Ian F. Hunt BA Digital Media Production – Graduation 2013 June 28th
I thought it would be time to update this page with the news that after 3 years of hard but enjoyable work studying at the Arts University Bournemouth I have now officially Graduated with a BA (Hon’s) 2.1 in Digital Media Production.
This is the last time that I expect to post anything to this Blog and instead I plan to concentrate on the update of my Blog Clickformedia – click on the link to go to Clickformedia.
Over the last 3 years I have found that I have been at my most creative when working with a camera, either taking stills or video as a DSLR Cinematographer. As a DSLR Cinematographer I have also acquired an interest in the narrative/storytelling and producing short films. This then leads on to an interest in making Documentaries and becoming a documentary filmmaker, not in any specific mode, I’m happy to mix the Poetic with the Observational and would not be adverse to attempting the Expository form of documentary. The subject can be as diverse as the form, although my interests are leaning towards exploring the British way of life. The early pioneers of The British Documentary Film Movement between 1926 and 1946 lead the way. The work of John Grierson in the 1930’s and his philosophy applied to film making inspires me to adopt this style and re-introduce and update this for the 21st century.
Documentary has become much more popular in recent times. There are many factors involved in this new interest in documentary, for example; they are relatively cheap to produce, they satisfy an audiences demand for voyeurism (fly on the wall), they are generally factual. I say generally factual because it is of course possible to produce a documentary with just one side of a story and of course technology lets us manipulate images in infinite ways. It is therefore important to state at the outset of anything a filmmaker produces whether this is a factual or fictional film, but of course this rule has been broken on may occasions where fiction has been presented as fact.
Having previously worked with the voluntary organisation RELAYS (Regional Educational Legacy in Arts and Youth Sport) we were asked to work with them to film and produce a series of short videos recording the Sport activities organised for the ‘Free Your Fitness’ project.
‘Free You Fitness’ project is a Lottery funded project to enable Bournemouth University and Arts University Bournemouth students to get involved in a Sport. The videos would be used by sportBU for presentations to Sport England and would also be used by BU Sports Management students in their final year projects.
Objectives and Approach.
I worked in a team with Aleksandra Leontyeva for this module, with each of us working in clearly defined roles, although these could and have been interchangeable as required, but in the main my personal key responsibilities have been first the capture of the visuals and then the editing and post production.
In addition to my key responsibilities I have also been involved in the marketing of our work on the Internet. One of my ideas was to create a separate website dedicated to showcase the videos we have produced to help promote our YouTube Channel and in particular with the aim of improving our listing position in the Google search results.
Website Links to our videos – help promote and improve our listing positions in Google search results and therefore increase traffic to our videos and increasing the views.
This project can be broken down into three parts.
Part one was to work with an external client, in this case SportBU to produce videos from the Sports Activities organised for the “Free Your Fitness” project for their presentation to Sport England and the project stakeholders.
Part Two was the creation of a YouTube Channel for the submission of our work for this unit and to showcase our work to the general public.
Part Three involved the marketing of the videos and the YouTube Channel using Social Networks including Facebook and Twitter.
Pre-production, organisation and planning
After three years at University, Aleksandra and myself have acquired excellent film making skills, the experience we have gained from working on many Film projects mean that we are very well organised as a team. We quickly created a detailed plan for each of the sport activities we intended to film, allocated time for editing and methods for delivering the content to the client. Including saving to memory sticks and uploading to the YouTube Channel, which we created specifically for this project and titled Sports Edge Video Productions.
We set ourselves three key deadlines:-
The first was to deliver a range of sports videos for a group of Sports Management Bournemouth University students to use in their final projects by the end of February but this was rescheduled by the students to March.
The second deadline was to deliver video content suitable for sportBU to use for the Sport England presentation scheduled for Friday 19th April 2013.
The final deadline was for our personal hand in and critique for May 2nd 2013, which would include the content created for the YouTube Channel and of the marketing of the channel/videos using Social Networks.
