Author Archives: petra303

In preparation for my role as editor, I borrowed and read Roy Thompson and Christopher Bowen’s second edition of The Grammar of the Edit. I had some experience with the technical side of editing, I mean to say that I knew how the software worked physically; how to splice, trim and reposition clips into a sequence.

The Grammar of the Edit became my manual on everything I needed to know before tackling the daunting task of editing something substantial for the first time on Avid Media Composer which has a notorious reputation for being more complex and less user friendly than Adobe Premier Pro and Final Cut Pro.

It described to me the various cuts and encouraged me to try more adventurous ones which all facilitated in the creation of meaning via the edit for example, the concept edit which involves having two or or more shots which, “when joined together in the narrative at a certain point, will convey a mood, make some dramatic emphasis, or even create an abstract idea in the mind of the viewer.”

I used this technique in the kitchen scene to create a sense of foreboding before Megan starts to stir the soup. The combination of Sophia saying “stir it while I go get the pepper” over the shot of the gas flame on the hob before cutting to a close up of the father should work as a visual metaphor for something bubbling away under the surface about to go wrong.

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Propp, V. (1928) Morphology of the Folktale. Second edition. Translation by USA: American Folklore Society and Indiana University. (1968) Available from: [Accessed 27th March]

It is a well-known fact that a large amount of traditional fairy tales or folk tales follow a very well established, easily identifiable narrative structure. Many of these stories originally started orally as tales which were told to children to teach them valuable life lessons about cultural beliefs: obey your parents, don’t be selfish etc. and these themes would run throughout the protagonist’s internal and external quest.

Vladimir Propp was a Russian theorist and folklorist who has had an extremely large influence on modern culture as well as other scholars such as Ronan Barthes and Levi Strauss. He had a very precise and regimented way of deciphering Russian folklore. His theories are based largely on narrative structure and character functions which (although originally were applied to folklore) can easily be applied to all types of text or film.

A term that Propp uses very often in Morphology of the Folktale is diachronic, which means that the audience experiences the story with the protagonist, Gretel, and we are tailoring our app version of the game to stick with this idea so that our audience feel like they are embarking on the journey too. He also states that many tales actually “proceed from a certain situation of insufficiency or lack” which works with our take because lack is the catalyst in both the original story and our recreation: the family is poor so the children are abandoned, Gretel needs to collect 100 magic beans, Hansel is starving which is why he eats the witches’ house.

Sweet Hostage both follows and differs from Propp’s morphology of the folklore (see chapter II, The Functions of Dramatis Personae). When writing the detailed version of the storyline, we wanted to keep the general structure as true to the original tale of Hansel and Gretel as possible but more importantly, we wanted to break the typical fairy tale conventions to adapt it to modern day culture. For example, Hansel is still the one to be tempted (not by a gingerbread house but by the narcotic, porridge) and Gretel is the one that saves the day. However, we have taken the idea of Gretel saving the day and elongated it to be the main storyline, rather than just the climax.

As well as keeping the general structure of the tale the same, we also wanted to break fairy tale conventions in order to add to the humour and modernity of Sweet Hostage. For this reason, there is no Propp-style romantic interest as reward at the end because Gretel sets out to rescue her careless brother and overthrow the evil witch. We have developed Gretel to fit the hero archetype to fit in with present day and turned the ‘Damsel in distress’ convention on its head with Hansel locked in the (metaphorical) tower with Gretel being the one to fight her way to him.

Pratten, R. (2011) Getting Started in Transmedia Storytelling: A Practical Guide for Beginners. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Available from: [Accessed 10th February 2015]

Getting Started in Transmedia Storytelling is the essential guide to creating a successful, captivating transmedia experience. It guides you through every process of production, teaching you vital lessons about story, platforms, audience etc. It was chapter 2.4.1 and 2.4.2 which I found the most valuable as it was something I was least confident and had the least experience with, ‘Audiences – Identifying and Understanding Them.’ Due to the advance in 2.0 web, audiences have changed the way they interact with media, the traditional hypodermic needle model for media consumption is redundant now as people chose what information they digest. People watch, listen to, and play what and when they want to – if we as creators, transmedia storytellers, can’t immediately grab the attention of our audience, then no excitement will be generated by our product. We need to think, in a world where everyone has access to hundreds of thousands of games at their fingertips, why would they chose to play our game?

Pratten’s advice about identifying and understanding your audience went into depths I didn’t even realise were relevant. His two key steps to delivering a relatable and compelling story are 1. Identify your audience 2. Understand what turns them on. He then goes into explaining what you should consider when identifying your audience, e.g. age, occupation, social goals, when, where and how they watch films and listen to music. After reading this section, I set about incorporating examples from his list to write a few audience profiles of people who I think would be likely to be involved in our transmedia project, ‘Sweet Hostage.’ Although you can’t exactly describe the people that would play this, you need to have a rough idea of what makes people tick, so that when it comes to showing your product to a focus group they aren’t merely going to respond with ‘I just don’t like it’ etc.

The advice that Pratten gives about audience relates directly to the topic of platforms. Without understanding the people we want to market our product to, we will be unable to use platforms appropriately to get our content across to the target audience. He says that first and foremost, you need to ‘consider the audience’s lifestyle’ and gives a good example, “If you’ve got a story appealing to single parent families, is it likely that they will attend live events?” I took on these ideas and found that our audience are far more likely to be accessing games and other interactive content while on the go via mobile devices, therefore all the platforms we are using (YouTube, Tumblr, game app, twitter) are available on tablets and smartphones to suit the demands of the audience. Our aim is for the transmedia experience to be easily integrated into people’s lives and fit with their lifestyle whether they’re tweeting Little Red’s Rebellion on the bus or tuning into the witch’s political statement on their break.

