161 Task 4 David & Goliath WWE style

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Unit 8 Reflecting on Pre-Production

When it comes to planning out what we are going to film and how, there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration.

Finance

I personally have made no financial contributions to any of our filming as of this time of writing, however my fellow class mates have including Sam Edgar who brought in his own camera which cost him around £400. If were we called upon to pay for our own props, transport, facility and equipment hire, purchase our own equipment, actors, fuel for transport, and transport fees; we would set aside a certain amount of money and try to work within that set amount. In order to get some money for our budget we would need to raise it ourselves as we don’t have a big time producer to find funding for us. In most cases we may have to turn to our own money as we are students, for example San Edgar brought in his own camera.

Even in the professional world most independent productions are self-financed, as students this a route which we personally have experienced. However there do exist alternatives such as the College providing us with the necessary equipment such as Cameras, Dictaphones, MAC software like Final Cut Pro and Soundtrack Pro. We have used cameras at the Herbert Art Gallery, I used a Dictaphone when I was swopping genres in movie scenes.

Facilities

Organising where we will film is just as important as all the other aspects of filming if not one of the most important. For example when the Lady Godiva documentary was being made we went to the Herbert Art Gallery to speak with the staff so that we could get an interview with someone who could shed more light on Lady Godiva. We met with someone at the front desk who gave us the contact details of the curator, we emailed the curator in order to arrange an interview with him. We decided on a date a place within the Art Gallery’s Lady Godiva exhibit. When we recorded footage we needed a base to edit what we had recorded, the college n.17 classroom would serve this purpose for all of our editing work. The classroom was a good place to carry out our technical work as it provided us with MACs and their final cut pro editing software to use. The college also provides us with the necessary equipment like camera’s, microphones and dictophones . This makes our work a whole lot easier to manage as it would take too much time and money to provide and organise our own equipment for class projects, plus not all of us can afford the right kind of cameras as they can cost up to and including £3000. If I was working for an actual film studio I would have spend money from the film’s budget in order to rent the equipment for shooting.

Time

As with any project there are deadlines that need to be met and we were no exception. Time management is vital to our projects because we need to arrange for shooting locations, filling in risk assessments, locating, contacting and arranging time with contributors, planning out production schedules, writing a script, writing a treatment for said script, conducting primary and secondary research, hiring and arranging time for actors, booking equipment and finally shooting the film all before the deadline. During our film projects we decided to dedicate a certain number of weeks sorting out all the paperwork and the remaining weeks to the actual shooting. This thought process was developed and put into practice for our second recording projecct which was the music video and it really helped us get the project done on time. We continued this trend into our Godiva documentary where we were able to arrange with the curator to go to the art gallery during Iain’s class, which meant we didn’t have to record outside of college hours or in another teachers class time. We also had to keep in mind when arranging locations to book the equipment for the same time so we decided to arrange the date for the interview and book the equipment for the same date a week in advance that there was no danger of the equipment not being available. If this was a full production film we would have more time to work but we would have a lot more work to do because of the much bigger scale.

Personnel

In the film industry you the right people working in the right places in order to get the best out of your film. For example if you were a producer looking to create a romantic comedy film you probably get better results hiring Garry Marshall (Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride) than Michael Bay (Explosions) as director. Film makers also need to the appropriate staff for the many tasks, for technical roles such as equipment maintenance you would require someone with technical skills and for editing you would need someone with editing skills. In our case we were lucky to have Sam edgar who was well versed in the MAC’s editing software final cut pro. When we were in the planning stages of each project we attributed certain tasks to different members of the group. In some instances I was in charge of the production schedule at one point but where I did the best job was in the on screen performances which you can see in the Siren video (I play the masked killer). Sam and Cherie were two individuals that I thought really showed off skill in their respective areas. Sam had skill in editing, story-boarding and script writing, whereas Cherie was very well organised in our pre-production paperwork such as the risk assessments. With these traits in mind I know exactly who to turn to for certain within our own group which is vital to our organisation as a team and will prove invaluable in professional film making.

Materials

The word materials can cover a variety of things including stock footage, audio clips, CGI and just about any piece of equipment that is used in the making of a film counts as a material. If you watch a typical news broadcast you notice words pop on the screen to show someone’s name, occupation and location, a graphical software was used to create that. When a news broadcaster shows footage from a place that footage was taken somewhere else with a camera and transfered to the studio for them to show. You might notice they use stock footage of past event in a report, that footage was most likely stored in an archive vault. In my case we used the college cameras to record our footage, we used the MACs to do our research on the internet, store our data and use final cut pro to edit the footage and audio that we had recorded. On the subject of the internet we used to download musical pieces and sound effects to put into our videos. All of that which I have listed and much more is counted as materials and without we would not be able to conduct any filming, editing, we would no way to edit our footage or store it in a safe place. When I was editing the Siren I download a musical score from Purple-planet.com which was royalty free so long as I credited them in the description of the youtube video. I could have faced a terms of use conditions like this from the BBC for 12 seconds of a meerkat: “The use and/or exhibition of Content as the prominent part of the shot or display via full screen in projects or productions intended for a public audience that are scripted programmes, television or video movies, dramas, programmes created for entertainment, diversion, or amusement, and re-broadcasts of events/programmes. Choose this package when you only intend to distribute your project through video cassettes, DVDs, Blu-ray, video discs, or other devices that reproduce visual images and sounds which may be played back by the use of a playback device in conjunction with television or other device, where use of the reproduced product is offered and sold for individual use. This use also includes in-context Promotional use of the Content in the project.” (http://www.bbcmotiongallery.com/gallery/clip/1B011406_0098.do?assetId=asset_8342787/clip_23081161) this for 12 seconds of meerkat footage can command arranges prices if you wanted to use it. Prices can go up £700 try it out in the link if you don’t believe me.

