Sunday, 10 December 2017

Construction Post 3: Week 3 Production

In our third week of production, we completed the rest of the photoshoot for our professional promotional shots. 

Overview of the Week:

My contribution:

Challenges we faced and how we overcame them:

Construction Post 2: Week 2 Production

In our second week of production, we completed the studio photoshoot for our professional promotional shots and album cover photos. 

Overview of the week:

I think that week 2 of production was very successful.

We managed to shoot a lot of professional, high quality photos that we will use for our promotional material and for our album cover. We made use of our school's white screen and lighting kit to create bright photos of each individual band member and of the band as a whole. This included a variety of shots from different angles and framing, and with the performers using multiple poses, facial expressions and props.

I learned a lot about the kit used during photoshoots, including the lighting used to create the flash and the various hardware that synchs the flash with the camera (ASK SAM FOR NAMES AND PHOTOS). I had a chance to work with more kit I have not yet had experience working with and I had a lot of fun photographing other members of the band.

My group worked efficiently and professionally, and shared out the roles equally so that we all had a turn using the camera. In this way, we all walked away with the same valuable experience.

Overall, I am very happy with how the photos that Noa, Emilio and I took came out, and I am confident that we can create a high quality album cover and a lot of professional promo shots when we get to post production.

My contribution:

During the second week of production, I:

  • Shot a lot of the promo shots, including most of the photos of Casey.
  • Performed in front of camera as Hugh Tyler. 
  • Adjusted the intensity of the lights to create a better image. 
  • Helped organise the schedule for when we would be filming each person.

Challenges we faced and how we overcame them: 

We had a short two day time limitation for our photoshoot, as this was the only opportunity for us to use the photoshoot kit before it was dismantled. This was especially a problem as we could only have the whole band available for one forty minute period, and the same amount of time to do Tom Brown's individual shots. In order to make efficient use of our time, we scheduled what we would shoot in each school period so that we could immediately arrive at the start of the session knowing what to prepare and what costume to change into if necessary. We agreed to schedule the photoshoot so we could get all the necessary shots of each band member done in the space of forty minutes. Although a little longer was needed for Casey as, being the most prolific member of the band, she needed a larger amount of shots, we managed to finish all of our promo and album cover shots before our deadline.

One challenge we faced during the photo shoot was the shots for the individual band members. It was difficult to create candid looking shots without making them look forced. We overcame this by allowing conversation between the photographer and the performer whilst the shoot took place to create a relaxed atmosphere, so that when the performer laughed or smiled, it was genuine. This resulted in photographs where the subjects look like they are enjoying themselves, which is an important when attracting an audience to a brand, as audiences find attractiveness in artists who appear like they are enjoying their work.

On the flip side, as a subject of the photoshoot, I personally found it difficult initially not to 'freeze up' in front of the camera and smile forcibly. I helped myself get over this by thinking of happy or funny memories to make me smile in a genuine way that didn't look forced.

Construction Post 1: Week 1 Production

In our first week of production, we completed the filming for our music video. 

Overview of the week:

I think that week 1 of production was very successful.

We managed to get all of our shots filmed, including multiple takes and multiple versions of shots - different angles, camera movements etc. - to allow us a lot of choice when we got back to the editing suite. I am very happy with how our footage turned out; I believe our performances were all highly energetic, and our shots all look very colourful and befitting to the image of our band which we are trying to promote.

Although filming intensively for a week was exhausting, we still had a lot of fun working together to finally film our creative ideas that we have been planning for weeks.

We also learnt a great deal about the logistics of working on a film shoots. As well as gaining lots of experience working with the technical kit, such as the camera and the studio lighting, we also learnt a lot about co-operation, problem solving, how to make efficient use of our time, and how to keep the energy and morale up for a whole week.

Each of us took equal responsibility in the different areas of the shoot, including filming, lighting and performing, and shared these roles equally.

Overall, although at the end of the week I was very tired, I felt that it had been a very rewarding and enjoyable experience, and I was proud of Noa, Emilio and I for managing to complete the filming of our music video.

My contribution:

During the first week of production, I:

  • Filmed a good proportion of the music video, including the Alice in Wonderland and Sergeant Pepper set ups. 
  • Did the lighting for a lot of our set ups before filming. 
  • Performed in the music video as the band's guitarist, Hugh Tyler.
  • Directed the other performers to try out new actions; e.g. gestures and facial expressions for Casey to do whilst singing, create 'signature moves' for the extras that related to their characters.
  • Helped choreograph some extra dances moves for the Singing' in the Rain set up.
  • Briefed our extras, letting them know what to do and all the health and safety information
  • Backed up a lot of our footage onto our Mac and hard drives, and formatted the camera afterwards to wipe the SD card for a new shoot. 
  • Helped keep up morale by providing food and drink to shoots. 

