Archive for December, 2011

Ancillary Task – Film Review

My final A2 film review:

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Ancillary Task – Film Poster

My final A2 film poster:

The Season to be Jolly

So, after the months of planning, researching, idea developing, filming, editing, constrcuting and, of course, blogging, the final product is ready. Below you can find the Final Cut of ‘The Season to be Jolly’.

However, there are a few minor problems with the edit. For example, it is too long, by around 30 seconds to a minute. This means that this final edit may be cut down further, but this will not be until the New Year. Until then, enjoy the fruits of my labourious autumn term:

The Cutting Room Floor

Over the past two days, I have been working on editing my film in order to make it as close to the 5 minute length limit as possible. To help matters, I have been granted an extra 30 seconds, but this should only be used for titles. This actually works out quite well, as my titles currently stand at 32 seconds, and it would preferable if I did not have to change them.

However, obviously I have cut a lot from the film itself. Luckily, when writing the script, I ensured that a lot of the lines were non-entities, and that they could be easily removed without disrupting the plot if necessary. I have spent a lot of time cutting out these unnecessary lines and also shortening shots wherever possible. Below is a list of the lines I have removed or changed, and why I removed or changed them.Obviously they have all been removed due for the sake of shortening the film, but some have secondary reasons. Also bellow is a key to help you.

Key:

  • What the line was
  • What the line is now
  • Reason for change
  • X – the line has been removed completely

2007

  • ‘…and that it was a mistake, I mean, it’s not the first time he’s got with her is it?’ –> ‘It’s just pathetic’
  • I thought this line was quite immature for the age of the girls
  • ‘God yeah, he’s just pathetic’ –> ‘God yeah’
  • There was repetition of the word ‘pathetic’
  • ‘Shut up, no but seriously, it’s just easier! I don’t want some moody hormonal boy hanging around me all the time. Besides, it’s pointless, you’ll just have to finish it when we go to university in a year’ –> ‘Shut up, no but seriously, it’s just easier. Besides, it’s pointless, you’ll have to break it off in a year when we go to uni’
  • This line was too long and also quite cheesy
  • ‘No, it’s Christmas, I don’t want to talk about the future and stuff like that’ –> ‘Ugh, it’s Christmas, I don’t want to talk about all this depressing stuff’
  • This is not necessary a change for length, but the clip with this changed line had a better sound quality
  • ‘It just scares me, I mean, it’s alright for you two. Miranda’s really clever and you’ve got that job lined up with your auntie’ –> ‘Well it’s alright for you two. Miranda’s really clever and you’ve got that job lined up with your auntie’
  • ‘Oh Ellen, stop worrying, I mean, what’s there to be afraid of?’ ‘Loads of stuff!’ –> ‘Oh Ellen, stop worrying’

Evaluation: I think this scene is relatively successful. Unfortunately I think that the scene reads very quickly, and the removed lines helped to make it sound more like a conversation. Nevertheless, the scene runs fine and does a lot to help with the timing situation

2008

  • ‘Really? Ellen, no jokes here, really? No, this is ridiculous Ellen, what were you thinking?’ –> ‘Ellen, no jokes here? What were you thinking?’
  • I felt that the word ‘really’ was repeated too much’
  • ‘God no, Ellen, this is, it’s…’ –> X
  • This line did not really impact on anything
  • ‘What about your future?’ ‘What, you mean uni? I can go later in life’ –> X
  • I thought it would be best to phase out the talk about university, as obviously none of the girls go to uni, so it seems quite odd that they should seem to intent on going and then inexplicably not go.
  • ‘It’s definitely a surprise’ –> X
  • Lydia read the line differently to how I had envisioned

Evaluation: This was the scene that I removed the least lines from. I had hoped to cut down the beginning of this scene, but unfortunately it is quite a structured conversation from which no lines can be removed. However, the lines I did remove are relatively useless, so the scene still reads well.

