Thursday, 2 May 2013


From the start of this project to the end I have been very confident in what we were planning to produce, what we were producing and our final product. Our biggest drawback is that none of us are sound engineers and struggled both in the recording and in the sound edit. However we have all kept an eye on the visuals throughout the project and the turnover itself on set has been excellent  I think as a crew on the whole we worked really well together.

In the project I specifically worked on the interview scene, I storyboarded the first half of it up to the evidence bag being produced. Unfortunately on that dat we had some scheduling problems largely caused by sound, again it was one of our biggest downfalls. However I think that although I didn't get exactly what I storyboarded and we worked more for coverage we got some really nice images. I learned a lot about studio shooting, especially in the masking of the background. I am really happy with the way we got the background to complete blackness, it let us get grainless images and play with the space. It is something I will definitely consider in the future for scenes that are set in non de script dark locations. I also got to use DSLR fixed lenses, something I haven't played with before. They look really nice however I cant say that I noticed a massive difference between them and zoom lenses that are set appropriately. The fish eye was nice to experiment with however I was surprised with exactly how wide the lens was, we accidently got a few things in the shot we had to scale out.

I think our preproduction had some positives and some negatives, being a project in which we all wanted significant input it was tricky to divide up the scenes but we did a decent job of it on paper. I wanted to use a creeping track in on each of the characters for my part of the interview. Whilst simple I think that the increasing tension it would convey would have been perfect. However the project being written by Connor was really his, if anyone was the director it was him and Mark the producer. This meant that on Connor and Mark's shoots schedules were stuck to and whilst everyone had camera input they were there shoots. On our day, mine and George's I felt that we had a little of our creative control taken away because of time problems. It wasn't exactly the time shortage that caused the problems but the fact that with the time issues Mark and Connor wanted to get basic shot reverse shots before even touching the tracks and so in place of my tracking shots are a wide and a close up of each character. In post we realised that we had shotlisted way too much on the crime scene and on the interview scene, neither me or George had really considered that reconstructions would be added ontop of our scene.

Another big practical learning curve that I think comes out of the whole project is that roles must be assigned, even if they change per shoot so that everyone gets an equal input the fact that we didn't have a specific producer to do things like check equipment beforehand or a specific sound guy to test things or do foley meant we had lots of trouble. It also would have been great, and we would have had enough people, if we had split into an assistant director, a director and a camera man, I think they are the roles we got closest to but as none of use were specifically in control it made the work difficult. I think these are the reasons we had some exposure and continuity issues with some of the footage.

We got good reactions from the group about our piece, the visuals really seemed to come across strongly which was our main intention with the film. Having the visuals marked overall and being a cinematography piece we were extremely conscious of the shot composition and make up. Whilst this led to some of the aforementioned issues with the film that level of care over the visuals is something I would carry onto other projects as they look beautiful. I learned a lot about lighting on the course through subtle things such as the use of shadow and backlighting which I feel we took advantage of. This was the first time I have used the studio setting and been in such a controlled environment and the chance to really play with light was great. My personal favourite shot that I set up are the light change and the wide on Brad. I think the lighting change is effective and complies well with the brief and on the wide of Brad in the interview there is a nice side to back light which highlights him when sat back but when he leans forward they fall off as the top and other spots light the front of him. This lighting specifically I will use again, I think it looked nice on screen and was relatively easy to achieve. The only downfall of this scene is that it may be too dark, we quite like it but I'm not sure if it is too much for the general audience we are going for, it is extreme but we have used the takes that were a little brighter. I feel we may have been able to achieve a better effect by utilising more blue gels and using blue light as falloff for the dark areas therefore keeping them dark and lit rather than letting it drop off as much as we did.

