Video and portraits

Todays session was about using video to help create a portrait of our subjects. John Oxley, our video artist showed us several video clips and lead us through a discussion of various techniques.

The session was designed to look very quickly at a number of key issues: composition and framing; point of view; who is controlling the interview process – the subject? the writer/director?; is the subject being truthful, or is she acting? do we learn more if the subject knows they are being filmed, but is so engaged in what they are doing that they are effectively unaware of the process? Prior to the session, the group had been asked to look at a handout drawn from The No Camera Course by Ron Dexter. This addressed in more detail issues relating to composition and using a camera.

These issues were explored through watching and discussing the following videos:
The Whole Picture, a Guardian Advert
A Guide to taking a photo C4 Raw Cuts
This is me C4 Raw Cuts
Clips from Zidane: a portrait for the 21st century by Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno

We looked at the way in which the frame and the position of the frame controls and can manipulate what you think you are seeing. Then we explored the extent to which the two subjects in the Raw Cuts videos were attempting either to portray themselves accurately or to control the conclusions the audience would come to. We felt that the process of filming someone doing their normal job offered a means of getting behind any mask or pretence that a subject might use to hide behind.

The group had previously produced a list of questions which they would like to use in interviewing the people who volunteer to be the subjects of this project. Mark and John had put these onto an overhead, and these were used in a practice interview. Two members of the group took on the roles of interviewee and interviewer. The rest of the group were positioned around the room to provide a range of camera angles using either their own mobile phones or the two disgo cameras. This was designed to get the group to consider the practical side of interviewing, recording etiquette, camera placement, etc.

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