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My College Timeline

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The Extended Project 2017

Film and TV

By Chris McNair

My College Timeline

My Journey of knowlege throughout the college year

If you were to have asked me a year ago questions such as "what is mise-en-scene?" and "how many kelvins does a tungsten light bulb emit?" or "what is a polar pattern?" I would have stared back at you blankly and asked you to repeat the question (or guessed it had something to do with arctic bears). This college year has been a huge learning curve for me and has helped me to understand the film and TV industry and what goes into creating such content. It has given me a lot more appreciation for the work and effort that has gone into the final product that I see on the big screen. That is why I am documenting a timeline of what I have learned from my tutors and through various research methods over the past college year.

Term 1

Week 1 has covered a variety of topics. We started with the basics like how to research effectively and how to make a research plan. We also covered topics such as framing and composition and we discovered how to become a director. I think the lesson on "how to become a director" was one of the most interesting lessons as that is what I would like to do as my career. I think the framing and composition part was a good way to introduce me to the course because learning about the "rule of thirds" started to make me realise that more work was going into my favourite films than I had originally noticed. I then started noticing this technique being used in films that I watched. Overall I think this week was a very good one for me.

Week 2 has been mainly about lighting with a little bit of genre thrown in to the mix. We learnt about how to become a lighting technician and what a lighting technician does. I discovered a genre that I hadn't previously know about before doing lighting - Film Noir. This genre therefore interested me and I tried to find out as much as possible about it including watching some film noir style films. I even managed to create my own film noir style picture (below). I learned about white balance and although I had noticed it when taking pictures I hadn't really paid enough attention to it to know how it changed the colour temperature. Using primary research I tested the difference between different white balance camera settings.

Week 3 was focused on audio with some mise-en-scene on the side. Learning about Foley artists has to be one of the best lessons alongside how to become a director. The reason I found it so interesting was because I had never noticed it and yet it is used in every film I watch. Before I thought all these sounds were recorded in the production stage as they happened, but quickly learned that the only audio that was recorded in production is the dialogue. This completely threw my perspective on the film industry. This showed me how dedicated Foley artists must be because if they do their job right then no one will even notice that they were even there. We also looked at different microphones and their properties and polar patterns.

Week 4 was mainly to do with cameras and we touched on narrative. We found out about camera techniques like the 180-degree rule and match on action. That week, I found myself repeatedly referring to one of my favourite film directors - James Wan. In particular to do with "Fast and Furious 7 (2015)" as there is a huge amount of camera work and techniques that went into that film from camera rolls to long Steadicam scenes. As it is an action film camera work is even more important because lots of short shots makes it feel more dramatic and using lots of short shots presents its own set of problems like how long do the shots need to be in order to not disorientate the viewer. We also did primary research on OTS (over the shoulder shot) as we took a series of photos to illustrate how it can be used in a conversation between 2 people.

Week 5,6 and 7 were mainly focused on editing. In week 5 we learned the basics of the editing software Avid Media Composer. Although I had used editing programs before like Sony Vagus Pro and Filmora, Avid would quickly become my favourite editing software. Because I had used editing software before I quickly got to grips with Avid and its features. The main difference with Avid is that it is keyboard based instead of mouse orientated.  We did a research project in week 5 and 6 in which we had to analyse a scene and research what the producer would have had to do in order to create that scene. I chose a scene from "Spectre (2015)" and had to sort out things like budget, props etc. I would not like to become a producer when I grow up.

Week 6 was very similar to week 5. I carried on with my research project throughout this week and we also learned about clapperboards and how to sync the sound from an external microphone to the video.

In week 7 we have continued with our clapperboard (slating) project from week 6 and we learned about representation and made a career plan. I have since changed my plans since I made my career plan and I am now looking to go to university somewhere in London. We looked at some short videos that showed representation and it made me realise how much the media industry represents people and their opinions. People will always be heavily influenced by the media and that is why it is very important when working in the media industry that you are spreading the right message. Using the news as an example you can get lots of fake news which confuses people and fake news can sometimes end up in starting wars and protests.

