Category Archives: 160MC

Short Film: Editing

I confess, I have no real experience editing. When it comes to using Final Cut (the software I edited on) I was a virgin. I can now say I’m not too bad on it, I know the basics and I am learning how to use it very effectively.

My group imported the footage from the tape in the camera to the program and it was stored on Ally’s hardrive. We then each took a copy of it to edit individually.

My first task was to sit through all the clips. There were many instances where errors were made, bloopers, cock-ups, filming the wrong things for the film and generic bad shots/audio. I deleted all the footage that was irrelevant. This gave me a number of useable clips. At this point I was very annoyed at the lack of clips available and how little of different shots we had (not to blow my own trumpet but I feel I filmed a few more and alternate shots when I had the chance). But I had to work with what I had.

For ease of finding clips I wanted I created bins to store similar clips in. Other people in my group renamed all the clips but I left them as ‘Untiled 1’ etc which really helped all the way through as I knew as I could refer to a certain numbered clip and find them easily in it’s specific bin.

My next step was putting the clips on the timeline in a rough order of sequence. This helped me vision how the finished piece was going to look. I left lots of gaps between each scene so I had room to play around with. I then started trimming and cutting the clips so I had exactly the clip I wanted. The basic skills of grabbing, cutting etc quickly became familiar and then in no time I had exactly what I wanted. Once I had sequenced the trimmed up, edited clips, I could move on to making a film out of ‘sequenced clips’.

I started by adding effects. Although not the best transitions, I felt fading was a very useful tool. It assists the storyline rather than be a tacky distraction. I was criticised by my peers for this but (at the end of editing) I found it paid off tremendously. There was also a point where fading helped to smoothen two clips together and mask the join between them. I decided that a ‘flashback’ of the events where the workman is killed was needed. I reinserted small sections of previously used clips to portray this. It had one problem though – it seemed that the film was just repeating itself. I then changed the setting on the clip to make it appear in grayscale and with a grainy effect (symbolising a memory). I picked up the use of ‘Copying Attributes’ of one clip to another and did this to the following clip where I had placed in another shot of the girl over the dead workman’s body.

There was a fantastic shot I feel I pulled off around the 110 second mark. Sophie, our actress, is sitting on the couch and is soon joined by her friend. I really feel I captured a spacial awareness in the shot by zooming in/key framing (in the editing stage) from 100 to 189 on her face. This zooming skill I had picked up led me to being able to give a couple of extra shots from what was a limited collection of clips. I also am very proud not off my skills as an editor, but my vision as an editor which are really shown in the subtly translucent clip transition from the girl’s friend sitting down which changes to another shot from a completely different angle as he hits the chair. Textually, this is very hard to explain but in the film it looks superb.

I was then happy with my visual aspect of the film. I now needed to work on the audio. A key technique I picked up was cross-fading the sound. This simple trick is incredibly useful and I am thankful to the person who explained this to me. Two particular examples of when I used this new technique are about 30 seconds where a light is turned on and when the camera pans up to the friend’s face when he is in the garage and determines ‘nothing is there’. The 30 seconds cross-fade started the audio and the end of the previous clip which then flowed into the current clip. It looks so much more professional to the amature audio skills I previously had. The camera panning audio fade made the dialogue happen as the shot moved upward so it flowed into the friend speak naturally.

I added a few sound effects into the film. One was an electricity spark sound for when the workman gets electrocuted, the other was a violin fade I used as a motif (it comes from the intro of ‘Walk On By’ by Gabrielle). I downloaded these pieces of audio using a YouTube converter then edited them in Audacity before finally importing them into my film. They add meaning to a few shots and also gives the piece more dynamocity.

I feel my edit is actually not that bad – as I originally thought it would be terrible, given the clips I had. Excuse the expression but I feel like I really did ‘polish a turd’.

I then exported my film.


Short Film: Reflection

Looking back at my project, I think it was a success. Though I feel it was a hard-beaten success.

The issue with planning and execution was probably the biggest problem with the project. The team had issues, especially with direction, and I feel this reflects poorly on our work. Nevertheless, as short film got made and I can now brag about the fact I have editing skills =D

As mentioned earlier, the planning was a big issue. I think we would have been better sitting down a the beginning of the project and going ‘these are all the ideas, lets go find a set and find some actors’. We didn’t leave it till the last minute we just didn’t properly prepare. We should have gone and visited the set and worked out how to tackle the limited space. We also should have gone and met our actors maybe a couple of weeks in ahead of shoot and run through the script with them so they could learn it and we could direct exactly how we needed it to be – although credit to their part as they did deliver well.

