Ian F. Hunt

Cinematographer and Filmmaker

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Photography – Photoshop using Motion Blur

Wednesday 22nd June 2011

I’ve been following the Tutorials in Digital SLR Photography magazine July 2011 – this months is about using Motion Blur

I’ve got 100’s of photographs of cars and they mostly are all taken using a fast shutter speed so regardless of whether they have been shot static or while on the move the image is of a snapshot frozen in time. There’s no sign of movement in any of them.

I’ve just discovered a use for Blur in Photoshop, something I’ve had little use of in the past as I could think of no reason why you’d want to make a picture appear out of focus?

I started with a static picture of my car, which I actually shot on my driveway, one of the pictures I used in the HDR post see ‘My First Attempt at HDR’

First job is to duplicate the background layer so that you can always go back to the starting point if it goes wrong and you can quickly look back to see the original before any changes have been made.

Honda Civic - Photoshop using Motion Blur

Honda Civic - Photoshop using Motion Blur

The next job is to carefully go around the car using the Polygonal Lasso Tool then Invert your selection as it’s the background that you are going to be working on. The next stage is create a new layer for this background using Layer via copy option. Now you get to add the Motion Blur by going into Filters and selecting Blur and Motion Blur.  The default Blur settings seemed a bit too much so I dropped my settings down to an 8 which seems to look just right for me. Already it looks like car’s moving really quickly, the cars itself is still in perfect focus but the background appears to be streaking by.

Now for the wheels, I used the Circular Marquee tool to select the wheels and then applied the Radial Blur option but again I reduced the amount this time down to 5. I then repeated this for the front wheel and the job appears to be done. The once static picture of a car now looks like a panning shot of a passing car.

Ok it’s not perfect – there’s no driver in the car and if you look through the windows the greenery in the background is in sharp focus, but to the casual observer they’ll probably not notice this.

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Work Placement – The Report and Website Design Project

Website Design

1.0 Introduction

Work Experience at LifeStyle Computers


The Agreement:

4 Workstation computer network

Fig.1. A 4 Workstation computer network

Following an in class meeting with Liam it was agreed that I would document my work experience while working at LifeStyle Computers for a 10-day period, commencing Monday 9th May to Friday 20thMay 2011.

LifeStyle Computers is a small company forming part of the TOGA Group Partnership, specialising in Computer Network Installations for the Business and Public Sectors. LSC is a preferred installer for 2 large national retailers of home technology.

Home Theatre Installation

Fig1.1 Home Theatre Installation

The type of work we do is varied and can be anything from a simple home PC or MAC installation up to and including a large computer network or Media installation. We do not do as many Home Media installations as we’d like to do, by this I mean Home Cinema systems incorporating a projector, large LCD screen and sound system all controlled by a central device a configurable control panel able to control a variety of devices including the Lighting, Audio, Video and sometimes a Media System PC.LSC has full Public Liability Insurance a Health & Safety Policy and is registered with the Data Protection Agency.


2.0 Organising and Planning the Working Week

I generally Log into my job listings account at the beginning of the week and see the available jobs for the week, which I can accept of reject as I choose, usually depending on the type of work, location and price. I also have to factor in our own work commitments and any long standing service arrangements we have.Typically I am only able to accept only one or two jobs a day from these job listings due to other commitments.This is an example list of the sort of jobs we can expect to receive at any one time. There is another list, which relates to the Audio Visual installations including Home Cinema set-ups and large screen TV installs.

Online weekly work order listings

Fig 2.0 Online weekly work order listings

In addition the company also receive new jobs orders by email on a daily basis. We can also choose to accept or decline these depending on workload. We also receive a number of calls each day from new and existing customers seeking a new PC or Laptop, support and/or upgrades that we manage to fit in around all the other work. We produce quotations for Small to Medium Network Installations on a regular basis. As you can imagine sometimes the workload can be overwhelming and therefore we pass work onto our business partners or engage contractors when required.

 


3.0 Typical working day

For example my typical working day would consist of two or more site visit’s usually to customers homes. When a customer buys a new computer from a major High Street retailer they will have also purchased installation and setup services, which we provide on behalf of the retailer. Todays first job was to setup an HP laptop, connect to the Internet and then transfer settings and data from the customers old PC using Microsoft’s Transfer Wizard.

Windows Transfer Wizard

Fig 3.0 Windows Transfer Wizard

In the afternoon I unpacked and setup an iMac, this was 1 of only 2 that I’d worked on this year. Macs are still not that common outside of the Media Industry. The customer was especially pleased when I also set up his email, backups and instructed him on how to use some of the pre-loaded MAC applications. (The customer completes a feedback form at the end of the visit)


4.0 Working on Accounts – The VAT Return

One of my regular back office jobs is to chase any outstanding invoices, complete the accounts and submit a VAT return to HMRC. I have designed a range of office processes and documentation, which makes this job relatively easy to do. One of these is my Quarterly VAT sheet which I use to record all my Outputs (that’s money coming in) and my Inputs (that’s my expenditure), which sounds the wrong way round but this ties in with HMRC’s VAT Return. The VAT sheet is automated, by this I mean as I manually enter the separate figures the totals and VAT amounts are automatically updated. This process continues until the last figures have been entered and then the totals in the 3 Boxes at the bottom of the sheet Output, Inputs and Payable can then be entered onto the HMRC VAT Return. Of course these days I now do this online.

