“[M]ore than anything else, cinema consists of the eye for magic–that which perceives and reveals the marvelous in whatsoever is looks upon.” –Maya Deren
As you explore the projects below, take note of the mixture of close-up to long shots used to expose different details and emotions within the scenes, especially focusing on color and light to reveal each shot’s individual magic. When shooting and editing “Bubbling 涌,” the color green was the pieces’ thread, highlighted through the algae in the fountain and trees above. In turn, this became a theme throughout the image projects, with “Nirvana 涅槃” highlighting a walk toward, through, and out of a cemetery, focusing on nature’s life and beauty through death. The climax of “Nirvana 涅槃” is the transition from a dark colored, gloomy cemetery to a bright colored, green cemetery, both taken from a low angle shot. When first editing the piece, this image seemed out of place, but when deconstructing the pattern of images, a dip to white transition in between the gloomy to green turned this transition into what I believe to be the most effective edit.
On the other hand, in “Bubbling Battle 涌斗,” a remake of “Bubbling 涌,” we shifted the initial tranquil feeling of “Bubbling 涌” into a fast pace scene attempting to invoke a sense of struggle or nervousness one might feel in preparing for battle, hinting back to the title. What I believe to be the least effective edit was the shift from the reversed footage paired with a strong, rhythmic, horn song into an explosion. The fountain did not spray chaotically making the explosion to seem out of place. Here it may have helped to channel the magic of the fountain center with another close up shot and natural ambient sound increase to convey a sense of battle within the water’s natural spurting.
We uncovered tranquility using the fountain in Dahlgren Chapel square. The fountain’s natural ambient sound of rushing water was used to emphasize calmness. By beginning with several close up, tightly framed shots we uncovered the magic within the minute details of the bubbling water and its effect on each part of the fountain, such as, the glistening flow, the dripping edge, and the subtle green highlights. We concluded with a bird’s eye mid shot of the fountain’s circumference and lastly, the sound quiets as we see the fountain’s whole in the distance with a long shot view, finally revealing the full scene.
“Bubbling Battle 涌斗”
We performed a re-edit of “Bubbling 涌,” by increasing the speed and reversing the footage, we revealed a new magic within the fountain in the Chapel’s square. We incorporated close up and mid shots paired with a rhythmic marching tune to convey a sense of nervousness. Although, some of the images were reused from “Bubbling 涌,” the use of editing uncovered a new feeling from the fountain’s bubbling water.
We explored the magic of sound, by creating and recording sounds to tell a tale of a burglary. While it was difficult to create some sounds, such as the sound of a thief physically stealing, it was interesting to create and record sounds that when edited together depict a burglary in action somewhere far from where we recorded. Pay close attention to the house alarm warning the burglar of their impending arrest, before they decide to grab keys off a table and head for the car.
Our final project, a poetic exploration in the form of a video short, explored the magic in change. Life and death was highlighted while walking through foliage to reach a cemetery, where nature’s dark hues shifted to bright green after a dip to white transition. We attempted to use a dissolve transition, but due to the slight difference in angle, we found it best to keep the dip to white. If we had more time, this shot angle is something we would re-take. We uncovered life within death through “Nirvana 涅槃”, whether it was dogs playing in a rushing creek of fallen leaves, two leaves hanging to life on an empty branch, leaves scattering on pavement, or red berries surviving on a bare branch. We highlighted the details of living change through close up shots of the foliage, in addition mid to long shots to show the the foliage interacting with other players, such as the cemetery, dogs, wind, and boots. In the final scene, we recorded the sound of walking on leaves separately from the image. This was to make sure the sound was clear and isolated, but if you watch closely, the sound does not exactly match up with the boots crunching on the dry leaves. Finally, the song, “Feel It Still,” was chosen to emphasize that change will always be with us, but by embracing the inevitable, we can hold onto the bright greens, even amongst the dark browns.
As highlighted by Maya Deren in my portfolio’s quote: beauty, art, and magic is everywhere and the task is to uncover it. By catching the sunlight from the right angle, the wind at the right moment, or stringing images together in the right sequence, any project can be turned into a masterpiece. Especially, noting our work on “Bubbling Battle 涌斗,” the work you do in the editing room can accomplish great feats if you learn the tools and prepare yourself for what you wish to convey or reveal through your work. Through the series of projects above, we found magic in a simple fountain in a square, dying leaves on a tree, and even by stomping our feet in a recording studio.
*This work was produced by myself, Alexa DeJesus, and my colleague, Wanyu Zhang for Media Production Lab taught by J.R. Osborn at Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture & Technology master’s program. Wanyu’s portfolio can be found here.