Iceland 6

Today was our second day of shooting, and we started by filming the interior scenes. James Dove led the group, and we were fewer this time, because the house wasn’t big enough so that everyone can fit. Plus we needed only a limited group of people, because there weren’t too many shots to film. The team consisted of James Dove (Co-Director),  Sarah Wildash (Camera Op), Jessica Dash (Camera Assistant), Lynn Kapinga (Producer), Adam Davies (1st AD), Raul Klein and Myself (Sound Operatives) . Bex also came along in order to supervise the production and to help us if necessary.

The house was wonderful, just the way I have pictured it, and we also had plenty of room for the equipment, so this aspect didn’t caused us any problems. Before we start filming we had to deal with the decorations, of course there wasn’t to much to do because the house was exactly how we wanted, but we had to work a little bit with the lightning. Outside was noon, and we needed a darker light in order to suggest that it is evening, so we came up with the idea of sticking black foils on the windows. The idea turned out to be successful.

On the other hand, there were some small issues that we had to take in consideration while filming, such as the wooden floor that was quite creaky because the house was old, issue that we had to be pretty aware of when recording the sound. Also due to this reason, we had to be careful at the track and dolly because the floor was uneven and it made strange noises. The bath scene also cause some problems, because the bathroom was quite small for all of us to come in, and one of the walls had huge mirrors and we had to be careful not to be caught in the shot. So for the bathroom scene only a restricted number of people were allowed to go in. The boom mic kept making me problems, because due to its size you could easily see its shadow in the water, but finally I managed to find a position that suited.

Also what I enjoyed most about this day, was the fact that we were organised and we managed to finish all of our work in time, in comparison with the previous night of filming. I am really pleased about this shots, and I barely wait to see how they look on a big screen, and I have to thank for this to our amazing actress, which knew how to play each scene to perfection, think which made our job easier, because we didn’t had to take so many shots.


Iceland 5

Today was the first day of our actual shoot, and you could feel the tension in the air. We all needed to be ready by 5pm, and the equipment had be checked a couple of hours earlier. We encountered a problem with the sound equipment – the batteries that were bought for the recorder were the wrong type, so we had to go and buy new ones. Of course this affected also the budget, because we spent around 60 pounds on 80 batteries. We needed that many because first of al we were three crews, and then because the life of the batteries was really short in terms of cold weather. I have learned this on a previous experience, when we had to film a hockey game for BBC Big Screen.

When we got to our location, we realised that there is not to much snow, but we eventually managed to find a good spot just a few meters up where we parked the minivan. Luckily, the temperature was alright, though it dropped a bit during night time. What worried me from the beginning was the fact that we couldn’t record a good quality sound because of the generator that was on the set to power the lightning. So I talked with the director, and we decided that it is best to record the sound during the shots.Unfortunately, things didn’t go as we planned due to our lack of experience. The time taken to prepare all the shouts seemed to be huge in comparison with the number of shots that we had to take that night. We were restricted by time and that seemed to represent a big problem. So in order to help with everything, despite the fact that I couldn’t do my actual role, I turned out to help with the lightning and with the disposal of the other equipment. I thought this is the best solution in order to help my group, because we have to learn how to cope with each other when needed, despite some misunderstandings.

Just because if I wasn’t a sound operator on the set tonight, doesn’t mean that I didn’t contributed as best as I could to this shots. I enjoyed this experience, because it gave a sense of reality, a different perspective about how my job could look like in the future, what are the challenges that I might expect.

Iceland 4

Today we did some test shoots for the interior scenes, and we used as a location one of the hotel rooms. This test seemed to be a useful one, as we had to take advantage of the little space that we had available. We played around with the lightning and with the camera angles.

What I learned from this experience, is that I have to be very careful at my position in relation to the other members of the crew, because otherwise we could risk an accident due to all the cables that were spread in the room. Of course, the situation will be different in the actual day of the shoot, because we will use another location. My role in this occasion wasn’t so important because the purpose was to practice more shots, but at least I have the chance to see how things really work, and how creative a camera operator can be when encountering difficulties such as small space or lightning.

After this rehearsal, me and Raul tried to record separately the sounds for the interior scenes, to see if there are any inconveniences that might occur, or if we need to use some sound effects. In order to be sure that the sound will be perfect, we tried to use both the H4N and the 744T, to see if there are any actual differences between these two recorders. After recording all the sounds that we wanted, we decided that there will be no differences if we opt for the H4N.

All in all, I think that we had a very productive day,  and I was really excited about the days that were coming, because we all wanted to prove how hard we prepared ourselves in order to achieve a successful production.

