Dec 6, 2009

Intro of Oscar Schindler part1

Recently I re watched Schindler's List: directed by Steven Spielberg, based on a book (which of course is based on a true story) by Thomas Keneally, screenplay by Steven Zaillian, edited by Michael Kahn, cinematography by Janusz Kaminski, and scored by John Williams. The film undertakes one of the more complex sensitive subjects, and transports the audience to WWII Poland to retell one of the most powerful stories in human history. The film follows dozens of characters who don't seem to have much screen time at all, yet, as they are seen at different points in the plot, we feel like we learn their entire life story.

Schindler's List was shot in black and white, the main purpose of which was to legitimize all of the documentary style footage. The main character moments, where shot with a more fancy, cinematic approach. Of these, I really enjoyed the introduction of the the leading character Oscar Schindler (Liam Neeson), and wanted to understand why I liked it. So I thought I'd analyze the storytelling and visual mechanics of this sequence and share it here.

We are introduced to Oscar through a series of close ups. In the very first shot we see a man's hands pouring a large shot of vodka. Perhaps to calm the nerves? The composition includes a radio, and a newspaper suggesting that this man has been keeping up with current events. There is a tea pot and cup; He's been indoors for a while. Was he doing research? Taking notes in the small notebook by the radio? The wall seems a little dirty and old suggesting that he is not wealthy.

The close ups that follow consist of the man picking out of 3 suits and ties (most people don't own 3 suits, so this tells us he cares greatly about his appearance). He picks out the right cuff link for his shirt, which again reinforces his class level. He puts a handkerchief in his breast pocket, and taps his chest which feels like "yeah, everything is just right". The next couple of close ups focus on him collecting stacks of money from various drawers in the apartment. He also gathers other valuable collateral like a watch, probably with the intentions of selling it. I guess this is all of the money this man has, and he needs to use it all now (thus the glass of vodka). The sequence ends with him attaching a pin representing his political party. The duration of this shot is considerably longer than all the others, thus putting emphasis on this point. It is also the closest of the preceding close ups.

The following is a continuous steady cam shot:

The camera stays behind this character, not showing his face. I suppose this is similar to the intro of Indiana Jones.
The man enters to the lobby of a nightclub and is greeted by the maître d' who seems impressed by the tall visitor.

The mysterious man whispers something into the maître d's ear and hands him a neatly folded bill. Probably no one would ever pass a bill this high over one's shoulder, but it works so well in composition that we just buy it. We stay behind the shoulder of our character, and the older gentleman looks up with a welcoming smile. Notice that Oscar is always higher than everyone in every frame. Everyone looks upwards at him, which makes him high status and important.
The maître d' leads him to the newly "purchased" table and seats him. This is still all in one shot, and now the camera begins to follow the maître d' as he walks around the table and back to his post. As he circles the table, he glances at Oscar as if he is interested to know more about his mysterious guest. The camera spins around following the maître d', and stops at the now sitting Oscar Schindler. This one continuous shot now ends on this up shot, which again makes him higher in frame than anyone else (even though he is sitting). The camera lingers here for a longer period of time creating contrast with the rest of the shot thus placing more emphasis one this particular part. The director tells you this man is important, look at his face. He sits like an emperor, and lets off a little smile of satisfaction "yeah, they think im badass, and I got away with it".

Now the camera cuts for the first time. We see the maître d' entering back to the lobby, yet he cant help but keep looking back at Oscar. As he goes around the window, we see two more waiters looking at Oscar. They say "Do you know this man?" No one knows him.

He is now a part of the crowd, and is free to maneuver within the club, which I will try to breakdown for a later post. Gotta to run, I'll leave this here for now.

This was fun though! Cheers

Oct 27, 2009


I made this in 4th year at animation school at Sheridan. 5 months of storyboarding and re-boarding, 2 weeks of design and 3 months of mad production. Its all now but a fuzzy dream. There are a lot of things that were rushed, but it is what it is. Over the last year C Block has been showing in a few festivals around the world, and I was fortunate to attend a couple of them. I will try to make a a summary of it all at some point.

Hand drawn on paper, colored in Photoshop, composited in AfterEffects. Enjoy:

Oct 18, 2009

a film in 10 hours

This weekend I participated in a 1 day event called Cinemasports as part of the Mill Valley Film Festival. The mission was to make a 3 min film in less than 10 hours given 3 ingredients that were made public at 9am of the day of shooting. The ingredients were: A Shaman, Stolen Documents, and a Spicy Pepper.

