After all the tasks are done and the presentation over…what is left?
Apparently more than imagined. In the past 10 weeks I learnt more about cinematography than by trying to pick everything up myself. The course has been very beneficial a personal as well as a professional level. I learnt a lot of things about the history of cinema and movements that forced me to look at current films from a different perspective and led to me thinking more about the films I watch. Who influenced them? What does the style remind me of? What did the director think when he shot that scene? Is it an homage?
Starting making a film with weekly tasks, that will be useful later, was a great approach for someone like me, who just happened to slide into the
‘club of aspiring film makers’. I never planned becoming a film maker when I did my A-levels in 2012. However it is now hard to think that I ever wanted to do something else, once I got to know how creative film is.
I am looking forward to the next term, when the module continues and I am curious what I am about to learn.
It was a long way from our first ideas to the final idea we eventually realised. The only thing that we decided from the beginning on and which we carried out until the end was the colour blue/cyan and that we want to make a serious piece. We also quickly decided that we wanted to use point of view camera to tell the story. Our ideas changed and got better as we progressed in our studies about film.
The very first idea, when we saw the picture, was to re-create the iconic moment of the little boy being passed to his grandparents through the barbed wire fence. Additionally we wanted to show what happened before and after that moment. We quickly scrapped the idea and came up with the idea of an soldier telling the story while laying out pictures on a table and revisiting his memories. He was to reflect on his actions and to feel sorry for what he did. A bit of PTS should be noticeable as well.
After we dealt with the films and film makers of the New German Cinema, the style and subject of the films heavily influenced our initial idea. Instead of just telling the story of the picture or a soldier with regrets, we decided on giving our piece a political message. We wanted to criticise the past and present refugee crises by showing that history always repeats itself, when we don’t learn from it. Also we decided on a simple, neutral style and let the lighting and the actor create the emotions within the piece.
During one of our research sessions in the library where we should draw inspiration from random books or DVDs, I found a poem that influenced my further script ideas.
Kim Chi-ha – Hwagae: The Aloneness of Freedom
The iron shackles are broken, in the aloneless of freedom I long for your order of oppression.
I shall have no dreams; I will not stop this business of bearing pain with dreams.
I will live from day to day without feeling This life I cannot bear.
The way I interpreted the poem, it was from the view of a soldier dealing with PTS. The iron shackles is the war, in which he had to fight – then the soldier is free, but he feels alone. The mundane life lacks ‘simple’ order the army life provides. You have to make your own rules, you don’t follow the one in command, only yourself. I imagine that the normal life must be very strange and difficult for an ex-soldier, whose memories might still chase him during the day.
With the due date coming quicker than imagined we realised, that our latest idea: to have 20-30 extras dressed as refugees from different time periods, is an impossible task to accomplish in two weeks, so we thought about ways to still represent the different refugee crises but without the people. We decided to use clothes instead. It would add another level to our piece, where we don’t show everything to the viewer, but force him to think along while he is watching. It would be a mere hint for what he could think, but nothing too definite. New German Cinema wanted to get the audience to think and we wanted to try that as well.
After a very helpful tutorial with one of our lectures, we came to the conclusion, that our story still was somehow too complex and could be toned down a little more. If we wanted to get the audience to think, we shouldn’t show them explicit refugee crises along with dirty and damaged flags, but keep it as simple as we can.
Why did we make an abstract piece about memories and refugees?
I feel like we try to escape our past and just when we think that we made the world a better place, we revisit our past mistakes, for history always repeats itself. We keep going and going, but still make the same basic mistakes and just give them another name. Most of the times, fear is the driver, which is why thinking outside the box may help.
This is also the reason, why our character in the end, can’t reach the girl. He tries to go forwards, but the opposite happens, he is going backwards while moving forwards. The reason for that is simple. If we don’t try to find new ways to solve our problems, after the old ways failed, we will never truly reach the persons in need.
