Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Playback Speed (or how I can't mime)

So... my prelim task involves directing a recreation of this -


The general direction is going to need some work, but on top of that there's a couple of additional things which will need addressing - the speed, and the frame jumps.

First thing I'm looking at is the speed. By the looks of it they've used the common tactic of recording it at a slower pace then speeding it up in post production (this process is in fact the opposite of a portal as it alters the momentum. Slow thing goes in, speedy thing comes out). Thought I'd have a go at testing this out -

 

Here I changed the speed by 50%, but to match the speed of the FotL video I'd be inclined to go at 25%. 

Big problem which is instantly noticeable in my demo - the miming needs to be spot on to work. Mine is far from it; this is because it's extremely difficult to 'play' a song at a different tempo than what you're used to. 

Although I don't know who I'm going to be borrowing for the recreation (or who'll be playing what), as soon as we're sorted we'll need to actually practice the song a lot, as opposed to doing what I did and just thinking "what the hell" and getting on with it. 

On that note - Sir, do you know where one could find tabs for the song? I tried looking the other day and didn't have much luck, and my interpretation skills aren't all that. 

-HM.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Right, that's that one out of the way




Representation seemed to go okay, though I feel my A&I response was pretty mediocre (which to me feels worse than an epic fail).

Fun.

-HM.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Evaluation - "Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?"

Back in December we were first given the Bloggie to film our preliminary task, and over the course of time since then we've picked up a fair few new skills as well as additional knowledge.

A note: I'm probably going to be referring to this video a fair bit here -



Hey ho, let's go -

Planning
It's fair to say our planning was very... limited for the preliminary task. We had decided upon our narrative (albeit roughly) prior to filming, though it had stretched only as far as "well, we're going to be interviewing a Russian criminal, and there's going to be a fight scene". Very little of the dialogue was decided before we started filming (with a lot of the lines being complete ad-libs...) and our general direction was very much made up on the spot. For our prelim we didn't actually plan when we'd be filming beforehand, it was just a case of "we've got the camera and we don't have lessons now, why the heck not?". The location was just a small room next to the common room (0:07 in the video); originally we were going to use the hall, but there was a P.E. class using it at the time - so we just settled with this room because it was empty at the time.

For the final piece we made a point of getting a good idea  of what we were going to do before we actually went and did it. Makes sense, right? Why did we not think of doing this originally? But yeah, we'd established a good basis of the narrative (which took time, our original one was a huge mess of 'your mum' jokes which would have been great; unfortunately common decency is a thing...) before we headed out to begin filming, and we'd also made a number of decisions on things which would be necessary for the film beforehand (more on this later). We had also made a solid decision of where to film this time around (0:11 in the video).

Mise-en-scene
We didn't decide on any props prior to filming the prelim, which was intentional (As mentioned here, we deliberately over exaggerated the No Budget quality for humorous effect...). This worked well in context of the prelim, but for the sake of the final piece we knew we'd need to actually get ourselves together and find an actual, physical prop (I know, right!?). As soon as we'd decided on the idea for the story, me, Luke and Oliver headed down to the Art shop down the road from the school to see if they had any gear we could pass off as a wine bottle, but came to no luck. On the way back I remembered my dad had had people over a few days beforehand so we just stopped by mine and it turned out he had an empty bottle which we hadn't run down for recycling yet.

In regards to costume, in the prelim our cast were just wearing what they were wearing for school on that particular day; slightly out of character for an interrogation scene, but eh. For the final piece the school uniforms did actually work in context; though we used additional costume elements (Luke's hoody/Samir's hat) to better portray the characters. Oliver's character is shown in standard uniform; this is because we felt from the script that he was rebellious through his actions (after all, he's the one who suggests the characters start drinking) as opposed to his presentation.

In the preliminary it's clear that we hadn't really thought about lighting (0:16 in the video) as there are major differences in how dark it is from shot to shot. As no-one likes a continuity error, we made a point of fixing this in the final piece (0:21). Although it was difficult to control the lighting on-scene, we fixed it using the colour correction tool in FCP in the post-production phase.

Cinematography
From a critical point of view I have to say the cinematography in both pieces is a particularly weak component, which is entirely my fault as I was holding the camera. From 0:28 we can see that there is a notable issue with the stability of the camera in both pieces, yet I believe for the most part there was a slight improvement between the preliminary and the final piece.

