Claire-Dee Lim

writer, teacher, traveler, and lazy gardener

Category: Movies (page 3 of 5)

Foreign Film Catch Up: THE WAVE & THE MERMAID

Recently, I went to the movies twice in one week. As in bought a ticket and went into a theater for the cinematic experience. I know that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but as of late I’ve been hunkered down on my couch in a Netflix binge-coma, so it was a change of pace. These two foreign films couldn’t have been more different, yet they were satisfying in their own ways. If you get the chance, leap off the couch and go see them. Regardless of how outstanding your home entertainment system is, watching movies in the theater is far more captivating. (As long as you can find a theater without aggravating cell phone users.)

The Wave

A Norwegian  disaster movie in the best possible sense. A tsunami strikes the gorgeous Geiranger strait. That’s right. A tsunami. In Norway. I had no idea this was possible! It’s gripping and intense as you identify with the plight of the main characters who are about to be swallowed up by an apocalyptic wave. Several times I clutched the arm of my moviegoing seatmate. Fortunately, we’re good friends and he’s been on the receiving end of my filmic freakouts before.

The Mermaid

Written and directed by Stephen Chow, the Mermaid is a goofy, funny and imaginative fantasy-romantic comedy. It’s grossed over $500 million and counting in China, making it the highest-grossing movie in the country of all time. If you loved the exuberant Kung Fu Hustle, you’ll get a kick out of the Mermaid’s comedic shtick tinged with dark sensibility.

Want To Make A Movie? Shoot With Your Phone

Inspired by the feature film, Tangerine, which was shot on an iPhone 5S, students of FIDM’s Essentials of Film Production class opted to do the same for their project. They shot their short film, recording with one to three cameras (iPhone 6S) at a time.

Using multiple cameras is a common occurrence for complicated sequences like an explosion or car chase. These can be expensive to orchestrate and many times, a director and his or her crew may only have one crack at getting the necessary footage. Setting cameras up in different positions—for a wide angles, medium shots, close-ups—will help ensure the editor has lots of shots to choose from.

Mad Max: Fury Road Cinematographer John Seale said his “crew was outfitted with six ARRI Alexas and a number of Canon 5Ds, with the latter used in part as crash cams in action sequences. The Alexas were supported by 11 Codex Onboard recorders. The relatively large number of cameras and recorders helped the camera crew to remain nimble.”

While the students’ production was nowhere near as extensive as shooting an action movie in the Namibian desert, their shot list was ambitious and lengthy. As their professor, I required that shooting be completed in six to seven hours, so they could get a sense of the pressure cooker nature of film production. With nimbleness in mind, i.e., flexibility and speed, shooting with the iPhone 6S was a good solution. They got lots of great footage and a variety of angles to choose from.

Now whip out your camera phone, and go make a movie!




Foley Artists: Creating What You Hear and Feel

Photo of Catherine Harper: Actors of Sound, A Foley Art Documentary

When it comes to movies, the visuals get all the fanfare. Everyone “oohs and ahhs” over painterly sunsets or the digital artistry of CG films. Yet sound is a significant and essential element to the cinematic experience.

Recently, I had the pleasure of introducing the Entertainment Set Design and Decoration students, in my film production class at FIDM, to the art and craft of Foley. Pioneered by Jack Foley, it’s the process of adding sound effects to films and TV shows. The subtle sounds you hear, like a creaking bed, the whispery rustle of a gown on stone steps or the tinkling of cutlery on china plates, are created after the film is edited by a foley artist. High-impact sounds, like explosions and car peel outs, are added by the sound effects editor.

Two of the leading foley artists in the field, Catherine Harper and Gregg Barbanell, performed a demonstration for us. In a sound studio that included a water pit, different types of flooring—wood, linoleum, carpeting—and a dizzying array of props from which to make sounds—piles of leather belts and purses, metal pots, techno gadgets—these audio wizards created layers and layers of effects for a historical show they were working on.

Sound effects add depth and richness to the visual experience. Without them a scene can feel remote and less dynamic. Catherine played us a clip of two men running through woods with only the production sound track—audio recorded during filming. Since the goal when shooting is to capture the clearest dialogue possible with body mics or a boom, sounds of stamping feet and swishing through bushes, were muted. Consequently, the scene’s sense of urgency was diminished. After the foley tracks were added, the scene fully came to life.

Whether you are consciously aware of hearing sound effects, you feel them. And when they’re not there, you sense that something is missing.

Catherine topped off the demo by giving us some cool insights into the props used for the Revenant (bear attack, yikes!) I watched the movie again. This time it was a whole new experience, listening to the sound effects and appreciating how intricately they were created.




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