On Monday and Wednesday of last week, I had both of my videos workshopped (To See A World and Who robbed the woods). There wasn’t much that needed changing, except for a few minor details. In Who robbed the woods, I had to apply a filter onto the shot of the feather so that it matched the colors of the rest of the shots. I also made sure that the timing of the cuts according to the music and poem were exactly right. Finally, I asked a friend for another opinion. He and I eventually agreed that one of the black frames needed to go. It felt choppy compared to the flow of the rest of the cuts. Now there is only one black frame on the word ‘trees.’
As for To See A World, there were just as few changes that needed to be made. However, I took out a brief black frame that came before the shot of the girl at the end. I also inserted a close-up of the flower toward the middle of the video. I did not already have a close-up on hand because it was so difficult getting the focus just right on the camera. So instead I used some advice that was actually meant for another classmate: I found a clear shot of the baby and the flower; I cropped everything out but the flower; and then I blew up the image to fit the frame. It was a simple process that did not require any re-shooting. Thus, the revision phase was a downhill process for me, and the revisions were more like touch-ups if anything.
Final version of To See A World, directed by Cat Wityk. Poem by William Blake.
Final version of Who robbed the woods, directed by Cat Wityk. Poem by Emily Dickinson.
This is a revised and potentially final version of ‘Who robbed the woods.’
I went into this stop motion project with high expectations and some grand ideas. A word of advice to anyone who has never made stop motion: don’t go into it with high expectations and grand ideas. First I wanted to do something with water streaming in-between the cracks of a brick patio, but unfortunately, I am not Poseidon. Another idea was to show a couple dollar bills crumpling themselves up and forming origami shapes. I spent at least an hour figuring out how to make origami. Then once my crane and my elephant were in shape and ready for action, I found out that they just look like shapeless, indistinguishable, crumpled up dollar bills on the camera.
So as I quickly learned, creating a stop motion film was one of the most difficult and frustrating things I would ever do. I began scrambling for ideas that were both doable and satisfactory compared to my grand ideas. After much hair pulling and staring off into space, I settled with some old and very ugly dolls. I was not a fan of these dolls whatsoever and honestly I despised every minute of shooting them. But I was somewhat proud of my simple setting. I used construction paper as a base, to indicate grass and sky. I glued on the shapes of a sun and clouds. Finally, I went to visit my local sushi restaurant, Yamato Sushi in Timonium, and asked for some of those fake plastic grass things they use to decorate sushi. I also used gum to keep the dolls either standing upright or holding things.
Next came the hard part. The concept of taking one picture per individual frame seemed impossible to me. It must take hundreds of photos just to create one second of smooth movement. Thus, my project was anything but smooth; but on the other hand, I believe the jerkiness of the movement worked as an advantage in the end, giving the audience a sense of the strange way that those doll characters move.
The editing phase was the easy part this time. A few quick color changes were intended to make the scene appear nostalgic, as though reminiscing on the baby’s first steps. The rest of the editing was simply a matter of timing each photo to last approximately a third of a second, and then to cut out any unfocused frames or mess-ups. Even after I had finished editing, I still hated the project. I found it dull and poorly made, with a stupid plotline. This is all true, of course, but my attitude toward the completed work changed a great deal upon work-shopping it in class. Both my peers and professors agreed that the combination of the color tone with the ugly dolls made the entire work feel creepy and sinister. I was extremely surprised and pleased to hear this, because I like creepy and sinister much more than dull and stupid. So even though the work itself is not exactly the best stop motion ever made, it was at least a necessary experience to have gone through. It is better to try and end up with something mediocre than to not have tried at all.
This is a stop motion video directed by Cat Wityk for the JHU Summer Programs class Auteur 101. It is based on the poem “To See A World” by William Blake.
This is a short stop motion video directed by Cat Wityk for the JHU Summer Programs class Auteur 101. It is based on the poem “To See A World” by William Blake.
It was nothing less than an adventure to create a short film for the first time. One of the first main lessons I learned is that it’s okay if I have no idea what I’m doing while I’m shooting, because film is an art that you learn kinetically, or by doing. I started by brainstorming good shooting locations and figured I could probably get a lot of interesting footage in Hamden while hanging out with my friend. So we spent an afternoon there and I discovered that finding interesting subjects was easier than I had expected. All you have to do is be aware of your surroundings and look at things with an eye for their artistic potential. I also went to Loch Raven Reservoir the next day because it’s one of my favorite places to visit and chill out. The area is particularly beautiful during sunset.
The editing phase was where I really developed my concept. I had initially thought that I would make the film about the coexistence of man and nature, or something like that, inspired by the poem ‘Who robbed the woods.’ But instead, I played around with what I had and came up with a draft of something new. But first, I ran into some technical difficulties. I’m a PC person and very technically challenged, and so using an unfamiliar program on a Mac was a little confusing. But that was nothing compared to figuring out how to transfer my data from one source to another: from the camera to Final Cut and then Final Cut to my external hard drive (which was set up for a PC and had to be wiped). It also did not help that I lost everything after day one of editing when the computer crashed. Yay for Apple.
So after a lot of chocolate and a good night’s sleep, I was ready to get back to editing. I changed the order of many of the shots for the second version, and I worked with the timing in the audio (i.e. the poem). This is where the message of the film transformed from man vs. nature into man’s journey alongside nature. At least, this is the message I gleaned from it; it’s up for interpretation. In all honesty I didn’t even know what it meant until I finished it. Considering my method of just going for it and building the film as I go, as opposed to organizing every little detail from the start, I think my first film actually made itself.
This is the second version of The Trusting Woods, directed by Cat Wityk for the Auteur 101 class.
This is a very rough first draft of a short film called The Trusting Woods, based on the poem Who robbed the woods by Emily Dickinson. Directed by Cat Wityk for the Auteur 101 class in Film&Media Studies at Johns Hopkins Summer Programs.