IND Media Reflection 5; Semester Review

In my first homework required by this course I wrote that I want to acquire essential knowledge about broadcasting from this course. To be more specific, I want to learn about sound recording, video filming and editing skills. I think I have got enough opportunities to learn and practise them this semester.

Now I can use cameras, sound recorders and lights efficiently, I also had enough opportunities to try different roles in a production team in other courses. Meanwhile, I’ve found the editing skills I learnt from this course very helpful in overcoming difficulties I encountered in other courses.

It was my hope that after finishing this course I will be capable of produce simple but qualified broadcasting media material, and throughout this semesters learning and practise I can claim this course has helped me in achieving this. The results are beyond satisfaction.

What I think this course should have but did not provided to me is the thinking pattern and habits of western audiences. Being a Chinese I hoped that I I can know more about western audiences and the way they think and react to media contents. Knowing this would be helpful to international media students’ learning.

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【Industrial Media】Test: Analysis / Reflection 4

Clip 1

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 12.38.10 pm Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 12.38.57 pm

This is a video clip I made for Post Industrial Media course. There are two layers of videos in this clip. I adjusted RGB curves of major layer (which is the story world of this video clip) into black and white and tried to give it a Film noir feeling, while the small frame on top right is the real world of filmmaker recorded from second person perspective. I choose not to modify its color; hence there is a contrast between story world and story world.

Clip 2

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 12.40.37 pm Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 12.41.17 pm

In this video I adjusted the RGB curves to change its original color into slightly green and yellow, hence to give it a vintage style looking. It is the haiku video I made for the Industrial Media and the theme I choose was “Time and Illusion”, I believe such color would help to strengthen the theme.

Clip 3

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 12.35.50 pm Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 12.35.57 pm

This is a video clip I made for my friend from a travel agency which is about the starry sky of Great Ocean Road. The original video is too bright and would distract audience’s attention from stars, hence I adjusted the Luma Waveform and made it darker, so as to strengthen the existence of stars.

Clip 4

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 12.32.31 pm Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 12.32.42 pm

This is the video I made for Industrial Media task 1. Our team forgot to adjust the white balance before shooting hence the colors turned out very yellow. I adjusted the Blue and Red curves of RGB curves to change its colors.

Conclusion:

Color Grading and Lighting are essential techniques for media practitioners to master. They can help to set the tone, strengthen the theme as well as fix mistakes made during shooting.

IndMedia Task 3 Reading reflections

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Zhang Zihan

Task 3

Reading reflections

1

Acting is doing

In “Acting is Doing” John Boorman raised a very interesting point about how actors can relax themselves in acting. I absolutely agree with his idea, which is “the hardest things to tell an actor is to relax” and “people cannot relax by relaxing”.

I have five years performing experience in my bachelor years and high school, and I found whenever I tell myself to relax I became more anxious. I though it was my own problem but after reading this I realized that it occurs to everyone.

When you are telling yourself to relax, you are telling yourself to forget anxiety. However, each time you repeat this, the concept “I am anxious” roots deeper in your unconsciousness.

Unconsciousness, it is almost impossible for people to control it because people are unaware of what is happening with it. It’s like when you force yourself to forget something, you will remember it more clearly. While those things you forget, etc. key rings/ wallet are all left behind when you are not thinking about them.

Now as far as I can remember, the most relaxing time for me while performing is the moment when I and my counterpart actor were telling jokes to each other. This is exactly the same like John Boorman claimed, that “good actor knows that there is little they can do to get the emotion except rely on the circumstances or the other actor.”

In‘An Actor Prepares’, Constantin Stanislavski suggests actors should arrive at his dressing room two hours before going on, and he can relax himself by meditation. However in reality not every crew have the facility or time to do it. Hence in my opinion, it is essential for crew members, especially directors, to master some joke telling technique, or at least some easy games. Crew and casts can tell jokes or practice easy games before shooting, so as to relax actors and make them perform better.

2

Writing for the Screen: Beyond the Gospel of Story

In this article Kathryn Millard mentioned Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai, referring him as “extremely inventive” as Wong generally does not use fixed script when he makes films.

In my personal opinion, Wong’s theory is very unique and other directors should really obtain its essence if possible.

