I loved all the films at the screening, and I wish I could talk about them here. I probably will, but I haven't had the internet over the past few days (I am typing this from the house of Zachary McSweeney, and we have to leave now, and it is awful.)
Here is the link to the film, now called The Jerk At Work:
I hope you enjoy it.
So, I'm almost paralysed with tiredness after going to work, but I thought I should probably do a quick blog entry before hitting the hay.
In terms of narration, I had spontaneously asked my friend Melissa to read out the lines for our rough cut, but for the actual film we needed to record Adam, who we were introduced to through Ellie as someone who was good at doing a variety of voices.
Through recording Melissa, I learnt that some of the narration (either hastily put together by me or revised by Alex) was difficult to say, or didn't convey the ideas or messages fully. For example, the line "when his colleagues returned, oh how they would squeal!" could be interpreted as Joe's coworkers experiencing excitement or joy instead of anger, and words like 'consternation' also deviated from the Seuss-like effect we were trying to produce (because, honestly, how many picture books have you seen the word consternation in? And if you have, then what the hell are you reading your children?)
Another concern that was raised by our peers in the rough-cut screening was that the narration was a little too sparse for the type of feel we were going for. Although we do need to cut down on some of the scenes in our film, I also thought that the narration could be a little more stretched out, and so thought of things to add to it that would further the story along. I tend to go by the logic that it's better to spend the extra ten seconds recording something you can later take out than be mournfully wishing you'd decided to record something earlier and be left with nothing.
I'd been letting a few different rhymes run through my head over the past few days, but I only wrote out a new version of the narration when I got to the city, half an hour before we were scheduled to meet Adam. (I had less than half an hour, really, because I had to go borrow a H2 Zoom and I also ran into a former classmate in the cafeteria where I was typing). In addition to that, my Mac decided to freeze after I'd written half and I had to do the rest in the edit suites and have Adam read off two separate screens. In the end, though, I feel quite proud of my last minute additions and tweaking.
Alex showed Adam a few different clips of narration styles he would like him to emulate, and Adam simply 'found a voice' and away we were. I was quite amazed by this and he seemed very experienced and professional. We did a few different recordings, or 'takes', as sometimes lines needed to be repeated for different emphasis.
I am going to put this next part in bold as I think it's something that's actually helpful.
An important discovery we made was that the narration was clearer when Adam paused between the sentences, rather than reading it all together like a poem. This was because when he was pausing, his voice remained strong until the final syllable of the sentence. However, when he was carrying on to the next part, his voice often faded away. Most people do this, and I remember teachers in primary school trying to get us to speak clearly and pronounce the last syllable of each sentence, but the reality is that most people will get quieter.
If you're recording narration, get them to pause. It's amazing. (And shitloads easier to edit!)
I'm also glad we used Adam because his voice really brought it all to life, and just listening to him made me filled with excitement and motivation to finish our film (as if the impending deadline wasn't enough-!).
So yes. Peace out until the next update.
I keep believing that I have no time for blogging when in actuality I probably do, but I'm just shying away from the really long ones (and then keep saving them as drafts, etc, to finish later, which looks good to nobody.)
Anyway, here's an update of how we are going with editing:
We will be recording narration tomorrow, which I'm still kind of worried about (I guess I will contact Paul).
Also, Steph and I were messing around with a few scenes yesterday and we got something which we felt was really good. She just told me that after speaking to Alex, though, he's decided that he'll just scrap it if he doesn't like it.
I mean, okay, he is the director, but he's also stated that he's been working on other projects he's been 'behind' on and the deadline is approaching. So I'm feeling sort of pointless because is there any point of me trying to do anything if it'll just be scrapped if it's not what he wants? And in that case, why doesn't he just do it all?
I guess this is how editors must feel all the time, though. A possible impediment to the director's majestic creative vision.
Still, we need to submit something...
Adrian has written a post calling me "ever regular and impressively reliable".
But it did make me smile.
(Image found here and edited. All rights to the copyright owners.)
Once, coming to university was all about the content. Access to materials, technology, information.
However, those things are now readily available. It's not all about the content - you can get fantastic lectures on the Internet for free.
MIT put all their course materials online, readily available to anyone. WHY?
They realise that it's about the experience - they lose nothing by putting up their curriculum, because the experience is something that can be obtained only at university.
This is obviously true. If I hadn't come to the lectures, for example, I would not have been able to create poetry from Adrian's words. This lecture is practically empty, and still someone is able to come in late and sit right in front of me and block out my view of Adrian - a tiny little figure from the point of view of one in the back row, with the rest of the Frankston Line.
