Platform Research – The Curzon Project

The Curzon Memories application was created by Dr Charlotte Crofts in conjunction with the Curzon Community Cinema as a way of enhancing their exhibition (The Curzon Collection), enabling visitors to take part in the story of the cinemas past. The app uses content aware platforms to allow users to navigate the exhibition, displaying a variety of document types in different ways to help immerse the user and make the exhibition more engaging.

new-improved-curzon-app

I had researched the app last year in preparation for using App Furnace to develop a GPS based audio effects piece. This year I plan to extend on my use of App Furnace and create an application that has a similar user experience to the Curzon’s application for an Exterior tour.

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The Curzon app is split into two sections, indoor and outdoor. The indoor section allows users to get historical information and short stories from the past inhabitants by the way of QR codes; A User will navigate the attraction at their own pace and desired route and will scan QR codes to enhance gain information relevant to their location or an item of interest.

The outdoor section works in a similar way to the indoor section but relies on GPS positioning to locate a user and provide content based on the users location. This is the sort of thing i’d like to implement in our Chartist walking app.

After speaking to the Apps creator Dr Charlotte Crofts she explained how the app hadn’t been updated for a number of years and that there were now new owners of the Curzon Cinema so she wasn’t even sure if the App was still in a usable state. I decided to head down to the location in Clevedon to find out if the GPS side of the app still worked and if it did what sort of experience did I have.

I parked at the Lidl supermarket behind the cinema and loaded up the app and started walking towards the cinema. Previously I had used the app in a ‘No GPS’ mode which meant I could see all the locations and select a location to explore the content. The live version of the app didn’t show any locations on the map which I thought was a bit confusing as I wasn’t sure where i should be heading to experience content.

As I walked toward the cinema a background audio began to play, I knew then I was heading in the right direction. As I approached the building a character began to speak, it was a bizzare feeling as the character mentioned people walking by with their shopping bags and that was indeed what I was seeing in real life. I stood and listened to the character giving accounts of the early days of the cinema and then headed on. I recalled when using the ‘No GPS’ Mode that a screen would pop up and allow me to replay or skip an audio/image display, this wasn’t happening in the GPS version so I had no idea how long to stay still at this spot. As I moved forward along the road the next set of audio files began to play. There was no narrative to the audio files and they could be taken in any order so it wasn’t really important that i followed a specific route.

The App told me to cross the road and look at the cinema from the front and this is where I encountered some problems. There seemed to be some overlapping of audio files and they were playing in random orders. it sounded seamless enough but there wasn’t a clear ending to each location anymore and I was just getting fed audio constantly. There was still nothing on screen to prompt me to stop the audio or give me any idea of the location I was meant to be stood in.

I turned the GPS off and looked for a location I particularly wanted to try out. One one the  locations offered the chance to switch between an old photo and the live view in the phones camera using a slider. sadly this function wasn’t working on the app. I continued walking around the outside of the cinema listening to audio that seemingly moved from character to another but I still had no idea of where to stop and get the best out of the app.

when evaluating the experience I think it was a really unique idea and very immersive especially with headphones. There are some considerations such as the user being able to see the locations of interest on a map as they walk so that they know where to head. The users need to be able to see a display that tells them when all the media has finished playing. I’d like the map to have a zoom function so that users can see the wider area and locations of interest. Consideration all has to be given to the use of headphones around a busy road. I felt quite cut off by wearing headphones and concentrating on the app and it was next to a busy road so this could cause a safety issue, especially with children.

 

Research Trip – Chartist Caves

Research Trip – Chartist Caves

I was invited by Pat Drewett (Chartist Association) to come along on a walk he had organised to the ‘Chartist Caves’ in the Brecon Becons. The caves are said to be where the Chartists stored weapons in preparation the uprising of the Newport Uprising. This was an ideal opportunity for me to scout out some of the other chartist related locations of south wales, get to talk more with Pat about our project and to meet some more people with potential stores.

The part the caves played in the uprising is somewhat disputed, our guide for the day was Alyson Tippings from Blaenau Gwent tourism board , she explained that there were some caves in another valley that claim to be the ‘Chartist Caves’ but she invited us to make our own minds up based on the things she would show us.

The Caves are situated about 3 miles from the quarry village of Trefil at the edge of the Brecon Beacons near Tredegar. The village is the highest in the UK and home to the highest rugby ground in Europe. Alongside the village runs old tramlines to the quarry which was operational during the 19th century and sent limestone down to the iron works. Alyson explained that because the tramlines were so close to the caves it would of been ideal for the Chartists, many of which would have worked in the ironwork’s and quarrys to transport weapons; she pointed out that weapons would probably have been made down in the valley and transported back up on the empty wagons which were going to be refilled in the quarry.

The scenery was stunning, it was a lovely clear winter day so we could see around for miles. We waled along the old tram track before coming off and heading onto the top of the mountain which was like a flat moorland. As we walked I got speaking more to Pat and we talked about funding our project and about some of his past problems with getting funding and organising successful events. He spoke about communication issues with the council and that it can be a very slow process, something I’ve already experienced. We spoke about potential characters for the online documentary and he agreed with me that although the story has been done a few times it has not been very well executed.

After a 40 minute slow walk along the frozen mountain top we arrived at the caves, They were well hidden so i could understand why they might be used by the Chartists. We went down to the first level but the caves went on further underground and could be explored by experienced cavers. There was a small plaque that mentioned the caves link with the Chartists. We sat around the caves and had coffee, this gave me a chance to talk to some other people about our project. People again seemed really positive and I took some email addresses from people who were interested in helping out, one particularly from the Dolman Theatre in Newport with regards to helping supply actors for the documentary if we need them..

We walked back to the village through the old quarry that was used in the 19th century, now all overgrown it was amazing to see the old works cut out of the mountain and the old tram ways that would have been used to transport limestone down the valleys.

