We have to prepare storyboards of our narrative for Yuanyuan’s next lecture. For this task we are looking at the composition of our scenes to get across and hopefully emphasis the mood of our short film.
My team don’t want to make a short horror in 30 seconds as it won’t work. You need at least 45 mins to make an audience trust in what they’re seeing enough to be able to effectively frighten them. So instead we want to make a short animation with a creepy and uncomfortable vibe, maybe with a thought provoking meaning at it’s centre. We know that the sound will play a big role in achieving this but we also want to make sure that we create a creepy vibe for it as if we were watching it without sound.
However, we are researching into a lot of horror techniques to help us create our creepy feeling for this animation.
I watched this brilliant video on composition that Rebecca Thompson had posted on Facebook:
It was really interesting and showed you lots of examples as well as methods to play with such as the rule of thirds and the golden ratio. Cantered angles and crooked shapes were used by the German expressionists to express horror
relevant for a creepy animation such as ours.
It goes on to explain that composition is used to accentuate the focal point of an image and there are methods
such as below to influence this:Framing can show the difference between two worlds. For our story we could use a framed scene to show contrasting areas such as inside (warm and safe) and outside (cold and dark) or vice versa.
This shot from the video was really cool!
The Shining has beautiful compositional cinematography.
Negative space can create apprehension. A movie I had recently watched, Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse
which was brilliant, had a scene in it where I waited for something to pop up between the main characters through out the whole shot and I was getting tenser and tenser until a zombie’s head gradually made it’s way into the frame zombie on a trampoline!
Méabh had also found this page on cinematography tips for horror movies.
This video (relevant from 27:05 onwards) explains how to build tension within a scene. We probably won’t end up shocking our audience with some big reveal but instead build up some tension and leave it on a cliff hanger.
Build tension by sharing the information early on, instead of suddenly shocking your audience at the end, this will create atmosphere. A famous technique in horror films and used by the novelist H.P. Lovecraft is to not reveal the “monster” at all as the audience’s imagination will always be worse.
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear. And the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” – H.P. Lovecraft
We could make the audience aware of a “monster” early on but not actually show it, let them see glimpses only. Concealing this from the protagonist would create tension.
So we went with the mirror idea for our story.
The implicit meaning makes our audience think about how they would react if they met themselves, how they see themselves compared to how the world sees them and do they trust themselves?
Our story helps us achieve this by focusing on a mirrors. Mirrors are used as symbols for vanity and revealing the true nature of things. Introducing two of the same characters, one of which tries to benefit the other brings us the theme of trust.
We had many ideas for the ending but we liked Thomas’ the most. We were able to sit as a team and discuss our plot as we drew out the storyboards.
From left to right (after title screen):
- Our character is working at his desk in his bedroom. We use the negative space between the character and the computer to draw attention to the mirror across the room as well as creating apprehension.
- Looking at the character from the mirror’s perspective (camera angle will be slightly crooked and POV), there is a noise from the window and the character opens the blinds to reveal a tree banging against the glass.
- Close up of character’s eyes that convey frustration at noise. Knocking is heard from inside the room. Eyes convey shock.
- Head turns clockwise to look at room. Camera (same distance from head) rotates anticlockwise around the back of the character’s head to show a wide shot of the bedroom with the open wardrobe in the centre of the shot. A misleading camera shot – as the mirror beside the wardrobe starts shaking.
- A close up of the character’s head in shock. Parallel scene 1.
- Wide shot of the mirror containing a blurry figure. Parallel scene 2.
- Close up shot of character’s face still in shock. Parallel scene 1.
- Close up shot of object in room shaking due to mirror’s violent movement (motif). Parallel scene 2.
- Extreme close up shot of character’s eyes in disbelief. Parallel scene 1.
- Close up shot of another object falling over due to mirror. Parallel scene 2.
- Crooked close up shot of mirror with the character’s reflection banging on the glass. Character’s reflection is yanked back into the room within the mirror.
- Dolly zoom into character’s face, subtle movement in the background.
- Cuts off to black, leaving it on a cliffhanger.
Parallel scenes use the frantic zoom technique:
Overall, after showing our storyboards we got good feedback. Some things that were pointed out to us is that we will probably need more panels to make it easier for the audience to understand what’s happening and we need a better camera technique for shot six. Jack had suggested using the same method that was used to show the Bogart wardrobe in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for shot six: