Media is a very competitive area, so having work experience on your CV can really benefit. Nothing beats hands on experience, so this module was the greatest opportunity that I had so far to enhance and develop all my theoretical and practical skills. The most important part is that I managed to know myself better, to discover what roles are more suitable for me and to prepare myself for what will follow.
As I wanted to take advantage as much as I could of the opportunities offered by the University, I decided that the best thing to do is to experience more than one role. Being a sound operator, camera operator and producer, not only that helped me enhance my technical skills, but also put me in the position to adapt to different environments and different people, as teamwork and adaptability are one of the strongest points in my field. In such context, were the media industry is constantly growing, by producing more and more content for the consumer, it is necessary to have a broader base of knowledge. In addition, this is way I choose to involve myself in different projects both traditional and self-managed, because it is essential to learn about and understand all aspects of media production to improve the prospects of a graduate’s career in what is a fast – moving industry. When you look at all the potential careers you can identify in the entertainment industry, it’s pretty easy to feel a bit overwhelmed by the number of choices. So, the first thing to do is to assess your character traits, your skill sets, your education and your desires and plot those against your long-term career goals.
When I proposed myself such a wide range of placements, I did thought that I might encounter some inconvenient that might interfere with my plans, such as time management, practical adaptability or financial problems. Indeed, this was the case and I had to give up some events such as Paris fashion week and Coventry Cathedral. But as we all know, the media continues to be based most on people’s relations and contacts, aspect which continues a flow movement in this industry; so I start thinking at possible people that I might know and that can help me find another placement that will be most suitable for me. Fortunately, it was just a matter of days until I have found something right for me, the role as a camera operator for a local TV station from my original country: Neptun TV.
Another aspect that I wish to mention, is that things do not go every time as we plan, so we need to learn how to deal with the problems, which occur, and how to cope with stressful situation. In these cases, the concept of transferable skills begins to represent one of the most valuable aspects that an employee takes in consideration when hiring someone. Luckily, during University I expanded my knowledge and I discovered and developed some of the skills required in this industry, whether technical or social, such as: self- awareness, action planning, teamwork, communication, creativity, manually operating equipment. Most of these skills proved to be transferable, thing that helped me carry my tasks more easily and effectively in different circumstances and under different roles. I realised the importance of working in a team, due to all the different skills that we possess, because we are as strongest as our weakest link. I learned how to cope with every member of my crew, no matter of our roles, because we all depend of each other, and if someone fails in their attempt we all fail.
By measuring all the pros and cons from the different positions I took part during my professional experience, I started to think beyond the University projects and look even further at how this professional experience may influence or not my future career. First of all, I had the opportunity to compare different roles, thing that made me realise that I want to aim as high as possible. I have just realised how difficult this process can be, and how many skills I still have to develop in order to have a successful career.
Being a producer, camera and sound operator helped me understand how important is to start from the bottom, to go through all the different stages of production, in order to be able to make a clear idea on how the media industry works and what is the best career for me. During this process I realised that I would like to handle more the creative side of a production, I would really enjoy taking care of all the aspects from the development of the script, to locations, casting and composition of shots. I am not arguing that I do not enjoy working directly with the equipment, but I incline to develop my creative, communication skills and attention to detail as much as possible. When I get involved into a project, I always tend to express my opinions and thoughts about it, and sometimes insist on it. My plans change in light of what I have experienced, because I realised that I would like to be more in charge with the overall aspect of production, because in this way I can have more freedom of expression.
One of the main advantages that I had during this experience, was the possibility of learning in advance how to operate new equipment that was available to me only for these particular projects, such as the H4N sound recorder, the 744T sound mixer and Canon 5D camera. In addition, I enhanced both video and sound operating skills, which will prove to be useful not only for these particular jobs, but also for a potential director role as an example. This helped me develop my artistic vision, and also gave me a different perspective upon the commitment and passion that are essential for a film. Moreover, it gave an extensive understanding of the entire filming process, the crucial link between the production, technical and creative teams. Also, I realised that I need to be rational, and to learn how to think clearly under pressure. Hence, I started to be more self- confident regarding the work that I am doing.
By applying these skills I managed to evaluate myself, and to analyse my strengths and my weaknesses. My major concern was my lack of practice, and this is why I felt insecure or I panicked easily in some situations. This was mainly because I had some trouble learning the technical settings, especially in the case of the 5D, because I did not have a previous opportunity to play with the functions, to learn their role and to accommodate with them. An example of such kind, is when I had trouble focusing details while closing- up. At the beginning I was a little bit clumsy and my hands weren’t stabilising the camera very well, because I was not comfortable with the camera, and I had to focus on certain settings and buttons.
Another gap that I have, which sometimes interferes in the success of a task is related to my communication skills. I do not encounter this problem very often, but not being a native of this language seems to represent a problem in some occasions. Sometimes I feel that I cannot express my thoughts, as I would wish, and that the real message is not intercepted. This is why I consider important being part of a team, because I have the chance to be permanently surrounded by people who communicate effectively and I have the chance to observe and learn from them. Now that I had the chance to reflect on my weakest points, I will focus my attention on improving them in my future projects.