I left the walk with new ideas about how the Klynt project might look, utilising these small locations to supplement a main documentary would be a good idea and add extra elements for users to explore on the subject. The walk itself is not published so this too could be of help to people who are just interested in unique walking routes!

 

Treatment And Structure Workshop with Alistair

Treatment And Structure Workshop with Alistair

Today we attended a workshop with Alistair to try and flesh out our project treatment. We started by reading some of Alistair’s own film treatments one for ‘Bonnington Square’, A documentary about a creative community which formed during the 80’s as a number of squatters took residence in  a central London residential area. Having seen the film previously it was remarkable how similar the treatment was to the final film, it was as if it was a script for the making of the film.

With Alistair’s treatment in mind we compared it to our own, Alistair’s read just like a story, explaining the how the film would run with some technical detail but mainly a structured story. When comparing with ours, ours was much more technical and kept mentioning the film as if we were trying to sell a product rather than a story. We used phrases like “The film will be…” and ” we want to make a film about..” These are things that weren’t featured at all in Alistair’s treatments.

The workshop prompted us to dig deeper into our story and find a “rock” that the whole project centres around. So far we have just been vaguely mentioning the Chartists as our story idea, Alistair wanted us to dig right down into it and find the element that is the centre piece of the story, this of course being the people massacre on the night of the chartist uprising. With this in mind we could expand and explore themes and feelings and elements that will help tell this story.

We drew a mind map where we thought about key elements. such as narrative structure, characters, contributors, locations and images. At this point we were working towards the online documentary rather than the mobile app as the app has a limited format (see my AppFurnace meeting with David). The mind map helped to draw out items that will contribute to telling the overarching story including how the project will look and who it is aimed at.

After working on the mind map we looked at creating an initial treatment, Alistair asked us to write a list of how we imagined we’d tell the story in order; what would we see first, what would we hear, how the sequences link and what are the sequences telling us. When comparing our list to the treatments Alistair showed us it’s much clearer now how Alistair was in a position to write a detailed treatment that ultimately resembled his finished films.

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The workshop has thrown up some questions about the our own story. Alistair suggested that we should focus solely on the march, Newport and the people killed but initially I wanted to expand on this to include more of the South Wales valleys. Although the march did end in Newport, it was mainly people from the valleys who contributed and I want to be careful not to cast doubt on who should be credited as the heroes. Newport council are trying to re-brand it’s image and highlighting their role in the creation of democracy but I think it’s important to remember that the Newport council were the ones who tried to stop the Chartists.

This workshop has helped with my further understanding of documentary structure, I’ve often had ideas for stories but structuring them has always been my weakness. I’m hoping that using Alistair’s techniques will enable me to re-think some of my other projects directions too.

 

Research & Networking – Open Forum at Gwent Archives

Research & Networking – Open Forum at Gwent Archives

When initially researching the Chartism exhibit in Newport Museum I noticed something pinned on the community notice board about an open forum to discuss the “Political Convicts Research Project.” The flyer featured a picture of the Chartist Riots in Newport so it caught my attention. Reading further it mentioned discussing a “Digital online Hub” by a film company. At first I was a bit worried that a professional company was planning something similar to ourselves but then it seemed to be tackling transportation rather than just the chartists march. Whatever it was it sounded like something we should go to to find our what was happening and maybe network with some of the people who would be at the event.

The meeting was in Ebbw Vale, one of the south wales valleys that played a crucial role during the industrial revolution and in turn a place where the Chartism movement became very popular. Myself and Hannah-Jane arrived at the meeting not knowing what to expect, I was surprised at the turnout, around 15/20 people. When we walked into the room I spotted Pat Drewett, he is the Project manager for Newport Councils ‘Chartist Commission’ And also the chairman of ‘Our Chartist Heritage’, a campaign group raising and educating local school children about the Chartist uprising. We met Pat previously a few weeks back when filming a commission for Newport Council promoting the Chartist schools march. We were planning on talking to Pat further down the line but we couldn’t resist telling him of our initial plans and he was really enthusiastic. He asked if we could meet after the talk for a coffee to discuss plans.

The Forum was introduced by Tony Moore of Monash University in Australia. Tony had previous experience working at various media organisations and had written a book on the transportation of convicts in the 19th Century called ‘Death Or Liberty’ and more recently it had been turned into a film by the same name. Tony gave a presentation about the success of both the book and film how it related to this new Project. The book and film focused on characters who were transported as convicts to Tasmania and how they eventually came together to bring about democracy in Australia. The new project proposes to extend on the story of these political convicts as well as telling the stories of some of the other convicts who were transported to Australia.

The project was described as a ‘Trans-media’ project and it was interesting that Tony called this an revolution in media and related it to the revolution in democracy. The project would use an ‘on-line hub’ to tell 100 stories in the form of mini documentaries, it would contain archive documents and be a digital exhibition that could be shared across the world  using computer displays and drawing on individual museums documents and artifacts.

The project would be mainly funded by the ARC (Australian Research Council) at a cost of $300,000 per year over five years. The aims of the ARC scheme are to support the initiation or development of long term research alliances between higher education organisations and other organisations including industry and other research end-users in order to apply advanced knowledge to problems and/or to provide opportunities to obtain national economic, commercial, social or cultural benefits.

sdr

sdr

The presentation was essentially a pitch to the Gwent Archives group to ask for funding in the way of money or research time with monetary value attached. The ARC would offer funding but for this funding the project would have to be funded partially by outside sources. Gwent Archives hold vast information on Chartism and so would be an ideal candidate to take part, they would also benefit by having archive information collated for them and available online.

When watching the presentation I felt both excited and frustrated.relating back to our project I as thrilled that  we seem to have come up with an idea that there clearly is an audience for and that we’ve positioned it in a market that can probably benefit most from a trans-media experience. Seeing the convicts proposal is an acknowledgment for this type of media project. On the other hand I felt a bit frustrated that the convicts project has come about at this time as it obviously has a much larger budget and more scope than anything we could create. The saving grace is that the convicts project is taking a look at a different story to ours, also as it’s such a big project it will take a lot longer to complete. Tony was talking years in production where as we only have a few months to create our project. It does highlight however how much time is required to produce content to a very high standard.

