Archive for November, 2011

Edits of Christmas Past – 2008

After the fiasco that was the editing of the 2007 scene, I was worried that the 2008 scene would have similar problems, despite my convictions that the acting was of better quality and there was less background noise due to other customers in the cafe leaving. I decided that the grand plan I usually conduct for editing the scenes would have to be abandoned for this scene as well, so that I could come up with a more efficient plan to establish more quickly wether this scene had the same problems.

I decided to edit a clip at a time, so that it would quickly become apparent if certain shots had faults. This would mean assessing the quality, length, sound quality and continuity appeal of each shot as I went along. I thought this would save time rather than ordering the shots then having to start again due to many faults.

Shot by Shot

Shot 1

The first shot of the clip (after the Christmas card shot) is a wide shot of the table, to act as an establishing shot. I immediately noticed with this shot that the sound quality was relatively poor. It was a problem quite similar to the 2007 scene; the over the shoulder shots are not that bad because the camera was so close to the actresses, but with the wide shot, because the camera was so far away, background noise became a noticeable disturbance. The sound quality of this wide shot was not as bad as that of 2007, mostly because a lot of customers had left the cafe, and my actresses spoke louder in this scene.

However, one problem with this shot is that Lydia reads the line quite quietly, so the line overall does not come across very clear. In my original designs, I had planned for the first line to be overlaying the Christmas card shot slightly, so that there is a smooth transition between the Christmas card shot and the first shot of the scene. I came up with a solution so that the Christmas card shot could be overlayed, sound preerved and the wide shot still acts as the establishing shot:

  1. I removed the sound from the wide shot of the table
  2. I replaced it with the sound from one of the over-the-shoulder shots

I cut the clip down, so that the majority of the wide shot is not shown, only the end so it looks like the sound clip from the over-the-shoulder shot actually belongs to this clip

You may recognise the four shots that comprise the Christmas card shot and effect from the previous post. These take up most of the left hand side. The small clip to the right is what remains of the wide shot.

 

I think this was a relatively successful idea. It’s only flaw is that the sound clip does not match up perfectly to the video clip, but it is not particularly noticeable unless you are looking out for it. The strengths of this idea are that the establishing shot is maintained and the sound clip is still overlaying the Christmas card shot.

Shot 2

The second shot of the scene is the over-the-shoulder shot of Ellen. I took this opportunity to check the entire clip of this. I didn’t stop the clip between the out-takes, so it can become a little confusing, but overall the shot is successful in terms of visual and audio quality. It was the usual paradox that the over-the-shoulder shots have much better sound quality  simply because the camera was placed much closer to the actresses. If I had a criticism of this shot though, it would be Hayley’s tendency to look down at her script when she thinks the shot will not be on her, something which she is usually quite good at avoiding.

However, to make up for this, Hayley remains relatively still throughout the scene, meaning continuity was rarely a problem whenever it came to incorporating it into the production. Indeed, I was sure to use it quite a lot, as not only is it a good shot in terms of quality but it also puts the audience focus on Ellen, something which this scene is designed to do.

The shot of Ellen is very successful, not only in terms of sound but also visually. For example, lighting is fine, and there are no background distractions. She also does not take up too much of the frame, and the wide walls and space behind her emphasise the isolation she experiences in this scene.

 

Shot 3

The third shot is the over-the-shoulder shot of Miranda and Louise. I think the success and weaknesses of this scene are relatively balanced. For example, I like the framing and composition of this shot. In the background, the rest of the cafe can be seen slightly. This involves another customer, some Christmas lights and a window showing a dark street. The former increases the plausibility of the scene, whilst the latter two emphasise some of the key themes of my film, Christmas and loneliness, respectively. As far as framing is concerned, some important implications are made. For example, it is clear that Miranda is starkly opposite to Ellen, whilst Louise is slightly closer, reflective of their opinions. However, both are sat very close together, representing their united feelings towards Ellen’s revelation.

My biggest criticism of this shot is Lydia’s tendency to also look at her script. When compared to shot 2, it does seem that Hayley and Lydia look at their scripts at separate times, meaning I should eb able to balance out the shots, so it appears that no-one is obviously looking at their script for a long amount of time.

