Friday, 30 December 2011

A note

Should probably make a post here explaining the current situation - the fact my group have yet to start filming is solely my fault right now; I've been ill over the entire holiday and have been unable to do much at all really. Apologies to the group for this, we're going to have to spend a lot of time catching up as I'm aware other groups have filmed a significant amount of material already.

On a more positive note, the talk at the HRC has given me a fair understanding of Final Cut and I have all the materials still saved so it shouldn't take too long to put the prelim together when we get access to the Macs.

(I also need to get hold of a half-decent hard drive, will hopefully have a chance to pick one up after work Wednesday if anywhere in the Cross happens to sell them...)

Friday, 16 December 2011

Prelim Update

... just been reviewing the film clips we filmed on Thursday for the preliminary task and am now in the process of converting the file formats for Monday. Few things I noticed:

- We have a fair few files - 50+ different shots to work with, some where we re-filmed things from different angles for easier cut editing.
- We might have cut a few things a bit short - should really have over filmed a bit so we have more to work with. Will have to be careful of this when filming final project.
- Slight continuity error involving a drink bottle on a ledge in the background. Will need to work around this one in post-production.

Shouldn't need too much doing, just some points I found.


Monday, 12 December 2011

Common Room Photos

These are photos from a small area of the sixth form common room - a potential area to film our prelim. Not 100% certain, but might be possible. Lighting may be a potential issue, other than that it has the right kind of atmosphere for an interview room.

EDIT: This is the room we have used.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Camera HD Quality Test

We'll need to get the chance to start filming for our preliminary task over the next couple of days, so I thought I'd have a tinker with the different settings on this Bloggie so that when we start filming for real we can use the highest quality that the camera will allow for.

As I have nothing interesting for me to film, I decided to just stick the camera on the tripod and record me playing with my uke... our coursework film will be much more interesting than this, promise!

(full HD only accessible through the YouTube page, not the embed...)

This is just the raw .mp4 - obviously this has been squashed a bit by YouTube's encoder and it will look a bit different depending on how we render our film but it does let us have a rough idea of what we can expect from the camera. When filming in 1080p (as with this video) the quality seems to be clear, however the camera only has 4GB of internal memory, so we'll need to buy/acquire a fair amount of resources to back work up on to (folks: do any of you have any good storage devices? I won't mind going out to buy one during the week, but if you already have a good USB stick or something it will be useful) so that our work can be organised. We'll also need to make backups to the school's network if possible, there's no way I'm letting us lose hours worth of filming...

Friday, 9 December 2011

Slumdog Millionaire - Case Analysis

Slumdog Millionaire is a 2008/2009 film directed by Danny Boyle that is set in India.

The director, producer (Christian Colson) and writer (Simon Beaufoy) are all British, meaning that the majority of the creative decisions made about the film are from a British source, however the film's story is based on the novel "Q & A" by Vikas Swarup, who is an Indian author. The majority of the cast are also Indian.

The film was distributed by Parté in the UK and Fox Searchlight Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures in the US.

The film was released in cinemas thorughout the UK on 9th January 2009, where it went to #2 in box office figures. It was later released on DVD and Blu-ray on 1st June 2009.

As well as the English release, the film was also dubbed into Hindi and Tamil, which allowed for a wider audience.

- I'll add some more information as well as hopefully some trailers and stuff to make this post shinier when I get some time at home, sadly YouTube and other sources are blocked in school. -

EDIT: 10/12/2011

I've been able to find some examples of marketing techniques used to promote the film. One of these is through the release of official trailers, including those shown below:

This trailer was released by Fox Searchlight (a subsidiary of Fox) in the US. As well as Fox being a US based company we can also see that this is targeted towards the US audience by the trailer featuring quotes from US reviewers (e.g. The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Sun-Times).

This is the trailer released in the UK. It's interesting to note that whereas the US trailer was led simply by text on screen, the UK one has a spoken voice-over narration.

On top of the US trailer, Fox Spotlight also released a series of interview clips featuring the director Danny Boyle about the film, including -
Danny Boyle on India
Danny Boyle on Child Actors

These videos are notable as not only do they directly promote the film, but they also help the marketing by letting the director come across as a likeable public figure, which will encourage the public to go and see his work.


