Ian F. Hunt

Cinematographer and Filmmaker

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PPRD2 – The Essay

Essay

Personal Planning, Reflection and Development 2

This year has had its challenges, which have helped to concentrate and focus my thoughts in regard to the direction I’d like to take my future studies. I had until now thought that the technology was the most important aspect of the course and the challenge was to gain mastery of the development tools, but I now feel the tools should not be given such a high precedence. There is always a new tool already in development that simplifies the creative process replacing those in use today.  While it is useful to have these skills, it now, to me seems to be more important to concentrate on the development of my creative skills.

In this second year, which was progressing so well, two and half units completed, that is Performance Video and Future Cinema, both challenges successfully completed. The Professional Project was also going well with two videos satisfactorily produced and approved by the clients. Then came the next unit, New Perspectives for New Contexts, and suddenly the progress I felt I had made came to a resounding halt, a second year of disappointing marks and feedback. Writing a good quality essay still appears to elude me, but this only makes me more determined than ever to overcome this deficiency, as I am fully aware that this skill is essential for the final year where the dissertation forms a significant part of the degree.

Looking back to the first project and the first challenge of the year, the Future Cinema unit and idea development, the challenge was conceptualising an idea for Future Cinema that I could actually visualise being implemented in the real world but at the same time avoiding the obvious. The most obvious option would have been to work on a project involving 3D Visuals. However I felt that 3D should be avoided, as this is currently in Vogue and in Cinemas, and so this could hardly be a subject for Future Cinema. I personally think that our original conceptualisation suggested by Aleksandra, the enhancement of cinema sound, was ground breaking. The addition of two channels of binaural sound added to a cinemas 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound would add a whole new element to the cinematic experience. Providing the filmmaker the option to add a whole new dimension to their creation. I believe this project could be further developed and actually implemented in a cinema. However the project progress was not without problems, whilst I personally find working in a team satisfying I know it does not suit everyone and so for the first time a projects progress was being set back by a team members lack of involvement. This was resolved by re-assigning responsibilities and duties amongst the other team members. We then went onto to produce the project to a satisfying conclusion. At the time winning the praise of a lecturer from outside of our course, for the groups approach; its innovation, the experimentation, testing and in the development of a new concept for audio in film. We all learned something new from this unit from the advantages and disadvantages in working in a team and to look beyond developing projects based on visuals alone, which up to this point had usually been the most significant element in any preceding unit.

Armed with this new belief in our personal abilities to innovate and experiment, the group, working together, set about tackling the next unit, Performance Video. The idea was to design an interactive video/audio sequence, although not ground breaking, would have its challenges. I took on the responsibility for producing the interactive element of the project. I decided I would like to base the design around the Kinect as the central technology. Having not seen a Kinect before other than in pictures this really was something new, a real challenge for my technical abilities. Whilst this project was allocated the same amount of time as the previous one, I distinctly felt the pressure of the time passing due to the heavy workload. There appeared to be so much extra to research just to be able to get the project started, for example preparing the computer to be able to connect with the Kinect and then to go on and develop an application from scratch that could control the sound and video seemed impossible in the allocated time. With the deadline rapidly approaching and the seemingly unbridgeable gulf between what I had so far created and what was needed for completion. Then I had a real epiphany generated out of a meeting with Liam and other students, I reasoned the solution would be much simpler than I had originally thought. The missing element involving writing a simple mathematical expression, which I slotted into place and the project, completed. I felt again that positive feeling, the satisfaction of successfully completing another unit. The core of this project is the ability to control video and sound interactively just by hand and other body movements and with some further development this could be used in an Art installation. However, even with the positive feeling I’d gained from completing the project, I did feel somewhat disappointed with the final assessment, when it was deemed we had developed a means for creating a Performance Video rather than a Performance Video itself. Had we misinterpreted the brief?

Moving onto the Professional Project it was felt that we should break up the team, moving us out of our comfort zone. However I continued to work with Aleksandra as our interests complimented each other. I wanted to test myself in the Directors role and produce short films with a 2012 Olympics theme and Aleks wanted similar experience as a Producer. The first project was with an AUCB student, Paul Oluyemi who is sponsored by the AUCB for the Olympics and then the second project with Jo Gardner from AUCB Arts and Events and is the 2012 South West Inspire Programmer/RELAYS Cultural Coordinator. We contacted Paul, arranged a meeting with him and pitched to him the idea of producing a video from one of his training sessions, which I felt went very well. Then a meeting with Jo to discuss how we could be involved in the RELAYS project. From this initial meeting we offered to produce a video record of the Art of Sport Festival to be held in May, however as this was sometime away we also offered to produce videos of events leading up to the festival.