I think that the framing and composition of this shot is its strength

 

Tackling the remainder of the scene

The rest of the scene was relatively simple in terms of how to edit it. Nothing as problematic as the sound issue of the first shot arose again. Indeed, the below image shows that large sections of the scene were constructed of shots and their corresponding sound clips. However, a problem which did keep rearing it’s ugly head though was the constant weighing up of which camera angle was best to use for each line. This was because of the sound issue and script issue of each shot; I had to decide from which angle these problems would not appear as obvious as they were.

The majority of the scene had a simple structure.

Next Steps

I actually managed to get this scene into something more than a rough cut simply in what I was able to do today. Although I think returning to this scene will be necessary, I don’t think it will take as much reviewing as the other scenes I have edited. I suppose this sort of derides my idea of ‘the master plan’ of editing, and perhaps it is better to simply construct each scene one shot at a time. Obviously I won’t go back an reconstruct each scene like this, but I will definitely have to consider it  for the 2007 scene, which will be even harder to edit because of the sound issue.

 

 

 

 

The Christmas Card Shots

The Christmas card shots are something I have never actually acknowledged on my blog before, but it is always the first thing I do when editing a scene. During the story-boarding phase, I had planned that these shots would have an effect on them, to stop them from getting repetitive and dull. I had planned to place a focus pull over each Christmas card shot, in which one side of the frame is de-focussed, but then this effect switches to other side of the frame. I had planned that the Christmas card shot would always be on one side of the frame, with one or more of the girls visible in the other half. Initially, the side with the girls in would be clear, but once the card was placed in the opposite side, this side would become clear, blurring the girls.

So far, placing this focus pull effect across the Christmas cards has been quite successful, but there are a couple of instances where it looks quite amateur and odd, based on what is actually in the frame. For example, in the 2009 Christmas card shot, there is a very obvious line down the middle of the frame where the blurring effect crosses over. In order to explain better, here is a running order of how I create the effect:

1. I cut the clip to the appropriate length and remove the sound

2. I duplicate the clip and lay them over one another.

3. I cut both clips in half, or at the point when I want the crossover to occur

4. I then crop the clips. I treat the clips as vertical pairs. With the first vertical pair, I crop the clip so that only half of the shot is visible in each. A different half should be cropped on each clip, so that when together, they make the one clip. I then do the same with the second vertical pair

5. I then add a ‘de-focus’ effect to the top left clip and the bottom right clip


6. I then add a ‘cross fade’ effect between the horizontal pairs of clips

None of my own examples of the effect are complete, and all wil require significant tweaking before the final product is ready. However, below is a video demonstrating the various ways this effect can be used. In the video, the effect I am trying to replicate is the one used on the clip of the tree trunk:

Edits of Christmas Past – 2007

For the sake of simplicity and chronology, I decided to edit the 2007 scene first. I had intended to carry out the same plan of action for editing with the 2007 scene as I had for the previous scenes, in which I roughly order the footage, check its quality, cut down the shot lengths, play around with sound effects and then check continuity. However, I was not far through the grand plan, when I realised I would have to tackle the 2007 scene in a slightly different way. Read on…

Roughly ordering the footage

I did not notice anything particularly wrong with the footage at this point, but this was probably because I was not really looking or listening to the quality of the footage. Because this scene consists of only four shots just like the 2011 scene, it was relatively easy to order the shots roughly. At this point, the scene came to 1:43 minutes long, which is quite long compared to other scenes. I am not terribly worried about this yet though, as 2007 was designed to be a slightly longer scene, so that as much introduction as possible could be given to the audience.

Similarly to the 2011 scene, this scene consists of three major shots and the Christmas card shot

Checking the quality of the footage

It was at this point that problem after problem begun to arise. Firstly, the sound quality of nearly all the shots is quite terrible. Because I did not use a microphone when filming, the background noise of other customers talking is generally louder than my actresses. This especially rings true of the wide shot of the table, where the camera was placed farther away from the actresses and the table ,meaning the conversations of others became clearer.