Thursday, 8 December 2011

Importance of Continuity

I've been assigned the role of Continuity Director for our group's coursework film project, so it makes sense for me to do a write-up on the subject. I like the title Continuity Director - it has "director" in it, so it makes me feel smart.

Continuity generally refers to ensuring there is consistency from one shot to the next in a film. Often due to the complexity of getting each shot right it is necessary to film parts of the same scene over more than one session. Because of this, it is necessary to ensure that the area and subjects in the film are in the same state when continuing filming as they were when the previous shots were taken. This is for the sake of avoiding continuity errors.

Here's a great example of some continuity errors which have been overlooked: the music video for Bon Jovi's "No Apologies" -

The clips used in the video were filmed during two different concerts, and it appears that care has been taken to avoid showing the changing crowd, which is necessary for the sake of avoiding errors. What obvious things have they slipped up with then?

Jon's jacket and Richie's hat (and guitar).

This wouldn't be much of a problem if the video was designed to be a montage of the band's career or something, but the video is edited in a way to make it look as though they are playing the song through in a single concert - which makes the clothing changes seem unnatural. (I'm would let them off having Richie's guitar change part-way through; it's not uncommon for a guitarist to change instrument during a song so it would be fairly believable, if it wasn't jumping backwards and forwards between the two). Not going to lie though, a hat that randomly disappears and reappears would be pretty cool and I would probably buy one.

As well as having to be careful with costume as we've seen above, there are many other factors we will need to be careful of -

- Weather: As it stands we are likely to be filming most of our clip inside, however it is necessary to ensure that either: all of our filming sessions take place during similar weather conditions, or the weather is hidden (windows are hidden from the shot etc.)

- Clocks: These things are just a nightmare and are probably out to get us. If there is a clock in the room, it has to be hidden, no exceptions. It's much easier than having to keep setting it to the same time during every filming session.

- Set design: The last thing we want is to have a sofa/TV/table etc. move around randomly throughout the clip.  Unless it's a ghost film of course - that'd be pretty epic. This point is especially relevant right now as we will be filming before and around Christmas time so we will need to be cautious of Christmas decorations in the home. This gives me yet another reason to dislike Christmas!

- Equipment: We need to use the same camera, with the same settings, for every shot in each scene. This keeps everything at the same resolution as opposed to having the clip randomly go blurry/pixellated/tinted in some shots.

- Outside activities: Another reason to hide the window in the shot... if someone's parked their car outside the window as we film at 10 o'clock, there's a good chance it'll have gone by the time we go back to filming at 3.

- Lighting: This one's really important; even just changing a light bulb in a room to a different kind part-way through filming will make some shots look completely out of place after editing them together.

- Cast members' appearances: As well as the costume point mentioned above, members of the cast can't change their physical appearance e.g. having hair cut etc.. I saw a clip a while back where a temporary tattoo changed from the actor's left arm to their right arm part way into the scene... this needs to be avoided.

- TV: Has to be turned off. For obvious reasons.

So yeah, I think these are most of the main ones, however we will also need to be on the lookout for any other factors which could lead to continuity errors during filming.


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Mr. Bean's Holiday - First Study

Mr.Bean's Holiday is a 2007 comedy film starring Rowan Atkinson. The film is the second film based on the television series "Mr. Bean".

Whilst the lead actor, director and story writer are all British, the film is set in France and some members of the cast are French.

The film's marketing is unique in that it was the official film for Comic Relief in 2007, and that some of the proceeds from the film went towards the Comic Relief charity.

The initial official reveal was through a teaser trailer in November 2006 (released by Universal Pictures) and soon after an official website was set up -

The physical release of the film saw it being made available on both DVD and the now-defunct HD-DVD on 27th November 2007.

- I'll continue this as I find more information -


Thursday, 24 November 2011

Piracy/Copyright/Web Media Usage - An Analysis

(video somewhat related...)

Sir suggested that I do a write-up of all my random thoughts and pieces of background knowledge about the use of copyrighted material on the internet and the impact it has on media industries so here goes...

Piracy is an issue which affects the revenue made by intellectual property owners. Although this is a controversial thought among the "I WANT ALL THE FREE STUFF" community, I can understand why this damages the industries. Not because of this "that's stealing!" thought they want you to believe (it is not "stealing" the product, because in my eyes stealing requires taking an item away from someone; piracy does not take their original copy) but because a lack of revenue will lead to less profit being made once you've taken into account the fact that actors, camera crews, writers, finance staff, marketing teams etc. don't work for free (far from it in a lot of cases!).

