Category Archives: Production diary

Media Futures documentary analysis

Today we presented our finished media futures documentary in front of our class peers. We each spoke about our roles, what we wanted to achieve and what we thought we could have done better. I spoke about how we wanted to create a ‘show don’t tell approach’ by not using a voiceover and the types of equipment I used to film the interview and cutaways.

I realized while watching our own work and the other group’s work that our documentary lacked substance due to the fact that on watching it, it seemed like a stylised interview with intermittent cutaways, rather than a documentary, or maybe a snippet from a longer documentary. Next time, I am aware that we need to put together a comprehensive, detailed shot list as one of the first tasks so we are all aware of what we need to shoot and how much we need to shoot.

I am, however, mostly with how it turned out. The interview went really well and, visually, I think it’s really interesting. The fact we filmed our interview on two cameras (both DSLRs) gives it a dynamic feel, with one static camera and the other one capturing different angles of James Dalby speaking, annotating with his hands and different shots of the library where we hosted our interview. I noticed that this was a technique that no one else had used, which made me feel proud of us as a group.

We weren’t too keen on the idea of a formulaic, chronological documentary with a perfunctory narration over shots of the Clifton suspension bridge, so we instead went for a different style, which was fun to work with but possibly slightly ambitious at this point as our first production. Still, I would rather try something new and a little different and learn some valuable lessons than sticking with what we know. I like to be ambitious in my work, and if it doesn’t come out prefect first time then at least I can identify what can be done better next time.

The things I didn’t like about how the final edit turned out was the fact that the music that decided on during the editing process was too upbeat and loud to go along with the interview. In some parts it looked as though our interviewee, James Dalby, was almost rapping along with the music, giving the overall interview a strange, slightly humorous feel. I also felt as though the footage of the interview could have been edited together better because in some parts we had the audio from one clip being played over another shot of Dalby speaking – the class and panel mentioned this in their feedback to us after watching our documentary.

Next time, I also think we need to have better communication with our interviewee. I think that the reason he struggled with answering our questions directly was because he had hardly been briefed beforehand. It will remain a priority next time, to give our interviewee a full detailed description of what our documentary is about and what we are trying to find out from him.

Overall, though, I do really like the look of our documentary and for a first production, in such a big group (nine of us), I think we pulled it off well.

Progress update – editing

Today I watched the (almost finalised cut) and it has posed a few concerns. I feel that we may have undershot cutaways and unfortunately, a few of my shots hadn’t been included in the edit. We have loads of great shots of our interview and a few of Bower Ashton but I feel that we should have gone out around Bristol more together, collecting a variety of intriguing cutaways to intertwine with the interview. I feel that next time, we will now to create a detailed shot list that we decide upon and create together as soon as we give out production roles. I am, however, really impressed with the documentary visually. The setup in the library works really well and I’m glad we used the sofas and lights to our advantage.

Editing

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 21.05.17

Today was our first proper day of editing. At first we tried to use Avid in the editing suites on campus but we had a lot of issues importing our files and it was going to take a very long time to get anything done, so instead we used Adobe Premier pro at Aaron’s place. It was a shame that we couldn’t use the specified and preferred software but at least we were confident we could get it done this way.

We used the sound commentary that Pete created to sync the audio with the video. This was useful because it meant we didn’t have to spend as long as we might have on finding the useable diaScreen Shot 2014-11-29 at 21.05.37logue because Pete had already put it all together in one file with captions. Now that we have the audio and visuals of the interview synced up, next time we meet we will be able to add the rest of the cutaways and music.

Time lapse of the bear pit

This is an unedited, rough copy of a time lapse I did yesterday in the centre of Bristol. In our documentary, we wanted to highlight how large and small companies work alongside each other in Bristol. I think this bit of footage represents this well because it shows a small green grocers in front of Debenhams. Unfortunately, I had to cut the filming short so I wasn’t able to get the complete transition between day and night but I am happy with the moody, rolling clouds.

Progress update – filming cutaways

Today I went down to the harbour side to do a time-lapse of the fountains as one of our establishing shots for the beginning of our documentary. I also got a couple of shots of the Watershed at night, capturing its reflections in the water and the lit up areas around it. I thought these could serve well as cutaways while James mentions the Watershed in our interview.

Progress update – reviewing footage

After reviewing the footage, we realised that James Dalby’s answers weren’t as direct and informative as we first thought. Although he was very interesting, each question we asked him about media companies in Bristol, he tended twist his answer to be about himself and his work at then BBC which, unfortunately, was not what we were after.

Luckily, we did get over half an hours worth of footage, so we were able to pick out plenty of useful and relevant answers and opinions.