I’ve created individual Blog entries for each of the filming sessions and what we did for each sport in order to film and decide on editing choices, but in general we split the filming duties.
Filming Sports Creatively – ‘You need to get the camera low and follow the action’
For example I tended to concentrate on capturing the sports action and look for opportunities to use new camera angles including the use of the GoPro to create an alternative perspective POV. Aleksandra complimented this by filming close ups and the social aspect of the sport. However we swapped roles as necessary to make sure that we captured as much footage as we could. One of the key points we learned when filming live sports is that you have to be in the right place at the right time to get the shot and there’s little opportunity to re-shoot.
Pre-production – Time Management and Project Management
For time management in particular we made use of Social Networks by creating Facebook Events for each of the filming sessions, which reminded us when we were online what, where and when we had to be to film.
Time Management – ‘It’s about being organised, having a plan and sticking to it’ using Facebooks Events service was the perfect solution for organising/planning filming sessions at multiple venues over a period of weeks/months.
I started off by using an online Gantter Chart for project planning, which can be shared with other team members as I’ve used for my previous projects and then added Facebook Events, which turned out to be much more successful for planning the Filming sessions and organising as I’ve already mentioned what we needed to do, at what location and when. I’ve posted a dedicated Blog entry for this which can be found click here.
Between filming sessions we allocated editing time immediately after each event so that we would have videos completed at each stage of the project, which could then be presented to the client who we arranged to meet with on several occasions during the project. At these meetings we also agreed any changes in the order of the events, the dates/times and at the same time the client may have asked us for something specific to be included in our videos. This for example could have included getting video of the organising staff or photographs/screengrabs for presentations.
Pre-production Planning – Storyboards and Shot Lists
In the early stages of this project I started off creating detailed storyboards (Slide shows for an example click here) and shots lists in the usual manner as for any previous short film project, an example of which was the detailed shot list and outline I created for the Boxing session, which can be found in this Blog post click here.
For filming Sports we had to be more adaptable have an open mind rather than work to detailed shot lists and storyboards
Following a tutorial with Liam I was advised to instead film the sports without a preconceived plan or detailed shot shot and be more spontaneous and adaptable to events as they unfolded. The idea behind this was that as I have on many previous projects carry out intensive planning and I tend to like to control all aspects of a production and in live sports this is just not possible. With this in mind for the majority of sports activities we filmed there was a basic outline of what we were looking for, an idea of the type of shots we wanted for example I wanted shots of the surfers taken into the Sun, so I made sure that I got those but other than these generalities I kept an open mind and just recorded as much footage as possible with as much variation in shots as possible.
I created several edits for each of the sports activities that we filmed giving each of them a unique quality. For some I focused on the visual qualities, the narrative or for some it was the soundtrack that was important to the final edit. In all, between us we created 35 videos for sports including:- Surfing, Volleyball, Track Cycling, Golf, Athletics and Judo.
In all, between us we created 35 videos for sports including:- Surfing, Volleyball, Track Cycling, Golf, Athletics and Judo
Some of the experimentation was created in Camera, by this I mean I selected a picture style (see this Blog post for details click here) or a method of moving the camera that was new to me. I experimented with Lens Whacking a method where the lens is removed from the camera mount and by changing the angle/focal plane you can change/introduce exposure changes while at the same time moving the focus point. I also tried several new camera angles and shot the majority of the footage handheld intentionally using a camera rig, details of which can be found in this dedicated Blog post click here.
I also used several post production techniques to simulate camera movements which could not be created at the time of filming, for example using scaling to simulate a zoom in or out, or to key in a tracking movement in Premiere Pro to simulate the use of a camera slide/dolly movement. I would combine several video transformations to stablelise an image or to follow or centralise the movement of the action on screen. A good example of this is tracking the cyclists as they cycled around the Velodrome, even though I tried my best to follow the movement as steadily as possible using the camera handheld it was still very difficult to keep the cyclist central in the frame.
