Professional Development – Reflective Writing Exercise – Specialist Project

Reflective Writing Exercise

Reflective Writing Exercise – Specialist Project

Profectional Project - Specialist Project Reflective Writing Exercise

The Specialist Project, the first unit for my final year at University was going to be the springboard for my Extended Major Project and was key to the whole year. I spent the summer break researching ideas for creating a documentary, identifying three possibilities, which included expanding upon the documentary, which I had created in partnership with Dorset County Council. I had visions of creating my own version of the BBC’s and The Open University’s series of TV programs ‘Coast’. However during the initial briefing for this unit it was made plain that this would not be an option.

I finally decided on producing a documentary in partnership with the Universities BA Acting course working with a friend Ben who was a third year student on this course just starting rehearsals for William Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, which seemed perfect for my project.

But this project did not go as planned. I completed the filming, recording interviews with Ben and filming the rehearsals for the production but it all went wrong in post-production. The elements just did not seem to fit together, the footage from the early rehearsals were good in isolation but not when combined with the footage of the interviews. The same was true with the footage taken of the full dress rehearsals. Each in isolation seemed to work well and so that is the direction I took the project. My mistake was not to renegotiate the Learning Agreement, which stated I was producing a documentary while in fact I had produced some good standalone short films of a stage play and its rehearsals, a film for a dance sequence and an interview with a cast member. All of which would have been fine but they were not put together to create a documentary. In retrospect I can now see how I could combine these elements together with some additional interview footage to create a documentary but unfortunately this too late to save the failure of this unit.

On reflection I feel I lost sight of the main goal of this unit concentrating instead on the filming processes, the quality of the footage and completely missing the real objective of the unit. Which was to produce a documentary chronicling the progress of a acting student in his final year, recording his thoughts while preparing for this play and his ambitions for the future while showing this in the context of the rehearsals and production of a stage play.

However I was pleased by the quality of the work that I produced, the experimentation I undertook by filming with mobile devices and the workflow and methods I used in post-production. But it was a wake up call and I made sure that I did not repeat these mistakes in the Extended Major Project by keeping sight of the final objective and producing work that satisfied the outcomes of the Learning Agreement and at the same time also satisfied the clients requirements, which is essential when working outside University for a commercial client and their brief.

Specialist Project – The Conclusion


Specialist Project – Conclusion

  • I’ve gone into much more detail for each key stage of this project in related Blog posts – use the links at the bottom of this post to go directly to these Blog entries.
  • The Project Timeline is a weekly/daily diary of the project progress and is also available by selecting the MENU option Specialist Project Timeline option under the Specialist Project Menu.
  • Research Blogs can be found under the relevant menu option Specialist Project Research.

‘Ben’ Documentary (The Final Edit)

Specialist Project – Conclusion

I spent the summer break considering my options for the 3rd year and what I was going to do for the Specialist Project. It turned out to be an easy decision to make in the end that is to continue making short films and documentary. The three films I made for the 2nd Year Professional Project influenced this decision, the first was the Long Jump video and then the two ‘Art of Sport Festival’ videos for the Inspire Programme and the legacy of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Much Ado About Nothing – Rehearsals in the Boys Brigade Halls Winton

Then during the summer break I was contacted by the Inspire Project Leader to film a documentary about the Coastal Access project. I agreed to do this and began filming for the ‘Weymouth Bay’ Coastal Access documentary for Natural England and Dorset County Council, which I completed just recently.

In my second year at University I determined that I am at my most creative when behind a camera, whether it is for taking photographs or for video so it made sense to carry this creativeness through into the third year. I decided that I wanted to make a documentary but the question was what was I going to make a documentary on? I needed a subject and so I researched this both online and in the Library for ideas but what I came up with mostly were ideas on what subjects not to make a documentary on. One book I researched ‘The Documentary Moviemaking Course’ listed the most popular subjects and also identified some subjects to avoid. For example student filmmakers tend to default to making films about the plight of the Homeless or on Rock Bands. Fortunately my recent experience of Theatre with a local group of actors and acting students came to my aid from which I had the idea to make a documentary on students studying acting or a documentary about theatre in general. I researched examples of documentaries on students generally but my research produced few such examples most of which appeared to me to have been made to promote a College or University rather than about the students themselves.

