PP1: 500 Word Research Report

Research  report

The majority of the PP1 module has cantered on getting us accustomed to our new surroundings, our class mates and working practices at university through the use of various small research tasks. The research tasks such as tasks in the library and our guided walk to the centre of Bristol were interesting introductions to what Bristol has to offer. The research for the media futures factual film encouraged us to build on this research and explore further the types of opportunities that Bristol has to offer in terms of Media production.

Through our research for the Media Futures film we discovered that although Bristol is known for its big name production companies such as Aardman animations and The BBC’s Natural History unit it was also home to a vast number of smaller independent production companies, many of which specialise in their own areas of the production process. I found a great resource for my research was the directory website ‘Bristol Media’ which is like a yellow pages of all the relevant media practitioners in the area. An article on the Bristol Media website states that according to a NESTA poll Bristol & Bath account for 2 out of the top 9 cities in the UK for creative industries. The Bristol Media Barometer (2014) reports that there are 15,900 jobs in the creative industries across the Bristol and Bath region, amounting to £660m in Gross value added (GVA) each year.

A lot of my own research for this project came with researching our media practitioner prior to setting interview questions. Research was essential to ensure the questions we asked were relevant to both the practitioner and our films theme. Luckily there was a lot of information on our practitioner on his website biography and there were many other sources of research available online. The interview itself offered some interesting information about why Bristol is such a great media city with our contributor explaining that it was relatively cheap to set up here when compared to other cities and the close nit feel of the city means that small production companies can work and socialise with each other making for a more creative and productive environment.

The Sweding and TV Studio exercises were an excellent opportunity to jump into media head first and a great way to break the ice with our fellow students. The Sweding was an interesting way to show how using fundamental scenes we could re-create a film in its basic form using basic methods. The TV studio exercise was a real eye opener for the majority of us and introduced us to the fast paced (and exciting) world of live TV broadcast and the many different job roles that there are when creating such a product.

All three of our projects in this module have introduced us to the importance of productive group work when creating media products, they encouraged us to try out different skills while working together and sharing expertise to create a product. We learned how if the group doesn’t work together then the end products quality will be affected. The Module has been a good introduction to Bristol as a media city and encouraged me to continue researching what the city has to offer in terms of employment opportunities when I finish my studies.

References:

http://www.bristolmedia.co.uk/Media/new-assets/14305bristolmedia_0.pdf

http://www.bristolmedia.co.uk/

http://www.nesta.org.uk/

http://davealexriddett.com/biography/

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Story Telling Workshop – Production Day

Production Journal

Today after planning our storytelling film we had the use of the small studio space to film. We had only 3 hours to shoot all of our shots and it became clear how planning out the shots we needed on both a storyboard and shot list meant we could be more productive when filming, managing to get most of the shots we needed and a few extra shots to give more options in the edit.

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The studios black walls were an ideal backdrop, we dressed the set using the props we had organised in our previous meeting. To light the scene we used a large LED light and some smaller lamps to take out some of the harsh shadows and light the talent from a number of angles. We hung a lower wattage bulb from the scaffolding above the set to act as the source of the light for the scene, this light was purely for decoration and wouldn’t be suitable to use to light the talent.

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When filming the scene we decided to get our talent to act out the whole scene over again for each camera angle, we decided to film in this way as we found that filming just the shots we needed for each angle was difficult for the talent as it interrupted their flow. The extreme close ups were filmed after we had the main wide and mid shots and were filmed as required according to the shot list.

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For each angle we had to reposition our lights to correctly light our talent. We captured sound separately on a Tascam recorder with a shotgun microphone.

We finished filming with 20 minutes to spare which we set aside to transfer our footage off the cards, we backed up the footage on two computers for safe keeping ready for the edit.

During the day we had some issues that had to be addressed. We had to find a way of mounting our go-pro to the scaffolding (using a monopod and gaffer tape), we ran out of memory on a card because it wasn’t formatted at the start of filming and we also had complications initially with too many people directing the talent which left the talent confused when trying to understand what we wanted from them.

Story Telling Workshop – Production Meeting 2

Having discussed some initial ideas and creating some rough storyboard and shot lists, our second production meeting was used to expand on our ideas and sort through some of the finer details including setting roles, finding locations and creating a production schedule.

Firstly we met with Ann-Marie McCormack who took a look over all our material and discussed with us how we could make some changes to enable the final product to be more appealing to an audience. Ann-Marie introduced the idea of having a man and a woman play our fake poker game which would add an interesting angle possibly bringing some sibling rivalry, gender dominance or sexual tension into the piece.