However, it was not just the sound that was causing a lot of problems. The visuals also are causing a lot of problems. For example, the script problem is unfortunately very noticeable on the bigger screen. Furthermore, the continuity of the scene does not really match up at all between the shots. With the other scenes, my actresses had performed them roughly the same. However, they move around a lot more during these scenes, meaning it is difficult to match up their movements between shots, making continuity insanely difficult to upkeep.

A prime continuity problem example. In this shot, Ellen has her hands on her lap and is looking at Louise...

... yet in what is supposed to be the next shot, she has her arms crossed and is looking at Miranda

Solutions

I decided to abandon my master plan for editing that I had used on all the other scenes with this 2007 scene, as obviously it was not going to work; there are simply too many problems. After thinking it over carefully, I believe the following are my only real options with this scene:

  • Conduct a re-film
  • Record a voiceover with my actresses and lay it over the scene
  • Present the shots in a way which is unexpected.

This last idea is particularly intriguing. For example, rather than conforming to the usual conventions of films, and pretty much always having the speaker present of screen, I could do the opposite, and always show the reaction to what is being said. For example, if Miranda or Louise says something, show Ellen’s reaction, and vice versa. Not only might this count as postmodernism, but it also solves both the sound and continuity issues. It solves continuity because in this situation, a character would rarely be present in two shots together, meaning continuity does not become so much of a problem. Also, the sound is not as bad on the over-the-shoulder shots, because obviously the camera’s internal microphone was relatively close to the actresses. This is especially true with the opposite over-the-shoulder shots. For example, Louise’s lines are clear on an over-the shoulder shot of Ellen because the camera was literally right next to her face.

The only problems with this idea are:

  • Audiences may not understand the technique, and the introductory aspect of this scene could be undermined
  • My actresses tended to read from their scripts when the camera’ was not on them’ as such. For example, whenever Christy read a line, Hayley would look at her script, as she thought that this part of the footage would not be used.

However, these problems are relatively minor when compared to the huge sound and continuity problems that the scene has as it stands.

Next Steps

I will have to gather the opinions of my audience and fellow media students alike in order to judge whether the postmodernism idea has anything to it. They will also be able to judge if any of my other solutions are plausible. Again, I intend to return to this scene at a later date, to see if I can come up with any other alternative solutions in the meantime.

The First Edit

As expected, I was unable to edit the first two scenes correctly before submitting my First Edit, the deadline of which is today. Therefore, the first scenes better reflect that of a rough cut. However, the remaining scenes are my actual submissions for the First edit. It must be kept in mind that these scenes are yet to be re-visited properly. Although some minor changes have been made since I first edited each scene, nothing drastic has been done, meaning this truly is a ‘first’ edit. Even though I have not edited the first scene, I thought it best to put them in so that I and others can judge how well the overall plotline and conversations read when put together. Furthermore, tis edit does not contain any title or the music I had planned to include. The First Edit can be found in the below video:

Filming – Day 5

Today was the fifth (and hopefully final!) day of filming for my production. Rather than go into the intricacies as to what happened and when, I think it would be quicker simply to do a running evaluation of the filming, as the actual filming process was extremely similar to the ones before it, in that we arrived at the cafe for 4pm and filmed until the cafe closed at 5.

Filming the 2007 scene

For the sake of simplicity and chronology, I thought it would be best to film the 2007 scene first then the 2008. They are relatively similar in terms of the number of shots to be filmed, so I didn’t think this should have been a dominating factor. Before we actually filmed the 2007 scene, I briefly shot the Christmas card shot for 2009, whist my actresses prepared themselves.

Successes during filming

  • We placed ourselves at a table we were yet to film at, increasing the plausibility of the scene. Furthermore, there was simply a plain wall behind the table, so it was not obvious that we were filming in the same area as before.
  • All scenes were shot successfully. I ensured this time that all shots were taken, by supervising the camera at all times, and checking each shot after it was captured
  • There were no customers in our immediate surrounding area, meaning background noise disturbance should not have been a particular issue.