2009

  • ‘So I was talking to Joanna the other day, you remember Joanna, yeah?’ ‘Yeah I think so, was she the one who moved to New York?’ ‘Yeah, so anyway, she was telling me about…’ –> ‘So I was talking to Joanna the other day, she was telling me about…’
  • I felt that this was largely a lot of useless information. although greater detail leads to greater plausibility, I thought I would make an exception. 
  • ‘It’s just, we were talking and… I don’t know… I still don’t mean anything to him’ –> ‘It’s just, we were talking and I still don’t mean anything to him’
  • I thought much of this segment should be much sharper, as Louise is generally quite pathetic and moany here, and that was not the image I hoped to portray.
  • ‘I just feel like such an idiot. I’ve wasted all this time chasing after him like some pathetic little girl’ –> ‘I just feel like such an idiot. I’ve wasted all this time chasing after him’.
  • ‘I still like him. It’s fucking pathetic but I still like him’ –> ‘I still like him’
  • I also thought that this was generally much sharper and to the point.

Evaluation: I think that the final segment of this scene is much sharper. Rather than Louise rapidly changing mood and seeming moany one second then angry the next, she is much more consistent here, and the final line is more impacting. Furthermore, the removal of the lines from the beginning of the scene make the scene overall shorter without removing from the plot.

2010

  • ‘Sorry, but I just have the best news. Okay, well, Joanna calls me into her office the other day, I thought it was going to be something about the Macpherson job, but instead she was just telling me about this new assistant job in International Relations, and I thought she wanted me to send a message to Miss Jones down in admin, but then she just offers me the job’ –> ‘Sorry, but I just have the best news. Okay, well, Joanna calls me into her office the other day, she was just telling me about this new assistant job in International Relations, and I thought she wanted me to send a message to Miss Jones, but then she just offers me the job’
  • This is the same principle as Miranda’s line in the previous scene. I felt it was a lot of information which could be sacrificed in order to shorten the film overall
  • ‘Really? Oh my God, that’s great, come here’ ‘I mean, this is just the best thing to ever happen to me, International Relations work everywhere, who knows where I’ll be this time next year’ –> ‘Really? Oh my God, that’s great!’
  • The ‘awkward hug’ was generally shoddy in terms of cinematography and continuity, and given that the lines are also relatively worthless, I thought it would be best simply to remove it altogether.
  • ‘And actually, from what I hear, you’re sleeping around a lot as well. Look, we’re sorry things never worked out with James, but you can’t keep taking it out on us’ –> X
  • I thought this line was really cheesy, quite odd in context and generally didn’t really work.
  • ‘I’m sorry, but it’s not my fault’ ‘Who’s fault is it, then? James?’ ‘Hey!’ –> X

Evaluation: I think th most successful change here is at the end of the scene. By removing Louise’s interjections and attempts to justify her behaviour, it seems as though Miranda and Ellen are getting angrier and angrier at her and are simply ‘having a go’ at her, which is expressed by the looks on both Miranda and Louise’s face in the final shot. Also, the removal of the ‘awkward hug’ makes the scene flow better and makes the interactions between the characters more tense.

2011

  • ‘Oh, the reservations were for five, we better go or we’ll be late’ –> ‘Oh, we better go or we’ll be late’
  • The idea of a reservation was relatively pointless
  • ‘Really? That’s amazing, who is it?’ –> ‘That’s amazing, who is it?’
  • ‘You’re joking right? I only saw him last week to talk about child support’ –> ‘You’re joking right?’
  • ‘I know, it’s ridiculous but I met him at my last conference meeting. He’s really sweet and understanding’ –> ‘I know it’s ridiculous but he’s really sweet and understanding’
  • The idea that Louise attends Conferences seems massively unlikely. I thought it best to remove this line altogether.
  • ‘Louise, how can you do this to Ellen? This is crazy!’ –> ‘Louise, how can you do this to Ellen?’
  • ‘You can’t just keep being this vindictive victim’ –> X
  • Lydia read this line incorrectly. Also, I felt the line was quite superfluous.

Evaluation: By removing the most implausible parts of the scene, there is greater audience attention on the argument at hand. The shortening of shots also makes the argument quicker and faster.

Shortened shots:

The following are a list of shots which I shortened and why I shortened them:

[Pictures to be inserted]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s to the next twelve months…

Better late than never, I figured that I should be able to complete my film poster today. My film poster is relatively simple, and most of the connotations and effects I hoped to portray in it are present within the actual photograph itself. This means that largely the completion of my poster involved two tasks:

  1. Further editing the actual photograph itself in Photoshop. This way I can create light effects that I was not able to do with a camera alone
  2. Add the official information to the poster. For example: main title, billing block, release date, tagline and actor’s titles.