After the presentation we met with a few of the members of the Chartist Heritage Association, They were very keen to talk with us after hearing us explain our plans during the talk. We met Les James who is a local Chartist historian; he is currently writing a book about uprising leader John Frost and he has previously put on exhibitions about the chartist leaders. Les was very interested in our idea but raised concerns about us going over old ground, he made the point that the Chartist uprising story has been told a number of times and maybe we should find a different angle. I appreciate Les’s comments but i also feel like although the story has been done a number of times it hasn’t been done to a very high standard; searching the web the story is generally told through slide shows of static images or poor quality video, I feel our treatment will offer the story in a new more professional looking format that will appeal to a media savvy audience. We met Rachael Lovering who was involved with the Newport museum and devised the museums Chartism exhibit back in 2005 and we had another chance to speak with Pat Drewett who was very enthusiastic. He explained that he also had plans for the same area that we wanted to base our mobile app in (Stow Hill) and that we could possibly work together to make one larger project. Pat agreed that we would meet again after our pitch as we hadn’t really expected to see him at the event but he also invited us to come with him on a walk to the Chartist caves in the Brecon Beacons where we could talk more and get some more inspiration for our project.

I left the talk feeling very excited that we seem to have chosen a good subject to explore and having the support of so many people who are experts in this subject should enable us to create something that is really appealing to it’s intended audience and done to a professional standard.

Discussion with David Smith – App Furnace and Klynt

Discussion with David Smith – App Furnace and Klynt

I had a meeting today with David Smith to primarily gain access to the App Furnace and Klynt software so i could prototype at home but also to discuss the feasibility of my new project idea. The last time I spoke with David we discussed my St Fagans project so this was another good time to pitch my idea briefly to get some feedback.

David used App Furnace to create his own location based app in Victoria Park Bristol so he is good person to talk to to get advise and point out some of the apps potential limits. He also created an app that worked across both Mobile and web with the Bristol ‘Arts on the hill’ project and ‘Park Hive’ so could advise on how to create an ongoing application.

Through talking to David I discovered a couple of big issues that I have to consider when building both my App and online project. One of the main problems is the amount of data used to power the app. App furnace downloads all the data needed to run the app to the phone on installation, this has both benefits and disadvantages, one of the benefits is that having all the data already accessible on the handset means that users won’t incur any additional data costs when using the app, the initial download will need data but this could be dealt with by providing a wifi hotpots at installation or making users aware of the data needed at installation so they can decide themselves if they wish to use the service. The disadvantage of having all the data downloaded in the App is that it could create a very large file, this could cause problems with users having used up a lot of their phones storage. Most Mobile apps are around 50mb – 200mb, they are more substantial for Games applications but users are willing to justify this extra storage because of the return (a game), we need to consider if making a large app will be acceptable to the end user.

There is a way to create a smaller app that would solve the data/storage size on the handset but this will involve adjusting the content of the app. Originally I wanted the app to contain images, video and audio. We can compress all of these to lower the size but by using video we will still be creating large file sizes. I need to weigh up if sacrificing the video element of the app and keeping this just for the online version will benefit the popularity with more users willing to download a simplified app that takes up less storage space, I also need to consider how this will impact on our proposed story.

The second issue that David highlighted was the AppFurnce software itself. When imagining the app I wanted to create something that would last after my University project, Much like Charlotte Crofts ‘Curzon’ project. I wanted to be able to modify it further and create a real something that can be developed further. The AppFurnce licence will only work until June, this means we have to either accept that it will disappear in the future or lok at ways at preserving it through another platform.

David suggested three options:

  1. Contact Calvium (the makers of AppFurnce) and commission them to re-produce the application to a professional standard and upload it to the app store. This could cost between £400 and £10,000 to create and would require funding from partners/local council.
  2. Employ a programmer to recreate the app and publish it to the app store.
  3. Use a software called AppMachine to re-create the app and publish it to the app store (approx £500.) This option is limited in it’s design.

Speaking With David has helped while planing the app and thinking about these limitations while planning with save us wasting time on concepts that may not be future proof. it will also meant that we will have to think more creatively about how we design a simple yet attractive and entertaining app. I’m also in a position now to start prototyping the app at the proposed location and finding out how it is received with my contributors.

Journal – Crowd Funding Second Meeting – Rewards & Timeframes

This afternoon we had our second meeting with Lydia and Hannah about crowdfunding for our short film ‘Behind Closed Doors’. Last week we met and they initially described the process to us and what we needed to do to make it successful including rewards, info and updates.

Rewards

Over the past week we’ve come up with a selection of rewards which will help us hopefully to raise the £1000 we think we need to create the film.

Lowest Reward – £5 Massive Thanks and A Digital Download and Name in the credits

(40 – £200)

Low Reward – £10 – Half hour live Q&A online (google hangouts) After film release + Digital Download & Name in Credits (20 – £200)

Mid Reward – £20 – Signed Movie Poster or Signed Printed Production Still (your choice) + Live Q&A, Download and Credit (10 –  £200)

Mid Reward – £30 Both Signed poster and print plus Q&A, Download, Credit (5 – £150)

High Reward – £40 ‘Pick a Prop’ Donate a prop to be included in the film (from list) + Signed Poster, Q&A, Digital Download (3 – £120)

£50 – Thank you you’ve helped fund our festivals. Receive all rewards and Exec Producer

Total £970

In the meeting today we went over these rewards. Myself and Sinead were under the impression that we had to limit the rewards so that we could only make the amount required. Lydia said we did not have to limit the rewards so we decided that all rewards except the most expensive Two (Exec-Producer & Submit a prop) would be unlimited, We could then hopefully use any extra money towards improving our production.

