Monday, 31 January 2011

'Watching' documentary.

In our lesson we watched this documentary as it reflected how vital film openings are. Thomas Sutcliffes quote in the movie really inspired me. "Films need to seduce their audience into long term commitment. While there are many types of seduction, the temptation to go for instant arousal is almost irresistible".  This means that the most effective way to catch and keep the audiences attention is by making the first scene dramatic. This engages the audience, drawing them in so that they ask why? who? what? where? and when? in order for the director to have full commitment. However, Director Jean Jaques Beineix says that the risks in 'instant arousal' is that you have to live up to the opening. If you have a dramatic opening then the rest of the film has to be at the same expectation, answering all the questions. Another bit of key advice given in the documentary is 'Dont give away too much, however, keep the audience engaged'.

Critic Stanley Kaufman describes a classic opening to be the camera establishing a New York building, going up following the sky scrapper then into the setting of the building. This is good because the audience goes from an outside setting to an interior. This allows the audience to feel like they are following the characters life. 

The image above of the film Seven is very important in film openings as it foreshadows the rest of the film and also has a very discreet opening sequence as we do not see the characters, just close ups. 

In the documentary we also watched the opening to 'Touch of Evil'. Orson Welles wanted to be able to shoot the opening (4minutes) with no cuts until the very end where there was an explosion. Orson Welles was successful however the Universal Studios added music and titles to it. 

We also learned what is meant by 'Favourite trick of Film Noir'. The trick is to put the ending at the beginning. In the film 'The Shining' suspense is created through the cameras as they are following the protagonist from behind as though the cameras were predators. The Documentary really allowed us to have an insight on what complications may come with making our thriller opening, but also some really good advice which i am thankful for.


We learned about the different fonts to have a better understanding into the further meanings of fonts as they connotate different things.There are basically two types of fonts; Serif and Sans Serif. Serif is a more formal font and is used in newspapers such as The Times. The fonts are generally more traditional and often slightly more formal than sans serif font. Examples of serif fonts are Times and courier. A serif is the little extra detail at the end of each stroke of every letter. Serif usually connotates a business like/formal approach.
In Contrast, we have sans serif fonts which are generally more informal, more modern and more 'friendly'. The connotate a more childlike and casual approach. An example of Sans (in french, without) Serif fonts is Ariel and Comic Sans. 

Font analysis.  

 The serif font and capital letters reflect the importance and formal approach of the film. Some may suggest that the orders of regimentation, may reflect the soldiers standing in a row, as the film is based on the war. 
In comparison, Rocky uses sans serif fonts. This font appears to be more inviting as the letters are more curved and connotations of sans serif is uneducated which doesn't seem as intimidating. Although the font is big and bold like Rocky, the letters have curves and don't seem as harsh which shows that there is a softer side to Rocky. The title seems to be inhibited y the frame and the title seems like its trying to punch out, again reflecting Rocky's character.

Opening movie structures.

Conventions of Thriller Openings. In order for my group and I to produce an opening sequence which is both effective and professional, we can only begin by studying and comparing previous thriller openings; from these we can establish the conventions that thriller openings are characteristic of. The use of mise en scene in thrillers to create suspense is approached in many different ways. The location/s included in the opening sequence can stand as a very important clue as to what the film is about, aswell as the music, actors and camera shots. In lesson 31/01/11 we studied how every film opens with either 3 structures. The are all effective in their own particular way. They are:
  1. A narrative opening with the titles running throughout.
  2. A discrete title sequence.
  3. Titles over a blank screen, followed by the narrative opening.
We watched a few openings of films which were great examples of the different structured openings.

  • A narrative opening with the titles running throughout.

I think The Shining's opening was quite suspenseful and creepy. I think the music allows it to do this and the titles run as the film begins, opening with the movie.

  • A discrete title sequence.

A discrete title sequence is when the titles stand separately from the actual film. Seven's opening shows close ups of very mentally disturbed actions, such as a person scraping their own skin off their fingers using a blade and sewing paper. The titles are small and the font looks as if a child has written them so it relates to the film.
  • Titles over a blank screen, followed by the narrative opening.

I think this structure is very plain and uninteresting, therefore it is the most ineffective structure. However, if the opening is short, like Donnie Darko, it still has a tense and eerie effect.
  • Stylized editing.

