Dan Hume's Blog

Personal Planning and Reflection 2 Report
May 9, 2011, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Personal Planning Reflection and Development 2

The first day back, we were thrown straight into the unit launch of our first project entitled, Future Cinema. This was an interesting and challenging unit to start with. We were encouraged to think about how cinema could evolve into something different, than it is now. This unit was split into group projects, which was formed in a way to how everyone in the class was thinking. In my group, Kavi and Gina and myself, all had a similar aspect of an idea of what we thought could be future cinema. From the day we formed our group, we had our idea finalized within an hour of what we wanted to create and present at the crit. Our aim was to construct a cube environment, in which the audience is surrounded by visuals. This idea came from the word ‘immersion’, which is basically immersing the audience into the film and allowing them to interact within the virtual environment. Throughout the development we were unable to deliver everything we set out to do, one of which was the size of the cube. This was down to the available space we had being too small for projectors and cameras to be positioned. We ended up making a miniature scaled version of the cube to represent our idea. Combined with Kavi’s coding skills, Gina’s musical accompaniments and my visuals, we were able to create a dynamic installation that represented our idea of the future of cinema. Although we did have a few stressful moments throughout the development, we all still worked really well together. It’s normal for group work to get intense at times, which is why I thought it was a good thing.

As soon as the Future Cinema unit was complete, we were straight into the second project. The second unit was called, Performance Video. Now the title of unit suggests itself really. I did have a rough idea of what this unit was about. We basically had to create a video that had an element of a live performance. Again this was all a bit challenging, like the future cinema unit. I decided to work on my own for this unit, because I knew the work would have needed to continue over the Christmas holidays and I feel it’s hard to do group work over the holidays. My initial idea for this unit was to combine both visuals and audio and partner together to be controlled on one device. I was gearing towards making an iPhone application, but I didn’t know much about making applications and I didn’t have enough time to execute the task as well. Phil suggested to me about making a basic interface using a cardboard box and picture frame and using that as a way of representing the iPhone application idea. I went away and did this but I did struggle at one point about how much freedom this basic interface would give me when putting a performance together. I already had visuals in mind and I could see problems ahead about how I would go about making specific visuals and bits of audio trigger with a blank interface. Throughout the development of this task, I did come across this iPhone/iPad application, which a lot of people were using to do live audio mixing with. The application was called TouchOSC, which allows you to create your own custom made virtual mixing desk. So I knew there and then that my initial idea of creating an iPhone/iPad application had kind of been done, except know one had combined both visuals and audio together using the software. I decided to go ahead and buy the application onto my iPhone and make my own custom made mixing desk. Once I got to grips with using the TouchOSC software, I then mapped my template to my audio files in Ableton Live. This enabled me to control the audio on my iPhone and it worked really efficiently. Now that I had that worked out, I needed to research how I’d map my template to Modul8 (visual software) as well. Mapping my custom TouchOSC interface in Modul8 was pretty easy, but I still wasn’t able to sync Ableton Live and Modul8 together for my idea to work. I later discovered I needed to use a tool, which was already built into my mac called the IAC Driver. This tool acts as the communicator between the two pieces of software’s. This allowed me to control the audio in Ableton and the Visuals in Modul8 together to make a live performance piece.

The next unit was New Perspectives for New Contexts. This was an essay-based unit and is the first one we’ve had since we’ve started the course. It was a bit daunting at first because I haven’t written an essay since early 2008, which was over 2 years ago now. The one thing I liked about this unit was we were able to choose the topic to write about, as long as it formulated an argument. I chose to talk about the future of James Bond films and the use of CGI. I’ve always been quite opinionated about it, so I thought it made sense to choose this topic. It was a bit hard to get going but after a while, everything seemed to flow well and I was able say quite a lot. It was tough getting back into the habit of referencing again. I’ve never really been taught to reference properly in essays, up until now, but I think I managed to pull it off to a good standard. I have to admit I quite enjoyed this small unit because it’s nice change from the practical elements from the other projects. Over the summer I’m going to start thinking about a topic and preparing some stuff for my dissertation in the third year, just because we haven’t done much essay writing previously and I’m not sure how well this essay will turn out.

