Cinematographer and Editor

On a film set everyone has their own roles. Each role is unique and important. Having said that, every role is useless if not done in collaboration with other crew members and cast. As a cinematographer, one would think that the main duty will be during the production stage at the shoot itself. But, this is far from the truth. A cinematographer’s work doesn’t end with the shoot or even begin there. A huge part of the work happens in pre-production so all the planning can be done and no time is wasted on set.

But who does the cinematographer collaborate with or sit and plan with. Basically everyone, at each level. The three main people who have to match their visions though are the Director, the cinematographer and the editor. But doesn’t the editor come in towards the end, in post?

The best way to make a successful film to plan from the start. As a cinematographer, you should explain your vision to the editor and he will be the judge who would tell you if it was possible or how the result will look. Because, at the end of the day, the cinematographer collects the footage and relays it to the editor who sews it together and makes a final product of it.

My mistake while shooting the Winter series was to not think of this particular interaction at all. I made all my decisions, spoke to all the other team members about it but never met our editor, Harrison till I actually came around to the shoot on day 1. This led to obvious problems when we actually started discussing things. He told me that I had to shoot with as much light as I could as he won’t be able to manipulate much otherwise in post. He also told me that the arc would be difficult as there was no continuity in my lighting. He’s a good editor and he would work with what I gave him and we worked together on set as well, which though changed a lot of things, stuck very closely with my vision. I can’t wait to see the final result that he is stitching together.

Lesson learnt this week: Collaborate with the post guys in pre-production!

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Umda – A technical breakdown

As a reference for the style of shooting for Sonder Melbourne, I have often referenced Umda – a music video by David Aufdembrinke. This has been one of my favourite films in the last year and has truly inspired me with it’s style. For my personal choice blog, I would like to do a technical breakdown of the film as it is invaluable to the research behind Sonder Melbourne.

Visual Filming – The film from was shot during a six week travel through India. It was shot using a Sony A7, and three old Nikon lenses and a single tripod. There were two main reasons for using this equipment – one that the old manual lenses made it look like a analogue photo camera and David wanted that because people react differently to a camera when they think you’re taking a photograph as compared to knowing when they are being filmed. The second reason was the low cost of the gear, which meant that a lot more risk could be taken with this equipment, which one would not do with a more expensive kit. This would be absolutely necessary in getting the type of shots for such films as one is more open to the ideas of how the camera can be moved to get a shot. For example, David tied the camera to a stick and stuck it outside a moving train to capture a video that way. Use of hyper lapse was very important in this film but due to the speed of the film, a lot more shots were required and to be on the safe side, he got 12,000 photos for hyperlapse. The footage itself was ten hours long, from which he was able to cut a 4 minute video.

Due to the kind of shots and pre-planning of what he would do in post production, stability of the camera and perfect framing was not of great importance. The effect of an old grainy VHS film with exaggerated and bleeding colours leaves an option of high zoom and re-framing option.

Nothing was staged for shots required, it was shot naturally, in a documentary format. Most of the shots were unplanned.

Post Production – Editing Style – The film is made with match cuts, which means that every shots ending has been matched graphically to the next shots beginning. The fast movements between shots has been inspired by Japanese cartoons for children, which is what gave me the younger age group insight. It is amazing how much more a child picks up as compared to an adult. The editing was done completely in Adobe Premier. The idea was to shift through shots before one could comprehend what had happened, hence just leaving a sense behind. He calls this style ADD-Editing. In an interview with Dezeen Magazine, David explained that he was inspired by the disregard of pixel resolutions he witnessed in Indian videos, and so just used every effect in the editing suite, which is why could scale images to 600 percent to match them to lead in and out.

The hyper lapses have been stabilized to look like a fast, fancy video takes. The clips were linked into After effects to create some of the effects.

Colour Grading – The colour grading is the most interesting part of the film for me as a VHS tape was used to colour grade with the use of two different strength magnets to pull the colour and make it bleed. The final effect could not have been guessed before, but was a pure experiment. The video was recorded on two different tapes, one with the magnets and one with cuts. It was testing and then do again to get different affects. I would like to try this myself in my video but have not made a decision on it yet. Though exciting, I do not have the means as yet.

