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The Horror Genre

Part 1: The Horror Genre

The horror genre often aims to create fear or terror in the viewers. A common film element used in horror movies is the “jumpscare.”  The jumpscare often has the background sound quieted as to create suspense then appear to shock the viewer. Often, jumpscares are close-ups of the frightening item, image, or thing.

Although jumpscares are effective, a good horror film isn’t just crammed with jumpscares since that’ll cheapen the film. Instead, the atmosphere of horror films is often moody and dark creating the right mood. Horror movies also often have less dialogue in favor of more action. An example of this is “A Quiet Place”, a movie with little dialogue but was still received well by the audience.  This was accomplished by having the main antagonist(s) hunt using sound. Since the director carried this theme throughout the entire film, whenever there was a sound louder than a whisper, it would have caused suspense for the audience.

Lighting is also a very important aspect of horror films. Many scenes in horror films often have underexposed lighting which adds to the fear aspect. Sometimes lighting is used to obscure an image or character, causing suspense and unease. Silhouettes are also used often in horror movies, such as when the antagonist creeps up on the protagonist and we can only see the silhouette of them.

Sound design also plays a big part in horror movies. Often, loud and sudden sounds will accompany jumpscares to make it more convincing. Suspenseful music can build up to something large and it sets the tone. If the sound design is off, it will become very apparent to the viewer. For example, if something falls to the ground, the sound should reflect that and not sound like a bell ringing (unless a bell fell).

Since horror films aim to be scary, they may choose to use less conventional camera angles, such as the Dutch Tilt. Non-conventional angles can create an unsettling theme which helps. Another film technique used is the dark voyeur in which we see from the perspective of the antagonist or “stalker”. This technique is used to show the vulnerability of the victim. When watching a horror film, viewers expect scary scenes or maybe even some violence. If a film classified as horror doesn’t scare or shock or evoke some type of fear from the audience, it doesn’t really do its job.

Some requirements of a short horror film are that there can’t be too much exposition, if your dialogue lasts for too long, you won’t have enough time to set up something and pay it off. You can’t waste time filming something that won’t play a bit part in the plot. Because of how short the film is, the smaller choices affect the film a lot more. Things such as sound and lighting play a bigger part and should add to the scenes and not take away.

Part 2: Horror in Context

Horror is often different in different parts of the world, with different stories being shared. Horror in the west more often leans toward a more obvious slasher type of horror. However, western horror also takes influence from literature with many horror books written by Stephen king adapted into films.  Some examples are “The Shining” and “IT”. In western horror, there is a mix of the supernatural and just plain murderers. Although western horror films may have a more relatable background and setting, they are also less tactful in how they scare, often relying on “shock horror”. They use many jumpscares and a fast and loud orchestral score to scare. They also may contain gruesome deaths. However not every western horror film relies on the same strategies as movies like “A Quiet Place” rely on psychological horror more than physical.

Eastern horror from countries such as Korea and Japan on the other hand is more subtle without much of the “in your face” jumpscares.  Eastern horror puts atmosphere first and sets up for a big pay off. An example of this is “The Ring” where the girl crawls out of the TV is set up.

Horror may also be influenced by the cultural and historical contexts of the region. Films may be influenced by stories passed down through time. However, whether these films are successful is up to the execution. For example, a film may take from mythology and include creepy monsters but if the viewers don’t know or recognize it, then they won’t be scared.

Although my cultural background is from China, I grew up in Canada which caused me to view horror as a genre filled with jumpscares and gore. I used to believe that movies like “Nightmare On Elm Street” and “Friday the 13th” were the pinnacle of the horror genre. Since those films had jumpscares and had a slasher plot. Now that I’ve done the research, I realize that many horror films aren’t all like that.

Part 3: Inspiration for my Film

Since for this project, we should not have violence, I’m thinking about creating a psychological horror. Something made with creative use of lighting might be good. For specific fears, a standard “something is following” is always good but maybe something more creative and innovative would be better. Some techniques that could be used are lighting and unique camera angles. Silhouettes and fade to black could create a sense of mystery and maybe a red herring could work. For example, you see a scary shadow but it turns out to be just a plant or something similar. Maybe you could see an outline and then the lights dim and it disappears. The short film can also have a dual perspective, where it cuts to the “stalker” for a while after a set period. This will allow us to use the “dark voyeur” technique and make it seem more like horror. This idea,  however, may become annoying if we use it too much so maybe use it sparingly. I’ll try to keep dialogue to a minimum because too much exposition may cheapen the scare factor. Loud sounds may be added as a jumpscare since that’s what I mainly know from horror films. Maybe even sound could be kept to a minimum because “A Quiet Place” was successful and that film was pretty silent.

 

 

 

 

 

Citations:

https://photographylife.com/underexposure-and-overexposure-in-photography

https://nofilmschool.com/2016/10/8-spooky-lighting-techniques-you-can-use-your-horror-film

https://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/cinematography-tips-for-horror-filmmakers/

https://morbidlybeautiful.com/eastern-vs-western-horror/

 

My Story- Jan 18 2021

My Story Part 1:

For my mini-film, I will film myself writing something, such as a story. This will be done on the computer via typing.  I want to go through the stages of writing by having shots of typing, a focused face, and ending with printing. I want this film to have a calming feeling as writing is something one does when relaxed. I want this film to show that writing can be comforting, that someone can derive joy from something originally associated with boring school work.