Iceland 3

In this day we decided that is time to go and practice with the equipment that we have. More than that it was a chance to get used with the cold weather conditions. Me and Raul worked in pair, as he was my sound assistant and I think that we managed to work well together. We tried to give each other advices and tips, and we tried to help each other with everything that we could.

Of course, it seems easy to work with the sound equipment, but it can be catchy at some point when you experience difficulties such as hard wind, echo and other background sounds that might affect your work. So, our first thought was how to get rid of the unnecessary sounds if this will be the case, and how to position the microphone in order to avoid the hard wind. After trying more settings and after practicing more possibilities we decided that we should try to use the 744T audio mixer recorder, which now seemed more appropriate for what we wanted to record. So we spend the last part of the day trying to figure it how we can use this sound mixer, as we didn’t had the chance to practice with it so far. We only had a short workshop on how to use it, just before the trip, so because it is way more complex than the other recorder that we used until now, we weren’t sure about what is the best thing to do: whether to use a better sound mixer but whit the chance of doing something wrong, or whether we should use the sound recorder that we already knew how to use in order to be sure that we will have a smooth production. After talking with Bex, and with the other sound operators from the other crews, we decided that is best to stick to our first option: the H4N because no one could actually give us instructions on how to use the 744T.

At the end of the day, after everyone from our crew worked at their roles, we all headed off to a restaurant called “the Scandinavian” where we served a good icelandic tradition meal.

Iceland 2

In the early morning of the 24th of February we all met at the Sports Centre at 6.15 am, in order to begin our journey to Iceland. We were all really excited about this trip, and curious about how will things go there. Our journey lasted a couple of hours, and all our way there I remember that I constantly thought about how Iceland will look like. Of course that I was fascinated about the northern lights and the possibility of seeing them, about the whales and their strange icelandic cuisine, but what I was also expecting to see there and in huge quantities was snow, because it reminded me of home.

So I was a little bit shocked when I saw that it was no snow in Iceland, except mountains. We were worried about this aspect, because we didn’t expected such a climate, and because our film was called Snowblind. So one again we encountered difficulties. As it wasn’t too much for us to do in that very first day, we had a meeting, where the guys who came before us informed us about all the changes that have been done and all the aspects that we need to be aware of when filming. In that night I was really unlucky cause I got a really bad cold, which until the next morning affected my vocal cords so hard that I could speak only in whispers. I was worried about this aspect, because in two or three days I was about to film two days in cold, and I was afraid that my cold might get worse.

Fortunately for me I managed to feel better and I was ready to work by monday morning.

Multimedia presentation

Week 5 Additional Task – Song Case Study

For this task I choose a song that I really love to listen, even if it was many times controversial. I find it absolutely superb.

For thirty-five years Lou Reed has been at the forefront of the avant-garde in popular music. His gritty and realistic vision made him a cultural icon of the disenfranchised urban youth of the 1960s and 1970s. A counterpoint to the booming impersonal economy of the 1980s and 1990s, Reed has asserted a brutal honesty into both his music and lyrics that demands the full attention of contemporary listeners. From punk rock to grunge, Reed has had an unparalleled influence on the American music scene. (more about Lou Reed)

Perfect Day” is a song written by Lou Reed in 1972, originally featured on Transformer, Reed’s second post-Velvet Underground solo album. Its fame was given a boost in the 1990s when it was featured in the 1996 film Trainspotting, and after its release as a star-studded BBC charity single in 1997, which became the UK’s number one single for three weeks.

So if we associate the song and its lyrics with the controversy image of the singer, we will be tempted to associate it with drugs and the pleasure induced by them. But what makes this song special is the ability to create a complex emotional landscape with a simple language. For me it suggests simple and conventional romantic devotion, and also an indescribable state of calm. So I think that people should exceed this ideas, because eventually this song can catch many forms and meanings, depending on who listens it.

“Prompted by a huge public demand the track was released in October as a charity single for Children in need, and Lou Reed said “I have never been more impressed with a performance of one of my songs.”It was the UK’s number one single for three weeks, in two separate spells. Selling over a million copies, the record contributed £2,125,000 to the charity’s highest fundraising total in six years. The release featured two additional versions of the song: one entirely sung by female performers, one by male performers. The BBC also produced a Christmas version of the accompanying music video.” (Wikipedia)

And now I will close with one of Lou Reed’s quotes: ‘How can anybody learn anything from an artwork when the piece of art only reflects the vanity of the artist and not reality?’