Wong claimed that images can’t all be written on paper, not to say music, sound, ambience and actors, and if all these things were written down, it would make the script boring. Before production, he would prepare basic plots, essential lines, but no fixed script.

During his production Wong would create and design lines and concepts base on casts’ performances and conditions, as well as elements in shooting scenes, hence more space are provided to the casts, and their potential can be stimulated to achieve their limit.

I believe Wong is referable, as directors should not be locked in original script, they should make full use of the real situation in shooting scene. They should sometimes modify the script base on actors’ performance, so as to make characters and casts fit each other better. Also, certain improvisational performances from actors should be allowed and encouraged if they are really good and natural.

Another point is, Wong always use lots of time in watching playbacks of previous filming records during production, sometimes he would spend days polishing lines and would talk to casts for long time, hence every frame of his work is polished.

However, we should also remember that we could hardly copy Wong’s experience, as it is also highly personal. Before Wong started his directing career, he was a screenwriter, he is experienced in making lines and he always spends lots of time in polishing his film in post-production.

Also,most of Wong’s films are slow-pace artistic ones, which allows him to create and polish. Other directors, especially directors of commercial films, need to exam themselves whether they have time and budget to make similar works.

IndMedia Task 3 Abstract Reflection

Elements analysis of the product:

Most of the video clips I used in this abstract product are scene shots made by other students, including “bee in the flower”, “water tap”, “snooker boys” and “chimneys”, the only shot made by my team is “dancers on the floor.”

Most of the sounds I used are original sounds of the video clips, the BGM I used is “Gymnopedie No. 3”, a royalty free music piece downloaded from incompetech.com

The shoot

“Bee in the flower” This video clip has fatal error: apart from its first few seconds, the rest of it were totally out of focus, also the camera was very unsteady as it moves in a random track, making the original video clip blurry and dizzy. If I was the cameraman, I would try to hold the camera firmly to avoid dizziness, and make sure most of the frames have a focus.

“Water tap”, considering the simplicity of this video clip, it is a good one. But it seems to me that there was only one tap and its water stream in this video, and all of them were in the foreground, making it lacks of depth and richness. If I was the cameraman, I would add more things, especially moving objects/people in its background so as this video clip would be more vivid

“Snooker boys” this video clip was shot in the cafeteria of Swanston Library. It has good depth, as well as moving objects/people to make it vivid. However, the camera was still shaky. What’s more, due to the lighting in background was stronger than foreground, everything looks darker, which makes it’s hard for audiences to recognize details in this video clip. Had I been given the chance I would pose the camera in another position to avoid lighting issue and use a tripod to capture steady shots.

“Dancers on the floor” this video clip captured a ground of students dancing. We only shoot their feet and reflections on the floor. It has a relatively good composition, as the floor divided the frame into two equal halves.

“Chimneys” This video clip was made on the street. Shaky hands happened again in this video. Apart from that, the comparison between a functional, smoky chimney and a “silent” chimney without smoke is interesting. But if I was the camera man, I would add more flavor into it by zoom out and capture more items/elements.

The original sounds in these video clips were not very satisfying, as too many environmental noises were recorded. You can hear people talking loudly in almost all files, which were very distractive. Arguably, people talking is an important part of environmental sound but in my personal opinion they should only be an equal part of a whole sound file. I would pay more attention to the direction of mic in recording, for example, avoid pointing it towards talking people for a long time.

The edit

As I have mentioned above, one of the most fatal mistakes of those video clips is shaky and blurry, while another one is lacks of depth. Considering this, my editing goal is aimed to change the disadvantages into advantages.

In my personal opinion, the lack of depth can be overcome by superimposition, which is requested by the course. While to solve shaky and blurry issue, I chose a Haiku which theme is “time and illusion” as I believe blurry can be explained as illusion.

I cut “bee in the flower”, “water tap” and “chimneys” into two halves and overlapped them on each other’s halves in order to create a concept that all these clips are illusions of same things in different time

I used fade in and fade out effects in order to make the transition between each clip more smoothly.

I lowered the sounds by using pen tool, hence the people talking sound would not be very distractive.

The background music I choose seems works well with the concept. It is a beautiful and haunting melody, which is calming and mysterious. I believe it echoes with the haiku I choose.

