Monday, 31 January 2011

The orphanage - Opening scenes

The orphanage is a Spanish thriller we watched the opening of in class.  The film which was made in 2007. It was directed by Juan Antonio Bayona. I'm now going to analyse a few shots I thought was effective and why. 

The opening shot is of a girl who's playing games. You see the silhouette of her against a tree on a bright spring background. The backgrounds bright and creates a happy atmosphere although all may not be as it seems. This sets a false sense of security to the audience.

The scarecrow you see in the opening scene is important. You see it in the garden in the beginning however later on you see it on the child (like in the photo on the left). 

You see a close up of the phone in the opening sequence as it rings. You then see a close up of the adoption papers, that say "Laura" is being adopted. Weary music is playing creating an unnerving atmosphere. This tells the audience nothing good will come from what's happening. 

The woman who took the phone call then walks outside where the children are playing. The games the children are playing show their innocence. The children are playing "it". When Laura becomes "it" they use a cut shot. This is effective as its almost as if the games are over and she's it. 

I also liked the way the opening credits were displayed. They were written across old wallpaper and they then used a child's hand to rip the wallpaper and reveal another name on newer wallpaper. This hints at what is going to happen later in the film i.e. Laura returns back to the orphanage when she's older and re-opens it. Although it hints at whats going to happen later in the film it doesn't give it all away which is good.

Our film location

These are a few shots of the location where we are going to film.  We are going to film in and around the church in Yarnton. 

The location is perfect for our film. We think this because outside the church you have all kinds of old graves and outside the church it looks very old fashioned. There are stone walls and wooden gates.

There aren't many street lights down this road. We liked this about the location as street lights give an artificial light that looks orangey on camera. We would either film at dusk or dawn meaning it would be darkish but not too dark. This means we could use daylight and subtle lighting e.g. torches.

I shot these photo's during the day. This was a bad idea as we would be filming during at dusk or dawn so the lighting would be different. 

We chose Yarnton to film as it's local to everyone and everyone would be able to get there. Th is means people should be able to get to every filming. 

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Sunday 30th January 2011 - Meeting 6

Today we met on location. We planned on filming a small part of the opening sequence but it was too cold and the lighting was wrong so we decided to plan. As this was the first time the other girls had seen the location we took sometime looking around the church and saying what we think would be good. We used our cameras to take some photos and speak camera angles. 

As it got dark fast, we would maybe plan on filming in the morning next time. This is because, if we we set off early in the morning whilst it was still dark while were filming inside the church by the time we had set all the equipment up it would be light enough. We like the idea of filming inside the church so we're going to alter our storyline very slightly. 

Although we didn't film anything today we're more organised for next time we go to film. Now the girls know what the church looks like we can draw up a story board as a group and plan shots. We are going to meet again soon and carry on filming.

Friday, 14 January 2011


Cars was made in 2006 by Disney and Pixar animations. It was directed by John Lasseter and Joe Ranft. The film is about a world which population is made up of only cars and other vehicles. It stars the famous voices of Owen Wilson, Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt and even Jeremy Clarkson. Other Disney-Pixar films are Monsters Inc, The incredibles, Finding Nemo, Toy story and Shark tale.

The film was made by 300 artists, animators and technicians. Before they even began thinking of making the animation they drew up several storyboards. This meant they knew exactly what needed to be done and saved time. The 2nd full film story board they drew up was basic black and white sketches that when placed all together ran very smoothly. These were easier and faster than making the animation and allowed Pixar to remove any scenes they didn't want or make any changes needed before the final animation. 

My favourite part of the Cars film is the characters. The cars in the film are just characters that you love. John Lasseter said that for some cars he found the car first, then created the personality, where as other cars he thought of the personality first then thought which car it should be. For some cars they used specific models and others they made the car themselves and designed it. In one scene they even call a petrol station  a diner. I like all the thought and effort they put into each aspect of the film. They didn't leave anything out. 

How do you choose the right film location?

When looking for a film location we remembered that we needed one which was reliable and set the mood for the film. For example, we couldn't have a picnic scene filmed on the motorway or a woodland scene filmed in an open field with no trees. 

There are many things we need to consider when choosing the location. We need a reliable location as if it's not free all the time, we might need to look for somewhere that is. This is encase we need to film at 3 in the morning or need an empty room. Also we can't decide we would like to film a scene in LA as we would struggle to get there. Another thing we would need to consider is somewhere that has parking, this is because if we had any heavy props or setting we would need to get it too and from the car. 
We would need to consider the welfare of our cast and crew members. Therefore we would need to choose somewhere with toilets and somewhere for them to sit and rest if we are planning to spend a long day filming. We may also consider taking food and drink. 