Weaknesses during filming

  • I had forgotten to bring the microphone for the camera, meaning that background noise was more of a problem than when filming the other scenes. Even though our area of the cafe was empty, the rest of it was very much occupied, resulting in slightly more background noise than expected, which hopefully should not be too obvious on the footage.
  • The problem of the scripts is quite obvious in this scene. During the filming, it didn’t seem like such an issue, and I was pretty sure that the camera did not capture the scripts, but whilst looking back over the footage, it seems like more of a problem. I am hoping this just
    looks bad on the small screen of the camera, and that when uploaded, the footage will not seem so bad.
  • Because the cafe had told me that they had decorated, I brought few decorations of my own. Unfortunately on this wall behind the table, there were no decorations, meaning the message of Christmas will not be particularly prominent in what will also be the first scene of my production.

 

There was little decoration at our filming location for the 2007 scene. Although this increased plausibility, it did nothing for upholding the Christmas theme of the film.

 

It is not particularly comforting that the strengths and weaknesses of filming are quite balanced, I would rather that there were far more strengths, but unfortunately this was the best filming I could do at the time.

 

Filming the 2008 scene

I personally consider the filming of the 2008 scene to be more successful than that of the 2007. This was because the cafe was a lot quieter by the time it came to filming this scene, meaning background noise was low, and we were in a location which was better decorated.

Strengths during filming

  • There was notably less background noise, which was a lot more comforting given that we obviously still did not have the microphone
  • All scenes were shot successfully again. I personally believe that the quality of acting was better this time round as well.
  • The script issue was not as noticeable as in the 2007 scene, again, this is partly why the acting seemed to be better in this scene
  • Even though we chose a table we had already filmed at for filming, it had better decorations as well as a window view rather than the plain wall of the 2007 filming.

The reaction shot to Ellen's revelation. I personally believe that the acting was of a better standard during this scene.

 

Weaknesses during filming

  • Due to the lack of microphone, it is likely that the background noise will still be more noticeable than the 2009, 2010 and 2011 scenes.
  • We chose a table we had already filmed at for filming, decreasing the plausibility of the scene.

I find it slightly more comforting that the obvious strengths outweigh the obvious weaknesses twice over for this scene. Even when watching back these shots on the camera they seem markedly better than the 2007 scene, so I am definitely happy with them.

Next Steps

Tomorrow is the deadline for the First Edit, and as much as I would like to, I don’t think I will be able to get these shots into a sensible order before submitting to the deadline. However, I should definitely get the chance first thing next week to really sink my teeth into these shots and consider how to overcome any problems (especially with sound) that may occur.

Edits of Christmas Past – 2010

Today I decided to edit the footage I was able to capture on Thursday. Seeing as it has been relatively successful, I thought I would undertake the same process as I did before:

  • Roughly order the footage in order to check how the conversation reads and collect an idea of timing
  • Check the quality of the footage, both visually and audially
  • Cut down the length of the shots and check again that the conversation still reads well
  • Add sound effects so that background sound is not distracting and the dialogue sounds like one stream of uninterrupted sound
  • Check continuity and change shots/sound effects / shot lengths as such in order to upkeep continuity

2010 is the most complex scene in terms of number of shots after 2009, another reason why i decided to tackle it in roughly the same way.

Ordering the footage

It was whilst I was checking that all shots and angles had been cpatured that I noticed the first problem withe 2010 footage. For some reason, I could not find a shot of Miranda where she syas her largest line in this scene. This should have been in both the over-the-shoulder shot of her and Louise as well as the wide shot of the table, so that I could choose which clip to take it from as such. However, I was only able to find it in the over-the shoulder shot of Ellen. I will have to work with this clip until I can come up with a solution. As it stands, the best solution I can think of is to film a close-up of Lydia on Thursday, so that the line can be included in the scene, and I will not have the replicate the scene. In an odd way, this makes me glad that I was unable to film on Friday, and have organised a much later re-film.