After pricing up Posters at around £6 for creation and despatch to the backer Hannah suggested we offer handwritten postcards as an alternative to Posters and prints. These would be cheaper to send out in the post, offer a personal touch and maybe more useful as people don’t tend to display posters anymore. Hannah also suggested that they should be more original than normal movie posters so that they are more exclusive and fan orientated.

We have tried to focus on rewards that don’t cost us anything to produce like the google hangouts video chat and movie download & credit. With this in mind we decided to replace the £30 poster and Print option with a signed script.

We decided that the incremental rewards would include all previous rewards, this way there is an incentive for backers to move up a level as they will not loose any of the previous rewards and a small step may mean they are prepared to offer more money to move up a level.

Timescales

Initially we were looking at launching Crowdfunding in December but after some discussions about peoples willingness to give during this time we have decided to kick off the crowdfunding at the end of January. As we will not have to pay our actors until after filming this will suit our production schedule; this timescale will also be beneficial because we will be able to see how our funding is coming along before production and determine if we need to make any changes to the budget.

In order to make the crowdfunding successful Lydia and Hannah have advised us on the importance of good social media, essentially building an audience for the crowdfunding before it begins. We are looking at using Twitter and Facebook for more official updates such as the trailers and posters promotion, this will begin at the start in December to give enough time to build an audience before the January crowd fund launch. We will be using Instagram for more ‘Behind the scenes’ style updates, these can begin sooner with photos of production meetings, filming of sizzler and more genera updates.

Lydia and Hannah will set up our social media sites for us using images we will provide when finalised. They agreed that we will provide them with media such as treatments and more in depth posts but they will offer day to day general updates to help promote the film.

Stock Images For Sizzler Pond 5

This Monday we will be filming our ‘Sizzler’ film for ‘Behind Closed Doors’. A Sizzler is a term I first came across while doing work experience for the Wild Screen Wildlife Film Festival in Bristol. When presenting new programme ideas, producers were showing us a ‘Sizzler’ of their next project, These were short highlight videos of programmed that act as a little teaser of what to expect when watching the final product. Sizzler’s are used as part of a pitching process to wet the audiences appetite.

We will be using our Sizzler to help us during the pitch and we have also planned to use it through our social media campaign and in our crowd funding programme to help attract and audience and gain funding.

Our Sizzler will be a number of key object shots which help tell the story in the final film, these shots will be shot cinematically and have a lot of focus on diegetic sound, the aim is to create a visual and audio pice that will cement the tone of the film with the audience and make them interested to see the final story. We chose to use objects as these raise questions, give great options for diegetic sound and also will save us having to show characters who haven’t been cast yet.

One of the shots we are filming on Monday is a family photograph being tossed into an open fire. As casting has not started yet we needed to get a suitable photograph to use for this scene, Looking through my own and other peoples family photographs I couldn’t find anything suitable with a couple and a young baby so I looked to the internet instead.

As the Sizzler will be viewed online it was important to consider copyright, I couldn’t just download an image form the internet. I’ve been using a stock site Pond 5 for a number of video and audio requirements in the past so I decided to check there for stock photographs. There were a number of suitable options for purchase and after contacting our Director we agreed on a photograph/Family to be our stand in characters for the scene.

The 2 images i purchased cost £3 each. I then took these to a photo-lab to get them professionally printed. I could have printed them out cheaper at home but I felt as this was a very cinematic close up shot we needed to see this was a real photograph and it needed to also burn the way a real photograph would when placed on a fire.

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https://www.pond5.com/item/60821740

Developing the photographs was an easy process, it took less than 5 minutes and cost under £4 for 8 photographs. I printed 4 of each photograph to allow for any mess ups.

 

New Chartist Idea First Tutorial – Jen Stein

Over the past week myself and Hannah-Jane have had a complete U-Turn on out idea proposal. Initially we planned to work with the National Museum of Wales in their St Fagan’s welsh history museum but we had complications with access and story so it was a very slow process. While working with the Museum we had the opportunity for some work experience with them filming the annual Newport Chartism commemorative march, doing this inspired me to change the idea for our project and this is the one we will pitch to the industry.

Jen Stein

This was our first meeting with Jennifer. Jen is an Assistant Research Professor of Media Arts + Practice at the University of Southern California and is over in the UK for a year carrying out research with UWE and the pervasive media studio. This tutorial was really useful because Jen was unaware of our previous idea so she had no opinion of it which meant we could pitch our new idea in a totally fresh way. This pitch also gave us the chance to explain the background to the idea to somebody who is unfamiliar with the content and the area that our project would take place in.

Jens tutorial was a chance for us to get more enthusiastic about the Chartism project, she gave us some practical advice on accessibility, having the project online for armchair viewing and how we could overcome security issues with equipment such as having people pay a deposit/leave a driving licence or be accompanied around by adults or members of the team. We planned on using a screen to display the Klynt page and Jen advised us about the cost of the touch screen but also that using a normal screen with a mouse might not work as many people still may not know how to use it.

As we are planning on making a real world element and an online element Jen advised that they shouldn’t be identical. We want users who experience the real world story to be able to find different things in the online version so that they are not just seeing what they just experienced. this could be as simple as having items talked about in the real world experience on display in the online element but with more information. Essentially we need to make both experiences worth doing by the same group of people.

With regard to the app we discussed the importance of making people look around, we don’t just want to spoon feed them the information, we want them to be actively involved in the story and this can be as simple as directing them to look for something.

Jen recommended checking out street artist Candy Chang for inspiration with our interactive elements. We were particularly interested in the ‘I Wish I Was‘ project that invited people to place stickers around the local area in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. This idea fits into our pans to ask the public to suggest a new peoples charter.

Candy Chang 'I Wish I Was'

Candy Chang ‘I Wish I Was’

Jen has given us some great inspiration and highlighted some of the practical problems we will face. a Very useful first tutorial.

 

 

 

Abigails Producing Workshop

Abigail Producing Workshop

Today I attended a workshop with Abigail where we went into detail some of the tasks that are generally completed by a Producer in a project. The producers role in pre-production is vital to the project being completed on time.