When we have finished using the location we will be expected to pick up any rubbish and tidy away all equipment to avoid too much disruption. 

As our film opening is a low budget film, we wouldn't have too much lighting or sound equipment. Therefore we wouldn't need plugs or flat surfaces for lighting.

Friday 14th January 2011 - Meeting 5

Today we met again as a group and decided our final storyline. We decided to stick with ghosts as it’s an original theme and if we pull it off it would be really effective and keep people hooked.

Our story begins with a close up of someone’s feet. You see them frantically running bare foot, but you don’t know why. We would use several different shots and frequent cut shots to make it seem tense. Also we would use several high angle shots; they make the person/people within the shot seem vulnerable and weak. You would then see a girl frantically running up a lane. We would then maybe use a longshot and you see the girl running towards the church being chased. You then see her run and hide behind a grave. We would make the image of her fill the whole screen and then you would see a hand coming down. There would be a cut shot and we would maybe show some credits and it would flash forward to today. There are several people stood by the same grave and there is a man speaking of the girl who died by the grave, he would speak of people still hearing her scream late at night. Once the man has finished speaking the group and tour guide walk off, however one person remains, they are dressed all in black.

Costumes – The costumes in the beginning of this film would be a white dress for the young girl who’s being chased. The man who’s chasing would need dark, old fashioned, basic clothes. When we go forward in time we would need everyone to be in their own, casual clothes.

Lighting – We would film this opening during dusk, so it was a dark/eerie atmosphere that made the audience nervous. Too much lighting would spoil the opening as we feel it would take the scariness away in the first section. In the second part of the opening this would be filmed on a summers day. 

Actors - We are thinking of using a girl who’s aged between 12 and 18. We chose to use a girl instead of a boy as girls seem to come across more vulnerable and weak. We felt as a group this was the prime age for being chased; she wasn’t too old or young. We would like the girl to be pale and wear no makeup; they may even have messy hair. The pale complexion would seem ghost like and the no makeup would be due to the time difference. The messy hair would reflect the ciaos in the scene.  Also we would need a male character for this. We would like a middle aged male who had the dark and sinister look to him.

Movement – The movement within the scene would be the chase, so we would use several close ups and cut shots. We may pan, zoom or crab the camera a little.

Props – We wouldn’t need any props in this opening. This is because we are mainly focusing on her being chased. We may have some props in the second part when we are forward in time again people may be taking photos on their cameras.
Setting – Our setting is in a church graveyard. You see the girl run up the lane to the church and then through the graveyard and hides behind a grave. You would then see the church again. This would mean we need to look for a church with these characteristics.

Setting - This would be filmed in a grave yard. We are unsure of which yet, but we would need one with a long lane and it would need to look a bit creepy at night. 

Sound - We haven't yet spoken a lot about sound. We would need a lot of diegetic sounds like footsteps, breathing and wind. However we are unsure if adding music would take away the creepiness of the scene and make it cheesy. We would need to look into how we could add subtle music.

Next, we need to draw up a story line showing the camera angles, movement and sound. We also need to find the cast and find a location. Each person in the group is going to do a small part of the work to ensure that everyone pulls their weight. 

Wednesday 12th January 2011 - Meeting 4

Today we met as the group again and we spoke about basic story lines. In our group we haven’t yet got a specific story line with all the details. However we had a group member absent and didn’t want to change the story too much without their consent therefore we will focus more on smaller details until they’re back.

 We moved on to discuss how we are going to include the opening credits. We thought we needed 4/5 different ideas just so things don’t get repetitive. A few ideas were writing a name on a grave stone, writing the name on a book with tea stained pages and ripping wallpaper which would uncover a name. We would need to look more into these ideas and practice them beforehand. 

Friday 7th January 2011 - Meeting 3

Today we met in the group again and our group decided our opening sequence seemed more like an advert than an opening sequence. This meant we could change either the way we would film it or start again. We decided to start again as it could end up like an advert again.

