Elements of Design

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Let's take as the basis of this essay a remarkable film – Chasing Mavericks, which was filmed in year 2012. The directors of the movie were: Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted. Art directors: Ida Random, Chad Owens and Sophie Carbonell.

In the film industry the light is very important. Bright light attracts the viewer's eye. The scene can be illuminated by ordinary light (the sun, the moon, a simple light) or using a powerful and expensive lighting equipment. The impact on the viewer's emotional response to your movie totally depends on the way of how your scene is lit.

Angle and direction of the light will tell the audience at what time of the day and where the scene takes place. Artists have understood that the quality of light can hide or highlight different things, and it also affects the audience’s response to it.

Lighting can be classified in several ways:

  • How harsh are the shadows?
  • What is the angle of the light?
  • How bright is the light?
  • What color is the light?
  • How many light sources are available, and how they contrast to all of the above types?

Hard light from a small source, whether it is the sun or a spotlight, gives a sharp image. It also gives sharp shadows in the background or on the face of the actor. People  can look unattractive in this light. In the movie such type of light was basically used in scenes that involved indoors shooting.

Soft light from a larger source or from several small sources, gives a soft, calm and romantic image. This type of light was very often used in the shooting of the film Chasing Mavericks, as the film tells the story of surfers. Many scenes were filmed near the ocean, the directors wanted to transfer the flavor of life near the ocean. Many scenes were shot at sunset, and to make the scene more dramatic they have used exactly this type of lighting. Generally, compared to a hard light, it takes much more energy to create the same amount of soft light. In the old movies people had to use harsh lighting because the tape had a low sensitivity to light.

The direction of light on the object also effects the perception of the audience.

Movies are rarely shot while using only one light source. In professional shootings four sources are generally used. This is the main lighting, which provides the objects with the general amount of light, the source is usually located on the 3/4 position. Then - the fill light falls from the side, to soften harsh shadows.

The relative brightness of these sources is called a contrast ratio of illumination. Low contrast, when of the two sources have the same brightness, gives a soft glow. High contrast, where the side fill light is dimmer, gives a sharp, hard light; it is inherent in the villains and is often used in the genre of “black film.” (Wallenstein, 2011)

The third light is not very strong; it is a directional light that illuminates the back of the actor (Backlight). It can come from the top or from the side. This light outlines the contours of the object, giving a three-dimensional representation. It also makes actors hair shiny, and it is called the light for hair. If the backlight is very bright, you get a dramatic silhouette of a hero that can be used for the exciting emergence of the hero or villain, as well as for a romantic view of the protagonist.

This effect is often used in Chasing Mavericks during the night scenes. It is very well used because main characters have magnificent curly hair.

Let’s not forget about the second most important aspect of filming.

Hairstyle, like make-up, is an important component of film making industry. You can use it to more fully disclose the nature of the character.

Hairstyle is inextricably linked with the suit. In order to better pursue this relationship, it is necessary to get acquainted with the concepts of clothing, costume and hairstyle. At first glance, the concept of costume and clothes appear to be identical, but it is not. The term “suit” means specially prepared clothing, hats, shoes and various accessories: bags, fans, umbrellas, as well as hair and makeup. Suit can express social nature of man, his wealth, social status, and personality traits.

The color combination in costume and jewelry clearly indicates the artistic taste of its owner. The shape of costume changes over time. It is influenced by fashion, taste and the concept of beauty, and social changes in society. Costume is a work of art. It clearly reflects the spirit of its time and ideals, so the suit cannot be viewed in isolation from the political, social and cultural life of the population of its country.

The term “clothes” is used to indicate all that protects the human body from the effects of climate, the form of clothes remains substantially unchanged for a long time. Clothing includes various types of products: clothes, trousers, jackets, underwear, and hosiery. The costume is closely related to hair.

For example, our movie is about the life of surfers, whose lives are closely linked with sport and ocean. In the film, costumers transfer this style of life by dressing the actors in hoodies and sports casual clothing in everyday life and in the swim suits, while they surf.

Make-up artists take into account the color gamut of the suit and the complexion of the actor: the brighter are the colors of the costume, the brighter must be the makeup, blush tone, lips, eyes and eyebrows.

The costume and the make-up must have a balance, harmony; otherwise they will break the whole perception of the image.

A make-up artist should first take into account the peculiarities of a person’s appearance, the entire figure of the actor. The face of the actor may be chubby, large, round, or conversely thin. Some features of the face of the actor can fit to the face of the character. They need to be emphasized, to bring them to the viewer. Other features have to be removed. Makeup artist always has to adapt his plan to face of the actor. More precisely, he must see, find, guess the planned features of the artistic image. So he carefully and earnestly studies a person's appearance, imagining what can be done with the help of a make-up.

But imagine a different case - the actor's face coincides with the appearance of the hero that he plays. It would be easy to work with such an actor, but if his acting will not have the energy and inspiration, needed to create an image, then external features of the character will become lifeless.

Each director, building the mise en scene, not only uses his experience in observing the behavior of people in everyday life, but also takes into account many nuances that make the mise en scene expressive, meaningful and finds imaginative solution.

Director worked diligently to create the atmosphere. He managed to capture the atmosphere of freedom and delights of life near the ocean coast. All the scenes were shot with exceptional heed to details. All the elements are thoroughly elaborated and work well together creating a very vivid picture of what is happening, dragging us into this wonderful world. He managed to convey to the audience the importance of dreams in our lives. And sometimes this dream can cost you your life.

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