We had a mixed experience with actors and props, two of our actors were fantastic, our detective and our dead body but Brad was a little over the top. I think it comes from using theatre actors but on a whole his delivery was manageable. The other issue with Brad's character is that he didn't quite act as he was intended when written, this may have been because we knew the reference material and the actor didn't, a simple thing but something so simple it slipped our minds. In future I will be sure to have a full discussion with the actors about their characters inspirations and motivations to ensure the correct performance. The props we got for the crime scene worked really well on the whole, although only cheap I feel they added an authenticity to the scene. Unfortunately we didn't have enough crime scene tape to do it properly but a lack of wides helps hide the fact. The problem we had with props was more with costume, as we didn't buy the dead body costume because it was such a small part and detail we could not ruin it with blood. This meant the blood effects on the body were a little poor, whilst the blood looked good we could only paint it on the floor up to the jacket with a centimetre space between the jacket and blood. We also couldnt put blood ontop of the jacket so there were no gunshots or blood patches representing wounds. In the edit when we looked back on shots that had the body in we realised we could not use any of them that showed the chest or head, it was just too fake. So a simple costume error really restricted the edit. Along with the continuity and sun changing issues on that scene it was extremely difficult to get a full scene together.

I think one of our downfalls was the edit, when we showed the film, we improved it afterwards a little but I think a lot of the little things on set that we didn't notice ie. continuity issues, made the edit difficult. We also had the repeated issue of too many people with different input, Steve did the majority of the edit but didn't want to have a monopoly over other peoples camera work. Whilst I am glad it was collaborative I actually think it weakens the piece and lengthened the editing process. We all had similar strong visions for the camera work that came from discussions within the group but most of us had different ideas of the edit that conflict a little. Specifically me and Steve had different views of the edit, on reflection I should have stayed out of the edit suit and let him get on with it but he asked for some help so I wanted to be there.

Due to strong pre production the project didn't change much, the script was really strong and we all immediately knew exactly what we wanted to do with it so throughout the production and post we used the script much as possible and I think our original proposal is almost exactly what we created. Again this is because of strong post production and confidence in the planned material, whilst its hard to have this confidence on all projects its something I will aim for in the future as it makes for smoother production and post production.

Our time management was a little off, we left shooting very late so that we could get the actors we wanted, this meant the edit and sound edit were really stressful. We also had a lot of problems with corrupted hard drives and sd cards, we tried to back things up as much as possible but some of the corruptions happened too early. Apart from the rushed edit I am really happy with the whole production I think we set out what we planned to, worked well as a team and are all confident we produced high quality images. I think the film is quite clearly made with an emphasis on cinematography but the simplicity of the story gives the visuals time to work. A more complex narrative or a theme or subject behind the narrative would have improved the film, as it is it is almost an exorcise in cinematography rather than a flashed out film but such is the nature of short films. I think that we have produced some good work that will definitely end up in our personal showreels but as an entertaining short it has its limits and lack of originality that we are well aware of, in the end the wish to create something visually considered outweighed the need for complexity and originality. That being said I am extremely proud of the film and would love to see it on a larger screen again when re edited and with a more professional sound quality that I am sure we will add even after the deadline to improve the film for our own purposes.

Lighting Changes in Film

Whilst it was very difficult to find theoretical texts about lighting changes some of the basics are obvious. Although often driven by narrative events lighting changes signify a move into a more internal diegetic state, a point of view, a subjective shot. We took this meaning and applied it to the lighting change in our own film.

At pivotal point in the interrogation scene the detective slams an evidence bag on the table containing Brad's wallet. We go into brads mind, we see the pressure build on him represented by the harsh blue toplight on both him and the evidence bag. This was my shot to set up and I achieved the effect by lighting Brad with the top lights and then naturally washing out those specific effects with more naturalistic lighting around the scene.

I think the effect works really well, it really emphasises the pressure on Brad and emphasise that he knows its his wallet and that he is in trouble. We tried the scene without the lighting on Brad changing, just with a spot tightening on the wallet but the change wasn't drastic enough.

I think we have achieved an effective lighting change, although it isnt narratively explainable I think it is justifiable as a subjective insight into Brad's mind. We will have to cut to a reverse shot to take the audience back out of the internal diegetic shot but it should work nicely.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Colour in Cinema

Colour is a massive part of cinema, its one of the key aspects of mise en scene which define the mood, themes and even tell the narrative of films. We have approached colour in various ways in our film to both create coherence and to symbolise poetic and subtle meaning.