I solved this issue in post production by keying in horizontal and vertical points to help centralise the cyclist in the centre of the screen. In most cases I limited my modifications in post production to those that enhance the quality of or the movement of the image rather than to add special effects just for the sake of adding them, but they do have their place and I’m happy to have made use of them when required. Certainly my knowledge and skills with Premiere Pro and After Effects have grown even in the last few months working on this project working on the editing of over 30 videos for the YouTube Channel.
Creativity in Post Production – ‘Using Video Transformations and Colour Grading to add interest’ – changing the duration of the video clips – speeding them up or slowing them down.
My video edits are colour graded or use an effect to add interest to the visuals, one example would be the Girls Cycling Event (for Blog post click here) where I layered videos changing opacity and blending modes to create the visual effects. I also used After Effects to colour tone and create a Triptych effect, which can be seen in the video below.
I also made the decision to create Movie style Trailers using iMovies, I’ve not used this editing program much over the last 3 years but I decided to make use of it in this project to create these short trailers. The reason behind this was introduce a different style to some of the edits, it’s very quick to use and the results can be very effective when for example you want to make an impact from just a few video clips. The feedback on these edits was mixed but generally most people liked them. In fact one of my recent iMovie trailers is getting a hit rate of 2 to 1 compared to any other edit.
Music and Soundtrack
I’ve used music that is Royalty Free or Creative Commons adding artist information in the end credits when required. This means that the videos can be monetised on YouTube without any limitations. The soundtrack for the Golf edit is particularly interesting as I created this from the sounds made as the golf club hits the ball, changing the pitch by changing the video speed and editing clips together to create a soundtrack. See my separate Blog for more details on this click here.
Effects & Post Production Examples
Cycling – Narrative Example
I created this video to show the build up to the start of a cycle race, beginning with showing the details of the cycles, the riders and the coach’s last minute talk to the riders. Then it’s the race itself, three riders racing around the track, one drops out after a few laps leaving just two to battle to the end. Then finally just the one rider crossing the finish line. This is really a difficult story to tell when there are only three riders on the day but I think it works well.
Being Creative – ‘Is creating a video about a Cycle Race with only 3 cyclists’
Cycling Triptych – Editing Technique
This video I think personally works well however I would like to make another version of this at some point which does not use the current visuals in the left panel. Possibly replacing them with some new footage of a group of cyclists chasing a leading cyclist. But the numbers were not available on the day of filming so I will have to go back and shoot some more footage in the Summer. My research and ideas behind this video can be found in this Blog entry click here.
Surfing – Narrative Example
I created this video to show the build up, the emotions and anticipation of the students as they exercise and are taught the guidelines before carrying their boards to the edge of the sea for many what would be their first time Surfing. I ended the video at the surfs edge as this ties in nicely with the opening ident sequence, which if you notice is virtually identical as this was scene from where the photograph was taken that we used to create the ident.
I also wanted to include some of the visual styles that I had identified in my research for this project in this surfing video, which in some ways had also influenced some of my camera work, which again came from my research for this unit click here for details. My research included the Guinness Advert ‘Horse Surfer’. In this video you will notice some of the similarities, the use of monochrome and music choice. I did think about adding a narration but in the end I felt the video worked on it’s own with just the music soundtrack.
The feedback on this video has been very positive.
Being creative can mean looking back as well as forward for inspiration
We decided that as we were creating a YouTube Channel that we would design our own ident and use this for the opening for all newly created video edits. I created a selection of idents in After Effects using screengrabs from the Surfing Videos. Some were over elaborate in their design and in the end the final version was almost the simplest that I had designed. It was based on a photograph, which I modified in Photoshop first to create a silhouette effect and some colour tone changes and then processed again in Lightroom 4.3, which I have described in detail in this dedicated Blog post, which includes the research we carried out before picking this final design click here. Additional research on ident design and my preceding designs can be found in this Blog post click here.
Idents – Creating a Logo/Identity for your video and services – ‘Branding’
Aleksandra agreed to concentrate more on the Branding and Marketing side of our project and so in many cases I deferred to what she said would work for the best for our project while I concentrated on the physical design, which as I mentioned was created using a range of applications including Photoshop, Lightroom and After Effects.