All in all, this professional experience helped me get an inside view on the media world, and upon the necessary skills that this industry requires. During this period not all things went as we planned, we encountered difficulties in the process of production and we had to find ad hoc solutions. As an example, during the first night of filming in Iceland, we could not record the sound due to some technical difficulties on the set. Hence, I coped with the situation and I made myself useful by undertaking tasks that weren’t part of my original role such as lightning and operating with the equipment, and we managed to overcome this situation. I was satisfied of my overall experience, taking in consideration all the challenges that I have encountered, but I am also aware that I need to work more on the gaps that I have such as technical practice, communication skills and adaptability. This experience made me realise that goals allow you to control the direction of change in your favour.
My last day at Neptun TV was my favourite, as I had the pleasure to film at a live concert for the the first time. I knew that was the occasion when I could prove my best and show that the experience that I gathered so far, helped me reach a new professional level.
This was quite a challenging experience, due to the overcrowding. I had to make sure that my camera is stabilised every moment, and that I won’t loose the focus while I was surrounded by a bunch of people. We were three camera operators, so we divided the subjects for our shot. My job here was to film the bands who were on the scene, so I could use a tripod which helped me get steady shots. I am glad that I was the one who filmed the bands, not because it was the easiest task, but because I felt comfortable in this position. Today I also learned a new thing from one of the camera operators, that if I place my camera close to the stage on a tripod, it is possible that the vibrations of the bass might run up your tripod, interfering the camera focus and make it tremble. I took into consideration this advice and I positioned the camera at a considerable distance from the scene.
I hope that, in the future, I will have more chances to film concerts, and this time why not concerts of consecrated bands?It was so useful to work in different circumstances, because it made me see how things can be in the real industry, that it is likely to encounter problems, that not everything comes out as you plan. I think this placement had a great significance in my process of reaching a more professional. It is good to see that my results lead to something good, lead to a chance that will help me become what I want.
On my fourth day I was assigned another task, which again had to do with filming interviews, but this time I had to focus on different types of shot such as B-roll and cutaways because the director wanted me to practice different things which can enhance my experience.
So for this particular shots I had to concentrate more on background compositional shots, which had to relate with the subject discussed by the Interviewee. For example if he was discussing about the architecture of a building, I had to get some shots with the object, some of them were wider shots showing the overall image, and other had to be close- ups in order to illustrate the details. Moreover, my other task was to make close-ups on the interviewee, in order to catch his reactions and emotions such as hand movements or facial expressions. This type of shots provide more material for the editor.
To be hones I’ve found this tasks a little bit harder then the previous ones, because now I had to focus on details and I needed to have quick reactions. I was afraid that I will miss some important details, or that I will lose the camera focus. At the beginning I was a little bit clumsy, and my hands weren’t stabilising the camera very well, and this is mostly to the lack of practice. Until now, I have used a tripod for most of the shots that I have done, thing which made things easier for me, as I didn’t have to worry about shacked image. Luckily I managed to control myself, and I got pretty good shots. At the end of the day, the director mentioned me some of the things that I did wrong, so that next time I pay more attention.
I do not blame myself for doing some mistakes, because in this way I can learn how to improve my skills and to work on my weakest points. As Benjamin Franklin says ‘Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out’.
Because I was so enthusiastic about the interviews that we made a day before, today I had the chance to film interviews again. So this time I was eager to learn more rules and more tips that help at the success of an interview.
Yesterday I was a little bit insecure about when should I move the camera angle or when to zoom in or out without interrupting the interview, so I asked the other camera operator about what techniques should I use in order to be positive that I am doing these things right. So, I learned that I shouldn’t move the camera or zoom while the interviewee in speaking, unless there is a particular reason to do this. The best moment is to adjust all these things while the interviewer is asking the questions. Also, I had to be careful that some techniques must be applied in particular cases. For example if the face of the subject became emotional, it was appropriate for me to zoom in so that we can see his face in more details; if the subject moves during the interview, i have to follow him with the camera in order to keep a good composition of the shot; and if the subject is pointing out to something the best thing to do is to zoom out, so that the viewer can have an overall picture.
Today I also did a mistake. I closed the camera when I thought the interviewee has finished talking, but then he added something important and I felt like I screwed everything up. Fortunately no one said anything about this thing, except of a piece of advice – always leave an extra time of the shot, in order to be sure that the editor has enough space to cut the footage in the right place.
On my third day as a cameraman I started to feel more secure on the role that I was given, so the director asked me to go with a part of the crew and film some interviews. Before going on the field, the director showed me some filming techniques for the interview, and he went with me once again through the components of a shot such as medium shot, medium close- up, close- up, wide shots etc.. These were things I was already familiar, but it didn’t hurt to take a look once more.
When we were on the field, I tried to do my job with professionalism, especially because the director didn’t gave me exact instructions, giving me free hand in some way or another. So my first objective was to find a suitable background to place the interviewee in front of. I know from previous experience, that the background gives me the possibility to inform the audience more around the subject, by reinforcing the content or showing the character of the interviewee. The difficult part was to set up the camera and find a good position where to place the interviewee because of the sun light, which kept moving making the background brighter and the face of the interviewee darker. The next step was to position the interviewee slightly to the centre, so that I can draw the attention to him, but in the same time to have a good visibility of the background.
