The Story Lab – Week 1

After our first week of Story Lab classes, we were introduced to Dan and what the rest of the semester held in store for us. We explored what story means to us – what we thought a story needed and considered the possibility of a story without these elements. We watched a Ted Talk from Andrew Stanton, who works at Pixar on such films as Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Wall-E, who spoke about the ‘rules’ of storytelling – and the importance of breaking those rules. There were a couple of things, which I really liked which he spoke about in the video. I really liked the 2+2 approach – which suggests that instead of giving the audience 4, give them 2+2 and make them work to put the story together. He explains it better – it’s at 7:15 in the video – which can be found here I am a big fan of making the audience work for a story when creating narrative – I think it makes for a much for engaging and interactive narrative.

In our second class this week, we explored different ways of telling stories – through the examples of Orson Welles radio performance of War of the Worlds (1938) and the original Frankenstein (1931). While I heard a lot about War of the Worlds and spoken about it in relation to media theories in the past, I had never sat down and listened to the piece. I really enjoyed how many different ways the story was told – through news stories and interviews. I was pleasantly surprised at how funny the story was – the use of silence was incredibly powerful, as well the music, which was interwoven through the piece. I liked how well the piece played with form – through a medium the audience was incredibly literate in (i.e. radio), they used different forms to telling a story which was incredibly engaging.

Overall I really enjoyed my first week of The Story Lab, I think it’s going to be an incredibly engaging subject this semester.

Things to Remember

  • The 2+2 rule
  • Write what you know
  • What does a story need – and does it?
  • Play with form

Analysis and Reflection 5

1. As per lecture – in a sequence you’ve called ‘colour’ you will have clips that are indicative of a particular colour or lighting state. To the right of that clip you will have that same clip repeated 2 or more times with different colour grades on it.Take screen grabs of each clip then upload to your blog the series of stills that show us ‘before and afters’ of your colour grading. Provide a few different examples of at least two different clips – each with a description of what you did to the clip and why. This is a learning exercise, not necessarily a qualitative one, don’t stress – it is the act of doing it and the reflection on that, that is important.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 10.35.46 pm


What we used – three way colour corrector and brightness/contrast


Image 1 – The Original

We decided that we wanted to use this clip in our documentary, the only problem being it was a little bit overexposed. The sky was one of our concerns – as it is a little bit yellow in this shot, as well as the wall, which is a slightly different shade of blue from the rest of the film.

Image 2 – Test 1

We decided to bring down the brightness, as well as increasing the contrast, to help with the over exposure. We bumped up the blue highlights to help make the sky look a bit more normal when compared to the other clips in our film.

Image 3 – Test 2

In this image we decided to adjust the shadows and midtones to help the colour in the wall look more normal. By adjusting the amount of blue in the clip, we made the wall look similar to the other shots we have used. We also adjust the brightness and contrast again in this clip, as well as adjusting the amount of yellow highlights, making the sky look more normal as well.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 10.06.50 pm


What we used – three way colour corrector and brightness/contrast

Image 1 – Original

This clip is a little bit over exposed, but our main concern was that it was not white balanced properly and therefore has way more blue than it should. While we initially thought we couldn’t use this clip at all, we eventually decided to have a play with it and see if we could use it.

Image 2 – Test 1

In this test, we reduced the brightness and increased the contrast, making the colours look more vibrant. As this shot is a pan, while it looked good in some frames of the shot, it didn’t look good in others.

Image 3 –Test 2

In this clip, we tried adding yellow highlights and increasing the contrast. While this worked to fix the amount of blue in the sky, it made the stones look really strange. As this is the main focus of the shot, we decided we couldn’t use this clip.


2. “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. You may rethink this dramatically – this is a good thing.”

You were asked this at the beginning of the semester. Now, could you review constructively what you got from this semester – has the course lived up to your expectations, delivered what you expected, maybe even surpassed it?