Contributors

When you on working on particular subject it helps to get someone with professional experience to contribute to your video in some fashion. However you must have their permission in order to due so otherwise they could force you remove the footage from your video. We as a group have had 3 instances where have had to call a contributors to assist us. The first was during filming of the bullying documentary we arranged to meet with one of the college’s support teachers who has dealt with instances of bullying in the past. We arranged to meet her by going to student services where we asked the staff if there was anyone we could interview for our project. The staff gave us her contact information and we managed to email her and arrange a date and location. Some difficulties could have started when the teacher refused to sign our consent until after she had seen the recorded footage. luckily she was pleased with what we had recorded and agreed to sign our consent form. The second experience with contributors was when Cherie organised to meet with someone called Roger for our music video production. Cherie already knew Roger so it was easy for her to get in contact with him. Roger agreed to let us film at his studio after Cherie got his consent in an email. The third experience was at the Hubert art gallery where we managed to get the contact information of the curator from the staff at the front desk. We emailed him to arrange an interview and he agreed, when we got there with the equipment we brought the consent form and he signed it on the spot.

Locations

Locations are one of the most important parts of filming because if you don’t have somewhere to shoot how can you make a film in the first place? You must also ensure that you can find a location that suits the scene described in the script but you must be aware of limitations like budget, transport, risks, distance, permits and the weather. Location was one of my biggest hindrances this year as I was unable to attend the shooting of the music due to the distance from my home and lack of transport. Another instance was when my group was planning to film the original draft of the Siren’s script during the half term break and the typical British weather made it impossible. In regards to safety the group and I filmed near a busy road and in a car park for the bullying video and the Siren which brought with it the risks of cars and bad weather. When we wanted to film in the herbert art gallery we needed the permission of staff who worked there, luckily we managed to get in contact with the creator who agreed to let us film and interview him on the premises. If we were to film in a public place we would need the permission of the council due to public liability insurance, which would protect us from being sued if a member of the public was injured by us during filming.

Originate Ideas

New ideas our the driving force behind the media industry and where those ideas begin is one of the most important elements of the pre-production process. Before almost all of our projects began with us brainstorming ideas for a synopsis followed by writing a treatment to pitch to our producer (Iain Bruce). One of the infamous moments that I can remember in regards to originate ideas was when we were brainstorming ideas for a documentary and went back and forth between racism and social depravation until finally after almost 3 weeks we managed to settle on bullying after our tutor stepped to sort out the mess and co-ordinate our minds. When our Ideas were finally decided upon and pitched to our producer Sam would set about writing a script and drawing some storyboards for us to work with. During our music video production we were tasked with finding a song and developing a music video based around that song which a lot easier than the previous documentary work but none the less came with it’s fair of bickering, especially between me and Sam as we both wanted creative input. This experience has taught me about the importance of personnel just as much as originate ideas. For the Godiva documentary we learned the importance of research and how that would influence our ideas, very early on when we were conducting research we decided to visit the Herbert Art Gallery after we read about it online and conduct an interview.

Develop Ideas

When someone has an idea a film, in order for that idea to be fully realised it must be developed and expanded to reach a producer. When we had established our ideas we needed to flesh them out with a treatment. The treatment would detail everything that is going to happen in the story when we write the script, it also details locations, characters and message of the story. The treatment is part of a larger piece of work called a proposal which details other important factors like the genre of the film, the film’s target audience and the character’s biographies. using this treatment I wrote a fully fledged script. The script was subject to change as I wrote it and my tutor helped me reorganise the story so that it flowed better but I stayed true to the original core concept of the story. Finally I managed to finish my scripts final draft under the title of the interrogation. What I learned was that you never write a perfect first draft and you should always re-read your script and make changes where necessary in order to get the best results.

In my case I actually re-wrote the proposal with a new treatment after the original script was accidently lost due to a technical issue. But I can safely say that the experience taught me the value of developing an idea from the ground up. I needed to explain the important parts of the narrative and why they were important such as the part where the girl is being interrogated which became the whole focus of the script after I realised that would not be able to film my entire original idea. You have to know what your intended audience for the film other wise your producer won’t know who to market the film to. Character biographies are vital for when your writing your characters as the more fleshed out they are the easier it is to write dialogue for them (at least in my experience).

Research

Research is vital if you want to understand virtually anything in film making, If you want to know about a certain subject that plays a role in your film you would need to research it. If you wanted to look for the best actors and equipment you would need to research them. when we did the bullying documentary we needed to scour the internet looking for information on bullying and the psychological effects it can have on people. When we worked on the music video we needed the fashion senses of both the modern era and the 80’s era in order to get an idea of how people dressed back then. During the Godiva documentary we did some research on the various legends surrounding Lady Godiva and how the different versions told different stories and the historical accuracy or inaccuracy of them this is what lead us to the Herbert art gallery which we held an interview in. The various of research techniques are:

Primary research:

Primary research can be described as physical research as information is given directly to you, usually through interviews, Phone conversation, focus groups and questionnaires. Watching an Interview also counts as primary research as you are watching someone deliver information verbally.

Production companies use Primary research technique to gather information on a target audience they wish to sell a product to, they can hand out leaflets that have questionnaires, the companies analyse the feedback and determine the most popular answer to be the correct one. Another fashion of primary research is focus group, this is where they gather a group of people who represent the target audience for that product and they are asked their opinions and views on the product. They would use this for films in the form of test screenings in front of a selected audience whom they think represents their target audience. If the reception was good the product will go into production and sell at retail, but if the reception was bad the results can vary from complete scrapping of the product to improvement attempts.

