Analysis/Reflection

1. The Abstract Edit

Working on abstract video is amusing yet it can enhance my production abilities and  editing skills. I used different effects and transitions to edit the video after self-exploration and getting some advice from the tutor and this tutorial. However, there are some challenges while working on this project. The image’s qualities were extremely poor. Some images were burnt and others become less distinct. I could not eliminate the discoloration because I operated camera inefficiently, resulting from incorrect white balance setting.

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This blur and burning image was because of wrong white balance setting.

The carelessness of adjusting the camera focus also made almost all images become unclear and not sharp. Therefore, I spent a long time to select the footage and adjust the low-quality moving images.  From this lessons-learned, I will set white balance carefully and check the camera focus thoroughly.

The sound of the images is problematic. Some footage had no sound and others had high pitch sound. The reason is that the input sound was off and the level of sound recording was also unstable causing audio distortion. To deal with this issue, I can add audio into the image and use audio effects to control the sound level according to Adobe website. From this experience, I will always check external and internal sound buttons before shooting in order to avoid the repetitive problem.

With curiosity to explore editing techniques, I exercise my editing skills by using a variety of effects and transitions. During the first edition, I did wrong in using effects due to the fact that I could not endure editing lots of footage within one hour and I had no much experience editing before. To overcome this difficulty, I edited my video again by using many layers and adjusting the opacity, color and the speed of some shots.

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In this shot, I reduced the speed of the image and adjusted the opacity to slow down the feed’s movement.

It was such a beneficial practical exercise that is called “learning by doing” although I was struggling at the beginning. The addition of transition on video enables me to explore the reality of how Adobe Premiere Pro works and it tends to train my brain quickly to remember the process of editing and using each effect and transition.

Music selection is important to match with the footage. I downloaded the free music from Youtube, which is in creative common archives.  I started playing with crossfade transition and adjusted the audio transition. Rather than using constant power transition, I used the pen tool to adjust the way I wanted to fade in and out the audio. It did work well and this becomes my new expertise and knowledge.

Overall, from the Expertise exercise, I learn lots more on how to operate the video camera and to explore the differences of video effects and transitions. This equips me with editing skills and allows me to practice these skills for the upcoming video.

2. The Expertise Edit

The Expertise exercise predominantly allows me to understand different types of camera shots and how to operate camera effectively. During the Expertise project, I have refreshed my brain and knowledge regarding video production after five years of suspending shooting video. I really enjoyed working on this project though I have faced with some difficulties, yet it is advantageous for my self-improvement.

From the editing experience, I would like to reflect on four main problems, one of which is framing the subject in different shots. Shooting with a variety of shots is extremely important. The difference of shots can demonstrate aspects of the characters, sets, and themes of the film. The success of my team working on Expertise project is that there is a combination of extreme long shot, long shot, medium shot, close up, and extreme close up, which reduces the workloads during editing. However, I found that there is a loophole to improve in my upcoming video production. I have noticed that all shots seem to be only half face of the protagonist. Therefore, next time I would move the camera to film the subject more closely and widely.

 

Another noticeable issue is sound quality. There was noise in the sound owing to the fact that I filmed in the class. I have not critically thought much about recording sound while shooting. Hence, when it comes to the editing process, the sound of the images is not usable. To deal with this type of problem, in the next project I will select a location that does not have too much distractive sound, yet a clear background sound. If there is an interview, I prefer to have a quiet place.

The position of camera angle is also crucial in video production. In my Expertise video, I have not filmed my character from different angles because I have not thought of it. After checking my footage, I realised that I should have done low or high camera angles to make my viewers understand the character’s relationship and make the video become attractive. This happens because I did not have a proper pre-production plan. This experience will remind me to think of various angles before shooting and to have a well-developed treatment.

Using effects and transition during editing is also problematic for me. While editing, I was trying to play with video effects and transitions. I used, for instance, color correction and blur and sharpen for video effects and 3 D motions, fade in and out, and flip over transitions. This has resulted in an unprofessional video and it looked distracted. I decided to remove those transitions and effects and edited my video as normal.

3. The Initiative

“Enemies of the People”, is the documentary film showing about the masterminds behind the mass killing during Khmer Rouge Regime in Cambodia directed by Thet Sambath and Rob Lemkin, has inspired me to find out more about how to produce the documentary film. With the journalism background, I believe that producing the documentary by using journalistic skills can address important issues, investigate the reality of the social issues, reveal the hidden information and inform audiences. Hewitt and Vazquez (2010) explains the four stages in producing the documentary film including  the beginning, preproduction, production, and postproduction.