Creating the YouTube Channel
We decided early on in this project to create a YouTube Channel to which we could both upload our videos and that also had the benefit of providing the client/clients a single online resource for their projects and presentations. For example one of the clients planned to embed the YouTube video links into a Powerpoint presentation and having them all in one place made it much more easier for them to achieve this. Creating a YouTube Channel is very easy all you need to do is open an account with a valid email account. However more recently the channel setup has been changed to allow for customisation, which includes header images, colour choices/backgrounds and some layout design controls.
The range and diversity of the video edits we’ve created should appeal to both the Sportsman and to those just wanting to be entertained
I’ve made changes to our channel over time in particular to include playlists. The idea behind playlists is that you can set them up to automatically play each video automatically in sequence. This has the benefit of increasing video views for chances are if a viewer likes the first video they see they may carry on viewing the next video in sequence adding to the view counts for all videos in the playlist. I also went back through our videos to add annotations, adding links to Subscribe embedded at the end of the videos.
I also created a YouTube Channel widget which allows you to embed the channel and play videos directly within the widget, I’ve added this to all the pages on this Blog in anticipation that this will also increase views for out videos. I’ve gone into more detail on this in a dedicated Blog entry click here.
Another benefit to using a YouTube Channel is that this provides the client and audience an easy way to view and share the video footage we have created. The other option we had was to produce the content for delivery on DVD but this had its own problems as the client was not certain that all venues had access to DVD players. Fortunately the majority of the venues were expected to Internet access and those that did not had computer facilities (Laptop) that could support playback of the videos from a USB memory stick. With this in mind we also copied our videos onto a memory stick as a back up to the YouTube Channel and supplied this to the client for their presentations.
Website – Marketing
My responsibilities initially was for video creation rather than marketing and promotion but I decided in the latter stages of the project that a website would be a useful addition to our marketing processes. So I decided to create a website to showcase some of our videos and create links back to our Facebook Pages and YouTube Channel. As I am the most skilled at website design this job fell to me and so I created this website using a customised WordPress installation on my personal server. The website has no pages just Blog postings and it makes use of SEO scripts to generate web traffic through the use of keywords, which makes it easier for Google search robots to find and index our videos.
The website can be viewed here Sports Edge Video click here
Ethical, Social & Cultural Issues
As we were generally filming students who had been asked and had given us permission to film many of the potential issues for example how we portrayed people on screen were resolved at the beginning of the project. That is not say that we did not also take into consideration how people would be portrayed in our videos for example we would not use the footage produced to embarrass or denigrate those people on screen.
We did however cancel the filming of the Boxing when we learned that minors would be present as would youths who were participating as part of a rehabilitation program. Although permission could be granted to film these groups we felt that it would not add to the project and may cause future issues. For example minors filmed boxing and uploaded onto YouTube could have created major issues based on the public interpretation of what they were viewing and indeed for some moral issues may have raised.
Our videos help to promote the idea of sports for all by portraying sports and their participants positively.
Both genders were equally represented in our work, the Sports Activities were open to all participants regardless of gender, age and race and our work clearly shows this aspect. In fact our work helps to promote the idea of sports for all.
Final Thoughts and Project Evaluation at the Projects Conclusion
After a stumbling start to this unit with several filming/sports sessions cancelled for a number of sporting events, usually at the last minute mainly due to poor weather and also by low participant numbers, we soon got back on track, following the pre-production project planning and filming everything that we wanted to film. However with a caveat in that, it was a little bit unexpected and certainly when considering the subject, Sports activities at this level is basically just not that exciting.
Being Creative – Filming first time Sports participants is just not that exciting so we looked for the underlying narrative or created a unique selling point in our videos in post production.
I’m certain that if we were filming sport professionals or even experienced amateurs the action on screen would have been so much more interesting. But the team worked around this as much as we could, by making low participant numbers, low speeds and low activity levels appear interesting if not exciting on screen through our creativity.