There is a huge fuss at the moment about how copyrighted material is used and distributed when it comes to the internet.

Firstly, there is the way in which media (such as music, films and video games) is acquired bought. The most common problem for the industries is that it is extremely easy for people to just download a copy of an album/film/game as opposed to buying a legal copy of it. There are a number of factors which make me think that media and retail industries are bringing this on themselves, one of which is pricing. I buy things legally because I like to have a physical product for everything, however for many people this is not the case and they'd rather go with the convenience that downloading a film or whatever would allow. The problem is that quite often legal media distributors such as iTunes are overpriced to the extreme, with there being several cases where the download costs more than the physical product. To the everyday consumer it would make much more sense just to download it from a file-sharing site or make a copy of their friend's one as opposed to paying extortion for it.

The other factor which it is necessary to highlight is how the product is made available. Despite the fact that in this modern age it is possible for someone over here to receive a file from their friend in America or wherever in a matter of minutes, some businesses still have this idea that it's a smart move to release their product in one country a few weeks before they release it in another. The result is that people get tired of waiting and would rather just download it early.

This is one which annoys me to no end. The attitude of general media industry towards the use of copyrighted material in fan works on the internet seems really outdated. This is because in actuality if a fan of a band/TV show etc. wants to put a video on YouTube or whatever there is a great chance that someone will see the video and develop an interest in the product because of it. Personally, I'm much more likely to buy something that several people on the internet have made a recommendation about than I am from just watching official trailers. There is also the fact that a while back YouTube set up a Content ID system which allowed copyright owners to sign up to - this allows them to profit from advertisements on the page of any fan videos which featured their content. From a business perspective it makes more sense to take both a small profit AND free advertisement than to take the video down and randomly threaten legal action towards a group of kids who made some videos using the computer in their bedroom. Despite this, it should be made illegal to create FPS montage videos which use Drowning Pool music in the background.

So from this post, if you're a media content owner, be more open to modern methods of distributing your content; if you're a consumer, don't copy that floppy:

- HM

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Terminology/Key Word Database

This is the key terminology database which I will completely forget about update here and there with new key words.

  • Shots
  • Staging
  • Camera movements - e.g. pan, zoom.
  • Camera shots - e.g. close-up, wide-angle, bird's eye, shot/reverse shot etc.
    • Cuts - the way the different shots transition from one to the other.
    • Action Match - when two shots are edited together so that an action from one shot meets action from another shot.
    • Juxtaposition - set up between parallel storylines.
    • Jump cuts - often represent chaos/disorder.
    • Post-production - the editing stage; where the film is compiled together and necessary effects are added.
    • Diegetic Sound - Sound sourced from the scene.
    • Non-diegetic Sound - Sound which has been dubbed into the scene.
    • Dialogue - speech.
      • Costume - clothing
      • Props
      • Set - the location
      • Lighting - high key, low key, contrast levels etc.

      • Jenny Norris - disability representation. Says that writers draw on prejudice and stereotypes about the disabled to shape characters, which reinforces these negative viewpoints.
      • Karen Ross - said that the disabled want to address "respect issues" in the media, and that they want more authentic portrayals which make disability seem like an ordinary thing as opposed to something different.
      • Roland Barthes - Enigma codes/Mythologies [LINK]
      • Alvarado - Four themes/stereotypes in the media's representation of ethnicity - exotic, dangerous, pitied, humorous. 
      • Claude Lévi-Strauss - Binary opposition theory.

      Other Terminology
      • Signifier - the physical object presented to the viewer.
      • Signified - the meaning/mental concept conveyed by the signifier.
      • Representation - how people are shown/portrayed. [LINK]
      • Semiotics - the study of signs and meanings.
      • Verisimilitude - a sense of realism
      • Synergy - different companies working together to market a product e.g. the film company's brand being reinforced by merchandise manufacturers.
      • Proliferation - how easy it is to access
      • Four-quadrant film - aimed at the young, the old, male and female.
      • Parody - something which takes concepts from an original piece for the sake of satire.
      • Hybrid (genre) - borrows concepts from multiple genres.
      Audiences & Institutions

      • Audience - the consumer/viewing public
      • Convergence - how different technologies/companies come together.
      • Ideology - a common consensus of the 'ideal'
      • Institutions - Companies involved in production and distribution


        Monday, 14 November 2011

        Media product controversy... a marketing technique?

