Thanks to Annabeth & Matt for their help.
I think, on the whole, the planning stage of the project went well. We came up with our concept and story boarded the idea early on in the project as well as writing up a schedule for when we wanted to have each stage of the project completed by.
In terms of sticking to the plans we did less well. Our plans didn’t reflect the time consuming nature of the shots we wanted to film or the time we’d need to learn to use and practice on the equipment.
I also think we lost sight of what we wanted to achieve during our early filming sessions, which pushed us behind with the rest of the filming and didn’t leave as much time for post-production as we had wanted.
Having said that, after our first attempts at shooting we did re-evaluate what we wanted to achieve and put together a more realistic plan (including a new basic storyboard and schedule), which we followed with success to the end.
Learning new skills
For all the difficulties we’ve had throughout the project with unusable footage, compatibility issues with final cut pro, time constraints and other time-consuming briefs from Vis Com, I do feel that i’ve learned a lot of new skills and gained a lot of experiential knowledge.
Skills i’ve learned:
Experience i’ve gained:
Our original shoots were a disappointment and, although a couple of shots were used, the majority of the resulting footage was scrapped and re-shot. Part of the problem with the earlier shoots was our inexperience with the equipment, however, the main problem was that we had decided to shoot from a shot list rather than a story board and so it was hard to visualise each shot in the short time we had to shoot.
Re-shooting the whole filming again allowed us to work to a higher standard because we had reassessed what we were trying to do, had all three of us to actually shoot it (Paddy and I had tried to film track and dolly shots without Vicky when she had to leave for a family emergency) and more efficiently because we had done it once already.
We learned the hard way about the set-up time involved in using tracks, dollies and monitors but by the time we finished shooting we had got a lot faster.
I had the role of camera man during shooting, which was a learning curve for me because I was overly confident at first and thought I could easily operate the camera, only to find out there was a lot I didn’t know/couldn’t do. I enjoyed the process of framing shots, trying out new shots (such as the hand held shot following Paddy’s feet from the stairs to the door, which I think came out really well) and especially enjoyed using the dolly.
For the most part the editing was done by Paddy in his own time, however, Vicky and I did play an important role in making key decisions. Also, the soundscape/soundtrack I created directly informed the pace and rhythm of the film.
Working together to put the three edits we had done separately (video, audio & titles) was also important and ran smoothly for the most part.
The biggest problem we faced throughout the project was being unable to get permission from health and safety for the shot following paddys feet out of the door. We had overlooked the need for a risk assessment when planning it but Matt helped us fill out the forms and even came up with us to talk to the buildings and health and safety officers. I was shocked at how rude and unhelpful they were (especially since they were dealing with a fellow member of staff) and was so put off dealing with them that we decided to shoot the scene handheld instead to avoid them. This had a detrimental effect on the production value of our film and denied us the experience of getting such a challenging shot.
I have found working as a team during this project very fun and it has allowed us to get a lot more done than any of us could do individually.
The roles we took on seemed to come naturally without much thought; Paddy had been interested in editing from the start, Vicky had a good overview of the whole project and took on the role of direction and I took on the role of cameraman. This worked well for me and seemed to work well for the others too. I was able to concentrate on the technical aspects of filming, knowing that the other two would be taking care of their roles.
There were a few differences in opinions over how to shoot certain aspects of the film, for example, me and Vicky both wanted to approach the ‘never ending corridor’ scene in different ways, but in all cases we were able to come to an agreement democratically. There was no sense that one person was trying to take over the project or that anyone was being lumped with all the hard work; it was spread fairly throughout the project.
There are definitely aspects of the final film I would do differently if we had time:
However, I am happy with what we’ve achieved with this project. I have learned a lot about framing, good practice while shooting, using new equipment, team work, audio for film and time management as well as creating a final product that looks (for the most part) as we had imagined it would.
It was also interesting to see how the rest of the group reacted to the final film and I was pleased to see they read the film the way we had intended.
My favourite aspect of the film is the stair scene, which I think cuts together nicely and has a cinematic feel to it. It also demonstrates an improvisational side to this project, which added an interesting dimension to the overall product because most of those shots weren’t planned and came about on the day.
I am also proud of the music I created for the film, which I think fits the mood we were trying to create while also being able to hold its own as an aurally interesting (short) piece of music.
Next time I make a film I want to do something specifically to do with music and edit it myself for experience so I can learn more about cutting to music, correcting and visual effects.
After a gruelling late night of assigning individual footstep sounds to the first edit in Soundtrack Pro, I then spent the following day repeating the process in part at college because the film had been changed…
Compatibility between different versions of software at home and college has been an issue we’ve all had to deal with over this project and, for the most part, overcome without too much trouble. However, I have felt that the lack of Logic Pro anywhere in the college other than the sound booths has been a difficult obstacle to overcome.
