Dan Hume's Blog


iPhone Photography
March 30, 2012, 2:43 pm
Filed under: Extended Major Project

With my video almost complete, I’ve had to start thinking about the extras I’m going to produce for it such as some photography to go with the theme of the documentary. The end product of this project will be a documentary delivered in the format of a digital publication. As I’ve mentioned before I’m attempting this approach because it’s a relatively new format that will allow me to do a little bit more than just produce a video. I’m hoping to inject some form of interactivity for this user to engage with rather than just a watch a video only.

The photography aspect of the documentary will exemplify the idea of isolation but through a different medium. I’ve already looked at a few photographers for inspiration about how I’m going to approach this. I want to keep it in with the style of discreet filming as I feel i’m starting to develop a particular auteur style of filmmaking.

When I’m in a confined crowded environment I resort to filming at waist level with the phone in my hand resting on my pocket. This allows me to film whatever I want without being deterred. The image below is a random photograph I took from waist level. There are times when I can just film normally, but in a more restricted environment this new technique breaks many of the barriers.

I’ve already done research on the American photographer Duane Michals. His work makes innovative use of photo-sequences, often incorporating text to examine emotion and philosophy. I like the way you get to see how people interact with each other by showing a series of photographs, like in the images below. This is a typical photographic sequence created by Michals himself showing two men talking in a cafe. 

I really like Michals approach to his work and I feel it would work well for my project because it captures a small narrative than just a singular moment. I decided to try this out to see how well it could work.

I did two sequences both at a tube station in London because it has a clear structure for a sequence. People arriving to the platform, then waiting around, then the train arriving.

Sequence One

  

  

  

  

Sequence 2

  

  

  

  

I was thinking this could be viewed as a slideshow gallery on the iPad.

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Some More Video Inspiration
March 30, 2012, 1:04 am
Filed under: Extended Major Project, Video

As I’m nearing the completion of my video, I still like to see what other people have shot on their iPhone and see if I can in anyway improve what I’ve got. When you edit a video, you’re constantly going over it and eventually you become a bit bored of what shot so I do like to make some radical changes last minute if I’m inspired by something I’ve seen.

Bus’s People

Here’s a new video that’s been uploaded to the iPhone cinema group on Vimeo. I think this has been shot in the way I’ve been shooting as the general public aren’t aware that they’re being filmed. Also the shots are quite low, which also hints this was shot in discretion. It’s interesting that person who made this, decided to substitute instrumental music with the ambient sounds of birds in an outdoor environment. It’s creates a unique juxtaposition.

Filmed by iPhone 4s. In Tampa Bay, Fl.

New York 2012

Again this is another recent video uploaded onto Vimeo. This was shot using both the Canon 5D Mark II and the iPhone 4S. I think the majority of it was shot on the Canon 5D, but their are some shot towards the end, which I’m sure were shot on the iPhone.



Where I’m currently at!
March 20, 2012, 12:06 am
Filed under: Extended Major Project

This is where I’m currently at with my documentary.

The beginning and end are blank as I’m still needing to shoot the appropriate shots for those bits. The beginning will consist of the static shots along South Bank and possibly some of the more commercial areas of London early in the morning. I need it to be shot early to allow me to capture that volatile moment of emptiness.

The video starts with a shot of a lonely pigeon. Within the shot there is some text, which is meant to explain my idea of how I feel the way a crowded place like london has changed with the integration of new technology.

Technology is meant to be innovative in bringing people together.

But when you go out onto the streets…

… people appear withdrawn from each other.

This scene then cuts to a shot of a 3D version of the title of the documentary, isolation, which has been composited into a quiet road. I saw a tutorial on this blog site called, Greyscale Gorilla, where I was shown how to create and composite 3D text using Cinema 4D and After Effects. I was drawn to this tutorial because this new innovate feature called, Global Illumination. It allows you to light a 3D object more realistically using the pixel data in the video you want to composite into. I’ve tried this with great success and I feel a great sense of achievement because I remember that I really wanted to master basic compositing in the first year. However, during the pre-crit session and from Tony Chance, the reaction to this shot was a bit disappointing as they felt it just didn’t fit in with the whole video. So between now and the final deadline, I am aim to remove that shot and replace it with something different AND without the 3D text.

The documentary properly kicks in with a slightly more upbeat version of the song. I decided to shoot using the 8mm app as it creates a very authentic look to shots. The style of the music has a subtle vinyl scratching sound to it, which reminds me of old films, so I thought it would work quite well.

All the shots are from my perspective whilst I was sat on the train to London. I was in the middle of writing up a synopsis of the idea of technology making people appear isolated. As I was doing that, I noticed a couple of people around me who were engaged with their mobile phones. I decided to film them as part of my project.

