Initial Research Question:

How can a short film effectively represent or evoke the emotional complexity of a more complex piece of narrative? To what extent can this accentuated intensity of feeling engender engagement, memorialisation, and plenitude of meaning in the viewer?

Aims & Objectives

  1. To create an introductory mood film, promotional film or introductory title sequence which is strongly evocative of the chosen piece of work
  2. To explore how to build or represent a narrative structure out of non-script-based moving image – ie how to build narrative and emotional engagement for visually based narrative?
  3.  Inevitable role of typography – to explore how typography animation is/can be used within graphic moving image as part of the informational content of a title piece but more broadly the choice of text, its visual treatment, the way in which it is animated.
  4. To gain a working foundation knowledge/practice of key ways of thinking about and processes for designing for motion, and methods of technical realisation (After Effects, Cinema 4D, sound, stop motion)

Broader Context: Where is Graphic Moving Image located?

* Is GMI new?

Live action based moving image has been being used for many years through film and television to represent all manner of ideas, stories/narratives, events, objects, and other cultural artefacts. Alongside these there were pieces of moving image work with a graphic emphasis, but they were a relatively marginal form.

There were experiments with graphic as well as non-narrative based live action film (such as Cinepoems and Cubist and Surrealist film) in the very early 20th Century. Later in the 1960’s moving graphic work was used in film title sequences and other work with very early computer generated animation. (examples here). In the 70’s there was the use of animated typography and graphics in television title sequences (such as in the USA with the ABC Network animated logo), and these developments evolved into broadcast design.

So moving image incorporating graphic elements or moving image with a graphic focus has been around for some time.

* Is GMI becoming more prevalent? 

It seems as though it’s really in the past 10 to 15 years that there has been an accelerating use of more pieces which use drawn, illustrated, graphic and other non-live action elements within moving image. In 2000 I’m not sure that there were any “motion designers”. Now it is perhaps a recognisable discipline, even if it is not a clearly defined one.

As technology has enabled all elements to be moving/animated and to be combined/composited/layered in more ways, and as there has been a realisation that motion pieces were both more feasible and could have more impact or difference through the application of graphic sensibility, there has been an accelerating convergence between the graphic and live action, and an increasing divergence too – with graphic and animated work often supplanting the role of live-action.

* How is GMI becoming used?

It seems that an array of cultural forms are using some sort of graphic moving image based trailers, promotion and or intro/title sequences – as seen by the rise of book trailers and as Abi has mentioned, theatre trailers. In many of these cases using live action film could not be considered because of cost, asset, and creative issues.

The expectations we have are accelerating for the already accepted or more  “traditional” uses of GMI – for title sequences and promotions for film, television and video.

How could it be used in the future? It doesn’t have to be locked into a single screen.

Other delivery methods? Does it have to be a single screen? What about multiple screens? What arrangements of multiple screens – how would these interrelate/interact? What about the context of the screen(s)? Where they are physically located/situated? How about projection? Outdoor/indoor environmental onto which substrates?

What about interaction between films and user input? Do I really want to go there?

Field of Study: Emotion, Memory, Ambiguity, Intensity

I’m preoccupied by these key themes which keep recurring in the span of my attention.

It’s not that every sequence I’d like to work on needs to have some/all/any of these in abundance or even at all. However for me they are elements which are core to the degree to which a piece could have plenitude of meaning, rather than just informative or communicative in a direct sense.

Many layered richness of visual form connotes many layered richness of meaning? Is it in the spaces in between facts, the known, certainties – where questions are formed, possibilities emerge, positions/thoughts/feelings align into parts and wholes? Is it the space in between, the interpretation where meaning happens? Is it in this space where meaning is carried across – metaphor – meta-pherein?

“Memories have no locus, and lie within the connections, not in “places”, or schemata”, Frances Butler, The ABCs of Bauhaus, Lupton, p.50.