Apart from lights that we should have taken to shoot, I think maybe a smaller camera could have helped us a fair bit. We took a steadicam body system although it was not used – perhaps this should have been given a trial. It would also allow us to have to moving shots instead of just relying on static ones, panning and tilts all the time. Sound was not an issue in capturing loud and clear dialogue but I do pick up a tiny bit of hissing/buzzing – maybe that was an issue I could have looked at in Post-Production.

The ending of the piece, which I personally filmed, is something that in post-production my whole team realised was not strong enough. With more time (again by doing this earlier) we should have re-filmed it. It just lacks something and is really pathetic in its delivery and context.

The editing, for me, was a huge success. I learnt how to use Final Cut and also accumulated a fair few nifty skills along the way. Though I did leave the editing process quite late which put pressure on me time-wise although this can be rectified by just getting the job done earlier next time. The pool of editing skills I am slowly building will increase more once I get onto the software and just play about with it – I can’t learn reading a book, I have to physically do something for it to make sense to me, so a bit of pre-messing about with the software in advance could have spared me a little more time, but it is certainly something I can try next project.

The script that we filmed I did have issues with. It lacked charm and charisma and a above-mediocre narrative. Once again, this was something I should have addressed right at the start with probably rewrites going along the way – input from the actors at this point may have been even more helpful.

I would have liked to have filmed my script as I feel it had real depth to the narrative and concept it had. It also discussed some very thought provoking ideologies and values which gave it character. The writing in it, the actual textual words are beyond the mundane and really use the language to convey powerful meanings. For these reasons I think I will go on to making this script into a film next term. One thing I confess about is the fact that I really did find dialogue hard to convey as natural whilst still being engaging and driving the plot. To counter this, I feel like I cheated. The narrative is really driven by the narrators monologue. There is no interaction with other characters – my approach was to establish an interaction with the audience.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda. This phrase really hits hard in our project. A huge lesson I have learned is that short filmmaking is not spontaneous and does still require as much in depth planning to a detailed level as the next biggest Hollywood blockbuster. I still made a short movie however and I still edited the film myself. Something I really will take away from this project apart from my editing skills and my acknowledgement for planning and structure is to never work with the same people all the time or consecutively. Especially with friends as it becomes hard to say ‘I don’t like this’, ‘This isn’t working, lets change it’ and ‘To be honest, this is rubbish – let’s go back to the drawing board’.


Short Film – Production

My group decided to film Emma’s script. The basis of this narrative was of a woman hallucinating an accidental death and her friend then proving she’s dulally and just forgot to take her medication.

To be honest, I did not like the script. I felt it a cheesy cliché with forced dialogue. Though I must acknowledge the fact that a rewrite was written on the day of shoot (due to actor drop outs) – oh on that note I ended up being cast into the film. So I started off this film on a bad note.

We filmed at Ally’s house which, giving way for it accommodating the right setting, was a little awkward space wise for filming. For example, the garage we used game us relatively little space to manoeuver and the hallway midshoot proved tricky to handle a hulking camera and tripod with. I feel this is a fault on our own part, we should have evaluated the set before shooting and considered different approaches. We could have done with taking lights to the set too – although the natural (or indoor lighting from the house) proved to be decent enough and looks okay when the footage is played back.

We used a Z5 to shoot the film with along with a tripod, external microphone mounted as a boom mic and a lamp for improvised lighting. It really off using a quality camera like the Z5 though we did not shoot in HD (a pain in the backside whilst rendering we have found in tests). I was particularly impressed how the camera picked up every detail in the dimly lit garage!

As I was dropped in being in the film, I didn’t get chance to do much camera operating. However, any scene I was not in, I jumped on the opportunity to use the camera. I did a couple of shots repeatedly and from different angles and I feel this will pay off in the edit. I tried some simple techniques like panning, tilting and a soft zoom. I also experimented different aperture and iris settings on the camera although I did not record this as I felt it could knock off the consistency of previous shots and decided that the editing stage would be a good point to make brightness, colour etc settings. I also did a couple of shots where I operated the boom mic.

From a critical point of view, I feel the shoot was terrible. It was unprofessional and badly organised. The actors turned up on the day and were expected to act out a scene after a couple of run throughs of the script and no real rehearsals. This was not my decision, I actually opposed this but I was undermined. This did not stop me, when I was camera operator, directing a certain scene how I felt it should be and working with my actors instead of just telling them what to do. The organisation of the filming, as previously mentioned, was terrible and I think it should have been done better – I too am at blame here. However, as the film was Emma’s, she undertook the role of director and adopted the policy of “what I say goes” which really reflected in how we planned it. I should have challenged this which, although causing confrontation at the time, probably would have got a better understanding of the film and scheduled it more decisively. I also do not feel like we filmed enough footage, different takes and different shots. The actors proved to be an issue with some dropping out and the ones that did turn up did not have enough time to fit into their roles; they were also not communicated to correctly which made their delivery completely different to how we visioned the script which was ultimately our fault. They did do a good job mind and really put emotion in the right places into their performances.

