Should clarify a couple of things - firstly, I very, very rarely watch films so not only have I had to borrow some DVDs off of my brother but also most of this is completely new to me (the work I've currently contributed to the group's coursework consists mainly of logical decisions, as opposed to thoughts from observation. Hopefully doing these posts can fix this!). Secondly I should note that I will be posting screenshots from the films on the blog because
Here goes then - the first film I'm going to look at is Marmaduke.
The opening shot and transition is something particularly interesting; the first thing we see is a more or less blank beige canvas, which becomes animated in a way which makes it appear like a school hallway is being drawn on the screen. Once the 'drawing' is complete, we see a paint-splatter style action-match transition to a live action shot of the actual school hallway. The animation immediately gives the impression that the next few minutes at least of film are going to be fairly light-hearted.
This next shot shows large numbers of people walking from behind and into the camera, all out of focus except for one character in the centre - which tells us that he is going to have a significant role.
This shot is further back than the previous, which reveals to the audience that the previously-mentioned character is significantly taller than any of the other people around him. This makes him appear particularly awkward and out of place, once again drawing attention to his character. The name of the film appears with a stylised lowercase "a" in the middle of the all-caps formatted title. This is potentially to emphasise the character's height even more, as he is framed just behind said "a" in the shot.
The next thing we see is a shot of this character leaning over to a locker - this is a close-up shot, which draws the viewer's attention to the action. It also distracts attention away from what else is happening in the set - making the next shots more effective:
As with before, the text appears out of the way of the action in the shot (in this case, Marmaduke walking into the room).
The way in which sound is used throughout this scene is pretty fascinating. The vast majority of sound in this opening is non-diegetic, consisting of both a BGM song and a voice-over narration.
This narration directly addresses the viewer in a way that not only breaks the fourth wall, but attacks it with a wreaking ball. During the first few shots were the teenage boy is shown in school, the commentry discusses school life and being an out of place teenager, giving the impression that this voice belongs to the boy himself. Then we hear a vinyl-scratch sound effect and the background music cuts out, changing the pacing of absolutely everything happening on screen. This is the part where the camera suddenly cuts to the dog. Turns out it was the dog talking the whole time! The dog introduces himself as Marmaduke and the rest of the opening sequence consists of Marmaduke introducing the family he lives with whilst the final written credits are displayed.
I actually think this seems particularly effective. My main reasoning for this is because it works as a lighthearted way of introducing the audience to the film and gives them an idea of what to expect. The little "it must be this guy talking... oh wait, no it's not" thing seems like a good idea - sure, it's no The Reveal trope, but it is an engaging way of injecting some mild surprise humour into the scene.
There is actually a noticeable similarity between Marmaduke's opening and the opening to our coursework film - and this revolves around the way in which we suddenly break the pacing of the BGM for humorous effect. In Marmaduke's case it is where the focus cuts away from the human towards the dog; in our case it is when Samir stops to put his hat on, bringing the attention to the personality of his character.
I'll follow this up with analyses for additional films in the coming days.