PB3 Screening

Cheers to another round of screening! Everyone has a unique style that’s really inspiring. I can see how our class has stepped up from our previous brief too. It’s exciting to see how we will perform by the end of the year and how much we have improved by then.

Having watched her last project as well, I see an artistic style she is developing, which has heavy references to vaudeville and vintage clothes. There is a smart, conscious effort to shape one’s brand as a creative artiste. Margaret’s work has prompted me to consider the importance of the creator’s commercial value. Her PB3 includess jazz music, grainy effect synonymous to old cinema and of course, a bubbly character with colourful wardrobe and a trinkets-filled house. Margaret has composed the pictorial elements in her frames very well. A careful division of space makes the scene very easy on the eyes. Viewers know where to focus their attention. Although subject’s house may seem cluttered, she still stands out in the space in a non-anarchic way. We are able to see how truly “at home” the subject is. Margaret is not afraid to move the camera, zoom in and explore different camera angles of the subject. The found footage is appropriated well too. If I have to nitpick, the subject’s voice in the beginning has been drowned out by sound effects. Perhaps, she could be more careful about the sound levels.

Beth has successfully given us an intimate view of Bridget’s personality. The found footage of little girls with their drawings have been appropriated very well. These grainy black-and-white scenes compliment the subject’s recount about picking up art as a child. Beth shows Bridget’s genuine passion for art by using close-ups of eyes, facial expressions and her actions at work. Viewers are able to see both her friendly approach with people and seriousness behind the desk. There is also a good choice of music: synthesised sounds reflect Bridget’s ability to use various graphic tech gears and a slow tempo mirrors her mellow nature. The visual segments are edited “cleanly”. While we hear Bridget’s voice, snippets of her designing provide more information to viewers without being visually disruptive. Beth has also used eyes as a motif (of subject’s and her drawn character’s), thus drawing a stronger connection between the creator and her art. I can feel Beth’s sincerity with her work! Although the visual editing seem smooth, I would like to suggest more attention be paid on the sound editing as well. It might have been an artistic choice but some cuts of Bridget’s speech feel uncomfortably sudden and jarring. I think Beth has a sharp sensitivity to capture interesting perspectives like the way Bridget twitches her lips while working! She inspires me to observe more keenly.

Caroline is very engaging on camera and it seems Michael knows it too! Michael uses a relatively long original footage of Caroline simply walking and talking to the camera. And it works! This is probably because she is emotionally expressive, constantly signing and with the subtitles, viewers are stimulated to follow her storytelling. With this footage which displays her personality, Michael is able to incorporate other establishing shots and action shots which focus more on her environment activities of interests instead. In this way, Michaels has successfully showcased a dynamic character of depth! His work has taught me that it is important for a director to understand his subjects well, so as to get the most out of them. Michael understands how viewers perceive visuals well. It would be interesting to experiment the element of sound more and allow audience to empathise or feel the stark difference between her hearing ability and the general mass’.


Project Brief 3 – “Nic” Media Portrait


Assignment: Produce a 2-3min edited film about someone.

– any combination of photos, video, sound and text
– content must be centred around interview with subject

– film must include found footage which are attributed in closing credits
– at least one original component of must be recorded using school’s H2N Zoom or Sony MC50


My ideas and direction kept evolving; it was truly a creative process. (Maybe not so much “creative” because I could afford to play more with effects and transitions.) These changes taught me about being confident, open to limitations and crisis management. Compared to the previous briefs, this portrait was very difficult to plan. I felt a bigger responsibility to portray someone else respectfully. Along the way, I had also changed the human subject, story angle and visual direction of film.

I learnt that even if the creator may be conflicted, it is important to be assertive and communicate effectively. This way, others will trust the work and direction. When you’re not confident, fake it till you make it! It took a while before I dared approach a stranger to work with. However, by our second meeting, I knew not to waste our limited time. Although changes allowed us to shoot more, I prepared for the essential scenes before meeting:


(After someone finally agrees to participate) Initially, I aimed to use subject’s voice alone accompanied with found footage without recording any original video. This is because he frowned upon displaying his face. How naive of me! I soon realised it is nearly impossible to find online material; that others share the exact vision, much less uploaded them for public use. So it was inevitable that I scheduled another meeting with the busy man.

On the other hand, restrictive conditions like hunting for appropriate footage and creating a headless character, challenge me to think out of the box. In the end, the found photographs have helped to create a parallel narrative which refer to subject’s inner monologue, juxtaposing my original clips that portray his bodily, professional self. I took the opportunity to capture his physical traits and actions that are probably more telling of his personality! Using different camera angles, I explored how film editing can be “invisible” or obvious.

I am more confident using Premiere Pro now, this time using new tools such as razor, frame hold to freeze, effects for split screen and to roll track forward/backward. There was a technical glitch after rendering and ate into my time re-editing segments. But no matter what happens, we still need to deliver by the dateline.

I wonder how to incorporate the photographs in other ways. I hope to rise up higher to the creative challenge within our time constraint. There is also a lack of climax. This film is more descriptive than narrative. I want to include character objective and obstacle in future works.

