Dan Hume's Blog


Specialist Project Report & Final Video
December 4, 2011, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Specialist Project, Video

Final Video For Specialist Project

The Specialist Project brief states; ‘The intention is for you create an adventurous forward looking body of work that shows the industry or audience your vision of a future for some aspect of digital media.’

From the offset I was aware that for this project I wanted to produce something video based, that I could develop in relation to method of delivery in the extended major project. Digital publishing is an aspect of the industry I plan on embarking on with a view to post-graduate employment, and within this field there is a constant push for multi- media content, including video work. By focusing on video, I strive to both fulfill my brief and enhance my portfolio, and ultimately my employability.

I began by considering what technology people would be using to film in the next 5-10 years, as I have observed an increase in many independent filmmakers creating short films; then uploading them onto YouTube or Vimeo to share with the world. This is largely due to video cameras becoming more accessible and affordable to people with less disposable income, as they are cheaper to manufacture yet still provide consumers with tools that will allow them capture professional looking cinematography. I started to come across some videos that were shot on an iPhone 4, being particularly drawn to an independent music video that was put together in a really unique way.  Consisting mainly of compiled static shots, the footage had a sharp and crisp quality; reinforcing my theory that the editing makes the video what it is, making me realize how powerful the iPhone is as a tool. Anyone who has an iPhone has the potential to produce something unique.

I continued conducting further research, and discovered multimedia journalist Richard Koci Hernandez. Hernandez started out as a traditional newspaper journalist who then started using different tools to help him tell stories. In his case, it is the iPhone that he uses as his primary tool for street photography, and talks about how capturing photography on an iPhone has changed the way he works. People don’t automatically assume that you’re taking a photo when you’re using a mobile phone, so Hernandez discreetly snaps away at people on the streets by pretending to listen to music or taking a phone call; therefore capturing people acting naturally. This ‘discreet’ technique is something I want to embrace for my documentary, as I find people in their natural state fascinating. People tend to be very wary of cameras and I myself, get anxious when filming in public, therefore the iPhone was an ideal choice.

To link this concept of discreet filming into a specific subject, I decided I wanted to document life, making an observational piece. With the current recession, I have witnessed a different atmosphere in society, especially in London. I aimed to show that despite the economic climate people are still moving forward in this time of struggle and depression, hence the title of my piece Life Must Go On. Using a discreet device to film the piece means this will be documented in its rawest form. Filming in a public place can encourage unnatural behavior; this is what I want to avoid. I like to think of the iPhone as ‘The Invisible Camera’, something I would like to expand upon for my EMP.

Music is a key element in my documentary, as have a key track playing throughout the duration of the video. I’m using a Moby track called, Wait For Me, which I feel really sets them mood of my topic, for which I used two different versions both of which I requested from his website and have full permission to use in my documentary. I’ve interpreted this song in my own way and related it to my topic; people in power leave the people below them with nothing, but they still carry on with life.

I currently own an iPhone 4S, which allows me to shoot full HD video at 30fps. One bonus feature of the new iPhone is video stabilization, which helps reduce camera shake, giving smoother handheld shots, a very useful asset. The iPhone does however have limitations as a video recorder, posing challenges compared to more specialist cameras, for example the lack of depth of field, due to its small sensor. I also studied the documentary ‘The Man With A Movie Camera’ (1929), by Dziga Vertov, back when video cameras were extremely limited in their functionality. My approach to filming with an iPhone is essentially similar with its limited usability. I have approached this project differently to traditional filmmakers, starting with the technology aspect, then thinking how the iPhone could be used to film. I then began considering current issues as a starting point for a topic, with the idea of the UK economic crisis then leading me to contemplate sound. I felt music would be truly appropriate for this particular documentary, with the Moby track helping me visualize and strucutre the video without any storyboarding or much planning for the cinematography, as I feel you can’t plan a documentary; you just have to go out and start filming. Going by the rule of discretion, the cinematography is combined with conventional shots and some experimental shots. At certain times I had the camera by my waist when filming in strict public places such as the underground in order to really blend in with the crowd, therefore; I wasn’t looking the screen on the phone, instead I gave the impression I was stood listening to music. This unfortunately meant I was unable to see how the film turned out until later, however this proved successful in capturing the real essence of natural moments.