I visualised what I wanted to achieve from these two assignments, first we filmed an evening training session using the storyboards and shot lists we had created. Then we began to think of additional visuals we might add to enhance the narration, for example positioning the camera low at the start of the jump to capture Paul against the night sky as he jumped. We then began experimenting with the camera, for example using the focus to create a Bokeh effect of the stadium lighting. Then there was the challenge of storytelling using purely visuals. The original plan was to use a voiceover but we discarded this idea in favour of using the strong visuals themselves to tell the story. We both felt this element of the project had gone well, both of us producing our own video edits, both telling the same story but from different perspectives. I thought this was my best video work so far and was really looking forward to the next project. Why did I think this was my best work? I really think it was due to us getting the final video to look as close to what I had originally visualised. Usually there are compromises, but in this case I really felt we had got what we were aiming for first time and therefore deeply satisfying.

The next challenge, ‘The Mini Art of Sport Festival’ and forming a part of the RELAYS project and the preparations for the May Festival. This we decided would be a documentary on the organisation with voiceover for onscreen visuals. Filming a documentary was a new and challenging experience. From the video recorded on the day I produced four edits including designing the opening and end credits from Logos supplied by the client. Although I will never be totally satisfied with what I had achieved as the final edit will be decided by the client, I do feel this project is going well and have enjoyed the learning process thus far.

Regarding the third year and beyond, I have several interests that I will have to choose from to develop in the third year. I intend to make what term time I have left and use of the summer break to consider which will be the best of these to take forward. My choices though are all based upon a central interest in producing education and training tools, for example by creating a series of subject related videos or to look at an interactive method of delivery, possibly developing an App to run on the iPad, to this end I have already begun to investigate relevant development tools that is InDesign and IBook Author.

I hope to get some work experience in an education or training environment to determine if this is a possible future career path with opportunities for work satisfaction and personal growth.

Finally I’ve also decided that I would like to investigate the opportunities to continue in education following the completion of my Degree that is working towards an MA or even higher degree with the caveat of finances and time permitting.

Word Count 1595

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PPRD2 – Reflective Writing Exercise & Questionnaire

Personal Planning, Reflection and Development 2

Reflective Writing Exercise
Anonymous – Message to the American People

A parody of the film V for Vendetta released in 2006 by James McTeigue.

The central character of this YouTube video using the same mask as the central character in the film, which is now a symbol for revolution and rebellion against government and corporations around the world. The videos style simulates a CCTV broadcast image with simulated lines that were a feature of television broadcasts displayed on old vacuum tubed televisions. The narration disguised and generated electronically, two voices in unison. The screen character wears no hat but there is the outline of one simulated and which is similar to the one worn by the films character V. The symbol in the top left of the screen very similar to the one used by the United Nations suggesting that they should be considered in parallel a United Organisation against the establishment.

The whole video seems to represent a professional organisation but at the same time generates a feeling of menace throughout, the semiotics in the message designed to do just that. We are anonymous; we are watching you, big brother all these messages are in this video. This is a warning directed against the establishment, we are watching you and will react based on what you do next. The two voices one female the other male confuses but could also suggest gender is not a factor or could be seen to suggest this is a common message targeting both genders – in unison. This is a powerful video and instilled into me the desire to investigate what was behind this message and to attempt a similar video project myself purely for creative reasons and by it generate the same emotional response.

The Truth

This is my video, which I created in direct response to the one by Anonymous. I based my video design on an old television program called Dark Angel where a central character in the program (Eyes Only) used a similar technique to broadcast messages exposing government secrets or acts against the people. I filmed my own eyes in close up while reading from an excerpt taken from the V for Vendetta script. The visuals effects used included grain with artifacts to break up the picture, simulating a CCTV transmission. I also added a videotape position/time counter to give the video the look of a CCTV recording being played back. Another visual effect was to create the letterbox style mask so that only the eyes can be seen. The final touch was to disguise the voice, I used the Mac’s Voiceover Utility to read back the script excerpt using one of the female voice options.

