Prompt #6 – Reflection on ‘Doco in a Day!’

Reflecting on the last editing in this semester. In this blog, I will express my emotion, expose the process of editing and the mistakes I made which results in a sense of dissatisfy. (Well, I don’t know whether the expression is correct or not, I just spit it out.)

Pre – Production

I believe that every practice which we had done in the tutorial gave us an opportunity to know more about our group members. Since the first time we were decided to be in a same group, we have been sticking together in the following tasks till now. We have already been familiar with our basic situations and skills by each group member,  which allows us run a successful collaboration every time when we are facing difficulties. Every strategy that we decided to use, difficulties we overcame and conflicts that we had have become  unforgettable and pleasure memories which help me making progress.

The last task we have prepared for couple of weeks.  We had shot VOX BOX without a reasonable plan, and then problems have been found when we reviewed the records. We made a plan to address the problems that we found and try to avoid same mistakes in the next shooting.

  • framing (subject in the middle and face to right, camera over eyeline, necessary to consider the rule of thirds, head room)
  • unclear subject (did not focus on subject)
  • subjects look around
  • micro phone is in frame
  • bad quality of sound

Production

Next shooting: we did indoor interview in the morning and VOX BOX in the afternoon. 

Indoor interview: preparation and group light setting took us a very long time, especially the dido light. The color is too warm when we open the dido. The lights is hard to control due to the color temperature. We had made a shadow that cast on the black background but the color grading I used in the Post – Production has vanished the shadow.  I was dissatisfied with the interview but I tried to redeem it. (I will explain more about the shadow and how I redeem the footage in Post- Production)

Outdoor Vox Box: One problem is the camera storage. That is intolerable because we just shot 6 or 7 footage. And when we gonna to shot the last interview, a symbol in the camera screen flickered continually. I checked the storage and found that there was 48 footage in the camera! The problem is we don’t know how to delete the footage cause we can’t find the delete button on the camera. So we use iphone to shoot the last interview.

Post – Production

Same as the practices I did before, I categorized, renamed and duplicated the clips. This time, I had come up with a theme and chosen a background music before I edited. The questions we asked each interviewees are too much, so I have to choose some of them. I started to arrange the clips when I got a plan in my mind. I did not proud of that I had pressed the I & O button hundred times at all because I made a mistake. I forgot the color grading before I cut the footage result in time consuming on repeating color grade. However, the effect is superb. As I mentioned before, the shadow we made was vanished. I have to consider the color tone instead of the dramatic shadow.Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 8.16.41 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 8.54.53 PM

See the difference between the raw clip and after effected clip. We can see the shadow in the original clip. The reason why I changed the color tone is simply because the white noise is very clear. I added the Lumetri Looks (Compression 1) and the shadow was gone. I added Lumertri Looks (cold mix) in order to make it not too yellow.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 8.31.12 PM

Lumetri Looks (Compression 1) have been added into all the footage that we had shot indoor. A very clear white noise can be seen in the original clips(on the left), and the right clips are much better. I didn’t added the cold mix because it would be too blue if I added. In production, we set the light constantly when we switch interviewees. We probably used the dido when Aliee was interviewed. 

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I did a great effort to resize footage. As you can see the image below that I captured from a footage. The rest of the frame is black background. It is not to hard to resize it, just click the clip’s effect, but I had cut all the clips before I resized it!

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I think hardest part is audio editing. I have to follow the rhythm of the background music. I pinned a lot of keyframe by using a pencil tool, and lowered it.

I would like to point out the parts I dislike that I find after exported it. I dragged the footage directly instead of transitions and left some space in the middle. The duration of the black spaces are quite different. The first black space is much longer than second one. The question board is a little bit short. The intended gap I added is too short that can’t deliver a sense of humor. I don’t like some footage I inserted in very much. I think I will go to the studio again and reedit it.

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Prompt #2 – The initiative post

I would like to talk about the recent film I watched. About Time 2013 is a romatic comedy ‘About Time’ directed by Richard Curtis who is a successful comedy screenwriter, he is known primarily for romantic comedy films such as Blackadder, Mr. Bean and The Vicar of Dibley.

