Archive for montage

201MC Module Presentation

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , , on May 5, 2011 by Adam Broome

The final presentation for the module:

If the video does not work, try refreshing the page. If the above link does not work at all, here is the URL:



The Montage Of Beautiful Things – Evaluation and Reflection

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , , on March 24, 2011 by Adam Broome

After filming Colourful Symmetry, I finally started up FCP for the final time on this project, and after obtained the ‘.mov’ file of ‘Shapes and Shadows’, imported all my different projects onto the timeline. My aim was quite simply to create a sequence of the ‘best bits’ from each project, creating a showreel no longer than five minutes in length. I was aiming to create several narratives in the showreel as well, to give a feel for each of the projects – such as the poem ‘Two Minutes’, or the ‘Dirty Text’ piece, for example.

However, I knew I had to start with a title sequence. Brush Script seemed the best, as it has a ‘personal’ feel to it (almost like I’d written it myself). The colour choice was white for the simple reason that I decided my opening shot would be the ‘Pleasantville’ daffodils from my last project. I incorporated this with the opening of Dirty Text (the 360 loop-shot), which I also figured was an unusual way to start proceedings. It was my hope that both shots would capture the audience’s attention, as they are rather bizarre visually.

For music, I tried using one track slowed down, but it didn’t sound right, so I quickly decided to use two sound tracks. I re-used the soundtrack from ‘Colourful Symmetry’ in the opening few seconds, as the strange music fitted the bizarre opening shots anyway. It may lead the audience to believe I am re-hashing Colourful Symmetry, but then of course the joke is one them. The ‘fade to black / boom’ effect was something I’d originally used in my protest march documentary (and looking back at that project, made earlier in the year, you can see how far I’ve come). Then, the original soundtrack came into play. I started and ended with ‘Night Lights’, as that project had a nice opening and end sequence. Only telling parts of the joke in that project would not have worked for this montage, so I cut most of the ‘light’ project out.

The rest just came naturally – I put up the titles of the initial shots of each project so audiences had a name to what they were watching. The Brick was the one with the brick in it; Two Minutes was the one with the guy talking; The Urbanisation was the city-orientated photographs. For each project, I started off with the earliest shots, and played them through in chronological order so they made the most sense. For choosing the shots, I chose the ones that looked the most beautiful, or the ones that demonstrated the most significant parts of the narrative within. Each project also had it’s own problem with fitting into the sequence:

The Brick was just too slow. I realised I could cut the time of the montage down significantly by accelerating this stop-motion movie to 130%. It was fast enough to significantly reduce the run time, without affecting the experience of the film. I chose what I considered to be the best shots, and incorporated them into the piece.

Two Minutes had problems from the start – the image of me reciting the poem was the first issue. It didn’t exactly look eye-catching or beautiful, but then it was an artefact base around the poem. I had to be sure the audio was clear enough to capture the audience with audio, thus compensating for the lack of visual interest, However, the music overlapping drowned out my voice – lowering the whole track didn’t benefit the silent clips like The Urbanisation though. I made several points on the audio track, and lowered them accordingly (-27db) every time Two Minutes came into play. This way, the montage had a loud music track, and yet you could still hear the poem when those clips came into play. Two Minutes was mainly included in the first half of the montage (with Dirty Text in the latter half) as switching between the two frequently throughout didn’t seem to work as well. Two Minutes is featured at the end just because it has a rather ‘classic’ ending.

Dirty Text had all the same problems as Two Minutes did, with the addition of a music track. For most projects, I just deleted the original audio track completely, but with Two Minutes and Dirty Text, the words were pivotal to the narrative within the artefacts. Two Minutes was just words, and so was much easier to incorporate. Dirty Text featured music in the background, which can be heard to the acute listener at various points in the montage.

I could have re-done the original sound clip and used that instead, but I felt like this was cheating – my montage was to be made of ‘.mov’ files of all the finished pieces, and not the individual elements that constructed them. During the ‘reverse waterfall’ shot, I just included the text part, and then cut the audio back to the soundtrack of the montage, as the econd half of this clip sounded really bad, with Dirty Text music combating the Montage music to a very obvious degree (but I really wanted the waterfall shot in this final montage).

The introductory shot – a really nice pull-focus – needed to be included as it set up the narrative for this piece quite well. However, the text that introduced this series of clips almost clashed with the ‘Foundation’ word on screen (this project being my ‘Text’ piece). I felt all the text on screen perhaps ruined this pull-focus shot slightly – it worked a lot better in the original artefact. However, this montage is really only to give a ‘taste’ of each project – it could be argued that they all work better individually.

