How did it end?

Our ending was one of our biggest concerns in our piece, considering we had so many options to explore, and so many ideas of our own.

These included;

  • there being an alien in the house or the house itself becoming an alien
  • the scene returning to normal and the camera looking side to side crazily as if being attacked. Camera would look up and a bright light would surround the character- as if being abducted.
  • changing to a day time scene- Alec’s suggestion- and a flyer blowing in the wind.The camera zooms in on it to reveal a “missing house” or “house for sale”
  • the scene returning to normal- as if nothing happened.

In our original previs we had that at the end it would return to the look of the first shot. Things would be going mad- lights flashing, the house floating etc and then return to normal. The BBC didn’t like it – the feedback saying it built up to nothing.

We wanted to have a look at how other films created a prolonged sense of unease, after the film had ended. One of the big stand outs for me was Gone Girl (2014).

Gone Girl (2014).

Based on the life of Amy- the film is split in two parts. The first told in that of her husband, Nick, as he deals with the accusations of killing his wife. The second half is turned to Amy, showing that (spoilers) she is in fact alive and has plotted the whole thing for months.

The ending is unsettling- Amy gets away with her psychotic acts and murder and lives on with her husband (whom she can’t escape). It is one of my favourite films- I remember leaving the cinema feeling so lost as the happy ending did not happen, and never would.

Gone Girl analysis. (YouTube, 2016).

Prisoners (2013)

A film following fathers after the abduction of two kids. The ending of this film is bleak- the girls found alive, but not before their capturer’s wife takes a hold of one of the dads. The keeps him in a holding cell, before herself being taken. The film ends with the unsettling sounds of a whistle blowing, the sound coming from the trapped father.

The ending of The Prisoners. (YouTube, 2013).

Inception (2010)

The idea that the spinner will continue spinning in the dream world is tested at the end of the film. The camera, however, cuts before we can see what truly happens. This gives us the unease- whether or not Cobb was reunited with his wife and kids in real life, or is in fact stuck in a dream state.

 

Night Crawler (2014)

Nightcrawler is another movie I left the cinema questioning my sanity. Following the life of Louis Bloom who becomes one of  LAs biggest night-crawlers- filming gritty footage for news stations, in this business the gorier the better.

The films alludes to Bloom’s real personality- cutting the breaks of a competitor’s truck, seriously injuring him, and later the killing of his partner, just for a story.

The ending shows him talking to new recruits, his speech making your hairs stand on end, knowing these people may face the same fate. Ending on the line “I would never ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.”

The end speech. (YouTube, 2016).

After considering a lot of the movies and elements used in them we decided to use this, along with our research into Psychological films earlier. We wanted to give the vibe that this maybe couldn’t have happened and was a simple dream or imagining of the person filming. We realised that if we built everything up to an extreme and then suddenly cut it, the film would be startling due to harsh reality.

Dervla made a very good point to us when talking about this. The animation is playing with the perception of what people find scary. In our scene nothing is scary- everything is familiar but warped to make you feel something different.

Sherlock -Cinematography

Sorry Alec- I am an obsessed fan who had to document this for the sake of Dervla and her editing skills.

Dervla in our original previs had mentioned the use of editing through overlapping footage in our scenes- the prime example being the windmill. While watching the latest season of Sherlock, I realised where I had seen this technique used before- in my favourite show of course.

We had originally looked at music videos by the like of Coldcut and Bonabo.

More beats and pieces- Coldcut. (YouTube, 2016).

I trolled through the episodes and found quite extensive uses of this overlapping look- mainly when the protagonist goes into his train of though- his ideas reflected on the screen in the view of footage, images and text sequences.

Hounds of Baskerville (2012).

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The Six Thatchers (2017)

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We really liked the above frames when doing the edits- rather than having text randomly appear over the screen.