The Hello Project

The Hello Project has been the most enjoyable part of the term and I have learned a lot from doing it. The first thing I learned was that a good narrative doesn't necessarily have to have dialogue. At first, I thought that just being limited to the word "hello" meant that there wasn't much you could do with it but after thinking about it for longer I came up with several good narratives. The next thing I learned was planning and time management. I did the planning very last minute and somehow pulled it off but in future, I have learned to leave a lot longer for the pre-production stage and manage time better. This course has helped me with my procrastination as I put off the pre-production stage because I didn't find it enjoyable but the deadline of the project has taught me that I need to manage time so that doesn't happen in future. I have used my skills that I have learned throughout the term and used them to create the hello project. I then learned quite a lot of things in post-production as well, for example, I forgot to shoot an establishing shot of the female character sitting at the bench so I had to use a clip of both characters sitting on the bench then zoom into the frame to cut the other one out. I had to do a lot of things like this as my planning wasn't too good and it was a cold day and the actors were getting cold so I had to rush it. I should have looked at the temperature, not just the weather as it was sunny but cold. If I had done that I could have asked them to wear something warmer and then we wouldn't have had to rush and leave scenes out.

The Hello Project

Term 2

Term 2 has been mainly about going more into depth with things we have already learned in particular visuals and audio.

Term 2 - Week 1 has been focused around social media. We looked into some social networks and we were also set a task to create 2 social media accounts. I created a Facebook page and an Instagram site. I have realised that social media is a very useful tool in spreading something far and wide in a very short amount of time. My Instagram account isn't doing that well but my Facebook page is going really well. As of 21/03/17 I have 57 likes on my page and have received helpful feedback on my posts.

Term 2 - Week 2 was focused entirely on visuals. Generally, camera movement has been the main topic. The practical task of creating a short camera sequence has helped me be able to know how to use a camera slider and Steadicam. It has helped me to know where things work and where they don't, for example, putting a jump cut in the middle of a camera movement is not a good idea. I always like applying my skills in a practical way and I find that generally I learn best while doing a practical task.

Term 2 - Week 3 was audio based and has helped me put my microphone knowledge into a practical form. We made an audio recording and used Foley sounds and sounds from sound libraries and then analysed the problems and the solutions we came up with to solve them. Generally, I would consider myself as a problem solver i.e. I enjoy solving problems and so far I feel that this course has really appealed to that part of me. We also learned about the prevent strategy and how it can help crack down on terrorism

In term 2 - Week 4 we have gone back into visuals and in particular, lighting. I found this week to be really interesting as I managed to create a picture from my favourite scenes (well sort of). This really appealed to me as we were going through the same process that professionals would be going through to create these high budget films. As you can see below it didn't really go to plan but I enjoyed creating it still.

Term 2 - Week 5 was back to audio. This week we used our knowledge to create something you might see on TV - an interview. It always interests me how much goes into something like an interview which you would have thought would be fairly easy to do.

Term 2 - Week 6 has been doing the pre-production of audio. I have noticed that the pre-production stage is extremely important but I have discovered that this stage is not my favourite. The amount of planning that goes into big budget films must be enormous. It surprised me to find out how much planning is required for audio alone.

Term 2 - Week 7 has been about the pre-production of visuals. Although this had more to it than the pre-production of audio, I thought there would be, a lot more, pre-production for visuals compared to audio. The main thing that stood out to me during this week was the storyboarding. In class, we watched a short video of a person explaining that you don't have to be an artist in order to do a storyboard and then proceeded to show us how he makes storyboards without being an artist. This was really helpful to me as I am not that good at drawing and while I struggled in the hello project to create a storyboard, the tips and tricks the video showed us has helped me create clear storyboards that show what I want to happen well.

The Scene

I feel like "The Scene" has been more difficult than "the hello project" because we have had a larger topic of friendship this time. We also had more criteria to go by and I felt rushed when doing it but I feel like that has taught me how to cope with the pressure of short deadlines. I had a week to plan and film and I had a week to edit and it had to be exactly 1 minute - to the second. I have put into practice the things I have learned over the term to create this and although I think I could have done a lot better if not rushed I need to learn how to follow short deadlines. I preferred the post-production stage the most because it was more relaxed.

The Scene