At the beginning of the semester, I was a little bit reserved about working with documentary – I felt that narrative is a really a strong point of mine, as I’ve done a lot of work on that in the past,and I really didn’t know what I wanted to make a film about. However, I have found that I have really enjoyed the semester, and I feel that both my production and post-production skills have increased rapidly this semester. I have enjoyed the opportunity to have more freedom in our production schedule, as well as the ability to borrow equipment whenever we wanted and shoot as many times as we felt like. I also enjoyed learning how to use new equipment, like the Z7, and I feel like I am much more confident in using the equipment than I was last semester. This semester, I wanted to focus on my editing skills a lot more, as I felt I didn’t really get to do very much last semester. I loved the opportunity to increase my editing skills, and feel I am much more proficient than I was last semester, particularly in colour correcting and audio mixing. Overall, I have loved Film&TV 2, mostly in the freedom with our production schedule, and the ability to research and create a narrative with something I didn’t know very much about before.

Analysis and Reflection 4

In this clip from Forbidden Lies, Anna Broinowski’s 2007 film: describe in detail all of the audio, how it may have been recorded/sourced and how you think it has been edited / layered in post. (You do not need to describe how the music was recorded)

Broinowski’s Forbidden Love begins with a short advertisement/musical piece. The song lyrics describe the culture surrounding marriage in Muslim culture. The song is somewhat cheesy in nature and this corresponds with the SFX, which appear to be part of this piece. The SFX are heavily echoed and add to the dreamy nature of the clip (achieved through heavy filters and vignettes). This clip has an abrupt ending with a woman’s voice saying, “This is not the truth”. This voice cuts into the music, creating an abrupt end to this surreal clip. The non-diegetic sound effects in this introductory clip are layered over the music and they have been edited to add some kind of echo-y sound effects.

Most of the rest of the audio is the interviews of two women disproving the author, as well as the woman reading her book. This would have been recorded when they were shooting. Some of it is overlayed over other footage they have recorded, however most of the audio and video that has been shot together is used together. Some of the clips (e.g. the footage of the unisex salon shop, the women smoking cigarettes, and the gym) are accompanied with audio (with no lyrics) and the audio of the woman reading her novel. This music is layered over all of the clips in this sequence, again coming to an abrupt end when the woman closes her phone and laughs.

Most applications reserve keyboard shortcuts for the functions that you use most often. It is really good to learn all of these as it will speed up your editing and additionally alert you to functions that the software developers and other users find important. (You can learn much about the software by looking at keyboard shortcuts). Find the keyboard shortcuts for Premiere (hint, film-tv blog) and note four or more functions that you’ve never used before and why they may be invaluable to your editing. (Different functions to what you wrote last semester)

Speed/Duration – Cmd + R
While editing the footage we’ve shot already for Bluestone, we have found that we are trying to create a view of Pentridge Village as a slow-moving place, where nothing much happens. Through slowing down clips, we can increase this feeling in our footage. This shortcut will make selecting and affecting our clips much easier, as it will speed up the process.

Ungroup – Shift + Cmd + G
This tool will be invaluable in our editing process, as our film will rely heavily on the use of overlay and voiceovers. Our heavy focus on interviews in Bluestone means that we will be utilising a lot of our footage shot in Pentridge to ensure that these interviews don’t become visually boring for our audience. By unlinking the video and audio we record, we can insert other clips (i.e. voiceover from interviews) over the top of clips we have shot in the Village to make for more interesting viewing.

List/Icon – Cmd + Page Up/ Cmd + Page Down

This way of toggling the ways the bins are organised makes it easier to view and sort the footage we have shot. Because we are importing the footage through Premiere (and naming all of our clips), we have encountered times when it would be easier to view the clips via lists, or via icons. By knowing this shortcut, it will be easier for us to switch between the two views, rather than manually going through the menus every time we want to change the view.

Trim Forward by One Frame – Opt + Right
Until researching for this analysis, I did not know this shortcut was possible. Last semester in Film & TV 1, this would have been a helpful tool to know about in our editing process. As we shot a lot of action last semester, we were advised that modifying our cuts by one frame would make the action appear smoother. While this may not become as handy this semester for Bluestone, (as there is significantly less action involved) it may become handy at one point or another in our editing process this semester.