It has been a positive learning process I personally have a better feel for filming live action sequences in general and a clearer idea of what now makes for good Sports footage. I’ve also used the Sports footage to convey different meanings, one example would be one of the JUDO videos, which feels more like a dance video than a Sports video.
I’m generally happy with what we’ve produced for this project. The client was pleased with the videos that we produced and has passed back to us their positive feedback having used the videos in their presentations and a successful meeting with Sport England. We have gone onto to produce more video edits for the client to use in their ongoing presentations to future stakeholders in the project, which continues into 2014.
In the final weeks of the project created a series of videos for entertainment purposes with the idea that it may attract viewers not specifically interested in Sports genre videos. I suspect we were our most creative while making these videos and the client agreed, for example asking me to put back into early videos the trips and the falls.
What would I do differently? I think in the circumstances we did a reasonably good and professional job given the limitations, but when I do this type of filming again I’d prefer to start work in the Summer months, when participant numbers would be higher. I’d also aim for a higher level of ability in the participants, who were more skilled at their sport and therefore performing at a higher level.
I’ve written a dedicated Blog entry, which is a summary of what we hoped to have achieved for our Learning Outcomes, which can be found here click here
As a full time student money is always in short supply so I’m always looking for a bargain but without compromising quality when it comes to buying equipment for my video projects. The recent addition of a camera rig has opened up all kinds of new ideas for filming. But I’m getting ahead of myself; before you can think about the accessories you need to buy yourself a camera, which as a minimum requirement can shoot Full HD Video.
So what kit do I have?
After a lot of research I settled on the Canon EOS 60D, it’s a great camera for video and works particularly well at low light levels. The Canon 60D is so good that I’ve managed to film most of my projects since acquiring it using just natural light and even when filming sports under low level floodlighting the camera still performs exceptionally well. The swivel screen is great, ideal for that overhead or low level shot. In fact it’s the perfect choice if your budget does not stretch to a full frame camera, for example the Canon 6D, 7D or 5D MKIII.
The kit lens 18mm to 55mm is OK but it’s only really sharp somewhere between the extremes, use the lens at either extreme and the focus drops off. The focus ring is also far too narrow and difficult to adjust when following the action, I’ve added a rubber lens hood, which I’ve reversed and its to this that I now hold and turn to adjust the focus. I’ve also added a 50mm to 250mm Canon zoom lens, which comes at a budget price but is surprisingly good, the images are sharp and for getting a close up its just about right. But the must have lens and the easily the best bargain is the 50mm F1.8, which is razor sharp and has become my lens of choice for most video work. I’ll happily film the whole production just using this prime lens, moving the camera to get the different shots. In a way this is perfect training for a budding videographer rather than changing the lens or using a Zoom just move the camera. Another bonus to working this way is that the effect on screen appears much more professional, but of course this is balanced by the additional effect required to move the camera each time. Another cheap purchase was a wide angle/macro lens which screws onto the lens filter thread. The quality is dubious but for less than £15 it was a bargain and perfect for a few seconds footage, the macro option is perfect for B roll footage for example I’ve filmed close ups of fingers working on a keyboard and then extreme close up of the keys themselves.
To be honest the cameras built in mic is just plain awful, it’s flat and very tinny and non-directional picking up everything including the cameras movements. So after some research the best possible microphone for my budget I found was the Rode Videomic, which was featured in March’s tech reviews. There are cheaper video microphones but the results from the random sample I’ve tried and the not so positive user reviews suggested that they offered little more than the cameras built in mic could offer. I recently confirmed this microphone as being a good choice when filming an interview with a sports coach while a game was in progress. We had two cameras for the interview but when editing it was only the audio from the Rode Videomic that was useable.
This is a new addition and has proved to be a best buy particularly for my most recent projects, filming sports videos.