Quarterly VAT calculator - Excel Workbook

Fig 4.0 Quarterly VAT calculator - Excel Workbook


5.0 Website Design

5.1 Design Choices

Website Design - WordPress Logo

Fig 5.0 Website Design - WordPress Logo

I decided that while I’m on a work placement with LifeStyle Computers that I would look at some long standing web projects and take the opportunity to research and prototype a new Website Design for the company. For me this new Website Design must make use of my new familiarity with WordPress, having used it over the last year to Blog and document my work during my first year at University. So it was an easy choice to look at using this platform for the basis for a new company Website Design.

Fig 5.1 Lifestyle Computers current website screen shot

Fig 5.1 Lifestyle Computers current website screen shot

One off the great things about Website Design uasing WordPress is that it is easy to test your Website Design online by opening a free account and picking one of the 100s of Themes (Website Design’s) to help you get started. When it comes to Website Design I tend to want to get something up and running very quickly and then go back and re-design/modify the Website Design rather than start with a blank sheet and map out a Website Design from scratch. I know the latter choice should be the preferred way to Website Design but it’s not my way of doing things.

Fig 6.0 WordPress Dashboard - Screen shot

Fig 6.0 WordPress Dashboard - Screen shot

Over the year I’ve been looking at the range of Website Design’s, Blog/Theme designs and most fit into a basic structure of a choice of number of columns and sidebars, some themes include Footers and the option of modifying the header image. This means that I can basically choose a theme to start and modify this at any point in the future without dramatically changing the look of the Website Design, of course if you start with a Website Design that has sidebars and then switch to one without, this data will not be displayed so it’s probably better to work from the other way round, that is pick a basic theme one column and one sidebar. Then if you want to change designs later to say two columns and two sidebars no data will be lost.

5.2 Pages, Categories and Custom Menus

One of the things I’ve come to understand about Website Design and Blogs is that essentially all the posts are stored in one file/location in post date order so the most recent post is the one shown first. The way that a Blog displays posts other than date sequence is by the use of categories, by selecting these the posts set with this category are pulled from the Blogs database and displayed in category/posting date order.

Fig 7.0 WordPress Theme example version 1

Fig 7.0 WordPress Theme example version 1

WordPress Pages and there are two types can be set as Static Page or default dynamic. What this means if you set a Page to be static this Pages and it’s data are fixed which makes it ideal to become the Home page of a Blog site or for any Data that you always want to be displayed regardless of Post Date order.One of the great things about Blogs I’ve become aware of is Custom Menus, using this option it is possible to design a navigation menu using a mix of Pages and Categories so for example I could have a Menu that includes a static page for my Home Page and Categories as Menu options which would look like dedicated pages on the Menu bar. But Category Menu links would work differently from Page menu links because the data they hold will be dynamic. By this I mean the content would change depending on Blog postings using this category. For example say I had a Menu Heading using the category ‘New Products’ when a site visitor clicks on the Menu Heading ‘New Products’ all the Blogs with that category would appear on this Menu option latest displayed in date of posting order with the most recent shown first.

Fig 8.0 WordPress Theme example 2

Fig 8.0 WordPress Theme example 2

Now what’s even more exciting about Website Design using WordPress  is that the site owner can just Blog to their site in the normal way, but by setting the category they automatically tell the site under which Menu heading they want the content to be displayed. This effectively gives the writer an effective content management system without the writer of the Blog article having to understand anything about Website Design. Even better if they use a Blogging tool such as Microsoft’s Writer they can just add content to the Website Design as simply as they would say write a Word document.

Another great thing about Website Design this way is the ease of adding more Menu headings, just add a new category and include this in your custom menu and it’s done. You can even choose sub categories and parent these to the main categories giving you Menu sub-headings.

5.3 WordPress Theme Choices

I’ve tried some of the Website Design Themes freely available on WordPress rather than design one from scratch, which I plan to do when I have both the time and the tools to do so. But for now the off the shelf Website Design Themes will do while I concentrate on designing Menu options and deciding on what content I want to show. I’ve added some examples of some of the Website Design themes I have looked at, the most promising of which is the single column and two sidebar Website Design with the orange coloured header (see Fig 9.0).

Fig 9.0 WordPress Theme Example 3

Fig 9.0 WordPress Theme Example 3


6.0 Conclusion

I enjoy much of the hands on computer work, particularly systems building and network installations that I do. However there are some things that when running a business you have to do, for example accounts which I wish I could avoid doing. Working in computers is no longer so much of a challenge and this was one of my original reasons for going back into education, to pursue new challenges and to take my career in a new direction. I do enjoy dealing with the general public, in fact I’d say most of my time on site is generally spent interacting/instructing the customer rather than working with the technology. For example most of the customers I interact with are new and/or unsure about computers and need instruction on how to use applications, how to connect to the Internet and send and receive emails, the basics really.

On another note as part of my work experience fortnight I looked at re-designing the company website which I had originally designed many years ago to fit a particular need. The company Website Design works well as a localised site bringing in enquiries, particularly from local people seeking computer support and upgrades. It also catches the eye of local businesses looking for network installations services. But I’ve begun to realise that some of the traffic it receives is now not so relevant to our current business. For example we used to specialise in a particular brand of Media Center Computers, which we no longer supply or support but for which we still receive enquiries. I also wanted to re-design the site so that anyone in the company could update the content without having the need to understand web design or web applications hence the decision to base the new Website Design on WordPress.

To summarise the last two weeks, I think this has re-affirmed my desire for a new career path away from computer hardware. I have re-discovered my interest in Website Design by researching and working on the Website Design project and to this end have downloaded a number of Website Design tools and demos in order to research new Website Design techniques and methods. I’ve also purchased dynamic web space suitable for hosting the new WordPress based website.

