Final Project: Exceptional
Prelim Task: "I've been expecting you..."

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Note for the Moderator

First of all, thank you for taking the time to look at my blog. I've spent a lot of time trying to finish it and I hope I've done well. I'm definitely pleased with what I've accomplished and I hope you have as well.

My blog is linked to the group blog, as well as everyone in my group's and the class blog (BLK Foundation Class Blog). The links are on the side bar at the right, with the link to the group blog at the top.

Contained on my individual blog is all my personal research, initial ideas and planning prior to our decision on which idea to continue on with. Also included is my prelim task, including video and answers to the evaluation.

The group blog contains evidence of group research, planning and production, showing development of our initial idea (called Savant) to our final idea of Exceptional and the inspirations that influenced our work. Our final film opening is at the top of the blog.

I do hope that you find it relatively easy to navigate my personal blog, and that it isn't too boring for a subject as creative as Media. My blog is organised in reverse order, so the most recent work (April 2011) is at the top while the oldest (January 2011) is at the bottom (meaning that the evaluation questions run from 7-1 top to bottom). All the posts have been labelled for easy identification, whether it be research, planning, production or evaluation. These same labels are applied to the group blog. My individual contributions are labelled as such on the group blog.

Once again, thank you and I hope you enjoy browsing my blog.

Closing Notice

This blog is now closed.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Evaluation Question 7

Looking back at your preliminary task, what do you feel you have learnt in the progression from it to the full product?

Preliminary Task Brief
Continuity task involving filming and editing a character opening a door, crossing a room and sitting down in a chair opposite another character, with whom she/he then exchanges a couple of lines of dialogue. This task should demonstrate match on match action, shot/reverse/shot and the 180-degree rule.

Main Task Brief
The titles and opening of a new fiction film, to last a maximum of two minutes. All video and audio material must be original, produced by the candidate(s), with the exception of music or audio effects from a copyright-free source.

What have I learnt?
During the course of the project, I have learnt many things, but one thing that stood out for me was the fact that careful planning can easily be thwarted by unreliable actors. Both of our initial actors had to be dropped because their prior commitments meant that waiting for them would have been an illogical decision. Jasmine, who was to be our Jessica, was busy with music and Gabriel, who was Angus, seemed to be all over the place, sometimes he was there and other times he cancelled for something else. When we were doing the preliminary task, because our actors were group members, they could be relied upon to be there on time and be reliable for the job. In addition, for the main task, three of the members from our prelim group were already together; me, Narishma and Olivia, which meant that the group already knew how to work together well.

Our initial test shoot
We had a back up plan, however, to use Eoin and Olivia, just in case something like this happened, so we managed to finish our project in time, as we had about 2 weeks to film and edit the whole thing. The reason we had so little time was because of the afore mentioned actors, who caused us to keep pushing back our shoot schedule. Apart from this, I have also learned important skills in After Effects, such as how to key out a green screen, as well as creating titles and applying effects in post production, which will be important for me if I decide to go into film or TV as a career.

What did we do well? What could we have done better?
I think we all managed to keep a cool head in the face of adversity. When we had to deal with our actors, we made our decisions quickly and swiftly. I also think that our pencil scene is rather well done. It looks real enough from a distance, so it really looks like Angus was lifting it with his mind. I know that there are several continuity errors in our sequence, for example, when Angus sits down on the chair after everyone has left, as well as head positions of the extras during the cuts. Another problem is that some of the extras looked at the camera, for example, during the zoom into Jessica’s face, one of the extras kept looking at the camera and fidgeting, making her really noticeable.
The girl in the middle looks noticably awkward

If I were to redo this, I would make sure that all the extras were professional and check and double check our shots on shoot to make sure that we can fix any potential continuity errors, as well as taking a lot more takes.
Editing the sequence
Another thing we could have done better was to create a proper storyboard after we decided on the final final sequence, because the idea changed so much after I’d drawn the initial storyboard that during the shoot, we didn’t even use the storyboard, we used the shot list to check our clips and see if we had all the material we needed to make a complete sequence.

I think we have done really well as a group, we got on with our work and had almost no arguments, avoiding most of them by remaining professional and focussing on the project instead of petty nitpicking. We met on a consistent basis to ensure that all the jobs we needed to get done were split evenly amongst the group. For example, much of our writing up was left for Narishma to do because she is the most organised of our group while all the creative processes, such as storyboards and character sketches were for me to do because I'm the artist in our group.

Original character sketch for Angus
I mentioned that my planning and organisational skills were improved by the prelim and I think it shows because my work is a lot more organised and orderly this time around.