In Syntactic Role of Colour in Film by Ornam Rotem the basics of colour in terms of film and "world building" are laid out. He first talks about the "three dimensions" of colour "varying hues, as degrees of intensity or saturation and as levels of brightness." When discussing this the the Munsell colour system comes to mind as a simple visual representation. Rotem's article goes into depth about how a colour grade can create a world; "colour, in all its dimensions, plays a crucial role in being able to give a film a sense of whole". It is clear in films that often a certain tint can be added to alter the feel. Rotem talks about using the "real world" as a reference point however he more interestingly identifies the struggles with defining real, a different philosophical debate all together. In The Matrix  two clear colour tints are used as "key unifying element(s)" for the  real world and the Matrix. In the following images the green tint is obvious, all of the blacks are incredibly green, this represents the green letters on monitors and the green computer program that is the Matrix. Subtle to the average viewer the hue of the tint is one of the unifying elements of the Matrix, when taken out of it and placed in the real world the image is quite different.
In the real world a colder more metallic aesthetic is apparent, a blue is  added to the majority of the grimy looking shots. The machine aesthetic is clear however it is no longer green and artificial but real cold and blue.
Whilst neither of the worlds are the real world we see, this comparison validates the ability to compare filmic worlds and colour with real life. Most films stick to one or two tints, as Pans Labyrinth (2003 del Toro) does contrasting itself, showing two separate worlds, thematics or points of view within the film.

Another option with the overall colour wash is to subtley alter it throughout the film implying a characteristic change. This technique is brilliantly used in Mark Romanek's One Hour Photo (2002 Romanek) in which an antiseptic white becomes dulled and beige showing the characters clarity of mind despite the twisted view he has on the world. It also at times represents the fantasy in his mind and shows the settings from the view points of different characters, all elements achieved by subtle manipulation of the colour in the mise en scene.

Children of Men (2006 Cauron) uses its unifying colour scheme to represent a clear mundane and not too distant reality. All of the camera work and writing aims at realism as does the colour, a grim realism but realism none the less. However as Rotem says what is real? How do different people perceive colour? or reality? All questions on a philosophical level that question how real a films colour wash can ever be and what it can achieve.

All of the aforementioned colour schemes are clearly not all encompassing but jus some of the wash manipulations used to convey meaning and emotion and tie worlds together coherently. Rotem says that "Worlds evolve, transform and change. However we choose to talk of worlds, there seems to be no possibility of ignoring the need to recognize their marks of coherence, their internal signifiers that serve to agglutinate their disparate elements" this sums up the way "worlds" interact with colour in film and hints at the smaller, the more specific, minute objects that stand out because of colour, not world colour but specific item colour which adds completely different meaning.

When lighting our most controlled scene, the interview, we used blue gels to make the scene look as cold as possible without looking unreal. This added a harshness cold and darkness to the scene that we really loved, the light looked more like dark falloff light than actual directed light which was the intension. The coldness is the most important thing, a slightly antiseptic feel, and a really dark horrible looking room to be in.

After taking this shot we looked back at the other footage and some of it was a little washed out, we tried warming it up in the edit but decided that to build a coherent world we would make the scene a little colder with three way colour correct. This makes the whole film much more coherent and carries the cold harsh feel throughout the whole thing.

The other just as subtle use of colour is to symbolically link an item or character to an emotion. When we see colour we immediately attach meaning that is derived from what the colour connotes to you as a viewer. Some believe, like Rotem "that colours have no universal meanings and that their semantics are determined by their social and historical import". Whilst this is true it can no be disputed that in the correct environment a colour can connote something to the majority of its intended audience and therefore be used as a code to attach significant meanings to items. Context however is also important in this situation, red lips for example connote beauty however the red on a stop sign connotes danger. This simply shows that colour is part of the language film uses to suggest hidden meanings, when multiple things in the form connote the same meaning a coherent message can be read into the film.

For specific use of colour to convey subtext Brads babyish blue shows his innocence. The detective has a black and white motif showing his authority and strictness that becomes infected by the yellow folder, the point of deception and lies that corrupts his mind. The folder leads to the red evidence label clearly shows the danger to Brad.