One of our ideas was to have text over certain objects in the scene. Sinead did a few edits of frames from our animation to have a look at his. We agreed that this may be a bit distraction for the human eye. As a compromise, we realised that we could do a separate edit from the BBC one- Sinead offering to score out the text as it appeared across the screen. Kind of like the CIA documents (and coincidentally the end of our script).

 

Additional Shots

We came together over the christmas break to talk about the order of our animatic and adding the additional human element needed to make it feel creepy.

A lot of people mentioned how lovely and populated our scene felt, however the models were not shown to any extent for more than brief flashes. We therefore wanted to show these more- having more long holding shots at the beginning of the animation to set the scene- as if there is a person living in the grounds.

Establishing Shot

Walking up the road with the camera then resting on the ground.

Further Establishing Shots to Show Calm

Smouldering Cigarette

Warm lights flickering inside house- N.B.- replaced this with birds on scarecrow to introduce their presence

Windmill Rotating Normally

Field and Windmill 3/4 shot showing gentle wind

Clothes on Washing line subtly moving

Banjo strum by itself- changes mood and things start to happen

Progression of Spookiness 

Birds leave field

Cables Move

Windmill moves fast/ sporadic

Flickering 3/4 house

Car close up- lights flashing

lights in crops

lights on shed

tornado shelter bursting open

levitating rocks

crops aerial view

road sign flickering- N.B- lights in house flickering different colours as per Sinead’s lighting tests

Below are some of the tests that Jenny did with the animating- I was totally blown away at the birds as she had such a short timing to do them in.

Birds on the Scarecrow

Ending shot

fog dies down, lighting clear- HDRI- back to house lighting (calming).

Jenny animated a few of these to show us- having finished the birds. I am really happy with how these have turned out- the birds really add to the piece with setting a quiet, calming atmosphere. The additional animations on the windmill too also really add to the piece- giving a more realistic look.

Power-lines swinging

The scarecrow and the birds

The Windmill

 

The basement door

Teal and Orange Lighting- Colour Grading

In the past twenty years or so, a trend in film has been established and has become catchy in the film industry. This is known as the amber and teal or orange and teal lighting look.

It has been known as the dark era, used in many a film to the extreme. However, it is a look used primarily in sci-fi films, including super-8 . The reasons for this type of colour grading is vast- one of the main ones being the focus of the film. The majority of films now have actors and the skin colours mainly have orange tints. As most skin tones fall between pale peach and dark, dark brown, leaving them squarely in the orange segment of the colour wheel.Blue and cyan are squarely on the opposite side of the wheel.

A theory, from blogger Todd Miro, is that the orange and blue trends is driven due to the want for contrast. This is because blue and orange as complementary colours- and side by side create contrast. So, if you make your actors as warm and orange as plausible while making them still look human, and make the shadows and the background as blue as possible, you’ll have a vibrant screen, and a pretty darn complementary palette. As Cracked’s Dan Seitz wrote, in an  analysis of generic color grading :

“It’s not necessarily laziness per se. Your average colorist has to grade about two hours of movie, frame by frame sometimes, in the space of a couple of weeks. It doesn’t take that many glances at the deadline bearing down on the calendar before you throw up your hands and say, ‘Fuck it. Everybody likes teal and orange!'” (Priceonomics, 2017).

.TV Tropes’ entry on orange-and-blue color schemes pointed out that, while it might not be naturalistic, the color combination packs a semantic punch:

“Unlike other pairs of complementary colors, fiery orange and cool blue are strongly associated with opposing concepts — fire and ice, earth and sky, land and sea, day and night, invested humanism vs. elegant indifference, good old fashioned explosions vs. futuristic science stuff. It’s a trope because it’s used on purpose, and it does something.” (Priceonomics, 2017).

But as colorist Stefan Sonnenfeld told The Guardian , “There’s no specific colour decision-making process where we sit in a room and say, ‘We’re only going to use complementary colours to try and move the audience in a particular direction – and only use those combinations.’ Every film has its own look.” (Priceonomics, 2017).

Below are some of the films that have this lighting type- some more subtle than others.

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Super 8 (2011).

