Thursday, 3 May 2012

Evaluation - "What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing the product?"

Over the course of producing the coursework film we have made use of a variety of different technologies. This is a form technological convergence, as each of these different technologies have contributed to the final production.

The primary tool which we initially used to shoot our video was one of these things -

Sony Bloggie
(I'm aware stock photos are the devil; apologies, but I sure taking a photograph of a camera could lead to a paradox of some kind, which could potentially be dangerous...)

The camera we used is a Bloggie - from using this we've established a couple of things: the video records in high definition which is incredibly useful (and by modern standards, 1080p HD is commonplace and lower resolutions are deemed substandard). The sound quality is not so great - though as we were filming by a busy road it wasn't practical to use the sound recorded on scene anyway.

The video is saved locally on the camera, to (I believe) flash memory. This is useful as it means we could plug the whole thing into the computer to make use of the files, as opposed to having to use the tiny not-SD cards which Sony have a habit of using despite them being incompatible with everything else because pretty much everything that isn't Sony uses SD. And I'd have only lost a memory card anyway.

Again, sorry for the stock photo. I'm a bad person.

The iMac is shiny and is made by Apple, so it must be worth having. Mac OS X supports a few different applications which have been useful when putting the piece together, and the specs of the Macs in school are far superior to the ...things... which can be found in the other classrooms. We've primarily made use of Final Cut Pro 7, but we've also used GarageBand for sound. The Macs we've used seemed to have sufficient resources in regards to storage space, but I'm not too convinced with the memory, as there were several points where it appeared to be moving slowly (though this is more than likely down to the intense weight we'd been putting on it, with the many Final Cut video/sound tracks and filters etc.).

Final Cut Pro
FCP is a powerful video editing application distributed by Apple. This has been extremely useful for us in the editing phase of our production, as it supports multiple tracks for both video and audio. The screenshot above is the timeline from our final coursework piece, and you can see we've made use of additional video tracks for the title credits, and a lot more audio tracks for voice overdubs, sound effects, BGM and the title theme.

So, to break this down further, FCP has been used -

- To decide which shots to use: The first thing which needed doing was for us to go through all of our raw shots and essentially filter through the good from the bad. FCP has a window called the Viewer which plays individual clips from what we'd shot before we put them in the timeline, allowing us to decide which shots we were and weren't going to use. This would continue to be useful as we acquired new shots to add in later down the line, such as the shot with the bird.

- To put things in order: The timeline (as seen in the screenshot above) is where the pieces of film and sound are put together. Whilst there are multiple ways of doing this, I tend to stick to setting the in and out points of each shot in the Viewer (i and o shortcuts for the win!) and then dragging them onto the timeline.

- To add sound: See all of those green bars on the timeline there? Those are sound clips. This has allowed us to add both our diegetic sound (voice overdubs, the bird sound effect in the intro, the sound of Luke hitting the door) and non-diegetic sound (the theme, the piano effect played upon discovering the wine). In regards to the overdubs this has been a bit of an issue - once the clip is on the timeline it can be rather fiddly to get it into place with the video - which is necessary, as otherwise the speech would be out of time with the characters' mouth movements.

- To add transitions: Whilst our video transitions are cuts, this isn't the case with the sound. When mixing in different sounds there are cases where we've used fade in/fade out transitions so the jump in isn't as harsh. The fade in is noticeable when the theme song comes in at the end - it starts off low and increases in volume over a short period of time, allowing the scene to move from Oliver's lines into the title sequence.

- To fix shots: It'd be a lie to say that every shot was perfect from the minute we copied it off of the camera. Some shots (particularly the opening shots with Samir, and the shot where Oliver runs out of the door) were particularly dark, so it was necessary to use the colour correction too in FCP to alter them. In addition to this we used the wireframe a couple of times - once to create an action match cut in the shots where Oliver runs out of the door, so the door is in the same place on the screen in both the inside and outside shots, and again when Oliver picks up the wine bottle - this was to fix a minor continuity error where Oliver appears to be holding it at a different angle in the first shot of him picking it up to the close up shot.

