7331-2 Reflecting on my Dance of Screen work

To be honest it is a little difficult for me to write a critique on my Dance on Screen work because I would really like to see the final product. When we watched the rushes the director, the choreographers and the editor were all happy with what they saw. It made me really glad to be honest but there are a few things that I am not sure about how they are going to work together. The editor said it was going to work so I guess I will see how well the shots that I was supposed to make matching actually matched together. I am very interested to see this!
I think my prep work included everything I needed for the day. I never saw the dance before the shoot but I had an idea because we did a camera and lighting test where the dancers impovised and I was following them with the camera. That test really helped and gave me confidence. I think that everything we did was thoroughly thought of prior the shooting day and even if I didn’t do a test with the rain machine, I was calm about it because we looked at a lot of possible problems and how we can fix them.

I must say that I am very grateful for my gaffer, lighting assistant and camera assistant! All of them helped a lot with lighting and setting up tracking shots as I couldn’t really do that. The lighting in the dark space was achieved the way I imagined and the lighting in the white space had even a better effect than I thought it would. On the day I played with the colour temperature so two spaces don’t look that contrasty.
Also, on the shooting day I saw all these gorgeous black objects that the art director brought. They looked amazing on screen and added a lot of emotion and helped the composition to be more powerful and effective.
On the day everything went much better than I expected it to. It really went very smooth considering that rain was very time consuming and it was the first time we’ve ever done it.
We lost a bit of time when one of our main lights went off and we had to change it. That is why we didn’t have as much time filming a drowning scene and it was a very big change for us. Next time I would make sure that one of the assistants go to the next location to start setting up while we figure out what the problem is with the light. I think it would save us some time.
The drowning scene was the hardest one for me because it had a lot of camera movement/placement restrictions. Next time I would definitely talk to the art director and ask them to make it even a day before the shoot so I could just come in with the camera to have a look at the best possible camera position and to actually see the whole setup. Sometimes it was difficult trying to imagine all these things in pre production process.

When I saw the rushes I felt like I definitely gave all I had to this project and there was my result. It is always an amazing feeling for me really, when I don’t have any energy regretting anything I realize that I put everything I had into what I did. I think I could definitely do the close up shots better because when I was viewing the rushes I could see by my movements that I was getting tired. Maybe next time I would talk to the production manager and ask him/her to schedule some shots a little different.
I was pleasantly surprised the way the rain looked on screen! It was the best surprise for me on the day because I had no idea what it was going to look like. I couldn’t even imagine it in my head.
Another thing that I would do differently to get a better result is practice with a single rain drop touching the skin. We shot it in 50frames and it still didn’t look as good as I imagined. I think I should have experimented with the camera angle and with the place where the drop falls. I think that maybe I should have used a longer lens as well. This is something I definitely need to look into for the future.

Overall I was happy with what I saw in the rushes room and I can’t wait to see the final! Then I will be able to honestly have a look at the work I did and see how it looked at the end because I am very interested to see if the audience understands that this is the same person (if they don’t, I didn’t communicate it through my camera work the way it was intended) and how two different spaces with different lighting will work together. Maybe I can add a bit of my work critique after I see it?
It was an amazing project to work on!! We had a chance to experiment with a lot of things and our team worked really well together communicating different ideas and trusting each other with what each of us specializes in.

7331-2 Visual references

lighting setup

the way the rain looks

lighting for the dark space (the light needs to come from an angle though)

and lighting for the white space but with a gradual change from light into dark

I like the fact that his neck is brighter than his face, this effect will work for the dark space.

And for the white space I’d add light of the left as well so it wouldn’t look as contrasty

shallow depth of field for close-ups has a beautiful effect especially for this dance piece. It looks good when hands are interacting with objects as well as when they are empty.

7331-2 Dance on Screen Camera&Lighting test (+ storyboard)

Because we are filming  in the studio, we decided to save a bit of time by setting up lights for both spaces at the same time. Each space just needs one main source light and the dark space needs one fill light so the shadow area won’t look too dark.

During our camera and lighting test we focused on lighting the dark space. What you can see in the picture above is only one light source but on the actual shooting day I am planning on using back light for the rain and some front fill in front.

For the white space we are just going to use one light source and create a vignette effect with that.

The lens choice will be 24mm, 35mm, 85mm, 105mm because I believe these lenses will give the perfect look and they will convey the chosen emotion though being wide on wide and long shots and though giving a shallow depth of field on the close-ups.