I still enjoy the customer contact aspect of my job, in particular instructing/ educating the customer regarding the computers operation, which brings to mind something that I had already considered as a possible future career path i.e. something leading into IT Training or Education. To this end I will try and source some work experience in Training and/or Education at some point in the future and confirm if this is really something that I’d like to do.

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Post Production Techniques – The Phantom of the Opera

Phantom of the Opera


Sunday 1st May 2011

Final Film Title Video and Conclusion – Phantom of the Opera

I enjoyed making this Phantom of the Opera film titles project and it was hard to decide when to stop adding scenes to the final piece. I added 2 more scenes to the final title sequence and sped up the the other scenes to match the changes in tempo of the music track. For example as the music gets faster the camera movement rate increases and when there is a lull in the music near the mid point of the sequence the camera movement slows. A little change but it makes the 2 minute sequence appear to run faster than it actually does.

Many of us thought that a 2 minute title sequence is too long in these short attention span/impatient times but it’s actually quite short compared to some of the title sequences I’ve noticed in recent films. Although to be fair title sequences these days are usually overlaid over the opening scenes of a film with the titles continuing to appear several minutes into the start of a film.

Source Material – Phantom of the Opera

When I originally decided to work on Phantom of the Opera title sequence I always envisaged that it would be set in the late 1800’s in Paris. This caused me a problem that I had not considered before and that was the availability of suitable images, photographs of that period. I’d completely forgotten that this was at the birth of photography and film and so original photograph’s of locations and people of this period were not easy to come by. In fact for some images I used modern photographs and removed cars and road signs and then gave them an aged look using Photoshop.

The internet provided the majority of the images but for some I resorted to scanning in photographs from library books or captured images from old black and white films. (NB: I didn’t use any of these images in the end as I wasn’t sure about copyright).

Soundtrack – Phantom of the Opera

I got lucky with the sound track by finding exactly the right music track for Phantom of the Opera from one of the sound library disks, of course when I say lucky I actually reviewed 100’s of tracks until I found one that I really felt went well with the Phantom of the Opera theme of the film title and the timing of video sequence itself.

How was it done

I’ve covered this thoroughly elsewhere in the blog but essentially all the work was designed in the Adobe Creative Suite of applications, Photoshop for the imagery, After Effects for the scene design and motion graphics work and Premiere used to edit all the scenes together. This was my first real use of After Effects and in particular using Cameras and Lighting.

Real World

In the real world if I was doing something like this again I would of course engage models wearing costumes of the period and photograph them in positions and scenes to match the title sequence. The same for backgrounds I’d secure location shots or look at commissioning models to be built of the locations in miniature and scaling these up for the background images.

Using these methods I would have greater control over the final images rather than adjusting the title sequence to match the available images. I’d approach the soundtrack development in a similar fashion by commissioning a music track and engaging actors for the voiceovers in the sequence ie. Crowd sounds, laughing and conversations to match groups of people appearing in the titles.

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Personal Planning Reflection and Development 1 – Digital Media Production AUCB

Digital Media Production


Friday 15th April 2011 – updated 19/04/2011

Personal Planning Reflection & Development 1 – Digital Media Production AUCB

Looking back at my first year of the FdA Digital Media Production course, my personal achievement’s and development gained over the 2010 to 2011 academic year for the module of Personal Planning Reflection and Development.

Fig 1.0 Personal Portrait - Ian Hunt

Fig 1.0 Personal Portrait - Ian Hunt

‘Principles of Computer Graphics – Digital Media Production’

Introduction to digital imaging – we looked at the work of other artists, both digital and non-digital, the methods for creating digital images and the theory behind them. The initial tutorials’ were a surprise, creating self-portraits from magazine and newspaper articles. My idea of a self-portrait was of a photograph of myself but interestingly my fellow students produced montages showing personal interests or images as representations of their selves. Personally I kept true to the idea of a photograph as a self-portrait but with a twist, adding video clips and added an artistic video representation of myself, something I may not have considered doing previously. My personal achievements included my first use of Adobe’s Premiere Pro and from a personal development perspective I started to think more about the artistic side of digital imaging rather than just the technology behind image design.

‘Computer Graphics for Animation & Film – Digital Media Production’

Running in parallel with the personal portrait project we looked at producing 3D Graphics using the Autodesk Maya application for this unit. This was totally new to me, having had zero 3D design experience and therefore involved a steep learning curve in order to get a working knowledge of both the 3D Graphics design and the Maya application. I looked at a number of possible ideas for my 3D character before settling on one to develop further into my submission for the brief.

Fig 2.0 3D Animation - Sweetboy

Fig 2.0 3D Animation - Sweetboy

Maya proved to be a difficult application to work with, almost no aspect of the software was intuitive and each step in the process required referring to the help pages and viewing online tutorials in addition to the tutorials held in class. Even though I had at the end of the unit produced a final design, a 3D character that I could place on the screen and animate, I was left with the thought that 3D Graphics is not something that I would want to pursue as a career choice. Achievements, learning the basics of 3D Graphics design and animation using Maya and from a personal development viewpoint, probably not something I’d be interested in doing again.

‘Principles of Sound & Video Production – Digital Media Production’

This was our first team based project the brief was to produce a Viral Video. This was also an opportunity for me to realise an idea I’d had for a short film involving the filming of cyclists from the back of a moving car at night. This was a concept I’d had for a music video for some time. This was also our first introduction to the processes involved in making a short film, that is film production from initial concepts, the storyboarding, shot lists, permissions and risk assessments etc.

Being the first Team based project it was difficult to identify the individual skills of the members and where their personal interests lay, but these were soon resolved and the process of producing a Viral Video was soon underway.

