The Script Issue

So, being in week 11, we were now midways to getting the edit ready and it wasn’t easy. Our main problem at this time was confining ourselves within the script and telling a story without words, dialogues and that was very hard to achieve. This problem we realized rose because of the mistakes we made in the pre-planning stage, while writing the scripts.

The first issue was that instead of teamwork on writing the three scripts, we divided the work equally and three of us took a script each to write. This led to having three different scripts by three different people who think in completely different ways. We had three individual scripts which did not match at all in regards to the story linearity, pace and depth. One had flashbacks, one was very deep set over a long time but told through repeated activity and one paced over a few days but told simply through a variety of activities.

 

Also, the way the scripts were written called for different type of direction and Aaron and I had a hard time trying to match the way each played out in terms of direction.

During the editing process, we had to rearrange the script several times to make the pace match better, and though a really good job was done of this, it wasn’t perfect in any way. The cinematography had been thought of according to the original scripts and now the arc of cold to warm and blue to red was all over the place. This did not take away from the story but to a person who knows what to be looking for, and in accordance to the time, effort and thought that had been put in during and before the shoot, this was a big disappointment.

The last problem was that though we had heard the songs many times before, the script did not match the lyrics, they were on a completely different tangent. They went with the music but the music itself should have been incorporated in the script and the result would have been even better.

 

But, a good team makes everything work and the editing process has been fascinating. The story has come through and the films look brilliant. Just teetering on the edge of perfection, but not quiet there yet!

The Prayas Challenge

IMG_0579Prayas is an NGO based in India, for children. They work with children who have been in various bad situations, like child labour, sex trafficking, homelessness, etc. saving them from it and giving them an opportunity to grow within a safe community and achieve their dreams. Through various drives, they save these children and bring them back to the various homes around various cities in India and provide them with food, shelter, care, medical needs and skill developing education.

During my trip to New Delhi with RMIT, I got the amazing opportunity to work with Prayas in order to make a video to spread awareness about children who were under their care and had been saved from sex trafficking. I chose this particular topic because as of this year, according to census, Delhi is one of the largest hubs for child prostitution and trafficking. This is because of the high demand of children for domestic labour in Delhi which leaves a lot of them in the clutches of people who sell them into the market. Being an upcoming issue, I wanted to help in every way possible. This video is meant to spread awareness in Melbourne and is hence, tailored to cater the market here and not the very different audience present in India. The idea is to generate help and volunteers from developed countries who are in a much better position to help us overcome this problem we are facing today.

Working on this project, I had to make sure that I was suiting not only the Australian audience with their cultural sensitivities but also the needs and cultural background of my Indian clients. Initially this proved to be a difficult task when I gave it thought, but discussion with the client made the issue much easier to deal with and solve. I have discussed the differences in culture in another article and just lightly touch on my decisions to overcome these for my project here.

IMG_0611.JPG

Indians love long videos, the idea of a short documentary, only 2 minutes is quite difficult for them to understand. What’s the point, why not make it longer, more detailed? The point here though was that my audience belongs to a community which strives on short videos today. The shorter the better. No one really has time to watch a forty minute video talking about the hardships faced in another country anymore. Discussing this, we decided on a short length, longer than my suggested 1 minute, but we put a full stop at 3 minutes.

To preserve both cultural sensitivity as well as further exploitation of the victims, we decided against using any faces in the video and hence all shots were captured keeping that in mind at all times. Use of imagery collected from around India, bluish cold colour and sad music hint at the story behind this poetic documentary.

Even the audio collected has been through volunteers, repeating what the children told us as they were very intimidated by the camera and microphones, which we decided against using then. I am now sending my film to the clients and await further feedback. While editing the film though I kept thinking of everything I have learnt from that trip and have been thinking a lot about these differences we have in culture…

Mumbai Madness

Party

“Mumbai is a city of extremes” Danny Boyle, Director of Slumdog Millionaire.

Our great whirlwind of a trip to India started in the city of Mumbai. As Danny Boyle describes it perfectly, that’s exactly what Mumbai was. Extremes of all kinds, the city we couldn’t have possibly conquered in the mere six days we were there. It was an experience which blew by us and now four months later, we are still trying to get our wits about what happened there, something we can’t put a finger on but something that seems to have changed our lives forever.

It started of easy enough, as I came out of the airport into the sweltering heat that was Mumbai even in what should have been the throes of winter. The smell of the ocean and fish hit my senses and sound of traffic opened my flight ears and I knew I was far away from home. The first day at the hotel, we met the first famous Bollywood personalities, Vipin Sharma and Surendra Hiwarale. Being from India, I was fast to recognize Vipin Sharma from his award winning role in Taare Zameen Par. What I didn’t expect was that both these famous personalities had come to meet us but were not prepared at all. Having just gotten off the flight we didn’t have any questions to ask them and most students being from Australia, had no clue who they were. Being jet lagged, the rest of the day was spent observing the Indian wedding in the hotel from the safety of the magnificent bedrooms.

