General Reflections

Posted in 1 on June 12, 2009 by Eleven

I am so pleased that I chose Transient Spaces as one of my final two subjects to complete my Masters degree. TS has raised my awareness of the different notions of what constitutes a community and a documentary.

TS also complimented my other subject, Film and Television Industries. Our lecturer Liz Burke referred to the importance of ‘360-degree media’ when it comes to the promotion of any film or television program these days. In other words, audiences are no longer just influenced by posters, websites or trailers. According to Paul Wiegard, CEO of Madman, a leading independent film and television distribution company, it’s still word of mouth that is more critical than anything. Paul highlighted the fact that social networking sites have had the biggest impact on the film distribution industry. News spreads like wildfire in this virtual, word of mouth environment and has had a particular impacted on when films are released. At one time Australia used to wait for the summer release of US films, whereas now there are far more worldwide releases, which has also helped to stem the flow of piracy.

Studying the different theories on communities was also interesting because often we just go about the business of living our lives and on one level things seem to naturally occur. However underpinning our ways of life, are many and varied theories on how communities are formed and operate. Imbedding a theory into our documentaries seemed to cause the most concern for the group, because we weren’t quite sure how to represent the theory in our work.

Tonnies’ Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft theory was largely regarded by the TS class as out of date and irrelevant to contemporary society, but viewed in context, it was based on his understanding of his community life at that time. I chose Tonnies to inform my documentary, to explore his idea of the close bonds country life and challenge his understanding of city life as people dwelling together, but ‘living’ separately. Different ways of living and forming communities celebrates diversity. While the idea of a lovely country village is heaven to some people, for others, city life is the only place to be. City life grew out of people who dared to venture from the ‘nurturing’ villages, across the hills and dales to explore and create other types of communities.

There’s no doubt that technology has been the biggest influence on communication between city and country life. However in the Royal Commission into the February 9 Victorian bushfires, the information coming via contemporary communication devices in some cases confused residents who were threatened by fire and was often inaccurate and out of date. The rapid uptake and reliance on virtual communications, particularly in cases of high emergency will need to be reassessed as we constantly repositioning the convergence of virtual networking with the more traditional forms of communication.


Reflections – My Doco

Posted in 1 on June 12, 2009 by Eleven

Originally I thought that I’d do a doco on my husband’s riding group. However during the trial and testing stage I was playing with the idea of inserting a little cycling animation, and then for some reason I did a 180 degree turn and completely changed my doco.

Having never filmed an animation before, not really knowing the full capacity of our movie camera, and not being 100% familiar with iMovie, what could possibly go wrong????

Given all of the above, luckily I’ve always been technically minded and I find that I can work out most pieces of equipment and software intuitively. This is why I boldly embarked on producing an animated short movie for my doco.

During the process of filming and editing I learnt so much more than if I had have stuck to my original idea, which I suppose was the purpose of the exercise as well as producing something decent with a semblance of a connection to any of the theories raised in the lectures.

Planning, filming and post-production doco learning:

– simplifying the movements of the dolls for each frame created better movement.
– a lot about lighting the scene.
– that the background images could be projected onto a computer screen as the desktop image.
-the desktop image provided a background that looked like it was backlit, which gave the background a certain luminescence.
-recording of all audio in one soundproofed location, gave the film consistency and improved the overall end product.
-alter egos take a bit of careful management. Creating Facebook pages for my two characters has caused me to forget who I am at times!
-the testing, testing and testing again of different compression rates and how they looked when uploaded to YouTube was crucial.
-post-production was the most time consuming and in a lot of ways the most creative aspect of filmmaking.
-making a short animated film was fun.
-creating a back story for the main character, placing her in a film and having an ongoing connection to people through Facebook is going to be fun to watch.

Rough-cut feedback

Posted in 1 on May 26, 2009 by Eleven

At last Wednesday evening’s rough-cut session, it was great to finally see other people’s documentaries and to get feedback from the class. I also received valuable feedback from my daughter’s boyfriend, who is doing final year film making. He liked the visuals, but felt that the audio quality let it down.

So I’ve spent the past week re-recording all of the audio for my animated film in order to produce a more consistent sound quality. With some simple, practical advice on how to improve the audio I set up a space to re-record the voiceovers. It’s amazing how mattresses and doonas can contribute to setting up a fairly sound proof space!

It’s important that any form of communication be produced in the best possible way in order for your message to be received in the way it was intended. Although I’m not primarily being assessed on my film making abilities for the documentary, I felt that it was necessary to go to the trouble of re-recording so that the overall message would be enhanced.

