During class we were to use the first hour of our studio workshop to play some of the games that Dan have compiled for us. I decided to start from the bottom of the list (boy was I wrong to think it was a short story). I played The Matter of the Great Red Dragon. These text-based games were interesting form as they are the same as those choose-your-adventure games but in words. It relied heavily on hypertexts as it allows you to click your choice of action in order to advance the story. A few questions were prompted in class to get discussions going on.
1. How (using minimal resources – text-only, very little extra material) have these story worlds been created ?
I believe that short stories or text-based games are usually up for audience imagination. There was definitely a little bit of background of certain objects from the story world but they were not lengthy explanation. The objects from the story of the Great Red Dragon were simple and easy to understand hence, the story was easily digestible.
2. When were you “hooked”?
Honestly, fantasy genre always gets me hooked especially when it’s in an alternate universe.
3. How is the character developed?
The game I played was choosing your path as the hero of the game so the character develops when as you go along the adventure. It definitely makes you feel like you’re in control of your own character. Others, however, were not developed as well as a proper story would. There would be no background or profile of the characters but just enough information for you to understand why they were important in the story.
4. How was the narrative / technology / audience leveraged (used) to relay the story? How would you plan one of these ?
During the discussion, I agreed with one of my peer’s opinion. The narrative was not very strong in majority of the games because of their main goal to be interactive. She mentioned that it was spread too thin just to maintain the audience attention. The way they’re done is they are multiple chains of texts that are interwoven together to create this web of texts (hypertexts). However, if there are too much going on, it would only lead to frustration as the story gets too confusing and it could overload one’s sensory and memory. The navigation is the key mechanics to these text-based games.
It’s quite intimidating to know that someone else is going to critique my short story, however, it was a good way to learn and improve. There’s never too many opinions as in this world, there’s different perspective to broaden our knowledge. I was honestly quite intrigued with the feedback I received from my peer. He pointed out one of my weakness which was that my sentence structures sometimes a little clumsy that it disrupts the flow. Sometimes I don’t realise that my phrases confuses readers from time to time. It comes out fragmented or it has excessive words. Being pointed out here makes me wish that I could figure out how to improve my sentence structure.
Reading other’s short stories have always left me wondering how they found the inspiration to write this alternate universe or what do they feel as they wrote their characters. To me, I usually find a sense of nostalgia and plenty of influence from other stories I have read to write my story. When I read my peer’s fantasy genre, I was in awe! Even without any extra description of the world I am already imagining it with my own thoughts.
Story Lab is all about finding the meaning of transmedia, the uses and its connection with audience. Week two was about reviewing the different platforms of a story that has been around for many years – Sherlock Holmes. The question that prompted the class was an interesting one.
Why do they use Sherlock Holmes as the detective character instead of creating another?
Funnily, I never gave much thought about why Sherlock Holmes was always a reference to any detective stories. We watched a screening of the TV series of Sherlock played by Benedict Cumberbatch and then we tried our hands on the game “Sherlock: The Network“.
The story I wrote about was going towards the Japanese anime style. I have a feeling that majority of the class will be tackling deep visually oriented short stories like dark thriller, mystery and comedy. Hence, I tried something different.
Notice that majority of the anime stories revolve around high school life, especially for Slice of Life genres. The Japanese spins lots of stories through high school or middle school students, the protagonists, who either have traumas, crisis or any incident that cause them to act weak in the beginning. Just like McKee’s readings had mentioned that protagonists usually are the heroes that the audience aspire to be and it has to be relatable. What’s interesting about the anime protagonists is that people can relate to due to their weak status at the beginning of the story.