The next day started out with us being fresher as we headed to meet a Bollywood icon. Having grown up on films of his, I was expecting to be welcome with his trademark line. Prem naam hai mera, Prem Chopra! I was happily starstruck as we had a little chat with him. It was interesting as we learnt from him about cinema as it started years and years ago and how it had evolved to what we see today in Bollywood, and at the same time told him about the internet and the concept of web series and marketing online. He too was flabbergasted by the vastness of something he had never experienced before and happily joked with us about making an online blockbuster for his next film. We spent little time with him before heading out for our first bout of sight seeing.

Prem Chopra

That is when it really hit us. Shit got real! The disparity between the rich and poor. Being from India, I had always been around it but all of a sudden, being with people who were seeing it for the first time, I saw it all with new eyes. How had I for so many year passed by these streets, these children and never really looked at them? Were we so accustomed to it that we had learnt to build up a wall unconsciously? Were we really so vicious that we lived day in and day out around this horrid truth, but chose to ignore it or when spoken about, dismiss it as though it was a pain in our ass?

These questions were hard to answer for myself and I have since spent many sleepless nights thinking of who I am and what I really want to do. Can I make a difference? But these thoughts and these answers are for another day.

We explored Gateway of India and the market around it, getting a large Indian lunch to keep us sane in the heat. Another thing that is extreme in Mumbai is the colours. Everyone dresses like they were born to grace the sun with their bright colours, like flowers in the blue, blooming away. It was another thing I seemed to notice for the first time, funny. It got me so excited that I ended up buying a whole bunch of bindis that came in every colour and put peacocks to shame. The downside, we hit traffic hour on the way back to the hotel and I can promise that two hours or more like a thousand hours in a non-moving car is not a fun way to spend your evening.

Tired, our feet dragging, we climbed the nasty steps, cursing all the way up as we went to meet Vivek Agnihotri, a famous Indian filmmaker at his apartment studio. We were not disappointed, as a matter of fact it was quite the mind simulating evening as Olivia finally showed up and disappeared with his crew! He talked to us and was inspirational, really got me going. I was so happy to be there. The only weird thing or two from that evening, when he told us to keep multiple partners to be good filmmakers (more characters, duh!) and when Kaitlyn jumped on his bed and asked if this was for casting couch!!!! There was no way we were getting anymore done that evening, and bed time it was.

The next morning saw another long drive to Mudd island as low and behold! we arrived at the oldest TV series of India’s set – CID…dun dun dun. The island was beautiful, the beach  made me want to forget everything, pop my sunglasses on and lie down on a colourful towel, soaking in some tan (like I need any). The set itself was pretty darn awesome and I am a fan of CID not because I find it funny (which I do) but because they are very progressive. Daya, darwaza todo! Did you know they are the only show in India that has one episode shot in one take. Also every episode is written, filmed and edited, ready to be aired in 24 hours!

CID

Day four was spent with Ashok Purang, his crew of actors and Imanulhaq. We learnt more about Bollywood, watched their performances and got an insight into directing actors, which to me was very helpful as I would like to be a director someday and was awed by how Ashok was able to pull the emotions out of these young actors. Our very own, Kaitlyn also gave a performance to die for and I was amazed.

The next day was probably my favourite and worse day as we met the icon, Anupam Kher though I did not have enough time to ask him everything I was dying to know and then headed for a Bollywood dance class. Longinus Fernandes, the choreographer of Slumdog Millionaire, taught us different forms of Bollywood dance. I was amazed because I had never felt so sexy in my life! I could not believe it but me, Prachi, I had moves!! In the process of shaking that thang, I learnt a lot about how I would film a dance sequence and how I would direct my dancers according to my camera. It’s what came after that killed the beautiful day for me….Comedy Nights. OMG!!! They were not funny, the actors were drunk, it was a flop show and I was embarrassed to be treating my Australian friends to the best rated comedy in India! We decided never to speak of that night ever ever again….