The Questionnaire is one of the more popular forms of research carried out by corporations. Usually they will target a certain age group and ask them simple closed questions that relate to the product, which requires a simple yes or no answer.

Example: do you like high heels? Yes/No

There are also open questions that ask for more depth in the answer.

Example: do you like high heels? Yes/No please explain your answer

The strengths of primary research are that it yields in-depth results, it allows you control of your sources and the questions you ask, you can approach people that you consider to be trustworthy and you have a strong base for your research.

The weaknesses of primary research are that its time-consuming and costly for you to carry out. You would have pay the workers to carry out the research and their Travel, accommodations and etc. you would have to wait for results to get back to you and it can be very time consuming.

Secondary research

Secondary research is when you gather information from various sources including Internet, Books, Magazines and notes from search studies. All forms of secondary research are written down and can be used as quotes for my own work, but they must be referenced to avoid copyright infringement.

Secondary research is one of the most used forms of research, especially the internet though reliability of the source can vary from site to site. Books can be more reliable although it is a dying trend with younger people. Internet information sites are updated a lot sooner and more often than books plus referencing the website is a lot easier than it is to reference a book. With books you must take the quote, the title of the book, the Author, page number and date of publishing but with the internet you just take the quote and the web address.

The Problem with secondary research is reliability, the sources can come from anywhere and for all we know they could be flat out lies. Reliability is very important otherwise you could face legal action for misinforming audiences. The strengths of secondary research are that its faster and cheaper than primary research because its data that’s already been collected. The weaknesses of secondary research are that you are using someone else’s work and you cannot be sure of its authenticity and reliability.

Quantitative Research

An example of a Quantitative question is how would you rate The Terminator on a scale of 1 to 10? This is a closed question that requires a definite answer such as 9 out of 10 or yes/no depending on the question. This form of research is tracking the figures portrayed by Charts, Diagrams and tables. You could call it mathematical research. Both Primary and Secondary research can involve quantitative information such as TV rating reviews and global product sales (Secondary) and interviews with people who work in those departments (Primary). The strengths of quantitative research is easier and faster to conduct as it asks for definite answers, example a closed question could be asked – do you like The Terminator yes or no? This limits the answers to yes or no. simple information that is easy to process. The weaknesses of quantitative research are that it does not provide in depth answers to your questions.

Qualitative Research

These are opinionated research techniques that often stems from other people’s opinions on factual evidence. Qualitative can also be groups of people called focus groups who discuss a topic. This form of research has entertainment value in the media as some programs are all about debates. This type of research is called an open question which means the answer requires a lot of detail and your personnel opinion/feelings, an example of an open question would be “what do like about the Terminator?” The strengths of qualitative research are it provides in-depth answers to questions and can sometimes give you more than what you intended. The weaknesses of qualitative research are that like primary research it is time consuming and costly as you have sit down with your sources and wait for their answers unlike quantitative research which is much quicker.

Planning

When writing a script you need to know the core structure of the story, to draw a storyboard you need a script, to design a shooting script you need a storyboard to work with. As a film maker you need a technical crew to maintain the crew, each and every member of the crew needs to know what their roles and responsibilities are. If you do not plan out what is going happen in your pre-production then you are not going to get anywhere. virtually every element spoken of yet has required a lot of planing.

During the Pre-production phase we were divided into groups and I was put in with Cherie, Adam, Sam and Andy. At first we had to research bullying before we could write about it, each of us was alloted a certain aspect  of bullying to research. I was tasked with finding the types of bullying(Cherie – effects, Sam – Implications, Adam – causes) I used the internet and visited a number of anti-bullying websites to learn more about the methods of bullying, this was all part of my secondary research for this project. We agreed that each member of the group would handle a different aspect of the production work. Cherie did the risk assessments (risk assessments are vital in the planning so that we can prepare any medical supplies and have medical personnel on stand in case of an accident) after we were briefed on them in class, she was also involved with the production and shooting schedule alongside Andy. Sam was the Script writer but we all had some input on the direction the story would take. When it came close to the time of shooting we practised with the equipment from the studio that had been signed out by Iain, our Tutor. We learned the safety measures to ensure none of the equipment got damaged during shooting. Sam and Andy scouted out a suitable location behind the College car park for us to shoot, luckily we didn’t need permits because it was college ground and their was no chance of any unintentional advertising. Because it was on College grounds first aid problems would be minimised as Health and Safety checks should have been carried out on college property. We also used our own common sense to avoid injury. Money wasn’t really a problem as we were using college equipment which would be partly paid for by our entry fees and insured by the college itself. All this was an example of how we planned for the shooting our bullying documentary.

The Siren Evaluation

Evaluation

Overall this experience was one of my most in-depth pieces of work which used final cut pro. I had to learn all about the various applications and what they did such as logging and capturing. As I mentioned before Sam carried out the logging and capturing but I managed to take these notes of what he did for future reference. Sam did this by connecting the camera with the mini-DV tape into the MAC using a Firewire cable and then launching Final Cut Pro. When he started final cut pro a screen popped up that informed him that final cut had found the camera. He then went to file and scrolled down until he found log and capture. A new window popped up and Sam clicked VTR OK, he did not need to adjust the settings because everything was already in order. In order to ensure the safety of the cassette tape with all our footage on it Sam decided to keep it in the studio in storage where it would be both safe and accessible to us if we ever needed it.

When the files were logged and captured they would appear in final cut pro’s log bin from there I could change the names of the video and audio files so that they would be easier to locate and manage, I could also arrange the files by content by right clicking (I had the right click option set on my MAC’s mouse I don’t know the other way) and selecting new bin to create a bunch of files. I can also name the bins so it would be a lot easier to manage my audio and visual files.

