See: Doing video trials for Netflix, David Fincher and everyone else

“Voir” screenwriters and “Every Frame a Painting” creators Tony Zhou and Taylor Ramos discuss their learning process to teach filmmaking to audiences.

David Fincher and David Prior’s anthology essay series “Seeing” has only six episodes, but half of them came from Taylor Ramos and Tony Zhou. Their skill with form comes as no surprise to fans of their “Every Frame a Painting” YouTube channel, which almost served as a proof of concept for a show like “Voir” – and that millions of people would be interested in. videos exploring just how the grammar of cinema impacts its meaning. When done right, video essays combine the thrill of knowing a secret with the joy of learning more about a long-standing passion. Zhou and Ramos told IndieWire how the process of creating this joyful learning changed and expanded when they worked on “See”.

“YouTube was very restrictive because of things like copyright and DMC,” Ramos said. “The license that Netflix and [David Fincher] gave us, it was very, ‘Oh, we can do anything and everything!’ And [that] was, I don’t mean intimidating, but – “

“It was slightly terrifying,” Zhou added.

However, more than access to money for media libraries and rights lawyers, Ramos and Zhou had to contend with the ability to adapt the way they presented their ideas, shifting from storytelling to storytelling. image to incorporate other embodiments. “Videos are a weird hybrid that contains narrative elements and documentary elements,” Zhou said. “So [there are] elements of this show which lean towards the narrative… or the documentary, in our case. We went out and shot interviews, which we would have done in a doc format, or things like animated graphics, like building an animated character.


A viewer who looks at all the ways we look at the media in “See”.

Screenshot / Netflix

Zhou and Ramos’ work on the series represents this hybridization. “Film vs. Television,” narrated by Ramos, follows a viewer from a movie theater to their home, though the episode uses contrasting film and television footage – sometimes gratifyingly shot by the same director or adapting the same material – to illustrate the difference. Zhou recounts “The Ethics of Vengeance,” which contains fascinating interviews with experts sometimes speaking directly to the interviewer and the audience, which takes the play to a more subjective framing. And “The Duality of Calling,” the episode Ramos and Zhou share writing, producing, and directing credits on and which Ramos recounts, dramatizes the process of creating an animated character from concept to full CGI rendering. , and gratifyingly answers a bigger question as to why animated female characters tend to tint similar face and body types. “It will be for the hosts,” Ramos enthused about the “Dual Call” episode. “I hope other people will come, because I want everyone to watch more animation and engage more in animation. But I say to myself: ‘This is for my fellow line facilitators!’ “

“That’s for about five Tumblr blogs,” Zhou added.

“The duality of attraction” is a testament to Ramos and Zhou’s own appeal: they balance a specificity rooted in expertise with understandable language and clarity without jargon, and a good dose of humor on top of that. The moment the “Film vs. Television” viewer turns over a table is perfectly in sync with the clip to which audiences probably have a similar reaction, and perhaps the funniest moment in the entirety of “Seeing” is a cut. difficult to a title card that simply reads “Customer Notes”. But the difference between striking that balance required them to jump into live-action cinema in a way they’ve never done before. “In animation, you literally have to create everything. It’s an empty space, ”Ramos said. “[In live action, you’re] dealing with physical space and its limits. And that just brings a whole host of problems. I was like, “Well, why can’t I take this picture? ” And [the crew] would be like, ‘Well, because there are walls over there, Taylor.’ “

But Ramos also used his animation background when organizing the live action sequences. “I asked to put plexiglass on the monitors so that I could get a dry erase marker and draw [on it]Ramos said. that way, I would actually draw the profile of the people. “They would also script shots that they knew they could control in advance. Ramos said of the episode” Television vs. Film “:” Basically we had our script, and then I scripted it. And so all the shots you see are almost individual recreations of the boards that I made. We did an entire animatic of this episode.


Facilitators discussing the process in “See”.

Screenshot / Netflix

“The thing I am most proud to have learned [was] the process of adapting what was effectively a two-person workflow to around 40 to 50 people, ”Zhou said. “It’s one of the weird things you don’t really learn in school. They’ll teach you protocols for how to do certain things on set, but they won’t necessarily teach you how to take something that only involves two people talking and make it 40 people without causing chaos. Ramos added how much she enjoys learning, from craftsmen on sets and her own “client” notes on David Fincher and David Prior cuts, and how that love bleeds into the end product. “I love the feeling of learning,” Ramos said. “And I liked that there were people on our team who were smarter than us and were excited to do this project with us and help do a good job. always very enjoyable. The three episodes of “See” directed by Ramos and Zhou capture this feeling of learning, with a mixture of seriousness, enthusiasm, questioning and ironic humor, and it is always also very pleasant .

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