Fig 3.0 Viral Video - Bournemouth Flag Chase

Fig 3.0 Viral Video - Bournemouth Flag Chase

I do not remember too many tutorials for this unit apart from an initial introduction to the cameras we would be using and there must have been another on the basic requirements, so I suspect we brought a lot of the knowledge we needed for this unit from previous experience. I know mine came from my previous year doing a similar project at College.

The pre-production processes took up most of the time for this unit with only an evening required to do the actual filming

The end product for this unit was I felt very successful but I also felt it could have been improved upon. For example filming at night we should have used additional lighting to compliment the lighting from street lamps the only lighting source available to us. The final film was effectively too dark and needed extensive work in post-production to produce an acceptable short film.

Fig 4.0 Short Form Video - Tramps Best Day

Fig 4.0 Short Form Video - Tramps Best Day

Achievements: – understanding the processes involved in video production. From a personal development viewpoint I certainly gained an appreciation of the difficulties involved in working in a team of individuals. I also learnt that if anyone on the team failed to complete an allotted task it created additional work for the other team members or in some cases could cause the project to delay or indeed fail. For future projects this would become a major consideration when deciding whom to include in a team. At the same time from this project I learnt something about my own personal skills and how I interact with a team and I will be seeking to address some of these issues in the future.

‘Short Form Video – Digital Media Production’

For this we looked at the professional approach to producing a short film. The idea development section of this unit caused the most anguish and indeed arguments, which I think was entirely due to no one individuals idea being chosen for the project. Instead we all as a team contributed ideas and script elements, which eventually formed the basis of our film. This was another team project, which included members from the previous viral video project and new members.

Our guest lecturer was very knowledgeable and I took every opportunity to take on board his thoughts and experiences gained whilst working in the film industry.

The production of our project had many similarities with the Viral Video project understandably and unfortunately had many of the same difficulties. For example team members failing to turn up or late, disputes, equipment failures and problems outside of our control. The good news is that the team pulled together and worked hard and so the project was completed successfully.

Fig 5.0 Post Production Techniques - The Taking of Pelham 123

Fig 5.0 Post Production Techniques - The Taking of Pelham 123

Achievements: – enhanced experience and skills as a film-maker and gained experience of being in front of the camera, something that I have done my best to avoid in previous film projects. From the personal development aspect I am much more familiar now with the pre-production process of film-making and post-production processes that is editing using Adobe Premier Pro CS5.

‘Post Production Techniques – Digital Media Production ’

This unit looked at the various techniques and tools used in post-production with the assignment set of producing a film title sequence.

Tutorials covered the use of Adobe After Effects CS5, which would be the application of choice for this unit. In fact I used it extensively for the first time gaining experience that I had not previously had. Again requiring a steep learning curve, which required use of online tutorials and additional research on the Internet. Unlike Maya however the user interface was much more intuitive and had common features with other applications in the Adobe range and so skills learnt using one Adobe application are transferable to the others.

As this is a personal project that could be controlled and progressed at my own pace I found it easier to produce a title and in fact because of the increased skills gained working with After Effects I decided to work on another film title sequence so that I could practice using these new-found skills.

Soundtrack always a consideration when producing a video was included as a separate tutorial in order that we recognize its importance to a film sequence for example matching elements of the music to editing points in the video or changes in the action seen on screen.

Fig 6.0 Post Production techniques - The Phantom Of The Opera

Fig 6.0 Post Production techniques - The Phantom Of The Opera

Achievements, the design and the production of two film title sequences using different design techniques and a growing skill level with using After Effects and Premier Pro. Development included increased confidence in using the tools and technology used in the post-production process. Time management, using available time more efficiently and meeting personal and set deadlines.

Reflection

My first year at University has built upon the knowledge that I gained at college in the previous year. I was surprised by the relaxed format of the tutorials and the assignments. I fully expected a rigid form of instruction similar to my early experience in technical college years ago. I also expected more theoretical content to the course. But I am pleasantly surprised and feel the structure of this course is better suited to the practical aspects of media design and therefore more interesting to me personally. I enjoy going to University, which is reflected, in my levels of attendance. I enjoy the work being set (in the main) and work hard to produce the best media artefact I can, re-working designs again and again to produce a better design.

I sometimes feel that we could have more tutorials and not just in those directly related to the course units, for example I’d like to have some guidance on general photography and using a DSLR for video work, but I suspect this will be forthcoming in Year 2.

One small negative I always personally thought the overall class size is too large and the class could have been separated into two groups (as it was at College in 2009/2010) and this could also explain possibly why resources seem to be too stretched on many occasions. In addition sometimes the noise level in class effects my concentration and for this reason I think I do my best work at home and use my time in class to interact with classmates, swapping ideas, research etc.

My personal goals have changed yet again as I swing even further away from Web Design and towards Video production. I have still to decide on what I’d like to do following the completion of my Degree and considering a role in industry. My main thoughts at this time are to continue in education, funding permitting and look at studying for a Masters Degree. Alternatively I have discussed with good friends working in Education the possibility of Teaching as a career and this still remains an option.

Word Count = 1627 (Essay) 1709 (Blog Entry)

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Post Production Techniques – Motion Graphics Scene Structure

Motion Graphics

Friday 15th April 2011

Motion Graphics – After Effects Scene Structure

Motion Graphics Scene Layout

Motion Graphics Scene Layout

I’ve mentioned earlier how originally I’d planned to design the entire Film Title sequence using Motion Graphics and within After Effects as a continuous camera movement through each of the separate scenes. I abandoned this approach because it made the process unnecessarily difficult with the settings in particular for the Z axis becoming impossibly large.

