Final reflection

At the start of the semester, I decided that since I had already worked with audio in Film-TV 1, I was now looking to work with the camera. The past semester has allowed me to do that and has definitely made me much more comfortable with the ex3 and with conducting basic tasks such as white balance checks and focus pulls. So in this regard, my plans and expectations have been met.

Another goal of mine was to work on a documentary with a subject/topic that I was genuinely interested in. Although make-up itself is not my greatest interest, I found that in approaching the topic with an open mind, I have learnt to see things from perspectives that I hadn’t considered before. It’s interesting how one field has all these opinions/controversies/battles surrounding it.

Finally, I entered the course with the hope of building upon my communication skills in a group setting/environment. Working with a partner over the course of the semester, I am happy to report that it has all been smooth sailing.

Overall I have enjoyed the semester, both in making documentary myself and in watching those of others in lectures.

 

Colour correcting

Shot One is a medium close up of an interview subject in a white room. I chose this particular shot because I am intrigued by the blue source of lighting that casts a strange ‘blanket’ colour over the rest of the frame. 

Original shot
Original shot

Using the colour correction tools, particularly playing with saturation settings, input and output levels, I have attempted to colour correct the frame by eliminating that strange blue hue. The result (below) presents a somewhat cleaner looking image, brighter and more inviting. The yellow of the interviewee’s t-shirt is actually noticeable in this shot, while in the former it tends to be lost under the general darkness.

Attempt 1

My second colour correction attempt was more experimental than anything else. I wanted to try and remove all colour and then add one dominating colour on its own. That dominating colour would be blue. The result (below) is interesting to look at but I would never include it in the current documentary we are working on because it’s quite abstract looking. I do, however, like the emphasis given to the background poster. It definitely attracts more attention than it does in the other shots.

3

 

Shot Two is a very slightly high angled shot focusing on make-up equipment strewn across floorboards. I chose this particular shot because I think that although the original image (below) is pretty bland, the colours in the frame have potential to be exaggerated and quite visually appealing.

Original shot
Original shot

Using the colour correction tool, again playing with saturation and input/output levels, I have attempted to bring the colours out in the following image. I think that these corrections work really well with the particular shot because of the content within frame. For example, the dirty make-up pads in the background are so much more vivid in the second image, actually inviting our attention. The same can be said for the red nail polish bottle in the foreground which now grabs our attention.

2b
My second colour correction attempt is again experimental. Basically, my line of thinking went that since make-up is traditionally associated with females, what stereotypically ‘girly’ colour could I splash across the shot = pink. So I’ve attempted to do that in the final image but I feel that it doesn’t work nearly as well as the second one because all of the small details become lost.

3b

Readings

In reading Documentary storytelling for film and videomakers (pg. 63-73), the following points were garnered:

  • Documentary filmmaking involves “telling a chronological story, but not chronologically”. So it is about moving plot/story/events forward but by doing that through the interweaving of chronological and non chronological elements. In missing that balance, a documentary runs the risk of being boring. So this is something that we need to keep in mind when producing our own film.
  • When it comes to interviewing subjects, it is very easy to end up with hours worth of footage that you only end up using a few minutes of. Reading this, it became clear that there are two main reasons for editing interview footage. Firstly, you edit interview footage to focus information for placement in the best possible location in your film’s story. Secondly, you edit to condense interview material in a way that does not alter its initial meaning.

Le Joli Mai Complements

In watching Jean Ravel, picture Pierre Lhomme & Chris Marker’s “From a distant gaze …” (1964), I found the camera work to be extremely enticing to the viewer. From the very beginning of the clip, a quick focus pull alerts the audience, almost like telling them to ‘wake up and watch this space as it comes into focus’. Although the actual subject being focused is nothing significant, there is no doubt that a focus pull engages audiences instantly. Following this focus pull, the camera acts as if it is a person itself, following people and turning left and right as it attempts to do so.

By filming close-up shots of people in the distance and letting those shots continue even as traffic passes by the frame, the filmmaker is enticing us to look for something in that frame. For me, it felt like those times when I have just said goodbye to a friend and crossed the road, only to remember that I needed to tell them something. So when you turn around to say that something, you wait for the traffic to pass before you speak. The entire film felt like that for me. I kept waiting for the traffic to pass from frame because I felt like I had to be looking for something significant. It creates a really nice effect.

The camera jumps from person to person complimenting the voiceover material. The substance of the voiceover, paired with these random faces, people and movements, make for deeper thinking in the audience. At one point, despite the lack of voiceover, a female subject looks directly into the lens and appears bored or frustrated with the traffic. Although the shot only lasts a few seconds, I found it to be one of the strongest because we can relate to that woman. The filmmakers would have known this and purposefully left it in there.

