Welcome to my A2 media Blog, I'm Josh Stevenson (0796) and I'm in Group 2 with Harry Kettenis (0390), Matthew Romo (1660) and Ysabel Hudson-Searle (0331). Use the labels on the right to navigate through my blog, with the A2 labels relevant to my current course. You can access the main music video blog aswell using the link.

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Sunday, 6 October 2013

Preliminary Task- Evaluation

Project Brief
The task brief was to create a continuity sequence involving a character opening a door, crossing a room and sitting down in a chair opposite another character, with whom they exchange a couple of lines. We were told that it had to demonstrate a practical understanding of:
  • Match on action
  • Shot Reverse Shot
  • The 180-degree Rule
Who did you work with and how did you manage the task between you?
My group was made up of four people, myself, Juliette, Abi and Harry. As a group we felt that the best way to attempt the task was to divide up roles and responsibilities based on each persons individual skills, experience and preferences. Juliette came out as a natural leader in the group and since she had done media at GCSE, we all rallied behind her and worked together to complete the task to as high a standard as possible. Juliette pitched an idea and we all worked together to build on and improve it. Since I take AS-Level Drama, I volunteered to be one of the actors and Juliette was chosen to be the other because we wanted to have a female antagonist and out of the two girls in our group, she was the most comfortable in front of a camera. Abi and Harry focused on how the set would look and the different possibilities for things such as lighting and camera angles.
How did you plan your sequence? What processes did you use? What theories did you try to take into account?
As a group we began with a group discussion to get the general gist of the type of scene we would be shooting and identify what genre (thriller) we would base it on.Once we had all collectively agreed on what the plot was, we then ensured that we included the key elements described to us in the brief. After establishing what these shots would look like, we discussed what extra shots we would do in order to give our own personality to the scene and improve the scene's continuity.

Now that we had planned out the entire sequence verbally, we set out to make a paper trail that we could refer back to during our shoot and edit. First, we drew out a storyboard for our sequence, depicting who was in the shots and from what angle the camera would be facing. We then carried out a walk through to see how each shot worked practically, so that if any problems arose we could sort them out before we had to start shooting. The main problem that we noticed straight away is the practicality of the lighting we were planning on using. What we wanted was to have a spotlight shining a beam of light directly the antagonist, only showing her mouth downwards; however we soon realised that it would take hours to get the lighting just right and that we would have to make so many adjustments in terms of lighting position and camera settings. In the end we decided that it just wasn't worth all of that hastle when we could easily use natural lighting for what I think is an even better effect and only took a couple of minutes to arrange.

This was followed by creating a shot list to clearly show what order we would record all of the clips in based on where they were being filmed and who was in them. Now that we had clearly laid out our entire shoot, we began thinking about what type of costume would best suit the two characters. We decided that Juliette would be wearing all black with red lipstick and black nail varnish and that I would wear a dishevelled suit.

 Having a story board and shot list was extremely helpful during the shoot as it showed us a clear path to follow and showed us what needed to be done, therefore limiting stress and ensuring we kept to set time limits. When planning our sequence, we tried to include multiple theories, such as:
  • narrative flow
  • the 180 and 30- degree rule
  • eye line matching
  • shot reverse shot
  • match on action.
 What technology did you side to complete the task and how did you use it?

 While shooting we used a Cannon HV30 Camera, a Mini DV Tape, a Shotgun Microphone, SennheiserHD 201 Headphones, a Tripod and Adobe Premier Pro to edit.

Canon HV30: All of the footage was recorded onto the Mini DV, we used the tripod to help position the camera at the correct height and angle to create narrative flow and also to prevent and jolts and shakes in the footage.The Shotgun microphone was attached to the Cannon HV30 to record any sound in the shots and the Sennheiser HD 201 was used to hear this.