PIM Task 3 Draft

Adventure of Superman

https://vimeo.com/107146556

This story will be a stop-motion project shoot by mobile phone. The affordance I am looking to explore is mobile phone’s capacity of making stop motion works. Mobile phone’s accessibility has made it a handy tool for video makers to create works with ease.

The story I am preparing is Toy Superhero’s Adventure in Human World. This idea may sounds like Disney’s Toy Story, while the uniqueness of my project is toy in my story will interact with real people and real world, not animated ones.

The draft I made is literally a draft, with very rough video quality and only tells the beginning of the story. The whole story will be toy superman discovers he is no longer satisfied with indoor life, and wants to go outside to explore. But when he comes out, he soon discovers the outside world is too dangerous for him.

This idea is inspired by a photographer whose ID is “VSE OK”, he keeps creating photos about superhero toys in human world, and his works have a strange sense of humour.

The draft part is done indoor, and due to the poor performance of my mobile phone camera there are lots of noises in it. I am planning to use a better phone to improve the image quality, also, I will use a better superman toy, which has more junctions and can make more moves.

In future shots this toy superman will be shot at Melbourne’s landmarks in different times of days, so I can play more with light, as well as include more contrasts between toys and human. Also, I will add dialogues between toy and human into this project. What’s more, text as narrative will also be added.
Created using a SONY Xperia M, edited in Adobe Premiere. Music from private collation of classic music.

Clown Train Reflection (Reflection for IndMedia Question No2 )

Use of sounds

Short Film Clown Train showcased its original maker’s good mastery of sounds, especially how to use basic sound elements to generate tension without using sound track.

Following sounds can be heard in this short film: shaking train carriage, train wheels friction, train brake, air conditioner/ exhaust fan operating, running train, electric spark, knocking sound, high and sharp zing sound.

The film starts with black screen and sounds of train wheel’s friction against railway, it creates a feeling of unpleasant, and disorder. Then the sounds stopped with the opening scene: a young man woke up in a train.

Then audiences can hear the sound of an operating exhaust fan while shots were given to the young man. In my personal opinion, though the sound of exhaust fan is not easy to identify in the presence, it plays an important role in creating a “tension within silence” atmosphere. It is a type of hidden anxiety.

A sound of electric spark comes into audiences’ ears when the young man notices there is also a joker inside the train. Its sudden appearance emphasizes the young man suddenly noticing of the joker.

With the young man starts talking with the joker, sound of electric sparks appears more and more frequent as their conversation gradually becoming awkward, and when the young man realizes this, a wave of knocking sound appears, which indicates that he also discovers how strange the situation is.

Then the high and sharp zing sound occurs, when the young man finds himself is lost on the train, and the joker is some kind of mysterious threat to him.

Most of these sounds are environmental sounds. Some of them are used between different shots, and they links different shots to each other naturally. Other sounds, like two characters talking and moving, function naturally.

I found similar scene in Matrix (1999), when Neo first meets Morpheus and takes the pill. When Neo enters Morpheus’ room, all background music stops as a sound of thunder strikes, at the same time, Morpheus is given a close up shot. In my personal opinion, the sound of thunder helps to emphasize Morpheus’s significance in the film: he is the thunder who tells the truth to Neo, a thunder who wakes Neo up from Matrix’s illusions. During Neo and Morpheus’ conversation audiences can only hear small sounds of thunder, and no other sounds plays as room tune. When Neo is about to take the pill, the sound of thunder becomes louder again. All these use of sound emphasizes the tension and Neo’s anxiety.

Deconstruction visual aspects 

Lighting and color:

Generally the light inside the train is sufficient but cold. I suppose the director did this intentionally in order to create a mysterious atmosphere. Lighting outside of the train is dark enough. When the young man steps out of the carriage, audiences can only identify his figures yet not details of his appearance. In my personal opinion, such contrast helps to create a feeling of isolation, or dungeon/ secret chamber style environment, which makes people want to excape.

Shots:

While about the shots, obviously lots of reverse shots are used. The inner reverse shots are used to catch two characters’ individual emotion and actions, and outer reverse shots are used when they are having conversation in order to record their reactions on each other’s words.