What seemed to be hard for the people was to get used with the cameras. At the beginning they all looked stressed and they kept looking directly to the camera, even if I was indicating them to look at the interviewer. Fortunately everything went good, and the director was satisfied on my work and with my contribution to this project.
I was really happy to see that I am doing a good job, and that the progresses that I make are every day bigger. I think that by the end of this work experience I can be really confident on my skills and knowledge regarding this role.
This was my second day as a camera operator for the local news show – Neptun Tv. I hoped this day will be more productive than the previous one, so I was eager to show everyone my capacities and my desire to accomplish my role as best as I could.
At the beginning of the day I was given the script and the indications for the shots, and I was told to rehears everything, in order to know exactly what shots are coming, how to frame them and where to position the camera. I was told that because I was only in my second day, I won’t have as much freedom of expression as I would have liked to. And also, that if I pass this challenge successfully, from now on I will be allowed to use my creativity in order to suggest different shots, angles and ways of framing. Of course, the director will supervise me closely and he will have the last word.
I must say that I am really proud of myself, because at the end of the day the director congratulated me, telling me that I have acted as a professional, and now has gained confidence in my abilities. Luckily, it was a successful, even if I did a quite big mistake in my opinion. Because of the emotions, I forgot to prepare and frame one of the shots, so the director had to react quickly in order to cover my mistake. Except this inconvenient, I think I did pretty well, because I haven’t received any other complaints.
Everyday I become closer and closer to fulfil my dream and start a career in media.
Today was my first day when I started my professional experience at a local television from my country. I was really excited about this opportunity, especially because I had the chance to work in my own language, aspect which made me feel more comfortable and relaxed. My job here was the one of a camera man from a local news show.
As I have expected, the first day was quite casual and it began with the introduction of the crew and the equipment that I was going to use. For the first time I was not surrounded by students, but by a professional crew so I was afraid not to mess everything up. In order to be sure that I completely understood everything that I need to do, I put as many questions as I thought it was necessary, and I carefully listened to the instructions given. Luckily, we had a couple of hours until the news show had to begin, so I had time to get used with the camera and with the studio. In order to do some practice to show to the director how am I doing, he gave me a part of a script where were noted all the necessary information regarding the shots that I was going to take. At the beginning, I have to confess that I was a little bit clumsy, as the camera role was not my strongest point, the director had to make me aware of some big mistakes that I was doing such as framing, zooming in and out very fast and bad lightning settings.
So we decided that for this first show, I should be in charge with the static camera, because there are not so many things that I need to concentrate about, and also I had the chance to get more used to the camera and feel more comfortable in my role. During the show I had the chance to observe how all the other camera operators act and I also noticed some tips that I could use from now on and that look very good on camera.
Two days before we came back to England, I had the chance to help some of the third year guys with their final project: Latitude, as a sound operator. Me, Adam, Sam and James Dove headed to a waterfall where they were planning to film some parts for their movie.
We had some issues regarding the sound equipment, because we forgot to bring the headphones, so I had to record the sound just based on my intuition and previous experience. It was the first time when I was put in this situation, and I didn’t want to disappoint them. So based on what I knew, or even better – based on what Bex learned me I just had to pay attention at the volume levels. The key is to keep those levels at -12; by doing this you can be sure that your recording will sound good.
This time I was more relaxed than at the previous shoots; first of all because I saw the the third year guys adopted a more comfortable attitude, – a stress -less one I could say -, and second of all because I was more confident in my own strengths. Here was the last time when I practiced my role as a sound operator. I enjoyed doing this, and I found it quite an easy job to do after you get used with all the settings and all the problems that might occur, and I barely wait to try new other roles, in order to develop more and more skills that will definitely be helpful in the future.
As I mentioned in some previous posts, me and Raul didn’t had the possibility to record the sound during the shootings, due to the horrible noise that the power generator was doing. So after the filming for Snowblind was done, we had to start record all the sounds from scratch.
The best thing that we could do for a start, was to read the script again and make a list with all the sounds that we needed. The list was pretty long, and we worried about few things, which hindered us from recording some sounds, such as the lack of snow and the noisy car traffic. In consequence, we spend a good part of the day searching for a good spot where we could have all the necessary conditions to record the sound. Finally we found a place with a bigger spot of snow, where we could record some of the sounds. Seb and Tom helped us, because it was hard just for us two to record and in the same time make the necessary actions such as: walking, spitting, being dragged through snow etc..
When we got back at the hotel I played again all the sounds, and I tried to be as objective as I could. My biggest worry was that the sound won’t be synchronised with the image, because we weren’t able to do the same actions as our actress, as slow or as fast as she did them. So, not only that I didn’t had my chance to do my role when I had to, but I also had to worry about the quality of the sound, and whether if it will fit the images. Fortunately for me, after I discussed with the director and some other members of my crew, I headed to the conclusion that we could solve any problem at the editing part if its necessary.