A Project that has not gone to plan and I’m rather disappointed with.
Eyeballs on string: A love story!
The narrative for this video is about how loss affects a person and how the world still continues to move forward, sometimes leaving the person behind or lost.
I wanted to add an abstract quality as many people find watching films like this too painful but when a whimsical element is added, then the fact that it is slightly removed from reality makes it easier to watch.
The general storyline is that a young couple in love and happy together are walking around a park or cityscape with people behind them who are in a similar state of mind – all is well and the day is sunny and the sky is blue. The focus is mostly on this one couple and they laugh and look at each other.
Everyone is holding balloons – which is a metaphor for their souls/spirits (which ever term you want to use) which are always attached to us.
When one of the couple has taken ill/dies (which is not seen… only that the couple is now no more and something tragic has happened) this leaves the lone person with the lone balloon. The rest of the world continues only the bereaved partner’s world has come to a stop.
This person goes through the stages of loss and becomes depressed, they wonder alone and aimless, they eventually fall to the ground in despair. The others still bob along either unaware or ignoring the pain this lone eyeball suffers (perhaps they too only like to interfere with easier types of pain and can choose to ignore the greater types as they don’t know what to do?). Their balloon is released and floats off into the sky, and when the camera falls back to the ground the space where the person was lying is now empty. It is not known what has happened to them… have they transcended societies constraints and judgments (ie: fake sincerity, having to grieve a certain way within a set time), or have they committed suicide to join their partner or are they just missing and no one knows where or even cares?
(The eyeballs on string look like balloons and balloons tend to pop once they reach a certain point due to air pressure so does the eyeball know that it will pop?)
Where the initial idea came from.
I created a sketch some time ago of two eyeballs attached together with string. I then had a dream where these forms were grouped with others and they all floated uniformly around their space; Similar to the usual social grouping perhaps, with couples and families and then one of the balloons popped… it’s partner (and eyeballs do tend to come in pairs and lose the depth of field when vision is lost in it’s partner!) cries and then loses focus, drifting to the ground and floats aimlessly amongst the strings of the other eyeballs that carry-on regardless. Eventually the balloon/eyeball floats off up to the sky and I was left wondering on it’s means of escape. I scribbled the notes of my dream down and it’s been sat on a post-it note until this film… shame I haven’t done it justice but it really needs to be a flash animation and perhaps with better planning. (practice is needed and more research!)
Animation or Live Action?
I would have liked to create this as an animation but due to my lack of drawing skills and time frame I decided to try live action coupled with basic animation using Final Cut Pro. I did consider making the eyeballs in Papier-mâché, which would have enabled me to film them with more control against a green screen.
Problems of Real Life People!
After finding a suitable couple to film we found that the only time to actually shoot was in a small timeframe and we had to do it locally. I knew that I wanted greenery and skyline in the video so a local park was chosen. (A thank you to Emily Wilson and Alex Newton for volunteering – you can find their blog here: HandMadeHandsome).
Unfortunately, the park was fairly empty as I had wanted more people milling around to signify the fact that the world continues even when a person feels that the world has stopped and lost its meaning to them. So I do feel that this aspect has now been lost from the initial proposal.
I am also unused to ‘directing’ people and I do not like to ‘put people out’ so when I came to editing the film and the change in context with no other people in the background I found it difficult to edit with these new changed in mind.
I missed taking a shot of the couple’s faces close up and the poor quality of the camcorder means that zooming in post filming is a poor option.
What would I do next time.
Work with another person and a better camcorder! This project was supposed to be group work but I had no group to work with. The only other person had already developed his ideas and I had mine – it’s difficult for people to just drop their projects and help somebody else with theirs.
I find that coming up with ideas is easy but trying to articulate them to others or even to get them down on to paper proves to be extremely difficult let alone then trying to form this into a video type platform. (but this is also why I’m on this course to try to learn how to combat these issues!)
A better quality camcorder/video would have helped, as when I tried to zoom in via Final Cut Pro the images became pixellated. This also caused issues with adding filters; instead of clear line art/posterising of the couple the imagery came out messy and not quite clean and clear as I wished so the line art/posterising had to be removed.
Trying to make the eyes and balloons match up in a way that aided the narrative of the storyline was incredibly tedious and they did not blend the way that I wanted.
I then tried importing the sequence into photoshop but this was not helpful in the timeframe that I had left.
The balloons at the very beginning where the couple are getting closer and closer to the camera should show the eyes on the balloons slowly forming and opening; this acts as an introduction to the balloons being the souls of the couple. I also tried to blend the balloon/eye sequence into the couples close up faces in another segment, which is not very successful but wanted to re-enforce the notion of the balloon/eyes and the couple being connected.
As the quality was poor I found that I kept having to re-do the eye placements and style so that in the end I ran out of time. A segment of the balloon/eye animation is missing and the eyes are not suppose to be randomly floating around like butterflies (even if it does make me laugh!).
Also the segment where the balloon/eye/soul is shocked to be without its partner and becomes frantic then goes through the typical stages of grief, it’s suppose to then calm down and float aimlessly until finally becoming depressed. I found that the ‘frantic’ part is not manic enough and that it then jumps to calm in an instant. This is not what is I intended. Again this was to do with time and losing patience with the project.
Green screening (chroma key) – I used green card with cut-out holes for the shooting of the eyes in various ‘moods’ and looking in different directions then in Final Cut Pro I used the chroma filter to make the eyes float on the layer above the balloon sequences – this wasn’t as clean as I liked and the edges seemed to move in each frame so I then exported these segments into single images which were then cleaned up in Photoshop – a total of 162 but only 136 were used – there was suppose to be more but as that took long enough I just re-used the previous eye sequences.
other techniques used: Frame by frame animation of eyes onto Balloon sequences, also re-scaling individual frames to zoom in and out for dramatic effects.
Cropping of frames in-order to remove a balloon so that the main balloon/character is viewed on their own – this meant that a sky sequence was needed on the layer below so that there were no ‘holes’ in the frame.
Colour/exposure had to be adjusted to try to blend the skies together. This worked on some sequences but not successful on each – plus the pixelisations became more apparent if the only way to get more sky was to zoom in. I did later shoot more sky footage but the quality and lighting was too different to incorporate into the film.
Still images of skies were used in the titles and these were animated by panning and zooming into the image using the motion settings.
The titles text were created in Final Cut Pro using the scrolling text option which is rather basic. I would have liked to redo these titles and credits but as the eyes / balloons have taken too long this idea was abandoned.
Overall I think this project was a disaster! It’s messy and the time it took just to place the eyeballs on to the balloons took forever and yet they are still jumpy and do not blend right. The Audio (created by Andrew Wilson) was just pinned on as I ran out of time and patience!
well… This is the video itself:
CD cover: I made a double sleeved CD cover – one for the playable DVD and one for the Quicktime .mov files as requested in the brief. A CD label with the same front images was attached to both CD’s and also a label to specify the DVD/Quicktime options.