Dirty Text had one other major problem – all the other shots were fairly fast-paced, and darted around between each other to keep the viewer interested. The pace of the montage is hampered at several points by the beautiful slow-motion shots from this piece. I would have edited some of Dirty Text out (such as the ‘tree’ shot towards the end) but kept a lot of footage in, as the computerized voice needed to explain the point of the artefact (and indeed tell the narrative of the piece). It still looks a little strange to me – fast paced suddenly slowing down to a sluggish pace. It does add variety to the pacing though, which may not be such a bad thing after all. Perhaps a few more overlaps of the audio could have been beneficial.

Shapes And Shadows was more or less completely re-done in my own editing suite. I took the original file, and then used split-screen (as I promised myself I would) to introduce that piece. The blue background clearly separated it from the rest of the shots, yet (indeed as I had felt when filming) there was not a lot of usable footage. I kept all the hand shadows to a minimum, as well as all the weird ‘bendy body’ stuff, restricting the shots in this montage to the shots of our friend Faye doing her various somersaults.

Colourful Symmetry was ultimately one of the most beautiful artefacts that I ended up filming. However, a large portion of the project included in this montage is the one long shot of the city walk, with the faded mirror elements incorporated over the top. I felt this shot summed up the artefact perfectly – I originally included the shot of the duck, but it just looked out of place. Once this shot was planted firmly in the middle, the only other shot that added anything to this montage was the ‘Pleasantville’ shots of the purple flowers. Most of the other shots from this project just seemed to pale in comparison, so I limited the use of this project in favour of the deeper and more engaging projects.

Night Lights, as mentioned, featured a joke told with glow sticks. Only showing part of the joke would confused the audience, as it doesn’t make sense if only a section of the joke is told. Because of this, I decided to only use the start and end of the project – from what feedback I was given, these were the best shots of the project anyway.

The Urbanisation also looked oddly out of place – the still images again providing quite a drastic change in pace and style, of course adding variety to the showreel, but also taking away a smooth-flowing showreel. I used the majority of Prague photos from the gallery, and tried to incorporate them better by using fade effects and splitting the screen up into four sections (I also did this to reduce run time).

Overall I like the way my montage turned out. I fear it may be a little on the long side, but you get a good idea of what each project has been about, and this montage clearly demonstrates all the varieties of styles and approaches I have used during this last term. I like the way the pacing changes for the most part – I think variety is important in a showreel, as it demonstrates ability to use different approaches to filmmaking. The music used was very general, but for the surrealism of some of the projects on show, a normal-sounding soundtrack is probably what this showreel needed the most.

I like the variation in the music as well (the montage is long enough to pull it off). It completely differentiates the start of the montage from the main bulk, which draws attention to the text at the beginning. Not only are audiences aware of my name (despite using Brush Script font, I believe the text is large enough to read clearly), but they also see me at several points in the montage itself, reciting Two Minutes, and also at the end surrounded by glow sticks. This is important, as it shows and names the person who created the montage clearly. If this was to be used to advertise my skills, people would now have a face to the name. The opening shot of the ‘Pleasantville’ flowers also shows a good use of editing technique that should distinguish my montage from others people’s.

The fade to black that cuts the opening shots from the main bulk of the montage works every bit as well as it did during the protest march project – it ‘prepares’ the audience for something exciting and action packed. The Brick catches the attention of the audience straight away – I still believe it is one of the best projects I created this term. Even with accelerating the footage, I don’t think this has taken anything away at all – by keeping the montage speedy (to a certain extent) it added more than detracted from the artefact as a whole.

Alongside The Brick, Two Minutes and Shapes are probably the most recognizable, and stay in the mind the most. Shapes and Shadows was the only group work I conducted during the term for this montage – ironically, it is also probably the project I was least happy with. The final project was nothing more than a play with shadows and lighting, and served no deeper purpose. This perhaps comes across on screen – however, some shots were deemed ‘pretty’ and thus slotted into my montage nicely. The token blue screen added a recurring shade of colour which I liked, as it gave a sort-of ‘colour consistency’ to the piece. The clips are recognizable to remind the audience of the project, yet are not overused (which is always a good thing).