Our previous story line was about stalkers, which can be a bit repetitive. So we decided to change the storyline from stalkers to ghosts. The problem about doing something that is based on ghosts is it can seem a bit cheesy. Therefore we need to look into ways to do it tastefully. One way would be to not to try to add any special effects. We could also make it so you never see the ghost this would mean we would need to look into ways of portraying a ghost.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

How Avatar was made

The blockbuster and all-time favourite Avatar was written and directed by James Cameron in 2009. The film stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Long. This film had a phenomenal budget of $237,000,000 and took 4 years to film Avatar and 15 to make it to the screen.  On YouTube I found a clip about how the box office favourite film Avatar was made.

James Cameron says he wrote the film in 1995 however he was told they didn’t have the technology that was needed to make the film. In 2005, just 10 years later, there was enough technology to make the film. The film needed 40,000 feet of floor area to bring everything to life. The crew built 10,000 feet of forestry for the film.

This film was a huge hit at the box office. This may be because of the amazing special effects or because of the unique storyline. The storyline is about Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington), who’s brother was killed in a robbery. He is a paraplegic marine who decides to take his place as an Avatar in Pandora.
An avatar is a remote controlled body which is controlled by a human. Therefore the humans thoughts and personality was transferred to the Avatar.

In the Avatar film they decided to make the film a bit different. This is because they didn’t have any opening credits and the title of the film doesn’t appear til the end of the film. This may because the story is only just beginning.

In the clip they use green screens. Actors, props and items are placed in front of green screens. Green screens allow the actors to be placed onto any background saving money on location and creating a more realistic image.

To make Pandora they used various locations, large areas of China was used. China was the right location for them as it had large, limestone formations. Also the flowers and trees in the film were designed like exotic flowers however they were adapted to make them seem surreal. This setting they have made is unlike any other, it has bright colours like a jungle and plants that resemble a corral reef.

The monsters in the film were designed like animals we humans avoid in real life. For example they have a lions body, scorpions tail and eagles wings. However you shouldn’t just fear the animals in the film, there are helicopters and heavy machinery. Each character went through extensive training for this film. A few examples of the training are archery, speech of Na di, weapon training and horse riding, and one person even learnt how to fly a helicopter. James Cameron even took the cast to Hawaii. This was because he wanted the cast to know how to react and know how it feels absorb their surroundings.

 Performance capture – this is where the actors wear an outfit with several markers on. The person then has dozens of cameras film them whilst they act. The markers help the computer make a “real time moving skeleton” once they have a moving skeleton they can control a computer generated character, like an avatar.

By watching these clips I can see that the time and effort that was put into the film was well worth it as the film is amazing. The film has characters that people can relate to and the storyline is unique and keeps people hooked. The budget was very high however the film made a lot of money. I think James Cameron did a fantastic job making the film and would highly recommend it to everyone.

Trailer of the film…

The YouTube clips

How stunt scenes are made

On YouTube I found a clip of the "Lights, Motors, Action" stunt show which is showed at Disney's Hollywood Studios. In the clip they show you how some stunts are performed. I decided to look at this clip to see further into how stunt scenes are filmed. 
They show an exciting car chase including some shooting and very near misses. When the car chase has ended they show you some raw footage which has been shot by several cameras. They use various camera angles and shots to make the footage look interesting. In the clip they speak of using a low angled camera whilst filming stunt scenes. This is because if the cars are further apart than you imagine then you wouldn't tell. 

At one point during the car chase you can see the car going over a ramp backwards. This stunt was made by swapping the steering wheel and controls to the opposite end of the car and fitting tinted windows this was so you would never know they was facing the wrong direction. During the car chase they use several different cars. This may be because they need one to go backwards and do stunts in reverse and they need one to go forwards or several different reasons. 

They also speak of how the cars are made differently so they are different from the cars that everyone owns. 

Next they show that sometimes they use a half a car. A half a car is split straight down the middle between the passanger and drivers seat. These are used for stunts. 

In films they sometimes use fill size remote control cars. This is used when the car is going to blow up in mid air or something dangerous. 

By looking at this clip I can tell that stunt scenes are very difficult to film. They use a lot of special equipment and take a lot of effort. Sometimes the stunts can seem cheesy however if you stick to a few basic rules like using a low angled camera and using a fast cut shot then you could make a more realistic one. 

These are of course the clips...

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Philadelphia Story Board

In groups we were asked to read a script and draw a storyboard to show how we would film the extract. 

We began by reading the extract so we know what happens within the scene. Then we read the script again highlighting any character information, then we highlighted any setting detail in another colour, and then highlighting any other detail which we may need to consider. 