Other than this, all shots were captured successfully, and when roughly ordered, the scene came to around 1:32

Quality of footage

I was concerned that due to the disorganisatiuon and hurriedness with which I had carried out the filming, the footage would be relfective of this and be of quite low quality. However, there are many positives and few negatives to the visual and audio quality of the footage:

Strengths

  • Similarly to the 2009 and 2011 scenes, sound quality is relatively fine due to the use of a microphone during recording and relatively little background noise disturbance
  • Enough shots were collected in order to construct the scene.
  • There was nothing which made a clip completely unusable, such as a camera shake or similar accident
  • The actual setting is improved also. The fact that I’ve moved to a different table within the cafe makes the scene seem more plausible
  • The lighting of these shots is also markedly different to that of 2009 and 2011, increasing plausibility

Weaknesses

  • The missing shot of Miranda
  • The scripts on the table are particularly noticeable in this scene, despite my attempts to cover them with menus
  • I am unsure of the quality of the hugging segment. During filming, we dubbed it ‘the awkward hug’, a nickname which still rings true in the footage itself.

I think the majority of shots in the 2010 scene are quite successful. For example, in this shot, the Christmas tree decoration and tinsel in the bottom of the screen and the tinsel to the left ensure the theme of Christmas is in the mind of the audience. Furthermore, the waitor is given anonymous stauts and Ellen is centre-screen, meaning no focus is taken from the characters, but plausibility is maintained, if not, improved.

The difference in lighting is quite obvious compared to...

... the 2009/2011 scene

Adding Sound effects

Given the confusion during filming regarding the sound quality of each shot, I was worried that there would be quite a few problems with sound when it came to editing. Whilst many of the over-the-shoulder shots are fine, as they were filmed later once most customers had left, the wide shot of the table is still quite a concern, as background noise is clearer due to there being more customers at this time. Luckily, I don’t think it has been as interruptive as it could have been, thanks to the use of the microphone. Also, the scene is mostly constructed from the over-the-shoulder shots. If the background noise is particularly noticeable at a point on the clip which should be included in my production, I have been trying to replace it with an over-the-shoulder shot and assessing as such if it is effective.

As far as trying to make the sound seem like one stream is concerned, I have taken a similar approach to the last two scenes. I have been adding a cross fade effect across the sound clips so that any noticeable background noise cannot be distinguished as separate sound clips. Obviously, I have had to make careful use of these when it comes to editing the wide shot clips into the production, as otherwise it will appear quite amateur if the background noise is obviously increasing every time a wide shot is shown. Another effect I have had to work with is increasing and decreasing the volume of certain clips, so that the background noise of the wide shots sound even less suspicious. However, this proved quite a difficult task, as ultimately the most important aspect of sound was the dialogue, which could not bee too loud or quiet for the sake of continuity

Playing around with the volume of a clip becomes a continuity danger-zone

Continuity

During the editing process, I have been trying to not make any conclusive comments regarding continuity. Over this course, I have learnt that a continuity problem can crop up at any point, and the majority of time it may not even be something you recognise, as you may be subconsciously ignoring it as you have the benefit of knowing every aspect of the production process and you make exceptions. However, this does not mean that I have been ignoring continuity completely today. A continuity hot-spot I have noticed, where many errors may occur is with the now-infamous ‘awkward hug’. Seeing as it was filmed first, it was most subject to disorganisation, which is reflected in the footage itself. For example, below is a haphazard continuity example:

This shot ends whilst Ellen and Miranda are embracing (also slightly off-screen; another frustration)

Yet in the next shot the pair are clearly not embracing, hence, no coming out of the embrace has been shown.

 

Next Steps

Just like with my other scenes, I intend to return to 2010 with a fresh mind so that I can be enthusiastic to edit and therefore much more able to pick up on mistakes or think of ways to overcome some of the problems with the scene so far. This also gives me time to consider how to ake the continuity as water-tight as possible for this scene. However, I must remember that the deadline for the final product is fast approaching, so I cannot take too long in returning to the scenes.

Continuity Poll

The main aspect of the 2009 scene that I am unsure of is the continuity of the section when Louise enters the cafe. The two clips involved in this are very stark, and in order for it to not look to amateur, continuity must be as watertight as possible.

I have decided to put the decision of how to arrange it into the hands of other media students. I have created a short video containing two options as to how the clips should be ordered and edited, and below I have put it into a poll so that other media students, who are also wary of continuity techniques and how best to upkeep continuity can vote on what theyt hink is best. Of course, suggestions are welcome.

This video displays two options as to how Louise could enter the cafe. Please decided which is beter in terms of continuity and answer as such in the poll below:

Thank you for taking the poll!

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