“From a distant gaze…” (1964) directed by Jean Ravel, picture Pierre Lhomme & Chris Marker, words by Louis Aragon, narrated by Jean Negroni, music by Michel Legrand. Describe a few things that intrigue you – it might be shot construction, camera work, editing, overall structure, thematic concerns etc. Describe the camera work and why you think it has been shot that way.

This piece of film was an incredibly interesting piece of film to watch. One of the things I liked the most about it was how succinctly it demonstrated the spirit and feelings of the people. I loved the fast moving camerawork, which captures the bustling streets of Paris and the people who live there. I feel like the culture of the people has been established through the use of close ups and the fast moving camera work. This style of ‘fly on the wall’ shooting has been used to great effect in this clip. The music that accompanies this clip adds to the fast paced feel of the clip.

One thing that intrigued me most was the use of voice over (particularly 0:57-1:39) by Jean Negroni added to the ‘fly on the wall’ or ‘people watching’ feel of the clip. The mysterious nature of this clip was confusing, however I feel like it would make sense when watching the whole film, rather than this short clip. With out context, this mysterious voice over takes on a rather ominous feel, which is very contradicting to the joyous or happy tones of the footage and music used in this clip.

The fashion of the people, particularly the women, is particularly important in establishing the geographical and historical context of this film. By only seeing a few clips, even before the voiceover comes in, the audience quickly understands that the film was filmed in 1960’s Paris, purely through the way the people are dressed. This quick establishing of context through non-verbal means is really interesting, as it is not often seen in films made in the present day.

Select from one of the readings and briefly describe two points that you have taken from it. Points that interest you, something you could apply to your own documentary.

“It’s not shooting like a fly on the wall because a fly doesn’t have a brain” (Maysles, cited in Cunningham, 2005, p.89)

This discussion of ‘fly on the wall’ style shooting (or cinema verite) is an interesting one because of the discussion of how real life can be manipulated or pushed by filmmakers to create more of a story. Haskell Wexler, interviewed by Megan Cunningham, tells a story about when he was shooting Salesman, (a cinema verite piece), in which the filmmakers pushed action onto the participants in order to help forward the narrative. They discuss how this kind of choice is the same as a choice about which camera/lens/shot type you chose, the editing choices you make, when you shoot, and whom you shoot. This stimulation of natural drama is really important for our piece Bluestone, as it is an interesting way of considering how to construct a story. Throughout our preproduction, we have struggled with our overall vision and contention, as well as finding people to interview. By considering that we can push the conventions of cinema verite into creating drama, it gives us freedom to create a narrative where they may not have previously been one.

“There was a lot of experimentation in that project, and it gave me a lot of confidence in the different ways you can film what is real” (Johnston, cited in Cunningham 2005, p.156)

Kirsten Johnston, a filmmaker who has worked on several independent features in the last 25 years, discusses working with French critic and philosopher, Jacques Derrida, who had very strict control over how he wanted to be shot in his documentary. Johnston talks about how this impacted on the documentary that was created in the final product. This reflection of Derrida’s thoughts became a founding aspect of the documentary, which went on to win several awards and was screened at Sundance film festival. Because the subject had such strict rules about how he was going to be framed in his piece, Johnston talks about how she was forced to think outside the box in relation to the framing of the shots. One of the more interesting things I took away from this documentary was when she talked about how, when shooting Derrida working in his office, instead of shooting him behind from inside, she chose to shoot him from “in his garden, filming him through the trees, through the window, into his office” (p.156). I liked this because it made me think about how our interviews for Bluestone can be shot, outside of the traditional and conventional ways to shoot interviews.

Analysis and Reflection 3

Then reflect on the whole process – Consider: the quality and usability of your recordings; the effect of layering and juxtaposition of both the audio and the video and; the things you learnt from working with this kind of audio and video.