My Story Part 2:

Location: I will film my 5-shot-sequence at the MS/HS library because that is seen as a place of peace, and quiet.

  1. ECU of hands: I will film my hands typing on a computer’s keyboard.  The shot will be from the side of the keyboard and not from above. I will make sure my hands and keyboard are in focus while trying to keep the background out of focus. I will use an aperture of f/2.8 which will produce a shallow depth of field. This will keep the result in more background blur. I will use a focal lens of 42.5mm which is more zoomed in than normal eyesight. I will use a white balance of around 3200K because that is the colour temperature of our classrooms without sunlight. I may control it and change it a bit to get the best shot.
  2. CU of the face:  I’ll film my face with a focused expression. I’ll make sure my facial features are in focus. In the background, I want something that looks comfortable like one of those nice chairs in the library. It’ll be blurry because this is a close up, but the outline will be visible. I will still use an aperture of f/2.8 but I may have the camera just a bit farther away so that there is a larger depth of field for the close up.  I’ll use a focal lens of 42.5mm for this as well since this is what is recommended on DX for close up shots. My white balance will still be 3200K because I’ll be filming in the same room/area.
  3. Wide Shot: I’ll film myself sitting and looking at my laptop. The shot will show the background of the library more clearly and will have me from the waist up.  My expression will be neutral without showing joy or something else. I’ll use an aperture of f/8 since that is a medium aperture. I’ll use a focal lens of 24mm or 25mm because that is roughly what you see with your eyes, it is also what is recommended on DX for the wide shot. My white balance will still be the same at 3200K, this is because I am not changing my setting.
  4. POV: For this, I’ll film myself typing, this time, the screen will be visible. The screen will be in focus as it is what I am looking at. My head and shoulders will be in view but will be a bit blurry. My body, lower than the arms, will not be in view. I will use an aperture of f/8. The focal lens will be 24mm or 25mm because that is roughly what you see with your eyes and a POV is a perspective shot. I will use a white balance of 3200K because the shot will still be in the same location as the previous ones.

For my fifth shot, the interesting angle, I’m thinking about shooting a top-down shot. I think I’ll be printing out what a wrote and film the paper sliding out of the printer from above. I don’t want the camera to be too high up but still want to capture the rest of the actual printer. I’ll use an aperture of f/8 because this won’t be a close up so my field of depth shouldn’t be too shallow.  I will use a focal lens of 24mm or 25mm. For my white balance, I will find a printer that is strictly inside the school without any windows nearby. This is because my white balance will be around 3200K because it’s still inside the school and sunlight would mess that up.

 

Here is my storyboard:

 

A Story In 5 Shots – Jan 12 2021

A Story in 5-Shots

  1. The 5-shot sequence starts off with an extreme close-up. Often, an extreme close up is of the hands and is used to build up suspense. It doesn’t give away too much. The second shot of the sequence is called a close-up. The close-up is normally on the subject’s face, and the subject is clear while the background is blurred. The 3rd shot is called a medium shot. The medium shot often shows a subject or multiple from the waist up. It’s a basic shot that can show off the background and setting. The 4th shot is called a point-of-view shot (over-the-shoulder). This shot helps us connect with the subject by allowing us to view the world in the way they see it. The fifth shot just needs to be from an “interesting angle.”
  • An extreme close-up is meant to only show some features of the subject. For example, the scene may only show the subject’s eyes or hands. This creates a sense of mystery. The background should also be out of focus so that the viewer can focus on the designated subject. The ECU also often has other parts of the subject cut out of the frame because of how close the shot is.
  • A close-up shows off the face of the subject. Unlike the ECU, the close-up normally doesn’t cut out other parts of a subject’s face. In a close-up of the face, the eyes should be in focus and “pop” the most. The background should be blurred because the subject is what we want to focus on and not the background. This shot helps us realize who is doing the thing from the ECU.
  • A medium shot should be taken above the waist without showing the entire subject. The background should not be blurry because this shot sets the scene. It should make it clear where the activity takes place. The shot isn’t close enough for us to know every emotion, but it should establish a connection.
  • A point-of-view shot shows us what the subject is looking at. Normally, the entire subject should not be in the shot, instead just a shoulder or hair. Often, the subject’s shoulder is out of focus to direct the attention to what the subject is seeing. The item or person the subject is looking at should be in focus.
  • This scene from “Jurassic Park” (Steven Spielberg, 1993) has many extreme close-ups, from the dinosaur’s eyes to the mouth of the hunter and finally the hand of the guard. The hand is what we are focusing on. (00:11) The final hand release also may represent the guard’s death with it being shown with mystery but not outright stated.
  • This scene is from “The Shining” (Stanley Kubrick, 1980, Movieclips.com). This is a close up of the villain of the movie breaking down a door.
  • This is an example of the “medium shot.” The shot is from “The Hunger Games” (Gary Ross,2012) and has Katniss and Peeta standing with the shot being above the waist. We can clearly see the background of the arena and where they were fighting with the metal “thing” behind Peeta being the “Cornucopia.”
  • This is an example of a POV shot from “Star Wars: A New Hope” (George Lucas, 1978). In this shot, we see Han and Chewie’s characters from Luke’s perspective with his head on the side.
  1. In the fifth shot, there should be an interesting camera angle. The shot could be looking down with the cameraman on an elevated surface, or the camera is tilted to the side. The shot should just be different. It could also bring some closure.