        I'm bored and I have the urge to write something, and it was either go on a massive rant about mainstream popular music or something or do a write-up of something that's (somewhat) relevant to Media Studies. I chose the latter...

        Here I'm going to look at some controversial media products and how the controversy has helped sell them.

        This ultimately applies in all different forms of media, one of which being the videogame industry. If we look at Activision's "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" we can see that one of the first public trailers featured a scene which involved civilians being killed in an airport; there is a strong possibility this was to intentionally cause controversy as public controversy leads to free features in the press as well as the product becoming a general talking point. This carries on to hype the product to people of the general target market.

        This also happens in television - some TV shows which frequently draw controversy end up having a "cool" appeal to their target audience, such as the reputation The Simpsons had originally when it started. Controversy can also come across as deliberate in British soaps like Eastenders, where controversial storylines (such as the baby story last year) are teased before they are shown - this gives the Daily Mail and similar sources plenty of time to cause mass hysteria about how disgraceful it is - which again, builds up hype.

        - HM

        Tuesday, 8 November 2011

        Iconography Analysis

        As a homework task a few days back we were set a piece of work which involved creating a collage which represents ourselves. The above image is one similar to what I handed in (only that one had the top-layer images rearranged slightly, not shown here because I managed to lose the final .psd AND .png; I should not be allowed near computers).

        -- The background image is a radial blur abstract which (along with the multicoloured twirl in the bottom right) represents the fact that I spend way too much time messing around in Photoshop, as well as that I appreciate abstract artwork. It also has connotations with the idea that much of my mind doesn't make sense, hence why these two works don't show much direction.

        -- The screenshot of Bender from Futurama features the quote-text "Another pointless day where I accomplish nothing". This shows that not only do I like Futurama, I am also not very good at actual productive work.

        -- In the bottom left of the image I've put the Wings Over America live album cover; this is because Wings are the best band ever of all time and if you don't like them then your music is bad and you should feel bad

        -- The picture on the right is my electro-acoustic Artisan... this is only on here to show that I play bass (not very well!).

        -- The fire is on there simply because it looks good, and it fills a space that would otherwise be empty; which links to my stress for consistency within visual presentations - i.e I would much rather add something else to the work than leave an ugly empty spot.


        Thursday, 27 October 2011

        Manufacturing Consent

        Manufacturing Consent is a 1992 feature which looked at one of Noam Chomsky's theories about the way media influences people's lives. This theory is the idea that the things presented to the public by the mainstream media manipulates and influences their thoughts and beliefs.

        The theory suggests that big media businesses are an efficient tool for distributing government propaganda, which influences the political thoughts and beliefs of the general public. This use of the mainstream media can persuade people into wanting the country to run in a certain way (or at least believing that they want the country to run in a certain way).

        By using the media as a social institution like this, Chomsky suggests that the government could bias the media to sway voting patterns to a particular side.

        Whilst Chomsky's theory suggests that the media persuades people towards a particular political belief, it can also be argued that the media can influence the public's way of thinking in other ways, such as about what things are morally right or wrong. This false influence can still be observed in the media today, such as how this gem from Fox News isn't in any way showing a one-sided viewpoint...

        - HM

        Monday, 17 October 2011

        Roland Barthes: Enigma code/Mythologies Concepts

        Here I will be exploring two of Roland Barthes' media concept theories - namely, the idea of the "enigma code" within presented media, and the idea of mythologies.

        Enigma Code
        Barthe's enigma code concept is when forms of media (such as television programs, novels etc.) presents the audience with a mystery within the story, which triggers a reaction with the audience by posing questions to them. This draws in their interest about the storyline of the particular piece of media, which makes them feel more involved with what is going on. An example of this use is in crime dramas where the idea of a crime having been committed is presented to us a long way before we know who the criminal is. 

        The mythologies media concept covers the idea that within the media things which are usually associated together are often presented this way to satisfy the viewers expectations. This tends to fit in with the idea of stereotypical media representation in the way that someone from a particular group is often shown with something their group is stereotypically associated with, such as an older teenager being shown with an alcoholic drink.