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Imitation Game (2014).

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Into the Woods (2014).

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Tron (2010).

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Jupiter Ascending (2015).

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Transformers (2007).

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Mad Max (2015).

Watch the video below for some interesting montages on this colour grading process.

Literally just watch this for the song. (YouTube, 2016).

References

Priceonomics. (2017). Why Every Movie Looks Sort of Orange and Blue. [online] Available at: https://priceonomics.com/why-every-movie-looks-sort-of-orange-and-blue/ [Accessed 6 Jan. 2017].

YouTube. (2017). Colour Grading, Orange and Teal. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4x4rXsCQTU [Accessed 6 Jan. 2017].

Glowing Lights

Alec suggested that we look into post production for our end lighting, to create the glow we had previously looked at. He sent me a few tutorials on how to add this glowing light in AE.

TARGA files- alpha channels available. When importing TARGA images as a sequence- ensure the alpha is on straight as it will effect the alpha channels.

One way to create a glow is by having a Gaussian filter over the footage-

Easier to use fast blur as it also takes into to consideration the alpha layers.

One of the things I noted in this was the presence of the lighting already being included in the shot- therefore I would have to create a mesh light in the scene and render it as separate layers to isolate the blur to the light source only.

I did a few experiments with this in AE with the scarecrow. To be honest, it looks pretty bad- the blur seems to decrease the intensity of the lights, making it look faded. I included an example below.

 

Chronicle (2012)- Hand Held inspiration

I’ve mentioned this film a lot when talking to the BBC and when considering hand held films inspiration and so I wanted to go into it in a bit more detail.

The trailer for Chronicle. (YouTube, 2016).

Chronicle is a 2012 American science fiction action film directed by Josh Trank and written by Max Landis based on a story by both. It follows three Seattle high school seniors, bullied Andrew (Dane DeHaan), his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and more popular Steve (Michael B. Jordan), who form a bond after gaining telekinetic powers from an unknown object. They first use their abilities for mischief and personal gain until Andrew turns to darker purposes. (Wikipedia, 2016).

The movie itself was shot in an Arri Alexa video and Angenieux Optimo and Cook s4 lenses. The hand held look was added in post production but much of the filming was cleverly done to adjust for this. For example,  the Arri Alexa camera was mounted on a skateboard to simulate Andrew’s camera sliding across a floor.

It is based on a story by both Josh Trank and Max Landis, who both directed the film. They credited films such as Akira, Carrie and The Fury as inspiring the plot and overall look.

The Knowing (1978) trailer. (YouTube, 2016).

One of the things I loved especially about the film was the change of perspective in the cameras. All based on real life- they changed from Andrew’s hand held camera to CCTV footage. It is used seamlessly- the best example being the hospital scene.

The camera starts as one would expect- typical live action view- the camera an onlooker to the events and has no involvement.  We listen as Andrew’s father becomes angry, as his shouting is about to escalate it cuts to a CCTV camera in the hospital. Even without the sounds, we can feel the tension building. The scene then silently blows up, the camera showing a hospital room once and then not there.

After our first BBC presentation we wanted to incorporate this kind of cuts in our own- making them more obvious, we came up with a list of these to incorporate in our next previs;

 

Hand Held Camera- History and Inspiration

The use of a hand held camera has become a well known cheap ploy in horror films, used to get a quick scare. This is known from films like Cloverfield and the Blair Witch Project- this ‘shaky camera’ technique, however, was used years beforehand, starting in the 1950s. It’s aesthetic appeal has been used either subtly or jarringly, making audiences nauseated.

A pioneer of the handheld camera was John Cassavetes, a director from the 1950s/ 1960s. His passion for filmmaking gained him much acclimation starting from his debut film. The work of Cassavetes along with some of his contemporaries in the 1960’s greatly influenced the style of the hand held technique making it significant still to this day.