From the drawing above you can see the problems with the first scenes background set to 3000px and the second scene to 6000px. Inserted between would be the position for the characters I was to animate. I kept with this approach for three scenes before I decided it would be better to break down the scenes using the workspace and exporting each scene  as a movie clip into Premiere for final editing.

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Post Production Techniques – Motion Graphics – Phantom Film Titles

Motion Graphics


Thursday 14th April 2011 – updated 19/04/2011

How did I make it

Using the information I had gathered from experimentation and previous projects I split the runtime of the title sequence down into manageable clip lengths or scenes. This was my first use of cameras in After Effects and Motion Graphics and so I decided that at the point when the camera passes through the background image this would end the scene, so the time that the camera takes to run between the backgrounds dictated the scene length and vice-versa.

I decided that each scene would be of similar length but with room for adjustment to allow for the Text Titles to appear sequentially, roughly this worked out to be  between 8 to 12 seconds.

Storyboards & After Effects/Premiere Screen Shots

Motion Graphics using After Effects

This was my first project using After Effects in particular using cameras, lighting and 3D Layers.

3D Layers adds the extra dimension Z which creates depth to the scene, so as well as motion from left to right and up and down there’s also in and out, this was how I was going to make the title sequence. The camera would start at the zero point and then go into the scene towards the background layer which I set at 3000px or more depending on how many text titles I was going to insert into each scene or how many characters. The maximum setting I used was 8000px for one scene.

As well as using cameras I also moved characters by keying in positions animating them across and towards the camera. I did try using the Auto-Orientation settings in Layers to automatically orientate the moving characters to always face the camera as it passed them but this did not give the effect I was looking for. I like the way that when the camera passes the characters you can see that they are cut-outs only 2D.

I used the Orbital camera tool to control the cameras movement through the scene and to make sure that the camera entered and exited each scene in the right location I also keyed in movement into the background to line up doors and windows to align with the cameras position.

The opening sequence where the gate to the city raises turned out to be more involved than I first thought – I ended up making this from 3 layers, the 1st one being the actual doorway , the 2nd the gate and the 3rd the courtyard inside the gate.

In one scene I felt the need to use a Lighting effect so that the character enters the scene in silhouette and moves into the light which then follows the characters movements through the scene.

In the final scene the chandeliers Anchor point was moved to a position in the centre of the Opera House ceiling setting the point from which the chandelier pivots from side to side.

I added Brightness and Contrast adjustment so that I could individually adjust these setting for each element of the title. Again I was considering making them all appear the same as the background but later changed my mind, making the characters brighter or darker based on how they appeared on screen.

Finally I went back to the design and removed the sky I had originally designed using Fractal Noise/Clouds and replaced this with an image of a nights sky full of stars and another layer showing a full moon. I then added a rose effect to the Moon using Fractal Noise and a Tritone colour effect to make the Moon appear to be blood red with storms raging across it’s surface. I felt this effect would add to the narrative adding something menacing to the visuals.

Soundtrack

I tried several classical music tracks with the title sequence and most worked but no seemed particularly menacing which I felt was vital to the overall feel of the sequence. Fortunately one of the copyright free CDs from the library offered up an excellent ghostly soundtrack which suited the sequence ideally.

I was tempted to added maniacal laughter to the Phantom appearance on scene but I removed it as it added little to the sequence and in fact I felt ruined it.

Image Gallery

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Short Form Video – Project Conclusion

Short Form Video

Students Short Form Video Project.

Our 2 minute edit:-


Personal 2 Minute Edit


I chose Black & White for my edit mainly for personal preferences – I like the look, but this also solves some of the problems encountered with varying lighting conditions. For example the first days filming was on a bright sunny day and the second days filming was sunny with clouds. We could have graded the film in post production but the plugins for Adobes Premiere were not available at the time.

Short Form Video – How did we get to this point?


Firstly it involved considerably more work than initially anticipated, particularly in the pre-production stages, that is planning and organisational stages of the production that are vital to any film project and should be completed before any filming begins.

Homeless Person Cycle - Wordly Goods

Homeless Persons Cycle – Worldly Goods

The first task as was to generate an overall concept for the group video,  unfortunately our individual ideas were discarded for a variety of reasons and so the group eventually came up with a group concept with the idea of videoing a day in the life of a Homeless Person.

Tony Chance our visiting Lecturer for this unit introduced us to the concept of using a mood wall, which helped us to not only come up with this idea but also initiated the thought processes that the film would work well as a dream sequence. For example we could show the Homeless Person remembering his best day while sleeping on a park bench. In the Homeless Person Best Day we would attempt to show in the video a lucky day for a Homeless Person.

Conceptually a Homeless Person idea of what is a good day for them should differ from what other people would consider to be good day. So we made sure that these good things were appropriate to the character, for example we looked at and discarded the idea of the Homeless Person winning the Lottery as this seemed unlikely and too obvious.

A list of Good things:-

  • Finding a packet of cigarettes
  • A better coat
  • Sharing a drink with his Homeless Person friends (Dropped from the final video – cast reasons)
  • Finding and enjoying a cup of coffee while reading a newspaper
  • A quiet moment feeding the birds
  • Finding a pair of glasses and enjoying a joke watching TV in a shop window
  • Enjoying a sit on the beach watching the Sun go down (Dropped as the final sequence had to fit in with a cycles wheel)

Preparation and job assignments


Unfortunately for this short form video I seemed destined from day one to be cast in the role of the Homeless Person, while initially I was hoping to be the Producer.