Portrait filming was another shot type I used at various points in the video, again allowing me to blend into the crowd and film in public places that were strict with photography. However you are restricted in terms of what see in a shot if you film portrait; therefore I decided to develop upon this technique and take three individual shots that consisted of a middle and two side shots. I also experimented taking shots in the style of artist David Hockney; something I wanted to explore on a previous project but never went ahead with due to the context. However, I have not used many shots in this style, as the time to render would exceed my processing software’s capacity. I believe the shots were successful in the context of my brief, giving a new perspective of the location. This technique allowed me to capture many different moments of a scene, compiling them into one shot making it more diverse. If I were to repeat the project, I would improve upon it by using more static shots for a more accurate compilation.

During filming, I found I did not use the Zoom H1, as it was impractical to use when filming at the same time; when handling it picked up sound made from just pressing a button. This may be due to the build quality, as plastic is prone to picking up sound when being physically handled. It is however a practical, lightweight device when on the move and is great for recording sound when stationary. Any diegetic sound used in the documentary came from the internal microphone on the iPhone, as while I was editing much of the sound from the clips got lost and chopped around, meaning when I rendered the video there would be moments of silence then sudden bursts of noise. This was unintentional but the overall result worked for the video and complimented the music, resembling radio static and integrating well with Moby’s auteur style of music.

I had hoped that someone would speak in the documentary, but was forced to eliminate this element due to the participant’s unreliability. I selected individuals showcasing an interest in politics and working in an independent business, and planned to record them in their working environment using my iPhone. I would then take the recording and place the phone in a completely different environment and record the footage from the iPhone on my DSLR. This would have been different from other videos, which is why I wanted to pursue it, however, this is something I could possibly look at for my EMP. During the post-production stage, I did an early edit of the documentary to enable me to observe how the video looked, analyzing areas requiring improvement. It was also a good way to showcase my work, gaining input from others to see if the message I aim to convey is clear. It helped me realize the video started quite abruptly and needed some sort of introduction, prompting me to add to the beginning of the early edit. I experienced some difficulties with Premiere Pro, when an error message occurred at the end of rendering the entire sequence. This was a real burden on time constraints, as it was working efficiently up until the last 15-20 seconds. This problem did delay my work; taking a good two and a half hours to render, however, after troubleshooting the issue I discovered this was related to the amount of ram on my computer.

Overall I am pleased with the result of the documentary, however the ideas I was unable to pursue could have refined the video to a higher standard. Although I used this project as a way of exploring new filming techniques, I also wanted embrace conventional techniques to create a professional end product using a mobile phone. The final piece is intended to be viewed as a comparison against higher end technology; taking on a raw subject with raw technology, and I believe I have produced something aesthetically in the same league of videos shot using more expensive and advanced cameras.

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Colour Grading
December 3, 2011, 2:45 pm
Filed under: Specialist Project

Now I’ve reached the stage where I can perfect the video with a bit of colour grading. Colour grading always takes a regular piece of footage and enhances it into something more professional looking. It also gives you a chance to help emphasise the whole concept of what you’re watching. For example, if you’re watching a war based based video, the conventional colour correction would often be grey, possibly with a slight brown tint to it to make it look it really grim and dull. It’s trying to captivate the audience into that world of mess and dirt, which war is often associated with.

Here are some screenshots showing a cross between the ungraded footage and the graded footage. I’ve based the colour grade on the whole tone of the video. I’ve given the final render a blue, greenish tint, which I feel represents the general mood society as it currently stands. I played around with the exposure and colour balance to get the look I wanted.



