Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Coursework Update 3 - We are musicians now

Earlier on today we got some more editing done on the coursework film draft, which so far seems to be coming together okay. For now we have got a major part of the film complete: the theme tune!

Yes, originally we were just going to find some CC stock music to use for the title sequence, but we decided that instead of taking the lazy option, we should put something together ourselves.

The lyrics here were written by Luke, Oliver and Jay, with those three and Samir doing vocals on the track.  The backing music consists of GarageBand loops which I put together with direction from the others at school in the Mac room... I did the rest of the editing/mixing on GarageBand when I got home - specifically the ending and all the electronic/grunge effects.

Originally this was supposed to have a rap influence, but after it became apparent that rap a) is terrible, b) won't feel right in the scene and c) didn't sound right when mixing it made sense to change it to what it is now... whatever it is now. I spent a while playing around in GB this evening and found some pretty interesting grunge/modern filtering effects which in my opinion sound good on the vocals. In the end I put a fair few amp simulations on the vocal tracks, as well as pitch correction (c'mon, everyone else gets away with it!). The scene in which this will be played is the one where we see the characters walking down the street with the wine bottle - this will have our credits overlayed.


Friday, 27 January 2012


A few photographs of where we have been filming our coursework: the school car park, and the road outside.

Coursework Update 2 - Dub ALL the sounds!

Over the course of filming one thing in particular has become apparent - sound is going to be an issue. This is for two reasons in particular - 1) the sound quality on the Bloggie isn't exactly the best and 2) we're filming next to a road (meaning we have a heck of a lot of unwanted background noise).

To explain this better -

I've artificially lowered the sound in this clip using FCPX as originally it was so painfully sharp it was intolerable. With the exception of a couple of hiccups where I knock the camera which will have to be lowered manually this comes to a suitable level of background noise (we have to keep some for the sake of realism) however it also near enough mutes the dialogue.

To work around this we're going to have to rely on overdubbing. Thankfully I have access to some reasonable quality Logitech microphones, so now it's just a case of organising ourselves to get these recordings done. Hopefully we'll have a chance to do this either round mine or in the cam room early next week so we can get moving with the editing.

Things we need to look out for -

- Voices are in sync with the visuals: Seems pretty obvious, yet the recordings need to be just the right length to fit in properly.
- Consistency between recordings: Each audio track will need to be mixed at an appropriate volume to feel realistic in the scene. We can't have one line noticeably louder/quieter than the previous, except for when there is a logical reason for it (e.g. Oliver shouting after being hit by the bird mess).
- Quality/background noise: Particularly important with the mic - it's incredibly easy to make unwanted noise when talking into a microphone, so when speaking the cast will need to be a sensible distance away from the mic. We'll also need to make several recordings of each line, so that we have a fair amount to work with when putting it all together. We need to make the recordings in a quiet place where other noises are unlikely to get in the way.

On another sound-related note, I'm going to try and put together an original track in GarageBand for us to have playing in the sequence where the titles are appearing. However, as my musical skills are fairly limited, this might not come to much; though it's still worth a try.


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Preliminary Assignment copy copy final copy 4 (Analysis)

After all the work from filming this thing we finally have the prelim put together. Some things to note:

- Cuts: I'm not sure whether to put this one down to my own stupidity or the technology available. On the screen in Final Cut it appeared that frames were dropping around the cut transitions, however since rendering the cuts seem to be pretty choppy and all over the place. I'm not sure if this this is due to FCP's rendering or YouTube's processing (I would check local, but I'm using a six-year old TouchSmart right now which doesn't like playing 1080p videos anyway!).
- Continuity: The one I keep going on about - we do have some minor continuity mishaps involving where the actors are standing from one shot to another. I should note, however, some of these appeared okay in the Final Cut UI, and are just now looking off due to the cuts going a bit whack.
- Shot Changes: See the uber-long shot at 0:24 - there are some moments where I feel we could have used more alternating shots as opposed to having one long shot.
- Props: Obviously the lack of actual props is for humorous effect here...
- Scream/Gunshot: These SFX are both Apple Loops from GarageBand, which can be used within non-commercial and commercial projects providing that they are not sold as standalone sounds or part of sound/loop packages.

I feel the prelim does what it needs to do, and has given us some pointers for when we create the final coursework piece.

- HM.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Wine Prop Explanation

Oliver clears up a potential misconception.

