Author Archives: agoel6

Ars Poetica | Adhiraj Goel

The definition of art has been debated upon for centuries and some can argue that the undefinable factor of art is what truly defines it. Art is anything and everything; whether it is man-made or occurs naturally. However, beauty is subjective and the absolute definition of it varies from person to person. Moreover, the line between art and beauty is thin but prominent.

My arrogant view of beauty makes me reject other forms as art and gives me an almost binary outlook. Either I greatly appreciate a piece of work  or I am very critical on it. For the most part, my definition of art does not allow shortcuts which I find many other film makers do and cover it up under the context as “art”. Art is beauty and beauty is hard. Beauty requires work and persistence. But not only that, beauty and art are much, much more.

1. Attention to Detail

The magic of film happens behind the scenes, where the audience can not see. It is here that many filmmakers try and take the aforementioned shortcuts. And they can usually get away with it, but there is the heightened eye in the audience that can pick it up on screen. In my films, I try my best to cater to these attentive viewers who can note and pick out small details.

Many directors appeal to the masses but dismiss the dedicated audience that can form. An audience can be  amazed by small attentions to detail located throughout the video. However, this attention to detail must be noticed independent of the director and the team behind the film.

One of my most favorite examples of this is in the show Arrested Development created by Mitchell Hurwitz. Not only is the show hilarious, but what makes it truly beautiful to me is the attention to detail. I’ve watched through the entire series multiple time and, along with some further research, I am in awe of all the minor things that are consistent throughout the entire series. To me, this is the strength of the show: the precision and effort you can see during the viewing experience that the team puts behind the scenes.

This practice of making a film accurate, is one that I hold dear to me and one that I think is essential in creating a completely successful film. Of course, plot and cinematography are also essential factors. But it is the act of integrating the plot and mise-en-scene to make the film accurate is truly an art which can create something beautiful.

2. Entertain the audience

I always try and make my movies as ‘light’ as possible. That is,  the entire film watching experience as little profound as possible. I have difficulty in accepting things that are overly profound and then are called ‘art’. Moreover, I take issue with films that depict a personal journey and are mainly understand by the director who expects the audience to take away what they can.

I want to appeal to the general audience, something anyone can enjoy without the necessity for knowledge of complex isms and theories that are depicted within every shot of the film. A film can still provoke thought and make an emotional journey with simplicity. Mainly, this simpleness calls upon the use of classical directing techniques. However, these techniques lend themselves to be innovated in creative ways.

One of the best examples of this is by Godfrey Reggio in his movies KoyaanisqatsiPowaqqatsi and Noqoyqatsi. All these films have a thesis and a point that they try to make. However, these films are also surprisingly simple and appeal to the general audience. The first time I watched Koyaaniqatsi, I was amazed by how effective it was in drawing in the audience and capturing their attention.

One does not always have to make a point in a film. I feel it suffices for the audience to be entertained by whatever they see. But in most cases, it is the simple things that can be understood by the audience is what they will enjoy. And, ultimately, it is the audience’s approval that the filmmaker should seek. The acceptance of his techniques by the mass audience (not JUST the knowledgeable but remote film/art community) should be the ultimate goal.

I think another good example is Christoper Nolan who might not use the most subtle techniques, but certainly has the ability to entertain his audience which makes him one of the most successful directors today.

Thus, to me, films and filmmakers should aim to have two things: an attention to detail and the general audience in mind. For me, keeping the audience in mind means making the film simple and entertaining. The entertainment factor can be argued but it needs to stem away from the profound montages that is often produced out of a debauchery of video filters.

The attention to detail is also discouraging as it leads to very little reward and acknowledgement initially. However, a completely accurate film will pay off in the long run as it lends the film to multiple viewings. It is the attention to detail that will truly impress the ever increasing film-savvy audience. And it is the approval of the general audience that a filmmaker should seek.

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Process Blog – Dream Within A Dream Remake

Original Video:

Remake:

There are some notable changes in the remake. Firstly, there was a nice video filter which we applied to some clips throughout the first stanza. We thought it would be better if this effect was present throughout the stanza. This was mainly because of the dream-like feel this effect gave. We thought it would build the environment better and take the audience out of reality and into ‘the dream’.

One additional minor change was reversing the direction the clock was moving. We felt that this created a more eerie feeling and enhanced the dreamy environment.

The big bulk of our changes happened for the second, longer stanza. Here, we removed the entire sequence of the man in a bathtub. There was some critical feedback in the workshops and it seemed that the sequence needed to be developed a lot further. We didn’t have the resources to do so and felt it would be best if we remade the entire section differently.

We brainstormed whether a new narrative was a good idea or whether we should continue the theme of dream-inspired images that had been present in the first section of the film. While new images would have been visually stimulating, we felt it would get repetitive and our audience could lose interest.

The concept of the leaf chasing down the river stemmed from an idea to use just the stream. We thought flowing water was a nice abstract concept which would reflect the dream theme in the poem. On set, we thought of the leaf moving through the small waterfalls and streams which developed into someone chasing the leaf.

It was tricky to film the leaf, as we had little control. We grabbed about 10 leaves from a tree and let them flow down sections of the creek one at a time. We filmed them to our desire but they often got stuck in unexpected places. A lot of the times, the leaf didn’t move in the way we would have liked it to and we had to film elsewhere to get the same effect.

Nonetheless, I think it came together nicely in the end. We, again, had some issue rendering and the final video has a few glitches which we didn’t intend. But I am happy with the final product.

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Stanzas in Meditation – Part II

A film based on the poem by Gertrude Stein. By Adhiraj Goel and Alex Nemetschke.