While not entirely happy with the visuals, as I would have preferred to use someone else’s face for the close up. I am however happy with the overall result, the music track I’d chosen working well with the visuals to help create a feeling a of menace similar to the anonymous video. The overall message of the video is very also similar in tone to the anonymous video. Sharing a link, both with the anonymous video and with the film V for Vendetta, by using the words from the films script.

To summarise while I believe my video is not as successful as the anonymous video in creating the same feeling of menace it comes close and while I may not feel the full emotional benefit having produced the video and being aware of all the elements used in the production, to an outsider this video may have the same effect.

 

PPRD Questionnaire

 

  1. My previous work experience has included a range of roles in a number of industries but none in the Digital Media industry. However the skills and experience gained are hopefully fully transferable and will greatly benefit me when seeking employment in the Media Industry in whatever role I choose in the future. At this time I have still to decide what role this will be but in the short to long term I am seriously considering continuing in education doing a postgraduate course rather than immediately seeking employment although I will certainly have to supplement my grant by working part time. Therefore some part time work in a Media related industry would be ideal.
  2. I have enjoyed all the project work carried out on the course so far the only possible exception being the project using Maya. The projects with a Video production element have been the most interesting and I have enjoyed Post Production particularly using Premiere Pro and After Effects. Bearing this in mind Post Production work would be of most interest for a future role although that may be me just choosing the safe option, as technical challenges are something I’m very familiar with and I am used to solving.
  3. I am unlikely to consider moving out of the geographical area in the short to medium term and so I will only be looking for local work or consider setting up my own company in the local area. The type of job may be working for a Video Production company or setup my own. I have discussed this with friends and family and they have convinced me that I should consider a career in education or training, something that I had not personally thought of before but now that I have, I think I could be interested in that role particularly if it combines a technical aspect that is also of interest to me.
  4. I would like to assume more responsibility in future projects and so I would welcome project management roles. I am interested in anything technical in the New Media Industry and I continuously research these areas on a regular basis. I do however get easily sidetracked and could easily spend hours working on and solving a technical challenge not related to the project in hand. I would welcome any time spent on using Project Management tools, which I plan to do for the Professional Project Unit.
  5. I have already begun to develop a number of contacts outside of the University, unfortunately they currently all seem to want the services I can provide free of charge and so this needs addressing for the future. I know I have a problem charging a fair rate for my services and quite often offer discounts when none have been asked for. For example I have friends employed in Education who have suggested that I start a training company as they think I have the skills to train people particularly in technical subjects (Computer Related).
  6. I refer you to my answer to question one; I have successfully functioned in a variety or roles as both an individual and in a team on a project. I can liaise successfully with clients at all levels and have worked overseas, successfully overcoming language and working barriers to complete major projects on time and on budget. I have a range of core skills, which I have added to whilst at University. I consider myself a very technical individual and given time I can successfully adapt to new technologies and applications. I have run my own businesses for over 20 years and I have a range of business skills for example I’ve secured Funding for a business, setup accounting practices and employed and managed teams of people.
  7. I need to understand what if any differences there are in running a Media Business compared to the Businesses I’ve run in the past. I suspect there are many differences mainly related to the type of customer I would meet and their requirements. Although my time in the professional Theatre Industry means that I have experience of working and relating well with people in the creative industries.
  8. I have secured my own domain name and designed my Blog to act as a Portfolio of my work completed while at College and University. At some point I will develop a separate showcase of my work specifically for prospective clients to view online.
  9. In the short term my portfolio has attracted over 37,000 hits since going live in May 2011, I’m hoping this will eventually produce a work related contact, which will lead to paid for work in the Media Industry.

10. Not easy to answer this question, as I not ready to commit to a specific role in industry, for example I am seriously considering remaining in education on the completion of the course. I therefore plan to investigate postgraduate education choices.

 

  1. a.     Short Term

i.     Investigate postgraduate education MA or PhD courses

ii.     Employment in Education PCGE course

iii.     Part time opportunities for media related work

iv.     Setup a Media Company

v.     Seek industry awards by entering work into competitions and festivals

 

  1. b.    Long term

i.     Establish my name in the Media Industry

ii.     Earn a living as a Digital Media professional

iii.

 

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