Cassavetes influence spanned many directors and genres and impacted a movement called Dogme 95. This experimental style of filmmaking was written as a manifesto and created by friends Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg. It was written in 1995 to challenge filmmakers to break free from the big budget Hollywood films that were dominating cinema culture. Rule number three of the manifesto reads “The camera must be hand-held. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted.”.

As stated in the rules of Dogme, the point was to challenge directors to strip down their presumed forms of overly produced films and create work that seemed more natural and less synthesized. Similar to the works of Cassavetes, these films (shot either on video or film but as stated in rule number nine the finished product must be formatted to Academy 35mm film) were presented in a type of “documentary style” that later generally became the staple aesthetic for hand held films.

Below is a list of different films acting as modern day ground work for this handheld style.

28 Days Later (2002)

Vacant London. (YouTube, 2016).

Danny Boyle’s creation of a really jarring hand held motion- a very juttery camera- meant it was hard to watch for many. What made this film stand out was that it was truly scary (this I can 100% agree)- the hand held shots making it aesthetically beautiful.

The best shots in this film for me, are the recordings of the zombies running- I can barely watch!

District 9 (2009)

For me, one of the saddest bits of the film. (YouTube, 2016).

This documentary style film is one I only watched recently and loved- cudos to Phoebe for the recommendation. I love the flickering of the camera view in this- sometimes from the perspective of the camera man filming the documentary and sometimes from the point of news readers.

Cocksucker blues (1972)

Directed by Robert Frank, this documentary follows the Rolling Stones through their 1972 tour of America. The film was spontaneous- several cameras and subjects encouraged to pick one up and start rolling. The film was shameless- showing scenes of the band members doing drugs and a groupie doing heroine in a hotel room. The crassness of the film showed the brashness of the life the band lived and allowed them to live up to their reputation.

Julian Donkey- Boy (1999)

Trailer for the film. (YouTube, 2016).

Harmony Korine was one of the few American directions contributing to the Dogme 95 movement. The film is a manic collection of characters and imagery combined. It follows the life of gold grill bearing Julien and his dysfunctional family.

The camera in this film is used by Korine to create the atmosphere of disorientation Julien lives in.

Scorpio Rising (1964)

Actually a good watch- I recommend the 28 minutes dedicated to it. (YouTube, 2016).

With themes like the occult, biker gangs, drugs and Nazism overlaid with of the day pop music- this film is a study into America in the 1960s. A short films (28 minutes) composed of steady long shots, quick cuts to stock footage, hand held moments and no dialogue- this film is a bizarre montage but Avant- Garde director Kenneth Anger.

The Celebration (1998)

English dubbed trailer for the Celebration. (YouTube, 2016).

Thomas Vinterberg was the first director to accept the Dogma manifesto- this film shot on a standard hand held Sony DCR- PC7E Handycam with Mini-DV cassettes. The plot follows a tragically unconditional family celebrating their father’s 60th birthday. It is a study into the complicated family dynamics.

One of our main areas of focus during our creation of our animation was that of Chronicle (2012). I explore this in more detail in a separate blog post.

In our own animation we are looking to create this additonal hand held look throught the addition of grain and the recording date and time on the screen which we have seen previously.

 

Light Inspiration- Foreboding the Aliens

Come FThere was one thing we noticed when trolling through the many Alien Films was the lighting ques- used to give rise or hint at the alien presence about to hit the screen.

One of the films we noticed this the most in was Super 8 (2011). Larry Fong (cinematographer) used electric blue light flares- easily mistakable for normal lens flares. These were used through the movie- scenes such as the Railway Crash, the discovery of the alien cubes etc these flares are scene across the screen or even behind characters, leading the movie to the next scene. I couldn’t help notice the colours are similar to those of old video game console colour palettes- making it relevant to the time of the film’s setting.

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Super 8- the cubes making up the alien spaceship.

The railway crash (YouTube, 2016).

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Super 8- streaks on the railway crash.

Stranger things is a TV show that also follows this foreboding principle with the lights – though in a different way. Warning spoilers ahead. During the scenes were the demagorgon or creatures from the other side are involved, the lights and electrical appliances flicker and blow, before returning to normal.