1. Syntactic Role of Colour Rotem O., DATE!, Last Accessed 1/5/13, URL

The Matrix (1999) Wachowski A. Wachowski L., USA, Warner Bros. 
Pans Labyrinth (2006) Del Toro G., Spain Mexico USA, Estudios Picasso
One Hour Photo (2002), Romanek M., USA ,Fox Searchlight Pictures
Children of Men (2006), Cuarón A., USA, UK, Universal Pictures, Strike Entertainment, Hit & Run Productions

Long Takes in Film

One of the most influential and important things about long takes is the natural sense of realism they portray. This is the element of long take which we wanted to pirtray. All the way back to Andre Bazin and the Neorealism he defined long takes have been regarded as realistic however they are still varied.

One simple often used kind of long take is an extreme long static shot. This keeps all of the action in the shot and ensures that the audience know whats going on.  A strong believer in the long take is Micheal Haneke, in his film Hidden (2005 Haneke) Haneke creates a film narrative with his long takes playing with the audiences beliefs as the audience watch a tape of a long shot being watched by characters. The level of realism the shot portrays transcends two levels through the film with the objective of unnerving the audience with its realism. The "look" defined by Mulvey in her "Visual pleasure and Narrative Cinema" clearly applies hear, the voyeurism portrayed in the film is what gives it its edge and the effect is created in large by the extremely long takes.

The film Children of Men (2006 Cuarón) uses similar long static takes but also uses dynamic choreography to stage long takes that follow action up to 6 minutes at a time through streets and building. Again the aim is realism however the footage has a more documentary feel, for our film the locked off shot seems more appropriate.

1. Hidden (2005), Haneke M., France Austria, Germany, USA, Les Films du Losange, Wega Film, Bavaria Film

2. Children of Men (2006), Cuarón A., USA, UK, Universal Pictures, Strike Entertainment, Hit & Run Productions

"Visual pleasure and narrative cinema." Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism Mulvey L., (1997): 438-48.

Point of View in Film

Point of view is used for lots of things in film and many important texts have been written about it. Principally Mulvey's Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (Mulvey 1997) in which she establishes the terminology of the "gaze", and specifically the "male gaze" which dominates hollywood cinema. A common thing to do, especially in student films, is to use the POV to show a problem with vision, either a drunk state or passing out is common, it doesnt fit with our film and often looks cheap we wanted to use an effective but more subtle POV.

Another term often used within film when considering POV's is an eyeline match, a shot before the POV in which a head or eye movement signals the motion of the camera in the next. We sort of do this, our POV comes from a dead man, whilst we cant show moving eyes or head we use a shot from behind the shoulder with a fish eye lense to esablish the sense of space and then go to the POV a few shots later.

This helps the viewer realise they are looking through the dead bodies eyes. Our opening shot is also technically from the same point of view, the effect it should have is to make the detectives and forensic staff look towering, almost intimidating and to take away from the identity of the dead body, its just another case.

1. "Visual pleasure and narrative cinema." Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism Mulvey L., (1997): 438-48.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Shooting Day 3

Today was finally mine and Georges shoot, in the workstation, with lots of lighting work to do it was a very different shoot to the others. We moved a few walls in the Workstation, and I understood how the set works out after doing CPR last year, and got the set as ready as we could before the actors arrived. The biggest problem of the shoot was 3 bad marrantz's that took about an hour in total off our shoot. Being worried about time Connor wanted us to get a 2 camera setup and run the whole scene for coverages sake. I got on one camera and George got on the other and we lit some brilliant shots. We used blue filters on all of the lights to give it a cold aesthetic.We were framed a little differently  my shot was quite a bit closer than Georges so we got a second similar setup with my camera wider and Georges closer. For this shot I lit Brad with an intense but cold light when he sat forward and when he leaned back he had a strong backlight outlining the right side of his face. The detective we lit only when he sat forward so that when he leant back there was only "fall off" light on his face giving his character the dark, slightly sinister look we wanted.

This again ate up a lot of time and we considered shooting the scene in order but with the lighting change being in this scene we decided it was the most important shot to get next. George and Connor had an idea for the shot in which the top light spots down to highlight the evidence bag containing the wallet. I personally didn't like the shot and the fact that I hadnt been able to get my shots in was frustrating. With the amount of people moving about on set and the shot not being one of mine I let George get on with it.