Audio – For me the audio was amazing as it added to the film itself, gave the perfect beats for the perfect visuals. But, that was all it was. Finding out that the film had been made as a music video was very disappointing as the music itself is lost in the beauty of the film and is not but a mere enhancer. A powerful one, but not a standalone. One you’re not really listening to. It was a remix of six songs by varied artists.

So, in conclusion to this research, I do think I would get a completely different outcome as it is all an experiment, but I love the idea of using a camera like Sony A7 and three old lenses just because I loved the reasoning for it. Before this research I had been ideally thinking of using a 70mm lense and was very sad that the uni does not lend them out, but I have my answers now. With colour correction, I plan on using Premier and After effects as well but no VHS, as much as I want to. I will save that for a later project. For the audio, I want to use whispered thoughts, music as an enhancer and sounds from the city, make it three level.

Take your lollipop

For this blog post, I have reviewed Take this Lollipop, Hurst and The Wilderness Downtown, on the basis of their funstionality, visual design and structure.

Take this Lollipop

Probably my favourite of the lot, Take this Lollipop is designed to be an interactive horror film which uses information from the viewer’s Facebook Profile.

Functionality:

This short film has no real reason other than entertainment. The functionality is very simple. The site has been built using HTML5 and is a short sequence of scenes which have been shot prior to posting. These scenes remain the same. All a viewer has to do is connect his or her Facebook page to the website. There is no further direct interaction. It turns into a personalized film which I particularly think is very cool.

Visual Design:

Visually, the film is shot with very good quality which makes it more cooler. The visual design is done with HTML5 and the effects like the lollipop with the razor inside on the homepage are really cool. The visual design goes hand in hand with the functionality.

Structure:

The structure as mentioned before is fairly simple. The website first asks you to connect with Facebook, from where it then uses information to screen a personalized film. It is a short horror film, where the sequence has been shot beforehand and does not change with different profiles. It uses photographs and location from the facebook profile to tell the story of a staulker. In the end it chooses a friend of your list and calls that person the next victim, hence asking you to share the media.

Hurst

I enjoyed Hurst a lot because it was very different. The author of this story used tweets as a way to communicate the story, hence uploading bit by bit every few hours. I think it is an amazing feat due to the character limitations on Twitter. We have seen diaries come alive as books before but how cool is it that she did the exact same thing with an online diary of sorts, as we treat Twitter.

Functionality:

I wasn’t very moved with the functionality of this story because to me it is quiet a task to go through so many tweets if I decided to read it through. It works only as a one time read, if you come upon it while she is tweeting. A later read also takes away from the spontaenity and excitement of a story. The overall working is simple, scroll to the bottom of her tweets to the very first and read up. Plus it’s free and on a huge platform like Twitter so the reach is amazing. It is very interactive as a lot of conversations are built as per tweet and she gets everyone’s feedback almost instantaneously.

Visual Design:

There is no visual design as such in this digital story. The entire story is told using Tweets and inserting photos or videos using Frog or Youtube, respectively.

Structure:

The structure is very linear, telling one story using three platforms – Twitter, youtube and frog.

The Wilderness Downtown

Awesome. My classmate showed this one to me and I fell in love with it because of the music, the simple concept and the nostalgia it created. I might change a few things personally, but it is fun, even though the real message is lost in all the hype.

Functionality:

This website is easy to use. The first page asks for your childhood address after which a song and a few windows open up. A man is jogging and he is heading towards your given address. The Google maps street view has been used to do this. The reason of planting trees is lost as it becomes an entertaining video in the end and nothing more. It lets you write a letter to your child self in between the shots but this is also pointless. I wish it could have been to your future self and maybe an option to get it posted in real.

The functionality from the viewer’s point of view is great but not from the makers.

Visual Design:

The visual design is very interesting in this particular project. Use of film to show a man jogging to the music is interesting and adds a nice element to an otherwise bland setting. The use of google maps street view to find, jog and walk around the location provided acts as nostalgia inducing effect, which is absolutely cool. The animation of trees sprouting up and birds in the sky are cool but stretched out for too long. The website design is really good with amazing animation happening. It is also made using HTML5.