This session focused on the process of making a viable production using softeware such as movie magics to create schedules and budgets as well as using traditional techniques to complete the process. One of the most important things to focus on was that the project is constantly evolving and the producers role is to balance three key areas in order to create a viable product.

Script – The script is the main blueprint for the production, all decisions are initial based around the script and what the writer/director want to achieve. The first step of scheduling and budgeting is to go through the script and highlight all areas that will have an impact on the schedule and budget. These will include Scene length, Location, characters, Props, Special effects set dressing and camera moves at the very least. Having an idea of all of these elements will enable the producer to budget effectively and schedule efficiently.

Schedule – The schedule is important in ensuring a project is delivered on time, there is an overall schedule for the project which should be started from the delivery date and work backwards, this will include post production, production and pre-production. Abigail noted that post production is often overlooked particularly in student films and it can take a lot longer than we imagine, she also reminded us that post-production elements such as sound, soundtrack and particularly titles play very important roles in the final look and feel of a film so they should be given enough time for completion just as the main filming element is.

Budget – With an idea of the script and schedule budgeting can now take shape, budgeting is a balancing act between saving as much money as possible while ensuring all the HoD creative ideas can be realised. The budget sets out how much a production is going to cost and takes into account talent and crew costs, travel accommodation, equipment and grip hire along with many post production elements such as copyright, soundtrack, marketing and distribution. Abigail noted that not all of the money will come at once and that backers will often pay in installments so this is an important to remember when budgeting,

All three of the elements above are working together to create a project, if any one changes then the other two will need adjusting and there should be constant checks and adjustments to the script, budget and schedule throughout the process to keep the project running on time for delivery and within the agreed budget.

For my role as Producer on Sineads drama ‘Behind closed Doors’ I have begun using a free software called Celtx. The software allows the imputing of a script in an industry format and allows the producer to highlight all areas relevant to scheduling and from this i can create strip schedules, scene schedules and effectually plan the overall production phase of the project. using the information from celtx I can also then include this in the budget and get an overall cost for the creation of the project.

I’ve used Celtx successfully in the past and have found it very useful for scheduling. It requires a lot of work initially ensuring all items are cataloged and in the correct format but the initial work pays off in the production phase as you are able to schedule days with ease and ensure that all the team are aware of what needs to be done on a particular day.

Reflection on St Fagans Concept

Reflection on St Fagans Concept

Over the past couple of days I’ve taken the decision to ‘Shelve’ my concept for the St Fagans museum interactive experience, there are a number of obstacles that are preventing the project moving forward which i’ll briefly explain below.

When thinking about my project this year i reflected on some of the areas that have caused projects to fail in the past. Looking back over the past two years access has been the primary headache for our projects be it locations to film Drama or contributors for documentaries; with this in mind I decided to focus on access before ideas when thinking about my final year project.

I had a contact at the national museum of wales. I really wanted to make an interactive project after the success i had in year 2 with ‘The Bristol Hum’ and I thought a museum exhibit would be an ideal project to approach. Initially I planed to focus on the museum of welsh soldiers in Cardiff as I knew my contact had connections and I felt it had under utilised exhibits that would be ideal for development.

I prepared a proposal based on the Museum of the Welsh shoulder and myself and Hannah-Jane churchman arranged to meet my contact. We met at the National Museum in Cardiff and discussed some of the techniques we could use to create and interactive project for the museum. My contact was very excited by the proposal and said they’d love to help out. She suggested using The St Fagans museum of welsh life and so we proceeded with this as a project and began developing ideas.

Over the course of the next few weeks we had little communication from my contact at the museum, we found it hard to arrange a meting and get names of people we should talk two. We needed to move quickly to create a story. After visiting the museum we found it was a great location but needed a firm contact who could provide us with background information and possible story themes and this sadly wasn’t forthcoming at this time.

During the pitches I pitched an initial Idea I had for a possible story, I got support from my tutors and a crew started to form. Planning the story became increasingly more difficult because of the lack of contact, access and the fact that the location was so far away. Last week my initial contact did get in touch about filming a separate project for the museum, this was a short promotional film to highlight a local Chartism commemorative event. During this filming i was inspired by the people we were talking to and the stories they had to tell about the subject and I was also feeling proud that these people were highlighting a story close to me.

Over the past few days I’ve decided that it will be  more appropriate to change my project idea. I’d like to focus on telling a story local to me in the same sort of way we envisioned the St Fagans project (interactive/online) but with the benefit of it being much more local, open access to locations, a large number of potential stories and contributors who can help tell those stories. There is also a need for this story to be told as the council (Newport) actively tries to promote it’s Chartism history. i can still use my Museum contact but now this won’t be my only contact so hopefully planning can be easier. The location close to my home will also allow for easier access in terms of prototyping ideas and location recces.

Reflecting on my original idea it has lead me to this new one indirectly so the work put in initially wasn’t wasted time. There is also the possibility of picking this project up in the future after my university studies are complete and I can take a longer term approach to planning and implementation.

 

Testimony Films – Independent Documentary Producers

Testimony Films

Testimony Films are a Bristol based life story documentary production company. They have won a number of awards, most notably for their documentaries that focus on the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.  ‘9/11 Firehouse’ Won the International Documentary award at the RTS Awards and was the 2013 Winner of the Gold World Medal for History & Society at the New York Film Festival.

Testimony films make documentaries that tell real life stories of past events, they rely heavily on well researched interviews with contributors mixed with archive footage, re-enactments and present day observational images.

Testimony films create a large number of their films through self research and they they hold a vast amount of recorded interviews with contributors that are ready to be used for stories that they may not have been commissioned yet; They also produce a number of documentaries that have been commissioned to briefs sent out by television companies such as the BBC.

I like the approach to documentary film making that Testimony has, they have a team of researcher who are skilled at finding stories. The actual technicalities of making the documentary really come second to finding a great story which they can tell passionately.