Flash mob

This week we had to design and implement a flash mob. We had to pay attention to things like originality, impact, creativity, number of people involved and risks. The catchy part was that we had to mobilise ourselves in only  8 hours. I didn’t knew exactly what a flash mob is, so I researched about it. Back in the 19th century in Tasmania the word referred to a culture where women were kept prisoners. Also in Australia the term flash mob referred to a divided part of society.   This genre has a modern origin, at least in the documented use of the term as we knew it today, because it was created in 2013 by Bill Wasick senior editor of Harper’s Magazine.

Here are one of the best flash mobs that I’ve found on the Internet:

Coming up with ideas for our own flash mob wasn’t as hard as I believed it could be. Our top 3 were: Ikea – act like you are in your own home,  movie interpretations and star wars battle. The votes were really close between the first and the second option. We went for movie interpretations, as Ikea seemed to put a little bit at risk some conventions like legalities, permissions and negative press.

As we didn’t had to much time, we decided to start and rehearse what we were going to do. After half an hour of trying to sing all in the same time, we realised that it wasn’t the best option, because we won’t  achieve the impact that we wanted. We thought about it and we came to the conclusion that we should go for Ikea, because is the most fun to do, it will raise a big impact and this is our purpose, people will talk about it and it was something original. So, we started to make a plan. We were divided in several groups because otherwise we could draw the attention of the staff from the very beginning and it was something that we had to avoid.

Each group was divided to a particular room: kitchen, bedroom, living room and bathroom. I picked the bedroom and me and my group came up with the idea of a fight between a husband (Alex Blaikie) and a wife (being me); Jessica Dash was the women with whom Alex cheated me, and Jack Harris was another man who was hiding in the closet.  We wanted to make it look real, so we decided to make it a little bit extreme. We carefully changed our clothes without being noticed, we were all wearing pyjamas except Jack who was wearing only his underwear. I decided to take my role seriously, so when I ‘caught’ Alex in bed with Jess I started to scream at him and I even slapped him easily on the face. The staff heard us, so we were interrupted by them. To continue our joke, me and Alex asked the staff what are they doing in our bedroom and then we started laughing. We realised that things can take a wrong turn if we don’t go, so we packed our things quickly and left the building accompanied by two members of staff.

Things went out pretty good in our opinion, and the footage looked amazingly. Unfortunately when we went back to uni we’ve found out that we need to delete all the footage/ photos and comments that were in connection with our flash mob, because we violated some terms and regulations of Ikea, and some people were even banned to ever go to Ikea again. But sometimes isn’t it that whole point of creative activism? To ware awareness, to get a reaction, to not care what other people think…

Even though we didn’t had such a happy ending, I still think that if you are really passionate about what your doing sometime you can omit the rules, especially if you are aware of the consequences that you can get. In order to raise a big impact you have to make something out of common, something that will make people wonder: ‘ Hey, what’s going on? ‘, and I think that we did manage to do that. The purpose justifies the means.

The two days of shooting

After coming back from Iceland really excited about our short film and with really good perspectives and expectations about our short film, I must say that I was disappointed to find out that we don’t have proper actors. In Iceland I enjoyed the fact that it was a better sense of responsibility and a better understanding of every key aspect in a film. As I mentioned in an earlier post, casting was one of the crucial things that we needed for our production, and I worried that we could face this problem. From my previous experience I’ve seen that unprofessional actors are not always serious about their job, don’t pay attention to the requests of the director and more than that the final product will look amateur. All this being said, we encountered a problem from day 1. One of our actors decided to back-up in the day of the shooting, so Amrit had to remake the script in accordance to this new event.

I think this problem was mainly due to the fact that half of our crew was in Iceland, so we couldn’t communicate properly, we couldn’t help each other by giving suggestions that could have solved our issue. On another hand I think that we might not have advertised our film properly in order to raise the interest of possible actors. Also we were restrained to a certain budget and this was an obstacle in achieving our goals.

The first day of filming didn’t start very well as we encountered a problem with the timings. Part of our actors were’t ready till one our later than the we scheduled. The time in which we were going to film was short, as we choose to film in the library so we had to keep focused on every step and take responsibility of our roles. My role was a little bit tricky here, as I had to set up an office in one of the study rooms from the library. I had to come up with ideas of how to make the cubicles desks out of nothing, and I also had to finish everything in a restricted time. The props that I choose were not only the ones usual to an office, but also one that are in accordance with the character;s profiles, because I wanted to transmit a message through the set, I wanted to give a shape of the character’s profile. After I finished the set, my job yes wasn’t finished, as I was the sound operator. I must say that I enjoyed my role, because some of the scenes were really hilarious. Though we had a good time filming it, we also were careful about the shooting schedule and tried to take as many takes as possible from different angles and perspectives. I haven’t mentioned the fact that the “actors” were pretty good, and despite my expectations they behaved really well on set, listening the requirements of the director and trying to accomplish them as best as possible.