Much Ado About Nothing – The Dance Scene, Tech Rehearsals – Studio Theatre AUCB

Getting permissions and Pre production

I contacted a friend studying BA Acting, Ben O’Shea who agreed to take part on the proviso that I obtained the permission from the BA Acting course leader Doug Cockle, which I duly did by email and followed this up with a meeting to discuss what I was going to do and at the same time confirming that this would not encroach on their busy rehearsals. After getting the go ahead I thought about how I would approach this project. Much Ado About NothingI had several ideas in mind but I held off on these until I had attended several rehearsals. I did this so I would get a feel for the current production ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ and to work out how this would fit into the final documentary. I then discarded many of these ideas, for example one of these was to film Ben in a dark room illuminated by just a single backlight and a keylight to one side leaving one side of the face in permanent shadow in the Film Noir style. Another example was to conduct the interview at the end of a rehearsal with Ben in full costume, but I discarded this idea because my experience of theatre productions told me that the adrenaline actors experience at the end of a performance means they are too hyper to concentrate on the questions I would be asking.

The scenario I went with in the end was to film Ben as if he was in a makeup session in preparation for the show. For this to work I looked for a location where we would have access to a makeup artists studio with the typical mirror surrounded by lights but without other people in the studio as I would be recording sound directly into the camera. Much Ado About NothingSurprisingly an initial search of the University makeup studios proved unsuccessful, as aesthetically I was not enamored with the fluorescent lighting now used to illuminate makeup mirrors. But during a chance visit to the studio theatre during rehearsals I discovered that the dressing rooms had their own makeup mirrors and these used the old fashioned tungsten lighting bulbs ideal for what I visualised. I obtained permission to use the dressing room for the interview but I would have to work around the actors and technical staff as they were in constant use up to the opening performance of the production and of course unavailable during the production itself.

Interview Questionnaire

I set about scripting some questions that I thought would be interesting and put these up for my peers to critique, which they did and after a number of changes I came up with a list of questions to put to Ben that everyone thought would be interesting to an audience. My pre-production notes were in place and I thought we were ready to go when I suddenly decided that I would need a makeup artist. My original idea was that Ben would be filmed applying his own makeup but I had second thoughts on this as I suspected that this would distract Ben too muchMuch Ado About Nothing. Therefore the responses he would give to my questions would not flow, as I would hope. There was no script, Ben would be giving his answers to my questions without seeing them first, an improv performance, which I hoped would create a better documentary. Fortunately this issue was resolved when Ben’s friend Paula, a makeup artist, came to our rescue and offered her services on the night.

Filming the Interview

Ben – The first full edit, with music and dance soundtrack/visuals

I decided that I would use my camera in full manual mode for this project, recent experience gained on a photography short course meant I was much more comfortable using a DSLR in this way. Also one of the reasons I decided to go manual was that I knew that I would have issues with exposure, filming into a mirrored surface. I expected that the camera in auto mode would adjust the exposure for the mirrors light reflections meaning that Bens face would inevitably be dark, but with manual control I would be able to expose correctly for Bens face and over expose the mirror and the surrounding lights. On the night I can honestly say that all the hard work in preproduction was worth it. Filming came down to just adjusting the lights, setting up the camera in its various positions and following the questionnaire and the shot list. Retakes were limited to those spoiled by intrusive background noise as rehearsals and technical setups were taking place in the studio theatre and of course minor technical issues with camera.

Filming for the B-Roll

Much Ado About Nothing – First Act, Technical Rehearsals, Studio Theatre AUCB

For the B-Roll I had arranged to film the first act of the Technical Rehearsals for ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ in particular I wanted to film the dance sequence as I originally intended to switch between this and the interview using the dance routine as transitions between the interview questions. In all I must have over an hour of video clips from this production, just to be certain that I had enough choice of video clips to use for the final piece.

The final documentaryMuch Ado About Nothing

I edited a number of videos trying out ideas only for these to be discarded before I was eventually happy with the final result, which turned out to be the simplest version. The idea of using extracts from the production did not work for me using these clips as transitions just unbalanced the piece and in the end I used very little from the production in the final documentary. The best edit was made from the footage taken in the dressing room of Ben responses to my questions combined with some close ups taken at the end of the interview. I also discarded the music soundtrack for the same reasons it was a distraction rather than a benefit adding nothing to the final video. I’ve put together some edits of the performance as it would have been a shame to have not done so but these will be standalone videos for my portfolio.