 

 

 

Oblong Films

Oblong Films is a Bristol Based film company specializing in observational documentary. The company was set up in 2009 and has had a number of documentaries presented on television including ‘Prom Queen Divas UK’ (channel 5) and ‘The Naked Rambler’ (BBC) The Company was nominated for 3 RTS West Awards for their documentary ‘Millionaire Boy Racers’ an unscripted documentary that provides an insight into the influx of super cars and their wealthy owners in central London each summer.

The company hasn’t posted any recent updates of work online and they haven’t posted on Twitter for the past 6 months.

Panasonic G80 G85 IBIS Problems

Just wanted to do a quick post about the problems with the in body stabilization on the new Panasonic G80 & G85 cameras. Just to note, both these cameras are exactly the same, just different model numbers for different markets.

As a bit of Background i’ve been shooting on The predecessor, the Panasonic G7 for the past year, I used it with the Panasonic GH4 at first for filming Wedding Films but it became my main camera when I realised how much better the G7 was at higher ISO than the GH4 so I sold the GH4 and purchased a second G7. I now shoot weddings entirely with the Panasonic G7.

When the G80/85 was announced I was over the moon, I have been using a Sigma 18 – 35mm Lens with no IS so the built in IBIS seemed to be the answer to all of my prayers; along with the stronger body and a few other tweaks like the movement of the SD card slot this was looking to be a certain purchase.

The day my camera was due for delivery a video popped up on YouTube showing that the G80/85 seemed to have some software problems with the IBIS, there would be a lag when the camera was moved or panned. You can view the video below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3eqvClYV-o

When my camera arrived I immediately had to see this for myself so I put on a prime lens with no IS and sure enough when I panned or moved the camera then there was a jolting of the image as the IBIS tried to keep up (I understand this may be fixed soon with a firmware update). When the lens/camera was hand held static then sure enough the IBIS worked perfectly and I had some lovely stabilized footage but after a few minutes of use I decided I had to send the camera back.

When looking at the footage I had shot stablized it seemed to me that all the IBIS was doing was the same function as ‘Warp Stablizer’ does in Adobe Premier (similar plugins on other editing packages), this got me thinking, why should I spend out so much more money on the G80/86 when I could just use the G7 and stabilize the shots I need to in post? The G7 is currently £699 in the UK (body only) and the G7 can be got for as little as £350 after cashback deals, it doesn’t make sense to pay all that money extra. I understand there maybe some extra shutter functions for photographers in the G80/85 but my main reason for buying was the IBIS and for me this doesn’t warrant the huge price increase.

This fault has highlighted a few misconceptions people have with IBIS in cameras with people on camera forums and Facebook. There seems to be some over reaction to the ‘fault’. Lets be clear. The IBIS works fine with stable hand held shots, it’s only when panning that you get a small jarring effect but I have to wonder why people would pan handheld. People seem to think that IBIS is meant to be a replacement or emulate a gimbal or steady-cam, offering smooth motion shots. IBIS is meant to stabilize small hand shakes, not be a replacement for such items. I think people are expecting too much from this. Panning shots should be done with a Tripod. Moving shots should be done with a track/gimbal/steady-cam. Expecting the camera to replace all these items seems a little bit silly to me.

To sum up, The G80/85 is a great improvement to the G7 but not in my opinion worth the extra £300 unless you are a photographer who needs the improved image/shutter-shock functions.

Guest Speaker – Dilseh Korya (editor)

Guest Speaker – Dilseh Korya (editor)

Dilseh Korya is a Freelance editor based in Bristol, he came in to give as a talk on how the industry works in general and how he manages his workflow when editing. I was really interested in this talk because I’m a keen editor and am interested in the job as a whole but more importantly as I imagine myself setting up a small company that takes on a number of jobs witch involve both filming and editing footage i’m interested in any ways I can be more efficient when editing footage.

Timescales for Edits and cost

Dilseh works mainly on Documentary and Factual programmes, he explained to us the normal turnaround times for different to give an example of how long you might work and how it differs between genres. Dileshs’ projects are typically 1 hour factual television programmes which include a mix of interviews and observational footage. The timescales for these projects are around 6 weeks for a prime time TV show and 4 Weeks for a daytime TV show, this is actual full editing days where the rushes and sequences have already been setup by an assistant. Wildlife factual television gets a lot longer editing time due to the complexity of the story and these editors generally get 16 weeks to complete a 1 hour edit. The rates for a 1 hour television edit will vary from between £1000 to £1500 per week (5 days) and a ball park figure for a typical prime time factual TV programme is £1300 per week.

Although the rates sound attractive it’s important to note that working freelance does not guarantee you a constant flow of work so when working we should consider how this money will have to tie over periods when you might be out of work for a while.

The Editing Process

Dilsehs’ editing workflow is something i’ll really take away from the talk, traditionally when editing I will go through all my footage in the ‘bins’ and select nice shots I want to use. Dilsehs’ approach to editing approach allows for a much faster workflow.

Dilseh doesn’t browse through the footage in bins, instead he makes sequences on his timeline and drags all of the relevant footage into them. Once the footage is all in the timeline it can then be scrubbed through very quickly and shots that are bad or not relevant can be culled. This process goes on, refining the shots and sequence interview, timing clips and organising them so they relate to audio. Dilseh is skimming the shots, thinking of beginning, middle and end images that are conventional with the audience.

Once all the sequences are complete then they are transferred into a new timeline where they can be moved about to create the story. Dilseh uses post it notes and colour tags for relevant threads of interview. Using these tags Dilseh can then shuffle the content around to create a basic narrative. The new time line is the first proper assembled edit.

Once the basic assembly is complete Dilseh duplicates the timeline and creates a new one, further trimming is completed and the structure is refined. This process happens another 4 or 5 times, each time further refining and adding different elements such as voice over commentary and a sample audio track. Voice overs are generally simple recordings made by the editor directly into the edit, this helps with image placement and storytelling and the script decision is a collaboration between the editor and the director/producer. Using sample music and voice over saves costs at this stage and makes things more efficient. Once the edit is complete a professional voice over can be recorded as well as a suitable soundtrack.