I thought that seeing as I am not particularly well-versed in the use of Photoshop, I would tackle the editing of the photograph first, as it would probably take me the longest to figure out how to do. The following is a list of the steps I went through in order to end up with the finished edited photograph:

1. I opened up the image in Photoshop. Despite my previous convictions, I decided to not go for the photo I had selected in my previous post regarding the Ancillary Task. I thought that firstly there would not be enough room at the bottom third of the poster for vital information such as the main title and the billing block. Secondly, I thought the photo was a little too dark. I figured it would be easier to darken a photo than lighten a photo. This is why I decided to work on the lighter twin brother of the photo I had originally chosen, which can be seen below:

My eventual choice of picture to edit.

2. I wanted to be sure that I could always come back to the photo in its original state, so I duplicated the background and worked on the duplicated layer, so I could return to the original when necessary.

Duplicating the background layer

3. I then added a ‘layer mask’, to give me a free palette upon which to edit. This mask could be revealed so that how the picture looks overall can be revealed.

The 'layer mask' tool

4. Originally,I attempted to use the ‘Colour Burn’ technique. This darkens whichever pat of the picture you select slightly, in a ‘burnt’ fashion. I originally applied this mostly to the left hand side (furthest away from the candle) and slightly along the bottom of the picture and a small part in the top left of the picture.

[Picture to be inserted]

5. I instead thought that I could get a better effect with the ‘Gradient’ tool. This would make the darkening of the edges more equal and proportionate, therefore making it look more real. On the layer mask, I applied the tool, with the gradient moving darker from the right to the left.

[Picture to be inserted]

6. I then applied a second gradient, moving from the bottom up. I was taking the candle as the main light source, so I therefore had to assume that the farther away from the candle any point of the picture was, the darker it had to be. The candle is roughly in the top right hand corner, meaning the bottom left hand should technically be the darkest part, hence the addition of this second gradient.

[Picture to be inserted]

7. I also felt that the faces of the girls in the pictures were extraordinarily light, and it contradicted the lighting of the overall picture. On another layer, I added a black-coloured spot over their faces and then weakened the contrast of this layer, so that only the spotted areas were darkened on the overall picture. After a few other minor tweakings, this is what the final picture looked like:

[Picture to be inserted]

Adding Titles

8. I thought the first title I would add would be the main title. I thought it would make a good judge as to whether the font and title style actually worked, as technically the main title should be the part of the poster which draws the most attention and is the most dominating feature. If it did not look good, then it would somewhat suggest that the style would work at all.

After importing the font, I split the title into three parts; ‘The Season’, ‘to be’ and ‘Jolly’. This was because I wanted the words ‘The’ ‘Season’ and ‘Jolly’ to be the largest and most noticeable. So I made these two parts the same size, but made the ‘to be’ smaller. I also wanted to be able to move the title about so it was not just on one line, but was relatively split up, just as in my original design.

My initial poster design in which the main title was yellow

Once I had gotten the sizes right, I coloured the titles. In my original plan, they had been a pale yellow. But once I had completed all the above stages, I simply did  not feel that this yellow would work, or that it would be bold enough to stand out. I tried the titles with the same red colouring as they had in the titles of my actual video production. This deep red stood out a lot more than the yellow, and also it allowed me to keep up continuity across all elements of the production. Furthermore, red has several connotations, from lust to danger, both of which could be argued to be present in my production. Just to be on the safe side, I added a slight shadow effect on the title, so they stood out more. Also, the shadows on the title reflect the ‘shadowy-ness’ of my poster overall.

9. I thought that constructing the rest of my titles would be a relatively similar process, so I decided to work on the only other title which would prove a challenge, the billing block. The first step I took was finding the correct font for the billing block. Under advice, I used one called ‘Tall Films’, which can be seen below. After this, I decided to find a billing block upon which to base my own. This can also be found below.