One of the ways to transfer audio and visual files to final cut pro is too import the them by going to File: Import-files and then select the files you want imported. When I had the files in my log bin I dragged them onto the timeline with the mouse by right clicking and holding onto the selected file and moving them from the log bin onto the timeline and then releasing the right mouse button. When it came to cutting up the visual and audio clips I used the cutting tool which is located on the far right and looks like one of those.

importing, exporting, using the Log bin to manage my video and audio files, using effects on the video and audio files in the timeline and my editing skills to a congruent and flowing narrative that also involved a flashback scene to set up the events portrayed in the story. Sometimes however the clips would not work as they were unrendered, I corrected this by clicking on the unrendered clip and pressing CMD + R.

When I was editing utilised the Flashback editing techniques where it shows something that takes place in the past that has some relation to the events in the present. In the Siren’s case I used the flashback technique cut it up so it was intermixed with some footage that is supposed to take place in the present time and proceeded to cut back and forth between them. To create a sense transition between the flashbacks I created white background visual file and made really small using the cutting tool. I did this by double clicking on a clip in the timeline and that clip would appear in the viewer window, in the bottom right of the viewer window there is a button that resembles a piece of film with an A on it. I clicked this button and list showed up, I scrolled down the list to matte and then clicked it, which opened another list with colour on it. I clicked on colour and option appeared in the top right of the viewer window with the word controls on it. Click controls and a bar appears with the words Name, Parameter and Nav. Under Name is the word colour and under paramters is a square, click on the square and some colour options show up. I clicked on the desired colour and then it appeared in the viewer window. I dragged the colour in the window onto the timeline and then I could edit it just like I would a visual or audio file. I then placed in-between each clip involved in the flashback to create a sense of disorientation.

I downloaded a bunch of sound effects/music off of youtube and purple planet.com using a conversion site called vid2mp3.com, this allowed me take audio from a video and put it in my downloads as an mp3 file. I did this by copying the link from youtube and pasting in the conversion bar and clicked the dowmload button next to the bar. When the file was fully converted in appeared in my downloads and then I moved it to my storage for use in my video. I imported them the same way I would normally import a visual file.

One of the neatest things that final cut pro allows you to do is use effects. In my video a fade transition and slow motion effects. I created the fade transition by right clicking the very end of either a visual or audio clip on the timeline, when I right clicked a list showed up and I clicked on the Add transition “Cross Fade” which created a fade out fade in effect between the visual clips. In the audio’s case you do the same except it fades the sound out and in. In order to create a slow-mo effect I simply right click on the visual or audio clip and then a list appears, scroll down the list until you come to the change speed option, another window appears with the word Rate next to a box with a percentage in it to anything below 100.00% to slow it down. I used these affects on both the visual and audio files to create a more disturbing atmosphere that suited the videos horror theme.

Finally when all the editing was done and I was satisfied with the finished product I exported the video. In order to export you simply go to File and scroll down to Export then click using quick time conversion. A window appears that has the options Save as: and Where, Save as allows you to name it and Where allows to save to a particular location (in my case STORAGE). There was also Format and Use, Format was set to QuickTime Movie and Use was set to Default settings. When it was done converting it appeared in the storage as planned and I could view it at my leisure.

I had a lot of help in order to understand how the various applications worked and without the likes of San and Iain around I might not have done well as I did. The most enjoyable part of the experience was using the effects and cutting tools to create a sense of atmosphere within the video. This is definitely something I can look forward to using in the future.

Music Video Evaluation

At the beginning of this project we were sorted into our groups. I chose to group up with what is now considered my regulars, Cherie Smith, Sam Edgar and Adam Ellix. We were allocated roles in the production so we would be more organised and not all over the place like in past endeavours. I was given the following tasks in the pre-production phase, writing production schedule, taking location photos, creating storyboards and a shooting schedule with Sam Edgar.

At first was the production schedule and we organised what was to be accomplished and by when. We originally planned to try and get all of the paperwork (Risk assessments, shooting schedules, equipment lists, Contributor signatures etc) out of the way first so when it came to the filming we could concentrate solely on just that without any outstanding paperwork holding us back. For the most part it worked we had all of our paperwork accounted for by the time we started filming.

We were tasked in finding a musical piece and to create a music video for it. In order to use a musical piece we would need consent from it’s creator. Cherie happened to know someone called Roger Greasbey who was involved in music, she emailed him with a request to utilise some of his music for our music video. Cherie received a reply from Roger within a week saying that he was willing to let us use his music. Cherie was able to arrange for us to go and shoot scenes for the music with some kids and the singer of the song. Sam and I wrote up a shooting schedule that worked around the arranged date that cherie had set up, we managed to secure a college camera for the project and had arranged for transport. Cherie’s brother was roped in to provide transport to the location and Cherie’s mother was brought in to provide the return trip.

As I was unable to be present at the filming location so to compensate we decided to take still images from our recorded footage, Iain was okay with this.

Sam and I hunkered down and drew up a storyboard that based around the subject matter of the song we were utilising, we had many ideas but we eventually decided upon a narrative which showed the two generations in the same locations at different points in time, you would see the same location but the kids would differently on which generation they came from.

Unfortunately I was unable to attend due to being unavailable at the time due to scheduling conflicts (Although in hindsight from what I heard of Sam, Adam and Cherie’s experience I’m glad I didn’t go). When when I turned up for college the next day I was filled in on the gruesome details of the disaster of a filming session. Roger kept on interfering with Sam’s job of directing, a group of local kids were brought in to “star” in the video as extras and they had the vulgar attitude to my classmates and they would not co-operate with Sam during filming. eventually they managed to record all the footage and left with their spirits in tatters.

