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The 6th Wall of Reductive Distortion

Notes based on Verboten concept of the 6th Wall of Reductive Distortion and its application to making an avant-garde short film.

“As I paused on all fours, my head twisting left and right, barely able to squeeze between the bright white wash background lights, I felt…like the master of a tiny universe.”

The mirror I employed as a “third light” was doubly blinding.

The uniquely narcissistic aspects encouraged in avant-garde immediately present a danger of self indulgence. Already I feel that too much wants to get out at once. Need to focus on a narrative of some sort or this could descend into nonsense. Less is more.

I need to actually shoot the film. By following my method of attempting to scale the 6th wall I am naturally led to focus on technical innovation, not yet concerned with a specific narrative beyond a theme of some kind. This mirrors the history of avant-garde development generally so I have begun writing a program to create my avant-garde film effects.

Faced with the daunting task of calibrating the camera I begin my first manipulations beyond the basic video feed. Every few frames I test a pixel for a specific colour and if it’s not there then my program will progressively adjust a camera setting to a near random value and test the pixel again. If it’s closer it will keep the value, otherwise it returns to the last value. If it’s no worse then it will progress to the next setting.

Each progressive frame becomes part of the raw film to be edited later as the program “learns” to achieve the colour palettes I prefer. This is a powerful tool for quickly changing colour pallets for different sequences. Later a narrative of sorts will guide these transitions. This is an example of leveraging my own unique abilities to address the 6th wall of “Reductive Distortion” as an aspiring film maker.

This has led to many strange and interesting visuals. Many of which are quite nice. However, I think I will need to be able to change the focal point by touch so I can quickly change the parameters while filming. I will also have to add at least one other colour test pixel so the image can eventually achieve the desired scene conditions more precisely.

This was a mistake for a short film on a tight time line. There is burden of work implied as soon as I started to work on new tools for precise control. It actually seems that in practice the effort to make more precise tools to achieve a precise vision is actually ruining my efforts to create avent-garde. I was getting better results faster by letting the camera and nature do the work and simply choosing the frames I like. Is this how assemblage became so attractive I wonder. Though this is unique raw content, it still feels like an assembly process because of my dominant reliance on “choosing” rather than specifically creating my frames.

So switching to environmental and subject of interest experiments has produced great results and has allowed me more flexibility to produce an audio enhanced “narrative” that injects an emotional implication rather than a causal story. I hope this will maintain an appropriately abstract yet sensible experience. I am not trying to create random noise, hence the choosing process I think is so critical to guiding this vision.

By introducing a second high def camera for experiments in quality contrast I feel that a clear comparison frame to frame of high to low def will have interesting results. I also hope to examine the use of polished frames by forcing the two styles to coexist.

I think I can draw a comparison to acting often symbolized by two masks. One is comedy and one is drama implying that a true actor does both. This can cause problems in marketing where for example a serious actor may not be taken seriously after doing a successful comedy. In the same way avant-garde is both the experimental form and the progressive narrative. Without both it’s lacking the support needed to produce something whatever that might be to any given individual and will instead fall more comfortably under analysis to either art house or devices testing.

The clearer the narrative then the more hybrid the film begins to feel so I think I’ve got a good balance here even if I still think it’s a little to derivative.

The strain method of categorizing appears to be, although not arbitrary, in effect randomly generated based on circumstantial historical emergence. This seems to mirror the very rigidity that avant-garde so often criticizes in the established elites. The elite being high art in theory because they can create immaculate visions based on their incredible skills. I am not confident that I can replicate this skill so quickly though I feel compelled to try and add elements of a more precise nature. Pride?

I have decided I need to shoot a few different segments and compile them together. I’ll use the haunting oscillation of the audio from comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko to form a logical sequence.

The narrative is intended to be purely emotional. A celebration of the achievement of landing on a comet and the subtle fear of the unknown. This film represents my feelings on the matter. Everything is chosen with this in mind, and each segment represents a different phase of the journey. The flight, the landing, and the bounce.

The focus on mysterious objects with highlighted visual distortion is a deliberate attempt to suggest the completely unknown expectation of landing on a comet. Going in with only the most minimal of knowledge allows me to explore the mystery of such events using minimalist strain elements. It is notable that I pick frames that remind me personally of the comet so there is a sense of rocky irregularity to the content.

I am trying to explore the comet via artistic tools. To understand the impact of such things in my inner world as expressed on film. I am trying to connect the audience, not to me, but to the comet through my subconscious perception. To notice what I noticed in a controlled sequence of suggestive impressions.

The hope is that the result will in some way reflect a meaningful exploration of these ideas by giving a series of suggestively valid impressions surrounding the ideas that I have matched to the comet’s own electromagnetic signal.

Having found my motif through rigorous selection, I’m reshooting and extracting a clip of the comet Philae landing then cutting and treating the footage.

I discovered an interesting effect where in I could cut the material to create the illusion of progressively closer cutaway sequences while actually just jumping back and forth. I timed it based on the relative size of the probe to the comet which seems to be the source of the illusion.

For impact I have increased the frame rate gradually throughout the film and timed it to about 1 minute to accompany the audio track. As the frames increase all pixels are brightened in proportion regardless of cut-away.

Subtle highlighting of the shapes has produced a good radical metaphor of an alien head suggesting the idea of an alien civilization becoming aware of humans through our sudden intrusion into their territory. The skull-like visage would imply a less than friendly potential, but it’s still open ended.

Finished the film and placed intro and exit segments. Showed it to an audience. Fin.

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Next Up: A Quick Talk With Grandpa


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