Structure:

As mentioned above the structure is fairly simple for a viewer but has obviously taken a long time to develop due to it’s various elements. All a viewer is required to do is enter an address into the box and sit back an watch as a man jogs on the streets around that address. After a while of this, the viewer is asked to write a letter to his former self, which is a little pointless and distracting. Once this is done, trees start sprouting up as the man jogs, bringing us to the long awaited end.

From the above projects, I tried to join ideas into my own digital story project. I use Twitter as a platform to pull my clientel. I got the importance and the amount of reach of Twitter by going through what was made possible by Hurst. Using HTML5, I built my own website, using a lot of modern technology, great visual design, functionality and simple usage which I learnt to do from the other two projects.

Moments – Abstract Piece

Nigaahein. Hindi for eyes. The song I used is about conveying messages, feelings and emotions through what an eye can see, which cannot be conveyed with words. I got a few great shots when we were sent out shooting a few weeks back and putting it together I had a few ideas or first thoughts. But I finally setlled on this because I feel the video is a great representation of my everyday life here in Melbourne. The song itself is copyright free for me as it has been composed back home and the singer was a housemate back in the day.  I decided not to use any music from the copyright free website as I have done that in the other videos we made this semester. I had this piece sitting with me, so why not, eh?

Nostalgia. I go back home for the winter break and everyone has been asking me how melbourne is. My family wants to see what I saw everyday. That I think is the essence I am trying to capture here. We never had any form of a video for this great track and I sorely hope I have done it justice.

That out of the way, a few weeks back we went and recorded both video and audio randomly without really knowing we would have to use it together to make something. Looking back at it now, I imagine even abstract comes out better if we have some semblance of a plan. While putting this video together, my head was swimming with ideas of what I can do and what would really make it stand out from what everyone is doing as we were working with the same footage. I would like to go out and do it again, someday maybe to make a real video for my song.

Audio

Suprisingly, we actually got some great audio clips. We even got one guy singing va-va-vroom into the mike, which I think sounds very European in a way if I were to use it. A lot of background noise was recorded as well, which doesn’t work too great for us. I noticed if you want to record some fx sound it’s almost impossible to get good quality because we couldn’t really isolate it. We were able to get sounds of footsteps and doors clicking shut out back, where the ambience noise was much quieter. Also using metal fire escapes worked better than we thought with footsteps.

Overall, I decided not to use it in my video as I felt a minute was really less to incorporate these very well, trust me I tried. For a longer video, I could definitely see it. Also it was so random and I couldn’t really build a good contrast there.

Video

I ended up not recording what I wanted as I was last on the list for recordings and with barely any time left, we rushed to the place I wanted to do it. We found it locked as there was a meeting going on in the room that lead to it. But, no worries, my friends did get some pretty good stuff that we could use. The actual activity of recording went really well as we were a close knit group, really easy going, and complimented each other in everyway. I enjoyed the process more than most other activities just because I had a group who understood and respected each other. I think that is really important if one wants to have a good product in the end.

What I did notice though was that no-one was really bothered with white balance and the other things that we have learnt about and there wasn’t much experimentation that took place. I think everyone was more focused on the content and not how it would look which would be a major problem if we were actually going to get any money shots.

Editing

Like I mentioned before, putting it together, I really wanted much more. But, overall I really enjoyed the process. I worked using all kinds of things that premier has to offer. I know that I absolutely hate the effects you can put in between shots. I like the sudden cuts. I loved playing with the colours and I feel it produces a very different feeling to the video, adding to the nostalgia value that my song creates. I also wrote a few haikus and I felt it took away from my video rather than adding to it, so I went without. I also tried putting in subtitles but decided against it as I felt it took away from the eerie unknown feeling now.

I also realize I’ve used a lot of people in my video who, on a normal basis I would have to take permission from before putting there, but I figured since they are people I am currently working with, this once it wouldn’t really matter. Also, I am not using my video for any commercial process or even in my portfolio as it is just me having fun and creating something personal.