Things to do:

  • Shoot Beginning Shots
  • Shoot more close-up shots
  • Re-shoot a few time-lapse videos


3D Title
March 19, 2012, 2:38 pm
Filed under: 3D, After Effects, Cinema 4D, Extended Major Project

After trying out the tutorial by greyscale gorilla, which consisted of creating 3D text and compositing it into a short scene.

CINEMA 4D 

Following on from my test of creating the Vimeo logo in 3d then compositing it into a live scene, I really wanted to use this technique in the opening of my documentary. I chose a simple font so that it would be clear to read in 3D. Haraba is my chosen font for the title.

First off I went into Cinema 4D and created the basic outline of my text under the menu, Mograph and then selecting Mograph text. I was able to type what I wanted and select my font type all within Mograph text. The first two screenshots show how the text looked in the 3D environment of the C4D and a rendered view.

 

I then started adjusting the colour of the text, but since then, I’ve changed it to a creamy white colour instead. To make the text look a bit more dynamic I applied a bevel around the edge of the tex.

 

I was eager to stat preparing the text for compositing. The next step was for me to select my chosen clip. I opened up After Effects and created a new composition and dragged my chosen clip onto it. I then exported one frame from my clip as a PSD file. This would act as guideline for posting the text in the scene and also lighting the text.

I used the grid and created a 3D camera to help make sure my perspective was right for positioning the 3D object in the environment. This is quite a crucial process as it needs to be as perfect as possible for the object to look really believable with the scene. I wanted to position the text on the ground of the street, so I had to make sure it was firmly sitting onto of the grid for it to work.

 

Global illumination was the next step for preparing the 3d object for compositing. Global Illumination is a relatively new feature to cinema 4d in which you are now able to light a scene using the pixel data from a still frame image (All the light from an image is projected onto the 3D object).

I created a sky object and added the background image to sky object, which then maps the entire image around the 3D object. I went to select global illumination, and selected Sky Sampler. This then tells cinema 4d to take all the pixel data from the image and use it to light the object. This is not 100% perfect lighting, however for what I’m trying to create, it does the job well. Once that’s was done, I then had to hide the sky object, without turning it off. To do this I went to compositing tags and then deselected the scene by camera option, which then takes you back to the normal view.

 

Once I hit render again, it clearly started looking more like it was in the scene. However, it still looked a bit dark and not really reflecting the light in scene as good as it should be. To fix this, I went back to the global illumination settings and played around with the gamma and light intensity. I increased the gamma slightly to about 1.8 and the light intensity to about 160% to help brighten the object up to make it correspond well with the light in the scene.

The next thing I did was I added another render effect called Ambient Occlusion. This basically fills in all the missing details such as minor shadows on the actual 3D object. If you can compare both screenshots, you’ll see in the second rendered shot there are some darker areas around the letter ‘a’ for example. The letter ‘a’ has an arch over it so naturally that small area would be darker as the light is being slightly blocked from that surface. In real life where corners meet and when objects are close together, they cast shadows and thats what Ambient Occlusion is designed to achieve.

 

Now, I really want to have the text sitting on the ground surface of the street. The only thing missing is a shadow on the bottom of the text. Without this shadow, the object doesn’t really fit in the scene and it looks like it’s floating in mid-air.

 

As my footage was shot handheld, the title needed to be stabilised within the video to look effective. To do this I had to use After Effects as it has a built motion track feature which tracks each frame of the cameras movement. Cinema 4D doesn’t have this feature. I thought I would have been able to render out the 3D title with the shadow from the scene, but unfortunately this didn’t work out and I had to re-create it as best I could in After Effects.

AFTER EFFECTS 

I used after effects to track the movement of the clip so that the 3D text can become fixed into the scene. The first thing I did was adjust some of the lighting using the curves tool, as it wasn’t 100% perfect after exporting out of Cinema 4D. Once I was happy with how it looked in terms of being realistic in the scene, I was then ready to track the footage using track motion.

The track motion in After Effects is probably the most basic compared to other softwares out there, so it does require a few goes until you can get a stable track. For me it took about 4 goes because I needed to find suitable distinct objects within the shot to track.

Once the track was finished, I then parented it null object to the 3D text so it would now look like it’s been fixated into the shot. However, with the lack of a shadow, it still doesn’t look like it’s been composited properly. The way I approached this was to duplicate the 3D text.

  

Then I added a motion blur to the duplicated layer and changed the colour of it to black. It was then a case of squashing the blurred image and positioning right underneath the original 3D text layer.

  

It’s not as effective as creating a plane and using Ambient Occlusion in Cinema 4D, but it creates the same effect nonetheless. I made a quick video render to show the completed version all tracked and composited.