We scrambled for a couple of hours and came up with a rough story, and just started shooting...The editing started shortly after and we built the film as the footage was coming in. We shot around the festival headquarters, in the road, the public library (somehow no one kicked us out), a scary PG&E building, and a local park. 10 hours later we were burning the DVD while other team members were saving spots for us in the line to see the screening with our films.

It was a really fun screening and we are amazed with different creative interpretations of the ingredients. Our film received a ton of laughs and even a little sincere aww..which of course made our night! Our team was titled Team Puppycat (Brandon Hyman, Emma Coats, Erick Tryzelaar, Mach Kobayashi, and Vladimir Kooperman).


Agent Pepper from SoundsCrazyLetsDoIt on Vimeo.

Sep 20, 2009

been long time

Yep, my neglected blog is getting another little post. I've got a lot to post about; just no time to do it! Still setteling in[at my new place... I'll get around to the posts soon I hope. I've got a bunch of photos to show from trips to Annecy and Israel. For now here are a couple of paintings:

Guache and color pencil. 'Best potatoes in the East'

If Vlad made Avatar, it would look like this :-) Water color. (colour - if you are Canadian!)

Mar 19, 2009


The first two I did for some friends. The first one was inspired by a book my buddy Oleg recommended to check out, called "Into thin Air" by Jon Krakauer. The author recalls the tragic events of a 1996 expedition to the summit of Everest. He described the mental and physical perils of attempting or even thinking about climbing Everest. What I didnt realize about high altitude climbing until I read this, is the fact that your brain doesnt function as well on the summit at 8,848 metres (29,029 ft). In fact without bottled oxygen most people begin to loose their mind, and take on child-like behaviour (simple tasks can take hours, you are cold, and out of breath all the time). These may be accompanied by severe headaches, and quickly develops into high-altitude sickness which can lead to a very painful death. There are, however, exceptional individuals capable of climbing Everest without the use of bottled oxygen. As I was reading, I realized that this is one of the furthest, most unreachable, and most isolated places on Earth. You cant call your Mom to pick you up, no taxi, no ambulance, no helicopter, only what mother nature deals for you. It either lets you pass, or it doesn't. Its probably easier to rescue someone from the space station than from these 8000 meter titans. Over the course of history this mountain claimed over 200 lives. If this notion is not enough to keep you away, there is also a $50000 ticket ($25000 permit, $25000 to the guide, sherpas, equipment) to get you to the top. Perhaps when I'm really bored....maybe....but then again, my skinny ass will freeze even at base camp. For me, free-diving with the great whites is further up on the list. Anyways, a good read! The drawing was reallyy fun to do as well, just using good old pencils. In the background is the silhouette of Everest.

The second picture is watercolor and color pencils.

The last drawing is for my Grandfather: My family boxer Julya, evil cat Billy, and yours truly in space helmets. What else can a grandpa want!

Jan 12, 2009

SketchCrawl 21

This weekend I went drawing for the entire day as part of the SketchCrawl. It was my first time participating, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. After drawing in a series of interesting neighbourhoods, everyone met up at the end of the day in a Cafe to share what they have sketched. It was really cool to see every one's approaches and styles! Also, we couldnt ask for a nicer day; it was 20C, sunny, and we were in t-shirts in mid January (still weird for me). Here is my stuff from the day: (We were in Haight District, and Golden Gate Park)

this guy was real! He had what looked like a black band-aid across his cheeks and nose! (Maybe it was a tattoo) Cant wait for the next Sketchcrawl in April.

Jan 6, 2009

winter pictures

1/2 a meter tall sand barrier..looks big, no?
Local Venice beach parrot at the cafe.

My cool is that?
Frozone being forced to sign a Beauty and the Beast book at Disneyland. I dont know why he's smiling?
There is nothing between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
A forgotten onion starts growing. Currently the only plant at my place...Across the street is the bedroom to one of many Berkeley homeless hippies. Arround him is brand new graffiti!

A cop makes a report of the new art.
Another view from the appartment. Downtown SF at the horrizon.
Shoes hanging on the powerline. I've heard different stories as to what that means.
Desk at work.
More posts to come soon: I've been drawing :)
Happy new year!