In all honesty, I almost regretted challenging myself writing this style of short story because I felt that the story was very… childish. Well, it is a set in a high school after all. I had no other idea how to change the setting of the story to gain the same effect for the ending so I just pressed on with this plot. This was inspired by the thriller movie that came out not long ago in the cinemas called, The Boy (2016), directed by William Brent Bell, where a hired nanny was to take care of a porcelain doll. The porcelain doll was a replacement for their son who was killed in a fire about 20 years ago. The conversations and instructions the parents gave to the nanny were all connected to the ending and I was absolutely mind-blown. I wanted to give the same effect as what the ending of that movie did to me. For example:
(SPOILER ALERT – highlight over to see)
When the mother said that waking up Brahms in a soft tone would not be able to wake him up. This is because Brahms needs to hear it loud enough through the walls where he resided for the past 20 years due to his face burnt by the fire. At the beginning, no one knew that Brahms was still alive and they thought that the parents were crazy to have porcelain doll as a replacement for their late son.
Just to touch on the film, The Boy, majority hated the ending because they felt cheated. Just thinking about what was mentioned in class about the database logic I realized that the structure of the narrative was definitely out of the usual structure and that I commend for their originality but majority doesn’t see it that way because of the expectations (algorithms) of a plot. This is my reason of writing this short story – to realize the plot twists that audience may or may not accept as well as the subtle hints that could mean different ways till the ending.
The Story Lab studio kicked off with a little bit of introduction and reviewing the course outline (the usual). During our three-hour workshop, we were shown three platforms of storytelling media – paper, radio and film.
The keyword linearity came up during class. I have gotten ahead in myself learning the multi-narrative plotlines, the twists and so forth. This made me backtrack a little and asked myself, what and why linearity was important in stories back in the days. One of the main reasons were due to time constraints, there was no room for complexity of stories. There simply was neither enough room nor the time for something indirect. Readers at the time, I presume listen to radios or the television during their down times, especially after a hard day at work.
With linearity, the story is very predictable and it is easier to digest compared to the complexity of Hollywood plots these days like Inception. The predictability comes from the style of documenting or commenting on the event just like how the journalist was describing the scene of the battle and stating his next action. Frankenstein was the same, he mentions repetitively that he will be able to bring life and play God. There is a clear goal of the protagonist in linear plots that the audience can grasp at the beginning of the story.
Yesterday was the exhibition for media 4, semester 2 of 2015. I volunteered to piece together the films and organise the films into the server. I had to piece together a one minute screener for the presentation during the exhibition. As Kerri had made a quick poster and Bianca writing the content about our process of research, I am left with the videos. On the day of the exhibition, I had no important role so we just sat and reviewed our work along with the other studios.
Creating this screener was not that difficult. I managed to finish piecing together in less than a day. This is because our group were experimenting on the various genres. Preparing these caused quite a confusion as the information and instructions were quite scattered. I managed to send Paul a copy of the one minute screener for checking. He mentioned that the audio had some problems especially the parts where I abruptly cut the conversations. I tweaked a little before heading to uni the next day to drop the full version of the films into the server.
I had a few bumps during the preparation for the exhibition. Had I followed the brief by itself, I would have gotten everything together. The day before the exhibition was the day I knew that there was a submission folder for all our prototype films. I had stored everything into the server so Paul mentioned that there was not much a problem since he could grab it from the server easily.
Another problem I encountered was not being able to get my hands on the proper files of our last prototype from Dylan. In the end, I had to grab it off YouTube, thus degrading the quality. It was a confusing preparation but completed nonetheless. I had given Jen, who volunteered to make the postcards, some pictures of our shoot when the emails were handed out as well. That was an easy job due to the fact I still kept all the pictures we used during our week 12 presentation.
This interesting concept piqued my interest. My friend, Darren and I stayed back after presentation to ask Paul about his knowledge on crowdfunding. He suggested to look up Pozible, a crowdfunding organisation. I asked him if Kickstarter or Indiegogo were resourceful crowdfunding sites and he mentioned it was a possible suggestion. In my opinion, after listening to his advice, crowdfunding can be done in various ways. All we need to do is be resourceful and we must be able to pitch our ideas properly. A suggestion on criticising previous crowdfunded projects by Pozible was highly recommended. That way we could pick up on the mistakes the previous filmmakers have done and better them or learn from the ways they created the films.
