Dan Hume's Blog


Final Pieces
May 13, 2012, 12:37 am
Filed under: Extended Major Project, Video

iSolation

Cubist London

Photography Slideshow

Short Project Evaluation

For the extended major project, I wanted to follow on from the Specialist Project, which was to shoot another short documentary on an iPhone. I wanted to carry on exploring this idea of being discreet when filming because I feel it’s something unique to filmmaking. On the last project, I didn’t stand out from the crowd; I was able be a ‘post-filmmaker’ and blend in within the people on location and capture the rawness of people’s state of mind. To be more concise, I felt Invisible because I was using a mobile phone, which to the general public doesn’t really suggest they’re being filmed or photographed. This led me to calling the overall project, The Invisible Camera.

My approach to the EMP has been relatively similar to the specialist project, however this time I’ve also been looking at how video content can alternatively be delivered in the 21st century. To take this further I not only wanted to deliver this documentary as a video, but also as an iPad publication as well. This new medium also meant that I could implement other different types of media into the project, such as photography.

I had a series of tutorials with storyboard artist, Tony Chance, who guided me through my development process. I initially was looking at creating a documentary that had an environmental focus to it, but this particular approach didn’t really ignite any creativity for me and I felt quite restricted by it. I then found myself exploring themes such as connection and disconnection, which then lead me to develop this idea of technology withdrawing people from interacting with each other face to face. I decided to name the documentary as iSolation, using the same concept as apple’s signature for its products, iPod, iPhone, etc, to correspond with the tool I was filming with.

This idea emerged quite late in the project, I was really pleased that I came up with topic that I could relate to from my own personal experience. I linked this idea to the philosophy of existentialism to which Steven Earnshaw describes as…

a philosophy that takes as its starting point the individuals existence. Everything that it has to say, and everything that it believes can be said of significance – about the world we inhabit, our feelings, thoughts, knowledge, ethics – stems from this central, founding idea. (Earnshaw, 2007 P.1)

I wanted the documentary to explore the idea of isolation amongst a densely populated place. Our dependence on technology, in a way, has enabled us to cut ourselves off from interacting with other people and the environment we’re in. Over a period of 10 years, there’s been a radical change in mobile phone technology and it’s become a huge attachment in people’s lives.  Even if we are aware of what’s going on around us, we’re not always 100% focused on one thing, for example, talking to someone face to face whilst texting. Listening to music on the move is another example of isolation amongst a crowed of people. People maybe looking face forward, but their minds could be immersed in the music. I’ve experienced this form of isolation myself, so I’m aware that I’m not paying attention to what’s going on around me. It appears we’re now spend a lot more time living in our imagination, because I believe we all want to avoid hearing all the negative events happening in the world.

For the editing, I was heavily influenced by the music. Like in koyaanisqatsi, the music dictates how the documentary flows. In my documentary, the opening beings with slow ambient music; therefore the editing was subtler. When the music became more upbeat, I wanted the shots to be fast and tightly cut. I began including a lot of these short transition cuts, which are roughly half a second long. They are basically extracts of quick movements from the footage I’d shot. I was holding the camera in a position where I wasn’t able to see what was being shot; therefore I recorded a lot of unwanted unsteady footage.

As an observational piece I felt that a musical score would be an appropriate accompaniment to the visuals. Depending on the genre of the music, I could really provoke any kind of emotion I want to the overall piece. My initial documentary, Life through an iPhone, had a Moby track called, Wait For Me, playing throughout. This is where I’ve taken inspiration from the film, koyaanisqatsi, where the music emphasizes how the audience is meant to feel. This is something I wanted to achieve in both my projects. I used another Moby track ironically called, Isolate, which I felt truly represented the mood I wanted to create in my piece perfectly.

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New Title Scene
May 11, 2012, 4:28 am
Filed under: After Effects, Extended Major Project, Video

After much criticism of my 3D composite of the title ‘iSolation’, I’ve changed the shot completely with a 2D version in a different scene. The only negative feedback I had after people had watch the documentary was 3D composite. Even after watching the whole piece, people were still irritated by this really short scene at the beginning. Tony Chance, who guided me through my development of this project, said that it looked out of place and unnecessary.