Both of the pieces make use of close-up shots to show facial expressions - in the preliminary we have a shot of Luke upon entering the room, which helps present who his character is, as well as a close-up of Oliver as Luke is aiming the "gun" at him, which fits the purpose of showing the fear through his facial expression. We noticed how effective this was; thus felt it was appropriate to continue using close-ups in the final piece to set the mood of what is on screen - in 'The Lads' we have close-ups of both Luke and Oliver to show them as being intimidating (which is played on for humour) as they walk out of the school after meeting up.

A notable point regarding our prelim is that it was heavily based around static shots, which was a case of both a) not having much room to move around in inside the interrogation room and b) me not being particularly confident in moving the camera. We did work on this with our final piece, as we have a few moving shots, most noticeably the tracking shot following the characters down the road during the title sequence.

Sound
Sound is something which I believe has been a major focus of developing our films. In the prelim our diegetic sound consisted of the dialogue, and a sound effect (the buzzer). All of this diegetic sound (with the exception of Stephen's really out of place scream) was recorded live on-set through the camera's built-in microphone and... the quality is pretty darn poor. It sounds very muffled and in some cases it is difficult to make out what is being said. The buzzer (which did not actually exist!) sound was literally made by having Samir (who was with us at the time) saying "bzzz". Yes, I am deadly serious.

We knew from reviewing the prelim for the first time that the sound quality would need to be addressed for the final piece, and when filming for it we noticed it was especially poor because we were filming next to the main road (health and safety: none of us got hit by a car, because we stayed well away from the edge of said road. Just thought I should clarify that.). What this led to was possibly the most frustrating phases of putting the film together in having to record overdubs and then mix them into the film. This was much more difficult to get right than I'd originally predicted on the basis that we needed to get each clip of dialogue to the exact right level for it to sound like a natural flowing conversation. It was also necessary to keep some of the background noise intact, because at the end of the day it would be completely unrealistic to see our characters walking next to fast moving traffic, whilst hearing absolute silence beyond the occasional "for god's sake".

In regards to the non-diegetic sound... in the preliminary, there was none. Nought, zero, etc.. Whilst adding to a sense of realism, it did make the film seem a little slow and quiet for a comedy film, so we decided that it'd be necessary to add some background music and sound effects. Most of the action on screen during the intro is shown along with a heavy bassline which served as our non-diegetic sound; this gives the film a constant pace. We also have a vocal theme playing during the title sequence, with lyrics describing laddish behaviour - this reinforces the image we've been trying to create for our characters.

Editing
At 0:42 we can see examples of the use of editing in both the preliminary and the final piece. In the prelim our editing consisted of just putting the clips we were using in one after the other, just for the sake of showing the sequence of events. This was also necessary in the final piece, yet we made additional use of more advanced techniques in FCP too. Not only did we use the harsh WideTime filter shown in the video above (which we found out about through trial and error, the best way of learning things!), we also used the wireframe tool to form an action match transition during the part where Oliver runs through the door (which makes the framing of that scene much more aesthetically appealing) and to fix a minor continuity error where Oliver picks up the bottle from the bush.

It should be noted that with Final Cut we had some problems with exporting the preliminary due to not knowing which settings would be best for our film. This was fixed when we got around to exporting the final piece as by that point I'd looked up tutorials online which had given me a better idea of how to go about doing it.

Another point worth mentioning is that some of the transitions in the prelim are a little choppy - I attribute this to the lag in Final Cut misleading us as to how much of the shot would be seen in the piece. Some parts which appeared to cut out in the Canvas in FCP played properly in the export, which was useful for us to know as we were able to make sure we'd accomodated for this in the final.

Technology
(I know I've been over the technology we've used in a previous post, but it's kind of relevant here too so I'll go back over it briefly)

Our tool for capturing video for both the prelim/final has been one of these -

(because we all love recycled stock photos!)

The Bloggie has held up well, and unlike other Sony products I didn't completely lose interest in it a few weeks after having it, nor did it leak any of our financial details. The picture quality is satisfactory for what we needed it for.



- Final Cut Pro: I've mentioned most of what I need to say already in the post, but I will say our use of FCP's features was significantly more effective in the final piece; in the prelim it was just a case of throw everything together on the timeline and call it a day, whereas with the final film opening we made much more advanced use of its features, such as the previously mentioned wireframe and filters.

- GarageBand: In the original prelim piece GB was just used as a source of the scream sound effect. We made much better use of the software for the final piece, including recording a song in it (with live vocals), putting together a backing track for the intro, recording voice overdubs and putting together our own sound effects, including the magical piano effect by yours truly.

Feedback
When putting the preliminary task together we did really just throw it together ourselves and think "it'll do"... we took a much different approach with 'The Lads'. We constantly made a point of asking both peers from our class and Sir for input on what we were doing as we were going along (in the "hey, does this look okay to you" style), which helped us greatly as it means we could iron out any mistakes as we were going along, resulting in a much more polished product.