I found this to be a really interesting exercise, joining together audio and video together shot on completely different days, with no knowledge that we would have to put them together to create a cohesive one minute piece of film. On reviewing the footage and trying to join together I found that the video that we shot was much more useable than the audio. I think that this may have been due having a week in between recording the audio and the video, as it gave a chance to review and reflect on the footage and think about the video and what we were going to shoot before going out.

I found it hard to find ways to join together the audio and video when editing, mostly because there was little to no connection between them. This lead to me having to edit together and layer the audio I recorded separately, with the audio from the video we shot.

One of the most interesting things I have taken away from this exercise is seeing how other people have interpreted the exercise. Getting a chance to see Miguel’s finished exercise was fascinating as we had the same video footage to work with, but interpreted them in very different ways.

Select from one of the readings and briefly describe two points that you have taken from it. Points that excite you, something that was completely new to you. (Please put a full stop when you return so we get a paragraph break. Makes it easier to read.)

Paul Ward’s Fiction and Non Fiction: The Great Divide (2005), explores the relationship between “fiction, non-fiction and documentary” (pg.31) and how these things overlap and interact. He explores how the tensions between drama and documentary and how these can be constructed.

One of the interesting things I found that Ward discusses is how reality TV is constructed and can be considered ‘real’ and how it is constructed. He uses the example of Big Brother to demonstrate how documentary just relies on real people essentially acting, and having a “highly developed sense of performance” (Ward 2005, p.36).

Another of the interesting things I found in Ward’s reading was his discussion of several retellings of Aileen Wuornos’ story. The several different film retellings utilise different levels of fiction and non-fiction to different effects. Ward explores these ‘fly-on-the-wall’ style constructed documentaries allow a different level of intimacy and information than is been expected from traditional dramas.

Film & TV 2 – Analysis and Reflection 2

Question 2
In this semester I want to learn more about the codes and conventions of documentary – and how they can be broken to make an interesting and exciting piece of film. Having no previous experience or knowledge about what it means to make a documentary (I haven’t done True Lies either, which I feel like puts me a little bit behind the 8-Ball this semester). I want to make a really interesting and experimental piece of film, which does not resemble a traditional interview based documentary. This semester I also want to immerse myself more in the technical side of film production this semester. Last semester, as I took the role of director, I feel like I did not learn enough enough about the more technical aspects of filmmaking (particularly sound and lighting). This semester, however I want to learn more about how these areas work and can get my skills to the same level of my peers. This semester I want to work with a really interesting and skilled group of people, and to work really well together and hard to create a really interesting piece of film.

Question 3
In the lecture in Week 1, we watched an excerpt from Brian Hill’s “Drinking for England”, which is one of Hill’s most famous documentary musicals. While I thought the use of song was an interesting and unexpected way to break the conventions surrounding documentary, I don’t think it was a particularly engaging way to communicate the ideas Hill was trying to show to his audience. Although, it may have worked when viewing the film as a whole, the excerpt on its own did not exactly convince me this was an effective way to create a documentary. While I wouldn’t call it repelling, exactly, it didn’t convince me of the wonders of the musical documentary.

Question 4
“The Idea of North” was an interesting way to present a documentary which features several people’s impressions and attitudes towards Northern Canada. The most interesting thing about this documentary for me was the introduction – the layering of several voices each talking over each other. When I listened to it initially, I thought there was a mistake with the audio or how I was playing it, that I had accidentally opened several different tracks at once. However, after I figured out what was happening, I really got into the swing of it. I actually listened to the introduction bit several times, just to try and hear what each of the voices were saying.

I thought the rest of the documentary was really interesting as well, however this introductory layering was, for me, the most interesting and capturing part of the excerpt. It definitely inspired me to think about how this can be used in our projects for this semester – and how this can be transferred into a video medium as well. This more poetic and experimental approach to a more traditional interview based documentary was definitely very inspiring in terms of our work this semester.

Question 5
This recording exercise for me was very challenging for a few reasons. First of all, due to odd numbers in our class, I completed this task on my own. This, in tandem with my lack of proficiency and confidence in the technical side of filmmaking, means I did not complete this task as I well as I feel I could have if I was in a pair. However, this exercise also taught me to have confidence and to be brave in both my own skills and my choices.