Michael was always going to be and was the Director and was also cast as the man on the bench drinking coffee, Alexsandra wanted to be the Assistant Director/Producer, Lee was Camera, Editor and appeared as the man on telephone, with finally Euan also on Camera and who also appeared in the film as the bucket carrier. For student filmmakers and micro or zero budget filmmakers everyone doubled or even trebled up on job roles and/or appearing in the film as main character or in lesser roles in the film.

As the short form video production commenced it seemed as if everyone (no surprise for student filmmakers) wanted to be the Director including myself and so during videoing everyone had an idea of how each scene should be set and shot. Although at times this could be very confusing it was also very creative with many of our best ideas coming from these creative discussions.

Preparation for this short form video was the key for the success of this project, for example we needed to make me look like a Homeless Person and so I sourced costume which was made even more appropriate thanks to Lee efforts with Brown Sauce, Flour and Tea/Coffee stains. Michael organised a make-up artist to do my Homeless Person make-up (Thanks to Mark). Alexsandra produced the broken glasses for the shop scene. We sourced the loan of a cycle from a fellow student thanks to Georgie and this was dressed with a variety of old cans, bottles bags of old clothes all tied onto the bike with string.

We were fortunate in that our shot lists would mainly be be in the same order as our Storyboards which negated the need to film out of sequence.

With the filming locations already identified (See previous Blog entries) we set dates for filming and arranged for the booking of the equipment we needed for the 2 days of Filming.

Filming – Day One


My first task of the day was to have the Homeless Person make-up applied.

Homeless Person on a Bench

Homeless Person on a Bench

We then loaded the cars with all the filming equipment, costume and props and then set off to our arranged meeting point in Bournemouth’s town centre car park. Euan would meet us there as he was riding the cycle we would be using in the filming as there was no room in the cars for it and all the equipment.

I got changed into costume and then the group set off to the first location which provided  our first problem of the day as it was unavailable to us. (See previous blog entries for details).

If I had to summarise Day Ones filming it would have to be a day of difficulties. We did achieve everything we had planned but obstacles had to be overcome, scenes needed modification to suit conditions and of course we couldn’t control every aspect particularly those involving members of the public and so we had to work around these as best we could. We also discovered that the camera had a fault and that we would have to switch from filming on Tape to using the digital backs. But on a very positive note when I got home that evening and captured the footage onto my PC I saw that we had some really excellent footage and we as a team had a much better understanding on how we as a Group worked together and what our individual strengths were.

Apart from one incident where I chased the Director up the road (He got away from me) as a Team we worked well together.

Day Two


Disney's Lady & the Tramp

Disney’s Lady & the Tramp

With a pre-arranged meeting point day two should have got off to an early start but we were delayed slightly by some team members arriving late and the need for another make-up session. But we soon got filming under-way and it seemed to go more smoothly than the previous days shooting mainly because we had a better understanding of how we all worked together and the alternative locations were already in place.

In summarising Day Two I’d say it went much more smoothly, everyone had a role they were comfortable with and the filming went much more to plan. At the end of the day we returned to University and dropped of the equipment with the feeling of a job well done.

Editing


I’ve completed a number of edits now (See previous Blogs), several that included the Green Screen footage which we decided to drop from the final video. A four screen montage with different start points so that all the main scenes in the film could be shown in their entirety but still stay within the 2 minute constraint. But in the end the edit that works best for me is the version above, particularly in conjunction with the music I’ve chosen.

We shot some extra footage for cutaways ie. The bird and daffodil sequences, utilising these in the edit to assist in moving from the end of one scene to the next. My idea and the most important additional footage for me was the final sequence of the £20 note caught in the spokes of the wheel as this solved the problem of ending the film on a shot of the bikes wheel. All our other ideas for this ending involved the bike falling over, the Homeless Person dying and his hand dropping in front of the wheel etc. none of which appealed or indeed made sense.

The editing process was completed using Premier Pro CS5. I used no effects or dissolves just straight cuts although I did scale a clip or 2 to fill the frame and vary the shot as after the shoot I realised most of our sequences were similar mid shots, although as planned and storyboarded but in retrospect we could have filmed more close ups.

Effects


Homeless Person with his Dog

Homeless Person with his Dog

I’ve downloaded a number of effects plug-ins which I intended to use in particular to (Red Giant – Mojo) colourise the video and make it more film like but I have not used these as of yet as they add a red cross across the final video as they are trial versions. I understand these effects are available to us in the editing suite and so I will look again at this in future projects.

Preparation

Extracted from out Teams Facebook Group where the Team swapped ideas notes, and organised Filming locations etc.

Please see lists below, without these item we CANNOT film. Therefore, please put your name next to items you have sourced & intend to supply. If there is anything I have missed please add it to the relevant list ASAP!