As we discussed the different background ideas for our story it became a lot easier to think of other elements such as the plot, shot types and props that could be used to convey a message.

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Having spent some time discussing our ideas we spent the afternoon adjusting our script, sourcing props and hiring out equipment. We were lucky enough to be able to book the small studio which will be an ideal location for our project.

Story Telling Workshop – Production Meeting 1

As part as our ongoing introduction to filmmaking we have been tasked in our groups to create a short sequence of shots that tell a story. We have to include a number of camera angles and framing techniques and characters expressions to tell the story rather than relying on sound and dialogue.

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Our first production meeting focused on generating an idea of what we could use as a story and what shots we could use to tell the story and create a certain mood. We had a number of options including a parody of the Good the Bad and the Ugly, replacing the guns with packets of biscuits.

 

Our final choice was to create a suspense sequence in the form of a poker game, using shots to show increasing tension throughout the game. We didn’t want this to be a normal game though and decided the payoff for the audience would be a joke at the end where we find out that the two characters were actually playing the card game snap.

Storyboard 1 SNAP

We set about creating a storyboard to plan out the rough framing of the shots; this made us think about camera placement and the use of framing sizes we might need to highlight elements that would help tell the story.

Snap Shot list

After we had agreed on the storyboard we transferred the storyboard into shot list which we could use on the day to give precise direction to the camera operators so they had a general idea of what we wanted to achieve.

The next step in the process was to meet with Rod Gray to go over the storyboard and make any adjustments to the concept or technical sheets to enable us to create a better production. We also had to agree on production roles and source locations, cast and props.

Media Futures – Editorial Decisions

Production Journal 

When filming our documentary we decided to split it up into 4 sequences to make it easier to gather footage and construct the final product. Sequence 1 would be an introduction to Bristol. Sequence 2 was introducing our contributor and getting soundbites related to our brief. Sequence 3 was added after our interview where we realised the topic was more focused on Aardman than just bristol so we wanted to include some stock footage and additional material from our contributor. Sequence 4 would be a conclusion.

Bristol Media Edit

Our brief stated that the final product should be no more than 4 minutes, this created a problem during editing as it became clear that with the voice over we would be way over time if we included everything we had planned. We took the decision to reluctantly remove our sequence about Aardman, this was a shame because it was very interesting but I think it was a good lesson about having to make editorial decisions in post production and made me think about how much useful material must get left on the cutting room floor during programme making.

Sweded Film – Forrest Gump

Credits:

Gareth Croft – Camera, Director of Photography, props
Bart Chomiszczak – Talent, Grip
Jack Anthony Coliandris – Talent, Script Editor
Tom Creagh – Talent, Script Editor
Hannah-Jane Churchman – Talent, Props, Sound
Simona Cucinella – Grip, Prop assistant

The Sweded film project was something I was looking forward to ever since my UWE interview, it was a chance to dive in and get making something and also a chance to get to know our Media Futures project group. While I wasn’t aware of the term Sweding (coined in Michel Gondry’s film Be Kind Rewind.) I was aware of the concept and it was something that appealed to me.

We had a very short time to prepare for this assignment so it was essential that the group quickly got together to create a plan; the same afternoon we were due to visit the scrapstore in Bristol to buy props.

We had around 2 days to prepare and 2 hours to film our Sweded film before presenting it to the rest of the group. I’m a person who likes to be prepared so it was unsettling when there was a lacklustre response to my requests for a script or a shooting list. We seemed to adopt a ‘we’ll sort it out on the day’ approach.

I became the cameraman/DoP as well as preparing some props for us to use (Rugby posts/ Gravestone) and on the day when it mattered the sort it out on the day approach seemed to work. Underpressure the group sprang into action and from nowhere seemingly we had a team effort and an impressive product created in just over an hour and a half.

When we showed our product the rest of the group were impressed. We seemed to have reproduced some of the key scenes that form the narrative and using creative camera angles and props we did seem to have a relatively good standard of production value.

I think the fact that we discovered another group sweding the same film as us made us realise we had a bit of competition and maybe helped us to concentrate our efforts.

Overall it was a great experience and the response from the group and our tutor was a great confidence builder. Working so closely together so soon into the course really helped to break the ice in the group and gave an opportunity to show of some of our individual skills which brought us to uni in the first place.

 

Media Futures – Finding Music

Production Journal:

Having decided on the use of a montage to open our factual film I began looking for music that would be appropriate for the production. I wanted something that would be relevant to Bristol and also suit the style of the film as well as complimenting the style of our interview. I discovered a track called ‘Bristol Love’ by a group called Laid Blak.