With our ambitious idea, we quickly saw that we all need to improve and pick up new camera skills. We experimented with lens whacking and different materials over the lenses and analysed the effects they had on our image. A clear bag produces a hazy, almost dream-like picture that we eventually used for our memory sequences. Lens whacking, when done right, also has interesting effects on the image. While we tried that out as well, we decided in the cut that it doesn’t fit our style and it wasn’t coherent with the other clips that worked well together.
We all did things that we don’t feel comfortable with, in order to learn something new.
In less than two minutes, Walter Murch is able to explain what it takes to be a good editor and what a good editor should be able to do:
According to him, a good editor must know how to tell a good story, or at least have a sense of it. He also must be aware of the rhythm and the relation of story and rhythm in storytelling. He compares it to telling a joke. You can easily ruin a great joke, when your rhythm while telling is bad, then the joke looses its substance, the humour. To him, editing is similar, meaning you can still ruin a good story and perfect material by getting the rhythm of the storytelling wrong. Editing, as he says, is 70% rhythm, at which rate you show things, what you show and why you show it. Learning how to edit well is not simple, Murch compares it to learning how to dance. It is easy to teach the theory, but theory alone won’t make anyone a good dancer. It needs lots of practise to put the theory into action and its the same with editing. In order to learn it, you have to do it, fail, and learn from your mistakes.
Thelma Schoomaker also mentions the importance of rhythm and editing in a film. She says that editing has got the power to make a film better or to completely ruin it. She sees the unedited film as raw material, the editors sculpt into “something that works as a film”. When being asked what makes a good editor, Schoomaker says “tremendous patience and discipline” but also “musical sense”, since an editor spends a lot of time in the cutting room and also has to pay attention to the sound and music of the film. Furthermore editors need to know about rhythm, pacing and adding dram to a cinematic piece. Something that is not often heard among the advices for editors is, that an editor also should have a “sense of acting”, she herself learnt that from Martin Scorsese who taught her editing.
Comparing both interviews, the tips for editing from both, Murch and Schoomaker aren’t too different. They may edit entirely different films, but they share almost the same views. To both of them, rhythm is a vital part of the editing process. After all, it is number three in Murchs ‘Rule of Six‘ in film editing.
Walter Murchs Rule of Six (as mentioned in the video clip above)
Emotion – What should the audience feel? Is the cut true to that?
Story – Does the cut advance the story?
Rhythm – Does the cut happen at the right point? Is it fitting within the established rhythm?
These first three rules, are as Murch says, united and very hard to separate, they are at the top, as they are the most important rules in film editing. The next three rules are regarded as less important.
Eye Trace – Where is the audience looking? Is that considered while cutting?
2-Dimensional Place of Screen – Axis of the images?
3-Dimensional Place of Screen – Are the movements of objects or characters coherent within the space?
Editing is a very powerful tool that decides the fate of a cinematic piece and the reception. In order to gain the ability to edit well, one must always shape his abilities by practising and working hard.
Uni-Versus is a game show, sectioned in three rounds. It has a fairly simple structure. There are always four contestants in total, two to represent the students and two to represent the lecturers. That makes it easy adaptable since there are a lot of students and lectures and every country has got university students. The show itself features two presenters to raise the feeling of a competition but could still work with one presenter only. Throughout the show there are always 2 different challenges (1 light hearted and the other one more connected to the abilities students have to gain, as managing money) while the last challenge is always the quiz round. Therefore it is fairly easy to produce, there is no need for a different set design every time.
What is special about the show is the fact that the audience and viewers are the ones making suggestions for fun challenges to feature in the next show. They can then vote and the most popular challenges will appear in the show. The participants are students and lecturers, which helps to represent students, which seldom are featured in TV shows on TV. The funny challenges help to take the stigma, that lecturers are boring, stiff people away and in the final quiz round, which is an essential part, both teams can prove their general knowledge.
The Intro represents the youth and playful attitude of the show really well. The jingle is very catchy without being too annoying, but it gets stuck in your head anyway. The university style of the text and the logo make clear what kind of show Uni-versus is and who the target audience is.