I concentrated my time on getting the final video sequence as visually perfect as possible, colour grading in particular took up a lot of my time, in the end I designed my own preset for this. I am really happy with the end result although a bit disappointed to have not used the hours of additional video I had taken of the performance but I will use this elsewhere and I do suspect without doing all this additional work I may not have the final piece exactly the way I wanted it.

The documentary although short has a very positive feeling to it. The performance is natural, the answers to my questions are real and reflect Ben’s personality well, on the whole just what I wanted to produce. Completing this project has enhanced my documentary filmmaking experience. I even used this new filmmaking experience to complete the ‘Weymouth Bay’ documentary by filming the final interview sequence, the missing part of the jigsaw in a single session using the same production values.

What would I do differently next time?

I’d try and remember that it is important to plan and capture the interview sequences in preference to concentrating on the B-roll, as I suspect that sometimes I place greater importance on this aspect of a documentary than I should. It is important but the clue is in the name B-roll, it is secondary to the key interview sequences, it should compliment rather than dominate the documentary.

Much Ado About Nothing – Rehearsals Studio Theatre AUCB

Word Count: 1613

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Specialist Project – New Edit

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Another New Edit

After tutorial I looked again at the final edit and decided to create yet another edit for the final submission.

I dropped some more of the cutaways from the performance footage and added in more footage from the interview filming.

I also changed the sequence of the questions/answers again changing the grouping of the questions, which seemed to be more successful. I changed the start and final title sequence were and I also changed some of the camera motions, scaling etc to improve the flow.

I removed some of the sharpening effects I’d originally used to remove Gaussian blur, which defocused some of the video clips but I felt this added to the visual aesthetic. As I’ve mentioned in my earlier Blog entries sometimes it’s OK to shoot film out of focus.

On the whole the changes were minor over the previous edits but I am much happier with the final result.

Final Renderrings

I created 2 renderings of the final edit, one in full 1080p HD to run from a hard drive and the other in 720p for upload to YouTube. Even with my Macs SSD upgrade the 2 renderings and upload to YouTube took the best part of the day.

Specialist Project – Last Minute Changes

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Specialist Project – Nearly There

Demoed one of the new edits I had been working on over the last few days for Phil in today’s tutorial. This was the edit that I’d agreed to produce following Liam’s tutorial the previous week, which since even though I had done everything suggested I had already decided did not work well enough and Phil basically confirmed this.

Another New Edit

I’ve looked at the interview footage again and have decided to change the order and several of the transitional elements and remove/add B-roll video clips. I have also changed title lengths and the timing of some of the cuts losing a full minute from the documentary length, which now has a 4 minute run. For this unit I think the 4 minute edit works the best although I may for my own interest produce the full version of the interview which has a 10 minute runtime – but too be honest even I think this would be too long and people would lose interest unless the B-roll itself was extremely interesting.

Latest Edit

I’m almost totally happy with this edit but I do plan to produce another as I think a change in the order of the questions may work better. I especially think an order change at the start of the video would work better as an introduction, but I’m happy to keep the end as it is now as I think this works really well.

Ben is fully committed to the latest AUCB production ‘Cementville’ so it would have been impossible to ask him to record a introduction to the documentary. So instead I have re-jigged the beginning so that we now hear Bens voice while the opening titles are running, which I think works really well and negating the need for an introduction.

I still need to make some minor changes to the final edit sharpening some clips and blurring others for dramatic effects but basically I think the project has reached a successful conclusion and I’m almost ready to make the final video live on YouTube once it has finished rendering in Premier Pro CS5  and I can upload it.

Specialist Project – Blog Updates

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New Menu Settings

I’ve gone back through my Blog entries and added new categories so that it will be easier to find Blog entries which are Timeline or diary entries by creating a menu item for this category. I’ve done the same for those Blog entries which are Research related. I’ve done this basically to reduce the number of Blog entries loading but also to help identify which are Key Project posts and which are Timeline or Research Blog posts.

Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing Trailer Edit

I made a start on creating a Trailer for the production footage I’ve taken for Much Ado About Nothing. I began by researching the production itself online and using keynotes to put together some title cards to go between the video clips.