These openings stand out and a lot of work is put into them, which means a lot of time is also put to them. An example is the Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3.


In class we looked at different types of fonts so we could gain a better understanding on fonts and how they are used in movies. Titles in movie sequences help to reflect the movie and it's background story, for example: the movie 'The Strangers' uses child like writing to show disturbing and messy writing, which could define the storyline and how things may turn out. In my opinion before this lesson, I used to think that the title didn't have much impact on the film, that it was only there for appearance. However i now realise that most movies reflect their titles towards their films, i.e they match the movie and so we can get an impression of what type of film we are watching. We also learnt that when we make our own thriller sequence we should think very carefully about the font because it should always reflect the movie itself.

There are two types of fonts that are seen on many movie sequences whcih are the traditional and formal fonts. This is Serif fonts – such as times and courier. Serif fonts are much more formal, classic and professional then Sans Serif fonts. Serif fonts are usually the extra little detail and have a flick on the end of every letter, these are most used in newspapers over magazines for a clearer more easier view. Sans Serif fonts are used in magazines more often these is more modern and less formal, more casual, such as Arial and Comic sans.

In class we talked about the poster of Pear Harbor which uses classic Serif font, the title is shown in large capitals which grabs the audiences attention and makes it very eye catching. The capital letters show the importanc, power and boldness of the movie. It could reflect the actors above who are dressed in military clothes, so the captials could represent the order and seriousness that the military go through. Also, the way they are positioned also shows that they have responsabilities through their military costumes this all reflects the movie title.

The film 'Rocky' uses the font Franklin gothic heavy. As you can see the title is presented in big bold curvy writing it is very eye catching and takes up most of the upper poster. This i believe is a great film cover as it reflects simplicity and sophistication at the same time. The writing seems as if it is being squashed as it's so huge, which links to the manin character Rocky as he is this big muscular man, yet lives a smiple hardworking life. Having such a plain background bring contrast between it and the title, making it a main focus on the cover.

The film 'Seven' has a discrete opening and title sequence with a child like writing font, making it seem shocking and disturbing seeing a childs writing opening the thriller movie.

I really liked the font used because in our own thriller sequence we have a child as a main character, and would be nice to reflect that to the audience with child-like font. (As shown above in the opening titles to Seven.)

Final bag swap- sound and titles.

Using Final Cut Pro, Soundtrack Pro and Livetype we managed to add sound effects and music appropriate for our bag swap story. Near to the beginning we added a school bell to set the scene; make it clear where it's set. The screen grab to the left shows the movie being constructed in Soundtrack pro with music and effects being added, such as heavy breathing, heavy beats and high pitched thrilling sounds. We tried to add a low pitched 'bang' sound as the bag drops to emphasis the drop and the weight of it, making us focus only on the bag.
Using Handbrake we figured out how to adjust everything so that it can all come together and be put on our blog. The key point is to remember to make sure the movie is always in mp4 mode, that will it can upload onto the blog.

The structure of Thriller openings.

When we looked at thriller openings we found that there are three basic structures which are followed; Narrative opening, discrete title sequence titles over a blank screen and an extra one we added as a class, 'stylized editing'. 

Narrative opening is when the titles run through the opening as the film starts. For example, The Stepfather, Touch of Evil, Casino and The Taking of Pelham 123. 

A discrete title sequence is a separately screened and conceived part. It is edited separately then the film starts rather than a narrative opening. An example of this is Seven where we have the view of the protagonist and the shots are either close ups or extreme close ups. The title has its own separate music to identify it as a separate piece. The character appears crazy as they are cutting they're skin with a razor and sowing material onto his thumb which suggests that he is abnormal. 

Titles over a blank screen followed by the narrative opening. Its usually a dark screen with just sound effects which is very effective as it is mysterious and engages the audience into asking what is happening. An example of this is Donnie Darko where we have a view of dark mountains then unexpectedly somebody's head appears. This structure is very traditional. 

Finally is 'stylized editing'. An example of this is The Taking of Pelham 123 in which the sequence is edited like a music video. The music is to the beat of the movement of the camera. The part which i find most interesting is when the music goes quiet and we are introduced to the first character by a close up (from previously long shots) and the editing going in slow motion. 