Another thing that worked really well was the Shopping VT. Filmed with GoPro cameras and without external microphones, we took a chance and it turned out really well. The sound isn’t too bad considering the rain and wind and the footage is not too shaky and easy to watch.
The graphics before the challenges help sectioning the show into parts:
They are also useful for people who just tuned in. Thanks to the names they will have a rough idea what to expect from the next challenge.
Especially the younger audience consisting of teenagers and students will like the more “silly” challenges like Chubby Bunny. They will like to watch the lectures having fun as well and being like everybody else, especially if their university is featured in Uni-Versus. It could become a big event to watch Uni-Versus at the University that takes part in the show, which definitely is the hook. As a viewer I would watch the show to get a quick and good laugh, or to guess along during the final quiz.
What hasn’t worked well is definitely the set. It looked more exciting live than it did on camera. The set the group and set designer imagined, needed more space, something impossible to do in the small TV studio. It was very hard to frame everything and the wide shot looked really crammed as there wasn’t enough space to go further away from the scene with the camera. The fact that the camera in the middle was dodgy and shouldn’t be moved around too much also limited our options for camera movements. If we were to do it again, I would pick a bigger place to set up the studio, like the new TV studio for example so that the camera operators have more freedom in their camera movements. The way it is now it feels a little stiff and without the energy or dynamic like imagined.
Another thing that could be better is the way of presenting. Sometimes the text felt too scripted and was obvious because of the way the presenters read it. For next time more practise sessions would be useful and I would have ALL presenters participate in the script writing process if they don’t feel comfortable with the reading at all.
If I hadn’t think about the money, I would have a more elaborate set design, with a real logo instead of a TV flat screen and podiums that display the points. A portal/door for the presenters and contestants would be good as well. Also I would probably have a longer quiz round, perhaps 90 seconds to 2 minutes instead of 60 seconds only. Also more cameras for close-ups on the contestants or to catch more than 2 angles of the challenges would benefit the show.
Overall I think that the format structure is good, it just needs some polishing to make it more coherent and dynamic. Challenges that are more inspired by students and university life would be beneficial for the format as well.
Review your personal progress on this module:
– How have you developed your editorial (storytelling) skills?
– What technical skills have you developed and how did you do this?
– What helped your overall progress? What have you learnt about yourself as a programme maker?
When choosing this module I didn’t exactly know what would expect me. I chose Formats Production because I have never done anything like it before. So I began this module with no knowledge about the production process of a radio show or how to (properly) develop and make a TV format.
The module helped me learning to tell stories for different media. I was used to write scripts for short films, but never TV or radio, so I developed entirely new skills in that area. TV scripts are very different from (short) film scripts and radio scripts as well. They are very hard to compare because they have nothing really in common except for a story or dialogue. Getting to know the different writing processes and actually doing it was very beneficial, because I had to think and plan differently. The tasks helped me with that and took away the fear of writing scripts for different mediums.
During the production of the radio drama, I learnt to use the (old) radio studio, which seemed very scary, messy and confusing at first. I genuinely enjoyed the recording sessions and after trying it for a few times, operating the radio desk wasn’t as difficult as expected. So that’s a complete new skill I acquired by attending the extra skill sessions with Paul and by trying out things myself and asking questions whenever I got stuck.
Thanks to my work as a director in the gallery and my Vision Mixer that helped me out, when I got stuck, I got a good idea how to operate and navigate the cameras from the gallery. I developed these skills by ‘trial and error’, the first time navigating the camera movements to my VM, I was overwhelmed by the voices asking questions through the headphones, while simultaneously counting down and talk to the VM as well. It was very confusing, but I needed that failing and for the next session I sat down and planned every detail and even colour coded my running order to not confuse the cameras and the cues. It was an unconventional method but it helped me learning. The rest of my team had the advantage that they already produced a show and already knew their way around the gallery and the equipment. Something I had to learn in 20minutes, when my VM and PA helped me out.
