Two Outta Three is a project I tackled in November 2019 for my COMM 339 experimental film class. The assignment was simple: creatively incorporate a projector into a short piece.
I rented out the film equipment, the projector, and my living room from my roommates for the evening, and started playing around. This involved throwing different things up on the projector and pointing it around the room to see what happened. Somewhere in this process, I landed on playing rock paper scissors against my own shadow.
I wanted to show this at least partially through a splitscreen shot (pictured further below), but ran into a problem. Placing the projector as far away from the wall as possible wasn’t far enough—the projected surface was too small, and to get a shadow of the correct size I’d practically have to be standing an inch from the wall. However…
One whole wall of our apartment, for whatever reason, is a giant mirror. By aiming the projector into the mirror, then filming the wall opposite of the mirror, I achieved large enough coverage to work with, as well as the ability to stand several feet from the wall and cast a suitable shadow. Here’s what the wall looked like, featuring my roommate Matt’s best shadow puppy:
From here, it was easy to capture the shadow feature angle:
As well as the aforementioned splitscreen:
I plotted out on paper exactly what the “real” guy and “shadow” guy would do over the course of the piece. So with the camera set up for the shadow’s feature, I ran through the list and acted out every shadow bit. For the splitscreen, I stood in the same spot for one long recording as I did every shadow action, then every “real” guy action.
This was my first attempt to get the “real” guy’s feature angle. I wasn’t crazy about it because—obviously—his shadow’s on the wall behind him, doing exactly as he does. So for this angle, I moved the projector to about a foot behind my heels (sorry) and pointed it straight up. The parts of the projection that missed me went on the ceiling, so the wall behind me was blank:
I loved this, since it made the two feature shots perfect inverses of each other! This is something I leaned into while editing, for the third round of rock paper scissors:
That’s about it. The longest part of editing was poring over these long takes, some up to 25 minutes, and pulling out individual actions. I did each action 3 or 4 times with variety, so I was able to try out different combinations leading into each other as I built the sequence. The splitscreen shots aren’t cut straight vertically; I let the whole projection stay together since the clouds did slowly move:
Throughout shooting, I was imagining an orchestral piece underneath the footage—so I started going back through the bangers I remembered from my years in high school band. I settled on Danzón No. 2, an incredible work by Arturo Márquez that I got to play congas on as a percussionist in All-Virginia State Band in 2017. Gustavo Dudamel’s performance gave the film a fantastic energy; I moved a few cuts forward or backward here and there to sync, and was thrilled with the result.
Shot on a Canon C100 Mk2.