Coursework Update 1 - Initial Shooting

We finally got around to starting shooting for our coursework earlier today; using a completely different story to our original plan -

We see three characters (Luke, Oliver & Samir) leaving school and meeting up by the car park. They then proceed to leave the school grounds and find a full wine bottle. The characters are seen sharing the drink whilst stumbling down the road, like a group of completely respectable members of society - as the opening credits are displayed).


Wine bottle/wine:

(Luke and Oliver with the drink props)

Because walking down the road filming my friends drinking themselves stupid would be just a tad irresponsible (as well as illegal), we thought it would be a better idea to use a substitute prop. The bottle is just an old empty that my dad had in the recycling box from a party a few days back, and the "wine" is a mixture of lemonade and apple juice. We made sure we had plenty of the stuff available so that we could refill it when taking additional shots, and both are available cheaply for when we reshoot scenes.

Bird mess:

We have a scene where Oliver gets attacked by a bird, so we needed something to do the job. Breaking parts off of a glue stick seemed to work perfectly as it stuck on without leaving a mark when removed. Again, it's cheaply available so we don't have to worry about it when reshooting. 


School uniforms. The characters are just leaving school, so it makes sense. We will need to be careful when shooting further scenes that the characters are wearing the same uniform; no-one likes a glaringly-obvious continuity error...


Whilst filming it's become apparent that if it can go wrong, it will go wrong. 

We made a point of filming the in-school parts during free periods in the school day; this is to minimalise the number of people walking around invading the background - however this has still been a problem. We've had a number of shots which have had to be cut off early because a member of staff has walked past or a group of lower-school kids have been shouting etc.. 

The scene in the car park is going to be a nightmare when taking future shots - although I think all of the wide shots we have taken today are satisfactory, so when reshooting it will be a case of being creative with close-ups to hide the fact that all the cars have switched places.

Sound is also going to be an issue - the microphone quality on the Bloggie is beyond a joke, and the background noise from cars going past doesn't help matters. I'm certain that we're going to have to overdub all of our dialogue in the post-production stage, thankfully there isn't too much of it.

Weather: the problem with filming outside, as I mentioned in a previous post. The ground was wet when we filmed, so the ground will need to be wet when we re-film.


I'll follow on from this as we progress further.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

SOPA - Effect on the Industry?

This post is particularly off-topic, but it kind-of relates to film distribution, and I needed an excuse to have a rant. Here goes!

For those not in the know, the US Stop Online Piracy Act is a proposed legislation designed with the intention of preventing online piracy, thus stopping potential revenue being held away from intellectual property owners. However, it just so happens that the proposals appear to have been written by people who know nothing about the way computers, the internet or pretty much anything works.

Instead of just targeting those who share copyrighted files with those who do not own a license to use them, the legislation would target everything on the internet that happens to use copyrighted media.

So why is this a problem? Well, it's pretty clear that nearly all media production companies have made great use of online hype to market a product. For this to work, fans of the company will need to be allowed to talk about it on the internet, be able to share previews and leaks, make their own graphics/videos based on it, start up fansites etc.. If this law passes it will be extremely difficult for this to work, which will make media marketing even more of a challenge than it currently is.

On top of that, attitudes towards media consumption have changed significantly over the last few years. People no longer want to just sit back, watch a film and then forget about it. The influence of online culture now means that people want to take constant interest in the product and its company; they want to be able have easy access to media relating to it, and they want to create their own fan work. It's more or less an unwritten rule now that your product hasn't made it until there is an autotune remix of it on YouTube. This kind of behaviour not only maintains existing fans, but also brings in new ones - meaning that the company has a great chance of success with potential sequels.

Even the big-names would be affected by the legislation; think of all the big American-based film websites out there who review all the new releases. They often have short clips and screenshots from the film, right? That'd be illegal. The new ruling gives copyright owners the power to have sites which share even small fragments of their material taken down, meaning there is massive potential out there for production companies to make copyright claims for the sake of spiting those who give unfavourable reviews for their products. As if media journalism wasn't biased enough already...

It should also be noted that if one inspects the wording of the bill carefully, posting a link to or embedding an official film trailer on a blog/webpage would be a criminal act. A criminal act which could lead to prison time. I don't really need to explain why this is ridiculous.

So in short: if the act is put in place, online fandoms will be destroyed. If online fandoms are destroyed, media owners' chances of marketing a product will also be destroyed. As much as I would like to break up the BVB Army and get the band to stop making their "music" forever, this is most definitely not the logical way to do it.


Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Warp - Warp Records, Warp Films and Warp Music Videos & Commercials

In this post I'll be looking at the British independent film company Warp Films. Warp began as a record label in Sheffield in 1988, specialising in techno/electronic noise music. Warp Films opened in 2001, with their first project, the short film "My Wrongs #8245–8249 & 117" seeing a 2003 release. Warp are known for a number of different films, including Four Lions, A Complete History Of My Sexual Failures and Dead Man's Shoes.



Warp Records + Warp Films YouTube Channel

I'll follow this up with more (and find some info specifically about My Wrongs) when I get a chance.

- HM

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Sexuality Storyboard

It's official: I am the world's worst artist. This is a storyboard showing the first few shots of a clip depicting heterosexuality.

(I did kind of recycle the chair; this is because it was so awkward to draw the first time around, I didn't really want to have to do it again...)

Friday, 6 January 2012

Representation notes

I thought a post like this was necessary on the basis that a great deal of this blog so far is completely irrelevant; I need to watch TV more often, as my background knowledge of the media is limited to music, print and video games. On that note then, here I think I'll throw down a few notes about observations I've picked up in lessons lately regarding stereotypical representations on television. I'll try not to keep referencing TVTropes but I can't make any promises...

The characters who generally receive the most character development are the young male characters; these nearly always fill a lead role and as such are the 'face' of the programme. This is often highlighted in the programme's marketing; and as such people now often expect to see male cast members outnumbering female cast members. This is likely to draw in a male audience on the basis that they often associate female-led programmes as being targeted towards women.

Female characters are likely to receive little character development and are often placed in the cast as "the chick", rather than as a character who will be a main part of the plot. Unless of course they are the lead character's love interest. Y'know, because it's not like that's been done thousands of times before.

Ethnic minority characters are often shown as having completely different personalities to the white British characters in the programme - which goes with Alvarado's (1987) theory which says that ethnic minority characters will be exotic, dangerous, pitied or humorous.

When ethnic minority characters are shown in a British TV programme, it is often highlighted to the viewers over and over again that that character is of an ethnic minority, even if it is not directly stated in the dialogue. This can be through the writers playing on stereotypes, referring to their backstory etc.

It is also not uncommon for programmes to make use of token characters for the sake of making the programme appear more diverse. This isn't as noticeable when COTD's appear as ethnic minority characters or when an ethnic minority character is in the main cast from the beginning, however it does seem suspicious when a minority character is added to the cast several series' in as a desperate attempt to widen the appeal to boost ratings...

Disabled characters are generally presented differently in the sense that if a disabled character is shown, he or she will either be a token character for the sake of equality, or will have a completely formulaic "supercrip" storyline involving 'this person is disabled. Poor them, let's find a compromise to give the illusion of them getting over this limitation'. You would have thought someone out there would have found an original storyline to use which involves a disabled character, but no, TV writers are still a bit too lazy for that.

In modern TV disabled characters are always shown as being vulnerable and in need of care, and often involve another (able) character having to look after them. Historically disabled people/characters with some kind of handicap were often shown as bad guys (think Captain Hook, Dr. No, pretty much every pirate ever), due to the traditional ideology of "if we don't understand it, let's all be scared of it for no apparent reason".

Karen Ross (1997) - says that disabled people are generally not in favour of traditional representations of the disabled and are keen on sorting out "respect issues" in the media. They want to see more authentic portrayals of the disabled, and would like to see disability presented as more of a normal, every day thing as opposed to having to be a major story feature.

So yeah, I'll probably add on to this another day as there is tons more to talk about.

- HM

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Digital Screen Network

This blog has been about as interesting as a Nickelback album over the last week or so, so it's about time I posted something to it.

The Digital Screen Network is a system run by the UK Film Council which provides funding for cinemas to gain access to digital equiptment. The idea behind this is that it is much cheaper and easier for film-makers to send their work to cinemas digitally than by using physical media. This makes it much easier for smaller, independant films to be shown, which both feeds money into the industry and allows for more consumer choice.

So far the Digital Screen Network has invested £12m across 210 cinemas across the country, equipping 240 screens with digital projection technology overall. So far this has allowed for a fair number of non-mainstream fils to be shown in cinemas, which is beneficial to the film industry overall.