One title sequence which inspired me is the split screen technique in Mezrine. It allows the audience to have different views and is fairly easy to do on final cut. 

Soundtrack Pro.

Similar to Livetype, Soundtrack Pro was also very fun and easy to explore. This enabled us to make short thriller soundtracks so that we had some more experience in listening to sounds carefully to specifically choose sounds which fit to the genre. Below is a soundtrack i made to a thriller opening where someone was waking up to a peculiar and scary environment. The clock made it alerting which would engaged the audience when identifying with the protagonist. 

There were thousands of different sounds which allowed us to be more creative and inventive with the music. The different sounds really inspired me to imagine what kind of sounds would reflect our characters mind set as our thriller is a psychological thriller. What I really found great about Soundtrack Pro is that the sounds were very specific and were under specific categories and sub genres which made it easy for me to find the sounds I needed. 
The sounds i really enjoyed most where the human ones where there were natural sounds which were extremely effective and realistic really setting the scene. I am really looking forward to making the soundtrack for our thriller opening. 

Livetype introduction.

In this lesson we learned how to use Livetype and played around with the different fonts and the way that they can appear on the screen. To the right is a screen print of some of the options you have and this effect makes the letters in the title sequence bounce to create a friendly childlike invitation to the film. This lesson was very useful as we became very creative and had a better insight on how to use Livetype. When using Livetype I came across a few fonts which I was contemplating in using for my thriller introduction. I enjoyed using Livetype as there were a variety of different fonts and effects which allowed me to make my type of title specific to the idea I had. Livetype was also fairly easy to use and easy to get used to so i am very excited to use it when making my title sequence for my thriller opening.

Below are some print screens of when I was exploring Livetype. The last print screen is a more complicated title font (livefont) however we wont be using those for our thrillers as they are not suited, although I did have a look through. 

When we have made our title sequence we will import it into Final Cut in order for us to edit it into our thriller opening. 
Above is a wordle of 'livetype'. 

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Introduction to Editing.

After filming the bag swap we used Final Cut to edit and put together the shots. Many of the shots were not used however were useful when deciding what fit best as it gave us a range/variety to choose from. We decided not to use a lot of effects such as fading and music as we wanted to keep the film simple and thought that even without the music the bag swap was still very effective.
 From this exercise we learnt that planning is vital and also to allow a lot of time for filming and editing is crucial. This also allowed us to play around with Final Cut, seeing what the different effects and the way the shots fit together. As a group we worked very well figuring out how we wanted the bag swap to look like and this has motivated us as a group to go on and make a successful thriller opening.

Filming and Editing; Bag Swap.

In this lesson we were asked to conduct, film and edited a bag swap. As a group we discussed the different ways in which a bag swap can occur in everyday life, but also adding a sense of thrill to the swap too. After a discussion, we soon began to build on our story line by planning the different scenes as you can see above. The camera was used at different levels and occasionally we used the tripod and extended the legs to create a contrast in the heights and shots. A few of the shots we oringinally planned to take had to be changed due to the time limit and also the confined space in which we decided to film in as we decided to spend most of the time editing. Some of the shots of course were also used as a trial and improvement method in order for us to obtain the best shots.

We learnt from this bag swap task that in order to create the best thriller film we must plan very well and improvise too. In this shot (above) we initially wanted to make the bag drop in slow motion however as filming and editing was very time consuming we did not get a chance. This task really enabled us to get a sense of how to use Final Cut and also the cameras.

Previous AS Thrillers.

Searching on Youtube i have found a few previous AS Thriller openings which have inspired me and given me ideas for our own thriller opening. I have choosen the ones which have interested sound, a variety of shots suitable to the genre and ones which have good acting, facial expressions and believable characters. I'm not sure what school these students are from but they are from all different schools, with different pitches and storylines so they are all unique and special in their own way.

Titles used for our bag swap were just simple New Times Roman, medium size, for our first ever titles we wanted to make the 'typical' scroll effect on top of the footge, then have the screen go black at the end for the end to be clear and noticable. Using livetype was a good expirience as there were so many font options, effects, styles and textures to choose from.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

What a great blog!

Your blog is coming along really well!  Yeah!

Analysis of current thriller: Black swan.