I put this on hold though as time is short and I decided I must prioritise the actual Specialist Project documentary and revisit this edit after the crit and most probably over the Christmas break.

Specialist Project – Researching Magic Lantern

magic lantern

Magic Lantern – SD Cards

As I mentioned previously I used Manual Settings for my Canon 60D using Magic Lantern, a 3rd party firmware application that offers much greater control over the video settings.

I installed the firmware on 2 SD cards for this project – the following extract re. formatting cards is important as I made the mistake of formatting the cards and removing Magic Lantern. It is also important to wait until the operation has fully completed before ejecting the card otherwise it may cause your Camera to freeze. This happened to me and the only solution was to remove the Cameras Battery – not for the faint hearted as I thought the Camera had become bricked.

News: For those of you waiting for the Canon 7D version, I believe it’s in the development stage and is or will soon be available.

Extract from the developers website Accessed 10/11/2012

Always format the card from the camera

Since Magic Lantern runs from the card, you may be asking yourself: “what happens if I format it“?

Answer: Magic Lantern first reads all of its required files, including your custom configuration files, and then copies itself back onto the card!

We strongly recommend you to format the card before every important shooting session! This helps maintaining performance when recording files, and prevents the filesystem from becoming fragmented.

A lot of stability and performance issues reported by Magic Lantern users went away after they started to format their cards on a regular basis.

Formatting the card from the camera will make sure your file system is exactly as Canon software and Magic Lantern expect it to be.

Tip: to format the card and remove Magic Lantern, go to the Canon Menu / Format screen and press the shortcut key indicated in brackets, as in the screenshot – on most cameras it’s the [Q] button.

Specialist Project – Editorial Decisions

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3 edits done and counting

The reworked 1st Edit

After a tutorial with Liam I agreed to have another attempt at the edit with the music soundtrack to see if I could make the cuts/transitions flow better and to also look at creating edits that do not use the dance sequence for the transitions between the interview cuts.

Of the 2 edits I’ve since created I’ve decided to drop the dance sequence altogether and go with just the interview footage using the planned cutaways of closeups and hand movements for the transitions. I looked at using a number of effects but decided these would be inappropriate for this style of documentary and my research into documentary styles confirmed this. Such effects are considered unnecessary and indeed distracting in most documentary styles.

Final Edits

I now know what I am aiming for and its now just a case of putting it together and getting the quality of the final edit the best I can.

Specialist Project – Post Production

post production

Editing Decisions

Post production isn’t only about the editing tools used, but also about the look and flow of the final piece. It’s also the time to make decisions on the content, narrative and the visual look of the documentary. For example the questions asked in the documentary and therefore the answers to those questions maybe work better in a different sequence? For my final edit the I have changed the order, grouping answers so that they follow each other in a more cohesive manner. A simple change can have a dramatic effect on the final documentary, even though the answers are the same, the sequence can change the context and narrative.

The editing process can also change the pace of the documentary. Rapid and I mean by this short cuts say of 1-2 seconds increase the pace, whereas decreasing the number of cuts say of 5-10 seconds slow the pace of the documentary. For my project I feel the pace should be slow and so there are fewer cuts. I did create an edit with lots of cuts and it just did not work for this subject.

Premiere Pro CS5 – Post Production

My tool of choice is still Premiere Pro CS5 for editing my videos even though we have access to CS6 at University. I use CS5 mainly as I believe they got it right with this version and subsequent updates have added little, except for some changes to functionality, which are annoying rather than of benefit and the move to a Cloud based option, which is a bad idea when considering the poor access speed I have to the internet at home.

Post Production – WorkflowPremier Pro CS5 screenshot

Note the use of Colour Balance in the above screenshot (see below for description)

This is my workflow process and may not be what is recommended or the best but it works for me.

First step is to copy all the footage to a directory which I call Video Projects then create sub directories for the each stage of the FIlming schedule so for example the Interview footage goes into the Interview sub-folder, rehearsal footage in the Technical Rehearsal sub folder, repeat this for each filming session of stage in the documentary process.

The 2nd step is to create ‘Bins’ for my media files in Premiere Pro that directly relate to the project for example the ‘Interview Footage’ is dragged into the ‘Interview Bin’. The footage taken during the productions ‘Technical Rehearsal’ dragged into a Bin of the same name. Music into aother Bin and so on.

