xIETY

For my FMP I tasked myself to create a visual moving piece that would allow me to develop and progress my storytelling skill.

I briefed myself with this:

I wanted to create something that allowed people to understand what it is like to feel real anxiety so they can understand what some people go through as it is essentially an invisible condition. I wanted to say that anxiety is not simply just worrying about something but something bigger. I wanted to use surreal imagery to make the invisible, visible. I would be aiming it at a general audience as I want people to understand the feeling of anxiety better. I wanted to use film as it incorporates and allows control of moving visuals and sound design.

The story was inspired by my experience with anxiety and I wanted to illustrate it through the art of film. I also saw this as an opportunity to build my understanding of filmmaking. This is the second film I have made

I began by working on ideas, I wanted a film that made people question reality, originally I wanted to create a film with three chapters. Each focusing on a different aspect of life. Time, People & Space. I came up and played with many ideas trying to see if they could fit into a story. I realised that doing things this way wasn’t really working for me so I decided on the story being a simple journey, tormented by silly  fears and a warped perception of reality.

As research I drew inspiration from films such as ‘La Haine, Falling Down, The Graduate, The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Shining and Four Rooms’ I replicated styles from the directors of these films because they focused highly on the cinematography and mise en scène which really appealed to me such as the dolly zoom in La Haine and Falling Down. La Haine in particular grew on me due to sense of eeriness and the surreal elements that ran throughout the film, which was great for my idea in mind.

I started working on a script and storyboard and a list of potentially scary things that the person would encounter.

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I created a schedule too to manage my time.

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I managed to find a second year film student who would help guide me throughout the creation of the film and shoot, however they dropped out. I had to find a another cinematographer that could get the idea I had across in the film which I did but again, they dropped out. Without a crew, it was hard to pinpoint a shoot date, without a shoot date I assumed that I couldn’t find an actor as I had no specific date to notify them with. In hindsight I should have put out a casting call anyways and as I have been told many times before “don’t be afraid to get things wrong”. I found someone to film pretty late in the project but the whole time up until then I developed the script and storyboard worked on tests to see if certain things I wanted to do were viable. I also collected sounds that could be used in sound design.

As the film was so last minute because of all the delays I didn’t manage to find the right actor for the film so I decided to do it myself, this meant I couldn’t direct at the same time I was acting. In retrospect I regret this as this meant I relied on the cinematographer to frame the shots in the way I saw them which didn’t necessarily work all the time, I didn’t have a mic, so I was going to foley in all the sounds.

When it came to filming we shot 5 days in a row and edited in the evenings. I planned to create the soundtrack for the film in Ableton and work on sound design also in Ableton, but the VFX was taking up a lot of my time and ended up consuming time I had planned for other stuff. Removing the eyes from people in my test shoot was done simply by tracking the eyes and applying a gaussian blur to them and creating a feathered mask to limit the effect to the eyes. However when I shot the test shot it was filmed on an overcast day meaning the light was diffused and even, the even lighting made it easier to create the illusion of a lack of eyes.

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The final shoot was on sunny days with strong lighting which brought out the definition and details of the eyelids, eyelashes etc. This meant I had to digitally paint out the eyes frame by frame to essentially recreate the topology then track the eyes so I could get the blur to follow them. The 3d tracking and rendering was tough to crack. To simulate the light accurately from the environment I had to capture 360 images from one point at different exposures to create something called an HDRI. An HDRI allows 3d software to accurately simulate reflections an lighting:

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Here is a link to the film:

 

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