Getting Started is the early stage to develop the idea, set the goal,  think critically about the characters and visualizing the story, seek collaboration and prepare proposal and budgets  The generating idea is essential to shape the angle of the topic and search for available resources and materials that are relevant to the topic.

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Photo was taken from this website.

For instance, the producer has to do more research to understand
the topic precisely and look for accessible sources to interview. Wales (2015) also claims that research is beneficial to identify the central problem and clarify the accurate information of the topic, which can result in a high-quality documentary film. Energetic and enthusiastic characters who can hold the viewer’s attentions are pre-selected. The need for collaboration from relevant people is essential to ensure the smooth production and strong connection.  Planning proposal and budget are extremely important at this stage. Sometimes, the producer may need to do fund-raising, applying for the grant in case he/she does not have enough money.

Preproduction is generally perceived as a plan for shooting the documentary film. There are two basic plans at this stage including preparing for production and arranging interviews.  Production planning is consist of scheduling shooting, producing the storyboard, writing shooting script, hiring the director and passionate crews, arranging equipment and  dealing with legal issues. The number of crews can have strong impacts on the production. Sometimes, a small crew has been hired to produce the documentary film due to limited budgets.

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Photo was taken from this website.

Planning interviews are required because the documentary film is about getting interviewees to talk about the problem and to show the conflict. The key interviewees have to be scheduled for the formal interview. Some interviewees might be more significant in the film to elaborate the  complex and controversial issue of the topic. Location selection with the right background for the interview also has to be done before the production starts. Wales (2015) added that in this stage, the production team has to coordinate the travel schedule for shooting and continue working on the editing script.

Production is the stage of gathering actual footage. The director has to ensure that the sound quality, light, and  the aesthetic cinematography are operated correctly and creatively based on the treatment. The documentary heavily relies on the sound from the interview, ambient sound, and natural sound. Having enough light can improve the footage while shooting that is why the director has to ensure that there is enough light.

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Students pursuing Master of Media at RMIT were shooting Voxpop in front of the State Library.

To get the high-quality sequences, the cinematographer has translated the contextual vision of the director by paying attention to balance the composition, framing and to be innovative in producing artistic sequences. The director has to be critical for producing creative or aesthetic camera shots because it can take precedence over the editing stage. B-roll and cutaway shots can add information during narration or interview, which can explain the topic and increase the credibility. The significance of story conflict can build on the value in the documentary and the film has to retain the conflict otherwise, the documentary may become less interesting (Wales, 2015).

Postproduction is the important part for assembling all footage. Structuring documentary is essential when it comes into the postproduction. The storytelling has to be constructed into three parts including beginning, middle and end, and sometimes final thought might be included as well.  While editing the documentary, a mixture of different shots will be blended up and the script might be changed depending on the actual story after putting footages together in order to fit into a coherent film.

post-production-team

Photo taken from this website.

Music also can be incorporated into the documentary film aiming to enliven the story by suggesting emotion or mood.  According to The International School History, there are 8 styles of making documentary including the use of “exposition, actual footage, narration, oral history, archive material, reconstruction, music, and graphic”. Thus, the  filmmaker can use the combination of styles or just a few of them. In addition, many techniques are available for the filmmaker, two of which are no narration and personal point of view documentary film. After finish editing, the draft documentary might be screened to a specific group of people who can give constructive feedbacks before finalizing the whole documentary film.

Let’s take a look at my latest mini-documentary five years ago I have faced with many difficulties in terms of generating ideas and shooting video. I admitted that I did not plan well before shooting plus having some technical issues such as shooting without the tripod. As a result, my documentary has many shaky moving images and become unprofessional. Thus, the advice above will enable me to improve my existing skills and tap into my personal interest in producing the documentary film.

References:

Hewitt, J & Vazquez, G. (2010). Documentary Filmmaking: A Contemporary Field Guide. Oxford University Press.

Wales, L. (2015). Complete Guide to Film and Digital Production. Focal Press

4. Prompts

According to Sound Design paper, the sound has been grouped into three categories including music, sounds, and speech. Speech has become appealing to me while reading. Narration and dialogue are the essential functions of the speech. The narration refers to a verbal and nonverbal means of communication and it has been classified into three types including direct, indirect, and contrapuntal.

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The sound mixer, photo was taken from this website.