- To add effects: For the sake of proving we are not limited to just the three dimensions visible to us, we used FCP to ALTER THE FOURTH DIMENSION BY SLOWING DOWN TIME (by which, I mean, we used a slow motion effect when Oliver picks up the wine bottle. Technology isn't quite that advanced as of yet, and I hope it will never be. I've seen the lack of understanding about how time works from various different sci-fi works over the years, and trusting these people with the actual flow of time is beyond dangerous...). The other noticeable editing effect we added was the WideTime filter during the title sequence where the characters are drinking - this effect, whilst decupling how long it took the thing to render, works really well in context of the film, as it is representative of the state of mind these kids are in as they are drinking. 

GarageBand has been particularly useful for us as we use quite a lot of sounds in our film opening. We used the Apple Loops both for the drum/bass riff we hear during the intro, the bird sound effect we use during Samir's initial scene and as material to make a backing track with for the title theme. These loops are useful as they allowed me to put some music together despite having very limited musical talent (which makes me feel like a complete hypocrite as this is something which annoys me greatly when it comes to chart music...). As these loops are distributed with CC licenses it meant that making use of them was a very simple process.

Along with GarageBand we also needed microphones to record live sound; for the vocals on the song we used my old Logitech mic (complete with Guitar Hero branding!) which did a great job of picking up what we needed it to. For the overdubs I didn't have this with me, so we made use of the MobilePre setup which was in the Mac room. I'm not 100% sure what mic Oliver used as he recorded his overdubs away from us.

Social-based Websites

We made use of both YouTube and Blogger throughout the production of our opening (Google aren't paying me for this I swear):
- YouTube: allowed us to upload videos; this was useful for uploading both early drafts of our piece (for collecting input/suggestions as well as allowing us to log our progress) and the final film opening so that it can be seen by all. (All referring to people who are not trying to access it at school; these web filters annoy me greatly).
- Blogger: This has also been highly useful for logging work progress, meaning that we can see which parts of the film have been modified at what time. What does a Blogger blog look like? You're looking at one now.

We have also made minor use of other pieces of technology - we initially recorded early demos of the title theme on Luke's Blackberry whilst we were working out the melody, and I used iMovie at home to throw together some of the other videos on the ShatterResistantFilm YouTube channel, such as the alternate takes of the meetup scene, the colour correction test clip and the outtakes video.



  1. Final Cut Pro - develop this. Think about every single application you used it for and explain how you used it. You did ALL that post-production work on it and it is all really useful evidence. Make a list of all the uses you made of FCP and see if this gives you a series of subheadings.

    Hope you've recovered from your business work.

    1. Recovered in a sense that I'm in a sort-of relaxed state which should last until I see my teacher in the week for her to tell me that it needs redoing because I've missed the mark, but yeah :D

      Got a few more points out of the FCP section, and went off on a bit of a tangent on time movement. Regardless of what several theorists want to go on about, if there's a way to see the fourth dimension I believe the most logical thing it could be is time as a visible concept; in the way we can see our third dimension.

    2. Would we not need new eyes? Something about our retinas being 2D...brain stretching back to the mists of time...trying to remember all the metaphysics I've forgotten...aaaargh, come back to me 2nd year of uni dissertation on gravity being a lie, I used to know this stuff. I want to use the word 'epistemological' here but am skirting round the issue for fear of using it out of context.

      Nowadays all I can remember is Of Mice and Men (for anyone reading this who doesn't know and to save you the effort...I won't post the end of that sentence until HM confirms he knows the ending) and, sometimes, where I put my keys (in the pile of everything else that is my filing).

    3. Have never read it to be honest.

      But yeah, I just take it as us seeing three dimensions - even if anything beyond the second is an illusion, we can indeed interpret depth (even though in my case this ability is fairly limited!).

    4. Worth reding it if only to tick it off the list of things people tend to feel you should've read. Plus it is short.