When doing the activity, I wanted to explore sounds we here almost every day as RMIT students, the sound of people playing basketball outside of Building 9, waiting in line at the Student HUb, the fountains that are on Bowen Street, people talking and laughing. All of these sounds evoke memories, for me, of being at university and being apart of the culture that surrounds us. Looking back and reflecting on my recordings, I wish I had thought more about what I was trying to achieve with these sounds as a whole (instead as of isolated incidents and recordings).

Flip Lecture 1 – “The Arena of Likes – Social Currency in Social Media”

In this weeks flip lecture, we were asked to watch the Four Corners documentary, “Generation Like”, which discusses the phenomena that is social media, and how it can be harnessed by young people, and professionals alike.

The questions we were asked to respond to were:

How does this documentary alter your understanding of the way you use social media?

What connections can you make with the role of a Social Media Producer?

What ideas does this documentary raise in regards to the event your group is planning and the task of achieving participatory engagement?

One of the most interesting things I took away from this documentary was how social media can be, and is, harnessed by companies and businesses worldwide. The section of this film which I found most interesting was the one with Ian Somerhalder and his social media manager. Getting an insight into how they work and schedule posts and “events” was very interesting. Getting an insight into how much information they are privy to was also very interesting, such as what other companies and products people who like something (such as Ian Somerhalder) also like, and how this can be used to help companies join together and build partnerships.

This documentary helped me develop more ideas in regard to the the event we are planning for this subject. One of the ideas I got from this documentary was creating a schedule or calendar of things we are going to post to social media and when we are going to do it, as well as tracking the response to these posts. By planning in advance, we will allow ourselves to have a clearer idea understanding of both what we are posting and how these are being received by our intended audience.

Film&TV1 Analysis 6

Consider Sandra’s lecture “Directing Actors” and describe at least a couple of points that you took away from it (even if you’re not the director).

Two things I took away from Sandra’s lecture were;

  • When rehearsing with the actors, get them to talk about their interpretation of the film and each scene in particular, rather than telling them directly.
  • Sandra recommended shooting outside wherever possible, and if it was possible to try and shoot near windows, as it is easier to use the natural light than create complicated lighting set ups (also cuts down on time)

In this clip screened in the lecture from the Coen brothers’ ‘Blood Simple‘ describe what is happening in terms of the edits specifically in terms of the audio and video. Also name the different kinds of audio you can hear.

Sounds you can hear in “Blood Simple:

  • Diagetic sound – fish being put on the table, lighter, the envelope, chairs, the gun etc
  • Background noise  – fluro lights buzzing (?), cars outside
  • Dialouge

The sound in this clip establishes the characters in this relationship, as well as the relationship with them. The stark silence between lines of dialogue communicates to the audience that these characters aren’t friends. Because of the lack of non-diagetic music in this scene, the audience’s attention wholely consumed by the dialouge.

Keyboard shortcuts. 

Most applications reserve keyboard shortcuts for the functions that use most often. It is really good to learn all of these as it will speed up your editing and additionally alert you to functions that the software developers and other users find important. (You can learn much about the software by looking at keyboard shortcuts). 

Find the keyboard shortcuts for Adobe Premiere and note two or more functions that you’ve never used before that may be invaluable to editing.

Cmd+N for new sequence

Shift+9 for audio mixing

= and – for zooming in and out on the sequence


Dovey and Rose’s “We’re happy and we know it”

Dovey and Rose’s 2012 report, “We’re Happy and We Know It: Documentary: Data: Montage”, discusses various ways in which happiness can be recorded and mapped out on a digital scale. They cite mobile applications and interactive documentaries such as I Want You to Want Me (p.g6), We Feel Fine (p.6) and Mappiness (p.7) as examples of expressing emotions in a digital sense. They discuss how these platforms can “produce unexpected new insights” (p.7) into the human condition and how it can be expressed in a digital form.