This was the billing block I selected at random from Google Images. I wanted to find a standard billing block, so as not to over-simplify or over-complicate my own billing block

 

The 'Tall Films' font

 
The biggest problem presented by a billing block was the layering of words in the same line. For example, in the above billing block, ‘Production Designer’, ‘Director of Photography’, ‘Executive Producers’ and so on are all displayed in two small lines even though they are on the same line. This meant that I had to split the words up into several layers, so that they could all be positioned differently to reflect this effect. I also attempted to replicate the shape of this billing block. Rather than being a standard square shape that is filled out with words, the lines are all of different lengths and are aligned differently from one another. I tried to replicate this best I could without it seeming too oddly shaped. It was not helped that I did  not have a smaller version of my logo to place within the billing block. This meant I had to alter the shape so it did not look too odd.
 
At the bottom of the billing block, I added a website. I figured it would be highly unlikely that a short such as this would have its own website, so I placed it as a subsection of the website of the fictional Redtree Pictures. So that this website would not be confused with the billing block and would attract the attention of my audience, I coloured it the same as the main title.
 
[Picture to be inserted]
 
10. Another missing feature from the billing block was the release date. I had always planned for this to simply be ‘Coming December’ and I saw no reason for this to change. It was suggested to me that perhaps I should mention that the film would only be ‘Coming’ to a television channel, as obviously a short film would not receive its own slot in a cinema. It thought it would be best to leave it as ‘Coming December’, so that the release date was not too much of a distracting feature. Furthermore, it is up to audience interpretation as to whether they think it would be premiered on television or not.
 
This title was constructed the same way as the main title, including font, colouring and shadow effect, with the only obvious difference being size. I made the sizes of ‘Coming’ and ‘December’ different for two reasons. Firstly, ‘December’ is the most important part of the message and is therefore worthy of emphasis. Secondly, having the word ‘December’ in the corner of the poster further emphasises the Christmas theme of the poster overall.
 
[Picture to be inserted]
 
11. The actor’s titles were the other obvious feature missing from my poster. They proved to be quite a problem. The actual construction of them was not particularly a problem. Once more, they had the same features as the main title and the release date. The only difference was size and I also lessened the darkness of the shadow and it’s positioning behind the titles, so that they were clearer.
 
The positioning of the actual titles itself was problematic. Below were some of the options I considered:
 
[Pictures to be inserted]
 
12. This  meant that the only remaining stage was to create a tagline. I figured it would make the most sense to in-keep with the theme of using popular sayings, such as ‘The Season to be Jolly’, even though this technically is from a song. I used several websites to try to inspire me to turn a Christmas sayings into a tagline. Even the one I found with the most sayings, http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/christmas-card-sayings-and-phrases.html did provide anything obvious. I therefore had to use something which would likely be said on Christmas, even if not necessarily a phrase. I came up with ‘Here’s to the next twelve months’. Although not exactly a standard Christmas phrase, I think this best represents the theme of reflection in my production, as the characters are always either looking forward to their hopes or looking back towards the events which are making these hopes more and more difficult, hence, ‘the next twelve months’.
 
Final Product
Below is the final product. I am actually very pleased with it, and believe it is of better quality than the film itself.
 
Strengths
  • All themes of the film are reflected in the poster
  • Continuity is maintained
  • The picture has been successfully edited to effect
  • The titles, billing block included, look effective
  • The characters are clearly shown on the poster and all have equal focus
  • The poster is an improve,ment upon the original design

Weaknesses

  • The title can become difficult to see from far away
  • The positioning of the actor titles still looks quite odd

I think that fact that the strengths outweight the weakness by quite a lot is proof that this poster is an overall success.

[Picture to be inserted]

Title Sequence

After completing my Redtree Pictures production card, I figured that the the next logical step would be to construct the opening titles of my film.

Titles so far

So far, I had done little work on the titles. I knew that I wanted them to last no longer than 30 seconds, and that they would be accompanied by the music that I had joint-composed. As far as actually constructing titles, the closest I have come are the ones I created for my rough cut. When I knew that my rough cut was clearly not going to be a reflection of my finished product, I decided that a better use of my time would be to work on the titles, in the hope that they would be reflective of something found in the end product. Below are the titles I had created for my rough cut:

Strengths of these titles:

  • They clearly portray the message/titles
  • They are simplistic, much like the rest of the film.
  • They are short, thus keep in with the desired timeframe.