Added Introduction
November 29, 2011, 1:16 am
Filed under: Specialist Project

I’ve added some more footage to go before the early edit version of the docuemtnaryt. It kind of starts abruptly and I felt it needed more of an introduction. After the title sequence finishes there’s a cut straight into a shot of me walking with my iPhone, from the phone’s perspective.

I did this specifically to show the audience that what they’re seeing is coming from an iPhone.

        

       

I wanted to try and inject a sense of  awakening; things building up. I got up extra early to film some shots of my home town to go before the first shot of my early edit of the documentary.

I’d like to comment on how good some of the macro shots turned out. As I’ve said before, the iPhone camera has a small sensor so I can’t expect a lot of depth of field in my shots, except when I focus in on something closely. I’m really impressed with the detail it captures.

Now that I’ve worked on a introduction to the video, it’s starting to develop into a more structured piece. The way I’ve thought about the conceptual idea of the documentary has been quite vague throughout the whole project. I knew what topic I wanted to express in the video, but I wasn’t sure how I’d go about actually conveying it.

There are a few portrait shots that I’ve used to give a bit more of a variation.

What I need to film left:

  • Film two timelpase videos using ReelMoments 
  • Film two more Hockney styled shots

With the documentary that I’ve edited I want to improve upon it by adding these extra bits video to finish it off.

Post-Production to do left:

  • Colour grade

Update!

I’m a big fan of making timelpase videos. I feel they can be used for almost anything in a video. They’re very adaptable! I tried out using the ReelMoments app, which lets you create timelapse videos straight from the iPhone. It works much better than I thought it would. The only downside is once you’ve chosen your frame rate and you start the timelapse , you can’t alter the frame rate.

This was done at 30 fps.



Intro Title Sequence Using Twitch
November 24, 2011, 4:26 am
Filed under: Specialist Project

The one thing missing in my documentary as it stands is an introduction. It just starts off a bit abrupt and not really informing the audience of what they’re going to be seeing. I’ve put together a rather simplistic title sequence using a really neat feature for After Effects called, Twitch. It’s a plug-in, created by VideoCopilot. It’s a useful feature that enables you create distorted, sharp, flashy animations/transitions/effects.

I’ve rendered and uploaded the full intro. I didn’t want to do anything overtly complicated, just simple and effective.

I’ve always been a fan off that scatty, quirky movement in animation. I’ve tried to inject that style into my documentary by extracting small segments of action in a clip and using it as a transition technique.

I created a new composition and typed out the words, Life Through an iPhone, separately. Then I went into Effects, Video Co-pilot, Twitch.

There are a selection of features that control specific effects that Twitch can control such as, blur, slide, time, scale, colour, light etc. I’ve enabled Twitch to slide and blur the text I’ve created in my composition. I have to add twitch to each separate text, otherwise they all won’t animate.

I then pre-composed the text composition so that the entire composition become the alpha, as apposed to the text box.

The RGB colour is an additive colour in which red, green, and blue light is added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors. The name of the model comes from the initials of the three additive primary colors, red, green, and blue. This is an effect which can be replicated in Twitch, using RGB Split. You have the control to decide how much you won’t the colours to be separated apart.

To me, this plugin instantly replaces the motion sketch and wiggle effect as it’s far more dynamic. I’ve gone with a simple approach with this plugin. I wanted to create something, I feel, represents the style of my documentary as it currently stands.



Distorted Compositions
November 22, 2011, 3:51 am
Filed under: Specialist Project

Here are some photos I took whilst I was out and about in London. I went into Photoshop and started cutting, overlaying and reversing different parts of the image to take the ordinary out and turn it into something more abstract.

I’m planning to use this technique in my documentary. Hopefully it will work just as well with a moving image.

Update

I did a test version of this style using video to see how well it turns out. I actually quite like it. It’s quite confusing to look at, so I wouldn’t use a lot of these in my documentary. I’ve been looking at David Hockney for some inspiration on how to present visually interesting shots and this duplication of strips within a shot actually ties in nicely with the Hockney theme.