Framing:

Two characters have fixed position in frames. The young man is in the left, lower side of the frame, talking and looking to the clown that is in the right, higher side of the frame. This helps audiences to avoid confusion when camera angles are changed.

Also, the clown always looks bigger than the young man in the frames, even when shots are made from the back of young man, who is closer to the lens. In my personal opinion, this is due to director wants to express that clown is the more powerful character in this film, and the clown is always the more positive one in the conversation.

Reflection for IndMedia (Question No1 Reading)

Drama

Slogan:

If you’ve got a beginning, but you don’t have an end, then you’re mistaken. You don’t have the right beginning.

This slogan reminds us the importance of beginning in producing media content. What kind of end that directors should bring to their audiences? A “close ending” or an “open ending”? Open ending is gradually common in filmmaking nowadays. Open ending does not provide all of the details and leave audiences wondering how the story will end.

In my personal opinion, open-endings are sometimes more real and convincing than close endings.

I still remember the open ending that left in the Life of Pi. An Lee left the audiences with two choices, one crucial story between human, and one fairy tale with tiger. It provides audiences freedom to choose their favorite one, it elevates the theme to a higher level, it’s exploration about human nature also makes the film more real and convincing.

Open endings are also very common among Christopher Nolan’s film. In his iconic film “Memento”, Nolan left the audiences questioning whether the protagonist really has amnesia. Another significant open ending is in his “Inception”, the top totem did not stop spinning even when the film ends, which makes audiences cannot help but keep asking whether it is in dream or not.

An open ending is also good for producing sequels in the future. The film “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” ended with Caesar’s back figure, which makes audiences guess what would happen in the future. Now “The Planet of the Apes” serial is back in cinema with new stories, which echoes well with that open ending in the previous film.

In my personal opinion, open ending will become more and more popular in the future, for today’s audiences are not satisfied with one fixed story, they are hope that film can reflect their own choices. Similar thing has been happening in electronic game industry for years, as those Sandbox Games (games which have no fixed main story and plot, and allow players to explore world and do whatever they like) like Minecraft and Elder Scrolls are quite popular.

Let’s back to the slogan. I think it should be modified into this: “If you’ve got a beginning, but you don’t have a proper end, then you’re mistaken. You don’t have the right beginning.” I suppose films with open-ending will become more and more popular in the future.

Doco

Point

Pawel Pawlikowski claimed in Imagining Reality (1996) that at his time (Mid 1990s), documentary needed TV for its survival, though TV was also the major factor killing documentary. In fact, he took TV as the future of documentary.

This seems interesting nowadays, as only after 20 years TV documentary phenomenon has become the past. With online streaming service developing, today’s documentary makers no longer need TV channels to present their products to viewers, and audiences can simply choose whatever they would like to watch on the Internet rather than sitting in front of TV and wait for content passively. This has made documentary more accessible and popular.

A Bit of China, a Chinese documentary series about the history of food, eating, and cooking has achieved great success online. When it was first shown on Internet this year, it was watched altogether 1.4 hundred million times in first two months. This is generally an incredible record for documentary in the past.

Being media practitioners we have to stay alert and keep ourselves updated to the latest technology development. Internet as a carrier format has been proved successful, apart from that, record techniques of documentary have also changed a lot during past decades and they are expanding the borders of documentaries: virtual-reality tech can bring sense and smell to viewers, while equipment like Google Glasses can record real POV materials. We should definitely make full use of conveniences brought by technology.

With the help of cutting-edge technology documentary industry has changed a lot. However, there is one thing that documentary makers should not forget: audiences watch our works for what we record, not what we record with. As Pawel Pawlikowski claimed, the most successful documentaries are “human stories” which requires lots of time to polish.

[Ind Media] Q5 Lenny Shots

 

Reflection on Lenny shots

This is a reflection written about the Lenny shots our group made.

The location is RMIT building 80.

The actors are Eeshan Shridharprasad Bhave as Lenny, and Ankit Nigam as Vi.

I was the boom operator in filming their shots.