James in the computer tech office has said he’ll look into installing into the A/V suite this week so it shouldn’t be an issue in future - it has just meant I have been able to get as much work on the project done in college as I would have liked.
Vicky and Paddy started to colour correct the footage and found that some of the shots i’d got were irretrievable in terms of fixing white balance - it looks like I need to be reminded how to correctly set it on the camera…
In order to continue my work on the audio side of the project it was important for me we had a finalised edit in terms of the timings so I could finish the music and mix the sound fx in with it to get a final audio track for tuesday.
In order to do this I worked on the edit while Vicky and Paddy got lunch and exported a version of the film to work from. From this I will be able to extract just the audio and make my changes to the audio files in logic (which annoyingly, and despite my original understanding, doesn’t allow you to edit to video - that’s only allowed in soundtrack pro for some reason despite soundtrack pro’s limitations in terms of programming original scores).
We also decided on a song to use for the section of the film when he finally gets to smoke. Vicky’s suggestion of ‘Talk Show Host’ by Radiohead seemed appropriate and also sparked an idea for me…
I was wondering what i’d do for the music in the film but the choice of song gave me the idea to cut up the song and create an even more hectic and stressful piece of music using the samples to build up into the relaxed part of the film where he finally smokes…
The initial rough edit to audio has made a huge difference for me in terms of the professionalism of the film. It’s starting to feel like it could all actually come together now.
Vicky has started to put the titles together using After Effects to create a smoke effect as the titles appear and I spent my time doing some more recording with a portable Edirol audio recorder, which allowed me to get the sounds of scraping chairs, running up and down stairs and more accurate sounding footsteps.
The processing of dubbing the audio is slow and drawn out and i’m seriously regretting the decision to do it separately.
The plan is to spend all day this Friday finishing off our respective parts of the film ready to bring it together for Tuesday’s deadline.
There were a couple of shots we had to re-shoot because they were out of focus but these shots only took half an hour to get done.
We have now OFFICIALLY finished filming!
Paddy and Vicky put together a rough edit today to look at how the scenes work together and started to get an idea of what the film will eventually look like.
Meanwhile I spent this time in the college’s sound booths recording foley sound fx to dub over our video because we wanted our sounds isolated for more control.
I am already confident recording and editing audio in general so the recording itself wasn’t an issue but having never recorded foley sound fx for video before I found it really interesting how hard it was and am starting to wish we had decided to record the sound while filming.
There were a couple of bits here and there in the video which, given more time, I would have liked to redo but overall the quality is good and a huge improvement on our original shoots (although we did identify one or two shots from the original shoot we could still use).
Our plan from here is to divide the roles more precisely:
In order to get the rhythm right during the opening scene I will need to create a beat/pattern out of the foley sounds I got today for Paddy to edit the visuals to. That will be the next step…
There was a shot we had omitted from our re-shoot, which required other people as foot actors as well as the tracks and crane - a low, static shot of the classroom door as students walked out and follow our subject’s feet on the tracks when they appeared. When we tried to do this shot, however we encountered a - because we had to shoot within college opening hours we were required to do a risk assessment…
However, we encountered an even bigger problem when we tried to deal with the buildings and health & safety officers.
Matt (from the A/V office) helped us fill out the necessary forms (or so we thought) and was even kind enough to take us to talk with the buildings and health & safety officers. It turned out our proposal had overlooked some “vital” health & safety risks according to the rules, which was not the problem - although it was likely to make our plans impossible. The problem was the way in which they spoke to Matt (he was speaking to them on our behalf), which was extremely rude and patronising and had an overall effect of making us never want to have to deal with them again.
In order to get our shot we then decided to do it hand-held and stabilise it digitally in post-production. I do feel like this compromise has had a negative effect on the production value of our film and if the buildings and health & safety officers had been more helpful we would have been able to arrange the necessary precautions to get our shot.
We now officially have all our filming done and dusted!
This is one of the parts of the filming I was most looking forward to and wasn’t disappointed by the results.
We had Matt’s help for these shots (which was mandatory but also very beneficial) and managed to get pretty much exactly the shots we wanted.
We faced a couple of problems during the shout. First of all, Paddy didn’t have his gloves that had been used in the rest of the footage so the continuity between the two scenes was wrong and secondly, the wind was really strong, which meant the cigarette didn’t actually light.
When looking back on the footage we almost completely missed the golden moment (below) by skipping through it too fast but luckily spotted it before scrapping it and trying again.
Another problem we had was getting the cigarette butt (when dropped to the floor) to land in the very shallow field of focus. We eventually got it right but found that a finger was visible in the shot so we’ll have to mask that one way or another in post-production.
Over all it was a fun and successful shoot.