The camera … to shake or not to shake

Editing a documentary is proving to be rather a challenge.

It has been everything the opposite of a short film.
Here you go out, you film, you let the wind carry you. Sometimes you go nowhere, sometimes you go somewhere… And then you come back and you have all this stuff….

The curse of the digital age has to be an almost endless amount of storage, allowing for a great-deal less forethought.

But now, with all the footage one has to compile it, sort it, and label it just so it can be decided whether or not it is useful!
Some of it is great, some of it okay, some of it not… So what is useable, what is still okay?
Whatever helps you to communicate the contention of you story yes?

I’m not sure….
Having more then one person film means that essentially this story is being told through more then one set of eyes (here’s where the reality of why it’s best to make documentaries alone set’s in). Because each individual has their own manner of looking at things, if seeing, noticing, and therefore their own ideas about how others should see and notice what they see.

My question that I’m trying to arrive at here is: does it matter that the camera shakes? And that it does in some instances more then others?

Recently, the rise of DSLR’s, and mobile filming have made it easier for audiences to stomach a shakey-home-video-style camera. But maybe for a documentary it shows a lack of technical discipline. I’m not saying that every shot should always be set up on a tripod, but maybe we should arrive at a set of conventions as to how much shake is acceptable…


some thoughts on editing: we’re going soft

Adrian’s lecture this week focused on the medium of soft video, and the opportunities available to edit soft video – there are plenty of them…
At the base of it all, he highlighted that it is the need to understand the process that is editing, rather then knowing how to best use the software that is favoured at the time. That seems to me to be one of the central goals surrounding many of my core subjects , and it it the theory that surrounds a university education – it’s about being able to think, and then being able to do.

But, I digress,  back to hypertext, videos, quicktime and all that..

Maybe, I’m already an old fart: not keen on 3D TV, and unwilling to Kindle-it-up, but beyond all of that, I find it sooo difficult to edit text from a screen. That is why my blog is so informal, and probably, no definitely why it reads as a stream of consciousness sometimes. It is pre-meditated, but, in no way is it edited to the extent that I would edit a video, a piece of sound, or an academic-style essay.

I have problems with editing – it seems like such an infinite process.
I am unable to judge when a piece of work is good enough, rather then over-worked. My exam strategy was just to write, read over it quickly and then hand it up, unfortunately that doesn’t work so well in the real world. It has influenced my ability to procrastinate, leaving myself to bang out work at the last minute, letting the deadline motivate me to produce the best that I can.

I cannot deal with editing text on screen.
With video editing I can only ever work in short bursts, and need to change screens to get a different look at colours, and resolution.
When it comes to image, and especially anything working with colour I can only work for a short time without running around in circles and eventually I need to wear a blindfold to bed, it just gets that intense.
I always want to print out my work and look at it.
I want finite records and copies of how it was, what needed to be changed, and then how it was changed. The blog is not like this. An updated blog post does not show you the old one (at least not on wordpress anyway). I do take time and care in creating posts, but I don’t like to go through the process of editing the whole thing top-to-bottom once I’m done, instead adopting a paragraph by paragraph method which, according to the writings about academic writing is BAD. But this method, paragraph by paragraph, supports the post-industrial movement – some aspects more so then others (dirty, messy).
It will change, it can be updated, it’s to set in stone – but to what degree should it be fixed, can I do a complete 180 on my point of view?
– Is this method of breaking the boundaries just a way of sticking it to the rule book that suggests writing should be premeditated and edited?
– When do we go too far? When am I just becoming an apathetic tertiary student just going on about – what it is to be educated in society and the way the world is rapidly changing?
– Is a lack of structure simply being lazy? or is it more then that, is it about getting ideas out there, quickly?

And, what is the act of editing these days?  Regarding text, I feel it would be completely inappropriate, even disrespectful, to say that control-click on a word underlined with red dots can be classed as an act of editing.

the eyeline


It’s important to highlight some of the most important things I am learning in post production –  reaction shots, complimentary angles, having someone who could montior continuity, and eyelines. 
It makes a huge difference in the edit – even if some of the shots aren’t framed perfectly (in the shot-reverse-shot kind of way), a matching eyeline creates a flow between cuts. And, as has been pointed out, a cut is a very disjointed and shocking action. It breaks. 