Weaknesses of these titles:

  • They are a little too simplistic. They look a little makeshift.
  • They become quite dull to watch
  • They are not equal in size (continuity issues)
  • The font is not the one selected by my audience

Changing the Titles

Given that the weaknesses outweigh the strengths of these titles, I figured it was best to change hem. Especially as I am not as happy with the actual production as I thought I would be at this point, so the titles are something I can make completely my own and should hopefully counteract the negatives of the film itself, at least in my own mind if nothing else. Below are the stages I went through in order to change the titles so that some of the weak issues could be solved.

1. The first issue I hoped to solve was the font issue. My audience chose a font which was more unique and suitable to the theme of Christmas than the temporary one I chose. Seeing as it is the only audience-driven part of my titles, I thought it would be a good place to start which should hopefully lead me on to some other issues with my titles that I am not happy about. After changing the font of the titles to the chosen ‘St Nicholas’ font, I also changed the size and some of the positioning of my font, so that continuity is maintained. Below is how they looked after these changes were made:

This is the 'Redtree Pictures presents...' card. Admittedly, the 'Presents' is quite difficult to see in this picture, but it is slightly below the central blue line, towards the right.

Once I changed the font of this card, the positioning of the words seemed simply to far away. I centralised the words so that they look better and reflect the cosy, Christmassy feeling of the font.

This is the card I am probably most proud of. After changing the font, I also changed the sioze of the lettering, even on individual lettering such as the 'T' on The, the 'S' on Season and the 'J' on Jolly. I als rearanged the positioning of the words, so that the three most prominent words 'The' 'Season' and 'Jolly' were laregst, yet the title still fits in a regular rectangular shape, making it look more conventional. I also changed the colour of this title, as it is the main title and should therefore stand out more.

It was also brought to my attention that I do not have actor’s credits. I had planned for these to be overlaying the first scene, so that the title sequence would not last too long. However, I figured that there are enough problems with the opening scene of my film, without having distracting tiles at the bottom. I decided that therefore it would be best to incorporate them into the title sequence. They can be found below:

These are my actors titles. Ordering them was a difficult task. Uusally, actors are n=listed in order of appearance, prevalence within the film or their reputation outside the film. However, these are all actors with no widely-known reputation, and all have a relatively equal role within the film. I decided to order them in terms of which would look best aesthetically. Hence, the listing above, where all the names lie ina perfect diaginal line. Furthermore, this is the order that tje girls photos are arranged in in the photo I have selected for my film poster, thus up-keeping continuity.

Next, I wanted to solve the issues of dullness and boredom with my titles. New font and positioning or not, the titles are still relatively dull. On my rough cut titles, I had applied an entrance effect called Short Slow Left’, in which the titles slowly fade in towards the left and eventually bump into one another. I thought that I could apply this to all of my titles to maintain continuity and stave off dullness. Below is how the ‘Redtree Pictures presents’ and the ‘Scott Lampon Production’ cards looks, mid-effect:

'Redtree Pictures' production card, mid-effect

The 'Scott Lampon Productions' card, mid-effect.

However, I still thought that this effect was not enough to stop the title sequence being boring entirely, just as it was not in the rough cut. Although the font sums up the themes of my film quite well, I wanted to make it more obvious to the audience. Below are some of the ideas I considered:

  • Having a clip-art style picture of holly at the corner of each title
  • Having a string of lights at the top of each card, which possibly change colour
  • Change the effect on the titles to something more reflective of the themes.

I eventually decided that I liked the effect I had placed on the titles too much, as it reflected my themes well, to give it up. I therefore decided on an effect to complement the effect. I cam across a snow falling effect, which I thought would look good behind my titles. The effect on my titles very much mimics the effect of falling snow. Below is the clip which advertised this effect

I downloaded this clip and overlaid my titles ion top of it. This gave the impression that the titles were falling in the sky, just like the snow. Furthermore, the balck background of th falling snow efect emphasises the darker themes of my film whilst the snow itself obviously highlights the theme of Christmas.

Sound

This meant that the only remaining aspect of my titles was the sound. I had originally planned for the pieces to sound louder, and for a chorus to be heard during the titles playing, and during the first scene, the music would become quieter and sound as though it was playing on a radio in the background of the cafe. However, once again, the first scene has enough sound issues as it is, without the piece distracting from this. I decided just to play the pieve for as long as the titles lasted.