Prop List


  • Bicycle – IAN ( Georgie’s bike)
  • “Old” Homeless Person Clothes – IAN
  • Cardboard Boxes (flat)
  • Bags of junk (cans,paper etc) Euan (at Uni)
  • Packet of cigarettes – LEE
  • Lighter – LEE
  • Bucket – LEE
  • Sponge – LEE
  • Scarf (to dry himself) + Towel – IAN
  • “New” Coat – IAN
  • Packet of Crisps -Euan
  • Newspaper – LEE
  • Paper Cup (for coffee) – IAN
  • Watch/Mobile Phone (for time) – LEE
  • Broken Glasses – IAN
  • “Lady and the Tramp” DVD – LEE

Accessories / Sundries list


  • Camera – IAN
  • Tripod – IAN
  • DV Tapes – LEE & IAN
  • Make-up – MIKE
  • Make-up artist – MIKE
  • String
  • Change for Parking Meter – WE ALL NEED TO CONTRIBUTE THIS!!! (This didn’t happen me and Lee paid for parking)
  • Mouth Wash – IAN
  • Towel – IAN
  • Wet Wipes – IAN
  • Flip Camera (for “making-of”) – IAN

Original Cast Job Allocation List and Script


  • Michael Moore – Director & Co Editor
  • Alexsandra Leontjeva – 1st Assistant Director
  • Lee Tucker – Camera & Editor
  • Euan McQuisten – Camera & Cast?
  • Ian Hunt – Cast, Producer & Lighting

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Script so far (not finalised – add your ideas) [no zombies Euan]


Scene one

The Homeless

The Homeless

Opening shot of the Bus Stop in close up to tie in with Group 1’s final shot.

Zoom out and track to show the Bench as the :-

Homeless Person (Coughing) pushing bike enters scene from the left and parks bike alongside the Bench.

Homeless Person sits down and immediately falls asleep. Head resting on right hand.

Scene two

Dream sequence begins with a passer bye giving the Homeless Person a cup of coffee.

The Homeless Person pushing his bike finds some money which he uses to buy something to eat/drink from a street vendor.

He carries on and finds a or is given a better coat.

The birds start to sing

The Homeless Person finds a good spot on the beach sits down and warms himself in the sun and falls asleep.

As the Homeless Person eyes close his arm drops.

Scene three

Cut from dream sequence back to reality

The Homeless Person arm drops exactly in the same way as it did in the beach sequence.

A passer bye drops a coin into the Homeless Person lap

Tracking shot of the passer bye ending on the bikes wheel – zoom in to a close up of the bikes wheel.

Shot Lists


Main Shot List (1)

  1. Bus Stop (close up)
  2. Homeless Person wheels bike past bus stop (wide shot)
  3. Man standing at top of the stairs throws cigarette packet (wide shot)
  4. Cigarette packet drops in front of Homeless Person and wakes him up (mid shot)
  5. Homeless Person opens cigarette packet (close up)
  6. Homeless Person removes a cigarette and lights it  – change angle (close up)
  7. Homeless Person stands and takes puff on the cigarette (mid shot)
  8. Man carries bucket to the front of the car (wide shot)
  9. Homeless Person takes sponge from bucket and begins to wash (mid shot)
  10. Homeless Person wheels bike towards rubbish bins (wide shot)
  11. Homeless Person opens bin (mid shot)
  12. From inside bin Tramp opens bin (close up)
  13. Homeless Person removes bag from bin (wide shot)
  14. Homeless Person picks up crisp packet (close up)
  15. Homeless Person changes coat (mid shot)
  16. Man reading paper on bench (wide shot)
  17. Wrist watch (close up)
  18. Paper and coffee cup on bench (close up)
  19. Homeless Person approaches bench and sits down (wide shot)
  20. Homeless Person drinks coffee (wide shot)
  21. Homeless Person picks up paper (close up)
  22. Homeless Person wheels bike towards aviary and sits down (wide shot)
  23. Homeless Person feeding birds – change angle (mid shot)
  24. Homeless Person wheels bike to shop window (wide shot)
  25. Homeless Person picks up spectacles (close up)
  26. Homeless Person puts on glasses (mid shot)
  27. Homeless Person viewed through window (mid shot)
  28. TV picture showing Lady & the Tramp (close up)
  29. Homeless Person walks away from shop window (mid shot)

Extras and new ending – shot list (2)


  1. Rear view as Homeless Person walks towards Bus Stop (mid shot)
  2. Crisp packet drops to ground and picked up (close up)
  3. Flowers blowing in the wind (close up)
  4. £20 note stuck in bikes wheel spokes (close up)
  5. Homeless Person pulls £20 note from the wheels spokes (close up)

Cutaways additional shots etc. – shot list (3)


  1. Birds in the aviary (mid and close ups)
  2. Pavilion and fountain areas (mid and close ups)
  3. Bournemouth Lower Gardens – Plants and waterways (mids and close ups)

Storyboards


My own storyboards were as you can see basic but thanks to Lee and his Storyboards which we used to work from during the shoot. Of course these storyboards also changed as the filming progressed and ideas for new scenes developed, but we did as a group stay true to these as much as possible.

My Attempt at the Storyboards

My Attempt at the Storyboards

Final Thoughts


I really was not expecting everything to go smoothly on a Team Project I have far too much experience working on Projects to know that things can and will go wrong. A good team is one which can overcome these problems and put the time and effort into completing the project, also most importantly doing a good job, I can honestly say that we had such a team working on this project.

Each member of the group pitched their ideas to the other members of the group and to the Short Form Video Unit visiting Lecturer, Tony Chance. Although we all had good ideas as a group we were unable to pick one from the five pitched to take forward as the Short Form Video project. Therefore the final project was not from one persons idea but developed from a number of production meetings and of course became a compromise of all our ideas, which by definition rarely satisfies anyone but once decided upon the Team worked together to bring this project to fruition. Of course the original projects concept changed as the filming progressed and even when we thought we had completed we still decided to film more footage and in fact completely changed the final scene, which I personally thinks works really well.

I do also personally think that the 2 minute limit does not sit well with this film, which I feel needs a more relaxed pace, but on the whole I am very happy with the final result. One caveat though, I think the final film would be much improved by removing the majority of the sound effects with the one exception of the bird song, but again this is a personal opinion.