Anupam

But sadly enough, that brought an end to our time in Mumbai. It really had flown!! We packed our bags, bid goodbye to the heat and the sea and jumped on a plane bound to New Delhi, my home! Never could I have guessed the emotional roller coaster I had just gotten sucked into…

Pine Point

http://pinepoint.nfb.ca/#/pinepoint

Story elements:

Events – Pine Point is the story of a town. A town that no longer exists and was wiped off the face of the earth. It now only lives through the memories of the people that once belonged there. The story is told through their memories, through the photos, through the news events that took place there. The web documentary takes us through what the town stood for, what it meant to people, the kind of people that existed there and what lead to it’s final closure. It is a look into the town history, the people, the present of those people, the crash of Cosmos 954, the work available in town, the souvenirs which include the photos and videos, the weirdness of how the closure of town was went about and finally what remains today and how people pay their memories a visit every now and then.

Actors – The characters here are a few of the people who were the last to grow up in the town of Pine Point before it shut down. They include the beauty of town, the muscle, the brothers etc. The narrator is someone who did not belong to the town but is a link between everyone now in the present.

Time – The events start in the past when the town existed and run into the present showing the viewer what remains now.

Place – The town of Pine Point. In Pine Point school, hotel, ice ring, etc.

Narrative elements:

Ordering – The events occur in a chronological fashion mostly as we go from what the town was to what remains. Flash backs are shown through the memories and left over footage collected over time in the town.

Pace – The documentary covers various years in about 40 minutes give or take. It touches on the main and most important events and hence, I would say is fast paced.

Focalization – The point of view is through the eyes of an undefined character who might have belonged to the town.

Narrator – The narrator is representing the people of the town. He sounds like an insider but is an outside. He is very reliable as everything he says, through copy only, is backed with images, drawings by people from the town or consensus and research which is very apparent throughout the documentary. He creates an atmosphere of belonging with his attitude of obviousness, which makes the audience more involved emotionally in my opinion.

Text – It is an interactive, graphic digital narrative project created as a website.

Traditional narrative features:

Linearity – The project is mostly linear recounting the way things happened as Pine Point came to it’s end. Every now and then, the narrator jumps into the present but goes back to where he left off.

Series of conflicts that leads to a climax and resolution – The lack of ore resources for mining creating lack of jobs, the crash of Cosmos 954, the burning of the high school and the increase in problems like alcoholism, marital break ups etc., leading to the choice of the government to close down the town.

Protagonist and antagonist – The protagonist here is the town itself – Pine Point. The antagonist is the government who close it down, sending letters to people containing consensus that they wouldn’t know existed, and making them move out.

Three-act structure – Act 1: An existence of a town, doing fine, with it’s ups and downs. Act 2: People leaving, conflicts, school burning, crashing Cosmos 954. Act 3: Closure of town and the memories and way of celebrating it today.

Heroes journey – The hero being the town, through the ins and outs of various life that existed there.

Digital narrative features:

Numerical coding and modularity – This webdoc has a lot of features like animation, graphics, sound, film, photography, scripting, coding and designing etc., which would require a pretty big team of people with collaborations between various professionals.

Variability – Though the webdoc is very interactive in nature and there is a lot every viewer can do and find out, the end result of the documentary is not variable and will be the same every time.

Programmed elements – Interactive maps, timelines, photos, animated characters, videos, animation of the town itself, etc.

Participatory aspects – It is very interactive and every slide has a lot of things that a reader or viewer can do. From clicking buttons to move stuff around or reveal what a drawing means or even explore a township to shuffling through photos and videos of the people of the town. It is participation to find out more over participation to leave your own thoughts behind.

Content

A major problem that Warren, Sabine and I faced was what should be added to our content apart from the main story as well. Should we have some audio, music to set the mood and personalize it further or should we add a few videos to demonstrate our recipes as we were cooking them ourselves anyway. We thought of adding photos of both the recipes and personal photos of Sabina as this was her blog and her story. Then we decided against it. All in all, there was a lot of things that could be done and were thought about in the form of great ideas but it was always a tough choosing how much should be done and how much was enough without over-complicating it for ourselves as well.

Another problem we faced with content was having one voice as it was a story of one person that we tell, from her point of view. All our writing styles differ and it was hard to get a flow going with our content. It ended up being very disruptive in our first draft of the story itself.

To un-complicate the process for us as well as get some good answers I turned to RMIT’s amazing library where I was able to pull some great academic writings which helped me solve my answers.

Digital Storytelling: A Creator’s Guide To Interactive Enteratainment by Carolyn Handler Miller was a great read that I found in the library. Truth be told I just skimmed through it but what I learnt from this book was that, if storytelling is done using socail media, using realistic characters who can be very relatable are more often than not more popular amogst the market online. Also authenticity is craved amongst people on social media and the more the character comes out of real life, the more success. One must concentrate on the character themselves as well as what is trending. you can find more information related to this in chapter 9: Social Media Storytelling.

 

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.