We then moved on to one of Steve's ideas that George also had storyboarded, a birds-eye shot of the interrogation. It was a brilliant idea but the execution was very difficult  What we decided to use was a C Stand and clamp holding the handle of the tripod (with the legs detached). It was a little precarious and the camera is heavy so whilst the scene played out we had someone close, steadying the camera. Although an unusual shot I think it fits the aesthetic and will cut brilliantly in between the close ups.

Time was getting short, this was the one off schedule shoot and we had to start deciding what not to shoot, as we had a close and med of both characters I let my two tracking shots go and we decided to get another lighting change as it wasn't just me that was unsure of the previous one. My personal idea for a lighting change was to set up the spots on Brad and top light him so that he looked really dark intense and panicked. Then we flooded the rest of the scene to make it more natural so that once the wallet is dropped on the table we drop it down to the spots to enhance his reaction. We also kept the spot on the wallet in a similar way to the lighting change before and it worked really well, I was extremely happy with the reasult.

Finally we got a basic two shot, with similar lighting and ended the day with enough coverage and some exciting shots.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Shooting Day 2

Despite being the hardest shoot of the week, on schedule, today went really well, again we were really tight and worked like a well oiled machine. Mainly Mark's shoot we again all got a look behind camera and had little inputs and in fact got in front of camera as extra crime scene officers. Much as the day before I dressed the blood and not much more can be said. The weather was brilliant and the actors were great and it was one of the smoothest shoots I have been on. Sound was a little bit of a problem because of bad equipment and bad wind but it worked out ok in the end.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Shooting Day 1

After being set back a little by actor problems we decided they were worth the wait and that we were a tight enough crew to get it all done in short time. So we set for shooting monday, tuesday and thursday.  So today's shoot focused on Connor's sections, the flashbacks. The shots are to be cut between the interview material, when the detective suggests a turn of events or when Brad tells a turn of events these are the visuals we will see. Whilst we may alter their colour in post as in television programmes such as CSI and Cold Case the core visuals are still important. We didn't need sound which made things much easier and with strong scheduling and storyboarding with Connor it all went smoothly. As a group we all got a look at camera and made little suggestions to make the shots stronger and stronger. I am really happy with the aesthetic and with the rate of turn around of shots, I am confident we will shoot everything on schedule due to us working as a strong team.

I basically acted as runner for the day whilst looking at shots and working with the rest of the team. My main job was to sort out the blood, my own recipe of strawberry treat sauce and red and black food colouring. Unfortunately we didn't plan the drug dealer's costume, or more specifically we didnt own the drug dealer's costume so we couldnt get blood on it. Instead I painted the floor with the blood as close to the actor without ruining his clothes and hoped for the best. The blood looks real in real life but as it was reflecting the sky came out a little purple on camera which was a shame but still looked realistic enough.

Monday, 15 April 2013

One Hour Photo (Romanek 2002)

One Hour Photo is a character psychological horror by director Mark Romanek, featuring one of the best performances of award winning actor Robin Williams who plays Sy, a character as far away from his typecast as possible. Sy is a neurotic and lonely character who, through photos, creates an emotional attachment to the Yorkin family. One of the most important and interesting things to look at throughout the film is the colour, not just specific colours but the overall colour scheme and shifts in white balance and warmth that emotionally punctuate the story.

As we start we have a narrative frame of Sy in an interrogation asked why he hates Mr Torkin so much, although this is just a frame for us to expect the worst the colours are important from the very start and Sy's relation to the colours blue an white are instantly cemented.
The blue in the background matches the bag Sy usually carries and the waistcoat he works in and the general colour scheme associated with his character. Along with the white of his home, workplace and interrogation room all balanced to be tinted a little blue or completely neutral we get a feeling of sterility, it is almost like a hospital in its colouring, through this we get no emotional hints about Sy's character, he is blank and sterile himself. The colour isn't so much cold as it is bleak and the extreme use of a pure white is unsettling, the pollution of a colour generally associated with good things.

Here we come to the lighting change featured in the film, whilst the lighting doesnt change a large amount it is significant and signifies darkness, the other side of the mall and the other side of Sy.
The idea of what happens after the lights go out, what Sy does when he isnt under scrutinisation of the public is extremely important to the film which hinges on the idea that Sy wants to bring things that he figures out in the shadows to the light of the mall.

