Montage Projects 6 + 8 – ‘Colourful Symmetry’

Bringing up the rear was the final montage project, a hybrid of two words and a somewhat ‘sequel’ to ‘Dirty Text’ completed the week before. Colourful Symmetry was designed to further my understanding of editing in FCP, particularly in terms of grading and colour technique. I also wanted to learn how to use ‘mirror’ effects.

The approach to this project was similar to Dirty Text – the only difference this time was that I was using a PDX10 as opposed to a Z5, so the quality was slightly lower, and there were no slow-motion shots. For the last time, on a nice sunny day, I returned to the memorial park, but avoided the forest this time. I had a vague idea of what mirror effecs I was looking for, and got shots of trees in the centre of the camera, along with some naturally-occurring symmetry as well. I took a video of several lakes and stream, trying to capture the reflections in the water. I also took some footage of local flowers coming into bloom, as I figured they’d be a good focal point for colour.

Then, just like several times before, the trip around the nature park was quickly followed up by a trip to Coventry city centre, where I got additional footage – one was an extremely long shot of my journey as I walked towards another park on the other side of town. This was sped up to about 1000% in the final cut. Once I felt I’d obtained enough footage, I returned to the editing suites and uploaded.

We were told not to do this a long time ago – upload images and overplay music. However almost every student on the course has an example of this artefact in some form or another – at least I can say I made my version of the artefact last when I saw no other way forward. Once the videos were uploaded, I sequenced them in a way I was happy, and re-sped the long shot. I used what I had learned from Dirty Text to grade most of the shots, and applied mirror effects to the 360-degrees ‘tree’ shot, which turned out more or less exactly how I had hoped. The shots of the duck on the lake were kept until the end – not did this fit the music, but it was also a ‘cute’ way to end the piece (much like with the squirrel in ‘The Urbanisation’).

Critically however, whilst meandering around the internet looking for ways to further improve my editing skills and make this artefact look better, I stumbled across something called ‘The Pleasantville Effect’. This effect is named after the film Pleasantville.

I remember watching the film many years ago when I was young – I didn’t think much of it (probably too young), but I recognised the name and knew what it meant straight away. The film used a very unique technique – the whole film is black and white, but half-way through, things start turning into colour. It’s much like the ‘arrival’ scene in The Wizard Of Oz or, the ‘red coat’ scenes in Schindler’s List (see below).

I thought it would be a really great idea to learn this and get something really productive out of a simply artefact. I saw the tutorial for it, which can be found below, and it took me step-by-step through the process. I used the shots of the flowers to implement the effect, only bringing the bloom into colour, and leaving the rest of the image black and white.

Here’s the tutorial I used on how to make this rather ‘spiffy’ effect:

Overall, I think the effect worked really well, and I can see it coming in use in the future. I’ve not seen many students on the course use this effect yet, and for me (whose knowledge of editing is… was limited) this was quite a big step forward. Split-screen and wireframes were experimented with during the production of this artefact, but it didn’t look right, and I decided to save those effects for the actual montage itself.

The final piece of the puzzle was choosing the music, which came from the regular site The tune is called ‘Witches Approaching’, and I fell in love with it straight away. The music was over-the-top, but that was sort of the point. This tapped into what I had already researched around symmetry itself – it doesn’t take much to make symmetry (or distorted version of symmetry) to seem like a threatening and rather sharp affair. The music added a certain gothic atmosphere to the images (despite the images being taken mostly in the sunshine), and I think that really added to the piece. What the visual elements lacked was compensated for in the soundtrack.

I liked the way it turned out overall. I think it complements Dirty Text nicely – the pacing is completely different, as is the content. The former worked on a much deeper level, whereas this piece was just something that looked pretty and sounded intriguing. Nevertheless, despite the simplicity of this artefact, the editing skills I learned from the production will no doubt benefit me in many projects to come, meaning this project has achieved it’s purpose 100%.

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