Challenges we faced and how we overcame them:

Our first challenge was to organise our ensemble of extras in the first day of our shoot, which took place on the Saturday. With this number of extras to deal with, we had to make sure they all knew what they were doing, how to behave and any health and safety notices so that no-one would end up injured. We kept control over our cast by giving them all a quick briefing in the morning. This meant that they all knew the rules of the studio, health and safety hazards they needed to be aware of and what they would be required to do in their performance, so that when we began shooting, we could be confident that everyone would be able to behave professionally and be confident in what they should and shouldn't be doing. We also had snacks, music and frequent breaks to keep their morale and energy high. On reflection, we had no major problems from our cast; they all danced energetically and behaved very well whilst in the studio.

Secondly, we had a problem creating the infinity effect on our cyclorama, as there was an obvious crease where the curtain on the back wall met the floor, resulting in a dark line behind the performers. We attempted covering the crease with sheets of white A3 paper, a method that worked during our Echosmith remake for our prelim. However, we realised that this effect only worked when the lighting was over exposed and white so as to blend the gap between floor and wall, whereas in our more colourful, less exposed lighting set-ups, the paper was very obvious and the gaffer tape used to stick the paper down shone in the lights, resulting in a tacky unpleasant result. We decided that the best option for our music video was to take away the paper and leave the crease. We decided this because it did not matter to our music video aesthetic if it was obvious that our video was shot in a studio, as our handmade props and set design already display a very stripped back, raw image.

Another problem this challenge created was that laying down the paper to see if it looked good took up a large amount of our scheduled shooting time for the Sergeant Pepper set up. This was luckily easily resolved because we had scheduled a longer period of time later on in the week in which to catch up on shooting this set up, and luckily this did not delay our shoot.

Our main challenge we had to face happened mid way through the week, where a substantial amount of our footage got corrupted whilst we were backing it up onto our hard drive. This meant that we had to schedule reshoots for three major set ups, that being Singin' in the Rain, Alice in Wonderland and our handheld band shots. Fortunately, we had prepared for a technical issue like this to occur and had planned to finish our shoot on Thursday, leaving Friday through Saturday clear if we needed any back-ups. Therefore, we scheduled reshoots for our missing footage on the Friday and Saturday, deciding to shoot our two themed set ups on Friday and our band shots on Saturday, when Tom was completely free. The reshoots went very well, and we decided to make the most of them by improving on the ones we shot before. For instance, we choreographed a lot more interesting dance moves for our Singing' in the Rain sequence, taking more inspiration from Gene Kelly's dancing in the original movie.

We were not 100% how the corruption occurred, so to make sure it didn't happen again, we agreed to back up our footage onto two hard drives from then on so as to have two back ups if one transferral did not go well. We were also more careful not to touch the hard drive when it was backing up so we didn't disturb the process, and made sure to review every piece of backed up footage before we formatted our SD card.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

R+P Post 33: Reflections on my role and contribution during research and planning

Overall, I feel very confident about what our group has accomplished during the research and planning period. It's been a pleasure to work with Noa and Emilio in this time, who have both contributed a lot to this project.

Here is what I have contributed during Research and Planning:

Planning the video
  • I contributed some useful ideas for tracks when deciding which song to use for the music video, some of which are now our influences (e.g. Lucy Spraggan)
  • I contributed a lot of shot ideas for both the timeline and the story board, including the idea of Casey grabbing her favourite things when she is sad, which are all reminiscent of the characters in her dream.
  • I helped make the props and set, particularly the apple tree and the light-up lamppost-head. 
Planning the website/album cover
  • I provided some useful examples of websites that may influence our band's (e.g. Lucy Spraggan, Sheppard)
  • I provided some useful examples of album covers that may influence our band's (e.g. Florence and the Machine's 'Lungs')
During test shoot
  • I performed the role of the lead guitarist 
  • I helped source costumes for myself and others (e.g. brown trousers for Ray, who played Shaggy)
  • I helped create lighting set-ups
  • I helped film shots and tested out some successful shot ideas (e.g. the tilt from mirror to Casey to show her transformation into Alice)
Overall, I believe my group and I have contributed a lot to this project. I am very happy with what we have accomplished so far and am excited to continue on to the construction of the project.