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The story describe the 21 years old Tim Lake was told a secret about the ability of time travel. He gonna to use the skill to find true love and make a better life. However, as his special life progresses, Tim notices that the problems of ordinary life can not be avoided by using his special ability. The real happiness comes from normal day. Curtis admits his intention was to make a film about exactly that – finding happiness.

Richard Curtis: The movie is a movie saying that we should relish every normal day and live it just for the day itself, not for what the day might achieve. What would constitute a perfect day? The day we were having was the perfect day. I was just having lunch with my best friend. I had taken my kids to school. I was going to have dinner with the family. I thought then for the next week that would be a subject I should really write about—how to be happy; how you achieve happiness in ordinary life rather than always looking for extra, big things and achievements to make you happy. (Billington, 2013)

It is relevant to the story line he showed us. The creation is coming from simple life but how to make that point in a different way to produce a film to entertain audience? Curtis added a nonexistent symbol (time travel) to make the story more dramatic that Tim can pick any day and change future. He added a lot of normal but interesting events into the story. It is not too exaggerate just the sad things and happy things around us. We don’t have the ability of time traveling as the end of the film that Tim faced to make a choice, his father or children. It is about time you grow up, to learn how to love and be loved. The theme of the film educated people to cherish everyday you spend with your family. Things would be even worse when you try to change them. As Curtis states, ‘It’s such a weird thing. It’s like a time travel issue, isn’t it? Because everything falls in such different ways. And then he wasn’t available when we came back. Just every single stage of the process would be different if you made a different decision at a different point.'(Billington, 2013)  It sounds reasonable and logical, and it’s like if my mother never met my father, I would not exist in the world.

I really like this film. The perfect balance of story, a sense of humor along with the actor excellent acting. Even the soundtrack was superb. Especially the scene that Tim ask Mary to marry him. I thought the music is coming from a CD or something like that, but it is coming from a band he invited. Thoroughly enjoyable and I’m already looking forward to going to watch it again and find more things that is worth learning.

Reference:

Alex Billington, 2013, “Interview: ‘About Time’ Writer & Director Richard Curtis on Happiness”, viewed at 8 June 2015,<http://www.firstshowing.net/2013/interview-about-time-writer-director-richard-curtis-on-happiness/>.

Prompt #3 – Introduction to Documentary

This reading is taken from Bill Nichol’s seminal book Introduction to Documentary which articulates the different modes of documentary. Narrowing it down to these modes can be seen as reductive but definitely a good way to look at documentary as long as you don’t see this as the only way. This reading is a quick summary.
Choose one mode and describe its hallmarks and why you might like to work in that way.

The Lumière brothers shot a scene from the back of a train in 1896 that marked the birth of film. The first raw footage shot by Lumière brothers are more like what we call documentary. Since then, documentary was given a definition that documenting some aspect of reality or maintaining a historical record, and sometimes called as cinema verite.

In the seminal book ‘Introduction to Documentary’, written by Bill Nichols(2010), he articulates the different modes of documentary including:

  1. The Observational Mode
  2. The Participatory Mode
  3. The Expository Mode
  4. The Poetic Mode
  5. The Reflexive Mode
  6. The Performative Mode

I know Expository Mode more than other mode because Expository mode is widely used in Chinese documentary. Expository Mode “emphasizes verbal commentary and argumentative logic” often using a narrator. The mode addresses the spectator directly with an employment of titles or voices that propose a strong argument and a perspective. It usually exposes a person or a topic. John Grierson stress the main role of Expository Mode is educating people. However, Expository Mode is the best way to give audience explanations with images by God of Voice, which is regard as an omniscient perspective. For example, Chinese Science and Education program released a TV show called Human and Nature which covers a wide array of subjects from environmental protection, wild creatures, geology and biology. The commentary in the documentary alongside with its images plays a significant role in giving new a meaning and introduction to audience. This mode is very easy to deliver the filmmaker’s idea and talk to audience directly.

