Umda – A technical breakdown

As a reference for the style of shooting for Sonder Melbourne, I have often referenced Umda – a music video by David Aufdembrinke. This has been one of my favourite films in the last year and has truly inspired me with it’s style. For my personal choice blog, I would like to do a technical breakdown of the film as it is invaluable to the research behind Sonder Melbourne.

Visual Filming – The film from was shot during a six week travel through India. It was shot using a Sony A7, and three old Nikon lenses and a single tripod. There were two main reasons for using this equipment – one that the old manual lenses made it look like a analogue photo camera and David wanted that because people react differently to a camera when they think you’re taking a photograph as compared to knowing when they are being filmed. The second reason was the low cost of the gear, which meant that a lot more risk could be taken with this equipment, which one would not do with a more expensive kit. This would be absolutely necessary in getting the type of shots for such films as one is more open to the ideas of how the camera can be moved to get a shot. For example, David tied the camera to a stick and stuck it outside a moving train to capture a video that way. Use of hyper lapse was very important in this film but due to the speed of the film, a lot more shots were required and to be on the safe side, he got 12,000 photos for hyperlapse. The footage itself was ten hours long, from which he was able to cut a 4 minute video.

Due to the kind of shots and pre-planning of what he would do in post production, stability of the camera and perfect framing was not of great importance. The effect of an old grainy VHS film with exaggerated and bleeding colours leaves an option of high zoom and re-framing option.

Nothing was staged for shots required, it was shot naturally, in a documentary format. Most of the shots were unplanned.

Post Production – Editing Style – The film is made with match cuts, which means that every shots ending has been matched graphically to the next shots beginning. The fast movements between shots has been inspired by Japanese cartoons for children, which is what gave me the younger age group insight. It is amazing how much more a child picks up as compared to an adult. The editing was done completely in Adobe Premier. The idea was to shift through shots before one could comprehend what had happened, hence just leaving a sense behind. He calls this style ADD-Editing. In an interview with Dezeen Magazine, David explained that he was inspired by the disregard of pixel resolutions he witnessed in Indian videos, and so just used every effect in the editing suite, which is why could scale images to 600 percent to match them to lead in and out.

The hyper lapses have been stabilized to look like a fast, fancy video takes. The clips were linked into After effects to create some of the effects.

Colour Grading – The colour grading is the most interesting part of the film for me as a VHS tape was used to colour grade with the use of two different strength magnets to pull the colour and make it bleed. The final effect could not have been guessed before, but was a pure experiment. The video was recorded on two different tapes, one with the magnets and one with cuts. It was testing and then do again to get different affects. I would like to try this myself in my video but have not made a decision on it yet. Though exciting, I do not have the means as yet.

Audio – For me the audio was amazing as it added to the film itself, gave the perfect beats for the perfect visuals. But, that was all it was. Finding out that the film had been made as a music video was very disappointing as the music itself is lost in the beauty of the film and is not but a mere enhancer. A powerful one, but not a standalone. One you’re not really listening to. It was a remix of six songs by varied artists.

So, in conclusion to this research, I do think I would get a completely different outcome as it is all an experiment, but I love the idea of using a camera like Sony A7 and three old lenses just because I loved the reasoning for it. Before this research I had been ideally thinking of using a 70mm lense and was very sad that the uni does not lend them out, but I have my answers now. With colour correction, I plan on using Premier and After effects as well but no VHS, as much as I want to. I will save that for a later project. For the audio, I want to use whispered thoughts, music as an enhancer and sounds from the city, make it three level.

Pine Point

http://pinepoint.nfb.ca/#/pinepoint

Story elements:

Events – Pine Point is the story of a town. A town that no longer exists and was wiped off the face of the earth. It now only lives through the memories of the people that once belonged there. The story is told through their memories, through the photos, through the news events that took place there. The web documentary takes us through what the town stood for, what it meant to people, the kind of people that existed there and what lead to it’s final closure. It is a look into the town history, the people, the present of those people, the crash of Cosmos 954, the work available in town, the souvenirs which include the photos and videos, the weirdness of how the closure of town was went about and finally what remains today and how people pay their memories a visit every now and then.

Actors – The characters here are a few of the people who were the last to grow up in the town of Pine Point before it shut down. They include the beauty of town, the muscle, the brothers etc. The narrator is someone who did not belong to the town but is a link between everyone now in the present.

Time – The events start in the past when the town existed and run into the present showing the viewer what remains now.

Place – The town of Pine Point. In Pine Point school, hotel, ice ring, etc.

Narrative elements:

Ordering – The events occur in a chronological fashion mostly as we go from what the town was to what remains. Flash backs are shown through the memories and left over footage collected over time in the town.

Pace – The documentary covers various years in about 40 minutes give or take. It touches on the main and most important events and hence, I would say is fast paced.

Focalization – The point of view is through the eyes of an undefined character who might have belonged to the town.

Narrator – The narrator is representing the people of the town. He sounds like an insider but is an outside. He is very reliable as everything he says, through copy only, is backed with images, drawings by people from the town or consensus and research which is very apparent throughout the documentary. He creates an atmosphere of belonging with his attitude of obviousness, which makes the audience more involved emotionally in my opinion.

Text – It is an interactive, graphic digital narrative project created as a website.

Traditional narrative features:

Linearity – The project is mostly linear recounting the way things happened as Pine Point came to it’s end. Every now and then, the narrator jumps into the present but goes back to where he left off.

Series of conflicts that leads to a climax and resolution – The lack of ore resources for mining creating lack of jobs, the crash of Cosmos 954, the burning of the high school and the increase in problems like alcoholism, marital break ups etc., leading to the choice of the government to close down the town.

Protagonist and antagonist – The protagonist here is the town itself – Pine Point. The antagonist is the government who close it down, sending letters to people containing consensus that they wouldn’t know existed, and making them move out.

Three-act structure – Act 1: An existence of a town, doing fine, with it’s ups and downs. Act 2: People leaving, conflicts, school burning, crashing Cosmos 954. Act 3: Closure of town and the memories and way of celebrating it today.

Heroes journey – The hero being the town, through the ins and outs of various life that existed there.

Digital narrative features:

Numerical coding and modularity – This webdoc has a lot of features like animation, graphics, sound, film, photography, scripting, coding and designing etc., which would require a pretty big team of people with collaborations between various professionals.

Variability – Though the webdoc is very interactive in nature and there is a lot every viewer can do and find out, the end result of the documentary is not variable and will be the same every time.

Programmed elements – Interactive maps, timelines, photos, animated characters, videos, animation of the town itself, etc.

Participatory aspects – It is very interactive and every slide has a lot of things that a reader or viewer can do. From clicking buttons to move stuff around or reveal what a drawing means or even explore a township to shuffling through photos and videos of the people of the town. It is participation to find out more over participation to leave your own thoughts behind.