Post-production reflections

Posted in DOCUMENTARY PROJECT on May 20, 2009 by Eleven

When I embarked on my crazy idea of producing a short, animated movie (what was I thinking, I’d never done animation before!, but I like a challenge and being creative), I thought that the most challenging aspect would be the painstaking job of animating the dolls frame by frame. However, that process went quite smoothly and took a day to shoot all the scenes.

The part that I spent most time finessing was adding audio files to the clips. Adding effects and transitions were fine, but the audio had to be positioned correctly to match the onscreen action on screen.

Once you start adding voices and sound effects, the editing timeline gets rather crowded, so you have to be quite methodical about locking audio to clips. There were many times when I had to delete all audio and start again, but each time I was wiser to what I had to do. At one stage I realised that my voiceover files were aiff, and after re-reading YouTube requirements, the preferred format was mp3, so I had to convert them all and start again.

The best way to learn is by making mistakes, but I’m happy that I decided to produce an animated movie.

RMIT film students at local Farmer’s Market

Posted in DOCUMENTARY PROJECT on May 19, 2009 by Eleven

On Saturday I met my girlfriend Jill at the local Famer’s Market. As I was walking out the door I grabbed my little voice recorder. I thought it would be a good opportunity to do some extra recordings of Jill’s voice in an outdoor environment for one of my animated characters.

While having a coffee before walking around the stalls, I noticed several groups of small film crews wandering around interviewing and filming people. The groups were easily identified as being from RMIT due to the orange vest they were wearing and their RMIT badges.

Eventually a group of them wandered over to Jill and I. They explained that they were practicing documentary making and were asking people what they liked about shopping at farmer’s markets. I was more than happy to be interviewed, and asked them if they could help me out by letting me record their voices. A win, win situation for all!

The popularity of farmer’s markets are a great example of the increasing interest of urban dwellers in connecting with food as close to the source as possible. Wandering around a farmer’s market has the feel of a village green where people gather to buy their produce and chat with people in a relaxed environment. No bright lighting, shelving, musak, plastic bags or trolleys with wonky wheels anywhere to be found. Just fresh air, friendly stallholders and fresh produce.

One of the great things about selling and buying from farmer’s markets is that the ‘middle man’ is cast aside. There’s nothing more honest than buying fresh apples straight from a grower, who picked the apples themselves.

All in all it was a great visit to the market, and I managed to squeeze in some documentary work at the same time.

Video compression test

Posted in DOCUMENTARY PROJECT, Documentary Research on May 13, 2009 by Eleven

Today I started to get a bit nervous about the file size of my video as YouTube has a 1GB limit. Although the video only runs for approx. 2 and a half minutes, while adding audio and visual effects during post-production the file size was mounting.

So I decided to do a compression test, even though I haven’t yet completed the post-production process. I didn’t want to finish my video, only to find that I would need to make adjustments at the end of the process.

Luckily I have nothing to worry about. Once the file was compressed the size ended up being 16.09MB. So there’s plenty of room to play. Better to be safe than sorry!

Before compressing my video and uploading to YouTube I need to adhere to the information in the link below, in order to view the video at the best possible quality.

Film production completed – now for some post-production

Posted in DOCUMENTARY PROJECT on May 13, 2009 by Eleven

Filming of the third, final and most complex element of my documentary project, an animated film, has now been completed. The other two elements are – Facebook pages for 2 of my animation characters and a city/country photo collage, which is linked to Tag Galaxy.

Over the past few days my study has turned into a mini film studio. Animating inanimate objects is time consuming, but fun.

Photos for the film set were shot a few weeks ago. After some photoshop treatment, I assumed that I would be printing them on paper and hanging them somehow as scenery backdrops. Luckily I put off the printing for a few days because I had a brainwave, which saved on paper and printing costs and in the end provided a better quality background.

It suddenly occured to me that if I used each photo as a desktop photo on my computer that perhaps I could animate in front of my computer screen. The only thing that I concerned me was flickering from the computer screen showing up on the film, but it didn’t prove to be a problem.

So I convinced by son to lend me his computer screen for a day because it is much larger than mine, and proceeded to set up a small stage in front of the screen along with lamps for lighting.

Naturally everything didn’t go exactly to plan, and I had to reshoot some scenes because some of the computer toolbar got in frame or the animation wasn’t quite right. As the day progressed my setup, staging, shooting, lighting and animating skills improved. I wanted the animation to have a quirky feel, and I think it has been achieved. Looking forward to feedback.

Now I’m in post-production mode where I’m adding voices and sound effects to augment the storytelling.

From a creative point of view, choosing to produce an animated video has been great fun. It’s also been an interesting exercise in working out the scenes to shoot and how the narrative will play out on screen. This is where the rough-cut feedback will be so important because I’m too close to the storyline to know whether other people will get it!