I watched the highly popular psychological thriller ‘Black Swan’ starring Natalie Portman yesterday to explore how suspense was created in more contemporary films in contrast to those I have already seen made in earlier years (i.e. psycho, memento etc).

The film takes us through the story of Nina (Portman) a ballerina in a dance company striving for a bigger part in her dance company. When she lands the leading role (the swan queen) in the ballet swan lake however, everything begins to turn for the worst. She can play the part of the sweet white swan perfectly, but however hard she tries, she can't let herself go enough to play the part of the evil black swan. Her determination for perfection in the role gradually destroys her, manipulates her mind, driving her insane. Her insanity causes edgy horrific hallucinations which pulls the audience along with these visions, making us believe what we see and causing us great confusion. In realizing the psychological importance behind the film, it suddenly shakes our ability to recognize reality from Nina’s hallucinations leading to the terrifying and gripping climax of Nina’s unintentional suicide at the end of the film.

Suspense is created throughout the film very effectively in numerous ways. A hand held camera is used frequently used in screen shots, creating uneasiness for the audience, reflecting the instability of the film, particularly the delicate state of Nina’s mind. Another classic suspense creating factor is the use of black and white in films and the connotations that are tied to this dichotomy. Its consistent presence in this film through the contrasting personas of the black and white swan means we see clearer the distance between them. Black allows the emphasis of evil, creating suspense with darkness, fear and insecurity (a technique already used widely in thriller movies) and white representing purity and innocence. The use of music was also very significant. Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake became a sort of trigger or signal for an edgy thrilling moment in the film. The music played alongside the scarier moments therefore becoming an association that we picked up on as the audience, allowing us to sense in the future scenes of the play when another thrilling scene was looming. This isn’t the first we’ve seen of this technique, in ‘The sixth sense’ by M. Night Shyamalan the colour red closely associated with the scenes ghosts appear, creating extra tension because of the association, causing audience members to anticipate the build up of tension and fear.  

 I enjoyed the film a lot, Portman's acting and portrayal of innocence and evil was amazing, and I was left thinking about this film for a long time after it was over. It made the audience jump, scream and even cringe at times; overall a very suspenseful thriller that I would like (if I was brave enough) to watch again sometime.

Watching Documentary.

In class we watched a program called 'watching' documentary. Through watching this, i realised just how important the opening of a thriller movie is in order to draw the audience in to the story.

In the documentary, a media critic Thomas Sutcliffe said "films need to seduce their audience into long term commitment. While there are many types of seduction, the temptation to go for instant arousal is almost irresistible" I think that by saying this, he means that for the audience to want to watch the entire film, they must first be drawn in and exited by the initial moments of the film.

 According to Director Jean Jacques Beineix, the risks for "instant arousal" through the opening are that it will leave many questions in the audience's mind which will have to be answered through the rest of the film, sometimes making it rather confusing. Also, the film will most usually not be able to live up to the excitement and interest that an amazing opening will produce.

The title sequence to the film 'Seven' was shown in the documentary, Kyle Cooper made this a very effective opening as it has very interesting and intriguing mise en scene, lost of extreme close-ups (not showing the characters' faces very clearly) and uses lots of quick jump cuts which confuses and intrigues the audience.

"A good beginning must make the audience feel that it doesn't know nearly enough yet, and at the same make sure that it doesn't know too little": in the opening, the audience needs to know enough about the story to be interested and not feel confused, but at the same time, there must be certain gaps in their knowledge of the story; questions that can only be answered by watching the rest of the film.

Stanley Kauffmann describes the classic opening to a film: an establishing shot of the city in which the film will be set, an office, a receptionist. This is effective as it brings the audience into the characters' lives (keeping them interested) without giving too much of the story away.

Director Orson Welles wanted the opening to his film 'A touch of evil' to draw the audience into the story right from the beginning, but Universal studios put music and titles over the opening which ruined the effect Welles was hoping for as it distracted the audience from the story going on behind it.

The opening of the film 'The Shining' creates suspense by showing a car; tracking it from a high angle, and from behind which creates the illusion that the car is being followed. The audience are being given subtle hints that something bad will happen to the people in the car.

I will use all of the techniques i have seen in this documentary as inspiration for my own thriller opening.

