My portrait project is a collage drawing attention to the expressions we make in between expressions. The strange, fake, unnatural, and uncanny expressions that exist when we are not making a single expression, but mixing between them. Photographs capture these all the time (think of unnatural smiles) but in real life we tend to filter them out.

By capturing a portrait with a high speed camera at 700 frames per second, I don’t merely snapshot these strange expressions, but bring full attention to them. More than just slowing down the face, I collage various expressions on top of each other in order to 1) make the high speed video less boring by providing the eye more points of interest and 2) create more mis-matched expressions to amplify and draw attention to the phenomenon.

I did test shoots on Friday and Saturday. Friday I made myself familiar with the camera, light, and workflow. On Saturday I shot what could be a version of my project, shown below.

This was so I could have a clear head about how I would handle masking various layers, and make sure I had a competent strategy for managing my files and organizing my after effects composition. When using up my partners time, I wanted to make sure everything would go without a hitch.

Plus ,the friend above knows after effects better than I, and provided guidance. Shout out to her for the help. It’s nice to be able to basically complete the project once and let oneself mess up/chase down rabbit holes, and see what pit-falls exist.

On Sunday I met with my subject and we completed principle filming. It was a long, slow, and uncomfortable process; which is just fine for capturing uncomfortable and unnatural facial expressions.

In the image above you can see we are filming in a doorway, limited by the length of the Ethernet cable to my workstation. Hitting focus was the second largest challenge, and plenty of the intake was out of focus. With so much time needed for the camera to process and save the high speed footage the subject inevitably relaxes and moves between each and every shot. I couldn’t monitor the feed closely, preferring to be closer to the subject and use the trigger at the camera.

Now I have to filter, organize, compose, edit, and color-grade the video; which will take me some time. If my initial tests taught me anything, it’s that the after effects work is going to be slow going.