I will be operating the camera as well as focus pulling. Camera movement will be only on close-ups and will be influenced by the dancer’s movements. The key is to remember that the camera is motivated by the dance here, not the other way round. And this is the most beautiful thing about this project! I can’t be completely prepared and now what is going to happen when because I can’t see the dance before the shoot. All we have to do here is to get prepared for all the technical aspects.

I attached a story board that has picture from our camera&lighting test in it.

Storyboard

The only thing I am a little bit worried about is the final shot when the “internal” dancer is drowning. I can’t see the pool before the shoot, I can’t have a camera test there. The space is quite small in there but we will be able to duplicate the lighting in there. Hope it goes well!

7331-2 Dance on Screen Tests. The rain machine

Unfortunately we weren’t able to test the rain machine in the studio to see how it would actually look. But our art director Natasha showed us the main principal of how it was going to work. I made a short video and posted it on Vimeo of how it works so if you’re interested to see here’s the link https://vimeo.com/40789204 and the password is danceshoot5

7331-2 Dance on Screen Tests. The platform.

Getting more specific:

THE PLATFORM

the original plan was to film the way you see it in the drawing, however during camera and lighting test we decided that the best choice would be filming along the longer side.

7331-2 The beginning of Dance on Screen 3

3. Cinematography plan

The thing that I really need to think about is how to make tho different girls in two different spaces look like they are the same person. The lighting is different for them as well so we decided to have a few “transition shots” in the beginning to establish that idea and then at the and as a reminder and also because everything is starting all over again.
The plan is that the “exterior” dancer will be sitting in an empty, white space next to the wall and interact with the objects in that established space. The whole dance will be divided into 3 parts: 1- interacting with a few objects, 2- interacting with a lot of objects, 3- interacting with the first object.
I am looking at doing wide shot, long shot, interacting with the objects close-up and a tracking shot which is also our transition shot. There will be three of each for every part of the dance. Tracking shot will be starting wide and coming into a mid close up on the dancer. I will need to be very careful with this shot and always remember to measure the distance between the camera and the dancer, camera height, lens choice and tracking pace as the shots have to be matching with the “interior” dancer.
I would like to create a vignette with lighting so the brightest area will be on the dancer and then the colours gradually get darker towards the edges of the frame. I think this choice would be the best considering the director wants to make this space white (we agreed that cutting between white and black will be too contrasty so vignette is a good decision I think).

The director wants to have rain in this project because it will add an overwhelming feel to it and the audience will be able to stronger connect to the interior dancer by seeing the struggle. The rain symbolises all the objects.
The “interior” dancer will be sitting on a raised platform with the sand (because it is the best setup for the rain machine and the sand will add texture to the piece). This part is divided into 3 parts by the same principal: no rain-> one drop on her hand, a lot of rain, drowning. Wide shot, long shot, close ups and tracking shots.
The lighting will be dark in this space. I intend on using only one lighting coming from top right corner making like a pool of lighting. One side of the dancer’s face will be quite bright and the other will be in shadow. This lighting will shape the dancer’s body nicely and the texture of the sand will be highlighted symbolizing the rough texture of her emotions.

7331-2 The beginning of Dance on Screen 2

2. About the emotional theme and the visual environment the director (Arthur) wants to create. Taken from the document he sent me where he talks about his vision of it.

Emotion.
” This emotion is the sensation of being overwhelmed or suffocated. Through studying a particular poem (Janet Frame, see previous post) these emotions were interpreted. Importantly, what this poem suggests is the idea of an endless cycle of suffocation and consciously embracing it, implying self-infliction. ”

Visual environment.
” The strong visual emphasis on light and dark also confronts the notion of our characters continuous struggle, as overwhelming darkness constantly tries to suffocate the light.
I feel that the absence of bright, penetrating and distracting colours will give rise to a more gentle, calm and contemplative feel in the image. By going this we hope to articulate the medium of dance and body but also support it’s intent through the medium of cinema. ”

Most of my creative decisions from cinematography point of view were based on everything he said on emotion and visual environment. The overwhelming emotion is very open to interpretation because a person can be overwhelmed by the emptiness as well as by too much going on. That is why it was very important for me to hear what he said about the visual style of interpreting this emotion.
Visual environment from the cinematography point of view is based on traditional chiaroscuro because Arthur would like to see this game between light and shade and how it supports the chosen emotion as well as how it emphasizes the dance and the body. He wants to create a powerful composition through the use of lighting but it is very important for him to keep the focus on the dance. Everything we do on this project goes like that: dance influences the camera movement and choice of lighting. Camera and lighting are the supporting elements of dance and that is one of the main reasons why I love this project so much-> everything we do has to have a reason to be there, we aren’t just making it ‘look cool’.

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