By week 5 There will now be a fine cut, with the project now trimmed to the correct overall length. It is then sent onto to the offline edit where the titles can be added, commentary re-recorded and the soundtrack replaced.

I found Dilsehs approach to be much more efficient and effective than my own, he is working through the project methodically and trying not to waste any time. He added some valuable lessons including the need to duplicate timelines before changing them (so that you have a back up copy) and the need to take criticism on the chin and not get to attached to what you’re working on. The idea of recording your own commentary was very interesting to me and I think doing this would enable me to structure my work a lot easier rather than writing down and imagining what will be in the final cut.

 

 

Wildscreen Work Experience Final day with Floating Harbour

Today was my Final day of work experience with the Floating Harbour team. We started once again at the boat at 8am, kitting up. Our main focus of the day had moved from the Arnolfini to the the Watershed where we had to film the days Wildlife Photography seminars.  After the seminars we had a quick turnaround of locations as we had to film a final presentation at St Georges Hall which is about a 10 minute fast walk from the watershed.

After filming Seminars all week the final day was pretty straight forward. I took control of the back camera next to the stage which was a new Canon 5d mark 4. This was my first time using this camera and it seemed a lot better than i had been led to believe. It’s still really a stills camera but does have all the video functions you’d expect.

At 5pm we had to rush everything up to st Georges Hall for the final presentation. I had to leave at 7pm but agreed to help with the setup as we had a lot to do before the presentation as we were filming with 4 cameras. By this time in the week as a team we knew exactly what to do and with this in Mind Rich suggested that we could up the aunty a it and try to live mix this presentation too, this would require laying cables around the hall from the cameras to the mixer. We also had to consider sound capture too as the Hall wasn’t able to offer a live sound feed. I left the team after setup was completed just before the presentation began, we had worked well as a team to complete such an elaborate camera setup in record time.

Summary of the Week

I Really enjoyed my time at Floating Harbour, particularly because this is the area of the media that I feel most comfortable working in. When thinking about life after university and the growing trend for online/corporate video I feel working in this area to be an achievable ambition.

The team at Floating Harbour were very welcoming and the work I was doing helped introduce me to the workflows of a professional company. I learned new camera positioning skills, Scheduling and got my hands on some of the latest equipment which will stand out well on my CV and I learnt some new Editing workflow techniques such as creating selects of good footage which will make my own editing quicker.  During the week I also learnt more about working with people and networking, how to act professionally with clients and how to promote yourself when working in order to plant seeds with potential clients in the future.

I’d  like to thank the Floating Harbour team for this amazing opportunity.

 

New Chartist Idea Tutorial – Judith and Alistair

New Chartist Idea Tutorial – Judith and Alistair

This afternoon we had tutorials with both Alistair and Judith about our new Chartism project. We were a bit apprehensive about suggesting a new project at this stage in the semester but myself and Hannah-Jane felt that we had valid reasons for parking the St Fagans project (access, pace of development and story) and that our new idea was a lot more suitable and achievable.

Our first tutorial was with Judith was brief but we explained our reasons for the project change and Judith was positive about our plans, she was aware of the Chartism movement and was pleased that we were continuing to work with interactive platforms. I think she was particularly pleased that we had now included the Klynt application which will allow us to create an interactive archive of our event and the research we will be carrying out.

Our third tutorial of the day was with Alistair. We briefly explained the project to him and he offered some useful advise on research. Primarily that we had to nail the history of the Chartists ready for the pitch so that we could easily and clearly explain both the project idea and Chartism in general as most people will be unaware of the movement. Alistair also suggested some people to contact for research for the project and students who could maybe help with that. Colin Thomas who is a BBC film maker and is part of the Bristol Radical History group. and Ben Pike, A fellow student who has made a number of social history films while at UWE.

Our meeting came just two days after the election of Donald Trump and with this in mind along with Brexit we all felt that this project could fit in well with the current mood for politics and change in the UK and around the world. Our project documents part of the introduction of real Democracy in the UK and the plight of the people who fought for it and could remind people about how important it is and how it may/mayn’t be being eroded.

Wildscreen Work Experience Wednesday Day 4

Short one for me today, I have Work tonight so had to leave at 2pm. We had an early start interviewing Jonathan Dimbleby. A really nice man who has recently moved to Bristol. Our set up was similar to Hughs last night on the same balcony but in daylight and an opposite corner.  The Image coming out of the Panasonic Varicam LT is stunning and I can’t wait to see the final result.

The interview with Jonathan Dimbleby went well, after a number of setups we were now quick at knowing how to approach this. Jonathan was very co-operative and knew what was expected from him so overall it turned out to be a great interview. I once again gathered behind the scenes images and videos that can be used by floating Harbour to create a show reel of the event. This week has really taught me how to set up for this kind of interview, how to choose a location and the problems that will be faced such as noise and members of the public, also the speed at which this has to be done, interviewees really don’t have time to wait for the crew so it’s important to be professional and be ready to go when the contributor arrives, also to have researched your contributor so you don’t look uninterested when asking questions.

We had a busy morning, we had to film a talk at the Watershed then move all the equipment back to the Arnolfini for the rest of the day. Luckily we had some new crew members. Joe and Tommy who would take over later in the day after I left. I felt a bit sorry for both Joe and Tommy as the rest of the team had become comfortable in our new roles and they seemed a bit lost as there wasn’t a lot for them to do. I just tried to explain what I had been doing  to tommy so that he could learn as I did and get comfortable in the role and with the equipment.

I helped move all the equipment back to the Arnolfini for the rest of the days talks and then headed home for some rest before work tonight.