One of the ideas I found most interesting in this reading was the discussion surrounding the differing and ever changing nature of online documentaries. As Dovey and Rose discuss, “the exact nature of the experience will emerge from the interaction [with] whatever is available online to respond to [it]” (Dovey and Rose 2012, p.18). The main problem I feel most students have been encountering with Korsakow this semester is giving up the control to shape the users experience. Most of the software we work with gives the creator complete control over how the user views the product, and it is strange to work with a program, which leaves the users experience so much up to probability.

Another idea which I found interesting in this reading was when Dovey and Rose discuss how “watching work online is, some might argue, already difficult enough, finding it in the first place is already a challenge.” (Dovey and Rose 2012, p. 12). I think they main problem most students are struggling with this subject is finding the point in Korsakow, as it seems to be a program which very few people use. It is hard to see and understand the audience for interactive and online documentaries when they are such a new phenomenon.

Film&TV Test 5

Select from one of the readings from week 5, 6 or 7 and describe two points that you have taken from it. Points that excite you, something that was completely new to you.

From the reading about developing a crew;

1. Rabiger dicusses how working effectively as a crew can make a real difference in a production. While I already knew this, it is important to think about how you can create this kind of environment. As a director, you are putting an incredible amount of pressure on everyone (Rabiger also discusses how directors can be typically neurotic and can be problematic on shoot). It is important to remember this when we are shooting.

2. Rabinger discusses the traits you are and aren’t looking for in a director. When we shoot I will be trying to remember the things you are looking for in a director (especially being organised while still informal, and making instinctive judgements) and avoiding the negative traits (mainly not deserting the actors for the crew and vice versa).

Blow Up is a 1966 film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni.
In this scene note the choreography of the actors, camera, frame and focus. As covered in the lecture describe the things Antonioni would have have to consider when directing the actors and the camera.

In this scene from “Blow Up”, the camera uses a variety of still and panning shots, which follows the actors movement though the scene. The amount of shots in each individual scene (a combination of long and close up shots) allows for the whole set to be seen by the audience. To achieve this, Antonioni would have told his DOP to ensure that all of the set can be scene through a variety of shots. The choice of shots and how they are framed is incredibly interesting. Antonioni has made some bold choices in how he has chosen to frame certain shots

A few of the shots I found interesting in this scene were;

At 1:37, the frame includes a beam which cuts off both of the actors at the shoulders, which is an interesting choice, considering the importance of the dialogue in this scene.
At 3:42, the close up shot of the male character on the phone cuts from a high angle shot to a close up which appears to be shot from ground level or slightly above.
In directing the actors, Antonioni may have instructed them to appear uncomfortable with each other, which adds to the high level of discomfort between the two actors in this scene. There is constant space between the two actors, which also assists in that. Before they begun shooting this scene, Antonioni would have breifed the actors on the relationships between their characters and the motivations for each character.

Will Luer’s “Plotting the Database”

Will Luer’s “Plotting the Database”, published in 2012, discusses the features of database narrative including entry points, collecting data, relations and attention. Through 8 separate sections, Luer explains how all of these elements tie together to create an engaging and interesting piece of work.

An idea I found the most interesting was Luer’s discussion of ‘Entry Points’, and how it can relate to our work this semester. Luer discusses how entry points can set the tone for the whole database narrative. Because of the randomness of the Korsakow program, the user and the program determines “when and where to exit a database narrative” (Luer 2012, p.2), as opposed to a traditional narrative, where the author determines the entry point. With Korsakow, you can select the any of the clips your film can start on (by selecting, or not, the start SNU), and this still allows the creator some control over the users entry point into the work.

Another interesting point, which I found in Luer’s writing, was the discussion surrounding ‘Distributed Attention’, and how a user can understand, draw meaning from, and interact with an interface. Luer discusses how the “spatial juxtaposition of media – text, links, image, video and audio” (Luers 2012, p.4) allows the user to become more engaged in the work and draw meaning out of it. This is relevant to our final assessment for this subject, as an interesting and engaging interface can often make or break a Korsakow film, as we have seen in the work viewed this semester.

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