Watching Documentary

I watched a program called "Watching" documentary. This was a fantastic opportunity and I realized the importance of the opening title sequence. 
People are coming to cinema, mostly because of the trailer. It provides the greatest scene of the movie and arise the interest. However, the opening sequence is the one, which make the audience watch the rest of the movie with attention and breath holding. 

Journalist who conducted the program said, that if the audience missed the beginning of the 'Psycho', they will be watching fundamentally different movie. These, first 5 minutes are the most important. It needs to catch the audience and deliver emotion like satisfaction and curiosity.

Thomas Sutcliffe said "Films need to seduce their audience into long term commitment. While there are many types of seduction, the temptation to go for instant arousal is almost irresistible'.  So in other words, he meant that the audience needs to be draw into the film. It needs to be enough shocking to make then find out more.
Therefore, there is a greatest risk to live up to opening. It could be hard to keep the same level in the opening and keep it up for the rest of the movie. Mostly, after the title sequence the emotion just fading out and the audience become bored. That is why it is so important to keep the feeling of curiosity in the audience.

The ' good beginning must take the audience feel that it doesn't know nearly enough yet, and the same time make sure that it doesn't know too little'. What does it mean is that the opening needs to provide enough importation the audience what is it going to be about, but not too much to keep them watching till the end. It needs to lead audience smoothly and most truly and at the same time introduce the most important characters and setting.  

Also one of the director said that the most effectively opening doesn’t contain any dialog. It shows lots of things which gives a hind to the audience, but they are the part of the movement. 
Stanley Kauffmann said something about the classical opening. It starts from establishing long shot of the city, and then it goes close to the particular building, close up on the window, reception and office where character is sitting. It works very effectively because it creates a feeling of coming inside the character’s life. This let the audience gets a clear understanding of the story line.

'A favorite trick of Film Noir' is to put the end as the beginning of the movie. It is made with great purpose. The audience already knows what happened, but they want to watch more to understand why films rich that kind of 'ending'.

One of the famous openings is 'Touch of Evil'. All title sequence is taken in one shot and it is about 4 minutes long. During this time, camera keeps moving, changing levels and angles. It takes them, few weeks to film this scene without any problems. This opening switches the audience attention. At the beginning everything is saying that the most important characters drive the car, but suddenly the camera starts to focus on the walking couple. Also the studio put the music and title on it. Orson Welles didn't like it at all, but it has to stay like that. 

Friday, 28 January 2011

Watching Documentary.

Whhilst watching this documentary I realised that Thomas Sutcliffe is trying to establish the two ways in which you can seduce your audience; either by going straight into a film or right from the beginning of the film to seduce your audience with instant arousal. In my opinion i believe as part of an audience i prefer a film to instantly catch my attention from the beginning and seduce me into the film so that i can keep watching.

The risk of starting a film with such energy and high expectations is that the expectations are hard to keep up. It has to live up to the rest of the film so there won't be any disappointment. By having an explosive first scene at the beginning the rest of the film may be a bore, however as part of the audience i think i'd be very anxious to see what will happen next, and what caused such an explosion at the beginning. At the same time you don't want th opening to give away too much, but you don't want to give too little.

Some classic film openings are long shots of a town, city or area. Buildings, receptionists, officies etc. This is effective because the mise en scene can be easily and quickly understood. Also, you have to establish your characters and introduce the important roles in the films so that the audience can get a clear understanding of the story line.

'A favourite trick of Film Noir' is a trick which has inspired many thriller films to date. The trick is, to show the end of the film at the beginning. In other words to show the outcome before how it actually happened, how it came about to occuring. This can be confusing however also very effective because it leaves the audience at the edge of their seats wanting to know more, and how the outcome came about, drawing them into the film.

The opening of the film 'Touch Of Evil' creates suspense with all the different high and low angle shots creating interest as well as tension, making you see everything from different points of veiw. The whole of the 4 minute scene is the longest ever scene known which was shot in only one take. (See below video.) This was done by tracking, which must've taken over a few weeks to master, and occured alot of plannning.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Jellybaby prelim anamatic.


