Sound and vision: Test Shots for shadow puppet show

This short video contains three separate shots, which I edited together as an experiment to learn what my next steps will be with regard to making a filmed shadow puppet show.

I cut the bottom off a cardboard box and painted the inside of it black. I placed it on a box in front of my computer screen, so that my screen could be viewed through it. I opened an image of a silhouetted tree with white background and took a 10 second shot. For the second shot, I took the lens cap of the camera and moved it in front of the cardboard box to see whether the movement could be picked up and looked suitably silhouetted. For the third shot, I opened a moving image file, my short film Adaptations, and played it. The sound in this test video is the sound captured by the camera, a Canon 60D.

In the first shot, it’s hard to know there is a cardboard box surrounding the screen. The screen has a textured look to it, which I like. The first shot immediately cuts to the second shot, which makes it look like a continuous shot, which I also like and discovered inadvertently – the camera didn’t move at all between shots, although there is slight camera wobble when I press the on button, so I need to be aware of this when shooting. The third shot of the short film: the short film starts with a black screen and then cuts to a white matte before the title of the film appears, letter by letter, accompanied by Justine Smith’s fabulous flute playing. Again, the screen seems textured – there are tiny squares on the screen. Whilst the screen is completely white, which is a dirty white, which seems perfect for the aesthetic of a shadow puppet show, the sides of the cardboard box can be seen at the sides of the screen. This gives another sense of texture and depth, which I also like.  There are dark marks on the screen – this is black paint: I was impatient to experiment so placed the box against the screen before the paint was fully dry. When the short film cuts to a shot of newspaper on pavement, the light fades at the sides and the cardboard can no longer be seen.

I like the idea of using a white screen. Cardboard is too flimsy – I had to prop it up and it fell over several times; this is not acceptable for filming the actual puppet show, so I need some plywood instead or some other harder material. This doesn’t appear to relate to the filming of the shadow puppet show but I like that the camera picked up today’s weather and the short film weather sound effects – they matched one another: screaming wind.

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