In the group we made sure that the story board boxes which we were going to draw in had a 16:9 ratio. This is because we wanted to draw what you would expect to see on the screen. 

We found getting the camera angles right difficult in some places. This was because we thought the image could be portrayed well in more than one way. Also we found that making the story board was quite time consuming. If I was to make another one I would begin by drawing rough sketches of the shot. I then wrote in the boxes underneath the drawings before drawing the images. This is because when I drew the main image before writing about it, I wasn't 100% sure on what I was doing where as when I drew it I only had to read it as I drew. 

Knight and day - opening sequence

Knight and day stars Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise it was released in 2010. The film was directed by James Mangold.

Overall opinion of the opening
This opening was brilliant. They used loads of medium shots, close ups, point of view and extreme close ups. They used loads of close ups on Tom Cruise face to show he's acting suspicious. They placed Tom Cruises character behind shop cabinets and you see just his eyes over the top. Then they used a point of view shot to show you what he is looking at. I think this choice of shot as it shows you he doesn't want to be seen or he's doing something he shouldn't be. 

First impressions of characters
The first shot you see of Roy (Tom Cruise's character) is a close up of the back of his head. This shot tells you that maybe he's hiding something, so maybe you don't really know him. Also it tells you he's a mysterious and suspicious person. I like this choice of shot as it tells you a lot about him as a character. Making the back of his head fill up the majority of the screen tells you he's going to be a main character. 

The first shot you see of Joy is fixing cars or looking for parts, this shows you this is one of her hobby's or job title. You can tell she's falling for Roy when she first see's him. This maybe insinuates he might be a love interest of hers later in the film. 

By watching this opening I can tell that the first impressions a character gives can tell you a lot about them. Their characteristics that they have during the first shot of them usually remain throughout the whole film. 

Stages of production in films.

As we are in the beginning stages of making our own opening sequence I thought I should look into how films are made.

This is where the script is drafted and made into a blueprint for a film.

Pre production
During post production we would be expected to hire cast and crew. We would also need to select the location and build the sets.

This is where everything is filmed, however it wouldn't be ready for watching yet. 

Post production
During post production we would compose, perform and record any music tracks , we would also add any sound effects that the film needed. For example we could add footsteps or doors closing. We would also add any visual effects e.g. ghosts, aliens or monsters. 

Sales and distribution
This is where distributors (potential buyers) would view it at the cinema or buy it on dvd.

How the special effects were added in the monsters film

I found a clip on YouTube showing how monsters was made. The film monsters was made by a man called Gareth Edwards in 2010. 

In the clip he shows us how he designed and brought to life the "monsters" in the film. He began by drawing up basic images. These images were then brought to life in some digital clay, which they could be moulded out in. Once they were designed they could add the movement and colours. 

This film had an extremely low budget of $15,000. The way they saved money was by only having two actors and the rest were found on site. For example, they are said to have walked into a petrol station and asked who spoke English, one man stepped forward and he acted in the film. This would've saved money as they didn't have to pay to fly him out or pay for his accommodation.  Also they saved money by not using the highest tech equipment. They are said to have used digital cameras and basic equipment. 

This is the clip. :)

This is one example of the special effects used within the film. The big wall seen in this image was added in post production by Gareth himself. 

In the image on the right you can see another example of special effects. The monster was added as well during post production. 

Some examples of things that might be added during post production are, production sound (dialogue), sound track (the music that is played throughout the film is written, performed and recorded, sound effects and visual effects.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Wednesday 5th January - Meeting 2

Today we met as the group again and discussed our opening sequence. So far we have the basic story line, cast and basic camera angles. 

We still need to discuss costumes, props and setting. 

We spoke about the location of the film. In the opening we need 3 settings. The first one being a dark room where Dave can sit in whilst he speaks of Olivia. The second being a dark, quiet lane which Olivia will walk down, and realise she's being followed by Dave. The third being a bedroom, where Olivia wakes up.

Dave could be wearing dark clothes, maybe a bit torn or dirty. This would show his sinister side. 

Olivia could be wearing casual clothes in the street setting, as she would've been returning home or something. 

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Friday 10th December - Meeting 1

On Friday the 10th December we had our first group meeting. In the group we spoke about our film opening sequence.

We spoke about the theme, setting, characters and plot and came up with the first basic story line which we will adapt later. Each person was given a simple job role and a few simple tasks to ensure everyone is involved.