Evaluation Question 6

What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?
In order to construct our film opening, we used various technologies, of which can be separated into hardware and software.
It was necessary to use a lot more than just a simple camcorder. We needed a tripod to do steady shots, a boom mic to pick up sound from further away and a boom pole to holster it, a battery to power the camera and a smaller one to use as back up, two tapes and headphones to check the sound. We also used several studio lights in order to illuminate our shots and give them more depth.
Although we didn’t use it in the final sequence, we used the manual setting on our cameras in order to practise focus pulling, which we accomplished after a few tries. There were several settings on the camera, such as white balance, or colour correction that we didn’t use because the shots didn’t need them.
In the process of using the lights, we learned that in order to illuminate a shot, you need a minimum of 3 lights, two in the front and one behind to cancel out the shadows. I also personally learnt that handling the ‘barn doors’ on lights without gloves is a bad idea.
Another thing we learned was that compatibility was an issue with some of the technology, for example, the headphones we used didn’t work with the camera, meaning that we ended up with static from the speakers. The microphone still picked up the sound, but we weren’t able to check it, so we had to hope it worked.
I used three pieces of software during production and post production, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects. With Photoshop, I coloured in the initial pencil sketches of the character designs, as well as colouring in the drawings for the opening credits. I also used filters to create the comic style effect (we called it the Lichtenstein effect).
I created the entire opening credit sequence in After Effects. I used shapes as the crawling bars and motion paths to make them move across the screen, mimicking the Spiderman 2 webs. I had to play with the speeds and paths of most of the bars in order to shorten the sequence. The first version was about a minute long, which is about half our sequence. The revised version was about 35 seconds. The problem with After Effects was that music didn’t work in it for some reason, meaning that I couldn’t fit the titles to the music. Another problem we faced initially was that the names of the actors passed slightly too quickly. We later rectified this in Premiere, by using Time Warp and adjusting the speed of the clip in little segments.
I used a black shape to use as a transition. One picture would be covered and then the next would be revealed a few seconds later. I then added a green screen to the last bar, so that as it passed, it would reveal the first shot of the scene.
In Premiere, in addition to capturing, inserting into the timeline and cutting down, things I learned from my year 10 TV trailer. I also had to adjust the volume and start position of all the music in order for it to work properly in the sequence. For example, during the pencil sequence, the music peaks just as Jessica says ‘Hello’. The music had to crescendo into something epic, but also had to end appropriately so that it didn’t seem like we’d picked random bits of music.
In addition to the Adobe software, I also used a blogging website (Blogger) to keep a log of what I’d done in the way of production and post production, as well as a place to write up my thoughts and ideas. We also used the internet to find our music, a site called Audio Network (http://www.audionetwork.com/).

Evaluation Question 5

How did you attract/address your audience?
With our film opening, we aimed to appeal to our audience in a number of different ways. For example:
  • The narrative makes it easy for our audience to empathise with Angus, because it’s the kind of situation that a lot of people have experienced. The fact that Angus is really awkward and weird makes people pity him. This also invokes schadenfreude, because the audience feels better about themselves when they watch Angus being bullied.
  • Our opening sequence is quite similar to the Spiderman 2 opening. Worldwide, Spiderman 2 grossed over $783.7 million, the 3rd highest grossing film of 2004. Since our film is of the same genre, our audience will be expecting the same kind of thing from our film. We share many of the same things, for example, the unexpected hero and the love interest from school.
  • Our sequence contains of lot of SFX to astound and entertain our audience, the best example being our pencil lift effect, but the transition from cartoon to real Angus at the end of the credits, as well as the ghost effect at the end are also good examples.
  • By using the title Exceptional, we have immediately suggested that the film has something to do with superpowers. Audience then watch the film because they expect certain conventions, for example, the downtrodden unexpected superhero saving the day and getting the girl.
So as you can see, our film opening has definitely managed to appeal to our audience, as most of them understood what the film was about. However, many of them also didn't understand the opening credits, some thought it was a premonition of the future whereas some of them thought it was unrelated.

Evaluation Question 4

During the initial stages of planning, we decided on a target audience that would be easy to appeal to. Since our genre was superhero, our core audience was almost decided straight away, because the majority of superhero films are aimed at our audience.

  • 13-20 Year Old Males
  • Acquainted with technology
  • From around the comic book generation
  • Interested in the realistic aspect of superheroes - e.g. Dark Knight
What aspects/features of our film appeal to this audience?
  • Different and more believable superhero
  • Instead of the same old comic book, standard superhero action comedy our film will be more in line with superhero drama (similar to Misfits)
  • Offers escapism

Due to a number of factors our film could appeal to a wide range of audiences because there is something for everyone, we tried to use the idea that 20th Century Fox had with Avatar (2009) in order to ensure that the film has a wide reach.

The factors are:
  • Love Interest/ Romance storyline = appeal to teenage girls
  • Action = appeal to the fans of action films
  • Realism/Unsuspected Superhero = those who want to see something different
  • Mise-en-scene (locations and costume) = anyone can relate to how he is feeling at some point during the film

Evaluation Question 3

What kind of media institution might distribute your media product and why?
Our film opening was produced by Offbeat Productions, an independent British film production company that makes films that aren’t necessarily mainstream, reflected by the use of offbeat, a term used in music to denote a beat that is out of sync of the rest of the melody, metaphorically representing how our company makes films different to everyone else. Recently we have been trying to branch out from an exclusively British audience to a wider, more global audience.
I think our film should be distributed by a global distributer, such as Warner Bros., which distributed films like Superman and the critically acclaimed Dark Knight, both of which are of the superhero genre. Another potential distributor might be Fox Searchlight (or rather, Box Spotlight), which specialises in British indie films.(picture of website?)
Due to the mainstream nature of the superhero genre, I believe that the best venue to show our film at would be a popular cinema, such as Odeon or Cineworld. A specific example of a Cineworld would be the Enfield Town Cineworld, which receives over 500 visitors a day during the holiday season.
However, recently, with the proliferation of high speed broadband and Web 2.0, uploading the film to the internet is becoming more of a viable option as technology improves. A quick and free way to distribute our film would be to upload it to YouTube. YouTube has become more and more prevalent in modern society, almost every news channel has their own page and there’s even a section for filmmakers now. It has a global reach, getting over a billion hits per day. One video has over 172 million views by itself. (screenshot of front page)