Colour Me Blue

A Road to NowhereScreenshot (1)

This is a screenshot of my original video. It was taken in the afternoon light travelling down a road. I tried playing with quiet a bit and some of the effects I created were pretty awesome.

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With this Screenshot, I make the picture look sunnier by reducing the shadows that you can see in my original shot. It looks like a hot afternoon’s shot, doesn’t it? To do this all I did was use three way colour corrector and bend the three colour grades towards reddish and greenish tones along with reducing the intensity of the image.

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In this clip, I simply moved the colour correction towards more pinkish tones to get an older times look to it. Those days with crappy cameras and hippie eras. This road of Goa has been photographed in such colours quiet a few times and I love the fact that I was actually able to imitate it somewhat.Screenshot (8)

In this image, I used both the Luma Curve as well as the Three Way Colour Corrector. The curve looked more like an S rather than a diagonal line when I was done with it and I tried to increase the shadowwing to give it a dawn kind of feel. The day is just starting.

Taj Mahal

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Before doing anything, this was a shot of Taj Mahal, taken early on a winter morning.

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In this shot I dimmed the brightness and increased contrast by 27%. I also increased the red tones using three way colour corrector. I did this to make Taj Mahal stand out, to create focus on it.

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This I think is my coolest effect. I kept the contrast and brightness levels I had set in the previous image and added the change colours effect. I then played with the hue, saturation and lightness.   I did this to achieve another way of making my Taj Mahal stand out which it didn’t in the original shot.

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In this picture I increased the colour balance, mostly red and green. I also increased the contrast a little bit. It now looks like I’m at the start of telling an ancient tale. This would probably be an opening shot.

Sunburn – Music festival

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This is an original video I made at the Sunburn festival in Goa. As you may notice the quality is pretty bad. So I did a few things, check it out.

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I thought this was really cool for a credits scene. It helps the logo to really stand out. I did this by lowering the brightness and incresing the contrast. I also used the three way colour corrector to increase the pinkish tones.

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For this image I played with the RGB curves to make the image look like there was more than just blue lighting. I like the way the colour combines together. It’s great for music festivals.

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To take the lighting out completely, I used Video Limiter. It changed my image to black and white while still leaving the logos in colour. It’s a pretty cool thing to do because if you actually imagined doing it, it sounds next to impossible or at least a lot of work.

Shooting Drama

A few weeks back we were given a task in class. A task to shoot our first drama – Lenny. It was exciting, confusing, fun and wierdly awkward. The scripts themselves were handed out by our teacher and we were put in fairly large groups for a scene so small. We had to divide everything we did into three categories – Pre-production, production and post-production.

Pre-Production – Planning and Storyboarding

This was the easy part. We all fell into our seperate roles with no problems as they came straight from what we enjoy and the skills we have, if not our personalities. There was absolutely no chaos as I sat with Scott and we decided out angles, shots and camera positions. I wrote down the kind of shots we would want, most of it came from my knowledge of stuff I’ve already seen in similar scenes in movies and it was really easy for me to imagine how I would shoot everything. Scott did the drawing of camera positions. We explained it all to the other two members we were working with. Vivi wanted to do storyboarding and Dey wanted a call on locations. It was fun, yes. But I feel that we all missed the point somewhere as what we did that day just lay forgotten in the next stages.

Production – Ready, Speed, Rolling and Action

This is probably when everything shot to hell. We did the actual shooting two days in a row. None of us carried our plans with us. We just went out and shot. The first day we ended not recording a lot of the shots that we had thought we did because quiet a few of us were not sure on how to use the camera. All the record buttons don’t record. How wierd is that. The two actors didn’t do anything but act. Everyone wanted to play camera man. No one really paid attention to the sound. When I was at it, I could here everything so clearly, including a couple whispering away to each other in the distance, so I’m guessing the volume was turned up way too much. When we heard what we had recorded, we could hardly even make out the dialogues!