This trailer more or less shows Will’s disappearance. I showed this to Dervla again- due to the electrical surge sound effects, similar to what we were looking at.

The flickering lights show above is something we are considering in putting in our own animation- the idea of a porch light or even the car headlights flashing.

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War of the Worlds (2005) shows another element of lighting in this- the influence of the alien craft causing the lighting to match it/ surge in intensity. This gives quite a god like effect.

The music video for Sigma- Come Find me was another avenue of exploration for us. The music video is a visual representation of the night life occurring around the feature character- reflected mainly in the lighting and the interactions it has on the characters movements.

We agreed that we all like the kind of squigly lines on the screen- the out of focus look is something we are definitely going for in ours- repetitive motions overlayed to emphasise the madness.

The last screen shot of Millie (actress) looking up at the light above it a form of lighting we are looking at for our own piece- the idea of something being taken upward.

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Light Inspiration- Glowing lights

We have two types of lighting that we are looking at in our animatic- the first being the blue lens flare like lights seen in films like Super 8 etc (see previous posts).

The second type of lighting was that as seen in most abduction films- the large glowing balls behind the objects- giving a glowing outline and creating a silhouette of the object it focuses on.

Inspiration- movies that have this lighting.

Most alien/ abduction style have this type of lighting- however there were a few films we looked at to see how they created this look.

E.T. (1982)

ET goes home. (YouTube,2016).

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Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Alien Reveal (YouTube, 2016).

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War of the Worlds (2005)

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10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

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Guardians of the Galaxy (2015)

The origins of StarLord. (YouTube, 2016).

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Chicken Little (

How did this become useful? (YouTube, 2016).

Alec’s advice– Alec suggested different ways of creating this lighting type. He suggested either doing it in post production- rendering out a light beam from many and overly/ screen in after effects or looking into testing volumetric fog or ai photometric lighting. I’m going to test these over the next few days to see what we could use.

 

Scarecrow Modeling

One of the things Mike suggested in including in our scene was a scarecrow- giving that element that Humans occupy the setting. I cheated a little and use a previous model as a base mesh and then reworked it.

We wanted to created something that looked like it could live in our set, with the visible softness, the light adding the creepy look to it. I used the images below as a simple inspiration for the posing and overall look.

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Modelling references. (Pinterest, 2016).

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The model.

scarecrowA few lighting tests.

References

Pinterest. (2016). Scary. [online] Available at: https://www.pinterest.com/Acutters/scary/ [Accessed 24 Dec. 2016].

 

BBC Presentation 2

Ok so another BBC presentation occurred yesterday with our update previs (see below).

They actually really liked it! Even suggested it was ready to put on their website- however we knew that was not true!

The BBC previs round two.

They gave us some feedback and so did Alec (see below). From this list we came together to devise a plan of what we needed to go over the next few weeks.

Have the last shot looking normal in daytime.
Name on sign post – something relevant?
Audio – 1 vanilla and 1 directors cut
Light beams – research into doing it in post-production (either render out light beam textures from maya separately and overly/screen or animate in after effects), or look at testing ai photometric light with volumetric fog (longer renders maybe)
Also look at testing stock footage of fog/dry ice for the ground etc for post-production
Look at adding in bird(s) flying away – some life & animation in the piece – perhaps clothes on a washing line, swing gently moving in wind etc.

Below is our list of things to do over the next few weeks. We decided to split it evenly among what we wanted to do for our different skill sets- Dervla wanting to do sound and graphics, Sinead lighting and modelling, myself modelling and Jenny animating.

A lot of things are working back forth between people, such as the crop circles. Dervla will design schematics for the crop circles and then Jenny will incorporate these into the crop circles in the field.

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I myself have a few pieces of modelling to do- a floor mat, scarecrow, washing line and cracked windows.

The scarecrow will give a more creepier element to the piece, with the element of something possibly being human in the scene.