I initially chose to create a 3D title because I’d seen a really impressive tutorial (mentioned in a previous entry) that showed me how to composite 3D text into a live scene. What impressed me the most was the fact that you could light a 3D object using the pixel data from the shot you want to composite into. I was inclined to do this as I wanted to learn the basic principles of compositing 3D elements into video. It’s something I’ve been struggling to actually do for the last couple of years, but I think I’ve now managed to grasp the concept behind compositing really well. Despite all the efforts of this, the outcome didn’t work in the final piece.

However, I didn’t want to replace the 3D composited shot with something really basic, such as 2D text with a black background. I decided that it maybe better to composite a 2D version of the title into a slightly different scene that convey’s the idea of isolation a little bit better. I found a shot that I recorded at Maida Vale tube station when it was completely empty and I thought this would be a good little scene to have the title appear. I really wanted to make the text become an actual object within the scene to look as if it’s isolated itself.

This lead me to reflecting back to an initial tutorial I looked at, which was to composite some text into a still image. If you look at my header image at the top of the blog page, you’ll see I added some text into the scene of the image using a 2D text object. This was all created in After Effects using it’s 3D workflow.

Here is a video showing the new shot without the composite and then the shot with the 2D composited.

It was initially easy to set up the text into the scene. The first thing I did was created a new white solid and turned it into a 3D layer. Like in many 3D programs, you create a plane to allow you get the perspective right to align the object you want to fix into the scene.

I then turned the plane into a grid by going into the effects menu. This then gave me more flexibility to see how well the plane was positioned to the roughly the same angle as the ground in the shot. I also created a new camera, which I also used to help me make the 3D environment replicate the perspective of the actual scene. The camera is a way of controlling plane and anything else you add to the scene, without have to individually adjust the position of each inanimate object.

The next step was to create the 2d text, which was ‘isolation’. I then switched on the 3D for the text and then it moved position to the perspective of the virtual camera I’d just created. I then added a virtual spot light into the scene, which would be used to shine onto the 2D text to cast a shadow.

It was then a case of adjusting the text position to make it look like it was actually at the tube station when I shot this. I also positioned the light in place where there were actual lights; therefore replicating how a shadow would look if there was an object  or person standing there.

I had to motion track the footage so that I could fix the text into the scene. I was having trouble tracking After Effects as the footage was shaky so I turned to Mocha, which is a stand alone Planar Tracking and rotoscoping utility built into After Effects. I was able to track the entire surface of the platform on the station, as opposed to object points. I then exported the tracking data to after effects and applied it to a null object, which I then parented to the Pre-comp of all the attributes of the 2d text. Although it tracked well, I still didn’t like the shakiness of the footage, so I ended up stabilising the whole video to get a smoother playback. Notice in the video example at the top, the original footage is shaky and the final outcome is much more stable.

I do feel the outcome to this technique is more realistic looking compared to the 3D version. As I said before, I wanted to make the text truly represent the title isolation by placing in a remotely empty scene; therefore it looks isolated.



Video Montage ‘Hockney’ styled Scenes
May 1, 2012, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Extended Major Project, Photography, Video

This is the experimental video I did in the style of David Hockney. I did a couple of these in my documentary for the Specialist project, however they weren’t appreciated enough due to the fact they weren’t shown for long enough. I decided for this project to dedicate a separate video for these type of shots to show them in a more subtle way; therefore the viewer can take time to observe it like a piece of art.

With the handheld shots, I never quite know how well the shots will turn out because it’s hard to stay 100% still for a certain amount of time. This then adds to this disjointed look caused by the camera movements in each frame. When I’m putting these shots together, I always make sure they’re aligned as best as they can be for the first frame.

What I like about these shots is that it captures different moments within each frame. I think this particularly works best with the busy street scenes as there’s so much going on. This is part of the concept of being able to document different events happening in one environment.

However, I feel like I’ve not paid as much attention as I’d like to you have done with this particular sequence, which is why I’m questioning it. I’ve come to realise that I’m working in the area of, Cubism, which is a modern art form that was developed by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.  As the various phases of Cubism emerged from their studios, it became clear to the art world that something of great significance was happening. The radical innovations of the new style confused the public, but the avant-garde saw in them the future of art and new challenge.