ImageAs much as matching angles are important, I feel that matching the eyelines are moreso. They work with the complimentary angles – but still, you could match up the eyelines in a jumpcut.


Playing with the frame

I’m really keen to explore how creative we actually can be in post with re-using shots and finding new ways of telling the story – to make it stronger.Image

The scenes can be broken and intermingled, shots re-aligned and the timeline altered to strengthen the narrative.

Something that bogged me down in writing the script was creating runs of dialogue.
I did this mainly for the audition, but I liked it so much that I kept the long string of dialogue in the centre. I didn’t want the actors to have nothing to do. Now I feel like that has gotten in my way. I want to re-arrange the dialogue scene and break it up into smaller sequences.

thinking outside the square in post…

Looking over our footage yesterday, Paul suggested we just move some shots out of order – at first I was like wahhh but now I’m wondering why not?
Everything we’ve done seems almost overly logical, and in real time – it probably doesn’t need to be. Some ellipsis could be used effectively to enhance what is going on.

The narrative at this point in time functions in three very separate blocks (or acts if you want to use that term).

  1. The end of one of Bill and Linda’s shows – establishes them as magicians, and that the disappearing act is their final act.
  2. In the Van, in the carpark, Bill and Linda argue about their lifestyle.
  3. Bill gets his revenge on Linda.

Maybe it could be re-ordered – obviously it doesn’t have to be, but I think keeping an open mind about sequences that we can create and the order we can put them in is worthwhile.
I kept reminding Caley on set that we need to film what we planned, how we planned. Now, in post, watching the footage, thinking about how we really needed an establishing shot here, of this, it opens up a whole new way of doing things…

So many opportunities are available and I really want to experiment with changing the order. The story, as I’ve written it is so much in real-time – and I didn’t think about this when I was writing. I felt limited with dialogue and number of scenes possible with a five-page script. I felt that a short film needed to occur over a short period of time.
But, why not have several arguements in the car – each one can get more and more intense, and each one can build up to the final moments? I need to go and watch more films to better understand how we can use time to strengthen the characters.

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tee minus six and counting

It’s kind of really amazing how blinkered I can be. I didn’t even know it.
We’re shooting in six days and it seems like the world will end (or resume – which ever way you like to think about it), but we haven’t even discussed the editing process! 

One group member commented that it’ll all be pretty straight forward once the shoot is done. 
It’s going to be a big enough job sorting all the clips; deleting the duds and picking the highlights – which is why we need a really clear and concise shot list AND WE NEED TO STICK TO IT.

Editing is still not what it seems – and whilst many seem to think I have a grip on it (from the number of times I hire out keys to the suites) I really don’t think so!
We should, as a group share our Lenny EX#1 around to observe who has a feel for what.
Discussing the process will also be worthwhile. 

Lenny. numero uno.

Looking at students work is probably one of the most helpful things to do in terms of feeling like you can/can’t achieve that. It’s also easier then having to thumb your way through the number of weird and angst filled short films on vimeo.
They have been good to watch, don’t get me wrong, but there’s only so many short films about substance abuse that I can watch…

The Lenny exercise has opened my eyes up to the rhythm of editing. And filming. Whilst this was not a final piece, it goes to show how much of a difference shot construction and audio quality make.

Thinking about when you want cut to someone in the frame or entering/exiting the frame is important – they can begin out of frame, then move into frame however, this should not happen repeatedly, it gets boring, and it looks tacky.

The two mid-shots that were taken during the exercise proved difficult to cut up because the angle at which they were taken was too similar. I wanted to get some better looks at Lenny’s face, but they just weren’t there.

Also, the footage that we were given was very static in terms of camera movement. It was always people entering and exiting frame rather then the frame moving with them. I think, at times, we are encumbered by the tripod, feeling that the camera must remain on the tripod and therefore must remain still. (I guess one plus on DSLR’s is that they are easier to handhold – as long as you know what you’re doing with it!)