Constantly assigned new projects, I realise we are not always going to love the work the boss gives. Especially with PB3, I learnt that professionals should be open to opportunities and changing circumstances. Sometimes, it’s being flexible to unforeseen circumstances that lead to our growth! So just do it!

Facing the Truth: Hitting a Low with Work

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.”― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Compared to the previous project, I find PB3 very difficult to do. I’m new to this country and am unfamiliar with people and places. So it took at least a week before finally deciding who my subject is. Even then, I was still unsure what angle the story should take. Only a week before the dateline did a more tangible idea start to form.

This lack of humans as resources also affects my photojournalism projects. I have been assigned to produce a feature article (including photos and text) plus a photo-documentary.  Due to a lack of readily available choices, I looked at local magazines and newspapers to figure out what could possibly be newsworthy. This helps me to be open to everyone and everything in the whole city but now I am spoilt for choice! Even today, I still have one foot out the door. I had chosen a topic that I am not passionate about and thus have no clue how to expand and approach the topic creatively.

There has been a lot of hesitation managing my work these few weeks. Unfortunately, my indecisiveness has resulted in a backlog of assignments and frankly, I feel quite depressed. I hate being half-assed.

This blog post is not meant to be a mindless rant. I am recording what makes me insecure and how I can overcome it. On the bright side, this stressful period has shed some light about my work ethic and stress management. Being more aware, I will continue to learn and shape my approach in a more positive way.

– think that I’m the only one struggling cos there are other students who’ve just moved here
– bottle up my problems
– be afraid of asking “stupid” questions and admitting that I need guidance (still working on this one)

– continue putting up the to-do lists that help you calm down and focus
– allow myself to be vulnerable; recognise that I am not perfect
– have fun in finding and working with people in/for my projects
– have faith that I am capable in producing creative content promptly
– allow myself to break down because I know I can get back up

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
Brené Brown

Class Exercise – Narrative Structure of PB3

1. What is the ‘controlling idea’ (Robert McKee) of your portrait? In other words, what is the most interesting thing about your participant/interviewee that you want to communicate?

  • Nic’s (interviewee) experience as a volunteer in San Francisco at a homeless shelter.

2.  How is your portrait film structured?  (Remember there might be multiple forms of structure employed)  E.g. Discussion and depiction of an event or process? A Journey? Use of voiceover narration? Other?

  • sound: hearing Nic’s voice as he recounts, provides an intimate view of his compassionate personality
  • visuals: coloured moving snippets of Nic’s professional self accompanied with black-and-white photos faces of homeless which depict his inner monologue
  • sounds and visuals are not in tandem but compliment each other

3. What do you want your audience to make of your interviewee? (e.g. What are you saying through them and/or human nature, human folly, or noble human inspiration?)

  • to view Nic as an all-rounder; professional and compassionate

4. How is your portrait being narrated? Why? How does it affect the structure?

  • inspired by structure of Music Videos; how music and video may not be directly related (also working with constraint: subject doesn’t want his face shown)
  • subject has described location in relative detail. the lack of an accompanying image of the location allows audience to engage their imagination.

5. What role will the ‘found footage’ play in your portrait? For example, reinforcement? Ironic counterpoint? Contrast? Comparison? Other?

  • found photos of (black and white) homeless faces depicts character’s inner and private narrative, juxtaposed to coloured footage of his movements at work that does not show faces
  • viewers get to see Nic as a multi-dimensional character

6. Does your portrait have a dramatic turning point?


7. When does this turning point in your portrait and why? At the beginning? At the end? Two-thirds through?


8. How does your portrait gather and maintain momentum?

  • portrait is generally descriptive so like a storybook, the longer you follow, the more information you receive
  • subject’s engaging tone of voice accompanied with sound effects and stills give audience more clues
  • viewers may wonder if subject’s face will ever be revealed

9. Where will your portrait’s dramatic tension come from? The gradual exposition of an overall situation? A volcanic, climactic moment? An impending change or crisis? The contrast between what the interviewee talks about and the found footage?

  • some information is deliberately hidden (e.g. absence of subject’s face and image of exact location in story) to 1) engage audience’s imagination 2) add mystery 3) allow audience to question
  • difference in time: Subject’s recount of the past contrasts with video depicting present working life
  • parallel narrative: videos portray physical narrative while the still images compliment subject’s recount and portray an inner monologue

10. Does the portrait have a climax and/or resolution? Outline them.


Rubber Band Plot

I enjoy reading Robert Mckee’s “The Substance of Story” very much. He sounds so sassy!

I imagine a good story is similar to a stretched rubber band. A rubber band because, like the flexible and tangible object it is, a story “is about life lived in its most intense states… a circumference of experience defined by the nature of the fictional reality.” We can stretch them to extreme possibilities that excite players/readers but we are conscious of its limits too.

One end of the band is pulled by the protagonist’s goals and the other end pulled by his/her obstacles. The story has a sad or happy ending, depending on which end gives up and lets go. The tension represents the character’s will while the existence of opposing forces represents his/her conflicting desires.

The plot continues to thicken as the tug-of-war continues, increasing the danger of snapping the rubber band. Will there be a winner? Or will the rubber band snap and all becomes lost?