English 9 Reading #3

Nov 30th, 2020

Title: Ready Player One

Author: Ernest Cline

Pages: 53

So far, I’m enjoying this book.  I like the multitude of references to video games and T.V. shows it has in the book.  The book is also set within a dystopian future which in my opinion, makes it more interesting. Even though I’m only 50 pages in, I think I’ll like this book a lot.

English 9 Reading #2

Nov 9th, 2020

Title: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe(Finished)

Author: C.S. Lewis

Pages: Finished

I enjoyed this book because I thought the concept of the book was interesting. Something that could have been done better though was the showing of major details. For example, the book glossed over some major scenes and just tells them to you in a summary-esque way. All in all though, I enjoyed this book.

English 9 Reading #1

Title: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Author: C. S. Lewis

Page: 63

I thought this book was interesting because, during some parts of the book, the narrator inserts himself into the story and explains some things that may be confusing. It’s like he’s talking to the reader.

Robotic Petting Zoo for G1- Reflection

What are you most proud of?

The thing that I am most proud is that I was able to finish the project and create the animal. Even though what I created was not really what I had in mind and I had to take out some parts, I’m still proud about finishing it without being at school with the resources.

What is something you would change if you did this again? (besides being at school with all the resources)

The thing I would probably change is the coding and the animal. The coding because it was really simple and the animal because then I would be able to try out different ideas.

What have you learned about yourself through this project?

The thing i learned about myself was that I procrastinate too much.  I put things off because in my mind I think that I wouldn’t be able to do it and it would be too hard.

Robot Petting Zoo For G1-Sloth

Preliminary Sketches:

First Sketch

Second Sketch

TinkerCad Model

Creation Process

Creating the Head

Creating the Body

Creating the Limbs

Final Product

Code

Video for G1

Click here

Mental Health and Technology

A) When I’m in the green zone, I feel fine and less stressed about what I have to do. When my mental health is in the green zone, it feels like I can get more work done faster.

B) To keep myself in the green zone, I will sometimes take a break from what I’m doing and listen to some music. When doing school work, will take tiny breaks in-between to keep myself energized. Sometimes I might play a game. Sometimes technology can help me enjoy a break from doing work.

C) A challenge that can take me out of the green zone and into the yellow/orange zone is how when I take a break to go on social media or to play a game, I can lose track of the time and forget about the work I have to do. This will get me stressed because I will still have work to complete and cause me to rush the work. Sometimes when I’m on social media at night, I’ll have a harder time sleeping and so the next morning I won’t be  able to do school work properly.

D) When I am in the yellow/orange zone, I feel stressed and tired. When I do stuff, it won’t be with my full effort so it can cause me to do stuff incorrectly.  Sometimes I might not do the stuff I need to do and will have to rush to finish it the next day.

E) Sometimes just taking a break from technology can help you get back in a good mindset. One time when I was really tired and stressed after trying to finish school work, I stopped using technology for a tiny bit and took a nap. After the nap I felt much better and was ready to do more work.

End of Project Blog Post

With Project Space Race, we had learned a bit about the Cold War and the Space Race that happened between the USSR and the US.  After that, we looked a bit into Space Missions like Mars InSight and also learned about the lunar phases. We did a bit of stuff about space and then had to create a rover that would collect data about the chosen place in space. We also created a company and website for our mission and finally pitched it to investors.

Some important ideas that people took away from our pitch were how we were asking for more of a donation rather than an investment. After hearing our pitch, the most asked question was if our mission was an investment or a charity. We may have been able to change a few people into investing but we don’t really know. Next time if we could get an opportunity to pitch again, I would probably try to incorporate a way to make money for the investors so that they are more inclined to invest.

Something interesting I learned was how competition could drive innovation. For example, the Space Race had caused the 2 large groups of people to work harder and create new creations to win. When the USSR launched Sputnik into space, the US tried harder and tried to get ahead instead of simply catching up. Before this project, I used to think that innovation was driven by people who just wanted to create stuff but now I think that innovation can be driven by many different things. One of those things is competition, another one is the preservation of ourselves. An example of preservation is how people are trying to create new solutions to problems that we have caused like Global Warming by creating Spacecrafts and trying to find different planets that may be habitable. Looking back on Project Space Race, I realize that innovation is the core of this Project. For example, we had to create a rover to travel to a place in space. A big question I still have is what task were the rovers going to complete.

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