Here Adrian is talking about sketches, which have a small footprint, as opposed to painting done by an artist which needs a large amount of infrastructure - painting, canvas, lighting, etc. We've made informal video - stuff with a small footprint, quickly and easily.
Sketching doesn't mean you have to devalue it as a practice. This is something I had to learn - from my first IM video to the fifth one. When I started, I submitted an unedited single shot video which basically had not much going for it. After showing it in class I started to think, comparing my work with other people, and wanting to be more entertaining and do a better job. Through this I think I made my best 'sketch' video - Not An Indoor Cat - which many people actually liked. I wanted to try harder and through this I learnt that sketches could be beautiful, too.
By teaching us to appreciate text and sketches, or thinking in action, Adrian carried out his intention of getting us to question the way we approached filmmaking, and that there was more than one way to make a 'legitimate' work.
"Theory is thinking engaging with doing." This is why he got us to read Barthes instead of just explaining it (which probably would have been a lot easier to comprehend.
Something else we covered: the idea of assembly lines, and group construction. People no longer needed to know how to make EVERY part of a construction, or a car - they could specialise in only one part.
Even in film production, there is now a 'factory' type operation of filmmakers.
People don't tend to change in traditional media. It's conservative, involved with concepts of risk management and expense, and what's traditional and comfortable - Adrian argues that one of the biggest changes for television was the death of the Sunday night movie on each channel.
Value these days (in car production) lies in selling the experience, on ideas, on knowing HOW.
Learning all the shortcuts in Final Cut Pro (for example) is learning WHAT, not learning HOW.
It's more important to know about the capabilities of software, and what you should be able to do using programs, because you can then learn WHAT you need to do if you know HOW you can do it.
When HTML first came out, Adrian felt that he knew everything there was to know about it (for about three weeks), as there was only a small vocabulary. This was until he saw the first webpage with a 'form' on it, where people could respond and write back, and the world changed for him. From that point forward, with rapid changes, he could no longer know everything. However, what he did know was how to find this information, and that is what was most important.
So, what does all this mean for us (as potential/future media producers)?
Why come to uni (and this class) if we can get all the information just from the internet?
The answer? The experience of Adrian as a filter, the feedback given, and (I'd say) the expectation to create work, the deadlines, the pressure, the structure.
Videos shouldn't need to take all your attention, and if they do, you should be rewarded for this. Realistically, the computer is a multi-windowed environment, and you may only be expecting small videos which you can stop and start and engage with easily.
1. Colour coordinating your script (when turning scenes into a shot list) is ALWAYS a good idea.
2. Getting Alex to listen to you is easier if you're Ruth Richards that if you're Cassandra Wright.
3. Having an organised first AD is something that you should NEVER, NEVER, EVER take for granted.
4. Ruth is amazing.
These are my complete feelings and sentiments after our day's filming of Office Grinch. I have been blown away by her efficiency and awesomeness.
The edit: the finished product:
made in pre-production (sound pre-production, storyboards, how you dealt with coverage)
documented in shoot by continuity and log sheets
and only finished in post production.
One may not attack their editing methodically enough:
it can get chaotic, confusing, unless you are really well organised
Even in a 5 minute film, most of us cannot retain all the shots in our heads
One of the benefits from digitizing off the tapes is that you are forced to watch every shot all over again.
Auto save vault
HOW TO DO THIS
Create a new folder on your desktop
Call it the name of your film
Put this in the Film-TV1 folder (or it will get trashed)
Fire up final cut
close the last project used (in the tabs) or you could be saving all your work into someone else's project
Every time you open up final cut you must go SHIFT Q
(so all your video and audio filed go to the same place)
Choose DV PAL Animorphic 48 k
The FCP handbook (on the Film Tv blog) shows you in 4 simple steps how you have to start/save your project
Make sure you back up all the digitized footage and the final cut project
On your own computer, the autosave is set to a certain folder. If the server/computer crashes and you haven't been saving, it will have autosaved onto the local computer.
set up the tabs in your project
make a seperate sequence for each scene
File -> New -> Bin (like a folder) ->
(Apple N) for new sequence
logging bins for each scene,
folder for sequences (date modified)
folder for music
log THEN capture
timecode is KING
put your 'in' and 'out' inside the 'start' and 'stop'
'start' (on camera).....then 'in'.....................................then 'out'....then 'stop' (on camera)
You cannot capture the first 5 or 6 seconds of a tape (which is why we have colour bars)
Cut in seperate scenes so you can really analyse how that scene is working
The thumbnail is dictated by the inpoint of the clip
Double click on the shot and open it up in the viewer
Play out the shot.