Two Minutes makes the audience focus more on audio than visual aspects, which I have yet to discover is successful or not. I’m not too happy about the nulling down of the imagery (I did incorporate other shots from Two Minutes and overlapped them over my voice over to keep the visuals interesting at one point). I may have been better doing Two Minutes again in a re-shoot – re-doing the audio with proper sound equipment, and then perhaps using drama students to re-enact the stories within the poem itself. It was only due to time constraints that was not done originally – it’s certainly a style of filmmaking to look into in the future.

Dirty Text and Colourful Symmetry are – predictably – hard to tell apart visually. I know the slow-motion shots are from Dirty Text, but an unsuspecting audience would not know that – were it not for the ‘computerized voice over’, there would be hardly any differentiation at all. This goes against the montage – pretty though it looks, it is difficult to tell the two apart. The project still looks beautiful because of it, yet I feel I made two projects that were too much alike to work in this final montage – more variety was needed visually. Perhaps using the Pleasantville effect more would have worked in my favour, or perhaps using more mirror effects.

The poor urban photo gallery just looks completely out of water here. They were a photo project alongside The Brick and Night Lights, but as mentioned, Night Lights was pretty much out from the start, and The Brick was stop-motion. This was the only project as stand-alone photography, and the moments when the montage stops completely to show a full-screen version of a photo just doesn’t work too well. It doesn’t help the fact that the first two from this project are daytime shots and all the rest are night time (that was just the way they turned out!) It adds variety, as I say – for better or for worse has yet to be deemed. But looking at it now, it may have been a good idea to ‘swipe’ them from one side of the screen to the others, or just keep them moving somehow using Ken Burns or something.

This, however, would now allow audiences to fully experience the visual impact of the photos (I genuinely did choose the best Prague ones – some I was really happy with). I wanted the audience to have a taster of some of the best photos… but even so, this seemed to be a montage of video clips, and the photos just seemed out of place. It needed to be in there though – purely as this is a montage of every project I’ve done for this module this term, including photography.

The text I used for all the projects was highlighted with shadows, as I am all too aware of the danger of white text on videos. It think the simple font face went in it’s favour, as it serves the purpose of being easy to read. At the speeds you need to read some of the text in time, it’s good to have simple font faces, rather than continuing the ‘Brush Script’ style I started at the beginning (another way this montage benefitted from having an opening sequence separate from the body of the montage.

As a final note, the music in the background seems to always become repetitive at the same point – during the close up on the purple flower right after the Dirty Text pull-focus. I didn’t write the music, and when you have something that fits a project this good, for me it’s best to work around it. It uses the same riff perhaps a couple of times too often – then again, that’s probably why the sound clip was free!

Montage Projects 6 + 8 – ‘Colourful Symmetry’

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , , , , , , , on March 23, 2011 by Adam Broome

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%.

Montage Project 2 + 9 – ‘Dirt’ + ‘Text’ = ‘Dirty Text’

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , , , , , on March 18, 2011 by Adam Broome


It has been a dark cloud over this Montage Of Beautiful Things since week 2 (in my case anyway). Initially the idea was to have a P.O.V video with two conflicting sides of the same mind. The idea was humourous and simple, yet it also delivered a significant message. A message that I deemed too strong to simply be implied in a comedic artefact – an idea that became a narration, and then became a monologue, but which still didn’t work – right up until week 9, when the answer presented itself:



The initial idea was to create a montage project every week (fat chance), but by week 2, wedged between two rather good attempts (Wall and Time) sat this little idea here. My initial thoughts about the word ‘dirt’ led to a fascination with bad language, and I wanted to do something revolving around that. This led to the idea of using dirty minds, or dirty ways of thinking. I knew this would create a humourous video, which would have gone down well given the rather serious nature of my other artefacts. I also knew the idea was simple – P.O.V shots and a voice over, sort of like Peep Show, a clip of which can be seen here:

For simplicity’s sake, I figured the best way to go about making a video like this would be to do a video from my own point of view, and trace a series of thoughts that actually go on in my head (foul language and all). However, despite seemingly having all the components, there seemed to be something missing… something rather important. That was, the inclusion of ‘dirt’ itself.

I went to the forest between Coventry and Warwick University (beyond the memorial park) with a PDX10, and filmed a journey that I took through the woods. Initial thoughts were largely focused on whether or not I was making back to civilization alive, but then (with a certain irony) I started included thoughts on what I was actually going to do for the ‘dirt’ project set by my university this week. The trail of thought crossed back over the War Memorial Park, and it was over three minutes into the film before the answer of ‘what is dirt’ was even remotely answered.