The indirect and contrapuntal narration have been commonly used in the film .The sound designers mostly use indirect narration to tell the story or actor’s activities without narration. This means the audience can understand the situation based on what they see on the screen without having narration. For instance, there is no narration when the actor opens the car door and walk into the theater. The Contrapuntal narration is the way the sound designer use the image in opposite to the narration in order to make a comparison. As an example, the narration is about African children do not have enough food where the video is showing lots of food wasted by western people. The sound designers have to  have inherent ability to distinguish sound differences in order to  produce the sound that provides listeners with cognitive and affective information. This lesson enables me to understand and identify sound particular how to use speech  for the next project.

“Directors are mostly aggressive” crew members have to understand this. This is unfair that is why there is a discussion of the role of the director and actor. What I do learn from Actor and The Director is that the significant relationship between actor and the director is to understand each other. Instead of giving an order to actors to perform as what the director wants, the director has to accept the actors’ ability, specialty and potentiality.

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Production crews photo by Sean Hagen from Flickr:CC.

Some talented actors are able to perform perfectly though the director has not guided them. This means qualified actors can show their intelligence and to a certain degree can reduce the director’s workloads.  The most successful director is the one who understands actors intuitively. Another interesting point is that competent director retains the good working environment, inspire actors, acknowledge actors’ great achievement in performance. The Incompetent director will allow technical problems or his/her mood distract the working atmosphere and disrespect the actors. The director has to use infinite patience strategy and self-analytical approach to managing the production. The actors have to respect the director and do their roles aiming to successfully perform as what the audience wants. Personally, this kind of leadership has reflected the reality in the society not only in the production team. The leaders or the directors have to respect and appreciate their colleagues working under their supervision, leading to a remarkable triumph. The above points can immensely improve my understanding regarding the director and actor relationship, and hopefully, I can apply these strategies to my future career.

5. Lenny Production 

Team spirit has provided me with a great achievement in producing Lenny short film although it is not 100% perfect. My team has been working to support each other and this builds a strong sense of collaboration, leading to a great success despite minor problems. Let’s me share some experiences and challenges during Lenny project.    

Preproduction

My achievement in this stage is planning the storyboard and marking the script before starting the production. I have drawn a treatment for my production by considering different types of creative shots and angles, which includes close-up, medium shot, long shot, extreme close up. Planning key locations and characters in advance has also contributed to the success. I have thought of some locations nearby RMIT and I have divided three scenes based on the provided script allowing me to understand clearly how to manage each scene.  Besides, I have tested camera and sound recorder for making sure they work well and it made me more confident before camera rolling. Before starting production, my team has allocated specific task for everyone.

pre-production

This photo was taken from this website.

However, there are some obstacles . My team did not discuss thoroughly with each other about the exact location and the film treatment before shooting. My team and I went immediately without thinking of finalizing the plan for the production project, where to shoot , what the prompt are, and what kind of shots should be captured. This has resulted in unclear shooting plan and a bit complicated when filming each scene. From this experience, for the next project, planning is the best solution to work effectively and efficiently and I would have a discussion before starting shooting although each member has planned the treatment individually. It is important to talk and clarify the plan before going out.

Production

My team allocated tasks for each member clearly and each member including me had to rotate the role. Personally, the rotating role is more practical during this production since each member has a chance to perform different tasks and learn from each other.  During the production, I had a chance to be a sound recorder, camerawoman, assistance director (AD), the director. According to task allocation, I could fulfill my role to a certain extent. For example, when I was a sound recorder, I tested the sound button to ensure that it turned on and I checked the level of the sound volume to make sure it was in standard level. With regard to camera operation, I could frame the image well without too many mistakes and listened to the director and followed his comments for improvement. I applied the rule of production crews by respecting and doing my role without bothering or invading others’ task.

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My team was shooting scene 1 for Lenny project at RMIT campus.

Although there were many positive results during the production, there were also a few minor mistakes and misunderstandings. The planned location was not chosen due to the construction work. It is unpredictable although I have checked the place one day before the shooting. The switching role is good for exercise but it might be disastrous in the real shooting. I was confused about my team member’s role because everyone kept rotating the role. For instance, the role of being an assistance director and the director have not clearly differentiated. I noticed that being an assistance director in my team was just saying camera roll and other tasks were guided by the director. This means I failed to perform as AD because I was perplexed and could not fulfill the task. From this experience, I would say having a specific and clear role for each member is recommended for the next project and each role has to be precisely explained before starting the production.

Postproduction

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This is the way I organized sound and images for my Lenny project as well as other production projects.