The director did no directing, he just called out action and cut. Not everyone got a chance to play with everything. We were confused and after a point everyone took the excersise lightly enough to just get it over with. We kept missing team members and there seemed hardly a need for so many anyway as a lot just stood around and watched it all go down. I wish we had more guidance and structure to this task even though it wasn’t for earning points. Our first shoot and we missed the enjoyment in it!

Another thing we absolutely missed at was our log sheet. We just wrote different shot numbers and scene numbers as we weren’t sure how they were going down due to lack of our planning sheet with us. We were all writing in it, which probably added to it, so I can safely say, it turned out useless in the end.

We did manage to get all the scenes, just not the way we wanted. No one was really happy. Maybe lack of communication was a big reason as well, as we were all busy trying to make each other happy.

Post-production – Premier

Finally going through what we had and what we recorded was dissapointing to say the least. But using Premier and seeing how films are put together was actually a very fun task for me. Paul told me that this was probably as boring as it gets because that’s what drama is really. But I was happt to play with it, try to give it filler scenes, a different music to cut the voice altogether and play with the colour to make it look cooler. I felt like I could do so much even though I knew we were barely even scratching the surface with what we had learnt. I decided I was going to make the most of what we had and play with it, do a french number, ha. Different camera angles, longer than usual scenes, less cuts, absolute scenario scenes in between to cut from the intensity but giving it more intensity in the end. I enjoyed it, even though the sound sucked, some shots were missing and I could kept thing of all the things I wanted to shoot now that I was actually looking at it.

 

In the end, it was fun, confusing and definitely lacked structure and on our part a lot of knowledge I wish we had before we went out to do something like this. I have gotten to play more with the audio recorder as well as the camera in my future classes and I feel like I do have more knowledge on both. I would love to give it another go.

Audio Editing Software

There are quiet a few ways in which you can add your own music, a podcast or any audio for that matter onto your blog. In her flipped lecture, Jenny talks about two such ways – Audacity and Garageband. Both of these are free softwares you can easily download. Garageband is available only on Apple products. I did some research and found another software that you can use – Podbean. The advantage of Podbean is that you can use it to store your music online and it provides an embedded music player that you can use on your blog. When downloading Audacity, make sure that you do not download the beta version till you are a computer whizz. After trying it out, I also suggest using your own microphone and not depending on the inbuilt one on your laptop.

The actual usage of these softwares is pretty easy as we are all familiar with the various button types, like play, record, stop, forward and the like. Jenny uses various youtube videos to explain how to use the software. I think this is the best way to go if you have a problem while using it. Play around with what you can do and you can pretty much just go from there. The Podbean application can be used to put your audio on the blog. You can do this by uploading your audio on Podbean, getting the code it generated and posting the code on your blog. What this will do is embed a player with your audio file on there and you are set.

I think the difficulty comes in actually deciding the content of your podcasts or audio files and I found this really good blog which has a decent number of tips which you can listen to and decide on what to follow.

http://theaudacitytopodcast.com/

I think podcasts are a great way to attract people to your blog. With millions of blogs out there, I find that finding one with an audio file is just welcoming and a relief truthfully. Rest your eyes, lie back or sit with a cup of tea and listen away. Makes life much easier I think and can really stand out in the crowd. Music is also a great way of convincing someone to stay on your site and explore it more.

I plan on using several podcasts in my interactive story as a way of inviting people to take interest and interact more with my idea. It is a good way to introduce different people’s interests and personality on a social media which is a major part of my story. My group and I are discussing something along the lines of digitally arranging marriages for which we need several characters we shall be introducing and some of the introduction will be done through different episodes or even varying formats of podcasts.

I was doing some research on this and I really like some different podcasts – music and intro podcasts that I might get ideas from for my blog. Some of the stuff I found:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/arranged-marriages-can-be-real-love-10-03-11/

This one talks about the believe in the western world that arranged marriages are loveless marriages, which can be refuted. I also love the length they have used for the podcasts restricting it to only a minute. I would want to set that as an average time for the podcasts that I use in my project.

These are a bunch of pod interviews with some bollywood stars. I like it. If you think you have some great pods you would like to share, which might help with my research, comment!