Toward the middle of the clip, a shot appears as if it is being superimposed with another, as the faces of two men sits on opposing ends of the frame. The first time I watched this, I did not like the effect because I enjoyed the simple cut/cut/cut from person to person, without fades or transitions. I felt that the superimposing of shot against shot was out of place in the context of this clip and that it created a jarring effect in me as the viewer. It was only when I went back to watch the shot that I realised it was not superimposed at all. The cinematographer had just executed a really clean focus pull from a person in the foreground to a person standing behind the window behind him. Again, another strong shot.

My final point to make about this film is that I loved the consistency throughout it. The shots are all (or mostly) close-up shots, they don’t move to accommodate interfering objects and they cut at consistent times. It made for easy viewing but not lazy viewing, because I did keep focused the entire time, scanning the faces presented.

Forbidden Lies

Audio plays a vital role in the clip shown from Anna Broinowski’s Forbidden Lies (2007) documentary.

The beginning sequence appears as a parody-style love story montage, showing a couple gazing dreamily into each other’s eyes, feeding each other and driving down an empty road together toward the sunset. While all of this is being shown, a non-diegetic love song featuring acoustic guitar and the sweet voice of a female vocalist accompanies the montage, setting the tone of what we are about to hear (or so we think). The sudden sound of a tape recorder being stopped jolts the audience back to reality as the musical track cuts and we are transported to the ‘real world’.  The audio here therefore works in creating expectations in the audience, and it works well because it then surprises that audience by showing them that those expectations are wrong.

6601

During the interview footage in which a journalist reveals that the book is a falsity, we are presented with simple voice recordings. The interviewee’s voice fills the soundscape as we listen to her tell the story behind the lies. Although this diegetic sound dominates the interview sequences, with no musical backing to help drive the documentary along, Broinowski does include relevant sound effects throughout the interview. For example, since the author of this novel has financially benefitted from her ‘novel of lies’, the sound of a cash register can be heard ‘cashing in’. Although these sound effects do not dominate the soundscape, they do add some variety from simply listening to the interviewee’s voice for the entire segment. Brionowski’s sound effects are certainly a strong point because they are relevant sound effects that have been well placed.

It must also be noted that the entire clip features sound from the natural environments in which the footage is being recorded. Traffic can be heard during particular parts of the interview with the journalist and background talk/noise can be heard during sections of the footage shot in public venues. I think that Broinowski does well by including this sound, as it adds to the sense of ‘being there’ that a documentary attempts to convey.

 

Premiere keyboard shortcuts

The Premier editing program has a ridiculous amount of features made available to us in the post-production process. While they do exist, they often go ignored because we just do not know that they are there. Reading over the list of features in the film-tv blog, I was surprised to see just how much one can do with the program. I have never used the following Premier keyboard shortcuts but feel that they will be valuable in the next few weeks of our production.

  1. To export media, type Cmd+M
    This is a simple function in itself, but one that I have wasted time trying to work out in the past. Although it will be the last function that we will need to use, it is helpful to have it ready.
  2. To paste attributes, type Opt+Cmd+Y
    In our last editing exercise for the Film-TV 1 production, this was a feature that we repeatedly used on almost every shot in order to colour correct in a consistent manner. Every time we did this, we would have to right click, copy and then paste attributes. It was a long process and one that could have been shortened had we used this tool. This will definitely come in use during colour correction editing.
  3. To zoom in, type = To zoom out, type –
    Again, another simple edit trick that will reduce time and make for smoother editing.
  4. To align text to the left, type Shift+Cmd+L
    To align text to the center, type Shift+Cmd+C
    To align text to the right, type Shift+Cmd+R
    This feature tends to be used toward the end of the editing process, where subject names are added to interview footage. We have quite a lot of interviews in our documentary so this will be useful when we chop them all up.

 

Reflection 3

In completing this week’s set readings, three main points stood out to me.

The first two come from Rabiger’s Directing the Documentary. Firstly, I found it interesting how Rabiger argued that regardless of intent, “there are always some preliminary conclusions reached during the research stages” of documentary film production. This point interested me because it is something that my own group and I have discussed in relation to our own documentary, where we will be focusing on the subject of body image and the growing trend for women to keep a meticulous grooming routine. As a group of five females, we are finding it difficult to remain objective when it comes to thinking about our subject matter and exploring it. In that sense, it is reassuring to read that, according to Rabiger, “preliminary conclusions” are expected during research stages.

The second point taken from this reading was that it is not wise to “blindly collect stuff and then try and beat it into shape during editing”. This’ll prove as a helpful tip for us during our filming process, especially since there tends to be this assumption that simply grabbing a camera and recording everything will be enough when making a documentary. It was helpful to read that although spontaneous sequences do add moments of genuine interaction, they cannot be relied upon to create good documentary on their own.

From the Curran Bernard reading Documentary storytelling for film and videomakers, the stand out point for me was that “You can make yourself and your quest to make the film the story of the film”. Although we will not be following this approach this semester – my group and I have decided that a voyeuristic approach will work best for our subject – it is still a filming style that I would like to experiment with in the future. I have yet to watch a documentary following this approach, but I will attempt to view one before the end of semester.

