Class Assignment · CS4 · film making · Life · school · Uncategorized · Videography

CS4 Blog 9 – Production: True Colours

Now is the time when all the pre-production stuff, all you learned in class last semester, all you rehearsed for, all comes down to these days – production. This is when your actors choose whether or not to show up for shoots, producers go missing, and everybody gets at everybody’s throats for not cooperating. This, my friends, is when you see who is serious about their grades versus who will just ride on yours. Did I just say that? I think I did.

For the first film that was shot I assumed the role of Sound Designer and later had to assume the role of the leading lady on screen. Acting has never been my strong suit so imagine my frustration when my face was what I thought “serious” and having my director shout at me “Stop smiling! You’re supposed to be serious!” I kindly shouted back “This is my serious face!” It really wasn’t but I was too frustrated at the time to care. Yeah, not fun. Acting? I can now cross that off my list of career attempts, I’ll pass.

But despite the disagreements and the challenges met on the first shoot, I do think it put quite a few things into perspective for me.

  1. Team work is always key. If you want a successful shoot you have to be prepared to work together with people you may not like just to get the work done.
  2.  Learn to play the hypocrite. This was probably the most valuable lesson my 9th grade art teacher ever taught me and possibly the only thing I remember from that class. Learn to smile and nod in the face of those who get under your skin and on your last nerve. At the end of the day the goal in mind is to have the work completed and create a successful film, not to make friends.
  3. Learn and improve. Learn everything you can by watching others who are better than you at a specific area. Learning from somebody more talented will only help you in future. Don’t be jealous of what’s true.

Production taught life lessons and boy did I learn them.

Class Assignment · CS4 · film making · school · Videography

CS4 Blog 7 – Pre Production: Props and Script

After the script is written ensure EVERYBODY on the production team has a copy and is aware of any changes made. This is to ensure everybody is on the same exact page in the same exact book.

Okay guys repeat after me: Props and script MUST coincide. It doesn’t make no sense you have a comedy script with blood and spiders as props. No.

No matter what anybody wants to think, without everybody having the correct version of the script you are bringing to screen your shoot will fall apart. Seriously, I’ve had similar experience. Take from my production experience and mishap. Keep everybody in the loop at all times.

Class Assignment · CS4 · film making · Literature · school · Videography

CS4 – Blog 5 – Sound Design: Wall-E

After that rant about the silent film “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” I figure it only makes sense to balance it out with a rant over one of my favourite animated films by Disney Pixar – Wall-E. Not only was the storyline for this film so-totally-amazing, (yes, I just did that in my uptown Beverly hills voice) the sound design for this film was damn near flawless. Wall-E holds – in my opinion – one of the most powerful stories in Pixar history and makes me stop to consider so much about technology and the way we treat the environment.

The difference between the sound Wall-E made, to the sounds of the cockroach (gross) running around and the other ambient noise, the instrumentals, the sound of the voices and how they were manipulated to match each character… can you sense my excitement from reading this blog?

Because of the excellent sound work that was done, watching Wall-E became an experience, rather than just a film. I felt as if I was on that space ship being a lazy, fat ass as those people were. I felt like i somehow needed to throw away my cellphone and pawn my laptop so I would not end up like them. That, my friends, is not just the power of great storytelling, but also due to the power of excellent, meticulous sound design.

The attention to sound detail in this film has made me more conscious of sound when filming. Not just so I can have clean, crisp dialogue, but also that I can give my viewers the type of experience that can transform their living rooms into the scenes happening before their eyes.

Sound designers, pay attention to your environment in a way you never have before. Listen to the sound of the rain pitter pattering on the roof, the steam rising from the hot asphalt as the raindrops begin to cool the roads, the sound of the wet footsteps on the pavement walking quickly to escape being drenched, the sound of the car tires meeting the wet road, the sound of the umbrellas opening to shield their owners, the sound of coats billowing in the wind.  Pay attention to how the sounds we don’t normally give recognition to add to the realness of the experience.  Pay attention to EVERYTHING and how it affects your mood the mood of the people around you.

If you have never seen the film Wall-E (Finding Nemo is another excellent choice where sound design is concerned) go ahead and Netflix, buy the dvd (or blu-ray), stream or whatever other activities you must do to get this film in your possession. To my future filmmakers, you will not regret it.