The camera rig itself is a very popular basic camera rig known as the spider camera rig. It’s available from a number of online shopping sites in a range of prices from £29.99 to £75, I paid £29.99 on Ebay and it came delivered free all the way from a company in China. At the same time I bought a couple of screw thread adaptors, which serve to change the female 1/4-inch screw threads that are supplied at the end of all the rigs grips to male. Basically they are 1/4-inch screws with a centrally located nut, simple but effective and very useful for attaching accessories or indeed a second camera.
I’ve never been much of a fan of hand held cameras and the resultant video footage. I have spent hours in editing; stablelising footage shot this way in After Effects. But I’ve become a fan of the steadicam techniques used in some popular TV shows that use steadicam’s as their primary video recording method. An good example of this is Borgen a Danish TV political drama, well worth a look for examples of how this technique can be applied well. The images are steady but never still following the actor’s movements. I’ve also researched this and have found that some production companies are using this technique to follow the entire movement of an actor through a set, capturing minutes of footage that does not require any editing. A great example of this is from a scene in the film Goodfellas where Larry McConkey the steadicam operator follows Ray Liotta as he enters the back door of a club, passing through hallways, kitchens and into the club itself in total over 3 minutes of continuous POV filming in one continuous movement. Extremely difficult at the time but with DSLR’s this can be achieved with some very basic equipment and a steady hand/movement.
Using the Canon 60D Camera Rig
Side view of the Canon 60D Camera Rig as you can see I’m using the screen flipped out sidewise from the camera body and fitted this with a Viewfinder Magnifier which is 3x magnification which roughly translates into viewing the scene using a 9 inch display.
Front view of the Canon 60D Camera Rig. The camera is fitted with the 18mm – 55mm kit lens but I’ve added a cheap Wide Angle filter screw attached lens to the front, which effectively opens out my angle to 11mm.
Note the Cable Release on the right hand grip. This controls the Auto Focus and start and stop recording when used in conjunction with Magic Lantern and operates the focus when the button is half depressed and starts recording on release, push again to stop recording. It also functions as a shutter release for taking stills when the button is fully depressed. Without Magic Lantern software it will only control the shutter for taking still pictures. The only other way I know to get remote video control this way without using Magic Lantern is to use the Canon infra-red remote release RC-6 set to option 2 and modify/channel the signals direction to reflect onto the front of the camera and the infra red sensor using a length of fibre optic cable. Note the Camera must also be set to one of the Remote control modes; some have more than one like the 60D although the 60D can be set to either for this to work.
Camera Rig – how does it work?
I’ve used the setup a few times now filming Sports and the footage I’ve taken using it shoulder mounted have proved to be very stable. The cameras position is adjustable lengthwise so it is easy to find a position that balances the rig on the shoulder and in my case also positions the viewfinder directly in front of me. The rig has also proven to be very useful when taking low-level shots just by putting it on the ground and adjusting the rear leg to control the cameras angle. In fact the rig has opened up a number of creative possibilities. Just by changing some of the rigs grip positions it’s possible to create a variety of methods for holding the camera, for example extending one of the grips using the slider grip you can position the grip directly over the camera, which is great for holding the camera at very low level to follow the action at almost ground level. For example a skateboarder doing tricks while following from the side, again the Canon 60D adjustable screen helps you keep your eye on the action while filming at ground level.
Future Purchase’s and wish list?
Focusing, always a problem when using a DSLR could be improved by adding a follow focus, which could be operated by reaching up with a finger from the left grip, alternatively they do make follow focuses with a cable control which could be mounted actually on the hand grip. A bonus when using the spider rig is there is already the benefit of being able to control the distance of the camera from the subject and therefore in turn keep in focus just by walking towards or away from the subject. I’ve also seen a method of controlling the focus using a small electronic device linked to the cameras USB port. This device consists of a remote control knob, which can be rotated; the lens focus follows this knobs movement in steps, which you can pre-program. In effect it works in a similar way as using the Tethering to control the camera using a Laptop and Canons software that came free with the camera. I believe this device only works on a limited range which includes the Canon 60D and 5D MKIII at this time. But what this allows you to do is mount the control on a rigs grip positioned perfectly for fingertip control.