Our final unit of the year is the Professional Project. This is possibly the most challenging one out of all the units I’ve done on the course so far. The aim of this project is to get us to work with a client and produce a piece of work for them, as if we are working professionally in the industry. When Phil explained this unit to us, it was sounding quite intimidating. There was a huge amount to take on board at the unit launch, I almost felt as If I wouldn’t be able to manage it. This projected started off slow for me, due to the fact I wasn’t able to find a client right away. Phil suggested that I should work with the fashion students on a project for the fashion show. Although he said I would have a lot of creative freedom if I did go ahead with the fashion show, but I wasn’t convinced. I was determined to find myself a client on my own and produce a piece of work that I’d be passionate about. After a few weeks I fell fortunate of getting to work with a charity that I fully support called, RNID (Royal National Institute for Deaf). They also run a campaign called, Don’t Lose The Music, which is more specifically the area I’m involved in. I didn’t really have a formal interview with charity about doing some work for them. I sent the campaign an email, a few days before I phoned them up. I thought I’d do that first, so that they can expect my phone call without any prior warning. When I phoned them up, they were aware of my offer and were considering other options of work for me to do. I spoke to one of the campaigners, Rebecca, about making a video for the campaign and she sounded very positive about this and said I should go for it. I am now currently making a short video for the campaign, which is promoting awareness about people listening to mp3 players in noisy environments and the consequences of their actions by turning up the volume. This project is still on going, but it’s going steadily.

The Personal Planning and Reflection this year has been more careers based. We’ve been discussing about what sort of jobs we’d like to do after we graduate. I have always thought about what I’d like to do, career wise, and I’ve often had a lot of ideas buzzing around in my mind. As I’ve progressed through this year I’ve started to think, maybe the industry that the course is affiliated to isn’t for me. I’ve found a lot of things I’ve done on the course have put me off working in the specific industry it’s training us to go into.

Overall, it’s been another challenging year. I’ve definitely learnt a lot and I’m starting to get a better Idea of what I want to do in my third year and after I graduate. Although I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want to work in the industry that course is focused on. It’s not a negative thing though because at least I realize now that actually it’s not for me, but I’ve gained a lot of good skills from various projects and I can still apply them in other areas of work in the media.

RNID Video Complete
May 5, 2011, 7:50 am
Filed under: Professional Project

Here is the completed version of the video I did for RNID, which is now known as Action On Hearing Loss.

Profession Project Report
May 4, 2011, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Professional Project

The aim of this project was to get us to work for a client and produce a piece of work for them. This is a step up from everything I’ve done before, because I’m now forced into thinking and acting like a professional in the creative industry. It’s all about meeting deadlines, making schedules and prioritizing work effectively. I’d like to think of myself as organized person, so I’ve used this project as an opportunity to see how effective my organizational skills are.

At the start, I had to find a client to work for; one of which was the BBC, to do some promotional work for Radio 1’s Big Weekend. Although I didn’t get that opportunity, I did know at that point that whoever I was going to work for, I’d want to be able to make a short promotional video as the final outcome. I feel this is the area I want to specialize in and using DSLR cameras as the main tool.

However, after a grueling couple of weeks I managed to secure myself a client. My client is, Andy Glyde, who is the senior campaigner for the Don’t Lose Music Campaign that’s in conjunction with the RNID charity (Royal National Institute For Deaf). It took roughly a week of discussion about doing a video project for them, because the campaign already had a number of videos projects on the go. I wasn’t disclosed any information about the other projects, but I had to try and offer something a bit different if I was going to make a video. After talking with another campaigner, Rebecca, it was clear that I should integrate some form of my own experience with tinnitus, to make my video different. I felt that the video should be conveyed in the style of a documentary, which is something I’ve wanted to do.

Once I was set on this idea, I spent a couple of weeks visualizing and sketching out specific shot ideas for the video. I started reflecting on how my tinnitus developed and how I dealt with it. It was vital that I had my own personal view embedded in the video. My initial idea started out with the video not having any dialogue, but after I had feedback from Andy, it was clear that there needed to be some. He was concerned that visually the video might give out the wrong message about the campaign’s aim. It wasn’t until I had written a script, that the video became easier to visualize. I was able to work out roughly what sort of shots I needed at certain places within the dialogue.

I then started to look for locations to film at and work out what the shots would look like. I’m not the conventional story boarder where I can sit down and draw shot by shot, the entire video. I needed to be on location to do that. One of the places where I wanted to film was London. Unfortunately, due to financial difficulty and not enough time, I had to abandon London and use Bournemouth as my primary location.