In Class the process of Editing began. Sam was in charge of this field although in hindsight even though it was a group effort I feel we should have each edited our own videos and picked the best from among to show to the class at least that way we all would have had more chance to work with the editing software Final Cut Pro. During the process of editing Sam was so agitated with how he treated was during filming that he wanted to scrap all the footage they had recorded and start anew with the same song.

Music Video Production Diary

Day 1, 04/01/2012

Today we got into our group which consists of Me, Sam, Adam and Cherie. We assigned ourselves the tasks for the future, I am handling Production schedule, Location photo’s, Storyboards and Shooting schedule with Sam Edgar.

Cherie emailed a potential music producer named Roger and a Bass musician named James.

Day 2, 11/01/2012

Today Cherie has had a reply from the artist and has arranged to meet them, unfortunately I will be unable to attend. We also worked on our Production schedule and planned to finish all the paperwork by next week. I also printed off a consent form, risk assessment and the Production schedule layout.

Day 3, 18/01/2012

On the 17th Sam, Cherie and Adam went to the artist to fill out a consent form and risk assessment. they discussed what they wanted to do with the cast, looked around the studio to get a feel for the surrounding environment and to identify any health hazards and they heard the demo for the song.

Today we did some research on 80’s fashion. Sam is awaiting an email from the artist which will bring him the MP3 file for the song so that he can begin storyboards. e researched music videos from the 80’s to get a feel for the pop culture of that era. We also looked at some other music videos which depicted some sub-par acting so we know what to avoid when it comes to filming.

Cheris recieved an email from the producer which had the lyrics for the song.

Day 4, 01/02/2012

We observed narrative in music videos to try an gain some inspiration for our own storyboards. We managed to finalise  the theme which our music video will revolve around, it will be a contrast between the 80’s era and the modern era.

Day 5, 08/02/2012

We wrote and drew the first draft of the storyboard today. We were informed we could use child extras.

Day 6, 22/02/2012

The footage was obtained but according to Sam it was a most unpleasant experience. The footage is still yet to be edited and the group has expressed interest in doing a second music video because of a lack of satisfaction with the results of first footage and song.

Day 7, 29/02/2012

The editing process begins in earnest. Cherie began typing up the risk assessment on Microsoft Word. The production schedule and the consent form were scanned and saved to the blog after the details on the consent form had been properly filled in.

Day 8, 07/03/2012

Editing continues. On a personal note I feel that there a lot of distractions and lack of enthusiasm most likely due to the way they were treated when filming. Another piece of music has been found and we will send a request for use.

Day 9, 14/03/2012

Storyboards for a second video have started being drawn, with the basic plot revolving around a teddy trying to commit suicide after the death of his family.

Day 10, 21/03/2012

The Editing is nearing completion and I had a bit of input along with Cherie. Iain suggested that we be creative with our editing. Adam has yet to do anything today. We will be filming on the 29th of March and we will be meeting outside the motor museum at 1:00pm.

Day 11, 28/03/2012

We were told to plan out some reshoots by Iain. We plan to buy some black hoodies and shoot some footage. We plan to re-shoot the modern footage due to unsatisfactory nature of the original clips.

Textual analysis: Avatar the Last Airbender

Avatar: the last Airbender was the brainchild of Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The series revolves around the main protagonist Aang the Avatar who must master all four elements (Water, Earth, and Fire. He already knows Airbending at the beginning of the series) in order to defeat Firelord Ozai ruler of the Fire Nation.

Codes and Conventions

Avatar is an adventure series so one can expect exotic locations, different kinds of people and cultural references. An example of this is the four nations of the series are based on East Asian cultures and mythologies. It succeeds as an adventure series because its plot allows it to visit exotic locations and cultures. Even though the characters live in an Asian setting they act very much like ordinary kids that most of us can relate to in the western world “The concept of genre offers the possibility of recognising similarities even in the midst of great diversity”  (Shepherd and Watters 1998 p. 97).

Each of the characters has their personality and quirks and as a kid’s show you would expect characters that children can relate to. For example Aang is fun loving and adventurous, Kitara is the level headed den mother of the group, Sokka is the voice of reason and Toph is the rebellious tomboy.

The show’s use of Asian mythology suits it for the fantasy genre, it also has a lot of elements that defy realistic logic but as a fantasy program its allowed to get away with it. The bending of elements is one of the show’s core themes and is impossible in the real world; e.g Firebenders can create fire out of thin air which is impossible in the real life without a fuel source, and there are animals like Appa who can fly without any obvious methods of flying (No Wings). In addition the four forms of element bending are based on real forms of Chinese martial arts: The Water benders are based on Tai Chi, The Earth benders are based on Hung Gar, Fire benders are based on Northern Shoalin Kung Fu and Air benders are based on Baguazhang.

I believe Avatar is popular thanks to its use of martial arts, humour, unique setting, entertaining and well rounded characters which can appeal to a variety of audiences and not just children. Someone who is a fan of Chinese martial arts movies may find something in Avatar that appeals to them. This clip from youtube covers the making of the series and the influence of Chinese martial arts (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mit5F3d2cWM). If someone is familiar with martial arts then one can assume that they would be at least familiar with the vast mythology surrounding them. Avatar creates a very unique mythology that is deep enough to suck you in and would also attract anyone who is a fan of mythology in general. People who have  seen the “Lord of the Rings” movies may find something in Avatar that appeals to them as the characters are on a quest and they run into people who need their help.

Avatar is also unique for the fact that its animation style is anime which was popularised in West during the 90’s by shows like Pokemon and Digimon. Anime is characteried by simple styles with a lot of detail. One of the most striking elements is the size of characters’ eyes particularly on the female characters and the exaggerated facial expressions for certain emotions. In Avatar a lot of these characteristics are present and usually for comedic moments particularly the main characters (it’s never used in serious situations or on the Villains).

