A Compressed/Expanded Time Project by Travis Loranger
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"A Compressed/Expanded Time Project by Travis Loranger" depicts a student compensating for his lateness. The student sits on the side of a hill lost in his own idleness. The thought occurs to check his calendar and what he finds sends him into an immediate dash against time. For what our subject lacks in punctuality he more than makes up for in stamina. The subject vaults over tree stumps, dashes down stairways and hills, and traverses the streets en route to his class at the University of San Diego. Time flies, and his journey appears to take course over two day-cycles. Eventually, the student barges into his classroom to find nobody present. Scanning the room, the student lays eyes on the scene he began with, the table on the hill, marked by the coffee he was drinking to begin with. After careful consideration, the subject starts toward the table on the hill, fully intent on trying again.
The effect of the editing in this piece is to convey an expanded and then compressed sense of time. First, the stillness of the subject’s idle relaxation is complemented by long take establishing shots and close-ups. The serenity persists, and the overall moment is expanded. The coffee cup montage is marked by several low and high angle shots, close-ups, panning and tilting shots, and a point of view shot to vary the perspectives of the same action. Afterward, the tree stump vaulting scene is edited together quickly and tightly to continue this sentiment of expanded time. This otherwise fluid and quick action is prolonged by the video’s insistence on displaying the same movements from various angles and points of time. From wide shots, mediums, and close-ups from the left, right, and middle of the actor’s axis, the sequence serves to express the same jumping action in different perspectives. The order of the action flows logically, beginning with the approach and dismount, and then ending with the landing. However, the variety of low, high, close-up and wide shots of the sequences edited together evoke the sense that the act has become expanded over the course of a longer interval than normal. The first shot is an establishing shot to give the viewer the notion that the student has gotten up from his idle state and decided to run. Within the first few scenes, the wide shots capture the tree stump in the frame to depict a clear trajectory for the student. The several close-up shots of the shoe on the tree stump emphasize the moment of contact and build the tension briefly toward a launching off point. Wide shots are best used to show that the student, after launch, is above the ground, and the height is particularly conveyed with an extreme low angle at the base of the tree stump filming the student jump above it. At the end of the montage, the subject appears self-aware of the repetition, as a disgruntled and annoyed shoulder shrug indicates that at least part of his two minutes needed to make it to class have been wasted on this expanded sequence.
The next major montage uses a changing backdrop and methodically shot run sequences to convey a sense of condensed time. Over the duration of a minute, the subject covers a substantial distance over a substantial time interval. The day cycles through morning, evening, and night time twice in the span of a minute of video. The run cycles are all connected, and the camera is positioned to indicate a connected pathway. At times, as the student runs from the left side of the screen to the right, the 180-degree axis is crossed and the student is now running from right of the screen to left. This is done to generalize the starting position of the actor so viewers can fixate on the connectivity of the action across transitions. Canted angles are implemented on wide shots of the hill sequences to exacerbate the steepness of the incline or decline presented by the natural landscape. Also, long takes give the viewer an opportunity to become aware of the time of day and notice the subtle difference between morning and evening backdrops. At night time, the camera captures the student running in different and non-linear trajectories. The pathway appears to become muddled and unclear, so as to match the impaired clarity of vision the darkness of night can bring about; a minor sense of being lost, followed by the clear and linear course sought after in the morning and evening sequences.
The final scene in the classroom implemented a POV shot to mimic the actor’s line of sight as he scans the classroom. The diegetic audio cues of the first and second frames of the scene are connected with the breathing sounds of the exhausted subject. Lastly, the green screen was used to project an image of the hillside table from the beginning, thereby creating a perceived loop in the video by displaying the starting location in the same space as the final location.
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