Archive for the 260MC 5 Post Submission Category

Montage of Beautiful Things. Evaluation and Reflection

Posted in 260MC 5 Post Submission on March 24, 2011 by Mick Le Mare

My eventual montage which can be seen on disc as part of my hand in. I shall have to wait a week before uploading because I am at my content limit.

My final montage, which takes the best bits from most of my work and puts them together into a showreel for the module, has eventually been put together. We have been working for ten weeks towards it and unfortunately I am not totally happy with it. It is inevitable that work such as this one will never be happy with because each piece had to be created so quickly. Some I am happy with, some I have managed to take parts from which I like and some I have had to drop from the montage.

If more time had been available to complete each section I feel I would have ended up with a better montage. A week with no other distractions is enough time but with the amount of other projects and University work I have been involved in has meant that it suffered slightly. However like I have said I am still happy with plenty of it. If you see my post referring to A Hanging under process and development you will see I went fairly quickly from idea to execution but I feel that it was a good idea and this is where I struggled on other weeks. A good idea continues to inspire and once I had had the idea I began to think of ways to achieve it and this is why I ended up with a decent piece.

In another way there are certain pieces that were a good idea but because I was inexperienced with the particular medium there was too little time to perfect it. There is a short section in the montage of a time-lapse taken on a starry night and I really like it but there are issues with it that I would like to improve on and address in the future. You will notice that a light flicks on during it and this ruins the very end slightly and I was so intent on the technique and technicality in what I was doing the framing of the shot is of no particular merit. Isolating these problems has helped me subsequently to produce some time lapse work that I am beginning to be happy with. I am fascinated by shutter speed, especially when shooting at night and this process has dramatically improved my proficiency and understanding of this.

Another piece which excellently illustrates a good idea that had to be slightly rushed is Four Stories High which is the four way split screen that can be seen here

4 Stories High from Richard Neal on Vimeo.

Now whilst I can’t claim this to have been my idea I was part of the group that shot it and I love the way it is edited. This is really something that can be taken and run with – it is the sort of piece that becomes very popular online and would even work in advertising or on inner city big screens. We in fact would like to re shoot and improve technically to submit to the BBC big screen in Coventry for it hopefully to be screened. This is something I have really liked about the module as a whole and that is that it has brought forward plenty of ideas that can be further developed, it stimulates discussion and this in turn creates interesting ideas that can be adapted, re done and made into longer more technically proficient pieces.

My still images of a man made waterfall taken with a really fast shutter speed I think are really nice. I am not sure they fit perfectly into the montage however because personally I do not like still images juxtaposed with moving. It works in factual film making but in a purely artistic sense this is not something I would normally like to see. However because I like them they have appeared. Having recently bought a new camera I am surprised at how much I have enjoyed taking stills because previously my motivation lay with moving image. Of course my time-lapse work is still imagery but works on a different level because of the frame rate. Digital photography is such an amazing tool when wanting to achieve results such as I did with the photos of the waterfall because endless experimenting can be carried out without great expense or time. Because I could play around with the settings and instantly see where and when I was going wrong I was able to improve it the following photo.

My piece responding to the word ‘wall’ drew some interesting comments and it was interesting debating where it could be improved or changed slightly to get my message across. I was trying to convey the claustrophobia that comes with the ever growing amount of walls that are in our lives and especially our cities. I open with a shot of an urban area enclosed totally with walls as my long slow shot pans round the surrounding area an argument is heard from within the walls (I layered the argument in having used an argument that happens in Fish Tank) eventually the camera swings down to a shot of the words ‘Life is Beautiful’ and the music comes up and we finish with a bright flash. Now one of my tutors commented that he preferred it without the music and I tried it without but personally I think the change from the sound of the argument is needed. Overall I was pleased because it instigated debate and it was a first experiment with a more abstract way of approaching the issue.

Life is Beautiful from Mick Le Mare on Vimeo.

The final montage itself has been difficult. Naturally one is likely to have a range of videos so it is hard to string them together in a piece that works. I hope that I have done a good job – pacing was the hardest part because I am, as I have said previously, very keen on the continuous slow moving camera shot and this unfortunately none of these lend themselves to a slightly faster cut particularly well. This is why I cut the montage to Elbow’s ‘One Day Like This’ because whilst uplifting it winds it’s way slowly through and that lends itself to some of the longer shots like the fairly long hold of the tight shot from the end of A Hanging. I hope that the montage and my videos make for interesting and stimulating watching, I enjoyed the process.

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Montage of Beautiful Things. Analysis.

