First off, Gamma is maths. Maths is not my strong point. I can do basic maths, but anything slightly advanced loses me so don’t expect me to explain gamma very well in my own words.
This is possibly the most simplified explanation of gamma you will ever receive: The term “gamma” or “gamma correction” refers to the brightness of an image.
Gamma correction is, in the simplest cases, defined by the following power-law expression:
I read through some forums discussing gamma and came across a comment from a Michael Nash that explained it rather well and quite simply. This particular discussion was on a site called Cinematography.com so was very helpful as gamma was discussed in relation to cinematography. Below is what Mr. Nash had to say about the topic.
In video cameras you can often adjust the master gamma, which makes the midtones brighter or darker relative to your exposure, and in turn makes the adjacent highlights and shadows appear higher or lower in contrast, depending on which direction you go. For example if you raise the gamma and make the midtones brighter, the highlights get “squeezed” or lowered in contrast while the shadows get stretched to a higher contrast (and some brightness). The opposite gamma adjustment has the opposite effect. […] This all becomes important to us cinematographers because we’re “painting with light,” and the gamma curve of the system we’re using is part of our palette. We want to know if the dark shadow we’re looking at on set is going to come out detailed brown, or completely black. By understanding gamma we can choose to exploit, or compensate for, the characteristics of the system we’re using to get what we want up on the screen.
On the menu for screenwriting this week was the table play – dialogue driven stories – which is what we will be writing for our next assignment. When I hear the term ‘table play’ I always think of conversations at a kitchen table, which is a little boring I think.
We read through a script in class that was more solely dialogue driven (I don’t know what it was from) and I found it helpful for opening my mind to new settings. This story was set outside and inside a woman’s home that almost sounded like it could be a cave at some points.
One of the biggest challenge with writing a table play seems to be creating really interesting and engaging characters. Alongside this is the most obvious challenge – writing interesting and convincing dialogue, but I think this would come quite naturally once you’ve got the basis of a compelling character. Since I don’t yet have an idea for my table play, thinking of some interesting characters will probably be my next step.
We also discussed what a ‘status change’ in a story is. In story terms, the ‘status’ of a character is their position their relationship with another character or the balance of power between the characters. Their status depends on the character’s personality and how they interact with other people. If a character is naturally demanding of respect and intention, if part of their personality is somewhat intimidating, they become the dominant character with the ‘upper hand’, even if their social standing is rather lowly. The character with the upper hand is the character with the power in the story, but, as we learnt today, there will generally be a shift in power during the story, or several shifts. These power shifts help the characters and the story to develop, so it is very important to include them.
Poppy and Tomh (don’t forget to pronounce that ‘h’, my friend) and a pumpkin. Sounds ridiculous, no? Well, I assure you it isn’t entirely. We did an exercise in pairs during class to help us create characters, situations and status changes. Kate and I worked on a story that I thought was reminiscent of the story of Hansel and Gretel. It took us a while, but we eventually settled on our two characters being Poppy (6) and Tomh (8) who live with their father who is single and sick. They grow vegetables in their garden to sell for money and, this year, they’ve grown a huge pumpkin and Poppy believes it will win the Pumpkin Contest at the annual county fair. They take their vegetables to the fair and Poppy enters the large pumpkin in the contest. Poppy’s huge pumpkin wins the contest and she wins a smaller pumpkin made of gold. Pleased with this result, Poppy wants to take the golden pumpkin home to show her father to make him proud of her. Tomh, aware that winter is fast approaching, wants to sell the golden pumpkin so they can get food, medicine, seeds for future crops, clothes and mend blankets.
Our story takes place on the children’s journey home through the forest. Poppy thinks she has the upper hand in this situation as she believes the golden pumpkin belongs to her and she has the say on what is done with it and this puts her in control. Tomh, being the oldest and a boy, is sure he always has the final say.
We didn’t really get too far in our story, but we did decide that the first shift in power comes when Poppy stops to pick flowers passing her prize to her brother. Since Tomh is now in possession of the golden pumpkin, he has control over what happens to it.
I don’t have a lot to write about this week for screenwriting. We didn’t have class on Tuesday because it was a public holiday.
I suppose the most relevant thing for BSA204 that happened week was the annual Casting Call.
It was a bit of a crazy process actually. Firstly, we didn’t have a huge amount of warning that, as the second years, it was our responsibility to organise it, and, secondly, we didn’t really get started on the organising as early as we should have. Kate and I ended up doing the catering for the crew on the day too so that was an extra bit of stress too! That being said, I do enjoy cooking for people and seeing them enjoying what I’ve made, it’s very satisfying. And the food was delicious, if I may say so myself.
I had a chance in the afternoon of the day to sit in on some auditions and take notes which was a really great experience. Before doing that, I didn’t really know what happens in auditions and I realised that if I want to be in the film industry I really should know.
There was such an interesting mix of people who came through in the couple of hours I was in the room with Dan, Josh and Nicola, from a couple who spontaneously came in having never done any acting before to Ben who had been a drama student and was an excellent voice actor. It actually surprised me how many people came in to audition for voice acting and had no interest in actually being on screen as I had assumed most people would come in for screen acting. Maybe they were all just in other rooms?
After Nicola was talking about getting ideas for people to act in her productions later in the year, I tried to watch the auditions in a different way. I tried to see where I would place these people as characters in my own stories. I guess I just sat there trying to stereo type them, but if I was doing it for artistic purposes it’s okay, right? There were one or two people who stood out to me that I would strongly consider using, but the problem I had is that I don’t have any ideas for stories at all at the moment. I’ve got nothing I want to write or make right now, just haven’t thought about it yet. As I watched the auditions though, I found myself thinking about creating stories around the people I was seeing, around the characters i thought they would naturally fit. I’m not sure that’s quite the right way to write a story, but I guess I’ll find out!
When I first heard the term “fixed rig production” I had no idea what it meant, but as I starting reading up on it and show such as One Born Every Minute or 24 Hours In A&E were mentioned, I understood. They’re those kind of shows that look like we, the viewer, are just being shown all the CCTV footage. There will be up to 100 cameras planted around, like security cameras, to catch all the action and this gives the filmmakers an abundance of material to make their shows. The more traditional observational documentary makers on the other hand will only have around three cameras.
I think what makes these fixed rig productions so interesting is that the people being filmed act far more naturally when going about their business. It’s also less intrusive as, even though they know they’re being filmed, there isn’t the presence of a film crew to distract them or make them nervous.
People are naturally nosey and like to see how things work in places such as hospitals or police stations so I think that’s why fixed rig productions that are filmed in these sorts of places are so popular.