We had a lot of fun making this film and I think this comes down in some respects to the amount of pre production planning and the filming schedule we had in place. We had allotted sufficient time to film, which also allowed for problems to be identified and re-solved. This also gave us time for re-shoots, for exploring alternative edits and ideas.

Word count 2717

5 Minute Edit


[youtube.com/watch?v=0CX2AoHiWWk]

By

Post Production Techniques – Film Title Design Part 1 Completed

Film Title Design


Wednesday 16th March 2011

Phantom of the Opera – Part 1 – Film Title Design

Referring to my previous blogs I was deciding whether to go ahead with the film title design for a additional Film Title Sequence. Influenced by the Moulin Rouge film title design I looked at attempting something along similar lines. I also remembered the Phantom of the Opera Theatre Productions had a similar theme and so I researched the YouTube for films with this title expecting to find either video of the theatre productions or the recent film by the same name, however instead I came across a 1925 film starring Lon Chaney.

I decided to use this 1925 film as the basis for a new title sequence using the techniques I’d acquired when making the Pelham 123 film titles and the titles I’ve previously identified as Paris Titles (See previous Blog entries)

[youtube.com/watch?v=n4HjjdCT7-M]
Phantom Film Titles Part 1 – Film Title Design

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three – Part 1

After a meeting with Phil I agreed to look at alternative colour schemes for this Film Title sequence as my earlier versions used some very bright primary colours which were really too strong.

In the end I decided rather than use a static solid colour for the background I would use something more dynamic and at the same time I took the opportunity to go through the whole sequence changing colours making them darker and avoid primary colours but still staying true to the characterisations in the film etc.

I also changed the main Train sequence designing my own in Photoshop keeping the design as minimal as possible (Saul Bass style).

Finally I added an adjustment filter to bring the colours down another level whilst at the same time giving the whole sequence a continuous Brightness/Contrast level.

[youtube.com/watch?v=vgooP4Tk2iY]
The Taking of Pelham 123 – Part 1

I looked at the Film Posters designed by Saul Bass and some of his own Film Title sequences for inspiration for the design of the Pelham 123 titles.

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Post Production Techniques – Alternate Title Sequence using AE

Wednesday 2nd March 2011
[youtube.com/watch?v=znDwBhaXnhw]

Paris Titles – experimenting with AE Cameras

Alternate Title Design

We recently had a tutorial with Jason looking at AE Cameras and Lighting and so I thought I would experiment with Cameras to see what I could do as an alternative title sequence.

Inspired by my previous use of using images taken from Google’s Street View and then adding effects to these captured images in Photoshop, I set about capturing new images from Paris Streets.

Once I had a collection of images I removed the backgrounds and used the Filter ‘Graphic Pen’ to give a sketch look to the images.

These images I saved as .PSD files which I then imported into After Effects. I decided on the sequence that the images were to appear and loaded them into the workspace in this order. I then made each Layer 3D and set the Z-axis for each so that there was a gap between each of them (Which I varied at a later stage).

I then created a New Camera and using a mixture of XYZ axis I moved the camera through the layers exposing each as the camera passed through into a new scene.

I added a few visual effects such as ‘Clouds’ and a copyright free music track to finish the short sequence off.

I’m very happy with the final result although I’d probably want to smooth out some of the camera movements, target the door openings better and remove some of the background that I missed earlier.

Updated and with Additional Characters

[youtube.com/watch?v=_7w_MwjB6F4]
Video with some characters added

I’ve spent some time cleaning up the images removing the backgrounds that I’d missed previously.

I’ve also added some characters to the scenes keying in some movements so that they move across in front of the camera as the camera moves into the next scene.

I set each character as a 3D Layer and positioned them using the Z-axis settings mid point between the background layers.

I also added an end title but this could be anything should I decide to extend the project for the full 2 minutes duration set in the brief.

I think this works really well and with the right images combined with a Film Title idea this would make an excellent alternative to what I have already designed.

By

Short Form Video – Green Screen, scale/perspective and locations

Saturday 26th February 2011
[youtube.com/watch?v=iO2_NCajOe8]

Tramp Short Form Video

Scale and Perspective

Using the green screen video footage shot on Wednesday and additional video footage which I shot using my Canon EOS 60D DSLR. I began experimenting with positions, the scale and perspectives for the live footage and the video footage which would form part of the dream sequence.

Group discussions in conjunction with a meeting with Tony the idea was put forward to make the video image behind the live footage of the Tramp on the bench to be oversize, dominating the screen.

I thought it would be a good idea to see how this would look so I set up my camera at home and wearing the revised costume I acted through the drinking idea we’d had.

We’ve yet to decide on the final look of the dream footage whether it’s going to be in colour, black and white or other effects but for this test I just used ‘Threshold’ (Premiere Pro) to separate the live footage from the dream.

I’m quite pleased with the overall look of the footage but I am now thinking that it will be hard to show all the ideas that we have had for the dream sequence in just 2 minutes and I’m thinking we should just show one or two ideas and do these very well rather than do four or more but do them badly.

Also I think we should given the opportunity shoot more footage than is required say an additional 4 or more minutes so that we have enough for a short film of 6 minutes duration and cherry pick from this footage for the 2 minute version required for the overall project.

Storyboard

I storyboarded the short dream sequence but as you can see in the final edit, changes were made to the scale and position of the background images

Locations

A useful tool for rapidly identifying locations for filming is Google’s Street View. This allows you to view locations across the whole of the UK and indeed the World although as the name suggests only if there is a street and one which Google’s camera car has filmed.

I used it to view a number of locations in the Charminster area which will need to be followed up by an actual visit but they appear to be good possibilities for filming the Tramps dream sequence.

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