Pablo Picasso                                 Georges Braque

  

Hockney’s work has often been strongly linked to Cubism in that his motivation for producing photo montages was to introduce three artistic elements which a single photograph couldn’t do, namely layered time, space and narrative. By taking the pictures from carefully selected viewpoints, and arranging them in the right way, Hockney is able to change the apparent shape of space and introduce the element of time into the work. For instance, using this technique you can make a circular wall seem flat. Imagine walking around the wall taking lots of photos at a fixed distance from the wall, with the camera pointing straight towards the wall. If you just look at the middle of each photo, it will look like you are looking straight on at a flat section of wall. Since every photo looks like this, if you cut them up and lay them next to one another so that they join up, it will look like a flat section of wall. In fact part of Hockney’s (not entirely self consistent) philosophy behind these joiners forced him not to cut up the photos.

To sum up Cubism, be that Painting like Picasso Photography with David Hockney, objects/images are broken up, analysed and re-assembled in a slight abstract form. Understanding this concept I’ve now discovered that the images I’ve created using the Decim8 application is a form of cubism, which ties even more nice with my project.

 

 

Going to back to the video montage, I feel the need to add and some shots to try and see if I can gain better results. I really liked the static shot of the walkway long south bank because the shots were completely still, as the phone was on a tripod. I want to do more still shots as they’re more subtle and easier to watch.



A Couple of Nice short iPhone Videos
April 15, 2012, 9:18 pm
Filed under: Extended Major Project, Video

As usual. I’ve just been browsing on the iPhone Cinema channel on Vimeo and yet again. I’ve found a a couple of nice videos I wanted share today.

One of the videos have been shot in Dubai, using a Panasonic GH2GoPro HD Hero2 and the iPhone 4S. It’s been shot extremely well and at times it’s hard to distinguish the shots that were shot on the iPhone. This is pretty impressive as this proves you can mix shots between a higher end camera and the iPhone camera and it won’t look out of place.

I just had to post this because it has some really nice cinematography with a nice little narrative.

By The Film Artist

I was intrigued by the tales from the driver of the desert safari tour, one in particular about where the name ‘Dubai’ originated from. One is the Bur Dubai area and the other the Deira, there were 2 brothers ‘Do Bhai’, one lived on one side and the other on the other side, hence Dubai. True or not doesn’t matter to me, I like the idea that no matter where you live in this modern world we can all be brothers and sisters and try to live in peace and harmony rather than war and conflict.

City Symphony: Subway

For my current documentary, I’ve been doing a lot of shooting at tube/train stations, because they always have the subjects I’m wanting capture on video. I’m not particularly keen on the music, but I do like the visuals look of this video. I think for some of the shots the person who filmed this shot it discreetly as no-one appears to acknowledge his presence. I also like the fact that it’s been edited quite simply, but the shots are nicely composed; therefore it makes it visually interesting to watch. One thing I have enjoyed doing and that is cinematography. The challenge with the iPhone is it’s small sensor, which creates many restrictions when trying to create very cinematic looking shots. I think this video clearly demonstrates that composition is crucial when filming on a device that hasn’t got all the qualities of a high end camera.

By Chankenn

This is a hong kong subway scene.

shoot by iphone with 8mm vintage app.
edit by FCPX



Some More Video Inspiration
March 30, 2012, 1:04 am
Filed under: Extended Major Project, Video

As I’m nearing the completion of my video, I still like to see what other people have shot on their iPhone and see if I can in anyway improve what I’ve got. When you edit a video, you’re constantly going over it and eventually you become a bit bored of what shot so I do like to make some radical changes last minute if I’m inspired by something I’ve seen.

Bus’s People

Here’s a new video that’s been uploaded to the iPhone cinema group on Vimeo. I think this has been shot in the way I’ve been shooting as the general public aren’t aware that they’re being filmed. Also the shots are quite low, which also hints this was shot in discretion. It’s interesting that person who made this, decided to substitute instrumental music with the ambient sounds of birds in an outdoor environment. It’s creates a unique juxtaposition.

Filmed by iPhone 4s. In Tampa Bay, Fl.

New York 2012

Again this is another recent video uploaded onto Vimeo. This was shot using both the Canon 5D Mark II and the iPhone 4S. I think the majority of it was shot on the Canon 5D, but their are some shot towards the end, which I’m sure were shot on the iPhone.



Unique Stop Motion Animation Music Video
January 14, 2012, 2:00 am
Filed under: Video

This is a great little music video shot using an iPhone 4. I like the unique stop motion approach. It must have taken quite some time to piece it together, but anyway it looks brilliant.

The Ramshackle Union Band – Overboard

by Arran Shearing

“The 2000+ pieces of paper printed to make this video were 100% recycled.”



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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