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  • Writer's pictureDorsa Sajedi

POST-CRIT: Reflecting on Nature 2.0

In regards to my role in this film (as visual effects and colour grader — with some input on the edit), the feedback that I received in the critique was things I already was under the impression of. I will be using this post to reflect on the work that I’ve done for this project, whilst touching upon the bits of feedback that I felt most applied to me.

THE PICTURE EDIT — Timing, Pacing, Workload.

Without going too much into it, this term has been very difficult for me (especially in regards to workload). And so, I was placed in a position where I couldn’t complete my initial role as the editor. I don’t feel that this was my fault, but it is how things turned out. A lot of the time, my director had to step in to help me. COVID delaying the shooting dates most certainly didn’t help. When our director and cinematographer did the ‘Toy Shoot’, I feel that I should have stepped in and been the one who did the ‘Toy edit’ or at least a variation of it as that then influenced the actual edit itself.

The pacing of the film was dragged out intentionally — to encourage discomfort and to leave room for thought. But, as mentioned in the feedback, this was TOO much time. By giving audiences too much time to think, we risk them straying from what the film’s intentions really are, and risk the perception of our character’s intentions being jarred.

In addition to this, the shot in which we see the corpse in the reflection of the camera lens is enough of a clue as to what is going on - arguing perhaps the long one-shot isn’t needed. I agree with the fact that the reflection is enough, and the fact that it doesn’t give you enough time to think works really well here. Alongside this, this shot helped us not portraying the wrong message and keep the focus on the right character. If we were to do a re-edit of the piece, I would definitely suggest removing the one-shot (or re-shoot it), as there was also confusion surrounding whether he was looking at the audience, or at the corpse.

MASKING AND WORKLOAD — Achieving the ‘white void’

I don’t believe any of us knew how difficult of a process this would be, and the only reason why it did turn out to be so difficult was because of how much of a lengthy process it was. Theoretically, it was fine. On set, I told myself ‘yeah, this will be manageable, surely’ but I was set out to do something that I didn’t know how to do efficiently, and so I had to spend lots of time simply looking into how to do what I wanted to do. I wanted to avoid frame-by-frame masking as that would be (25 x the number of seconds) A LOT of frames.

I managed to get away with some of them by only masking the segments in which overlapped the tape, i.e. a shoulder, but often there were occasions where the tape was being overlapped quite frequently in several areas — demanding frame by frame masks for practically the entire image — which obviously wouldn’t have looked good unless it was done properly.

I feel that it could have worked better if we had a large studio backdrop, but this idea came up very later on so it would have been much more difficult to obtain such a thing in such a limited amount of time. I had started masking from the moment we did the shoot. If I wasn’t working on my film for another project, I was masking, non-stop. If any of us knew that it would have taken so long, we would’ve looked into alternatives prior to the shoot.

COLOUR GRADING — My first colour grade.

Before delving into this, I'd just like to note that I was suggested an alternative for masking the tapes: selecting the white walls using the qualifier tool, desaturating it, and bringing up the highlights -- which I found didn't work... until I tried it on one specific shot, being the extremely long shot. I'm not sure if this all of a sudden worked because of how much I had learned (in my own time as you will read bellow) OR if this one shot just happened to be lit up in a way that allowed this effect to work without ruining the rest of the image. Although, this came with a consequence as I wasn't able to make walls look 'colder' without bringing back the tape. Nevertheless, I feel that If I had maybe just a few more Davinci classes earlier on, even in first year, I could have been able to save so much time and perhaps have been able to follow through on my initial role of the editor.

We had our first colour grading class recently, perhaps a couple of months ago. On top of this, I watched recorded panopto lectures and online YouTube tutorials, taking notes (to which you’ll see in my previous blog posts). But I struggled in it a lot. In colour grading this piece, I wanted to make it colder and increasingly contrasted than what it came out as, but I wasn’t able to in the time I had left from masking. I had to do the colour grading in a short amount of time, and I’ve realised as time goes by (without breaks), the colours will start to look different.

ON-SCREEN FLASHES — Portraying the wrong message, looks strange.

From a photographer's perspective, the fact that the camera ‘flashes’ in the first place, suggests something more forensic rather than artistic, thus portraying the wrong thing. Arguing against this though, the photographer could be a rookie, or even better, with his interest in ‘death’, he could want to capture every single aspect of what he’s looking at - it could be an artistic choice. So, admit-tingly, I don’t agree with this. But, in regards to the look of the on-camera flashes, I agree that they look strange and uncomfortable to look at as they only cover up half of the frame and look more like a ‘glitch’ if anything.

OVERVIEW — Wrapping up my reflection.

Masking should have been out of the equation. If it was for one shot, that would have been fine. But it was just way too many. I could have put so much more effort into the picture edit itself and just been more helpful. Although everyone was satisfied with the look of the ‘white void’, it was maybe too much of a price to pay as it sacrificed how much time was put into the edit. It hurts to say all of this as I put so much time and effort into doing those masks, but in the end, I’m not even going to get graded on them. I spent so much time on them that I forgot this until very recently.

Next time, I hope to keep in mind what we’re getting graded on, and hopefully to know what is going to be expected of me in post-production so that I can experiment prior to the shoot and be able to suggest any alternatives or changes in time if I know that I can’t complete everything on time. Might’ve been too much to ask for in this current covid climate as that was the reason why the idea had to be changed so last minute in the first place, but I hope I’ll at least be able to apply this to my works in the future.

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