The 3rd step is to review each of the movie clips against the shot list and confirm which ones to use. I usually drag them into the Preview window and make rough edits for in and out and make a note of the sequence and a short description relating to the clip number.

The order that I use these clips, dragging them onto the Timeline is per-determined by the shot list which for this project ran in sequential order.

Premier Pro CS5 screenshot 2

4th Step:- I should mention the B-roll, this is the clips I would use keep the viewer interested as there is only so long you can have video of talking heads before the viewer loses interest. You need to film interesting images or add photographs relevant to the documentary for example I filmed close ups of hand movements, extracts from the performance, close ups of just the eyes of the interviewee.

5th Step: Time to add some music and check those volume levels. I’ve learn’t that you need to playback the sound from your edits through a number of audio sources. What I mean by this, is that the sound you hear from the speakers built into the Mac may be different when played back through headphones and different again when played back through a home cinema system. Watch out for those Bass settings in particular they can be non-existant on the Mac but overpowering on the Home Cinema System with its built in Sub Woofer.

6th Step: Colour grading – this is something I will do if required sometimes the video as shot is what I intended to see on screen but sometimes it is necessary to get the visuals you want for example video from 2 cameras may not match. But for this project I decided that purely for aesthetics I wanted to reduce the mid and high red tones and enhance the blues and greens. I used the colour balance option there are others you can use for example curves but I like to see the number settings so that I can make notes of what setting works best. Having  created this colour balance setting I saved it in Presets so that I could access it for other projects.

7th Step: This is optional but I planned to create 3 edits in total so I needed to create 2 New Sequences and then repeat the previous steps to create the other edits in the same way.

Post Production – Alternative Edits and Experimentation

The screenshot above is taken from an experimental edit I put together from the videos taken of the same dance routine but at different times and using different cameras – the Black and White sequence was shot using an iPad 3 and the Colour sequence shot on a Canon 60D DSLR. I then overlayed one on top of the other adjusting the Opacity of the overlayed video to just 45%. I then attempted to matched the visuals as closely as possible but not too closely to get this Ghosting effect.

View the Rushes

It makes sense to put together some rough edits initially and get people to watch these for feedback purposes. My 1st edits for this project were not received that well, the feedback was the music levels were too high, the clips I’d used for transitions were distracting rather than enhancing. On a positive note they liked the subject and the visuals particularly my use of colour grading. This is very useful feedback when creating the final edits.

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Specialist Project – Colour Grading

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Post Production – Another Full Edit

The first edits of the complete footage were Ok but I felt that the clips used for transitions did not work as well as planned and that the soundtrack, while perfect for the dance sequence did not fit the interview sequence. Therefore the full video had a sountrack that effectively jumped between +6Db and -32Db effectively On/Off between cuts.

On a positive note however I successfully created a colour balance preset for colour grading the interview clips. This visually appealing effect reduced the overall saturation and also reduced the negative effects from the blown out regions of the video created by the mirrors and the numerous bulbs.

I also decided to drop some of the interview questions firstly as I felt they added little to the overall result and secondly by dropping these the overall length of the documentary was reduced down to just over 5 minutes.

Specialist Project – Filming


Filming the InterviewRadio Microphone

I’d arranged with the course leader for BA Acting to use the dressing room in the Studio Theatre. When originally planning for the documentary I’d always thought the ideal location would be to conduct the interview in front of a makeup mirror and this location appeared ideal. In fact better than I’d originally planned as the room has opposing mirrors. I also changed my original concept of filming in a room darkened except for the lights around the mirrors and instead went for a high key lighting approach overexposing where necessary to get this lighting effect.