I have helped out my friend who tried crowdfunding on Kickstarter but they did not reach their target so they had put their project on hold. She had proper casts and crew as well. The project was called My Name is Mulan. I was helping her in editing the videos for the kickstarter information page.
Darren and I have two interesting side projects that requires a bit of budget. I have recently found out that Pozible is having a free workshop in crowdfunding. We have signed up for it, hoping to gain more insights on crowdfunding. We hope that this could possibly help us create a successful crowdfunding campaign for our videos. Paul had even offered to review our ideas (much appreciated!).
As for now, the only thing left to do is to review the past films crowdfunded by Pozible to gain more ideas in crowdfunding and start out our first few projects that we thought of creating during the holidays.
Keeping Mum was not a project focusing on content but it was more of experimenting on the process of choosing a genre for the television industry. We had played around with various genres like mockumentary, sitcom, drama and slasher horror. We felt like we favoured mockumentary more at the end of the film. Due to the fact we felt that things became more organic once we started improvising, we felt that mockumentary became more compelling.
During the pre-production, everyone took part in script writing process where we then chose the best scripts to shoot. We each took two genres to write. We ended up going for Dylan’s and Bianca’s scripts as they were short and simple to experiment on.
We had a few setbacks due to everyone’s working schedule and so our only free day were Mondays and Thursdays before and after classes. We organised a timeline as well as the meeting agendas to keep everyone on track. Our primary source of communication were on the Facebook group and the Google Drive.
My role in the group was to organise the things we had on the Google Drive and make sure the agendas were updated after every meeting. Besides that, I was the camera operator for the films. I had to plan the shots on the spot due to the improvisations. I had edited the snippets of the Mock Shoots as well.
Making ‘Keeping Mum’ a.k.a. LORD OF THE LAND with Team STeve was an absolute pleasure. I never had so many creative people in a team before like our main scriptwriters, Dylan and Bianca. Kerri, our point of contact, always ready to organise group meetings as well as taking charge of our process of delegating our work. Raphael was always present for shooting dates, helping out with the filming as well as acting. All four of them were great in acting. We worked seamlessly together despite having setbacks of not being able to meet up face-to-face most of the times.
If time permits, I definitely would like to continue the project with Team STeve for sure.
CLICK HERE! If you want to see the rest of the films.
Thursday’s class was more focused on editing and a bit of a organising for me. Kerri and I went through the colour grading tutorial on lynda.com and tinkered around in Premiere Pro. We took one of our clips and tried playing around with the colour grading. The first is the raw footage without any colour correction.
No colour grading.
We felt we need to give a bad desaturated colour grading for a mockumentary style so we started tweaking with the colours. We gave it a slightly cyan hue with desaturations. This was how it turned out:
Colour grading fitting for MOCKUMENTARY genre.
We had more time to experiment more so we tried colour grading for a more horror / thriller genre. We pumped up more blue hue in the mid tones and lower the exposure. It made the scene more horrific as below.
Colour grading for horror/thriller genre
After doing this exercise, Dylan and Bianca arrived! We went through our edits of the drama genre and the slasher horror. I watched Dylan’s editing style as he taught me a good faking of focus with just adding a filter. Here are some editing screen grabs. I definitely was surprised at this style of editing. I have never seen it before and I was thankful my group mate had shared this knowledge with me. I think you’ll probably see me playing around with focus more now (thanks Dylan!). If you see the middle of the frame, there is a play with filter on exposure. This allows the eyes to focus on the casts more instead of the messy background in the middle.
with letterbox + focus
without letterbox + focus
That’s it for editing (not so 101…) not an intermediate level nor is it a beginner level either. Overall, I have learnt something new in colour correcting and playing with the exposure. I have an idea in remaking my thriller/drama short film into a mini web series. So, I may use that editing style in that film. (this is really exciting!)