I asked myself time and time again, and the notion I concluded was that I wanted to represent dirt as something that other things grow out of. Everyone else in the year seemed to have completed an artefact based around cleanliness. I wanted to do something different. I started my film with a shot of my foot stepping in some mud (ample amount in the forest), which started the ‘conversation’.

I came across the problem of needing a two-way conversation, and so decided to make 2 alternate versions of myself, effectively me talking to myself inside my head. The idea started off okay, but yet it made the artefact needing to be quite long, in order for an audience to understand the context of what was going on. To make things even more complicated, I also came upon the notion that dirt did not have to be physical – physical dirt was obvious and boring, and I wanted to do something metaphorical. The idea of having the ‘dirt of society’ is a common one, yet if I could create the sort-of parable that without poverty, the higher-classes societies would not exist, my artefact would have weight, which is what I was aiming for.

However, although this idea was a really good idea, it was the failing point of this initial attempt. Myself as an artist have no right to make such a sweeping statement. Seven minutes in, when the voices finally got round to discussing metaphorical dirt in a modern society, it just made me sound egoistic. It was a good point, but also a sensitive one. It followed the ideals that governments should fear the public, and not the other way around. Yet the delivery did not make that impression. I was unhappy about it, and given the sensitive nature of the message, I decided to discontinue my production of this first piece. I was now already behind on ‘City’ as well, and with one word a week for the next two months, I knew this would be a burden for quite a while yet.

The voice-overs of the first piece were conducted using my favourite compilation of using a reporters mic attached to a Marantz in my room. I tried to convey two theatrical sides of my personality – the serious and the crazed. It was my intention to show extracts of this first project on my post, but the audio files seem long deleted, and as the rest are merely unedited shots of me walking with a camera, it doesn’t really amount to much, so I’ll move quickly on.

DIRT – SECOND SEQUENCE – ‘The Slow-Mo Monologue’

By about week 7, ‘Shape’ was in the bag along with ‘City’ and several others, giving me the first window in weeks to return back to ‘Dirt’ and start developing a new idea. The idea of the poor being the dirt to the rich would still be the main focal point, and I would still need to impose this idea using verbal communication. This time however, I had a better idea – I would create something of a ‘slow-motion monologue’ – that is, a monologue that is overplayed with slow-motion shots. I would take several shots of the first and the city in slow-motion, and then incorporate the monologue, the same way I used audio in the first sequence. This project would then also allow me to explore the ‘Smooth Slow Record’ function on the Z5 cameras, which we had been introduced to weeks before, but which I had not yet got round to experimenting with.

I made several test shots in my room to understand the benefits and limitations of smooth slow record. I managed to get some good shots – notably what would become the opening shot, the ‘360 loop shot’ (which is no safe way to take videos with a Z5). The original test shots can be viewed here:

After conducting this test shoot, all that was left was to return to the forest and get the shots. I took the forest shots first, and got a variety of shots. Ever shot was taken in smooth slow record. I got several 360 loop shots, several spinning shots, and several ones that corkscrewed or twisted. The beauty of it was that without smooth slow record, it was really jittery and unprofessional. With my steady hands, throwing the Z5 camera around in the space of 6 seconds led to really smooth transitions and footage of almost impossible shots. I also experimented a lot with pull-focus shots, and got some really nice ones of zoom-shots cutting through large portions of forest land. I subsequently went to the city to get the ‘urban’ footage, though I was increasingly aware of including people in my video. Thus, I went to more secluded areas to get footage of waterfalls, pigeons, and walls. There were also several shots of buildings, but they looked boring on the final cut, and were thus cut out.

The footage was placed in Final Cut Pro, and awaited my monologue. However, only a few words in, I realised that sadly once again the artefact didn’t ‘fee right’. My voice, despite devoid of any emotion other than pessimism, just didn’t seem to fit the message I was trying to get across. I still sounded judgmental, and the effect I wanted still seemed to be eluding me. I had no answer to how the monologue was going to work out. Thoughts of doing a complete re-vamp using the collected footage was in the works… right up until the final word was unveiled, and the answer unveiled.