Posted in 260MC 5 Post Submission on March 21, 2011 by Mick Le Mare

Jack Goldstein is one of the most influential figures in film art and analysing his work has been particularly beneficial to me during the process of this montage of beautiful things project. It has taught me about the place that video art has in the wider art world and it has also inspired and developed my understanding of creating moving image and how best to display it.

Goldstein worked from the early seventies through until the early nineties. When his work first began to get known he was regarded as one of the pioneers of his genre and this is why it is important that students such as myself study his work. Here I will show you his most famous piece – The Jump

I hasten to add that youtube is NOT the place to watch this or any of his other work but this gives you a flavour. The brightness of the dots in this video rather smudges the image but this is not representative of the video being properly projected.

The piece stood out to me when I saw his recent exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary and the reason for this is the smoothness of the movement created even when being projected through a 16mm projector. I love the simplicity of this visually because it is clear that to produce such a piece is technically very complicated with the limited resources available compared to extraordinarey capabilities todays video eqiupment has. I watched extrememly closely the tape running through the projector and you will notice that at the end there are some letters flashing very quickly across the screen, this is actually text written as a sentence straight down the length of the film itself, when played properly it is far more effective than the digitised version you see before you here. I found the experience of watching art displayed in this way was particularly beneficial to me in understanding the context with which my work is going to be working under. This was art, it documented nothing, it informed of nothing and had no narrative. Goldstein was one of the first to create pieces such as this and it is now a well established genre. I love the idea that more experimental work is being widely excepted and understanding this and analysing the way in which it is taken by the art world helps me to make pieces that are more informed.

Displaying work is another area I have become interested in as part of this process. I have learnt that if my work is being made to look the best it possibly can, which in this instance it is because our brief is very clear on the montage that our pieces must have some form of beauty to them, that it must be shown in a way that best displays its quality. Goldstein’s films were all projected in one high ceilinged, darkened room and this created an amazing atmosphere to watch film. The characteristic hum of reel to reel projectors and the beams of light they were emitting were beautiful in themselves quite apart from the images produced.

Of course nowadays an awful lot of video art is shot digitally and although I fully intend to experiment with some 8mm film in the very near future all of the work I have done for this module is digital. We have occasionally been watching work done for this module through digital projectors displaying web pages with the work embedded and this unfortunately is not the best way to view it. Through a very good projector it would be ok but through a projector where everything looks a bit soft and colour is lost it is a shame. I will always contest to make sure anything showed that is mine is shown off in it’s best light and I am totally sure any artist would be of similar mind.

Another artist I have found it particularly interesting to analyse has been Bill Viola, his work is extremely famous and was also a pioneer of the experimental narrative. Here are a couple of his videos.

The first video of these two epitomises his work. Although with our sophisticated editing systems and magical cameras this would now be fairly easy to re-create, at the time it was like nothing anyone had ever seen and I think this has helped me understand that when contextualising your work it is important that if you see it’s place in the art world it must not only be beautiful but original and something people haven’t seen before. It is then you begin to make an impact

An ocean without a shore is a particularly beautiful piece and although created recently still retains that particular grain so recognisable of film based work as opposed to digital. I cannot wait to begin to use film because I have learnt an awful lot about the place it has in the world of moving image.

Montage of Beautiful Things. Process and Development

Posted in 260MC 5 Post Submission on March 16, 2011 by Mick Le Mare

A hanging from Mick Le Mare on Vimeo.

Time. Time is such an open brief. I wanted to do something different to the work I had previously been doing which was a little more experimental. I knew that I wanted to shoot a short naturalistic film with a voiceover from a novel or a poem so I began to research.

The process of research was fun because I began to think about books or poems I had read and famous monologues I knew of. I also spoke to my family about text that said something to them about the passing of time and before long one began to stand out that I had read years ago and they were all fond of. Here is a link to George Orwell’s ‘A Hanging’ – it is only short and a beautiful read.

A Hanging

The thing that stood out to me when thinking about time was that this was a perfect illustration of it’s passing. Is there any other occasion when one is as acutely aware of time and it’s passage than the moments before a certain death. My absolute favourite section from the story is when the prisoner is described passing a puddle:

When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive.

The subtlety with which the point is put across that one remains totally human until they are no longer is so moving and this lends itself fantastically to powerful voiceover.

Now of course whilst this story is short it is vitally important that short videos such as the one I intended do not go on too long so I had to choose my section. I decided that around three minutes was the optimum length to retain interest in the monologue. My intention from the start was to shoot the piece as one long take. I had recently been watching some Orson Wells work especially Citizen Kane and I am a huge fan of his long slow one take shots. I am so bored of seeing fast cuts, sharp jerky edits and over complicated transitions that it was important to me to be different in this way.