You can keep hitting i and this will just move the inpoint along
L to fast forward
Hit O for out point
Apple F10 will drop it in and leave playhead at the outpoint of the next shot
Just do rough cuts, leave it
editing scenes seperately gives you the opportunity to be lateral or creative
keyboard shortcuts are incredibly useful, the beauty of reading them means that certain things are really important (and maybe you should think about using them).
I've been thinking a lot over the past few weeks about what Paul said in regards to narration.
It's true that I always had my scepticism when it came to using a narrator in our film, and this was one of the main reasons why I initially did not want to do Office Grinch. However, it was the only film that everyone else in the group seemed to settle upon, so for the sake of choosing a story idea I gave in and we went with it.
Paul's idea was that we scrapped the narration completely, or did two versions (one with the narration, and one without). We had a meeting with him and I didn't say much because I think this project has just taught me to shut up sometimes (since my first outburst in class where I announced that I didn't want to work with Alex). Alex and Ellie enthusiastically defended their ideas about having Ellie's friend Adam perform the narration.
I don't know if either of them really wanted to listen to what Paul was saying, because a) Alex already had his heart set on the concept and b) Ellie already had her heart set on the actor. This isn't a criticism towards them, it's just how it was. Frankly I think the meeting was unproductive except for the fact that it got me thinking. Watching The Inbetweeners (on recommendation from my brother, who said it was "like Skins and Misfits, you know?") brought this home to me, once again.
The fact is that this show (although produced by the same channel in England) was DIFFERENT from Misfits and Skins - vastly different, and I think this boiled down to the narration. This is a show obsessed with showing and not telling. Sure, there are snippets of action, but narration was overused as an easy way to connect scenes and not have to do anything very interesting visually. I did start enjoying the show once I got to Episode 5 of the 1st season, but with other shows it doesn't take me this long. I think it was also because the story wasn't too riveting (although Skins pulled off 'average teenagers' quite well).
I've always been worried that Office Grinch won't have that oomph that we want, and now, it's doubly worrying considering that the guy who wrote it is also turning it into a short film (which is quite annoying, honestly, because we were told that we weren't allowed to do that. If we were, I would have voted for one of the stories from our group, which I liked a lot better).
However, I guess we've just got to plod on with it. With the way it was shot on the day, I don't think it'll make much sense without narration. Besides, I don't really want to fight about it now because I just want it to be done.
On a side note, when we got our folio back Paul made a note about how it was the Producer's job to choose a more achievable script. I don't think this was really that fair. If we were allowed to choose our own groups, then maybe. But with things the way they were, with groups chosen for us - I mean, everyone wanted input into what we chose, because it was a group assignment. In the real world, the producer would hire everyone and tell them what to do, but that wasn't how it was.
I think Alex was right when he said we were all trying to be too friendly to each other, and that maybe it stood in the way of creativity. However, this was the only option we had. What we wanted was too different and the only way to move forward was to compromise. Sure, the finished product might not be exactly what each of us had in mind, but there's also no point in only one person getting their way while others are bitter and resentful about it. We did what we had to do and that is that.
We just have to keep going.
Note: Next week we have two films, so be there before 9.30 if possible
Note about extra references necessary for final research essay: They can be from the 'external links' section on blackboard. Also keep in mind the AFI research collection
This week's lecture taken by Liam Ward
Touching the Void relies very heavily on reenactments, however these are approached very differently than other films we have seen in the course. For example, in Forbidden Lie$, reenactments are done to be reflexive, but in this movie they are used to claim 'a higher degree of truthfulness'.
When looking at animated documentaries, the point was made that these types of films challenged the notion of what documentary really is. This was related to the question of indexicality - that documentary is concerned with the things that happen in front of the camera.
There is a notion that documentary cannot contain scenes that were scripted, constructed, planned out by the filmmakers. In this movie, artifice is used to make it more real, and more truthful.
These constructed shots were used to film things that happened without a camera present (ie. on the expedition). It also is used to show things that COULD NOT have been filmed with a camera anyway, even if one was present (for example, his state of mind shown in the 'Boney M' sequence) - images, snippets from inside joe's head (such as animal bones/carcass)
Also, the music fades in and out, among all the other noise, but then becomes dominating.
This helps to recreate an experiential type of truth, rather than just the 'bare facts'.
These types of films are often referred to as docu-drama and have become more popular in the past few decades.
Like their animated counterparts, these films reveal something right from the heart of documentary - that 'representing the truth' shouldn't come from any formal or stylistic qualities. In doing this, they suggest a deeper dynamic - documentaries gain their status as 'truthful' through a relationship they create and maintain with the viewer.