Adobe Premiere Pro: This software allowed us to review all of our shots and decide which takes were the most useful to us and then separate them from the others by moving them into new files called "bins". Once we had all of the clips we wanted, we then cut them down by setting the "in" and "out" points and dragged them onto alternating tracks for ease of editing. Further cutting them down once on their tracks so that the sequence seemed to move between shots seamlessly.

I have done editing in the past, however not with premier pro, it was a good chance to transfer skills across from other software  which I had previously use. As well as learn how to use new software and therefore widen my knowledge base.

What factors did you have to take into account when planning, shooting and editing?
During the planning stage, we had to take into account various things such as:
  1. Time frame- We only had a short period of time for each stage and if any of the shots ran over it may have lead to our task not being completed on time
  2. Room availability- Because all of the other groups would be shooting some shots in areas that we wanted to use, we had co-ordinate with them so that we were not interfering with each others filming.
  3. Resources- Do we have the correct costumes for our idea and are we going to be able to arrange the set in a way that matches our plot.
In shooting we thought about:
  1.  Abiding by brief- we had to make sure that our shots collectively included all of the described continuity techniques ( 180-degree Rule, Match on Action, Shot Reverse Shot), as well as the other techniques we felt would aid the sense of continuity in the prelim i.e 30-degree Rule.
  2. Narrative flow-  All of our shots had to match to create continuity, for example we needed to get me walking completely through the door from all angles.
  3. Time frame- We only had a set amount of time and could not afford to miss out any shots or else the narrative flow of the prelim would have been ruined. Because we only had an hour to shoot all of the shots, we kept our idea very simplistic to minimise any chance of setbacks which could have occurred while filming.
While editing we took into account:
  1. Time Frame- Obviously the amount of time we spent editing was extremely important, because if we ran over and hadn't edited all of the clips together then we would end out with an incomplete prelim.
  2. Abiding by brief- While editing together the clips we had to make sure that we clearly presented the required continuity techniques and that our editing did nothing to detract from the flow of the prelim.
How successful was your sequence? Please identify what worked well and with hindsight, what would you improve/ do differently?

In my opinion the task was fairly successful, as we mostly met the project brief (matter of opinion,not fully in my opinion). We successfully demonstrated the use of the all the techniques, we matched the action of when I walked through the door and sat down, and made sure the eye lines matched. As well as made sure that the dialogue was synched when it ran through two different shots. I was surprised, because even though all of our shots seemed like a good idea when we were planning the sequence, we actually ended out not using certain shots when editing as we felt it ruined the continuity of the sequence. In addition to this we cut shots much shorter than we expected to, because of some dialogue running between multiple shots. There were a couple of hitched sound wise, but we managed to fix most of them in editing by repeating certain soundtracks to limit disorientation to the audience.

In hindsight, I would have kept all of the dialogue from running over each other and had each character speak at separate times (not cut each other off), as it cause a major delay in the editing process and a large amount of stress. I also feel that when we switch from the master shot to a close up of Juliette tapping her hand on the table there is a change in timing, which ruins the audiences suspension of disbelief. To combat this we could have used a silent metronome or have had an agreed gap between each time she tapped her fingers on the table, so that in all the shots where the main focus is her hand, the timing matches. To further ensure that the brief is fully met, I think we should have included more dialogue to make it seem more like a conversation between the characters.

What have you learnt from completing this task? Looking ahead, how will this learning be significant when completing the rest of your foundation coursework, do you think?

I think that this task has taught me a lot about what does and doesn't work in both the shooting and editing of a sequence. I now know that having dialogue run between shots causes a large amount of trouble when editing if the dialogue isn't exactly the same in both clips and will transfer this knowledge onto future projects. Also, this task was a good chance to get to grips with the new software that I will be using over the duration of the course. As well as this, I have gained a practical understanding of match on action, the 180 and 30-degree rule and shot reverse shot, which has shown me the effectiveness of using these techniques and how to best use them.

This project has given me a large amount of experience and I will use all that I have learnt to positively impact on the standard of the rest of my coursework.

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