My setup needed some modification as the lens I’d originally planned to use 50mm F1.8 did not have a wide enough angle to get the shots I had visualised so I switched to my 18mm to 55mm Zoom lens, which at its widest angle worked well. I set the camera to Manual and set Aperture to F4.0 and ISO to 3200. My Canon 60D uses Magic Lantern firmware, which allow greater control over the settings. I went with using my Rode Videomic for sound recording directly into the camera. I’d experimented with using Radio Microphones using Lavalier microphone or lapel microphones as they are more commonly known. These work surprisingly well but I felt they were unnecessary for this project as the interviewee would be close to camera and the ambient sound levels very low and any sound heard would be appropriate for the type of recording we were making.Radio Microphone

The Radio Microphones are actually allocated to Film Production but are available for us to use. You need to confirm frequencies that can be used as these have recently been changed/limited by the Digital Switchover. When I set these up for camera use I suspected they had been previously setup for stage management as the levels were much too high for camera use as was sensitivity, resetting these removed sound distortion and hum/hiss, in fact after adjustment the sound was of good quality picking up just the voice of the person wearing the Lavalier microphone excluding the ambient noise from other conversations in the room where the test had been conducted.

Camera Setup

Ben O'Shea

As the camera was aimed directly at the mirror, which was brightly lighted I decided to overexpose the mirror and set an aperture to give a shallow depth of field. I did this so that only Ben would be clearly in focus while Paula the makeup artist would appear blurred except for her hands and makeup brush. One of the effects I was aiming for was to get the seemingly endless images you get when positioned between two mirrors, which I got and as expected produced an interesting effect.

One negative with my setup was due to the wide aperture and shallow depth of field it was easy to lose focus. I could not set the focus once and lock the camera off but instead I was constantly adjusting the focus. Sometimes the focus was not as I’d wanted but instead of this being a technical issue this instead gave a warm/artistic effect that seemed to work well especially after colour balancing. Sometimes being out of focus works!

Armed with my set of questions and the shot list the interview progressed quickly but as expected even with few retakes I had to make the interview filming still took almost 2 hours to complete.

Filming the Technical Rehearsals ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

I’d arranged with the course leader for BA Acting to film the technical rehearsals of their production of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’

I planned to film the dance sequence in its entirety with the idea to use this footage as transitions between the video clips from Ben’s interview while at the same time the music would be used as the soundtrack for the whole documentary.

I also filmed as much of the first act of the production as possible, with the idea of editing these together with some suitable Title Cards as a retrospective Trailer for the production and also to satisfy personal requests I’d received for video clips to be used in showreels.

Filming the Technical Rehearsals was both a benefit and a problem, the benefit was being able to film the cast in full costume and the problem was filming under the lighting levels available as these were generally too low really. I had to ramp the sensitivity of the cameras ISO up to 3200 again, which meant I was almost certainly going to get some visible noise on the video captured. Fortunately I overcame much of this by using big apertures F1.8 to F4.0 but this then brought it’s own problems by creating a very shallow depth of field. What this shallow depth of field means is that only a small area or part of a character in the production would be in focus. Those some distance away from the focus point would be blurred. I personally dislike moving DSLR’s to follow the action but I had no choice, this did mean that there would be some juddering movement. I also had to perform the almost impossible task of adjusting the focus while following the action.

Fortunately experience told me which parts of the performance to concentrate on in order to get the shots I would need for the documentary and for any other video edits I decide to make, for example a production trailer.

Screenshots from the video of Much Ado About Nothing

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Specialist Project – Pre-production


Unlike pre-production for a short film, documentary requires a slightly different approach to pre-production.

Pre-production Storyboards

For example it would not be possible to create full Storyboards for the complete documentary as without knowing in advance the subject and the location it would only be a guess at best but it is possible to do create some storyboards as a guide to the type of shots I would hope to record in an interview. It would also be possible to create storyboards for some of the B-roll.

Personally I find that when working alone, having total and sole control of the camera and filming I do not really need Storyboards as I’m very good at visualising what I want to see on video. I can really work just from a shot list, however if a team was involved I would use storyboards to convey my visualisation to the other member’s of the team so that they have an idea of what I am trying to achieve.

Pre-production Interview Questions and Shot List

What is important is going armed to the interview with a list of questions and a shot list. You may have to be prepared to take the interview down a different path depending on the answers you get to your questions but make sure you get answers to your planned questions and get those shot list video clips.

I created a first draft of my interview questions and forwarded these onto my interviewee and to my classmates for feedback. From this feedback I then created another set of questions and again forwarded these on for feedback, which after some minor changes all agreed were acceptable and relevant.

