Uncontrolled Documentary

Shooting a documentary in an uncontrolled situation is a difficult job because it is impossible to predict what, if anything, will happen. A clear understanding of your point-of-view can help. When something happens in an uncontrolled situation, how do you want the viewer to feel emotionally about it? You may need to develop different visual plans and have the ability to change plans quickly, depending on the situation.

Examine your shooting location carefully before you begin and try to take advantage of the visuals that are already there. Can placing the camera in a more appropriate position take advantage of visual components that are already there? Will specific lenses help to include or exclude certain visual components? The more you know about your subject and point-of-view, the easier it will be to photograph the pictures that communicate your ideas.

The most control comes in the editing room. Here, the footage can be analyzed and graphed for the basic visual components. The nature of the action in your shots will govern how the images are cut together, but be aware of the contrast and affinity in the visual components, because it will affect the viewers' emotions.

The Video Game

The only difference between a traditional story and a video game story is that the viewer has some control over the plot. This, however, does not excuse the video game creator from controlling the visual components.

Part of the experience of any video game is its structure and the progression in the game's journey or goals. The Principle of Contrast & Affinity can make the structure of the game more visually dynamic as the game progresses.

As a player advances to new levels, the game's intensifying conflict should be reflected in the visual structure. As a player gets closer to the completion (or climax) of each episode or level, the visuals should intensify or gain contrast.

All the visual components are being used in any video game, and the game players will react to the visual contrasts and affinities. Planning a visual structure, creating visual rules, and using them in a video game will greatly improve the gaming experience.

The Internet

The Internet is simply another two-dimensional surface used to show pictures containing space, line, shape, tone color, movement, and rhythm. All the visual structure ideas discussed in this book apply to every picture on the Internet.

We can carry a screen with us. This small, or sometimes tiny, screen has certain visual limitations. As the screen size shrinks, deep space becomes more difficult to create.

The computer screen's ability to show size difference is inadequate, because the average screen is small. This physical dimension severely limits the size of large objects and makes small objects difficult to see. PDA screens are even smaller. The important depth cue of size change cannot be used on tiny screens.

If all objects in a picture have the same amount of textural detail, the picture appears flat. Internet video can have this problem, depending on the resolution of the downloaded image. Tiny PDA screens have such low resolution that textural detail is unreadable.

The depth cue of tonal separation is difficult to use because video has a limited tonal range. Bright whites and dark blacks can't be reproduced because the contrast range falls outside the technical capabilities or viewing conditions of tiny screens. Black is particularly difficult to create because most video screens are viewed in brightly lit environments.

Pictures on the Internet or transmitted to PDAs cannot distinguish between subtle changes of color, and tend to reproduce similar but different colors identically. This phenomenon is called color localization and occurs in any color reproductive medium. By ignoring subtle differences in color, the screens lose depth. Color localization is discussed more completely in Chapter 6, "Color."

Multiple Camera Television Programs

Multiple cameras are used in studio and location production. Each type of production is its own world. The multicamera studio shooting style used for situation comedies, daytime dramas, game shows, and talk shows was developed in the 1950s and is still in use today.

Situation comedies and daytime dramatic programs produced in a studio are staged, designed, and photographed like a stage play inside a theatrical proscenium. The emphasis is placed on the actors, which is fine, but if you turn off the sound, you realize that the dialogue is conveying all the content. Most changes in the visual structure are minimized due to production limitations. Except for minor variations in set design, lighting, and wardrobe, these programs share an identical visual style.

Quiz shows have permanent scenery that is designed to give the program a unique look. Once designed, there is no variation from episode to episode in the visual style of these programs. Although the camera styles of different programs vary (some have more visual contrast than others), once the camera style is established, it rarely changes. The only changing element is the new contestants.

Talk shows have even less variation. Talk shows are staged flat and are copies of each other's layouts. Although each program has its own style of background scenery (color, shape, line, tone), the basic visual components remain identical from show to show. The only variation is the guest.

Location-based reality programs have an entirely different look from their studio counterparts. The physical nature of many reality programs motivates more dynamic uses of the visual components. Most reality shows replace the flat space of studio production with deep space. The wide-angle lenses used in reality television include more depth cues.

Hand-held, highly mobile cameras can easily create diagonal lines, relative movement, and rhythm shifts that are unnecessary or impossible to produce in the multicamera studio situation. Careful camera placement will force object movement perpendicular to the picture plane, which is far more dynamic than the parallel movement of situation comedies and talk shows.

The locations often shift dramatically in reality programs, so there are opportunities for constant contrasts in all the visual components. Many reality programs involve physical activity without dialogue, emphasizing the visual components in the environment instead of close-ups of talking heads.

Single-Camera Television Programs

Single-camera television shows tend to find specific rules for the visual components and then exploit those rules to make their show look unique. A program's visual style is more recognizable as the component choices become more extreme. Those choices usually involve:

a. Actors can be staged in deep or flat space.

b. Sets and locations can be longitudinal or frontal.

a. Dolly-mounted or hand-held camera b. Use of zooming lens or only fixed focal length lenses c. Motivated or unmotivated camera movement d. Slow or fast camera movement e. Wide angle or telephoto lenses

a. Limiting the range of hue, brightness, and saturation b. Adding post production effects

• Lighting choices:

a. Light can be coincidental or noncoincidental.

b. Tonal range can be controlled by lighting or art direction.

a. Continuous or fragmented coverage style b. Traditional editing or unmotivated jump-cutting editorial styles

Visual style is actually a carefully chosen set of basic visual components. Specific visual component rules work well for television shows that must shoot a lot of material quickly. It's easier to make decisions because the visual component choices are purposely limited to maintain the show's style. Television shows often use different directors, so defining the visual style will help to maintain a consistent look regardless of personnel changes.

The Animated Film

It doesn't matter if your animation is traditionally hand-drawn or produced with a computer. Animation offers the greatest amount of visual control, because everything must be created. The number of visual control possibilities is far more complex, because so many more choices must be made. There is no gap between the live action world and the animation world. Both share a common visual language.

Creating graphs, defining a point-of-view, and choosing visual components is critical to the production of any hand-drawn or computer-generated imagery. Every aspect of this book relates directly to the creation of animated films, and must be used with even more control than in a live action production.

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Responses

  • lucas vogt
    What is the difference between uncontrol and control documentary?
    2 years ago
  • maddison
    What is controlled and uncontrolled documentaries?
    2 years ago
  • Eerik
    What is controlled and uncontrolled documentary?
    2 years ago

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