My overall progress was mainly fuelled by the theory sessions accompanied with the practical sessions. I found it extremely useful to get all the background on producing a TV show and analyse the examples. Before, I used to gain all my knowledge by just trying things out and learn from my mistakes and feedback by students and lecturers, so it was refreshing to actually learn how to do it ‘right’ or methods how thing could be done. It saved a lot of valuable time. I learnt about myself that radio indeed can be an exciting place to work in, before the module I have never even considered radio as possible workplace for ‘media people’, because I had no experience in working with the medium. I also learnt about myself that the stress of directing a (live) show is not necessarily something I enjoy, it exhausted me, but I am happy and proud of myself, that I tried it instead of just giving up.
Overall I am happy that I chose this module, because I learnt a lot about myself and about making content that is not directly related to film.
What do you think the TV viewing experience will be for viewers in 2020?
I don’t think that TV will change that much. At least not content-wise. It will definitely change in the sense that we will watch TV differently than we do it today. TVs supporting 3D or content shot in 4k (or even 8k) become more common and cheaper to buy. This allows many households to have them. This means that the visual quality of the TV programmes will improve. Crisp sound, crystal clear images. Watching TV programmes probably won’t be exclusively available on the TV, but on all smart screen devices. In order to stay the main entertainment system when it comes to watching content, TV has to incorporate all the other screen devices to enhance the viewing experience. Apps connected to the show is just the beginning. By 2020 you probably won’t find a successful TV show that doesn’t have its own app. The programme makers will take advantage of the viewers who watch TV but also use a second screen simultaneously (like a smart phone, tablet or laptop). It will get easier to buy the things you saw in your favourite TV show.
Also will TV become more individual. Just like YouTube or Amazon recommendations based on what you are watching, have watched or bookmarked (in Amazons case bought) will influence the programmes available on your TV. It is often said that TV won’t stand a chance against the Internet but the reality is, that the TV screen still is an important part of a living room and it still holds the power of social gatherings – to watch a sport event, you and your friend’s favourite TV show, a family film – even if it’s a clip from the internet, sharing it with your family by showing it on the family’s TV is still more common. There is yet no substitute for this collective viewing experience. The Internet is not the downfall of the TV, both will get more and more connected in the future. And the younger generation that grew up with the Internet will use and benefit from it, by engaging more and more with their favourite TV shows through their second screen or an app.
The graphic above shows that while short videos and user-generated content is more watched with a PC or Laptop, people still prefer the TV for feature length films and TV shows, as well as live content.
In the future this will certainly change, when TV offers more possibilities for streaming user-generated contact, probably by introducing YouTube Channels as an own TV channel.
It is also likely that TV programme makers will adapt to the rising ‘binge-watching‘ phenomena popular among young adults. People seem to get more and more impatient and therefore prefer to watch 4-5 episodes in one sitting rather than one episode weekly or an episode a day. In the future content will probably made faster in order to provide the binge-watchers with even more content and episodes than now.
What else will change in the future? From black and white to colour, from 2D to 3D, the next step could be Virtual Reality (VR). With Virtual Reality slowly becoming more popular, as film makers take on the challenge to create films that can be explored in a different and more creative way than ever before, it is hard to imagine, that TV won’t benefit from the new development that soon could be as common as the 3D glasses in the cinema or at home.
We gestate in Sound, and are born into Sight.
Cinema gestated in Sight, and was born into Sound.
– Walter Murch
When thinking about films it seems almost unimaginable to not use sound. Even silent films had some kind of music to go along with the picture on the screen. Complete silence seems strange and unnatural, because if we listen to the world we live in, it is never silent. There always is something – the heater, creaking floors, water drops from the tap, or your own breathing. Sound belongs to our world just as it belongs to the cinema. We as film makers should at least think about the presence and absence of sound.
