Reflection on Vox Pops:
Shooting the vox pops was an interesting introduction to on-the-go type of shooting methods. Scouting locations on the previous day helped us gain an idea of how our shoot might go, not just in terms of lighting and space but flow of traffic as well. Vital preparations included delegation of roles, printing out release forms and re-writing and rehearsing the given interview questions to a more conversational level – this helped us to save time on the day of shooting. The task itself seemed simple enough but when it came time to shoot some difficulties did arise. The first being security – although the previous Sound and Image class had completed the same exercise earlier that day, there had been some sort of communication breakdown for our group. As a result, our filming time was pushed back a few minutes. This was not a severe set-back but it did reiterate the importance of securing your location and permits prior, so as not to hold back your production schedule.
As an interviewer, I personally found it challenging to approach people to interview, tell them what our project was on, get them to sign the release forms and remember all the questions simultaneously. The main plan of attack was to approach people as if I were about to ask for directions – as per the example video shown in class – but ultimately the responses we received were hit-or-miss and depended on each individuals’ will to participate. I did find that approaching people without anything in my hands (ie. no formal, white sheets of paper, pens or clip boards in hand) usually resulted in a less suspicious reactions, even if they did decline to participate. Once a interviewee was in front of the camera, Pooya and Eddie (camera crew) would white balance, adjust camera height and refocus. I used this time to communicate to the interviewees what sort of questions I would be asking, and where to direct their eyes once the interview had begun. I found that letting them know that there were no wrong or right answers and that we were simply interested in their overall experience tended to elicit more relaxed responses. However, although I had asked each individual to pause before responding to each of my questions, the majority simply responded without pausing, as if they were having a conversation with me rather than as if they were being interviewed. As I was weary of their time constraints and of the fact that this was probably an unfamiliar setting for them, I didn’t press the matter much further though I probably would next time.
Another challenge was crew coordination. It had become very clear during the Lenny exercise that lack of synergy between audio and camera footage makes for tedious cataloguing in the post-production phase. However, in the rush of the moment – scrambling around to lure passersby toward the camera and endeavouring not to take up too much of their time – we often forgot to call “rolling” and “cut” between takes or at the same time. However, despite the struggles above, we did manage 6 or so interviews and I did get to see first-hand how vital gaffers are to a crew, as filming in such a busy area (library entrance) can result in many hazards.
Reflection on Edits:
Documentary Edit 1 – Fair To Wear Trailer
Fair to wear is a digital story I worked on for our CMWP class, which was based around Fairtrade certified clothing. I chose to use the footage from Fair To Wear for this Sound and Image exercise, as I thought it would be more useful for me to reflect on projects I’d had more of a role in. My role on the production was mainly as director, but I also did cinematography on some scenes and assisted with cataloging and synching of clips in Premiere. Therefore as I hadn’t had much of a role in editing the documentary itself, I thought I would try making a mini-video of the documentary as a trailer of sorts.
The full documentary was shot over six non-consecutive days and included one interview, a recording session with a narrator and four cameos featuring talent wearing fairtrade clothing. Taking into account each crew member’s various non-university-related commitments, we decided that as long as two of us were present at the time production could go ahead, which I felt was quite an efficient method. However, we had neglected to designate a folder for all footage and as a result cataloguing in Premiere was a bit of a process. As a result, certain files were found to contain visual footage but no accompanying audio, or the recordings had been placed in separate folders or duplicated in other folders on the server. Rest assured, this was a lesson learned.
Apart from this hiccup, putting the footage together went quite smoothly. Because I already knew my narrative, making a trailer that highlighted the key point of our digital story was a simple enough process. With a rough assembly already put together, I was able to play and shift certain clips around to see which culminated in the best or most fitting sequence. The documentary aimed to raise awareness about fairtrade in relation to clothing and urged viewers to think about and actively question where their clothing came from. I thought that having the narrator’s voice over support the trailer would help carry this message despite the 30 second length constraints. The video begins with a blurred visual of a girl walking over to her clothing rack, added in post is the sound of tweeting of birds to signify the morning as the narrater says “Every morning, you wake up and get dressed…”. I blurred out this scene in Premiere so as to draw viewers’ attention away from the background setting which I felt in hindsight was quite busy. I also played around with colour grading, however I found that some of our footage was quite grainy and that manipulating the levels too heavy-handedly would make it worse.
Documentary Edit 2 – SPOTLIGHT: Ivy Trailer
For my second documentary  I wanted to interview student filmmaker Ivy Mutuku on her latest documentary project; with the aim of exploring independent filmmaking from her perspective as a young, female, person of colour in the 21st century. I began by shadowing Ivy as she was filming her latest project, The Natural Movement. On the day she was interviewing Zarah Garbrah from the Embrace Your Frizzique collective, in a style similar to Cecile Emeke’s Strolling series. Filming in a fly-on-the wall style, I was able to observe Ivy’s communication with her subject and how she directed her cinematographer; her overall process; any issues that were to arise while filming, after which I interviewed her in a one-on-one/participatory manner in order to gain her sentiments on her filmmaking journey.
Canon 5d Mk iii camera
Canon 24-70mm lens
Sigma 50mm lens
Rode mic – attached to camera
H4N mic – for atmos and recording Ivy’s interview
Having an idea for how I would arrange my footage helped to inform what I would shoot, and helped me to avoid over-shooting. Such scene including walking shots, scenic shots, behind-the-scenes of Ivy in action, using a range of WS, MS, and CU; shots of her interview from a few different angles, and some hands shots to help minimise jump cutting. However, because of the observation style of the first part of my documentary, it was quite difficult to get high-quality audio when Ivy was filming. I could probably use a lapel mic next time, as this would allow me to record things like interview questions she asked Zarah, the dialogue between her and her videographer, and even sounds of laughter or frustration that could all be synched to my video in Premiere and help tell more of the story. I was able to remedy this by using the H4N mic to record clear audio of Ivy’s responses to my one-on-one interview questions. I then used Ivy’s audio to narrate the behind-the-scenes part of the video, which acted as an explanation of what was being seen on screen. I further compensated by tweaking up the audio from the camera/Rode mic so it was just audible enough for the viewer to gain an idea of what was going on but not be put-off by loud sounds such as aeroplanes in the sky, the calling of seagulls, the waterfall, wind blowing violently against the mic, etc. Overall, as this is my 2nds documentary in total, and first solo project, I was quite satisfied with the result.