We were set the ninth word, ‘Text’, and I immediately coupled it with Dirt. ‘Colourful Symmetry’ was already set, with me now combining words to reduce the workload by 50%. It took mere seconds before the pieces of puzzle fell into place. From last year, I knew that my Macbook could essentially ‘speak’ the words I typed on Pages documents. The Macbook would be the futuristic, non-human narrator of the piece. Although my name would be on it, this would now be a post-modern, experimental-narrative-orientated piece that made the point without stepping on too many toes. I tried the robotic version of the monologue, and realised it worked. I was happy with the set-up, although recording the ‘speech’ function through the Macbook led to a lot of feedback from the mics, meaning I had to record the Macbook monologue the same way I’d recorded my own voice throughout the past weeks.

Then, I went about experimenting with editing technique, having just learned how to use grading, and now seeking to expand my skills beyond my boundaries and secure an ‘intermediate – advanced’ level of understanding the full capabilities of ‘FCP’. I used my revised knowledge of editing and just ran about all over the shop – almost every single shot in the final cut has been edited in some way or another – we’ve got de-saturations, grading, opacity controls, fades, flips, reversed shots… and of course it’s all in slow-motion. To top it off (and to cement that word ‘text’ clearly into this project) I included random words that held the most relevance to the point I was trying to make (e.g. ‘Foundation’ and ‘Empire’). The whole video was so surreal the words suited the project perfectly. Believe it or not as well, this was the first project where I’d actually learned what a ‘wireframe’ was.

My editing skills have probably doubled with this project, and it has been a long time coming. This is likely to be one of the most surreal pieces for my montage, yet will not look out of place alongside my previous efforts. It’s a lot more post-modern than most of my work – I don’t tend to do this type of video production. But for what’s it’s worth… I quite like it!

The final version can be seen here. It is uploaded on Youtube, as access to Vimeo for myself is now out of bounds until after the deadline date:

Montage Project 7 – ‘Light’

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , , on March 14, 2011 by Adam Broome

For this week, we had to create a project based around the theme of ‘light’. I felt that our ‘Shapes’ project had already covered light in some detail, but decided to make another artefact nonetheless – preferably something to do without shadows. In the lecture, we were introduced to the idea of using very slow shutter speeds to create ‘light drawings’. Light drawings were initially created by artists such as Picasso (see below), but as you can probably tell they required a good hand in order to make them look good. You also need good co-ordination, as the image you ‘paint’ is reversed on the lens in front of you.

I figured doing simple light drawings was a bit too simple for me, so I wanted to mix things up a bit. Picasso used flash photography to include stills of himself as he made his light drawing, but although I wanted myself on the reel, I felt that flash photography was not the way I was going to do it.

I decided early on to use my DSLR camera for the project (Nikon D5000). I intended originally to use a PDX10 with a slow shutter speed, but I realised that would not work for making proper pictures. I set up my room and plunged it into dark, and used two glow-sticks to make my ‘paintbrushes’. Not wanting to jump ahead too fast, I started with a few simple light drawings, some of which I really liked, and thus included them in my final piece. After the initial shots were taken, I decided to ‘draw’ out a lightbulb-orientated joke. The first one to come to mind was the mexican one:

‘How many Mexicans does it take to change a lightbulb? –> Juan!

I just got to work writing out the words. I realised early on that whole words such as ‘change’ were not going to be completed in one shot alone, and nor could I replicate the word as a noun for a picture (in the way I attempted to do with the word ‘lightbulb’, I drew a picture instead of spelling a word). My way to counteract this problem was to break the word down into two letters at a time, using one hand for one letter and the other hand for the other. Then, in editing, I would speed up the letters in quick succession to hopefully spell the word and differentiate it from the other text. Again, all letters had to be back to front in order for them to make sense through the lens. The shoot overall took about thirty minutes. Looking back on it, perhaps blank-space photos between words may have worked better to create the entire sentence.

Finally, I wanted my own photograph as a way of ‘signing’ the work. I experimented with various positions using the glow-sticks, before finally just getting in close to the lens and twirling them all around my head to light my face up from all sides. The final shot was the one I was most happy with (a lot of shots didn’t turn out too well, as I had to hold my head perfectly still for four seconds whilst moving the glow-sticks around). It made quite a nice to end to the piece I thought. I chose a sort of ‘rave-esque’ music track to place in background to fit the neon-style presentation of the work.

It would have been nice to use more colours – blue, green and yellow most notably. However, it seemed I only had red and orange, and once they were cracked open… that was that.