A photo from the shoot:


Short Film: Pre-Production

Pitch

Inspiration for my film came about watching full feature films like “Fight Club”, “The Libertine” and “Alfie”. The television drama series “Hustle” frequently delves into the world of vice whilst charmingly objectifying what they are doing is not necessarily right. I wanted to create a narrative which looked at the vices and wrong-doings of the main character, in a positive light. These films portray the main character doing something which, in all fairness, is not morally right (fighting and affairs) but in a fashion which looks like it redeems glory, credit and positively.

A topic I am familiar with and have research to death is the world of narcotics. This, to me, meant my film was going to be about drugs. However, no comeuppance would occur to my main character during the course of my film.

I decided on this pitch:
          “A man shows his love for the drug cocaine”

Outline

I visioned the narrative being a one person monologue and breaking the fourth wall. The films I listed above (and clips below) are examples of exactly what I want to do – the narrator breaking the fourth wall to tell the audience what they’re doing is not all that bad.

My outline then became:
          “A man talks about his love of narcotics and briefly states how he ended up in the situation he is in. He does this by speaking directly to the audience and explaining to them how is not a bad person, he just does things a little ‘unorthadox'”

I really wanted to make my character likeable (as opposed to the main character in The Libertine) :

Treatment

I summarised the treatment as follows:

INT Man in room in bed.

Gets out of bed, sits on end. Lights cigarette, starts talking. Breaks fourth wall by talking directly to the audience. Maybe keep very close-up shot to make audience feel uncomfortable.

Flashback in same/similar Room

Drinking then smoking drugs then snorting drugs

Fat person eating fatty burger

A very large person taking a bite out a greasy burger. V.close-up aiming to get burger and slight of mouth (maybe nose) in shot.

Sex Scene

Anonymous couple having sex in bed. Mainly covers moving and noises being heard.

Man seen talking on mobile

Man is chatting away aimlessly to nobody in particular. A type of person who is never NOT using their mobile.

Narrator In ROom

Narrator carries on talking to the camera. A few glances away now and again.

EXT.

Someone in a hoody knocks on Narrators door.

INT.

Man smokes cigarette. Then smirks as he finishes the scene.

Finally some media that influenced me

Alfie (1966)

I love this film! I admit I like the remake better (its more slick and stylish and modern – it just appeals to me) although the original is cheekier. One particular characteristic I found mouth-wateringly amazing, is the way, during a scene, Alfie

Alfie (2004)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0Aqq_xbo80

Fight Club (1999)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pGV1MBca6k&feature=related


Poetic Eyes – Reflection

Manufactured Celebrities

This title I created is striking and immediately shouts out to an audience “I have a point, this is what I think”. I coined the term from how I view celebrity culture.

The point behind this piece was my portrayal of the theory that celebrity culture has found itself as a state of utter perfectionism; it is almost like they are manufactured as perfect. One could say that ‘manufactured celebrities’ is not even a metaphor – I certainly agree with this. Normally when people with a media interest look at ‘celebrity culture’, they see the audiences as the ones framing how a celebrity should be in this day and age. I wanted to make the point that we are just so immersed in this perfect, machine-made likeness that we as an audience make them.

I comment on the fact that celebrities have no imperfections. They are a utopian society. What most people look like, act like or are like does not matter when this god like image of somebody famous is brandished in their everyday lives, so much so that they have passively become unaware consumers of it. Also, no matter how outrages a celebrity behaves, they are not looked upon as lesser beings but rather as something which can be publicised and developed into mainstream news. This can be seen when I talk about Nikki Sixx and Keith Richards being incredibly notorious drug abusers but are still idolised by millions (including myself – though I do not find myself hypocritical as I am just stating what I see in celebrity culture).

I drew clips from predominant members of the celebrity world such as Cheryl Cole, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lady Gaga to name but a few. They visualised the words I was saying as part of my recorded poem. I had many pieces of archive footage to create my work with however, some of the clips would not work when I tried to edit them together. I intended to include still images in the piece, such as Michelangelo’s David, but I ended up putting more than I wanted to. This was commented upon in my feedback.

The poem itself is one that I am quite proud of. I started writing words and names that I related to the ideal of ‘manufactered celebrities’ and my poem grew from there. Poetry has always been a forte of mine so once I had a concept, I found ideas flourishing out of my mind. I linked the words I had written down and came up with other words that rhymed with them based on celebrity culture. For example, they have perfect, white teeth, ‘magnificant white’ and they do not have ‘no fat or stretch marks nor cellulite’.

I really enjoyed creating this piece of work. I also feel like I did something a little bit different to other pieces in the group.


Poetic Eyes – Manufactured Celebrities (Written)

Moulded to perfection by a longing society,
they walk among us like a god or a titan.
They are the way we all should be,
perfect specimens, no variety.