Ben Interview Questions 2

  1. Did you always want to be an actor
  2. If not acting what was your second choice
  3. What influenced you or inspired you to study acting
  4. Who is your acting idol, who would you, love to work with.
  5. What’s it like being a Student and studying acting
  6. What have been the really good things – making new friends, social life etc.
  7. And the not so good – money worries, cost of living etc.
  8. What’s been your favorite production, what role did you play.
  9. What about the social life is it better than you expected
  10. What would be your ideal job at the end of University
  11. Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Ben interview shot list

  1. Mid shot – from side at reflection in the mirror (Majority of Shots will be like this – vary the distance?)
  2. Close up – Bens Face
  3. Extreme Close Up – just Bens eyes – make up being applied
  4. Extreme Close Up – just Bens lips – make up being applied
  5. Close Up – of Bens Hands
  6. Close Up – Paula’s Hands and makeup brush
  7. Close Up – Paula’s Makeup Kit

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Specialist Project – First Full Edit

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Editing the first full edit

With all the planned filming completed I began editing together the footage taken from Ben’s interview and the Technical Rehearsals of Much Ado About Nothing.

The original plan was to use the footage from the dance sequence from Much Ado and use this as transitions between the video clips of Ben’s answers to my questions. After rendering though and reviewing the result I decided it just was not going to work as planned in pre-production, I even tried changing the cutaways to Black & White and while some clips benefited from this change the dance sequence did not.

I would have to think again and try some more editing ideas but this would be for another day.

Specialist Project – The Rushes (Technical Rehearsals)

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Rough Edit – Technical Rehearsals for Much Ado About Nothing by the AUCB

I had a look through and made a very rough edit from the video taken of the Technical Rehearsals.

I planned to capture the complete dance sequence to use in the documentary but also to capture as much as the first act in case I need or see anything interesting to use as B-roll. I also plan at some point to use this video to create a short trailer and I have requests from the actors who would like to use some of the footage in their personal showreels, which I am happy to do.

I am pleasantly pleased by much of the video footage taken on the night as I expected light levels to be too low particularly for some of my Zoom lenses, which have F4 to F5.6 maximum apertures. The 50mm F1.8 worked extremely well in the low light but of course this would have limited all my footage to mid shots had I only used this lens.

Health & Safety

On a personal note it became really uncomfortable to stand/sit behind the camera for an hour or so following the movement on stage. I’m not sure exactly what the problem was or a what the solution maybe except possibly have another person filming so that a break could be taken? The camera was Tripod mounted and I was using my camera with its swivel screen, so it may have been the effect of concentrating on the subject and inadvertently assuming a bad posture behind the camera?

So if you have a bad back or you want to avoid having a bad back/stiff shoulders take a break in filming.


Specialist Project – Viewing the rushes

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Viewing the Rushes

Had a quick look through the video captured from the interview shoot.

On the whole the quality was good and the shot list covered in full. I would have to discard some of the footage though as the run time on the rough edited footage ran for over 10 minutes, twice what I had planned for the entire documentary.

With this in mind I made notes of the best video clips discarding those that had issues with sound and those questions that in retrospect did not appear to work or add anything useful to the subject of the documentary.

Specialist Project – Documentary Outline Updated

documentary outline

I made this 3 minute slideshow to present my idea for the documentary, which I plan to produce for the Specialist Project.

The documentary outline goes something like this:-Movie Camera Silhouette

  1. Interview Ben during a makeup session before a performance
  2. Make sure to film closeups during the interview for example hands, eyes and the face. The hands and makeup tools of the makeup artist.
  3. Film the technical rehearsal for the BA Acting production of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ for the B roll footage – essential in order to keep the viewers interested.
  4. Film an opening sequence of Ben performing a powerful but solo performance of a Shakespearean play using a “Film Noir” style lighting effect.
  5. If time consider designing a title sequence in After Effects
  6. Finally look at projection although I may want to save this idea and do something like this for the EMP but on a large scale involving BA Acting again assuming they are interested.

I have planned to spend the final two weeks of the project editing the video footage to create a final video of up to 5 minutes in duration. I will also produce a number of alternative edits including some just for portfolio inclusion rather than directly for this unit.

I feel It is important to manage all stages of this project as my previous experience with the summer break project, where I was filming out of sequence created problems and which thankfully having made extensive notes just to be certain that I had a complete shot list and enough B-roll for the project. Without these notes the project would not have gone as smoothly and even with these notes I had to re-visit locations to get additional B-roll footage.

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