At this point, the titles with the production card stood at 32 seconds, and without the production card around 20 seconds. I only wanted the piece to play during the actual titles, not eh production card, so I had to choose a twenty second snippet of the piece to include in my production. I decided that the last chorus should be present, as it is the most musically complex, and also has a nice finish which will top off my titles. This would go towards the end of my titles, so I decided to fill up the first half of my titles with however much of the first verse as possible.

Afterwards, I edited the sound clip and laid it over the titles. I blended the two parts of the song together with a cross fade effect.

Finished product

Below is how my titles currently look. I don’t think I will make many changes to them , as I am very happy with them as they are. The only change I would consider making is a change in the length of the titles overall if it should become absolutely necessary. I think these titles dispel a lot of the weaknesses of the old ones, and are generally very successful.

[Video to be inserted]

Redtree Comes Into Season

Now that the majority of my film has taken the form of a rough cut, I thought I would be best to start working on other aspects of the film which do not involve the footage and require some of my own work. Namely, the titles and their accompanying sound. I thought I would start chronologically with the production card.

Planning the Production Card

When I was first planning this project, I thought I would have around two or three production cards or companies to increase authenticity and plausibility. However, given that my film is already quite long, and I don’t particularly have the time to create elaborate graphics or take a new picture for a new production card, I thought it best to stick to just the one.

Last year, I had created the faux production company, ‘Redtree Pictures’ as the producers of my social realism film. This production card was fairly basic, simply entailing of a picture I had taken of a tree during autumn time (so the leaves were red, hence, Redtree) and some titles which fell and faded into the foreground. It can be seen below in the first 7 seconds of this clip:

Although quite simple and basic, I think it is quite effective and is one of the few media-related clips I have produced which looks simple but not particularly amateur. I considered creating a new production company but realised that I might spend quite a long time trying to think of something new, which I might not even be particularly happy with once it is produced, by which time it may be too late to change. I thought it would be best to stick with Redtree, and merely tweak the parts of the production card I was unhappy with. I also thought that this way, I would be more aware of what the final product would look like, making audience research become less of a priority regarding this aspect of the production.

Rose-tinted Glasses

My main concern with the previous card was that the colour and clarity were not particularly sharp, and it did simply look like a picture taken by a media student for a project. I thought the best way to solve these problems would be to edit the picture in Photoshop. The following are te stages and effects I played around with.

1. The first thing I did was increase the sharpness of the photo by turning up the contrast:

2. I then wanted to bring out the red of the picture, but was unsure how best to do this. Below are some of the effects I played around with and some of the newly edited pictures I considered:

This effect was entitled 'Colour Burn'. I thought it would help bring out the darker themes later reflected in the film

This effect was entitled 'Lighten'. Although too psychedelic for my liking, I thought it contrasted the colours very successfully

This effect was entitled 'Overlay'. I thought it was more successful at contrasting the colours than the previous effect and the red colouring that it highlights is the exact red I was hoping to bring out

This effect was called 'Pin Light'. I particularly liked the shadow effect behind the tree. However, I disliked the red effect in the sky

3. I eventually decided to stick with what the Redtree Pictures production card did best: simplicity. I simply made any red within the picture brighter and bolder, so that hopefully this and the titles would be the most dominating and noticeable aspect of the card.

This was the final design I chose

Sound

One of my greatest weaknesses in media production is the sound aspect. As you may have noticed earlier when watching the Redtree card from last year, the music is very basic. Whilst I liked the music I used last year as it suited the mood and atmosphere of the card very well, something had to be done so that it did not seem so amateur, but so that it’s calm and simple status was maintained.

1. Firstly, I added a few notes at various intervals throughout the piece. I had also thought that the piece starts quite suddenly, contradicting its calm nature. I mostly added some notes at the beginning to overcome this issue.

2. The piece is mostly a hook, and in order to make it sound more astute and as it does in my head, I changed the pitch and volume of some of the earlier notes

3. I also felt that the previous piece went on for too long. To overcome this, I simply sped the track up ever so slightly

I edited the piece on GarageBand

Final Product

Below is a clip of the final product, and the card I intend to use on my production:

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