Structurlism

Please note that it is very difficult for me to draw anything from colour and this will not be as in depth as the other analysis in this article. The art style in Avatar looks and feels natural with pale colour hues and shadows, the characters blend in with their environment and I think thats what makes it appear natural to our eyes. If you look at the characters cloths they don’t wear any bright colours and the shadows are very natural in their placement.

If the colour was generic and bright I believe the series would lose it’s unique art style and the characters would clash with their surroundings and it would lose it’s natural feel. This would have been a paradigmatic change. Other paradigmatic changes could include replacing the characters bending abilities with weapons, change the setting to a more european style and swap the genders around. Any amount changes I make would just flat out ruin the series as it stands now and I don’t think it would be as successful. For instance if the characters all used weapons that would make the bending (one of the show’s core elements) irrelevant. (http://tvmedia.ign.com/tv/image/article/110/1102486/avatar-the-last-airbender-20090112015911722_640w2_1277765874.jpg)

In terms of conotations the series visuals definitely give away that its a fantasy adventure series. The pictures are full open landscapes, tundras, islands and seas which makes the audience think of adventure. The strange creatures and bending powers would tell you that it was a fantasy series because the animals are taken as natural by the characters and the benders abilities have no basis in reality. Given the benders abilities I would expect fantastical and over the top battles between the characters and they would have stamina enough to resist the punishment being dealt to them on a regular basis. The architecture is based around Asian cultures so I would expect certain things you would often associate with them such as meditation, Yin Yang and spirits. In terms of denotations a lot of what I expected came to be what I literally got when I watched the series.

Narrative Types

Aristotle 

Like most programs Avatar has a beginning a middle and an end. In the beginning Aang is frozen and is discovered by Kitara and Sokka. In the middle Aang must master all four elements which is the driving force of the series. In the end Aang defeats the Firelord and restores balance to the world. This is definitely the most abridged version of the plot and this structure is purest example of the Aristotle theory.

Vladimir Propp

In correspondence with Vladimir Propp’s theory of there being eight character types I will try to draw comparisons as much as I can.

  • Hero- the main protagonist of the series is Aang.
  • Villains- Firelord Ozai, Zuko, Azula.
  • Donor (someone who provides something to other characters)- Katara teaches Aang Water bending, Toph teaches Aang Earth bending, Zuko teaches Aang Fire bending, Iroh trains and guides Zuko.
  • Dispatcher (Someone who provides information)- Sokka who discovers the Fire benders are powerless during a solar eclipse, Zuko who warns Aang of the Firelord’s plan to use Sozin’s comet to conquer the world.
  • False Hero- Jet, this character is fighting against the Fire nation however he is willing to kill innocent people in the process.
  • Helper (provides assistance in some way)- Katara who can heal, Sokka who can navigate, Toph who can access to important places like the Earth King’s palace due to being of noble birth and can hear things before everyone else by vibrations in the ground. Iroh who cares for Zuko during their travels.
  • Princess (characters who need rescuing not necessarily human)- The World needs saving from the Firelord’s rampage.
  • Father (A male parental model) Katara and Sokka’s Father plays a big role in the plot especially in the third season when the heroes are planning to attack the Fire Nation during a solar eclipse aka the day of black sun. He plays a supportive role to his children encouraging them when they are low.

In conclusion it does apply in some areas but I had to stretch to find the comparisons in other places such as the princess and father characters.

Izetan Todorov 

Izetan Todorov’s theory on story structure is more league with Aristotle’s theory although a lot more in depth with equilibrium and disruption of the equilibrium.

  1. A state of equilibrium at the outset: The Intro of the show mentions a harmony between the four nations.
  2. A disruption of the equilibrium by some action: The Fire Nation declares war on the other 3 nations led by the Firelord Sozin.
  3. A recognition that there has been a disruption: the 100 year war.
  4. An attempt to repair the disruption: Avatar Aang’s quest to learn all four elements and defeat the Firelord.
  5. A reinstatement of the equilibrium: Aang defeats Firelord Ozai, Zuko is crowned the new Firelord and ends the war

Izetan’s theory certainly fits this series better than Vladimir’s as it was easier to find elements that matched up with what Izetan was saying in his work on narrative structure.

Allan Cameron

Allan Cameron spoke of different tools that can used to expand the narrative of stories without being regulated by the three act structure. They are flashbacks, forking paths, episodic and split screen.

  1. Flashback: There are a number throughout the series, usually to give insight into a character’s background and explain the story in greater depth. There is one episode where Aang communicates with Avatar Roku (the Avatar before him) to discover the origins of the war, at the same time Zuko is reading scrolls written by Firelord Sozin (Zuko’s great grandfather) who was Roku’s friend before he started the war.
  2. Forking paths: There are no instances of what if scenarios in the series.
  3. Episodic: Almost all the episodes in the series are intertwined in some way; however there is one episode which is entirely made up of short stories that are not connected to one another. The episode is called “The tales of Ba Sing Se” and it is comprised of a number of stories staring the main characters.
  4. There are no instances of Split-screen in the series.

In conclusion it seems some were relevant and others were not. Flashbacks feature heavily throughout the series and there is an entire episode with episodic stories. None of the others contributed anything.

Levi Strauss 

Levi Strauss believed the source of conflict within a narrative was something called binary opposition. Some might interpret this as good vs evil. When it is expanded it covers conflict of ideologies, nationalities, race and religion. Any two ideological things can create conflict with one another and that is the source of many a story. Binary opposition in Avatar the last airbender can be represented by the conflict between the tyranny of the fire nation and the freedom loving heroes.