Day two started really well, and we were all enjoying the fact that we finally decided to do something right and chose as a location for the park scene to go in Birmingham. Locations are very important, and raise the interest of an audience, so I think that it is important that we made this call. I was surprised to see how good this day went, because I was a little bit nervous that we had to work with children, thing which we avoided till now. But we had to go for something different, that we haven’t tried so far; you can’t always work with people from your age. As I said, things turned up to go really well, and we even finished the shooting before the scheduled hour. The camera operator and the director said that we got all the footage needed, so we didn’t had anything to worry about.Unfortunately, I thought that things can’t be that perfect, so when I got home I’ve found out that the footage was not as good as we thought.  The camera was out of focus in some of the farts, and the framing was not that good. Now I feel sorry that we didn’t take addvantage of all the time that we had, in order to make further takes that would have helped in the editing process. This is a think that we must keep in mind.

I am glad at least that I can learn from every mistake made, thing which is really important for my experience. As it is said ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail! ‘.

For Assessment: – Digital thinking

How does viral video really work? Well, you can’t actually have an answer for this question. Of course the key is to produce a piece of media that has the potential to create impact, and then to distribute it on as many platforms as possible, but everything needs to happen organically. No one can give you any guarantees.

As an example, Jon Gomm’s Passionflower video was viewed in one week over half a million times, just because it was downloaded  from Jon’s Youtube channel (using some dodgy software) and reposted it as “Insane Guitar Skills “Passionflower”” on their own channel; it became so popular that it ended up on the front page.

So what can we learn from this experience? The title is really important, because its the first thing that makes contact with the viewer – make it simple but catchy. I think that this is the hardest step, because the most important thing is to make people watch it for the first time. Once they have played it and listened it once, the content is the one which will actually matter. Furthermore, in terms of content one of the most important things is to get emotional reactions, by making it impressive, unusual and remarkable. After you see that people are interested in your video, try and upload it on platforms such as blogs and websites which are in correlation with the topic used in your video.

The problem with a viral video is that it doesn’t last too long, so you must make everything you can when its happening. Try to answer every message received, try and create a relationship with every fan that comes across and try and think how you can attract more and more people.

Another important step is to make people feel comfortable, so you have to be careful at everything from the visuals to sound, voice and background music. People tend to share things that makes them feel good, that are easy to understand and that have a message. So if you have all this, you will be more likely to make your video go viral.

And last but not least, try to be yourself, try to be unconventional. You need to make a piece of media that says  something about you, that represents you or a part of your beliefs or feelings.  The best way to have success is to distinguish yourself among the rest of the people, by being more fully self – expressed.

In my case, for this task I choose a video that I made almost one year ago: My poetic Eyes. So I’ve uploaded it to Youtube, Facebook, Vimeo, Google Video and Yahoo Video, Metacafe and Revver. Unfortunately, I didn’t get as many viewers as I would have liked, and I think this is especially because I haven’t used appropriate tags and the title could have been more catchy. Not to mention the fact that the quality of the image was not that good. On the other hand, I tried to comment on my work, I tried to attract people through emotions and feelings.

The theme of this video was the devastating earthquake from Haiti, in 12th of February 2010. I remember that in 2010 when I saw on the news what happened I was really shocked to see what damages produced the catastrophic magnitude 7.0 Mw earthquake. What was really disturbing and touching was the fact that almost 3 million people were affected: more than 316.000 lost their lives, 300.000 had been injured and more than 1.000.000 remained homeless. What is worse is the fact that Haiti is one of the most poorest countries from the Caribbean islands. In a country routinely referred to as the poorest in the western hemisphere, the devastation has been dramatic and widespread. In addition to the mounting casualties and loss of life and property, the damage to the country’s already fragile infrastructure has been severe.

Is hard to lose your home, your money and all your goods, but is terrible to lose your family and your loved ones. I can’t imagine what those people felt back then and how did they get the power to go further. All their life was destroyed in that day, all their work, all their feelings, all their goods…everything. Thousands of people lived then the worst moments from their entire life. They’ve lost all that have been valuable for them, and after that they had no reason to live.