Here is Orson Wells’ opening to a Touch of Evil where you can see the amazingly powerful use of a single shot.

Luckily my brother is training to be an actor so I asked him if he wouldn’t mind being my actor which he did not. I recorded his voice over prior to shooting the piece because I wanted him to be able to listen to it as he acted, because he will be saying this to himself internally it is important that he can hear exactly what he is supposed to be thinking. Once that was recorded and exported I set my scene. There are mentions of cigerettes in Orwell’s piece so I wanted there him to be smoking as he contemplated and this would also give further visual interest during the film. I always intended for the final cut to be in black and white so it was vitally important that I had my lighting right as I didn’t want to lose detail on his face. I am very pleased with the eventual lighting situation as his eyes, the main focus of the final minute or so of the shot, are highlighted beautifully.

If I was to shoot again I would almost certainly change the light that I used, it looked a little modern, but other than that I am happy with the set. It was simple and effective for this.

I shot A Hanging on a JVC700 which at the time I was fairly inexperienced in using but having spent a day getting to grips with it I was fairly comfortable to use most of its basic features to create the piece. Each of my takes, of which there were three, worked in different ways. I had three quite different performances from my brother but because of my eagerness to have my edit as one shot it was I had to choose one. The reason I chose the one I did was because I really like the ending with a tear forming in the left eye. The focus begins very soft as the close up of the face occurs but gradually sharpens towards the end and this works rather nicely I feel.

The reason I have written about this piece with regards to my development is because I really feel that from researching it to publishing it I learnt an awful lot. My grasp of using a professional camera was greatly improved, my experimentation with pace and timing proved successful, my skills of direction working with my actor in relation to the camera were honed(this is a skill I am very keen to work on due to my interest in Directing and has since proved helpful working on my short film Over The Hill) and I enjoyed experimenting with close ups and looser shots within one scene.

A couple of pointers for me to improve on would be using a tripod slightly more effectively, there is the occasional jerk which is due to my usage of the tripod and there is also a couple of zooms and focus pulls I am not totally happy with. This however is totally part of the learning curve and I wrote myself notes of what to work on and therefore improve next time I attempt something similar.

Montage of Beautiful Things. Research

Posted in 260MC 5 Post Submission on March 11, 2011 by Mick Le Mare

Light was the most open word we were given. Light is obviously an absolutely fundamental part of lens based art and affects every single piece of art ever made. My research into this word was so enjoyable because of the fantastic artists I researched and the stunning works they have produced. Of course I could have chosen any artist and in some way related their work to light but I decided to investigate specifically pieces that had a less abstract approach and very much had a source of light for their basis as a piece.

One of my favourite pieces which I saw at the Tate a few years ago is The Weather Project by Olafur Eliasson.

Obviously you can see in this photo that it was a spectacular event of which there have been so many in the Turbine. Eliasson used mono-frequency lamps to recreate the sun. What is fascinating about his use of light here is that his conscious decision to use mono-frequency means that he changes the the colour of everyone and everything that surrounds it. Rather like streetlights mono-frequency bulbs produce such a narrow frequency that only black and yellow are really visible beneath it and I love the idea that the audience are becoming part of the art. Eliasson also used a mirror on the ceiling thus using his available light to create another effect and also sprayed a fine mist across the room for the light to catch. This multi usage is fascinating and researching into Eliasson’s work has made me realise that utilising all available light in the most imaginative way possible can make for extraordinary creations.

Now seems an appropriate time to show you my light work:

I did not edit this, only shot it.

Juggling from Mick Le Mare on Vimeo.

You can see how beautiful the light was on the day I shot this, the purest of sunlight shining almost directly at my wall. The reason I chose to use the balls that I am juggling with was because the sunlight brought out their vibrancy to great affect and in contrast to my fairly cold plain colours I think they look fantastic. Unfortunately I am a little over -exposed but it was so key to have the red brick of the wall correctly exposed because the light hitting it looked extraordinary. I adore the colour that has been brought out and I stress that whilst the footage has been heavily edited there has been no colour correction or fiddling about with contrast, this is exactly how it looked at the time. I think, whilst totally different in terms of size and medium, Eliasson’s Weather Project has influenced me in that it utilises all available light and this is what I have attempted here.