Post production period

The first mistake we made is we did not understand Paul’s requirement throughly. In fact our group filmed four different pair of actors in order to make everyone have the opportunity to perform as well as operate equipments. However, we did not know that our time was really limited, which leaded to the result:  only shots with Eeshan and Ankit are suitable for editing as we have shots from two different angles for them, while all the other pairs only have shots from one angle. Make sure the crew is following instructions is very important.

The Shoot period

The second mistake we made is we did not produce enough material. I believe this is also a very important point that I should mention in the reflection: make sure you filmed enough materials for production and put this first, leave everything else later. Having more materials always means having better choices and more opportunities. In fact, I can only use 2 video clips as materials in editing this. This definitely limited the possibility of creativity.

The third mistake made in producing this video is mainly my fault. There is a small difference of sound between 2 shots, it is not obvious but when two shots are mixed together, it becomes recognizable. I think it is mainly due to I failed to keep same distance between mic and actors during recording of the two shots. i will keep that in mind and make sure similar things won’t happen again.

The forth mistake made in producing this video is that the camera man did not give Lenny enough head room.

屏幕快照 2014-08-22 下午10.23.56

Part of his head is cut off and this does not look very nice. Characters should be provided with enough space to make them look comfortable to the audiences.

The fifth mistake made is the white balance. I think the camera operator did not adjust white balance when we moved from natural light to under sunlight lamp, and everything looks very yellow. I would spent 1 minute to adjust white balance every time after the environmental lighting changes.

Post-production period

This final video clip is 24 seconds long. I switched 6 times between 2 shots. Switching shots too fast can make audiences tired, not to say it’s just switching between 2 shots.

 

[Ind Media]Nostalgia For The Light Review: All the beauty of contrast

Nostalgia for the light is indeed one of the most impressive documentary I ever watched.

From the selected short video clip I witnessed a unique beauty. To be more specific, it is a beauty of contrast.

The first contrast is movement within stillness. The camera barely moves in all the shots, and for most of the time it is focusing on still objects like telescope or furniture. But movement exists in every scene. For example,  when camera is recording a kitchen, nothing in the kitchen moves, but those tree leaves and their shadow outside the window are swaying in the wind. Also, nothing moves inside the observatory, but those dust floating in the background add a vivid color to the scene.

From what I have seen in the video clip, stillness is a major theme. Stillness as a theme echoes perfectly with the narrator’s voice, who is talking about memories.

The second contrast is silence within sound. There is not much sound in this video clip, but all of them worked perfectly. The music used at beginning (when showing picture about moon) created a good atmosphere about space, those the music here is by no means low volume, listeners actually would feel the silence in the universe, while in other scenes, sound of leaves in the wind serves as a great foil to the silence in the rooms.

[Ind Media ] Q 3 Sound makes a good doco better

This reading material discussed many examples about how sounds are used in different documentaries. i have found the following two points interesting to me.

1. Jeffrey Ruoff pointed out that ambient sounds which compete with dialogue is  “unacceptable”. I have to agree with him base on my personal experience. I am doing a documentary project recently and the location I choose is a modern dance studio which teaches street dance. As everyone can imagine music is played at almost highest volume there. After I came back from my first visit and watched the video footage on computer, I found it was a disaster. As I collected the sound wih the cameras’ built-in mic, background music totally overlapped my interview, and yelling from other dancers are extremely distracting.

The next time I went to the studio I carried a shotgun mic just like Ruoff suggested, and it indeed collected the interviewee’s voice clearly. Moreover, less background sounds are collected this time. Also, this time all the background music and dancer yelling helped to create a very real and live atomesphere.

In my personal opinion, location sounds are annoying yet important factor in a documentary. They can make the documentary more vivid and real if used wisely, yet without proper measures they are just destructive.

2. Music copy rights issue in documentary is an essential topic to me! Ruoff mentioned that some filmmakers would use music segment as social document to avoid copyright fees. This indeed can help documentary makers, who usually do not have enough budget for money on music, including myself. I wound not hesitate to pay the copyright owners if I have enough money for using those popular songs in my documentary about dance, but currently “use music segment as social document”, e.g. use the music I recorded in the dance studio seems like the best way. Documentary makers who do this have to be careful, after all playing with law might hurt yourself in the end. What’s more, documentary makers create intellectual properties as well, and they should understand other copyright owner’s concerns.