Class Assignment · CS4 · film making · school · Uncategorized · Videography

CS4 Blog 2 – Genre

Assuming you do not know what a genre is, in layman’s terms it is pretty much the category that a song, TV show film etc falls into. When I tell people I can watch or listen to anything from any genre as long as it doesn’t bore me, they think I’m lying but I am as serious as a heart attack. I enjoy musicals from the 1950’s (Pal Joey, No Business like Show Business) just as much as I enjoy a good action movie (Transformers, 300). Since we are indeed talking about film and television I’ll give some examples related. One of my favourite TV shows currently is Castle (on abc Monday nights at 9EST. – I should get paid for this) and Castle happens to fall into two categories – crime drama and comedy. One would ask, how do you mix murder and humour? But somehow the creators and writers manage to make the two not seem like oil and water.

Knowing your genre thoroughly before you begin filming not only helps with underlining things such as character development and cinematography, but also helps you to better appeal to your target audience. Castle would not have been successful if people were not able to find humour in the most serious of situations.

So before you begin writing your script, consider these things:

  • Who are you trying to appeal to with your story?
  • What genre would your story fall under
  • Is your story the appropriate genre for the crowd you are appealing to?
  • How can you make your story stand out in its genre

Genre is only one aspect of writing and filming but it is not one to be overlooked.

Class Assignment · CS3 · film making · school · Videography

CS3 Blog 13 – Post-production: “Cut!”

After the stress, the disagreements, personality and creativity clashes, hot sun, rain storms, wind, snow and whatever natural disaster that came to destroy your shoot has passed and you realise you have all the raw footage you need you can breathe a big sigh of relief. You get the awesome opportunity to say “That’s a wrap!” while your crew and cast applaud your hard work that did not go unnoticed. Or if your production team was anything like mine you wipe the sweat off your brow and say “Thank God we done shoot.” (I’m saying this in Jamaican creole, just so you know.)

Yes, it is a time to throw your hands in the air and praise baby Jesus, but don’t celebrate for too long as you’re only half way there. Editing accounts for the other 50% of the work you are doing and trust me when I say editing can be a real pain. Also, this is when you back up all your footage on an external hard drive. And when I say all, I mean ALL. Leave nothing to chance. Nothing is more depressing and frustrating when you lose footage because somebody deleted it by mistake. Or when you are half way through editing and your editing software crashes and you didn’t get to save what you had (This happened to me just the other day.)

So, to avoid having to reshoot unnecessarily, save, save and save again. Every step of the way, every time you make an adjustment, save it. While you are working on your computer or laptop, be saving to an external hard drive simultaneously. Trust me, it takes nothing to save the work an extra time but it takes everything to have to reshoot because of lost footage.

When you have finally completed the post production stage and your work has been uploaded or burned to a DVD, then you can truly celebrate your hard work and success. So if you have completed a production recently and made it all the way through without going to jail or throwing a crew member off a building, pour yourself a glass of wine, put your feet up on the sofa and smile. You deserve it.

Class Assignment · CS3 · film making · school · Videography

CS3 Blog 12 – Production: Reshooting

When shooting for a production it is best to factor in time for reshooting as you will most likely be doing a lot of it. Sometimes during the shoot you don’t realise how off the lighting or angles were or that the camera was a little shaky or how certain footage may not flow with the rest of your video. Some of these things can be fixed in editing, but others are best left up to reshooting.

My own personal experience, especially with things such as bad lighting has taught me that editing cannot fix everything. It is always better to get the best you can during production rather than to wait until post production to try and fix it. Reviewing footage to ensure that everything flows and the lighting is fairly consistent is very important and will save you much more time.

Class Assignment · CS3 · film making · school · Videography

CS3 Blog 11 – Production: Shooting cutaways

When shooting for cutaways you must first consider your script and how the structure of your script will affect your shots. Cutaways are usually medium close up shots, close up shots and extreme close up shots, as the show more detail than a wide angle or medium shot. This is where storyboarding can really come in handy. If you have your storyboard at hand, you are able to see the initial shot plans and this will not only correspond with your script, but also aid in camera direction.

Cutaways not only add interest to your work but also help to emphasise and corroborate what your narrator or interviewee is saying. It allows for dimensions in your production and helps your viewer to feel more involved with the production.

Shooting cutaways for this documentary made me realise just how heavy the camera really was. Carrying around a Sony HXR2000 on my shoulder to shoot different footage for cutaways was a lot less fun than it looked. Along with the weight of the camera, getting the camera to shoot steadily while trying to balance it on my shoulder was a laughable task, as my colleagues so proved.

Regardless of how challenging, I recommend cutaways be used in every production as it not only show your multidimensional videography skills, but also adds oomph to the end product.