Another Exhibition I saw a few years ago at the serpentine immediately sprang to mind when I began thinking about light. Anthony Mccall is an amazing light sculptor installing fantastic interactive exhibitions. His main body of work, and that of the exhibition I saw, consists of sheets of light projected onto various surfaces. These beautiful ethereal shapes are so delicate but almost look as if they have a physicality about them, as if you can reach out and touch them.

You can see from the photos above the way people have interacted with the light. This form of art is of great inspiration to a videographer because of the movement involved. Although of course you can’t see this in the picture lots of Mccall’s beams of light are moving slightly, some are moving dramatically and some stay totally still. The dust in the room hitting the light would make such a beautiful video – it is a shame I couldn’t get get access to his work when deliberating how to approach light.

On a technical level I have been researching into controlling light when using cameras. I shot A Hanging on a JVC700 which responded fairly well to the lower light but since then I have become fascinated with moving image shot on DSLRs. The juggling piece is shot on my 60D, of course I had fantastic amounts of light to play with here and the camera responds fantastically to this but I have also been attempting to shoot some stuff in lower light and this has proved more tricky. Having done research on Vimeo Video school, which is a great place to find clearly given advice on many aspects of video production, I have uncovered some of my issues. If you use an ISO which is a multiple of 125 when shooting in low light you are likely to have far more noise than you would using non multiples. I have been testing this out and it is extraordinary the difference that it has made to a couple of tests I did. This research has proved invaluable because shooting in low light is notoriously tricky on DSLRs so any improvements that can be made are warmly received.

Shooting Video with a DSLR from Vimeo Staff on Vimeo.

Three brilliant adverts. ‘Other’ blog submission 260MC

Posted in 260MC, 260MC 5 Post Submission on October 31, 2010 by Mick Le Mare

Honda Accord (circa 2004)

This is my favourite advert of all time. Honda are well known for extraordinary ad campaigns and this is probably their most famous. It really was filmed in one take and this only adds to the magic.

If we are to pull it apart a little and try to understand why Honda made this particular advert in this particular way we begin to realise just how clever it is. Connotation is so important in advertising, an ad campaign is always trying to alter and fine tune the connotations their brand has. Here they are trying to engineer the thoughts people associate with their cars. The only line of dialogue is ‘Isn’t it great when things just work’ which of course fits perfectly with the denotation of the advert which is a beautifully designed piece of performance art that works so perfectly it at points defies belief. The denotation of the ad helps to fuel the connotations of great design and reliability. The signifier is the physicality of the advert, literally the pieces moving together to finish the sequence meaning that the signified (the concept the signifier refers to) is Honda’s flawless design and attention to detail, which is exactly what they want the customer to think.

Guinness (circa 1998)

Guinness have made quite a few of the highest regarded adverts of all time, this was the first advert I really remember. It was my Gran’s favourite of all time, I remember her taping it especially so I could see it one Christmas.

The Guinness tagline is – of course- ‘Good things come to those who wait’ and all their adverts are based around this concept. This is the signified in every advertisement they make, it is always the same, the referent again is always the same, a pint of Guinness. Because Guinness have such a clear strategy, always signifying that good things come to those who wait and always using the same referent, they can start to create an ideology and craft the connotations people have of their product.

They wish to place their beer at the very top of the marketplace and everything about their advert eludes to it’s superiority. Once they have established the concept and the public understand the advertisments they are left with the freedom to create short films that are based around the theme of waiting which really gives them so much space to work. This really appeals to the semiotic theory of myth, the myth created is that good things come to those who wait, rather like Stella Artios’ ‘Reassuringly Expensive’ tagline. Once these phrases are associated with the products the myth is created, the reason you have to pay more for stella is due to quality or the reason you wait longer at the bar for a Guinness is because you are being served a superior drink.

This particular advert in their series is my favourite because of how beautifully it’s made, all of their adverts are equally clever, utilising their artificially created myth.

Cinzano (circa 1985)

Leonard Rossiter is top-to-toe funny, Rising Damp is one of my favourite sitcoms and he essentially playing Rigsby in the Cinzano advert. This advert is very different to the other two, Cinzano are very simply using Joan Collins’ and Rossiter’s skill as comedians to promote their drink. A very simple sketch such as this, achieved in twenty seconds, making people laugh and associating that feeling with Cinzano. Cinzano will forever be associated with this ad campaign. It has defined their brand.

The advert could be seen as indexical because it is a casual relation to what Cinzano stands for, good natured fun taking place within the context of a situation which was, at the time, almost exclusively for the middle to upper classes – air flight. They wish to advertise that their drink is of quality but should be associated with fun and frivolity, this shows its indexical nature.

And I have to put this Guinness one in, it’s just so brilliant and charming –