Sound is a very powerful tool and can change or add meaning to the picture. I learnt about the importance of sound during a sound module I did earlier this year. We had to choose a scene of a film and then trying to change the interpretation of the scene with sound only. We were surprised how much difference a few changes could make. Still sound gets underestimated or is shunned by film makers. Is it regarded as less glamorous than the moving image?
In my opinion it shouldn’t be. Sound and music can link scenes together and also make the film much richer. We just need to think about the way a character can be introduced by a character theme. The most popular example is probably ‘The Imperial March‘, informally known as Darth Vader’s Theme. Whenever you hear it in the Star Wars films, you either see Darth Vader or he is about to enter the scene. Your automatically connect the music to a certain character and it becomes part of who they are. Darth Vader would surely seem a bit less intimidating and powerful without The Imperial March on his side.
Film sound basically consists of three things: the human voice (dialogue), sound effects (either synchronous or asynchronous) and music (background). All these three elements should be used in film as appropriate.
Voices not only help the viewer to distinguish between several characters, they also add to the dimensions of a character and can almost be regarded as a character trait. Voices that don’t match the character or rather our expectations can confuse the audience.
In this ‘Two and a half Men‘ intro version the voices of the three actors were swapped. It is confusing because you can roughly tell the age of a person by his or her voice. Having a seemingly older actor with the voice of someone who is a teenager or a young adult, is strange and a bit confusing.
Synchronous sound refers to sound that fits the image. For example a creaky noise, when the character uses the wooden stairs, or the sound of the brakes on dry asphalt, when the car comes to a sudden halt. These are sounds that we can see on screen and if we also hear them at the same time, then it is synchronous sound.
Asynchronous sound however is sound without any viewable source. It can be used to create certain emotions within the frame or as a device of foreshadowing future events.
Overall I can only agree with the statement that cinema is 50% image and 50% sound. There is so much that can be achieved with sound that it should be regarded just as important as the moving image.
1. Boundaries – Read and research and then discuss these questions on your blog
– Choose a subject area that is likely to offend and consider what context would make the material appropriate for broadcast on UK TV. (Taste and Decency)
– As a producer, what do you need to do to broadcast material responsibly, that may cause offense or shock in your programme?
– Why do you need a contributor to sign a consent form?
– What is the “duty of care” you have, as a programme maker, to a contributor?
– Why do you need permission to broadcast creative work (music, film, art, poetry, readings etc) made by another artist in your programme? – In what context can you use clips from the Internet in a TV programme?
When it comes to content in TV (and radio), there is almost no subject that can’t be viewed as offensive. There will always be someone who finds something offensive. Since it is impossible to please everyone, it is important for content-makers to follow a certain code, the cultural ethics and norm. Among the list of possible offences (sex, offensive language, humiliation, violence, discrimination and a lot more) are also exorcism, the paranormal and the occult. Interesting to say is that the three subjects can be touched for entertainment purposes, but it must be clear to the audience that they are. It is also not allowed to show life-changing advices in conjunction with demonstrations of the occult, the paranormal or exorcisms.
Life-changing advices (as defined by Ofcom)
Life-changing advice includes direct advice for individuals upon which they could reasonably act or rely about health, finance, employment or relationships. Hypnotic and other techniques, simulated news and photosensitive epilepsy. – Ofcom
In order to broadcast a programme revolving around exorcisms etc. one would have to be careful to treat the subject in an objective way. The audience should not be influenced or misled at any time. Also shouldn’t the programme run when children could be exposed to it, even if the exorcisms etc. are for entertainment purposes. So it has to run after the watershed. However there is an exception to that rule: if the exorcisms occur in films, comedies or dramas, the rule doesn’t apply.
The producer has to make sure that the programme follows all the codes, such as: Is it appropriate for children? If not, it needs to be aired after the watershed. Is my programme ridiculing religions, minorities or humans in general?
There are more questions to answer. However the producer should always think about how offensive his programme can be, even if it is treated in a objective and respectful manner. Also he should add warnings, where they are appropriate. If a programme is not suited for children, there must be a warning. If the programme contains images that show explicit violence or nudity, there should be a warning, as well as when the content could trigger epilepsy.
