Papers on Practitioners

Film:

My film practitioner choice is British director Edgar Wright, co-writer and creator of the television show ‘Spaced’, along with some more widely popular films: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the world and The World’s End. The work of Edgar Wright over the years has cemented itself into my brain for a wide range of reasons from cast, framing, editing, camera movement, sound effects, music and many more. I believe he is the master of rhythm, connecting different ideas through his films almost seamlessly. The spectacular use of scene transitions in his work has always been something I have been completely fascinated by. The use of whip-pans and dolly/screen wipes keeping a ‘house-style’ if you will across all of his work. The amount of care put into a handful of frames is astonishing for me. Scene transitions are a sight for opportunity for Edgar Wright to be clever in introducing a new place to the audience before your mind has even processed that you’ve left the last one. The clever way Wright incorporates visual comedy to his films is nothing short of genius, creating jokes out of nothing. Of course his films have been known to deliver jokes on just a dialogue basis, but for Wright, when the opportunity presents itself to be clever without being obvious or boring he will take it.

 

Sound:

“You don’t just watch films, you listen to them too.” For me, the way in which Walter Murch talks about manipulating “dry” sounds recorded in a studio to make them appropriate for the environment in which he wishes to place them, a cave or a telephone box for example. He was the picture editor for ‘Apocalypse Now’ but spent over a year and a half gathering and sounds for the sound design (in which he was awarded an Academy award for his contributions.) The film is visually incredible and the sound design is sonically spectacular, a true achievement in cinema for the time. The opening scene in the room with the fan intercut with the whirling, almost distant slow-motion helicopter sounds were truly incredible to watch and listen to for me the first time and even now. The blending of the sounds to make them indistinguishable from one another in a 360-degree motion around the cinema using 5:1 surround sound. 5 standing for centre, left, right, right rear and left rear channels and the .1 for the subwoofer. This created a more immersive soundscape then any film that came before this, including Star Wars from 2 years previous. The sound team could more accurately simulate the chaos of war bringing you into the world of the film, therefore into the battle itself. Even when the film is quiet there has clearly been so much thought gone into creating a believable sound design for the audience. The technology and technique employed in the sound design of Apocalypse Now were far ahead of its time. Techniques utilised in the sound design the use of synthesizers co-existing with real sounds to add depth not to mention intense realism, all intertwined with an excellent, disorientating electronic soundtrack. The visuals and audio working in perfect tandem in order to create a masterpiece of cinema. Well-done Walter.

 

Photography:

I do not know an awful lot about photography per say, but what I do know is that I am a fan of framing. Pure and simple. How is the photograph constructed? Background, foreground, balance in a frame? Alvin Langdon Coburn’s work is something that stood out to me in a borrowed book from a flatmate. Not particuarly so much what he’s photographing, but in the way he approaches it through his framing and shadows. The way that the frame seems fragmented and spliced up into different areas really caught my eye. The way in which the frame is divided into different sections making a different picture within a larger picture. This is a classic technique also used in films, it could be used to make someone feel boxed in or segregated from the world. Intimidating and looming presences in his work caught more frequently in silhouettes was another thing that stood out to me. For example bridges, construction poles, scaffolding, buildings and trees to name a handful. There isn’t a great use of colour from his photos, predominantly in black and white or dull sepia tones, however this is just from the time in which the photos were captured; not needing a burst of colour to grab your attention because it has already been accomplished through the careful and particular framing of each photograph. I appreciate this in his work.

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