Nichols' modes reduces documentary to formal characteristics. This prompted Errol Morris to make his remark that truth should not be defined by style, and the stylistic element can be 'divorced' from the truth to create completely fictional works (for example Spinal Tap, Angry Boys, etc). There are many films that are mockumentaries, however, that aren't 'funny', such as 'Man Bites Dog'. This film has all the elements of the Interactive Mode, but audiences would easily define it as fiction as soon as they see it.
In 'Death of a President', the audience would clearly know that George Bush hasn't been assassinated, however everything else about it smacks of authenticity.
A history textbook is taken as the 'gospel truth' when it is actually often a closed, biased view of history.
So what is true and what isn't?
Another problem is the critique of realism - some people believe that there is no singular 'real world' and that it cannot be captured, recorded or expressed by documentaries.
The main concern is that documentaries don't need to have an inherent sort of truthfulness or a privileged view of reality, but just need to ASK to be viewed as a representation of the REAL world as opposed to the FICTIONAL world - it is an argument about the real world.
If you take the position that documentaries are about argument, then the logical next step is that they need to present some sort of evidence for their argument. This is why what the camera records is so important. However, you can also have an indexical soundtrack, a voiceover, as seen in Waltz with Bashir where the interviews are played along with an animated film.
In Touching the Void, the talking heads and interviews give the film its authenticity, which is HEIGHTENED AND NOT UNDERMINED by the reenactments. The classic techniques used by fictional films in order to draw an audience in are used in this documentary, with the intent to be 'truthful'.
"Documentaries often invite us to take as true what subjects recount to us" in voiceover or testimony.
This doesn't help us understand why the audience would accept the testimony of these people, but not the serial killer in 'Man Bites Dog'.
There is something more.
To understand a film like 'Man Bites Dog', we have to see it as more than a collection of formal elements- we have to take it as a whole and evaluate WHAT the film is asking of the viewer.
There is something beyond formal characteristics that position documentaries as truthful.
"Visible Evidence" is a conference about documentary which takes place annually.
Certain questions come up, which include the concept of creating historical documentaries.
Is pre-history profilmic?
If documentary is about recording what is in front of the camera and reporting life, how can documentary deal with the concept of death?
The void in 'Touching the Void' is not what Joe falls into - it is the consequences, situation and emotion that SImon and Joe face. The concept of death, isolation, despair. You can't just point a camera and film guilt - it has to be recreated and displayed through some kind of artifice.
When you see a photo of a fish, you don't say "it's a photo of a fish", but say "it's a fish." It has an indexical quality, that seems to captivate the heart and soul of the fish. Documentary is often seen in the same way, with an unspoken contract between the film and the audience that the audience will attempt to see the film as truthful.
Social context is also very important, as a young Nazi in the 1930's would see Triumph of the Will in a very different manner than we would in Melbourne today. This is because documentaries create a relationship between the film and the audience.
Documentaries not only present arguments, but ask the viewers if they can believe the argument. "Can you dig it?"
The way a film tries to construct meaning will directly affect how the film is received.
How does an audience come to the conclusion that one film is a documentary and another is not?
The labelling argument is that something can be a documentary if you put that label on it, and if you tell the audience that it is so.
This may have an effect on the viewer, but it underestimates the judgement of the viewer.
The two extreme views are either that 'anything is a documentary if you put the label on it' to 'it's only a documentary if it's what was recorded in front of the camera, without a script, true to life'. These are starting points for our understanding about documentary but we need to think more about these concepts.
Schlinder's List, which is a fiction film only 'based' on a true story, arguably tells us more truth than Triumph of the Will which labels itself as a documentary.
Ask yourself why viewers would be willing to consent to the concepts the film purports to present as truthful.
Human beings are by and large active thinkers.
The issue of veracity is not seen in absolutes, and too much emphasis on the importance of the indexical image and unscripted scenes underestimates the judgement of the viewers.
Kevin Macdonald, who directed this movie, comes from an Oscar-winning documentary background, and had written a book about documentary, so clearly knew what he was doing.
"There's much more to truth than what you see happening in front of you at the moment...there are many many ways to commit the truth because there are many many ways of defining what's true."
I'm currently watching Hungry Beast's episode on Power, and the segment on Rape in Prisons is one that I think is extraordinarly effective.
Firstly, it started with big white letters spelling out the audio interviews with raped prisoners.
This was scary because we couldn't see who they were, and therefore felt more connected to them, but also because we could see the words appearing on the screen on a black background.
The music used was menacing, the shots of the prison were often wide and empty. Combined with the very serious subject matter and expert opinion, this made me genuinely frightened and concerned for the prisoners involved.
I think that Hungry Beast is an effective show because it contrasts humorous clips with serious ones such as these for even greater impact.