-HM.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Evaluation - "What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?"

A massively important part of distributing a film is finding a distribution company to get the film out there and publicise it for us, so that it can be acknowledged by the public. As appealing as the concept of travelling town to town to show the film ourselves may be, it's certainly isn't the best way to earn a good profit from it.

There are several thing we will need to take into account when deciding which company to pitch our film to -

  • The appeal of our film - if the company has a history of distributing comedy films aimed at teenage kids, they're more likely to buy into our film than say, a company known for distributing Bollywood films.
  • The size of the appeal - we need a company who will be able to push our film to the largest possible audience. As the film has a fairly mainstream appeal in the UK we'd probably benefit from a larger British company; we probably wouldn't have much luck pitching to a major American company as it's more than likely they wouldn't 'get' our film.
  • What they could offer - It's fair to say that if we haven't heard of any existing films a company distributes, they're probably not the best at marketing/promotion. We need to find an institution who are efficient at creating public knowledge of their films, as we want our film to reach the largest possible audience.
As I'm constantly reminded, long paragraphs tend to be seen as dull, so for the sake of making this more simple to interpret, I'm going to compare these in grids. (Click to see these in their larger, high resolution beauty)... 


From these three companies I feel we would be best to pitch to Entertainment Film Distributors, on the basis that they are more likely to be open to our film's concept. This is because of the British influence behind our film which can be seen clearly in the style of humour used throughout - it would have much more of an appeal to a British audience, so EFD would benefit more when they try to market the film in the UK than one of the American companies would when they try to market internationally.

Should this not be possible out of the American firms I believe we'd have more luck with Warner Bros.; their back catalogue shows a huge range of films, some of which appear to have content produced outside of America (heck, they have some Japanese material in the form of their Pokémon/Yu-Gi-Oh material - it is the 4Kids dubs they've distributed but the Japanese influence is still somewhat visible). This shows that they may be open to distributing a film like ours which originates outside of America.

-HM.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Evaluation - "Who would be the audience for your media product?"/"How did you attract/address your audience?"

Our final film piece, "The Lads" appears to have a fairly distinct appeal to younger people - and this is something we've played on whilst putting the piece together, due to the success of the likes of The Inbetweeners.

We can see that our film has had a positive appeal to younger people (of the age 0-20 bracket) from the results of our audience feedback, from the presentation evening. Whilst statistics certainly don't prove everything (and it's open to debate about just how accurate this interpretation is) we can see that a great deal of the people who provided feedback were 20 or under, and the feedback was positive, which could suggest that our film may have a certain appeal to people of this group (though that being said, just because there's a trend doesn't mean there's a correlation. Some may have just thought it was a well produced film).

There are a number of different things which we have done to attract this audience. The first thing to note is that because our main cast are males, we have expected young males to appreciate the film more as they can relate to these characters. Because of this initial point, we've consistantly tried to appeal to young males with the humour used as well as other attributes.

Character
As mentioned before, they're three young lads. We've focused heavily on their "laddish" behaviour (Oliver getting kicked out of his lesson, them seen drinking in public), which is generally believed to appeal to males.

Setting
They're in a school; teenage kids can relate to this. They know the school culture inside out, therefore they can identify the characters' position within said school (in that they're the rebellious, out of place types). Pretty pictures of our filming location here!

Costume
We can see the characters in school uniforms, with the kind of modifications (Luke's hooded jacket, Samir's hat) that one would expect from these kinds of rebellious school students.



As young people are typically in school a lot they can identify these kinds of people, thus the context of the film will make more sense to them than other social groups.

Dialogue
The characters are heard speaking in very casual means ("just got kicked out", "it stinks!" etc.), which is typically how teenage kids speak to one another. Again, this allows them to relate to the characters even more.

Background Music
During the opening of our piece our non-diegetic sound consists of a fairly heavy bass riff - the kind heard in hip-hop and occasionally rock music, which is typically fairly popular amongst teenage males. We play on this further once the full song kicks in during the title sequence as we start hearing rap/rock vocals coming in (with plenty of over-the-top vocal effects) which is reminiscient of those heard in the kinds of music popular with youngsters (though I like to believe our song isn't quite that bad...).

We've also deliberately subverted this exact point during the scene in the opening where Oliver picks up the bottle, and the non-diegetic sound consists of a really out of place piano motif for humorous effect (thus supporting Bakhtin's Carnivalesque concept which revolves around subverting tropes/expectations for humour/chaos); whilst this completely goes against the conventions of laddish films, the viewer is likely to realise this and see the funny side of it, given what is being shown on screen.

