmmaking. There's a great doc about Peter Jackson's - Bad Taste which he shot on a wind-up 16mm Bolex (I don't think he did much with sync sound on that one). But he did make a lot of masks for practical special effects and built his own camera crane and steadycam rigs that he used in the filming. In some scenes it's “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” level of special effects but it did screen at Cannes and sold in many markets. And then he's done a few things after that too.

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