Hiring out equipment was a bit of an issue, due to the stock not being available when I needed it. For example, the lens that I needed for handheld shooting was booked up for a two-week period, even though I was booking well in advance. This left me with no choice but to use an alternative lens that wasn’t really suitable for handheld filming. However, since the alternative lens had a nice aperture, it turned out to be good for interviewing, so I used it to film the narrator shots. Once I filmed the narrator shots, I began the editing. I like to start editing the footage as soon as I can, to avoid being overwhelmed with hundreds of un-edited clips.

I liked spending a lot of time on the post-production work, as I really wanted to make this video look as professional as I could. I used a plugin called, Denoiser, which helped to reduce the noise in one of the low light shots. I did encounter a big problem with the second shoot of the dialogue, when I was using a boom microphone. There were a few shots that didn’t pick up any sound, which was an error on my part for forgetting to press record on the Fostex audio recorder. Fortunately, I did a previous shoot of the dialogue, using the Rode Videomic, so I reverted back to using it instead. Although it contains a lot of background noise, the narrators voice is more dominant and the background noise does justify the message in the video. I’ve done some research on my blog about converting the Rode Videomic into a reliable boom microphone, along with the very versatile Zoom H1 sound recorder. This will be something I’ll experiment with on future projects.

I also did some extra post-production video work for a group of Bournemouth University students. I worked on the colour grading and compositing aspects, using After Effects. The colour grading was a bit of tedious process, as it was hard to make every shot consistent in terms of the overall look. This was due to having many different exposures to each shot. However, after many hours of tweaking it all came out really well.

Overall this project has made me question everything I do, because the work I’m producing is for a client, rather than for myself. I’ve been constantly thinking about meeting the client’s requirements. There have been a few moments where things haven’t gone according to plan, but that’s not a bad thing as you learn from those mistakes. I’ve also learned a bit about financing, as it’s an important aspect of being a freelance worker or working for a company. You need to make sure you keep a record of time and evidence of added expenses such as travel, so you can implement it into the fee you’re charging for the work. Although I haven’t had feedback from my client about the final edit of the video yet, he has sounded very positive about the whole thing throughout the project. Looking back, if I had to do anything different, I think I would have liked to add a bit more content about the struggle of coping with tinnitus and it’s effects on people’s lives. All in all I’m pleased with the final outcome of the video.

May 3, 2011, 1:19 pm
Filed under: Professional Project

Andy, if you’re reading this, don’t worry I’m doing the video for free. This is only a pretend invoice that I have to do as it’s a requirement for the uni project.


Second Dialogue Re-Shoot
May 2, 2011, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Professional Project

A week before the Easter holidays, I re-shot the dialogue shots in aim to capture better sound quality. I previously recorded the dialogue shots using the Rode Videomic, as apposed to the Sennheiser Boom kit, which I used for the re-shoot. After I captured the sound off the Fostex onto my laptop, there was a lot of tidying up to. There was a high frequency hissing sound that drowned over the narrators voice and the volume was pretty low, considering I set it to the required amount. I’ve covered most of this bit on a previous blog entry.

However, as I was cutting out the best bits of audio, I came across a video clip with no sound, except the audio recording from the built in microphone on my camera. This was a major problem, which I couldn’t fix. I believe that I forgot to press the record switch on the Fostex audio device. I couldn’t think of any of way to by pass this problem as dialogue from those shots were necessary to include in the video.

Here is a short clip of the sound quality recorded off the boom microphone, after post production.

It’s definitely better in the sense that the background noise is more drowned out than from the first shoot. I’ve tried out many different effects to bring it up a notch and make it sound more stereo, than mono. However, bring up the volume effected the hissing sound slightly, which is annoying.

I have to admit I didn’t like using the Boom mic and the Fostex audio device. It felt very delicate in the sense of recording sound. If there was any slight movement from the microphone, the volume would either drop or it would pick some high frequency sounds.

I’ve done a bit of research into compact and portable ways of recording professional audio. It appears that the new Rode Videomic pro can be used as a boom mic, to a good effect. The Rode videomic appears to be quite a versatile microphone and can be attached to a monopod, which functions in the same way as a boom pole, but its much much cheaper! Although I’ve never tried this out, I’m pretty confident you won’t get any sound interference using the Rode videomic. The new Rode Mic has been designed with an anti-shock mechanism that avoids unwanted sounds to be picked up from any sudden movements, which is pretty neat!

There is also a nifty little device called the, Zoom H1. This an audio recording device that you can attach to the rode microphone, so you can record the sound separately from the camera and it allows you to bring the mic closer to the subject talking. Below is an example of how good this device is at recording audio.

In fact this device is soo good, it can actually be used a microphone itself, like it’s being demonstrated in the video.

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