Montage Project 4 – ‘The Urbanisation’

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , , , , on February 27, 2011 by Adam Broome

For week four, the word for us to base our weekly artefact on was ‘City’. However, despite my initial idea of shooting the sunrise and sunset over a Coventry skyline, we given a strict barrier that we could not simply take shots of the city and put music over the top. It was a shame, because I hadn’t taken this approach yet even though everyone else had, so now I was at a loss as to what to do for the project. Emphasis in the workshops seemed to be on the sounds of the city, so diegetic sound was clearly preferable. Eventually, I decided to cheat the system by making a photo gallery with diegetic city noise playing in the background.

Photography is mostly a hobby of mine, but with my Nikon camera I have learned many ‘funky’ tricks behind the lens of a DSLR. To shake things up, I decided to incorporate several cities into the gallery, using various techniques (some tried and tested, others more experimental) to create a strange video gallery piece. The cities featured are Prague, Nottingham, and the quintessential Coventry. Leicester was going to be included as well, but on the day I visited the city, it rained. I’ve tried to take photos in the rain before – without a lens cap, droplets get on the lens and sabotage the photos. I’m still pending to get a lens cap for my camera (along with a trigger).

Nottingham was the first city to be covered. I knew several good vantage spots, but generally these were beauty spots – I wanted to photograph the city as a city, and focus on the urbanisation rather than the token symbols of the individual city. I knew this would perhaps make some photos look similar, so I took care to take photos of the more individual aspects of urbanisation in each city (for example, the Nottingham trams or the Coventry skyline). From this notion, I created the title of the gallery. The Prague shoot came next, originally planned to be a ‘best of’ compilation of my own photos. However, as explained in the relevant post, I ended up using my friend’s camera which was a slightly different variation of my Nikon camera. Importantly, the Prague shoot took place at night, adding various light effects to my gallery.

The final shoot was Coventry, which was delayed several weeks whilst I waited simply for a sunny day to get the shots. I scouted out several places where I could get shots of the Coventry skyline. However, when it came to the day of the shoot, I realised there were problems with reflections from the glass in every shot. Thus, a lot of the skyline shots were scrapped. I was always intending to take a shot from the top of the Cathedral spire, but I felt I already had enough shots to make this project by the end of this third shoot.

The audio was gained after the photos were taken using a Marantz and a rifle mic. I used my iPod earphones to test the audio and it worked just fine. I simply walked a shot distance around Godiva Square in Coventry recording the sounds of the city. The location was wide enough for me to avoid noises, whilst it provided ample effects of people and traffic (notably buses) to add some stereotypical noises to the soundscape. Noises you may be more curious of include the plastic bag at the beginning. Perfectly kosher with the soundscape, although this was an Iceland bag wrapped around my wrist, as it had the Marantz in it (still leaving the original casings at home – a risky trick that caught on after Demo-Lition). The little ‘scraping’ noises at the end are pieces of litter being dragged across the pavement by the wind. I found this part of the audio quite interesting – I never walk around with headphones on, so I’m used to hearing the city. Litter on the floor is something I never really acknowledged however.

In terms of the photos themselves, experimenting came in many ways. Here is a breakdown of a few notable examples:

1. The three-photo photo.

Week one’s project was a stop-motion film, and I wasn’t going to do stop-motion for a picture gallery. Yet I had the idea that if I could use cross-fades somehow in the editing to effectively ‘merge’ three photos into one, I could create a sort of moving photo. There are three in the gallery (I’ll leave you to find them) – some worked better than others. It was an intriguing idea I felt, and in the final piece, it provides one of the effects that really makes your eyes go weird.

2. The twist-zoom shot

I’ve played with this before, yet the night photo of the building in Prague really pulls at the eyes as well. To achieve this effect, I simply slowed the shutter speed slightly, tilted the camera at the angle, and then after taking the photo, quickly zoomed in whilst turning the camera upright. It’s a tricky thing to do – you need a steady hand or the whole image goes blurry. You need to be very precise about your shutter speed as well – too fast and the effect wont work. Above all, a skill I find that in my experience only few photographers have – you have to be able to take the photo accurately without looking at what’s through the lens.