A consent form is needed in order to be able to broadcast the recorded material. Without consent of the contributors, they can always refuse to have the content involving them broadcasted. Also it is important for the contributors to know what the programme is about, they need to be informed and treated fair.
As a programme maker it is important to care for the contributors, before and after the programme is done. They have to be aware of the things they are doing and what difficulties they may face. After the programme successfully ran, the relationship between the programme maker and the contributor is not over. The contributors are vulnerable, especially if they showed their face or shared some personal information on TV. It is crucial to aid and support them, should problems related to the programme or harsh critics from the public occur.
Creative works count as intellectual property and therefore have an owner, who either created or bought the work. Using his work without consent or a licence is an illegal act punishable by the law. In order to use creative work made by another artist, it is necessary to contact the artist and ask for his permission and agree on a license fee. The owner and the artist also agree on the terms and conditions of said license.
According to the Intellectual property – guidance: Exceptions to copyright section, limited use of copyright works without the owner’s permission is allowed. Although there are a lot of cases that count as limited use, only a few seem to be relevant for using clips from the Internet in a TV programme. If you want to use a clip in order to criticise it in a fair manner, review or quote it, then you are allowed to do so. When the programme serves educational purposes, clips that help to teach (explanation, theatre plays, TV programmes, etc.) can be used to support the programme. The third and probably most popular use is parody. Scenes of films can for example be used for parody or caricature.
Even if the programme maker is allowed to use these exceptions in order to enhance his programme, it is still vital that the used work is acknowledged.
There are a lot of things to be considered when dealing with content that programme makers have not created themselves and sometimes it might not be easy to determine whether one is allowed to use specific copyrighted work.
2. Evidence the RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT for your group’s TV FORMAT
Including idea development, audience research, location research, rounds/question research, and any ethical considerations.
Include script outlines and drafts
And all necessary production paperwork – CONSENT, COPYRIGHT, RISK ASSESSMENT
The base for our TV show idea was Chris previous ‘Saints & Sinners’ idea. We wanted to do a game, where the contestants have to answer questions revolving around moral and ethics and then – with a point system – determine whether they come to ‘hell’ (loser) or ‘heaven’ (winner). We proceeded to adapt the idea and have students and lecturers competing against each other. During our sessions with Becks the idea of including challenges was added. While brainstorming we quickly discovered that our TV show idea moved completely away from the original inspiration.
As a group we decided that our target audience is roughly 16+ but could also be younger since we tried to refrain from swearing. We chose challenges that we felt were light-hearted, funny but also university related. The chubby bunny challenge for example is a silly, light-hearted challenge to get the contestants to warm up and have a little fun as well. We chose the shopping challenge, because money is probably one of the most important things in a student’s life and students often try to spend as less as possible.
The research for our location went quite fast. Because of our challenges, we agreed that we wouldn’t film everything except for the shopping challenge outside. At some point we considered filming in a lecture hall, but the space was an issue so we stuck with the TV studio.
For our different rounds, we researched by doing most of the challenges ourselves. Before filming we tested the chubby bunny challenge, to see how messy it would be and how much time the contestants possibly need in order to do the challenge. We used our measured times for our running order.
As a director during pre-production, I wrote the running orders, made some kind of ‘camera switch script’ and ,together with the Producer Georgi and our Presenter Riku, wrote the actual script. While writing it was our responsibility to tie the ends together and put all our previous ideas in order and corporate them into the show. During the production I had to keep everyone informed, while keeping an eye on the time and the images and directing my Vision Mixer.
Developing the Script
Running Order v2: All
Running Order v1: Director (+ VM)
For the first runs I found it easier to colour code all the camera changes in order to get used to working as a TV director.
Running Order v2: Director (+ VM)
For the final running order, I still kept the colours but toned it down. I designed the running order in a way, that even if I got stuck, my VM could continue.