This is accompanied by a momentary change in white balance from white to a more neutral yellow:
At this point Sy is living out a fantasy in which he is a member of the Yorkin family, looking at their photos he tells the waitress they are his family. The yellow balance both symbolises fantasy and works as a bridge between the sterile life of Sy and the vibrant warm colours used in the Yorkin home and photographs. This colour awareness is clear, in the film Sy himself sees it as his job to make the Yorkin home warm and beautiful, when the colour goes .3(minimal) blue he prematurely gets a technician out who refuses to fix it. This is one of the angriest we see Sy, it is clear that getting into and preserving the warmth of the Yorkin home is his wish, this colour balance is half way there as Sy fantasises and lies as though he is already completely there.

The difference in colour balance is most noticable in this scene, Sy's white home is intercut with the Yorkins, his home is silent and lonely, white, silver and transparent. It is blindingly pbvious when intercut with the Yorkins warm, populated, vibrant and happy household.
This colour balance is again compromised as the camera pans from the beige nothingness of Sy in his chair to the wall full of Yorkin family photos, as the camera gets closer the wall literally gets brighter and warmer showing that the photographs and the Yorkin family are where Sy steals warmth and builds emotional connections.
Sy's second fantasy involves him imagining he actually walks around and lives in the Yorkin house, whilst the colour scheme isnt as warm he actually alters his clothing, wearing a blue jumper signifying strength and comfort instead of the beige nothingness of his cardigan.
The next significant image is interesting, it involves a lot of green and is one of the few images in the film that does. It seems somewhat honest, pure and innocent maybe because it is between Sy and Jake, the scene represents the innocent and kind side of Sy which is usually hidden by loneliness or social structures. This is possibly the last time in the film that things could go well, however Sy oversteps his mark and Jake wont take a toy from him. This realisation and the discovery of Will Yorkin cheating on his wife present one of the turning points of the film in which Sy decides to bring to light from the "dark" information in the form of photos.
This red scene is actually the first time we actually see a full character in the "dark room" at the photography booth, the colour red symbolises rage and anger, Will has everything Sy wants but is throwing it away and the rage inside Sy needs to come out.

A long tracking shot follows Sy's decision to stir things up, the photos were not enough so he has to take further action, after being fired a long tracking shot keeps Sy in perspective as he walks through the store, the shelves envelope and tower over him. As the music swells he takes a knife from a cabinet and stuffs it into his bag. The long tracking take forces the viewer into Sy's mind, we are towered over and pulled in sympathising with his decision despite its insanity.

Sy's inner conflict swells, after falling asleep during The Day The Earth Stood Still the dialogue "Your choice is simple, join us and live in peace or pursue your present course and face obliteration". This represents Sy's decision to commit social suicide and commit himself to the white nothingness of his dreams to "wake up" Will Yorkin and show him the same choice. The white and red in his dream clearly signify Sy's realisation that he will never be in the Yorkin family, that dream is now dead.
He wakes from his nightmare he has a shower, a classic sign of a characters change in perspective in films, and it is clear that the colour pallet has changed from a white blue to a calmer softer white signifying Sy's acceptance.
We even see Sy's wall again, this time however the room is neutral and the cold daylight shines on the dead wall.
I am surprisingly going to ignore the climax of the film, apart from a small section in which Sy runs away through a room of red, then blue, then red again mimicing police lights and signifying his imminent capture the colour pallet is the same beige nothingness from the rest of the film. That nothingness is what Sy is pushing Will away from and sacrificing his own warmth in exchange for the cold white of the police interrogation room.
The only spurt of colour in the room is the red chair, it is the exact same colour as Jake's jumper and represents Sy's empty memories of the Yorkin family however there is still some hope in his mind that he is still in some way "Uncle Sy".
This fantastic slow fade shows that he knows what he has lost, and understands that his body is trapped, but he might have kept the Yorkin family together and for that he allows himself a little bit of warmth.
It is clearly shown throughout the whole film and through these images themselves that white balance, colour schemes and warmth are extremely important to the narrative of the film. In a reflective way Sy himself is meticulous about the colour of his prints, this film proves his point that colour is one of the keys to emotion and the films use of colour keeps that in mind, manipulating and unlocking our emotions at perfect points.