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by | July 26, 2012 · 6:44 pm

Process Blog – Fin de Fête

I was scanning through a lot of poems at the Poetry Foundation website with a mental criteria in my mind: The poems had to be short (so the stop motion wasn’t too long) and it needed to be open to an interpretation that was based on a visual object. Moreover, the object needed to be something that worked well with stop motion.

Charlotte Mew’s Fin de Fête didn’t strike out to me too much initially; there were some other finalists that I was considering. However, after some revision of the poem and the concepts within it, the idea of doing stop motion on a bed seemed like a good idea.

I must admit, I misinterpreted the poem because of the meaning of ‘fête’ which can be interpreted as ‘festival’ in French. To me, it seemed more like a lullaby from a mother to a child. However, during the recording, I reread the last stanza and saw that the intention of the poem was slightly different. That being said, I felt my idea was still possible and I could create a dreamy atmosphere that fit the context of the poem.

I knew that music was going to be a big part in achieving this effect. During the recording, I made sure the music was gentle and had feminine voices to read the poem. The mastered track was great and effective in the final product.

The idea to animate the bed was with me since I read the poem. But the exact specifics of this didn’t materialize till the day before I started shooting. I discussed it with some friends and we came about the slug idea. I wanted to animate each object associated with the bed such that it looked and acted in a tired and sleepy manner. This would not only amplify the sleepy state of the poem but also bring about a sense of eeriness which was definitely present in the stanzas.

My final artistic decision was to cover the entire set with a black blanket. This wasn’t done completely in the final product but still effective in the end. The idea was based on the life of the author, Charlotte Mew. Upon reading a brief biography, I felt that the blanket showed that something was hidden which was present in her dramatic life.

The actual act of filming was long and back breaking. My bed didn’t have much space around it so I really had to extend my flexibility to its limits. I also knocked the camera a few times. There were some technical difficulties like the camera running out of battery which proved troublesome because it meant that I had to remove it from the tripod to charge.

Nonetheless, I am very pleased by the final result and think it represents the effort I put into it. I also look forward to possibly doing some revisions to this work to improve    it further.

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Fin de Fête

Stop motion film based on the poem by Charlotte Mew. By Adhiraj Goel.

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by | July 17, 2012 · 8:17 pm

Sweaty Eyeballs

The Sweaty Eyeballs Animation Invitational was quite a surprise for me. Animation is a very open technique; as in it allows for a lot of creative freedom for those who wish to put in the effort. That being said, I was expecting some profound and artistic pieces which I couldn’t imagine myself understanding in a million years.

However, the short films that the screening were down-to-earth and targeted towards the general audience. From comedy to drama, stop motion to CGI,  the animation pieces they showed varied from a wide range of genres and styles. Yet, they never got too abstract so as to lose the audience. They made you forget that you were in a cinema and drew you into their world very quickly.

Some of the notable mentions were the opening three pieces.

Dahlilia was a strong opener and set the mood for the entire night really well. It’s interesting take on stop motion was refreshing and really got my attention. I appreciated how they animated still scenes by moving the camera around the event instead of vice versa.

Mork was a great follow up to Dahlilia with a slick and clean animation feel which made it a strong contender in the end.

Following Mork was Bottle, a heart-warming stop motion piece. The story was a bit drastic and you could see that they took some shortcuts in the animation. But the ending to the piece was phenomenal in terms of animation and story.

However, there were 3 great films at the event:

Bronze: Elite Fleet: The Broken Code – This film was hilarious! It’s been a while since I saw such original humor. The animation was great and fit the script and humor of the piece. The suspense was nicely built up to the fantastic punchline and had the entire audience roaring in laughter.

Silver: Something Left, Something Taken – This short film was focused on two travelers who had just arrived in San Francisco and found themselves in a stranger’s car home. The story was original and dynamic as it built up nicely throughout the film. However, it got a little predictable and the big revealing end wasn’t all that jaw-dropping. However, the animation in this piece was truly amazing and you could tell the amount of effort the makers put into the piece. The artwork when they were showing the scenery of San Francisco, the jungle and the suburbs was incredible and full of creativity.

Gold: Accumulomnibus – By far my favorite mainly because it was so different and new. I liked it because it was just pure imagination and didn’t use a plot or story to drive it forward. It synced well with the music however, if there is one thing wrong with the movie, it would be that the style of music didn’t quite fit the nature of the film. Nonetheless, it was a pleasant experience to watch. It sucks you into it’s ‘ball’ almost instantly and doesn’t let go until the very end. I was always anxious to see what came next but didn’t want to miss out on a single frame in the process.

However, the entire screening was great; every piece contributed to the event. The comical pieces were hilarious and the artistic ones were beautiful which made the entire experience a fun ride.

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Fin de Fête

Fin de Fête

BY CHARLOTTE MEW

Sweetheart, for such a day
     One mustn’t grudge the score;
Here, then, it’s all to pay,
     It’s Good-night at the door.
 
Good-night and good dreams to you,—
     Do you remember the picture-book thieves
Who left two children sleeping in a wood the long night through,
     And how the birds came down and covered them with leaves?
 
So you and I should have slept,—But now,
     Oh, what a lonely head!
With just the shadow of a waving bough
     In the moonlight over your bed.
———————
Mew is an English Poet who touches on Modernism in a lot of her works (although it is also similar to Victorian poetry).
 
I quite like the subject matter of the poem. I think it’s pretty open ended and would allow for some great stop-motion work. It has a nice flow and with the two shorter stanzas that start and end while there is some creative meat in the middle which lets the director experiment. 
 

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