Magnificent breasts, genuine fakes,
solid muscle from the protein shakes.
Teeth like pearls, fantastic white,
no fat or stretch marks nor cellulite.

All parties and fun and paparazzi glam,
but underneath it’s all a sham.
No real human here, no actual being,
the mags don’t show you what you should be seeing.

They’ve got the money to be how they are,
the speedboat, the plane, the overpriced car.
They can spend it on drugs like old Keith and sad Nikki,
or change how they look like hot Pam and mean Mickey.

The plastic fantastics, the curves and the bums,
all enhanced with lipo and tucks on the tums.
Even with too much, they’ve still got the fame,
for them it’s just surgery, it’s just like a game.

Flawless jaw lines chiselled by great artist Mikey,
even Brad Pitt looks good as a shabby drunk pikey.
Some are stunning, like Cheryl in nought but a bra,
or wacky and crazy like fucked up Gaga.

We made these idols, our society,
artificial celebs from a nice factory.
But don’t dream of being them ‘cos your failing to see,
your dreams should be real just like you, just like me.


People to People – Editing & Final Product

I will be frank in saying that I found the editing stage very difficult. I have not a lot experience editing, especially with the software we used, Final Cut. Though a member of our group was very adept at using the program and so my lack of skills did not hinder the process.

I took a back seat when editing, I was not on hand doing the job. This was due to the fact I had no proficiency at using the software and since we only had a week to put the documentary together I felt it would be better if someone else used the software and got it done. I will endeavor to learn how to use the system but with the footage needing editing fast due to time constraints, I encouraged someone else to do it. 

I had a quick shot at editing but was mainly directing the editing.

 I was not passing on the responsibility but I felt I was more effective commenting, discussing and divulging my thoughts and opinions about how the documentary should look as opposed to bumbling about learning the tools. It was like I was the brain and the person physically editing was the hands. I actually think this method of getting the job done by using your strongest components really worked well. I could concentrate on how the film looked overall with my companion concentrating on the technical sides of editing. I did pick a fair few instructions up as we went along making me more confident about editing in my next project.

Neil’s interview needed more than just him talking to make it into a documentary. We needed to add certain things to the footage to make the story more aesthetically pleasing and easy to follow. Though first,we had to remove the footage we were not going to use (such as us talking to him asking him questions or irrelevant points). We then selected the sections of the interview we liked the best and created the best narrative without too much explanation. We placed them into a continuity order which gave the piece structure – the three-part structure as mentioned before, getting into music journalism; being a music journalist; and his band.

There were several cut-aways we felt had to be included in the finished product. First was the very first news article Neil had published. The zoom into this really brought an otherwise static image to life. This was done by key framing the image. Emma had a lot of experience doing this and using Final Cut and showed Jess and I how to perform this function. The news article cutaway was crucial, I feel, and I urged it to be put into the product. The rhythm and pace when Neil was talking was very intense with no natural breaks or pauses. I insisted the cutaway be placed in to give the piece time to breathe. An audience would feel claustrophobic in consuming the product if it does not pause for them to take a moment to take in what has been said. The second cutaway was relating to the ‘Derrek Smalls of Spinal Tap’ line with another key framing image of the man shown. Another cutaway was a photograph of Neil ‘from a young age’ which matches what he is saying blissfully perfect. It is in relation to him talking about always having a passion for reading, writing and music since his childhood. A video of his band, The Moonbears, is played with him talking over the top about the band itself and what it means to him. We had to include it also as it linked what he was saying. If we had not put it in, it would seem like he changed the context of the conversation with no seamless link and appears abruptly strange. The Moonbear video helps to smooth the transition.

I think we made a cracking decision by filming with two cameras. It was said that two cameras was a cover up for either an audio glitch or the fact that the effects need to be interesting because the subject (interviewee) is not. However, Neil was fully engaging and not only does he speak with his mouth, but he speaks with his face. His almost caricature facial expressions complement the context and emotion of what he is saying. We used the close up shots sacredly to convey these interesting points about him. One particular part I feel responsible for pulling together was during the section where Neil talks about being a ‘cocky, arrogant git’ and telling the music press their articles were ‘shit’. This cocky, arrogantness, along with a sense of cheekiness, is portrayed though a smile and widening of the eyes which are full of swagger. It really brings his character and personality to life.

The finished product succeeds as a documentary and can hold its own as a piece of narrative. It is structured and self explanatory which is what we aimed to achieve. If we had to explain what was going on or the audience actually asked what was going on then we would have failed in making a self supporting product. But this was not the case. With careful editing and selective cut-aways we stabilised the quick change of topics that delivered the information we wanted to show about Neil but at the same time keeping rhythm and pace in his interview.