Dan Hume's Blog

April 26, 2010, 5:16 pm
Filed under: Personal Planning Reflection and Development 1

Digital Media Production (Year 1)

When I first started the course, I was a bit anxious and I didn’t really know what to expect from it. The only software I was familiar with on the course description was Photoshop. When I was doing my A Levels at sixth form I hardly did any practical work. The majority of the work was theory based. I did A Level Photography, Media and Film and Design Graphics. Out of all the subjects I did, Photography and Design Graphics were the most practical but they still had quite a lot of theory to them. After starting this course and seeing how much more practical it is compared to any other course I have done, I do feel I should have done my A levels somewhere else that dealt with more practical courses because that way it would have been an easier transition onto the course with previous experience.

The first set project was the Principles for Computer Graphics, where we had to try and show what it feels like to be on a night by creating a piece of motion graphics. This was my first encounter to using After Effects. The first exercise we did on After Effects was to make a mini animation using a still image we had been working on in Photoshop. I used a photograph that I took in London, overlooking the Thames. In Photoshop, I made separate layers of different objects in the image such as the clouds, boats etc. Then I exported the image with all it’s separate layers and began key framing each one. I was really pleased with the finished result and I actually felt I had achieved something new. At the beginning I was a little anxious about coming up with an idea and how I would produce any sort of motion graphics with very little experience. As well as working with still images, I was shown some you can work with video in After Effects as well. I had recorded some video footage that I took in a club and imported it into After Effects. Then I started experimenting with masking and overlaying clips on top of one another. The effects turned out really well and it gave me a clearer idea of what I could produce for this unit. While I was experimenting with some video footage I had recorded in a club it triggered off the idea about how I’d like to show what a night out feels like for me, as a personal experience. The beginning and middle section of the motion graphics piece is video orientated. The last section is a still image that I took and I created a virtual camera in a 3D space giving the illusion that the camera walking through the tunnel. I also learned how to use some plug-ins such as the 3D stroke and Shine.

While the night out project was underway, the computer graphics for animation and film was the next unit we were introduced to. For this unit I had to make some 3D animation to go with some sound. The software we used for this was, Maya. I wasn’t to nervous about using Maya at the beginning but I eventually become more intimidated by it as it’s such a huge piece of software. I have learnt about how to use Maya at a basic level. I’ve done modelling, texturing, lighting, rigging and animating. At the beginning of the year I did some Maya classes with Mauricio to bring me up to speed with the program, but I didn’t feel I was achieving much and decided I’d stop. I have to say I haven’t really enjoyed using Maya because I simply know that I don’t want to become a 3D animator, modeller or texture etc. I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to use it and I might use it very slightly for simple tasks if I ever need to. For this unit I ended up compositing 3D into video footage of a bullet breaking through a TV screen. I have a much better understanding of what 3D is and to me this is more valuable than learning Maya because I feel I can collaborate with people who work with 3D software if I come across a project that involves some 3D elements.

The Principals of Sound and Video was the other unit I was working on at the same time as the other two units. This was a group project in which we had to make a viral video. At the beginning of the unit I learnt a lot about camera work. It was a step up from what I had learnt during sixth form. The most difficult thing about this unit was coming up with an idea. Before we discussed any ideas, we had to define what ‘viral’ actually meant. The video has to be funny and original for it to be a YouTube phenomenon. We looked at lots of examples on the web and we came across a video that had music that was put together through editing the footage. My group and myself thought this was an interesting idea and decided to work with this technique and expand upon it. My role in this group project was to do the filming (I prefer the term cinematographer).

The next unit I embarked upon was called post-production techniques. I was looking forward to this unit because after having all the first three units done and dusted, I was feeling slightly more confident. I felt there was more freedom to do whatever we wanted for this unit. At the start we looked at different types of post production, such as 3D animation composited into video, green screen and colour grading. Jason gave us a good introduction into how to use green screen effectively. I started out wanting to create a 3D character in Maya and compositing it into video footage. I really loved this video I saw of these 3D creatures walking around Paris, which was presented in black and white and they go around brightening it up. It was such a nice idea and I loved the design of the characters that it really inspired me to produce something similar… and even use Maya. My original idea was going to be a 3D character that would represent a street artist. I was going to place him in a dark alleyway environment at night putting up some street art. This idea was going well until I started having some rigging problems in Maya. I looked at many tutorials to overcome the problems I was having, but I didn’t succeed. I felt I wasn’t going to complete this project in time for the deadline, so just before Easter I changed my idea. My new idea was going to be based on Solitude. I knew I wanted to use video and photography for this idea instead of 3D. I filmed a static shot of Bournemouth beach one evening and I got my housemate to walk around and do things within that scene. I tried out a new style of video called time lapse using my DSLR camera. This technique requires taking lots of photos in one place at a specific time, like every 3 seconds. I used After Effects, once again, to composite the time-lapse videos and the beach scene together to create the finished result.

For the short form video unit, we are making a drama that consists of six different perspectives following the same narrative. So far our group has completed the filming, using green screen. We have been given the challenge of faking the location for 80% of the video as the last scene was shot on location. I have to admit that I have been confused through most of this unit in terms of the production because we had to set out to green screen pretty much everything. This has actually been a really tricky task and we don’t know how well the final result will look until we have imported the footage into After Effects. I’m starting to become more confident using the green screen and I understand how it should be lit for the technique to be really effective. I’ve found the whole concept of this unit interesting because it’s not just about having a narrative then filming the footage and editing it. It’s also about using the web to distribute content and allowing the audience to choose what they want to watch as part of new experience of watching TV dramas.

In conclusion I feel I have definitely learnt a lot this year. When I look back through to the beginning of my blog, it does make me realize how much I have achieved. Throughout the year I have been constantly thinking about what I really want to do. This course has given me a broad outlook of different areas that I could specialize in. I have definitely enjoyed working with video and taking footage into After Effects and experimenting with effects. I would like to develop my video production skills in editing and special effects. I think my next challenge would be to do some professional compositing using different software like Nuke.

(1,531 words)


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