Jameson, F. (1991) POSTMODERNISM, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Duke University Press: Durham, NC. Available from: [Accessed 12th February]

During the research and pre-production stage of creating our transmedia project, it came apparent that Sweet Hostage was becoming a patchwork quilt of various themes and tropes based around the whole fairy tale genre. The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of parody is “an imitation of the style of a specific writer, artist or genre with deliberate exaggeration” and its definition of pastiche is “an artistic work consisting of a medley of pieces imitating various sources”, but Marxist and literary critic, Fredric Jameson reinvents these terms to highlight the movement in film and media from a modernist to a postmodern society.

Jameson believes that in the current postmodern culture, it is impossible to create anything new, that “stylistic innovation is no longer possible” and that postmodern culture is a simple regurgitation of past quotations. This is how he describes pastiche and an example of the postmodern pastiche in film is Star Wars (1997) which he describes as a nostalgia film, which the adult public can use to gratify a craving to relive the nostalgia of their past. Reading POSTMODERNISM, or, The Cultural logic of Late Capitalism alongside this module has helped me to always keep the theme of postmodernity in the back of my mind so that whenever we were creating something together, I would always be trying to think of ways to add to the pastiche effect like deciding the name or logo for an organisation to add in more fairy tale tropes.

It would be cool to be able to call Sweet Hostage a nostalgic transmedia experience and we would hope that both adults and children can play the game, watch the videos, tweet the characters and feel like they are reliving a small piece of their childhood. As well as introducing easily identifiable fairy tale characters such as goldilocks (Goldee), the wolf (Mr. Wolfe), Hansel and Gretel, Little Red etc. we have also brought in ideas from nursery rhymes (three blind mice) and fables (the magic porridge pot, porridge being the main contraband in the forest). We wanted to use lots of concepts and themes from various fairy tales to create familiarity and add humour in a similar way that The Simpson’s pull off when they collaborate with other popular cartoons. I feel as though creating this patchwork quilt, “cannibalisation of the past” (Jameson), would reach out to a wider target audience that just the original 14-21 year old age range because there are so many elements to it that I think anyone can relate to it and hopefully find the humour in it (despite Jameson’s cynical description of the pastiche form and how it lacks sense of humour).

I built the tension by beginning with longer edits starting in the kitchen (to introduce the characters we empathise with the most first) and cutting to the father occasionally in the other room pruning the rose bush. Then I started cutting down the length of each shot while bringing in more shots of the father as he becomes increasingly more agitated, this should be alerting the viewer that somethings about to happen. When the scene progresses the cuts get rapid and repetitive until the father chops the rose clean off to which I juxtapose with the moment the soup spills; the catalyst for the event that follows.

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The match on action cut symbolises Jack’s mounting rage hit climax as he runs out of patience while the soup symbolises the damage he is causing his wife and daughter.

The contrast between the two images is intended to cause unease. You’re introduced to an aesthetically pleasing image: a perfectly bloomed rose in sharp focus with shallow depth of field. Just as it’s chopped, this shot is replaced by the sight of a disgustingly coloured splat going across the floor in slow motion.

Although I didn’t plan this in the shot list, it was something that sprung to mind during the two days shooting. We were always going to have both of the scenes, but intertwining them together in this way was something that happened naturally in the edit.



After uploading the first draft of (currently) “Untitled”, the feedback I received over the internet from Mat and Pa trick was generally positive with no major changes. However, the main point still needs to be addressed – how are we going to show that Sophia has poisoned Jack? We have footage of Jack realising that he has been poisoned as he finds a berry on the table. Is this clear enough? Too clear? And how do we use the fairly limited footage we have to avoid being too ambiguous? We may need to schedule a couple of pick up shots.

The reason I haven’t incorporated the shots of Jack’s realisation scene into the edit at this point is because I wanted the opinion of the others first and I think the ideas I get from them will be better if they watch it without it first, it should get a more instinctive response as they wont be having to think abstractly and out of context.

“I really like the pacing when Megan grabs the broom and knocks the plant over gives it a more tense feel but I think the Father enters a bit quickly and doesn’t allow time for the girls to react to what Megan did.” – Patrick Royall

I agree 100% with this point, the scene was quite a struggle to edit as it was the first one I did and I was still getting to grips with all the ins and out of AMC. By the time I finished the first cut, and put all the sequences together, the earlier mistakes and shaky edits became more apparent. Realistically, Jack would not have had time to respond to the sound of the bonsai tree and rush to the room as quickly as he manages in my edit. Instead of having Jack shout “Megan!” instantly, I will use Patrick’s aerial shot of the smashed tree and try to find some more reactions to create a tense moment before Jack rushes to the scene.



As we got all filming over and done with by the 23rd March, I want to get the editing process started as quickly as possible. Although there is a two week Easter holiday, I am going to spend it editing because I am using Avid Media Composer which is a software that I have limited experience with so I want to give myself plenty of time to get to grips with it.

I learnt the basic splicing process in UWE workshops but really started learning the ins and outs of the software by watching YouTube tutorials posted by Creative Cow while following step by step.

After completing the offline edit and writing notes on each take, I was able to start editing together a time line. I decided to edit each scene as a different sequence, meaning that I can work on each scene independently before putting them all together so that Avid runs smoother and there is not so much clutter in the workspace.

When reviewing the footage after the shoot, it was clear that we had undershot. We were extremely tight for time on both of the days and were always behind schedule as the schedule was disregarded and production stalled frequently. Several key shots had not been framed proficiently so I spent a lot of time adding nesting effects which enabled me to rescale and adjust some shots which saved a few. Other takes could be cut away from just before (for example) a light came into shot.