Before talking about further details of my second macro short film, take a 5 minute break, sit back and watch it. It was over 1 year of work and much more challenging than my first project, I hope you enjoy it. Use your headphones for the full experience or pump up the volume on your sound system!
SINGULARITY is a good example for the production process you have to go through when aiming for expressive organic visuals. I learned a lot during the making of STREAM and my second project took (more or less) the same way. It was an extensive series of experiments with lights, fluids, powders and surfaces. I always want to create images with the “never-seen-before-effect” and a high narrative potential. And I found out quickly that up to 99% of my footage is wastage. It’s nice, it’s sharp, it’s beautiful – but it won’t create meaning to my story. Even though I try to narrate in an abstract way, the rules of visual storytelling mustn’t be broken, for example in relation to continuity. Sometimes it is just a tiny shift in your color profile that makes a sequence break into it’s individual parts or a cut which is a little to harsh. And it’s much simpler to establish a visual illusion with an associative power than to maintain it. Take a small crystal ball and cover it with blue ink and many people might think of a planet. Pretty simple, right? But what makes your viewer keep this thought, this imagination from the first clip of your film to the last one? How do you make your audience believe what they see if your visual illusion is so fragile? If one identifies just one single drop of ink or a tiny fluff as what it really is, your story completely breaks. There is the rub. And just as a side note: sound is at least as important as video. It is the only way to bring your pictures to life and to provide them with plasticity and dimension.
It’s a thin line between a big filmic vision and an insignificant montage of clips and I hope I am on the right side this time.
I cannot reveal all my techniques in this post and it would be way too much work to review the whole post production process, but let me take you through a few stills to get an idea of the recording sessions. All pictures are taken from 4k video clips and are unprocessed, no correction and no grading.
Phase 1: The first trials on a flat surface with new inks and fluids. No plan so far, just getting an impression of where thy way might go.
A nice collection and the first interesting patterns. Some reactions happen very fast, other rather slow (which makes it hard to judge them while recording). I like the appearance of some cloudy structures, but I want to get a better definition of forms and a cleaner image. It also lacks dimension.
Phase 2: Trying to get a stronger and cleaner image for skies and clouds.
The second image on the right shows the potential of this dye and and I decide not to mess around with different colors. If I need a specific hue I have to mix the colors prior to the reaction. Again, for more depth it might be necessary to use a thicker slick so that the ink can sink in deeper.
Phase 3: Next attempt to the sky elements with much more base liquid and a different focal length for a wider angle of view:
A cloud scenery with a blue ink formation on top. Establishing a foreground on a second glass plate works best an I am pretty happy with the result although the background layer seems a little more flat. But the bubbling substances are a strong allegory for the emergence of atmosphere and a simple animation in Premiere will raise this image further. Done.
Phase 1: First test on a rounded surface to create a planet and to make the fluids flow downwards.
The result already looks promising but for a perfect rounding I need a crystal ball instead of an ordinary wine glass.
Phase 2: Testing a crystal ball…
The scene seems to work out with thick liquids only and I need a better background. Again, I have a lot of problems with the reflections in the glass.
Phase 3: Improved setup with additional lighting and background, different ink mixtures and acrylic.
The additional light sources work out well but my ink is flaky and acrylic is just a mess. Notice the reflections of my gloves in the picture on the right. No way!
Phase 4: Back to the roots: less color, less ingredients, longer focal length and longer syringe to avoid strong reflections.
The “less is more approach” works perfectly this time, especially the blue scene gets my highest rating: EPIC :-). Done.
So far for this post. In my next article I will talk in detail about my color correction and grading process in Premiere CC.
I appreciate your feedback and questions.
Thanks for stopping by!