1. One Hour Photo (2002), Romanek M., USA ,Fox Searchlight Pictures
2. The day the Earth Stood Still (1951) Wise R., USA, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation 

Pans Labyrinth (del Toro 2006)

del Toro's dark fairytale masterpiece set in the Spanish civil war, uses a range of washes and contrasting colours to paint a visual picture and bring the magical to life within the brutal shadow of Captain Videl's tyranny. Colour is one of the most important tools in del Toro's artillery and he uses it in many ways to support the narrative throughout the tale.

As the tale begins, the blue fairytale is told, of a magical princess and her fall from her world. This, the first of many blue washed images reflecting a "well lit night" and the dark side of the fairytale, introduces the visual blue motif connected simply to sad events often coupled with pathetic fallacy. As we see later on this is not the image of the fairytale kingdom itself but the sadness decay and despair since the loss of the princess.

From this we jump back into reality and the setting for the film, the forests around a military encampment, more of a country house manor than a camp, and beautifully full of golden browns and greens. The pervading nature reflected by the vibrant colour pallet setting the scene is essential to the film in which nature is the source of the fairytale, the fairy from the insect, the faun as the mountain and almost nature itself. Without the gorgeous browns we wouldn't believe del Toro's story because we wouldn't believe in the magical quality of nature. The browns are complimented by a general sepia wash that cloaks even the duller shots as beautifully golden hint.

The black cars cut through the nature, sleek and artificial, as do the hands, hat and glasses of Captain Videl as he un-gloves himself surrounded by grey uniforms that represent the dullness of war and army and the conformity demanded by the warped communist government Videl fights for.

The strong pervading blue of night is only pierced by the bright vibrant reds of blood, this contrast adds to the brutality of Videl and the darkness of the fairytale narrative.

The next strong visuals we are given come at one of the most visually "magical" moments in the film, as ink dances across the page and tells Ophelia our fairytale princess what her task is. The sun through the windows, or lights representing the sun, shine a vibrant, beautiful and magical gold that represent the good in the fairytale that returns at the end of the film.

Dressed in her green dress, the princess of nature, Ophelia goes back into the woods and into the toffee brown interior of a dead tree to poison a toad. Again the pervading sense of nature is clear, and whilst the toad is certainly disgusting Ophelia is never in danger whilst she is in her "own realm" surrounded by nature.

She is however snapped back into reality and danger, the pathetic fallacy and heavy blue tint returns and the battle between the rebels and Videl and the battle between Ophelia and an unbeknownst Videl continues.

It is also worth noting, outside of the fairytale, in the war narrative, the rebels hide in the woods and live in caves, they wear brown and are one with nature. Not only are they politically and morally heroic but they are also one with nature as is our heroine.

In the second task and before, the colour red becomes more prevalent and hints at a growing darkness. Firstly the previously golden enchanted book shows Ophelia's mothers bleeding womb  a short piece of foreshadowing as moment later Ophelia's mother calls to her, covered in blood. At this point all tuns for the worst, it is the midpoint of the narrative in which the rebels are trampled, Ophelia's mother turns ill and her fairytale dreams seem to turn evil.

This is reflected when she goes on the fauns next task, into another realm this time, unprotected by nature and surrounded by red walls, food and grotesque images of babies being eaten. It could be said the food represents the harvesting of nature further representing the apparent danger Ophelia is and explaining the faun's reactions to her eating the food as her betraying him and nature. The pervading red colouring in the scene clearly shows the danger and evil of the other realm Ophelia inhabits.

One of the nicest bits of cinematography is one of the simplest shots, the doctors death, brutal, blue, pathetic fallacy. A common visual theme but this is one of the most beautiful executions of the blue shot and the death of the kind doctor stings the audience.

Orange flames light the final scene, a glint of hope for the rebels and Ophilia however it is not enough, the end seems dark, the blue pervades and Videl shoots Ophelia and dark red blood flows from her lifeless body. As all seems dark a golden light pervades and we are transported into a golden realm of the fairytale and we finish with beauty and happiness.

1. Pans Labyrinth (2006) Del Toro G., Spain Mexico USA, Estudios Picasso