Friday, October 11, 2013

Camera Technique: MirrorMask

I took me a while to find some pre-made gifs that show the use of transition in Dave McKean & Neil Gaiman's 2005 film MirrorMask...but, evidently, I did. ;)

First, my favorite of the gifs (all are sourced from various Tumblr accounts):

Above, the animated wipe starts from the right and moves horizontally to the left. It is really creative because, rather than just occurring on its own, the transition is forced by two drawn characters as they turn a page in a sketchbook. This specific scene really sets the tone for the movie with its artistic style.

Lens flare is not in our textbook (Anatomy of Film 6th ed. by B. Dick), and while I certainly am not particularly fond of this effect *cough*Abrams*cough*, it works well in these two scenes. In the first gif, the main character Helena is going through a kind of dream-within-a-dream sequence, and the transition from scanning the surrounding environment to her mother touching her face—bridged by the flare—helps pull the audience back into the immediate moment.

In the second gif, Helena places the MirrorMask on her face and turns to her friend Valentine. This makes a sort of distortion similar to that created with swish pan but, rather than a blur, there is a flash of light. Valentine is revealed in the mask's reflection, completing the transition.

Time Lapse
This scene goes through a transition via the use of time lapse. Basically, the recording is sped up like in those science videos that display a flower blooming in a matter of seconds. Looking at it more closely though, the lights of the circus sign do not appear to be in, editing/VFX magic? If you know the more technical term for this, please leave a comment.

Overlay/Contrast Cut
Lastly, another gif of The Campbell Family Circus. This shot actually captures a lot of detail as Helena runs toward the tent, which is reflected in the pool of water on the asphalt, thereby creating continuity with the theme of duality. The blank papers from her bedroom wall are overlaid on this image, allowing the audience some insight into the fact that the scenes are connected. The drawings have disappeared; ipso facto, transition your arse over to the big top, pronto!

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  1. These are crazy interesting transitions. I have mixed feelings about lens flare. Sometimes I appreciate the down-to-earthness of letting a shot be transparent for a second; othertimes it seems pretentious. There's one in Gravity that I'm not sure about.

    1. The entire film is a little crazy, to be honest (I mean that in a good way, of course). I think that lens flare can be mightily overused, but other times, as you said, it just works.

      Side note: You've seen Gravity! The trailer looked terrifying...I hope you enjoyed it. :)