3. The light-streak zoom

Again taken in Prague, this shot was of a square located just beyond the Astrological Clock. I zoomed as far out as I could, slowed the shutter speed right down, and then after pressing the trigger, zoomed as the picture took. This causes the individual parts of light (e.g. street lights) to streak across the image in a line. I’ve done this once or twice before, though I rarely venture out with my DSLR at night time without good reason. However, it is almost impossible to hold the camera perfectly still as you zoom (unless you use a tripod). If you want see what effects this method has in the day, you can view an example in the photo of the security camera. Because the light is better, the image in the middle tends to remain clearer whilst all around it blurs.

4. Fish-eye

The very first photo was manipulated using in-camera editing on the Retouch menu (so I can STILL say that all these photos were crafted without the use of photoshop!). Fish-eye is something I’ve never really used until this project. I was going to use it on the skyline shots, but none of them looked right. Making this high-rise building look bendy put the effect to a much better use.

5. The Rule Of Thirds

This is something I don’t often elaborate on in my photography – I just tend to take a photo of what looks good. Yet particularly in Prague, there seemed to be several shots that just looked really good when framed with the Rule Of Thirds in mind. The photo of the lamp lights outside the traditional building is one example, and the shot I really like of the statue looking up at the two spires on the Prague Old Town Square are two example of applying this rule to my photography (and I will say it’s not ignorance that I don’t apply the rule often – it’s just what I feel looks good through the lens – the rule tends to apply more to giving narrative to a photo rather than making it look nice. It depends what you’re taking photos for!)

6. Longitude and Latitude

The study of lines, again something I don’t use much in my usual photography, yet something that seemed to appear accidentally during my shoots for this gallery. The shot of the modern office building behind the abandoned terraced houses in Nottingham had shapes against the blue background which made the buildings stand out. The cables on the Coventry bridge and the subsequent photo of the tram cables in front of the monument in Prague also show a peculiar study of lines, shapes and angles.

As a side note, I did arrange the photos in such a way that similar photos were next to each to complement each other. There were quite a few of traditional Prague architecture, so I made sure they were separated. The two tram photos were also cast apart. I tried to merge the day time and night time photos so that they were dispersed evenly over the run time. Finally, during the Coventry shoot at the end, I walked through the Cathedral grounds and managed to snap a good photo of one of the squirrels running around. I put in the gallery for humour, although it could indeed say something about the natural environment that all three cities have built over and upon.

Montage Project 5 – ‘Shapes and Shadows’

Posted in University Work (Old) with tags , , , , on February 26, 2011 by Adam Broome

The task for week five was to create an artefact based on the word ‘Shapes’. We had to work in a group for this one, and we also had to use various light and shadow effects to develop our understanding of lighting. Generally, with these barriers, everyone stampeded towards the TV studio and it’s perfect-dark interior, equipped with dedo lights. The blue screen in the background provided an ample wall to cast shadows upon, and the room was big enough to play with various ‘shapes’. The problem was… what were the shapes and shadows going to be?

This project was generally a bit of an ‘improvisation’ thing. One course member possesses extreme dexterity, so we decided to use her body to create the shapes and shadows we needed. On the day of the shoot however, several problems arose. First of all, there’d been a delay in the timetables which put us back thirty minutes. Crucially, I’d booked out the equipment, and was jetting off at a certain time for a house viewing. When we finally got the studio to ourselves, we set up promptly with our JVC camera and shut the lights off.

The next problem was the set up – the dedos were pretty much immovable as their cables kept them effectively glued to the walls within the a certain length. This meant that Faye – our flexible cheerleader – had to stand close to the blue screen in order for the shadow to work. This, of course, also meant Faye would have to be in the shot, thus blocking her own shadows with her own body. With the dedos having limited maneuverability, there was little we could do. Some of us (such as myself) made shadows with our hands, and using the zoom we were able to make these shots much more focused on the shadows and crop the hands out. When Faye did her flips, we just took the best shots we could. Attempts were made to alternate the various light sources, but they became so hot that this eventually became impossible.

All at once, I was called to the house viewing, and we packed down in a hurry. I forgot to take the release plate off the camera (which is becoming an annoying habit), meaning I had to make a return journey later in the day. Faye edited all the footage herself. Overall, not a lot else to report. It showed me how awkward lighting can be if you’re just using a three-point lighting set up alone. The project was filmed on a Z1 that was to be taken to Prague for my professional experience trip. However, only hours later, it was revealed that the AE light receptor was broken, and we ended up leaving it in Coventry (see relevant post – too depressing to talk about here). But in terms of the montage, the final artefact is a very surreal addition to the foray – considering what I’ve got planned for my other ‘words of the week’, that really, really is saying something!