Thursday, September 29, 2005

Visual Structure

Before I get into this week's focus, I want to write something about the directing fellows at AFI. What's so fun about all this is the bond growing between us directors. I feel like I will continue to be friends for life with these people. We have directors from Switzerland, Denmark, Holland, Finland, Puerto Rico, Israel, Serbia, and of course now Jordan. The rest come from New York, Chicago, LA, and Detroit. I feel really proud to be representing Jordan, and being a postitive contributor to the fun environment we have. It's just a damn good feeling to be here! Okay, now on to Visual Structure...

It's been an exciting week with Bruce Block, Producer of movies like Father of the Bride, and visual consultant for films like As Good as it gets and Spanglish among numerous others. He's an amazing teacher, and this week has been one of immersion into dissecting the screen and desiging visual rules for films. We've had three-hour daily sessions with him. I don't even know where to begin in an attempt to relay the immense amount of information we've been taking into our brains. I don't see movies the same way anymore.

We've been training our eyes to recognize deep space and flat space, the use of tone, texture, contrast of shapes in visual composition and why so, how to use them to affect the audience. The understanding of movement and motivation. Movement of camera, movement of objects, how this affects visual communication to the audience's subconsciense. Color. The whole idea of color association and audience conditioning. For all those great movies that become classics, so much thought has gone into designing visual themes. It's fascinating when you see examples from movies that you've seen and suddenly realize or understand why the film or scenes had a certain effect on you. I'll giv eyou an example. To dramatize the impact of blood on a screen, an effective method it to get the audience's eyes callibrated to see Blue. So let's say you look at a scene where for a whole minute or two, the screen is loaded with blue. Then when you hit the audience with the red blood, the intensity of this red is enhanced because the eye has callibrated itself to blue. This is a very simple example of the use of principle of contrast and affinity to manipulate the audience. Blue is the complimentary (sort of like the opposite) color to red. Next time you watch a good movie, go back to it and look for consitency of visual motifs. Horizontal, vertical, and diagonal motion... the use of lines and recurring shapes and certain motifs and their associations with themes or characters to create a visual structure...etc. I don't think I can do a good job of summing up what we've learned this week here in a blog. But I will say this: if you're serious about wanting to study filmmaking, then the AFI is the place to be. I can't praise it enough. What I know now is so much more than what I knew four weeks ago.

We also had a great session with and Executive from Focus Features, Joe Pichirallo. He gave us advice on strategizing for the future and making one's first film in Hollywood. Great stuff to know ahead of time. Some days are long. You go to school at 9 a.m. and don't come home till 11 at night. Others are lighter, in which I read books and write between classes. I am fully immersed. It's also fun to have discussions about films with my peers. I have a long list of movies that I still need to see. Next week we begin our classes on directing performance. I can't wait.


Blogger Roba said...

I am always amazed by how similar the arts are. This is precisely what you learn in the Visual Arts department.. effects of color on the eye, how they react together, textures, depth, proportion.. how to embody these with a 2D medium.. how to manipulate the audience..
awesome :)
It's wonderful that you're enjoying this, and i can't wait to see stuff you'll direct so do start sharing.

2:47 AM  
Blogger Amin Matalqa said...

Yes. Roba, I can tell from your photos that you have a really good eye for framing. I'm glad you brought up the 2D element. All these deep space components are there to create a sense of distance and 3D-like quality in a 2D environment. For example, one of the differences between dollying in on someone and simply zooming in during a scene is the fact that in a dolly move, the proportion of the size of the objects in the background changes relative to the size of the object in the foreground. This change creates a sense of depth. In a zoom, all obects remain the same size relative to one another because they're simply magnified or demagnified.

6:57 AM  
Blogger jameed said...

speaking of zoom, i always try to leave it as a last resort. i am not a fan of the effect it creats as amin described. in other words, for god's sake move a couple of steps forward then take the photo!

again, this is much cheaper than attending AFI...but you need to come to Utah to give me some hands on experience with the camera.

11:14 AM  
Blogger Amin Matalqa said...

Jameed, I'm planning a trip in January for Sundance. We have to get together then.

2:22 PM  
Blogger jameed said...

Awesome! we certainly have to get old offer still stands, if you need a place to crash, just give me a buzz, i live about 4jeeb ma3ak qassees al aflam laith :P

2:48 PM  
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