While some of the lyrics depict drug use and prostitution I felt that overall the song fitted quite well with what we wanted to achieve in the introducing bristol with a montage of unusual clips as opposed to the more traditional images of landmarks and attractions. I posted the link on our facebook page and after some discussion the rest of the group agreed that we should use the track in the opening montage as a way to set the tone of our film.

TV Studio Exercise

The TV Studio exercise was a fantastic introduction to both how the TV industry works and the facilities that will be available to us at UWE. It was also a chance to break up the from the very large class into smaller groups so we could get to know each other without being overwhelmed. I think it’s placement at the end of  of week one after we had been sitting through lectures about campus policy and H&S rules was refreshing.

Before undertaking our exercise it was interesting to hear some of the inside knowledge from our tutors about how live TV works, Tim explained how TV networks operate and how important it is to keep to strict timings in order to be able to sync up to the main network operator when it returns to national broadcasts, this really interested me and is something that goes unnoticed when we watch TV (unless it goes wrong).

Before we undertook our exercise we were given the chance to choose our roles and get an introduction to the equipment. To fill the roles we went around the group and people expressed an interest in a particular role. My preferred role was to be a vision mixer or camera operator but these seemed to be popular in the group so at this point I decided that I would be happy taking on one of the less desirable tasks within the group as I knew I could undertake other roles at a later stage.

My role for the TV Studio exercise was to run the autocue, this at first seemed like it would be a pretty easy job that might go unnoticed but it quickly became apparent that if I messed it up then the whole show could suddenly look very unprofessional.

On the day of recording we had 3 hour to prepare for the show, during this time I had to input the script into the autocue system, check for errors and make any changes to the script as required from the script editor. We had a number of run throughs which gave me a chance to gauge the correct speed to run the autocue at in relation to how fast the talent naturally spoke. Both presenters required a slightly different speed of autocue so it was important that I listened as they read in order to keep up with them or slow down.

I think the end product overall was pretty impressive considering the time we had to produce the show, I think the task really motivated the group and got people interested in learning about different TV production roles. The task definitely highlighted how technically complicated it is to produce a live TV show, particularly the size of the production crew needed and how important it is to constantly monitor the output to ensure you keep to the strict time constraints.

Final Script for Production

Production Journal

Today we got the final script from Tom which combines both the narrated parts of the film and the responses to questions from Dave. We conducted a few read throughs and recorded these to use as a base for editing and to check the timings.

Dave Riddett Interview Script

Interview Transcript and Editing

Production Journal

We decided the best way to go about creating our main script which incorporates our interview will be to transcribe the whole interview and then go through it and highlight soundbites or responses that we think are relevant to our theme.

David Riddett interview transcript

Jack transcribed the interview in super quick time and we all met up and went through the transcript with a highlighter and tore out relevant responses to create a rough script, I took the all the material home and edited the transcript to make it easier for Tom to see which parts we agreed we want including in the final script.

Question responses to be used in Doco

The next step for us will be to get a full script together and then have a read through which will highlight any problems and also give us a chance to edit it again if it is too long for our 4 minute time limit.

 

Factual Film Structure

Production Journal

We have decided it would be easier for everyone to be clear about how the film will be put together if we split the film into small sections. Having a structure laid out means we can decide what shots we need for certain parts of the film and also be clear of the styling of the shots required based on where they will sit in the final piece. Having this structure will also help Tom when writing the narration as he will know roughly how much narration is needed for each part of the film.

doco Structure

Media Futures – Production Schedule

Hannah-Jane has created a production schedule for our new media futures film. It will be useful to keep people on track and ensure that we don’t leave everything until the last minute without the time we need to edit the final product.

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Factual Film Treatment 2

Production Journal

This is the second treatment as we have decided to change from our initial proposal 

Doco Treatment

We wish to create a short linear factual programme that introduces prospective media students to a range of media companies in the local area and gives an overview of Bristol’s media landscape. The programme will follow a new university student journey to explore the city and find out what it has to offer and will be split into 4 sections. Section one will be an introduction to the city as a whole and will highlight local landmarks. This section will lead into an interview with Dave Riddett who works at Aardman Animations as a DoP. The interview will highlight some of the benefits of studying and working in Bristol. Section 2 will focus on the mainstream media companies that can be found in Bristol particularly along White Ladies road. In section 3 we will return to the interview and get more specific information on what it’s like to work in one of the big media companies in Bristol (Aardman). Our final section will focus on some of the smaller independent producers in the city and explain the benefits of having so many large and small companies working together in a small(ish) community.