St Fagans Museum Project Possible Structure

St Fagans Museum Project Possible Structure

I’ve started to develop some story ideas for our St Fagans Project. as we are planning on basing it at the St Fagans castle i looked toward the history of the castle as a stately home first and then a convalescence hospital during the war, I’d like to bring both elements into the story if i can.

stfagans-castle_0

In terms of Audience we are thinking of attracting educational visitors and school groups of around 9/10 years of age. With this in mind I was thinking of using the stately home owners children as characters and maybe a Jack in a box as a prop that can be carried around the story and used as an interactive tool .

vintage-mattel-jack-in-the-box-metal-toy-1971-works-clown-pop-goes-the-weasel-e652f9dcb485b3b59bd4ec4d88505183

To incorporate the hospital element I decided to incorporate some of the artwork that the patients were producing during the war. One piece stuck out, a small butterfly that I thought could be concealed in the Jack in a box.

My idea is that a group will arrive at the museum and discover one of the artifacts is missing, using the jack in a box they will explore the museum trying to locate this missing object (The Butterfly) During the journey they will learn about the history of the castle through interactive elements housed in the jack in a box and with contact with improvising actors. At the end of the story the jack in a box will open to reveal the missing object that has been there all along and can now be returned to the museums display.

 

 

Wildscreen Festival Day 3 Work Experience

Later start today, But caught in traffic so we were a bit late arriving. The Boat is lovely to work from but it’s right in the centre of Bristol so is a nightmare if you’re in a car during rush hour. On the plus side, I have free parking which is a rarity in the centre of Bristol, well more than rare, it just doesn’t happen at all.

Today we had to film more talks and couch sessions and later had to do an interview with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. Rich suggested we split the team up today. We had a team working on filming the coach sessions and another starting edits and gathering some more GV footage. This was a great opportunity for me to get behind the camera and film using the Panasonic during the talks. I was in control of the main close-up camera using the canon 70-200mm lens with an extender making it 400mm. Jake was on the back stage camera and Rich/Tom took control of the safe wide and the vision mixer. Using such a long lens at a ow aperture was tricky keeping focus, especially as some of the talks had moving guest speakers. The couch sessions were much easier as the speakers remained static. Working with Tom on Vision mixer was great, I could keep an eye on the camera that was live by looking at his screen and he allowed me to use my intuition to find him suitable shots to cut to.

The live mixing became sort of a game, we were trying to complete it in the apollo to save us time in editing and the further we got into the talk with no issues the more challenging it was not to mess up a shot. Unfortunately we still had sound issues which means the recordings will once again need some re-editing. The sound issues are stating to frustrate, especially as the sounds team don’t seem very approachable, i’d expect them to be a bit more professional.

In the afternoon I went back to the boat to start work on the Highlights film edit. I was given the job of creating a timeline of ‘Selects.’ This meant going through the footage so far and picking out shots that could be used in the highlights film. I had to trip out bad bits, shaky footage so that the timeline only contained usable footage. This process will make creating a highlights film a lot simpler, the editor will know that all shots can be used and won’t have to root around in different folders to find footage as all the good stuff will be in one place. This is an idea I will now adopt in my editing workflow.

This evening we had to pack up quick and take our gear to the Watershed Cinema. We had a 5 minute slot with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall for an interview. We quickly scouted out a location, a balcony with a view of the harbour and we set up ready to go. We used the Panasonic Varicam for the interview and a Sony A7r2 for some behind the scenes footage. The interview was short and sweet and Rich managed to get Hugh to give some sound bites that we can use in the highlights video. We seem pretty slick now and are producing some really nice content. The team seem to be feeding off each other which is great for Moral.

img-20161012-wa0003

We ended with a Pint and Ben and Matt went off to film one of the evening events while myself and Jake packed up and headed back to wales.

Wildscreen Festival Work Experience Opening Day

The Wildscreen Festival got underway today and this was our first day of propper filming. We arrived at the boat at 8:30, grabbed the cameras and headed straight over to the registration area to meet Rich and gather some footage for the promo video. This was a great chance for myself and Jake to get a go on the Panasonic Varicam LT. We spent half hour gathering shots of delegates registering for the event and then we headed over to the Arnolfini to setup the cameras ready for the first talks.

The schedule is very tight and luckily Anne has been working to sort our timings out for us so we know where we should be at specific times; we also have a WhatsApp group for communication on the go which is good idea.

The initial talk was an introduction to the Festival for new delegates, it was hosted by Laura Marshall, Managing Director. of Icon films. She seemed like a really lovely lady and gave some useful tips on how to get the best use of the festival in terms of networking, most importantly not to interrupt people who are talking as they my be in the middle of an important one time opportunity pitch to a potential backer. Very good advice I though. Laura seemed really approachable and so maybe I will contact her in the future for more work experience or even film ideas, she seems keen to nurture new talent.

This initial talk was mainly a live test for us. We seemed to handle the mixing well, myself and Jake watched from the seats while the Floating Harbour team took on the important roles. We did have an issue with communication with the camera operator on the stage. We did have talkback units but we didn’t have an easy way to communicate and tell the op not to move as they were live in the mix. I had a torch with me and covered it with red gaff tape, from my position I was able to see when the camera was live and lit my touch so the operator on the stage had a visual indication to tell him not to move, this seemed to work well and was a good on the spot problem fix.

The introductory talk was followed by some ‘on the couch’ sessions with big name industry professionals and a number of other seminars. These were interesting to watch as well as film. I felt privileged to be able to attend these talks, not just film them. They were full of good advice from people who work in this industry.

While our technical end seemed to run smoothly we did have some sound problems, this was not our department as we were receiving a feed from the sound guys but it didn’t seem professional and means we’ll probably have to re-cut the days talks to fix the sound, this isn’t ideal on such a short turnaround time. Hopefully the sound problems will get sorted for tomorrows talks.

After the final talk we packed up for the day; returned the cameras to the boat and had a quick de-brief and planning session for the next day. Overall all seemed to go OK for the first day. We had some GV shot and worked well to capture all of the events, the only issue seemed to be the sound problems which was out of our control.

Overall a good day.