Working on some dialogue
November 18, 2011, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Specialist Project

Still working on the documentary. I’ve shown it to this guy who works at a Cafe I regularly visit and I’ve had some valuable input from him. He understands what I’m trying to convey in the video so we’re both collaborating on writing some dialogue to justify and inform the audience of what their watching.

I’ve been thinking about how I can create a unique way of interviewing someone. I have said before I don’t want to include any dialogue of any sort, but looking at how the documentary has currently turned out, I think I might have to.

  • Retina display
  • 3.5-inch (diagonal) widescreen Multi-Touch display
  • 960×640-pixel resolution at 326 ppi
  • 800:1 contrast ratio (typical)
  • 500 cd/m2 max brightness (typical)
  • Fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating on front and back
  • Support for display of multiple languages and characters simultaneously

The iPhone 4 has an incredible screen display, so I’ve been thinking of a new use for it.

This is an image I compiled in Photoshop showing a rough idea of using the iPhone as a tool to create a sort of post-digital interview.

With the dialogue I’m collaborating on, I’d like to record someone speaking it then playing back the recording on my iPhone and recording it in a different location. I would record the sound on the Zoom H1 and apply it to the scene.

Update

Well, this isn’t panning out how I planned it to be. Nobody  is willing to do the dialogue for my video. I’ve been quite specific about who should do the dialogue, because I want someone who has an opinion on the whole economic crisis and someone who has their own business.

Anyway, I’ve done a short test of video I recorded on my iPhone, then playing it back, whilst filming it on my Canon 550D in my room. I’m trying to take a live scene and play it back in a completely different environment.

This is something I could possibly explore in my Extended Major Project. If I do pursue this technique, I’ll use the Zoom H1 to record the audio. However, I’m not sure how well it turn out when it comes to syncing the audio though.

How I’d approach this technique:

  • Record video on iPhone (Portrait). Record audio via Zoom H1.
Go to a different location with the iPhone.
  • Playback iPhone video. Place Zoom H1 near iPhone to capture the sound as best as it can get. 
  • Sync up audio from the iPhone video with the first audio recorded on the Zoom H1. 


Early Version of Documentary
November 18, 2011, 12:09 am
Filed under: Specialist Project, Video

I’ve finally managed to compile an early edited version of the documentary. I’ve been having issues on Premiere Pro when rendering, as it kept throwing up error messages, which has delayed me slightly but I’ve overcome those issues.

With this rough edit, it gives me the opportunity to work into the video and add more detail. I’ve shown my lecturer the video and I think it’s clear I need to offer something a bit more different. I’ve already started experimenting with creating a Hockney styled cinematography.

I didn’t mean to export the diegetic sounds from the video clips, however I do like the inconsistent stops and starts.

Brief Synopsis

This is a short video that looks at life through the lens of an iPhone. I’m documenting, discreetly, society in London. With the economic crisis going on, I’m interested in capturing people in their natural state of mind. The iPhone is a small compact device, which has allowed me to be discreet to capture natural moments. The song, Wait For Me, really fits the mood of the video as a whole. I interpret the lyrics of the song to reflect upon how general people in society are being abandoned (Wait For Me), from the people in power (politicians).

New Amendments 

I’ve been thinking about introducing a character to the documentary to basically justify the meaning of the video. The video needs to have some sort of clarification because it doesn’t seem to be clear what it is I’m trying to convey. I know someone who works at a cafe, in Bournemouth, that has a unique perspective on life and politics. He’s a very passionate writer/journalist, so I’m hoping he can lend a hand in adding that special ingredient that I’m needing, to make my documentary work.

  • The beginning of the documentary needs a different introduction. With this new character, that I’m wanting to bring into this video, I could start off by introducing him. Showing the location of where he works and him  actually working.



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