At this stage, all footages have to be assembled and I would say my team has filmed many creative shots despite a few technical errors.  The process of editing is quite demanding if there are  poor-quality footages. During my Lenny project edition, I have followed the advice by creating the specific folder to organise all necessary files neatly. There are three important processes that I have achieved during the editing. Selecting footage is not time-consuming for me because most of the footage were usable. I created Bins for the three scenes, music, and sequences and then I started putting all the shots together based on the script. Using video transition could avoid jump-cuts in my video that was why I used a few film dissolve and cross dissolve to make my video goes smooth. I also used the pen tool to fade in and out the music and audio while editing.  With the experience from editing abstract video, I added the title of the film and behind the scene images, just to make the video more attractive.

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Some wrong activities during shooting Lenny short film.

In spite of some successes during editing, there are some issues. Some audio of the footage were disrupted by the construction sound that was inevitable. I decided to mute the audio because of the noise and I used the music to integrate into the video instead. There were many shaky images which resulted from using the hand-held camera without the tripod.  In the camera screen, the video was not so shaky, but when I played it on the computer screen, it was.  Another critical issue is that my picture appeared as a reflection from the mirror in the footage. I have to pay more attention when shooting near the mirror from now on otherwise this problem will occur again. There was also no ending shot for my Lenny project as planned. The initial idea was that there should be a wide shot of Van walking out of the scene , but there was not because my team forgot to film.  As experienced, there should be a person noting down and checking every planned shot before finish shooting for the future project.

6. Find Your Scene

“Me Before You” is a romantic drama directed by Thea Sharrock and released in 2016.  The film is about the love story between a disabled banker and his caretaker. This film has blown my mind and made me almost in tear. Because of this, I would like to deconstruct one amazing scene that I have extracted from the movie. Overall, this scene was produced with greater efforts and the well-designed plan.

  • Shot Construction: the director used many cinematography techniques to create visual storytelling in the film. According to Timothy Heiderich, the basic of film composition and the creation of different shots can form the cohesive narrative about what is going on in the film without telling. From my perspective, this scene used the film composition and various shots greatly. The director and cameramen created the art of cinematography by taking a variety of shots including long, medium and close up shots to position the action. This scene construction enables viewers to become more engaging with the actors.
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In this medium shot, the director blurred Will while  Louisa and another lady were talking about Will’s feeling to join his ex-girlfriend wedding.

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This close up shot, Louisa was asking Will to go out and her facial expression showed her insistence.

  • Camera Movement: In this scene, cameramen and the director worked together effectively to use various type of camera movement and different angles. The cameraman filmed the movie from the high and low angle, using tracking, panning, tilting, zooming techniques, which followed  the basic camera movement. Those shots were just incredible, allowing the audience to interact with the scene.
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Crane was used to filming this establishing shot by gradually moving the camera down to show the overview of the wedding and the actors.

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In this long shot, while the two actors were walking into the ceremony, the cameraman was panning from the right to left across the stone gate.

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Louisa sat on Will’s wheel and Will moved the chairs as the music was playing  and  the camera was moving along the two characters.

  • Production Design: The director has provided the audience with precise information in terms of illustrating the sets and visual style of the film concept. This mainly is about the use of color and mood in the film in order to create the aesthetic environment. In this scene, I would say the location was selected rigorously with a nice great campus and crowded people in the ceremony, which complied with the film concept. Wheels chair was designed to fit in the situation for the disabled protagonist. A mixture of brilliant color such as green, red, purple, and white in the scene has made the film become startlingly beautiful.
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The big church was chosen to show the wedding ceremony and actors dressed colorful clothes.

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The director captured the groom and bridge as the background, yet used the red color of a woman’s dress to make the shot become bright.

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A well-planned shot in the scene, many audiences were cast and performed in the church to celebrate the wedding reception as the real one.

  • Performance: “what make a good performance?” there is a discussion between the instrument and the craft for the best performer. Instrument refers to the actor’s mind, body, voice, and emotion.  The craft is about the process of building actor to perform based on the script. There are 10 tips for improving performance in the film. Personally, the actors in this movie have demonstrated their professional performance based on the basic rules and guides. I truly appreciate the actors, who could make the audience laugh, smile, and cry with them. Louisa and Will are talented and have spontaneous performance, which makes them achieve a fabulous job in this scene. They used their emotional feelings to show the tone of the performance, which made the audience understand and some were in tear including me. This shows that the actors are highly skillful in performing tactics.
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This close up shot shows the good feeling of Will accepting Louisa’s request, which made the audience feel happy too.

 

 

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