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Prompt – #5 Forbidden Lies

In this clip from Forbidden Lies,  Anna Broinowski’s 2007 film: describe in detail all of the audio, how it may have been recorded/sourced and how you think it has been edited / layered in post. (You do not need to describe how the music was recorded)

‘Forbidden Lies’ is an Australian documentary with dramatic reconstructions and stylized interviews which directed by Anna Broinowski who won multiple prize with the documentary. The interesting storytelling by lifting the veil of truth in action and the great audio recording and editing with considerable skills really intrigued me. 

The exploratory documentary applied a great deal of sounds, such as birds tweeting and soft background music have been embedded in the scene to show their love. In addition, the background music is very match to the scene.

Sounds have been added in the Post – production of the documentary so as to portray what the director wants to get across. For example, the sound of bell ringing, the sound of car moving, the sound of throwing scarf and touching the ground and the sound of the feet walking in the sand have been recorded or sourced from established sound effects so as to make the documentary to be authentic.

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While I was enjoying the video, the video was stopped deliberately with a clear sound of pressing the pause button. ‘This is not the truth’, the voice of Rana Husseini grabs my attention and intends to snap me out of the introduction of fantasy story.  She stresses her voice again and her facial expression shows that she is dissatisfied with the book. It just like the fantasy story pisses her off and she can not stand anymore. Then she presses the pause button and stands out to clarify the facts. The structure of the narrative is very interesting, striking and worth learning.

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A series of interviews have been taken to prove the truth. The background music is like a music that was always displayed in a circuses to tell us the big joke of the book. At the end of the documentary, a extremely close up of mobile phone showed us where the sound comes from. The ending laughing is very impressive.

It is hard to distinguish the type sound whether were recorded or sourced. The only sound actually from the scenes is the dialogue coming from interviewees, and the natural background sounds from the footage as well as the ending scene. The sourced sound can be found in the free audio website. The audio editing can be done in multiple way such as different soundtrack and used pen tool to lowering sounds or music.

Overall,  the innovative idea and the application of sounds of the film are the key to success.

Prompt #7 – Reflection on the course

The first year I have spend in RMIT is almost over. Months had passed since the first tutorial of Sound and Image, and I felt the memory as fresh as if it had happened yesterday. I do remember how we implemented Pre – production and many different kinds of unforeseen technical problems we met. However, this course has been invaluable to me. I still working on reflections that required me to write a blog entries throughout a semester. I regard it as a learning diary or a journal that requires me to to comment on my own work and record what I have learned. I found the reflecting process its helpful, as it ensured that I did my effort to overcome difficulties. 

Even though I did have a lot of difficulties with this course, I did enjoy the progress of learning new things and having new understandings. I think my strength was that I am very comfortable with the mistake I made and had no fears with learning new things. I believe that I am a student who have to learn something from failure. In other words, mistakes can reveal which step goes wrong. I can find my weakness directly and correct myself.  One of the problems I first encountered in this course was not being able to get an immediate idea when I was having difficulty with the mixer. Ways I tried to overcome that were redoing what tutor had said.

Goals had been set when the semester started. Through the various practices, I have known the use of technology as never before. I have exploited every opportunity to learn new things that especially connected to film production. I have accomplished a lot of tasks which aims to push myself on learning new skills, such as Photoshop, After Effects and Premiere. 

The skills of equipment setting have also been practiced in the tutorials. But it is not enough. I have to keep going. For further developing, I am looking forward to share the inspirations which I have obtained from exercises that I had done in this semester as well as the articles I was required to read. I am willing to use the skills that I learned from other courses to combine with the knowledge that I gained from Sound and Image to make a great project. 

To sum up, the experience of this course is really delightful and unforgettable for me. Thanks for tutor’s help and patience. Thanks for group members’ collaboration and suggestion.

#4 Prompt – No Direction Home

An opening scene can sometimes be seen as a precursor to the rest of the film. Describe all of the information released in this beautifully constructed 2 min sequence edited by Thelma Schoonmaker that opens Martin Scorsese’s 2005 film, No Direction Home. What do you think Scorsese and Schoonmaker have told us about the rest of the film?