Title Sequence
Yes, we show youngsters drinking, and yes, Common Sense Media would go ballistic about it. But as I looked at previously, showing things which irritate adults generally gains the appeal of the youth. This kind of rebellious behaviour isn't the kind of thing which a parent would want their younger kids watching, thus ruling them out, but it does raise the overall interest of older teenagers. The filter we've used overaggerates this surreal rebellious behaviour further, thus making this more of an impact.

(Responsible behaviour time!) 


Written Titles
For the sake of keeping the appeal of this to older teenagers we've used a sensible serif font for the credits, as this will do the job without looking too over-the-top or childish (which would more than likely put off our intended audience).

(The font isn't over-the-top ridiculous, but it doesn't seem too 'serious' either)

Our title card (which just reads "'The Lads'") is in a slightly more stylised font, though again we've taken care to ensure it has been used in context and doesn't look out of place for a film aimed at older teenage males.


-HM.

(Updated! Now I am home to have taken new screenshots and recycle one!)

Monday, 7 May 2012

Evaluation - "How does your media product represent particular social groups?"

Okay, it's about time I did something productive! One of the tasks set is to look at the ways in which different social groups are represented in our coursework piece.

There are three main things in which we can see represented: age (teenage kids), social status/class and gender (male).

Age
Our cast consists of three teenage kids. There are several ways in which we have met the stereotypes regarding youngsters in the film opening.

One of the common beliefs about teenage kids is that we're self absorbed and believe that the world revolves around us - and one of the ways this is shown in our clip is in this scene:


Here we see Samir's character stop to put his hat on. At this particular moment, the thudding bass riff from the BGM cuts out all of a sudden; this shows that as Samir's character is doing something, everything around him should stop and all of the attention should shift to him. This is also shown in the shots themselves; he's in a school environment and so it's highly likely that other people would be in the area, yet Samir is the only person seen on screen during these parts.

Another stereotype regarding teenagers is that they want to be seen as individuals and therefore are seen to want to express their individuality; in our film we've touched on this concept by introducing all three characters individually, in separate locations within the school setting -




On top of these points, there is also the typical "teenage angst" view, which sees teenage kids generally hating everything about the world around them because we're too hard done by and no-one understands us - this can be seen in this shot especially -


The close up shot here really highlights Oliver's facial expression here - it's fair to say he looks more than a little bit wound up...

We can also see an example of Barthes' Mythologies concept in the way that the teenage kids are shown in a school setting. People generally associate youngsters with school, thus the film satisfies the audience's expectations.

Gender
Our characters are three young males, and given the setting of the school it was inevitable we were going to touch on the idea of boys rejecting the school's socialisation.

There's several ways in which we've shown this. One is in Oliver's dialogue, where he states that he's been kicked out of lesson. Whilst it's not specified as to why, it's assumed that it's down to "misbehaviour"/conflict with the teacher (from the way he seems to be running away from someone during the intro) - boys are generally expected to be punished more by teachers for their "laddish" behaviour, which actually support's Francis' findings that they act this way in the school to avoid being labelled as swots (who are seen as feminine).


We can see a further example of this rebellion against the school system in the costume - despite being in an environment where one would expect the characters to be in a formal uniform, Luke's character has worked around this by wearing a hooded jacket, as has Samir with his hat -


This male rebellion shown in our film extends beyond that against the school system and towards rebellion against society as a whole; males are usually thought to not care what others think about them in the way that females do, and this is shown in the way that the three characters don't see an issue with picking up a wine bottle they randomly find in the street and then drinking out of it. We've actually exaggerated this with the editing by applying an over-the-top WideTime filter, which highlights just how surreal this behaviour is.

Social Class
This is quite a complex thing to explore in our case, on the basis that it's had to pinpoint exactly how well-off our characters are. Whilst they are shown as sixth form students (with school sixth forms usually being dominated by the middle class), they show a few traits which are usually associated with the working class.

Firstly is the way in which their costume avoids the expected uniform policy as mentioned before; this kind of rebellion against the school is usually expected from working class students (who would be having conflict with the middle class-run school).

Secondly is the language they're using - they appear to be using a fairly restricted code of language (generally associated with the working class) in the dialogue, such as how Oliver just says "guys, look" as he points to the wine bottle, as opposed to explaining what he'd found in an elaborated code (typically associated with the middle class).

On the topic of the dialogue we also hear Oliver's character using mild swears in casual conversation ("what the hell!?" "bloody birds!") which is also typically thought of as a lower-class trait.

-HM.