Ambiguity and fragmentation / incoherence forces a reaction – makes us uncomfortable or dissociated or questioning – active as viewers? We engage as we unconsciously try to find an order or a story or a reason or a whole out of the parts – at 24 frames per second…

Feature films convey their meanings and involve the weaving of these threads, over 90 minutes and mostly using live action or simulated live action via CGI.

Motion graphic pieces? We tend to think of them as being only a few minutes long. There is the potential for short sweet intensity…

but also maybe this difference in expectation may afford the opportunity to convey less “informational” narrative and more “emotional narrative”.

What would I like to create?

Intro/Promo/Title Sequence…for film / tv / other screen-based media / book / events / live projection

Creating a film which represents and is strongly evocative the mood of the original chosen piece. Mood narrative, conjuring a feeling, setting a feeling of expectancy – what will happen next? what will this be about? how will I feel about this flim/book/play/dance/event/experience?

Visual exploration – that we tire of seeing things represented in direct ways. Now that we grow up acculturated to an environment saturated by messages, what once were parts of an oblique system of signs conveying meanings – are becoming cliched, blunt, overused. The rate of change of meanings of the symbolic languages that surround us has been increasing as we swim in this ever-deepening sea.

What makes us feel something is less about what we are told – it is less about direct information, less about accepted symbolism or language.

“Most forms of imagination, for example, of innovation, intuitive problem solving, spiritual thinking or artistic creativity require us to transcend language, at least language in the accepted sense of a referential code. Most thinking, like most communication, goes on without language.” – The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Modern World, I. McGilchrist, 2009, p. 107.

Feeling something is a conscious/unconscious choice, so we become complicit in the the feelings that we experience in response to whatever catalysed it. We are complicit each moment as we continue to watch something, we are giving a piece a… chance to develop, we are satisfying a curiosity, we watch and a web of expectations and unbidden responses wells up, something coalesces out of that beginning, a cloud of unasked questions, a set of positions emerges out of the fog of unknowing, constellations of meaning(s) emerge and shift and re-form as we watch something happening across a time-span…

I would like to create a piece that is more akin to poetry than information or summary or which is just a kind of shorthand to the original chosen piece – poetry… “…activate[s] a broad net of connotations, which though present to us, remain implicit, so that the meanings are appreciated as a whole, at once, to the whole of our being, conscious and unconscious, rather than being subject to the isolating effects of sequential, narrow-beam attention. As long as they remain implicit, they cannot be hijacked by the conscious mind and turned into just another series of words, a paraphrase.” – The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Modern World, I. McGilchrist, 2009, p. 116

Inspirational work example:

Momoco’s work: specifically?

  • Great Expectations title sequence 2011 –
  • liked the fact of it’s emergence and transformation over time, with a mixture of live action and illustration and graphic richness, almost baroque
  • found it strongly evocative and it strongly underlined or prepared me for watching the feature
  • by emergence I mean a diffuse unclear yet complex uncertainty which resolves into a clearer wholeness, which nevertheless is another potent apocryphal symbol rather than a clear certainty.

Action Plan:

* Research:

Research on title sequences

Uncredited – Solana/Boneu

The Art of the Title Sequence – Solana

Research to determine which form of media this introductory title sequence will “represent”

  • film, play, tv, book, play, or event?
  • marginal, classic, or hypothetical piece?
  • research the chosen piece which is to have an intro/promo/title sequence made for it

Research into visual perception, phenomenology of perception, psychology, emotion specifically, perception of motion, sound and music use in film

Research into narrative theory in film and literature

Research into multiple-screen, projection, projection-mapping

* Asset production/acquisition:

Stills, film sequences, scripts, text etc from the chosen piece

Create additional photos, video, sound, text – to support the chosen piece assets above

* Experiments/research, narrative and storyboarding:

Visual, typographic, audio and other research/experimentation to create and narrow possibilities for the piece

Develop the narrative for the intro/promo/title sequence

Develop initial storyboards

* Create rough prototype/run-through from initial storyboards:

Test storyboards and visual audio treatments/elements by creating a highlights rough cut

Develop final storyboards

Production of final version

Edit journals and thinking in preparation for Visual Summary