The narrative will take the form of a voice over accompanied by images that relate to the script. The interview will be filmed and include cutaways to archive material to add interest to the viewer and act as editing points for the interview responses. Background music will be used to supplement the voice over but will be passive as so not to distract audience but to compliment the images.

RESEARCH – Questions for Dave Riddett

Production Journal

Part of our  task for PP1 will be designing questions to ask at our interview. Our contact is Dave Riddett, a stop motion DoP at Aardman animations. Researching Daves background, past work and future projects will be key to getting a good interview, going into an interview without knowing a bit about your contributors connection with the topic will not only be unprofessional but will make it difficult for the interviewer to engage with the contributor.

We have conducted our research using a number of online sources including interviews with Aardman on behind the scenes DVD extras as well as YouTube, internet reference sites such as IMDB and Wikipedia. We gained our most valuable information from Dave Riddetts own website which includes a very detailed biography along with showreels of his past work. Daves website is also a great resource as we know this information will be accurate where as sites such as Wikipedia may not be 100% accurate.

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When designing the questions we have structured them in such a way as to ease into the interview comfortably with some informal questions and they gradually move into more in depth questions where we hoe to gain the majority of the responses we require to fit in with our films theme. The last question will be an informal one just to lighten the mood at the end if we need it.

Questions for Dave Riddett Interview

Do sound test – Say name, spell name. Ask about breakfast and what Dave did yesterday.

Your family has a background in the creative industries, and you started learning your craft at Art college. Can you tell me what is was about film that made it take priority over your other interests. (such as performing)

  • You have many credits for your work in stop motion animation. Having an interest in both cinematography, art design and puppetry – would you consider this your ‘dream job’
  • You’re in  final stages of filming the latest Aardman feature. How does your job role change as it shifts to post production?
  • Everybody has a camera of some form these days and websites such as youtube make it easy for anyone to produce their own material. Can you tell me about your first camera and how it felt to be able to produce your very own films at that time?
  • What advice would you have for a student moving to bristol to pursue a career in media?
  • what drew you to study in bristol…what was the bristol media scene like then and what changes have you seen
  • You set up your first production company [BOLEX BROS] after studying in Bristol University. How important was University in helping your career progression?
  • Do you believe that University still offers one of the best ways of learning your craft and breaking into the industry?
  • How does the local council support the filmmaking industry
  • Why do you think bristol has developed into such a media capital
  • How do you feel bristol compares to other media focussed cities
  • Bristol is famous for the work of Aardman, do you think the constant name dropping has a negative impact on the ability to promote the other forms of creative production that Bristol has to offer?

Finally:

  • We have been told that Bristol is the City that never wakes up. Can you shed any light on this?

RESEARCH – Doco Inspiration

Inspirational Videos

I am going to try and pitch my music video idea to the group and have been searching for different videos that can explain my ideas. I find it much easier to show something as a lot of the time I find it hard to explain an idea I have in words.

The Sigma/Paloma Faith video I discussed shows essentially what the pacing of the film might look like, I think if we can get close to this then we could have a really good product.

I filmed some of this years Bristol Balloon Fiesta and in this clip I think it shows how i’d like the voice over to work against the music, The producers of the show have picked out sound bites to use to convey a message, in this case just like our film they are praising bristol.

When imagining how the video will climax I looked at the BBC Promo for the 2012 Olympics. Toward the end of the video their are action shots of spots, this is how I image our video could end with our lead character taking part in activities such as skateboarding or BMX stunts.

 

 

Can a Music Video be a Documentary?

We had just discussed our plans for our short documentary about Bristol and the opportunities for media in the city. We came up with a narrative that explored how Bristol was probably now known as a ‘one trick pony’ in media (everyone is always harping on about Aardman) so we wanted to show something different. Driving home I hear Sigmas latest dance tune, featuring Paloma Faith ‘Changes’. I’ve heard it many times before (being a bit of a fan) but never really heard the lyrics.

Now listening to the lyrics it seemed like it would fit ideally as our background audio and could even be used to push the narrative along. I had visions of fast moving shots of Bristol landmarks and people along with our ‘sheep’ narrative that had already been discussed. The main issue that I was debating with myself was can a music video be a documentary?

I think Documentary or Factual as a genre has a very wide reach. As long as something is being ‘documented’ then does it matter if it’s being done in the style of a music video?

I don’t think it’s a problem but would be interested to hear what other people think.