R+P Post 32: Test shoot and rough edit

Our test shoot occurred on the Thursday and Friday before our main shoot week. The main purpose of the test shoot was to test our lighting and camera set ups and practice our performances in the main performance area. The test shoot was a really good experience. It was our first chance to get hands on with our kit, and the first time we stood up our shots - before then, our shot ideas existed only on paper, so it was very good to put them on their feet with all our props and scenery.

The test shoot was a big learning curve for me. For instance, before the test shoot, I was very nervous about the prospect of operating the professional kit, particularly the lighting desk, as I had never before had hands on experience with it. With some help from our technician Sam, I got my head around using the kit and before long, I was able to help my group create some of our lighting set ups and record them to the monitor for later use. By the end of the two days, I was perfectly confident using the equipment.

Me using the lighting desk
During the test shoot, I took a few other roles. As a performer, I practiced my guitar playing and tried to come up with a movement bank to service the playfulness and energy of Hugh Tyler. I had a lot of help from my group to keep my energy up and come up with new moves to do.

I also took on the role as performance director. I helped others in my group keep performing in their roles as the band member's and coming up with some movements to help visualise this.

Me and Noa working on movements for band shots

The test shoot helped us realise which of our ideas worked. One of the things we realised worked well was the band shots. We really liked the composition of the band members in the shot, with the centre containing Casey in front and Hugh slightly behind, and Terence and Guy flanking them. This foregrounded Casey as the 'face' of the band and, being next to one another, allowed Casey and Hugh to exchange some playful sibling moments to highlight their brother-sister relationship, which is an important feature of our band.

Furthermore, the test shoot showed us what needed to change. Some of our lighting states, for example, appeared too dark when we reviewed the footage, such as in the Singing' in the Rain set up. This was a problem as our music video aesthetic involves bright colours. We decided to add more white lights to shine on the performers so that they would no longer be so obscured by the dark.

Overall, I am very happy with how the test shoot went. Because our first day of the main shoot was the day after the test shoot, we unfortunately did not have the time to construct a rough edit. However, we found the experience very useful and being able to review the footage gave us a lot to think about into how we could improve. I feel that I have come out of the test shoot confident about starting the main shoot, as I now have the technical knowledge I need to help behind the camera and I feel well rehearsed in my performance.

R+P Post 31: My call sheet

We created our call sheet alongside with our shoot board. We did this because it allowed us to quickly reference the call sheet whenever we studied the shoot board, which we plan on placing on the back wall of the studio. We sat down with Tom and Lily, who agreed to be our make-up artist, to receive their timetables so we knew when they would be free, and adjusted the call sheet accordingly. Copies of the call sheet were then discussed with Tom, Lily and the extras involved in the party sequence we will be filming on the first Saturday, elaborating what time they would need to arrive and what they would be doing.

Here is an excerpt of the call sheet from our shoot board:

The right most column contains the call sheet for our performers - names not in bold denote people who are available but not needed for performing
Creating a call sheet was important as many of the people involved in our shoot do not take A Level Media and so do not have similar timetables to us, therefore we need to keep track on what we could accomplish for each shoot session. This particularly helped with Tom and Lily, who were both vital to the production of the video. We needed to ensure Tom knew when he was needed because his role as a band member means his attendance to the whole band shots, which take up a lot of our shoot time, is essential, and we needed to make sure Lily knew what make-up she would need to bring for each set up.

R+P Post 30: My shoot board

We created a multi-functional shoot board to help us on the week of our shoot. This board will show us what set ups/shots we will be shooting and when, as well as having a list keeping note of all the props and people who will need to be present at the time of each shoot. We plan to have this shoot board on the back wall of the studio so that we can always keep track on what we are filming on each day.

Here is our shoot board:

On our shoot board, we also kept tabs on people who would be free to help out even if they aren't needed on set (their names are not in bold) and includes lots of time near the end of the week for backups in case we want to reshoot any of our shots. Our shoot board was heavily influenced by who was free; for example, we could only do band shots when all four band members were available. This is why we created the shoot board alongside our call sheet.

Creating a shoot board is useful because it will help us to stay organised on the shoot week; we are under strict time restrictions, having only one week in which to shoot, so scheduling what we are going to film will help us make efficient use of our time so that we can progress. Also, by noting what shots will be filmed on each day, we can also remind ourselves if we have missed any shots, for example if we run out of time one day to finish a set up.