Representation 

Girls play a very significant role in the series and one of the most important female characters is Katara, she is very headstrong, keeps her cool in difficult situations and is never willing to give up. Katara is one of the most powerful water benders in the series and is a talented healer (she saves Aang from certain death at the end of the second season). With all that being said she still has girlish characteristics such as she cares about the way she looks and plays the role of a den-mother t the group.

Toph is the complete opposite of Katara in that she behaves more like a boy would; she spits, she doesn’t care about her looks, she gets into practical jokes like the boys do and she is more willing to start fights. Toph was born blind which means she takes most people’s offers of kindness as charity, Toph doesn’t like people offering to help because she feels it robs her of her independence. This is also a representation of empowered disability as Toph lives a normal life despite the fact that her parents think she is constantly vulnerable due to her blindness. Toph compensates for her lack of sight with her earth bending, she can sense vibrations and she is also one of the most powerful earth benders.

Azula is one of the best female cartoon villains in my opinion. She is intelligent, resourceful and a master strategist. Azula is one of the most powerful fire benders and she can also cast lightning which is a rare move for a fire bender. She delights in tormenting her enemies and is extremely manipulative, this comes to a head when she conquers the earth kingdom in the second season by taking control of the Dai lee and usurping the earth king.

In general the girls are some of the strongest characters in the series, they are well developed, they are intelligent and powerful fighters. In most modern cartoons females are portrayed as strong characters and this show continues that trend.

In terms of age the main characters are all in their early to mid teens so this would make relatable to the target audience as I’ve already mentioned. Old people are often associated with being wise and learned, in Avatar Zuko’s uncle Iroh fulfills the role of a mentor to his nephew while being a humble and kooky character (He loves tea and lives rather casually except in dire circumstances). Normally one associates old age with frailty but in Asian cinema and media Old people are master fighters capable of holding their own. Avatar being based heavily in Asian myths takes that to heart with characters like King Bumi, Master Pakku, Jeong Jeong and Master Piandao who are all masters of their fighting styles. This is a contrast to most western representations of old age.

Overall

Overall Avatar is one the best animated series that I have watched in a long time. Although Gargoyles is still my absolute favourite animated series of all I would rank Avatar very high on my list. It fulfills every expectation I would have for an adventure series. There is a compelling story filled with lovable characters and devious villains, it has a unique setting with its own rich mythology, The fights and the bending are sight to behold, has a fantastic musical score and great voice acting all around and finally It all meshes together extremely well. I didn’t realise how well everything in the series was woven together until I conducted this textual analysis which now makes me appreciate even more than I did before.

Ethical Practices in the BBC

Ethics are a set of morale principles in which a person or group of people lives by. In the UK media sector specifically the BBC who according to their charter “The BBC exists to serve the public interest.”

Ethics can affect a TV producers decisions and content he can use. In the BBC’s case they have a series of guidelines that dictate the requirements for a program to be ethically sound. The BBC editorial lines serve to guide producers around ethical issues like impartiality, accuracy, privacy etc…

The following is a series of descriptions that cover the principles and practices governing the BBC.

  • Accuracy: the principle of the BBC must be to deliver information which can be backed up with hard evidence and precise language so as to avoid misleading audiences. They are not allowed to knowingly mislead audiences by distorting information and they must know the integrity of their sources. In practice when gathering information they should take notes and maintain records of all their dealings with contributors, this is done so that they can reference them later to ensure accuracy. In regards to contributors they should always be acknowledged publicly and backgrounds should be checked. other areas include correcting any mistakes and checking programs to keep them up to date.
  • Impartiality: the BBC states that all controversial subjects must be treated with due weight so that sides of the argument are equally represented. In practice different groups with different opinions are given equal say. Sometimes outside contributors are required to provide information on the sensitivity of a situation, for example in politics the BBC must take guidance from a Chief advisor in politics.
  • Harm and Offence: In order to protect the physical, mental and moral well being of children and young people the 9pm watershed exists to regulate any material which may be considered harmful to them. This is applied to almost all television broadcasters even beyond the BBC. In practice consideration should be given to how the violence is edited so as to cut out any distressful images such as blood, dismemberment and so on. steps must be taken to ensure any harmful material is not shown during any live out put.
  • Fairness, Contributors and Consent: care must be taken when considering the legal matters, safety and confidentiality of contributors when dealing with them. We must be honest and straightforward and fair. In practice the contributor must know why they are being asked to contribute, the context of the content and the nature of their involvement. Deception is only nesscesary to protect public interest when the full purpose of the output is not revealed to the contributor.
  • Privacy: there must be a balance between the public interest of freedom of expression and rights of an individuals privacy. In practice all contributors who give informed consent are assumed to have given up their privacy in regards to their image and audio. when using webcams consent is required to broadcast the visual feed.
  • Conflicts of Interest: the external individuals activities of those who work must at the BBC must not conflict with public’s preceptions of the various topics already mentioned here among others. in practice there exist sets of guidelines for those who work at the BBC. They must feature any talent that may undermine the BBC’s reputation.
  • Interacting with our audiences: All interactivity with the audience must be conducted in fair, honest and legal fashion. In practice this means when competitions are held all qualifying entrants must have same chance of winning and the game should be set up as such. When broadcasting pre-recorded footage steps must be taken to ensure that the audience is not mis-lead into thinking it is live output.

The Siren Production Diary

Production Diary.

11th of June 2012

We had some misfortunes during the Diamond Jubilee holiday as the weather refused to lighten up for my class mates and I failed to show due to missing a call, which was supposed to tell me when we were filming. I was informed that they had filmed some of the scenes but not enough so the project was abandoned in favor of the new project.