Review of a few projects

In this blog I have reviewed a few of my peers’ projects. Our CMWP projects were based on India and the culture there. It is really interesting to see what other people have come up with specially as our class is so multicultural.

1. 7 Days of Yoga

This blog page, created by Cassie, Shane, Peter and Tessa is a really interesting read. Having gone through it, I really enjoyed it. Yoga being such a great part of our culture, it’s really cool to see people all over the world embrace it. https://7daysofyoga.wordpress.com/

Some positives for me in this project were:

1. The content does not only revolve around the 7 basic stances that you can do to start learning yoga. I love that there is so much content about the history, what to expect upon doing yoga and the objectiveness of it all. I like how varied it is and I think a person can access this blog even when they are not just looking to add some basic yoga to their lives. I think it is very thought through and more than you would expect to find.

2. I love the photographs. Cassie is so beautiful and her poses are perfect. Just seeing these photographs can push someone to start yoga. They can be intimidating but at the same time, the one’s at the beach add to how yoga ca be fun and not just about spirituality.

3. It is simple, purposeful and fills out every aspect of our project. Most of the other projects have really gone out and done up their look and aesthetics more than the actual content and this project does stand out in the crowd.

Some weeknesses according to me were:

1. Aesthetically though simple, which I liked, I realized just how much you have to scroll down to view the blog and there is no simple way to access certain things. The site being about yoga should be made in a way where the reader can stay calm, if that makes sense.

2. The blog design itself, I would like to subtract the amount that’s happening there. I would have liked to see something around how Cassie’s original blog page is. That is beautiful compared to this. I understand how much content went in but it would have been nice to see some aesthetic components.

3. I would have loved to see some video’s to show me how to go about stuff as well as a great marketing image. Though photo’s have been used to pull people on various social media, a campaign or slogan or a more proffessional approach could do this website wonders.

I think I would just change the website design here to enhance what I want to sell and try to get one marketing image instead of using various shots.

2. Difference is beautiful

A trailer made by Francez, Dominic and Olivia, Difference is beautiful is well, beautiful. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqrC2Bo0NTI&feature=share

The strengths:

1. I love the aesthetic quality of the video. It is beautifully executed. The animation is perfect and colourful to keep you interested. The music is lovely. Overall, Aesthetically and technology wise I think this is a very high class production. I have posted a poster of an actual Indian film below, a blockbuster, which this trailer reminded me of. To be able to do that is amazing.

Band_Baaja_Baaraat_poster

2. I love the idea itself – Difference is beautiful. Being in a new country, it is really this difference which brings us close and I love the idea of it for a film.

3. Good editing mix.

Weaknesses:

1. The content was not enough to satisfy my curiosity, do justice to the idea itself or even pull an audience. It was lacking a storyline which would entice someone to actually watch it. Could have been so much but was sold short and generating only a one minute video was definitely not enough. I would have liked more with a deeper story there.

2. The gestures used were silly. Could have been more thought of. The story runs differently from what is actually happening on screen which wasn’t too cool, I would say. More structure would have been nice.

I would definitely want to do more research on simple Indian or Chinese gestures used. Even go into more in depth general gestures. An idea would be to use elaborate actions and maybe even drawings. I would also try to make my shooting background more colourful to give me less contrast when switching between the animation shots and filmed shots.

3. A taste of India

This was just hilarious, a good way of forming an ebook/comic strip. http://www.booksie.com/literary_fiction/short_story/taste_of_india/a-taste-of-india

What I liked:

1. Easy to upload on any device. Good Technology, which definitely makes it stand out and you don’t mind giving extra time to read it. I think booksie is a great platform and would definitely like to use it in the future. I read it on my mobile device which was great.

2. I think the way it was handled, it is really comical. I had a really good time reading it and laughing with my friends. I think that’s a really hard thing to do and every little thing added to it. The photos, the cut outs, the slangs and the absolute bizareness.

3. I also really like how indepth the knowledge of the Indian culture, traditions as well as relationships are to the group. It shows through the story.  I think it is great for an Australian audience. Being able to make a story about one culture and sell it to another is commendable.

Weaknesses:

1. Horrible cut out’s. Could have been smoother.

2. Some of the slangs were really wierd and I did not really understand.

I would maybe do more research on India and definitely explore my skills with using tachnology more. Though that might take away from the comic value that they seem to be aiming at now, I would like to be more perfect with my job.

Well, these were the three I saw and decided to comment on. Looking at all of them helped me add to my own project because I wanted to be as in depth as 7 Days of Yoga, as colourful and Indian as Difference is Beautiful and for an audience from different cultures like the Taste of India. I have tried to achieve that and am looking forward to what other people think about my project.