The documentary ‘No Direction Home: Bob Dylan’ traces the life and music of a singer-songwriter (Bob Dylan) and his impact on American popular music and culture from 1961 to 1966. ‘The footage was accumulated over years,’ said by Martin Scorsese, the director of the documentary, ‘The ultimate challenge is how to find the story.’

The documentary start with a live show. The lyrics, ‘no direction home, I gotta be alone’, directly brings out the theme and the name of the documentary. The live show reveals that the person who stands on the middle of the stage with an electric guitar and a harmonica is the core role of the documentary and who will be seen in the rest of the film. His musical talent had fully explained his influence to the American popular music during that period of time.1   

Then a mysterious piece of  footage pops out with some half – veiled trees that in a hazy and indeterminate fog which gave me a sense of loneliness and homelessness. I don’t know where is it. Maybe the way to Dylan’s home or a deeper meaning to show the theme of the documentary. Regard camera as Dylan who is standing in the bad situation that he can not see anything, he can not find way out to present the harsh time in his life.

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Dylan talks openly about his earlier life. The trees, the house, the old picture and the gramophone record in black and white color and the slow pan and zoom in shot are following the off-screen voice and background music. Surely, it is Dylan’s voice that he was talking about his childhood and something important to him. Moreover, the black and white still image and footage play a significant role in telling his experience.

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Thelma Schoonmaker’s skillful editing of interviews, archival footage, and performance film brought us a historical, nostalgic and times-changing portrait of an American idol and American culture. The result is a work of remarkable scope and insight that captures, as far as possible, the essence of a man, his music and poetry, and his vanguard era. As Scorsese says, “There is no other musical artist who weaves his influences so densely to create something so personal and unique.”

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Reference:

Roger Ebert, 2005, ‘No direction home: Bob Dylan’, viewed at 3 June 2015, <http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/no-direction-home-bob-dylan-2005>.

#1 Prompt – The abstract edit

The abstract editing exercise was divided into three stages, “sound record”, “video record” and “individual editing”.

Up till now, I still believe that this is a weird experience which is quite different from last practice. This time we have got the high quality sound record and video clips and gave us creativity free reign to edit it. I thought this is a kind of documentary that we just shot and can not say for sure what will happen. It is so abstract that I have racked my brain trying to figure how to edit it because this time we had no script in our hands.

I record the audios with Aliee. We record the sounds when students were playing ping-pong or basketball. We record the sound when we were flushing the toilet. We record the sounds on street, the traffic, the crowd babble, the footsteps, the proprietary surrounded by noise, etc. We did not understand the tasks we had to do but we were happy with the experience of sound recording because the sound recorder is simple to use. In addition, the quality of the sounds we record is extremely good. It is very pure and clear. However, I did not use it very much, only the sound of footsteps and the sound of flushing toilet I cut out.

Do not underestimate the one minute film that I had created. Strenuous effort had been made to come up with an idea for editing. In order to find order in the random which is the hardest part in editing, I scaned Haiku examples. However, I did not find any valuable information I can use directly. I finally gave up the narrativity of the film and focused on the other requirements of the task. I added sounds which were downloaded from the website. Color Grading had been embedded in all the clips which plays a role of aesthetics.

Overall, the experience of abstract editing leaves me a deep thought because I think it is not good enough. Not only the use of sound record, but also the footage we shot. 

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Prompt #5 – Reading

In Pawel Pawlikoski’s article, he talks about the value of documentaries which is not to show objective information but the producers’ critical points of view of reality. I totally agree with Pawel that documentary is to promote a point of view. On the contrary, feature films is aim to entertain the audience, to give the audience a relaxation.

Most feature films are fiction. Indeed, there are some feature films based on real people and stories. However, drama will be added into the feature films by screenwriters and directors. By contrast, documentary is all about the authenticity of the world. In other words, documentary is taking liberty with the facts of the events. Documentary can take on everything, such as social, profile a person, animals, war and so on. Most exciting thing is that documentary does not have scripts. The director does not know what happen in the next second when the camera is operating.