Our jelly baby sequence was inspired by the famous shower scene in 'Psycho.' We had to follow the brief of "A character opens the door, walks into a room, sits down opposite another character and they share a few lines of dialogue." We extended this brief to link it with everything we have recently learnt e.g: intertextuality and creating suspense. Instead of using dialogue we added interesting sound effects and soundtrack using 'Soundtrack pro.' The music at the beginning makes the audience think everything is happy and going well, when the breathing comes in they soon get the sense of terror and danger which is backed up by the violin string sounds. We added a scream to emphasis the sense of thriller atmosphere. We will use this as development as next we will carry this plot out, but using real characters instead of jelly babies.

This shot was influenced by the shower head shot in Psycho. It creates tension and the premonsion of danger as the same thing happens in Psycho so the audience expects that something bad is going to happen.

This shot was also taken from the end of the shower scene in Psycho. However, we made it a long-shot to include the characters instead of just focusing on the plug hole as we thought this was more suited to the situation. In contrast to Psycho we made the killer known to the audience rather than than having the killer as just a shadow, as this was more relevant to the story.

We came across a few obstacles whilst filming this, for example: the shower scene had very limited lighting which we couldn't do much about, however we later realised we could have changed the filter in the camera to increase lighting. When we film with people next week, we will continue the theme of Psycho and pay more attention to the lighting and dialogue.

 Here is the 180 degree rule we had to follow in order for everything to look professional and fluid.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Soundtrack Pro- Introduction.

First I chose an orchestral string which draws the audience attention, then i put atmospheric beat which created the specific atmosphere. Then i put natural sound of air and hammer. Texture and abidance are next. Over the orchestral and atmospheric sound, there is also an acoustic double bass. I have arranged each of them to come one after another to create a feeling of suspense and raising emotion. 
On the right hand site there is a window where we can put the movie. It allows to watch and choose the soundtrack at the same time. 

Screen shot of the Soundtrack Pro
On the same lesson (24.01.2011) we have been introduced to other software called Soundtrack Pro. This program allows creating a soundtrack. It provides range of much different sound. We can choose them form menu. They are divided into several groups of hundred sound from orchestral, natural sounds from home/work, nature sounds, vocal sounds, like breathing, singing and talking, drums, violins and heavy beats, mysterious, guitar. They all help to create a particular sound. We can easily preview to sound by clicking on it once. If we are happy with it, we need to drag it into the big box in the middle of our screen. Then we can change the length of it by moving it forward or backward. We can also put as many as we want soundtrack to create a better expression which will help us to emphasize the importance of an action in the movie. On my sample soundtrack I was trying to create a music which will create a thriller and mysterious feeling. We can also change the volume of particular sound which will help to create a greater effect. 


On the last lesson ( 24.01.2011) we have been introduce to the new software called LiveType. It is a program to create a title using different fonts, special effects on the range of backgrounds and colours. There is 'million' of different option to choose so it is not hard to find something which will suit people's needs.
Here is an example of my final work. I had put my name as a title. It takes about 3 second to fully appear on the screen. Each letter comes separately, one by one. I also chose a similar in colour background of moving letters and number, which suit each other very effectively, creating a feeling of chaos.

 There is a menu where we can choose the look of our title. The options are divided into: Livefonts, fonts, textures, objects and effects. We can also change the text, style, timing and attributes of it. There is a small window about the option to preview it. 

When we are happy with it, we need to click on 'apply to new track'. Each of the choosing appears on the line time. We can manipulate for how long each elements is on the screen by dragging forward of backward particular track.

The title needs to fit into the green box mark on the preview sceen. Everything which goes beyond it, will be not see afterwards. The blue line, responses on the place of title. When can change it by dragging it down or up. 

LiveFont -A 'LiveFont' is one of the program's key features. These are fonts with animated characters. Examples of the LiveFonts shipped with LiveType are animated handwriting, smoke writing, fire, and blinking LED characters. It is also possible to create custom LiveFonts, but the necessity of generating a separate movie file for each letter makes the file sizes very large

Effects -various animation effects can be applied to type, either LiveFonts or normal system fonts. There are, for example, glows, scrolls, fades and zooms. The timing of the effects can be customized and new effects can be created from scratch using keyframing.

Templates -apart from text, there is a wide range of animated objects and textures that can be added to a sequence, and there are a number of templates - such as title themes. Any image or movie file can also be placed and edited on the canvas.