I had not seen Sam’s original script so I didn’t know specifically what was included in it story wise. Sam assured us that the new project would retain elements of the original script while creating a whole new story. Elements retained from the original script: Students being hunted by a deranged murderer (original I know), The car park which only had a brief appearance in the original draft was changed to the full setting for The Siren.

We proceeded to the College car park where we discussed what we would film as Sam had already planned out a story. It was decided that the killer would wear a mask so Sam and myself went into town to purchase a mask. We bought a Guy Fawkes mask from the Forbidden Planet. We returned to the car park where filming began.

After we finished filming. Sam plugged the camera into the MAC where he painstakingly logged and captured every piece of footage. Sam did this by connecting the camera with the mini-DV tape into the MAC using a Firewire cable and then launching Final Cut Pro. When he started final cut pro a screen popped up that informed him that final cut had found the camera. He then went to file and scrolled down until he found log and capture. A new window popped up and Sam clicked VTR OK, he did not need to adjust the settings because everything was already in order.

After the footage was logged and captured it appeared in final cut pro’s log bin. From there Sam could change the names of the video and audio files so that they would be easier to locate and manage, he could also arrange the files by content by right clicking (I had the right click option set on my MAC’s mouse I don’t know the other way) and selecting new bin to create a bunch of files. He could name so it would be a lot easier to manage his files. I did all of this when I was creating my video as you will see in the below image.

After Sam had logged and captured all of his video and audio files he saved them to his memory stick. He passed the memory stick around and we all got the files on our computers and into final cut pro.

When I was given the memory stick I moved the files into my storage although I was missing some of them at the time. I opened final cut pro and selected File: New Project, I then opened storage and simply dragged the files from storage into the log bin. An alternative method is too import the files by going to File: Import-files and then select the files you want imported. When I had the files in my log bin I dragged them onto the timeline where I could arrange them into the order I desire and cut out unwanted footage using the cutting tool. At some time during the editing process I realised that I did not have all of the video and audio files so I had to repeet the importing process again to get all the rest of the files.

I also utilised sound files from videos on youtube by highlighting the link to the video and copying it, I then went to vidtomp3.com and pasted the link into the taskbar and then clicked convert, when it was done converting I clicked downloads which sent it to my Itunes. I dragged the audio files from Itunes into the log bin so that they could be used like all my other files.

12th of June 2012 

Today I continued editing the footage much like I did the previous day. The only notable things that I did do was name all of my files in the log bin and arrange them into folders that represent their content. Examples include: Audio bin, the killer strikes and the lift chronicles. I did this by clicking on the files in the log bin twice and it allowed me to change the names.

I also moved some files around in the storage which had an effect on the video as final cut pro could not locate for whatever reason so I had to locate the files again by: right clicking-reconnect media, a window came up and clicked search which opened another window which showed my files and I searched for the right ones and double clicked them, it then took me back to the previous window and the file was listed as found, I then simply clicked on reconnect and it set everything straight.

I also made an attempt to export the video. I did this by going to File and clicking Export, then clicking Quick Time Conversion. A window popped which asked me to create a file. I named Maniac Stalker’s revenge and I saved it to the storage.

I also added some colour corrections. To do this I double clicked on a video clip in the timeline. It then showed up in the viewer, in the viewer there are some tabs such as filter which allowed me to create a black or white image which I dragged on to the time line. This creates a clip that is just a particular colour. I used editing to cut them down to a small size which I could use for makeshift transitions during the flashback sequences.

13th of June 2012

Nothing much to report on today it was just of what I did yesterday and the day before. I now know there is just one last thing I have to do to make this complete, I need the sounds of footsteps and keys dropping in order to make the car park scene complete. I also used effects for the first time, In my video a fade transition and slow motion effects. I created the fade transition by right clicking the very end of either a visual or audio clip on the timeline, when I right clicked a list showed up and I clicked on the Add transition “Cross Fade” which created a fade out fade in effect between the visual clips. In the audio’s case you do the same except it fades the sound out and in. In order to create a slow-mo effect I simply right click on the visual or audio clip and then a list appears, scroll down the list until you come to the change speed option, another window appears with the word Rate next to a box with a percentage in it to anything below 100.00% to slow it down.

18th of June 2012

I went out of the class room to record some audio on soundtrack pro on the MAC in the studio. I did this by going to the setting a new audio file which is located in the top left of the window, then all I needed to do was hit record when I was making the sounds and then saved them as MP3 files to my memory stick. I went to make the sounds of footsteps and keys dropping, like I said I would last week. After I got the audio files I saved them to my memory stick and I took back to the classroom where I transferred them from my usb to my storage and then into my final cut pro log bin. I cut and synched the audio file on the timeline and then when I was satisfied I exported the video the same way I did before.

Sound Editing Short Evaluation

The First part of the task was to take a scene from a movie and edit in different sounds. I chose to take one of the most tear jerking scenes from “the Green Mile” and completely turn it around. I got the scene off youtube and took into Final cut Pro. Next I cut out all of Tom Hanks’es dialogue and then recrded my own using a dictaphone that Reza provided. I originally wanted to record someone elses voice to replace Michael Clarke Duncan’s lines but disided against it because it would have taken too long so I left his dialogue although I did edit out some of his dialogue using the cutting tool to make him appear more insane. The finished product was an entertaining piece of work that was fun to work on but the next project was even better.

For the next project we had the task of taking two trailers and utilising the visuals of one and the sound of the other. We were only allowed to edit either the visuals or the sound but not both. I chose theisuals from a trailer for one of favourite movies of all time “John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China” and the sound from the “Duke Nukem Forever” 2007 teaser trailer. I chose to edit the visuals using Final cut Pro again and the result was one of the most entertaining pieces of work I’ve produced that was fun to make.