REFLECTION 2 continued

I believe that the film shot in Broken Hill and entitled ‘End of the Line’ sets out to present the Broken Hill area as an area where nothing happens, an area of emptiness and loneliness. Through the careful selection of interview subjects (who are residents of Broken Hill itself) I believe that this is successfully achieved. It is primarily achieved via the interview footage shown with an elderly woman speaking of her own feelings of loneliness and her demise. It is also achieved via the footage of teens discussing the boring and routine lifestyle of Broken Hill. The choice of participants has been perfectly executed in order to reiterate the filmmaker’s perception of the Broken Hill area. Had the interviewee’s spoken with joy and praise for Broken Hill, then the documentary would have had a very different response from audiences.

The use of eerie music running throughout the documentary further reinforces those notions of loneliness and unease in the viewer. Given the content of the interview footage, it is safe to say that the film’s soundtrack is complimentary and well executed.

REFLECTION 2

Pawlikowski’s Imagining Reality introduced me to two main points that I’d never considered before. The first appears below:

“What they want to see are things they’re not supposed to see, witness real human dramas as they unfold, watch people like themselves when they feel unobserved”.

I think this provides the perfect description for documentary audiences. Since they are curious to know about the things they are “not supposed to see” or things that they cannot gain access to on their own, they rely on the filmmaker to do that for them. Thus, the role of the documentary filmmaker is to gain that access and to then shed light on subjects/issues/topics that are off limits to the public.

Documentary-Filmmaking

The second point taken from this reading is that feature documentaries following a subject/s or issue for years at a time (5-10) are often wildly successful, as they present a ‘whole’ image and provide closure or results for audiences. Long-term documentary filmmaking would be an extremely interesting field to explore. Not only would one learn an enormous amount about an issue/subject, but I imagine that – as a filmmaker – one would form a strong bond with the subject/s in question. It is definitely something that I could be interested in exploring in my future career.

Reflection 1

In 200 words or less please outline your goals, desires – what you want to get out of this semester. You will review this later in the course. Many will rethink this dramatically by the end of the course – this is a good thing.

My goals and desires while undertaking the Film-TV 2 course are similar to those of last semester in terms of gaining experience with the technical aspects of filmmaking. In Film-TV 1 I experimented with audio work, so I am hoping to gain some experience in other areas this semester, such as in cinematography or editing.

On the most basic level, my goal is to create a documentary film that explores a field or subject that I am genuinely interested in. I enjoy research and learning and I feel that this course perfectly compliments those qualities.

More broadly, my desire is to build on my communication skills when working in a group environment. Film-TV 1 allowed me initial experience in this area, and I am hoping that this follow up subject allows growth with those skills.

Finally, I hope that in creating a documentary film, I am able to learn a lot about the subject/person/thing/field that I will be exploring. It is something that I am really looking forward to in this course.

 

In this week’s lecture, scenes from Scott Ruo’s ‘Four Images’, Brian Hill’s ‘Drinking for England’ and Chantal Akerman’s ‘D’Est’ were screened.  Choose one of these, and consider, in a single paragraph, what might have intrigued, interested, displeased or repelled you.

Write your answer in your blog, insert the text below and the link to your post (Use insert link tool).

In Brian Hill’s ‘Drinking for England’, the subject area itself and the range of interviewees that we were introduced to intrigued me. I think it was a very smart topic to explore from the filmmakers perspective, as it connects with people on an emotional level and can have the effect of producing a ‘wake up’ moment.  The wide range of shot angles and shot types used within the documentary interested me. I’ve never really thought of documentary as a film genre where camera use was something to be experimented with. It’s very easy – when thinking about documentary – to imagine only neutral angles in the classic medium-shot setups used to depict interviewees as they answer questions. ‘Drinking for England’ was interesting in that it featured a range of shots and focus pulls. It made for aesthetically pleasing viewing. I was displeased by the musical characteristics in this documentary. I understand that this was a musical documentary itself but I felt that it alienated me more than engaged me, sometimes edging toward the comical.

 

Listen to the first 10 minutes of Glenn Gould’s radio documentary, “The Idea of North”.

The idea of North 10min.wav or Files are here (experimenting with different sizes and file types) If possible, use headphones.  Record your impressions in a paragraph or two.

I enjoyed the opening minutes of Glenn Gould’s The Idea of North. The woman speaking has a ‘nice’, calming voice that I found myself searching for in the remainder of the radio documentary. For this reason, I believe that the beginning of the documentary is much stronger than the conclusion, which ends in a basic question/answer format.

Although accents in radio can sometimes cause a jarring effect, I found that they were useful and relevant when discussing the subject matter at hand. They added authenticity to the research and – when accompanied with the soundscape – really created a sense of ‘being there’ that Leacock writes of in the first reading. I feel that this documentary did involve me rather than inform me and I enjoyed listening to it as a result.