Intro Development
March 13, 2012, 6:48 pm
Filed under: After Effects, Extended Major Project

I’ve decided I’m going to make the shot of the pigeon shorter; therefore  I’ll be including static shots of London’s landscapes in the early hours of the morning. Shooting in the morning will allow me to capture London at it’s most solitude time. This was something I originally planned to do but I decided to try out something different to open up my documentary.

There will be some static scenery shots happening at the very beginning then it will cut to the shot of the lonely pigeon. I feel that there needs to be some sort of dialogue within that shot to help the audience understand what they’re seeing. Fortunately, the way I’ve composed the shot there’s a nice big space for me to include some text.

I’ve done a quick test, using the track motion feature in after effects to integrate the text into the shot.

I think this works really well to help make things clearer. It also adds a nice touch the shot as it looks like the pigeon is talking to the camera!

After the pigeon flies out of shot, there will be a cut to a static shot of an empty street or a tunnel with the word ‘isolation’. I’ve been majorly influenced by a tutorial, courtesy of greyscale gorilla, which shows you how to make a 3d composite using the iPhone to help light the scene accurately.

The fact that this tutorial consists of using the iPhone to make this work couldn’t make it more relevant to use for my project.

Here are a couple of examples of this technique being used. If you look closely at the reflections on the 3D text you can see the reflections of the environment that the photograph was taken in. It’s incredible that we can pull this kind of render off using images taken on a mobile phone. Really amazing stuff!

These images are a good example of what I want to achieve. I like the environments he’s used to composite the text into!

I’ve already included a time-lapse video in the draft intro, but I’m going to be adding more. As well as the contextual aspect, I feel it’s also important for me to show the versatility of the iPhone as a mobile device. I can pretty much achieve anything I want like you can on a normal camera.

London Time-lapse Using an iPhone 



Documentary Introduction
March 11, 2012, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Extended Major Project

The documentary will begin with the ambient version of the song, Isolate by Moby. This will transcend into the original version after about a minute when the narrative gets going. I think the ambient version is very dark and atmospheric, which I think helps sets up the mood for the piece.

I always like to start off a video with quiet shots and then slowly building up the pace. I’m planning to go up to London one early morning to get some nice static shots along south bank. I think the early morning is the best time to capture London in it’s quiet form, which will help generate the mood and feel of the video. Plus if the weather is nice, you are also likely to capture this really nice dramatic lighting, which casts an orange glow onto everything.

I’ve been on browsing on google images of London in the morning and there are some really nice shots I’ve come across that I could capture myself.

I’ll be uploading a first draft version of the intro of the documentary.

Update!

I’ve spent the last few hours still working on developing my documentary. I’ve currently shot quite a lot of stuff of people engine with technology and I’ve been working on making edit of what captured. My approach to this video project is to use all the footage I’ve shot and start compiling the clips together as a basis to build upon. The short clip above is the introductory piece, which is really meant to set the mood of the entire film.

As my project is quite spontaneous and unpredictable as it’s not scripted, I don’t know exactly what I’m going to capture on my iPhone each time I go out and film. I’m shooting the natural moments of life, which can’t be rehearsed or re-created, they just happen and it’s all done to my own instinct if I see something worth capturing.

The first shot of the lonely pigeon was something I hadn’t planned on using, but when I was going through all the clips in my folder, I decided to see if works with music and it surprisingly does work. I like it because the pigeon is on its own, which references well with the title of my video. It’s also important to point out that I want to get across that people are missing out on what’s really happening around. It’s the little things around us like an animal that’s not being acknowledged because of distractions by a mobile phone or an mp3 player. 

I spent most of the day walking along south bank’s back streets as they were really quiet. I was able to capture really nice moments such as the woman walking into the shot and heading down the street. It’s moments like that, which you can’t plan, they just happen when you start shooting. It took me literally 5 seconds to connect my phone to the gorilla tripod and just shoot that shot. Had I used a dslr camera and a bigger tripod, I probably wouldn’t have caught that moment in time, because it would have taken a bit longer to set up. I thought it would be nice touch to have a crossfade as the woman walks into the shot and her walking halfway down the road to really emphasise the idea of time passing with no-one around.



Painting with Light
March 6, 2012, 9:00 pm
Filed under: Photography

Phil showed me this on Monday and I was really impressed by how this person created this really dynamic image.

This photographic series is my attempt to draw out the beauty and passion from everyday objects that come alive during my controlled lighting at night.

By carefully composing and lighting these real-life objects, and with the help of volunteer photographic assistants, I´m striving to interpret them as metaphors for values of character, honor, integrity and pride, exemplified by the people who work with this equipment on a regular basis.

Through my photographs I strive to share with the viewer the passions enjoyed by our fellow countrymen. Whether laborer, professional, volunteer, corporate CEO or just a guy who owns a cool, old pickup truck, we all share this American experience together.

This process could also be used as another form of documentary through the medium of photography.




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