Sunday, 29 April 2012

Evaluation - Drafting Process

During the process of putting the film opening together we've had a number of different exported versions which have fixed bugs from the prior version, whilst bring newer, more exciting bugs to the table. By making "final" exports available at each step it has allowed us to acquire feedback from other people who have watched the film, allowing us to make improvements based upon said feedback.

Export 1

Well wasn't this successful? Turns out I wasn't that great at this whole export thing back then.

Export 2

After making creative decisions regarding the direction of the film, we decided to move away from the simplistic abstract genre and move towards the laddish comedy genre.

In seriousness, in this export you can finally get a reasonable idea of our story - three lads are leaving school when they find a wine bottle and start drinking.

Most of our decisions regarding what needed changing at this point were from internal findings on the basis that most of them are pretty obvious. It was clear that the glitches were a hugely annoying distraction which would need addressing, as was the fact that that diegetic sounds (primarily the dialogue) were too low to be heard. There were no title credits as of this point, and some of the colours needed correcting as they were too dark to fit the mood of the film.

Another major point is that the video in this export cuts out about 2 seconds early - again I will pin this down to the export method we'd used; after switching to using the "QuickTime Conversion" method in FCP in later exports this sorted itself out.

Export 3

Third try. By this draft we'd made a fair few different alterations from the original piece, and this was around the point when we started asking other members of the class and Sir for feedback on the film as it was coming along, and the most common suggestion for what could be better was the way in which some camera shots do seem a little unstable. Unfortunately this would have been impossible to fix as by this point Oliver had moved away up to Cambridge and so it wouldn't have been an option to get hold of him as and when we needed to reshoot certain shots.

Another suggestion we'd received prior to making this particular draft was to adjust the mixing of the non-diegetic vocal theme so that the bass could be hard more clearly - thankfully I do have a habit of keeping important files and so I had multiple backups of the master to work with at home, meaning that making this adjustment was literally a five minute job of changing the volume of the necessary tracks. (This master file was also employed to make the reworking of the theme I put in the outtakes video. I cannot apologise enough for that...).

A slight issue that popped up with this export: at around the 1:23 mark where it cuts to the close-up of the pole the consistency in the dynamics becomes a complete disaster - reason for this is because prior to exporting this we'd gone through turning the volume level up shot by shot to note down what was being said to send to Oliver for his overdubs, and I'd just plain forgot to turn that particular shot back down.

Export 4

The most apparent update here is that we've added the opening credit text to the drinking scene. When we'd first placed the credits down we'd used completely different timing, but after showing the WIP to others around us we received a suggestion that it'd be more effective if the titles cut in and out in time with the beat of the music. This made a lot of sense, and thus that is what you see in the above video.

In addition to this we've made use of the wireframe tool in FCP to shift the second and third shots around, making the door appear in the same place in each leaving us with an action match transition. As mentioned previously this was more of a spur of the moment idea on my part as opposed to an idea developed from feedback, but I'm glad we went with it because it looks much, much more aesthetically pleasing in my opinion.

From this point there was one clear part which still needed addressing - the sound. Specifically, the dialogue overdubs, as well as a sound effect for the scene where Oliver picks up the bottle. This would be addressed before the final export...

It's The Final Coursework

It's been a long rough road but we're finally here... this final piece tidies up the issues we'd had previously, but does bring with it some new things we've had to deal with...

These mostly relate to the sound. By this time we'd managed to get in contact with Oliver and he'd had time to record his overdubs for the dialogue, which was fantastic. Luke recorded his lines in the Mac room in a free period, but at that point we had no way of getting hold of Samir. Because of this, we had to resort to my unrehearsed voice acting, which I still find to be a bit uncomfortable to listen to.

The biggest problem here was mixing the volume levels consistently in a way which makes them seem natural and authentic in the scene - this was particularly difficult as me and Luke used different equipment to what Oliver used, which naturally made them come out at different raw volumes. The challenge was adjusting everything to be about consistent, whilst still leaving enough flow to sound like real conversation.

Another sound-based alteration we'd made was the addition of the sound effect which plays as Oliver picks up the drink bottle; originally we'd planned to use an angelic, choir type of sound, but after spending a great deal of time searching online for a CC-license sound effect it turned out that such thing does not exist. This led to us having no choice but to create our own. A quick change of mind led me to the decision to load up the piano musical typing setting in GarageBand, turn the reverb and echo options up to eleven and just play three notes (G chord shape) in quick succession to make a "magical" type of sound. I think this works quite well, and feedback regarding this from other members of the class seems positive regarding it.

There we go then... I still have a lot more evaluation work to post here, specifically regarding audience feedback, more media conventions references and some further references to our use of media technologies.



  1. My father-in-law has just suggested that there might be an intertextual reference here to the scene in 'A Clockwork Orange' where they are in the milk bar. He thinks the sound quality of the soundtrack is similar...obviously not the same genre, but interesting that a 60 year old has seen this link and thought of a gang of yobs intent on rape and murder* instead of how your intended audience might have responded to it. Was this something you were aware of? Was it intentional? I think it is an 18 so (adopts official sounding voice) although I'd never suggest breaking film classifications etc under the terms of the spec I can suggest such things. Have a word with your folks, see if they have a copy (it isn't a nice film, in case you weren't aware) and see if you can see some links. I was going to set an extension piece of evaluation where you had to do a postmodern analysis of your piece to identify all the remix elements and the like so this has tied in quite nicely.

    * The characters in ACO, not you guys personally, I hasten to add. Though they are straight off Daily Mail Island so might well also be secretly harbouring the suspicion you're all benefit scroungers who hate the queen and want to happy slap and may very well cause cancer**.

    ** for any readers unaccustomed to the conversations HM and I have, please be aware this previous asterisk is laden with irony and should not be taken at face value. Or with alcohol. Or at all.

    1. Hmmm... interesting. Is this - - the scene in question?

      If so I can definitely see where he's coming from in regards to the intense progression controlling the music itself, though the tone of said music is definitely far from. Thanks for pointing this out as the postmodernism reference part is definitely going to be my weak point for this; I'm sure you've noticed that I'm known for my film culture knowledge in the same way that Nickelback are known for their musical talent :D

  2. That is it. I agree, I think his terminology is a bit askance but really interesting that he saw your opening and immediately went for A Clockwork Orange. Though will have to do a few others on him as a control and just check he hasn't stored up a list on old films to try and meddle with us for his own sick amusement - 'Yeah, that film with the girl killing people, reminds me of Gone With the Wind that does' etc etc.