Elective: Visual storytelling in film

We often resort to storytelling to understand our world and make sense of events that surround us -or happen to us. This elective course will explore the cinematic techniques used in film to communicate stories visually. During this course, we will watch and discuss movie clips in order to better understand the foundations of narrative, cinematic editing and montage theory.

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There will be two video projects in this course:

The first project: Filmic Space

This short video narrates a story in which spatial transformation plays an important role in translating psychological feelings of the protagonist visually. Think of the  seemingly bottomless rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland as she falls, the claustrophobic darkening labyrinths of the brain in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). Students will select a short story set in a dramatized place and enhance the narrative through spatial change or camera movements.

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The second project: Montage video

In this video project, we will explore the techniques of montage editing. Montage builds on visual clash of imagery and fast cutting to produce a strong impact on the viewer. Its use is common in movie openings, movie trailers and music videos. This montage will play on a certain emotional theme, for example: suspense, fear, despair, or hope – or perhaps taking us on an emotional rollercoaster ride of all of those. You will pick a soundtrack with strong narrative transformation to drive this emotional theme. This soundtrack must feature a strong sense of beat and rhythm.

Software: After Effects, Adobe Premiere

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examples of dramatized spaces in film 

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Some of the cinematic principles we will discuss

Continuity editing aims to mimick the way we perceive things. this sequence places us in the shoes of Marie Antoinette (2006) by alternating close-up shots of the viewed objects and her reaction to them.
Continuity editing  كيف يقلد تسلسل الصور طريقة إبصارنا للأشياء
Though moving images are often restricted to visuals and audio, we can refer to the sense of touch and smell by using close-up shots, as well as characters interactions/reactions to these objects, Screenshot from
اللقطة المقربة وتقريبها لعالم الشخصية وحواسها
Even without characters, the space can be read through the thoughtful arrangment of objects within a scene. These shots from
حتى دون شخصيات في الصورة، قد تحكي طريقة ترتيب الأشياء قصة عنا
The opening sequence of
استخدام جزء من شيء يرمز لفكرة أكبر Metonymy
Communicating a story through uncoventional points-of-view (POV), for example, a bug's point of view in
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  • Note: This course has been postponed and will no longer be offered in the 2nd term of 2015/2016.
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