Pawel mentioned that TV is the only way for documentaries’ survival whilst TV is killing the documentary. Thanks to top stars, directors and other elements, feature films are very popular among people, and easily survive. I do not think documentary will be killed in the future.  For example, A Bite of China is a successful documentary that introducing a numerous chinese traditional food for  travellers or the people who loves food. The director combined the different style and considered the present situation of china. The documentary has profound meaning and purpose, to some extent, it boosted tourism in China and preserved the recipes of a nearly extinct food. As if we have a chance to use the accessible equipments to record the dinosaur in 201 million years ago.

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Prompt #4 – Colour Grade

One of my biggest challenges is color correction cause I have never used it before. I even believed that a film has a beautiful color which is created by expensive camera. However, my mind was changed after I had done the color grading in the post production section. The results of color grading can be easily found in our favorite films, and color grading is widely used everywhere from feature films, to web videos, especially commercials .

Wikipedia defines Color Grading as ‘the process of altering and enhancing the color of a motion picture, video image, or still image either electronically, photo-chemically or digitally.’

 I believe that color grading is same as the scene that director should have a careful thought because color can change the meaning of video and helps to express the situation or environment. For example, color grading can be used to make different feelings to audiences, a scene feel warm or cold, or eerie or pleasant. I normally used the three way color corrector effect to tint the clips.There are three color wheels  in the effect controls, shadows, midtones and highlights. I used cool greens and blues to make the picture looks colder, which can trick audiences’ mind into thinking the weather is cold, while warms oranges, browns and yellows can make audiences think the story happened in the middle of summer. 

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In order to counteract the blue color which was the basic tint of the original clip, I controlled  the color wheel, and dragged towards orange. I tinted the whole image towards orange. Thereafter, a middle of 20th century film looked scene appeared.  The image popped after I have turned the saturation to 40%.

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The saturation was also playing a significant role on changing the skin tone of Lenny’s face. I moved the wheel in the direction of the color which I wanted to be the color tone of his face, for it can be dialed in to create an unaffected tone.

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During the production section, a catalog of problematic footage would be explored, coupled with this color correction needs to be done. However, I found myself incapable of fixing them sometimes. When bad footage is unavoidably  needed then color grading can help to rescue it.

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Prompt #2 – Keyboard shortcuts

According to Jonny ‘The beauty of being able to fully customize the keyboard shortcuts in Premiere Pro CC is that each editor can piece together a set of shortcuts that fit them like a glove’ (Jonny, 2014). Basically, keyboard shortcuts are the elementary skills for editors which are regarded as the quickest, most precise way to cut down footage, especially when it comes to trimming and removing large portions of clips at one time. In other words utilization of keyboard shortcuts is a good way to speed up editing instead of finding out the tools in the Premiere toolbar.

In the post-production part of practice, I found it is very time consuming to click the mouse forwards or backwards on selecting clips in the timeline panel and changing a particular parameter in effects panel when I was require to color grade and add some effects to the Lenny clips. Fortunately, Premiere Pro CC does have a keyboard shortcut for choosing the next and previous clip in the timeline (cmd+down arrow and cmd+up arrow), which helped me color grading all the clips in minutes. It is better to render the sequences after adding some effects which may guarantee the smooth playback of the footage.

In my opinion, every single person has the capability to operate Premiere, and finishes rough sound mixing  in their own ways. The key frames and the pen tool is widely used by people. However I do not like that way very much simply because that is hard to make big changes within a short time. The way I figured out is to working on the audio clips by cutting out the section of sound, altering the hierarchies of the audio and adding audio transitions to gain fade up as well as fade down. Moreover,  if there was a need of affecting the duration of the fade, I trimmed the audio or transitions. Indeed, this is very easy to reset too.

Reference 

Jonny, E 2014, Premium Beat. 08 October 2014. Jonny Elwyn: Blog. Available from: <http://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/three-premiere-pro-cc-shortcuts-you-shouldnt-edit-without/&gt;.

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