Category Archives: Preliminary Tasks

Lucky You: Our Attempt…

Similarly to before when we recreated the opening to Reservoir Dogs, we were once again given the task to replicate a movie scene from “Lucky You”. Rather than working as a class, this time around we were put into groups. I was put into a group with Emily Jackson, Kieran Cross and Emelia Rodgers.  Unfortunately, I was off school on the days where my group planned and filmed the recreation of this scene due to illness. However, I was back for the lesson that we were given to edit. In this lesson, I was partnered up with Kieran. We found the given time period of one lesson to edit extremely difficult as not only did we have to edit the footage, Kieran had to explain to me what was going on! When watching the final, edited piece of footage you can tell that we were extremely rushed as there are many problems and issues. Firstly, there are many issues surrounding the audio. When editing, Kieran and I found it extremely difficult to find the correct pieces of audio for the correct piece of footage. However, we tried our best in the given time period. Another problem is the positioning of Kieran’s eyes. I was told that when filming, the script was written on the board behind as a prompt. When I was told this, it became clear that Kieran was reading the script off of the board when filming. There are various other problems with this recreation, however, with more time I feel as though Kieran and I could have done a much better job…

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Reservoir Dogs – A Class Task…

We were given a task as a class to remake a section of film from the opening of Quentin Tarantino’s film… Reservoir Dogs. Due to the small size of our class we worked together as one large group in order to try and re create it as specifically as possible.

Reservoir Dogs is a Quentin Tarantino film which was released on the 23rd of October 1992. It is an action thriller and created US$2.8 million in the box office. To start off with, we watched a portion of the film in order to get a sense of what it is about. We were then shown the part of the clip that we would be recreating. We would begin at the end of the scene in the cafe and finish at the end of the opening titles. Here is what we had to re create…

Planning

Firstly, we had to carefully plan out everything to do with our film as we would only have one lesson, 50 minutes, to film. We had to plan our roles within the video, the location where we would be filming, the positions we would have to stand in, the actions we would have to do, the camera shots and movements etc.

When watching the extract we assigned ourselves different tasks to carry out so that we would have as much detail as possible. We made storyboards, noted down the actions of the characters, noted the appearance of the characters, noted the script and of course planned out the camera shots and movement.

Next, we had to assign members of the class to different members of the Reservoir Dogs. To do this, we found out who would be willing to participate, looked at each character individually and matched a person to that character as best we could. The roles were as follows…

  • Mr White (originally played by Harvey Keitel) – played by Adam Zayee
  • Mr Orange (originally played by Time Roth) – played by Owen Timmins
  • Mr Brown (origionally played by Quentin Tarantino) – played by Me, Emilia Pearce
  • Mr Blue (originally played by Eddie Bunker) – played by Grace Clayton
  • Mr Blonde (originally played by Michael Madsen) – played by Katie Kitchen
  • Mr Pink (originally played by Steve Buscemi) – played by Kieran Cross
  • Joe Cabot (originally played by Lawrence Tierney) – played by Millie Stanbridge
  • ‘Nice Guy Eddie’ (originally played by Chris Penn) – played by Sean Stubbs

Next, we had to plan what we would be wearing. In the film, the characters are mostly wearing black blazers, white shirts, black trousers, a skinny black tie and some wear sunglasses. To achieve this, we wore black trousers/jeans, our school white shirts, skinny black ties, and a males blazer from school. The characters that needed to also brought in sunglasses. The character of Nice Guy Eddie however does not wear this. Because of this, Sean had to buy a blue jacket and a gold chain. He paid close attention to the small details and also drew on chest hair! The character of Joe Cabot also did wear the classic black suits in the film. In order to fit the scene as close as we could, Millie Stanbridge wore a polo neck and high waist trousers. Obviously, quite a few of the roles were being played by females and this is not accurate or similar to the film. In order to get over this as best we could the girls who needed to drew on moustaches and beards. They also tied their hair up in order to best fit the authentic footage.

In the film footage some of the characters are seen to be smoking. As we were on school grounds, we could not re create this as effectively. Emelia Rodgers managed to acquire a cigar; however, she was absent due to illness on the day of filming so we had to improvise and roll up some brown cardboard. We also did this to recreate the cigarette as we could not smoke in real life.

Next, we scouted for a location best fitting the location of the film. When exiting our school grounds there is a section which contains two brick walls and a road. For the beginning of our remake we were able to film in the school canteen. These two locations were good as we could easily move the dolly and camera; however, in the driveway of the school we were often interrupted by cars entering and leaving the school which meant that we had to move our filming equipment.

Filming 

Arguably, the filming aspect of the task is where we let ourselves down. Initially, we were only meant to film during one lesson; this is a 50 minute time space. However, we were unable to complete the task in this time frame and so we had to film over another lesson as well. We had to get changed, draw on beards, set up the cameras, be in the correct positions and obviously film in the short time frame. This mixed with people disagreeing with aspects to the filming led to the time being pushed.

Firstly, we decided to film the scene in the canteen. We decided to do this part first as the canteen would have been used by other students in the school later on. We also began with this scene as it was arguably the easiest scene to get right. We camera did not need to be moved and the positioning was fairly simple. We all agreed on the positioning and actions straight away and carried out the first scene fairly well and accurately.

Next we filmed the scene of the Reservoir Dogs walking against the brick wall. We carried this out in our first session by using a dolly and crab shot. This is where we all began to disagree. The people who had originally noted down the positions and actions left their notes in their folders in the media room. Because of this, we had to position ourselves using a clip of the opening titles on Millie’s phone. The first time we filmed this, we changed positions a lot. We all got in our positions and began to walk, Emily then moved the dolly with the camera facing us as a crab shot. This resembled fairly closely how the scene took place in the opening scene. However, we soon realised that it would be much more practical for further filming if we filmed from the other side of the pathway. By doing so this would match the scene from the film much more accurately also. We knew that we would have to film the scene again. We did the same as before but from the other side of the pathway.

The next aspect of the scene to film were the various close ups. This is where we let ourselves down the most. As people had varying opinions on how to film, we ended up filming with the camera on a tripod rather than a dolly. Because of this, the close ups were not as close to the shots from the film as it was clear that the characters were not actually walking in ours. We did this to save time; however it would have only added a few minutes to get it right. We had the camera on a tripod infant of the characters. During the shot, the characters waled on the spot to make it look as if we were walking. This looked unrealistic and somewhat reduced the accuracy of our film. We focused on the positioning and managed to get the correct characters in each shot just like the original close ups; however on a couple of the shots we characters were on the wrong side and so I had to flip the shot in editing.

The final piece of the opening titles needing to be recorded was the end where the Reservoir Dogs are shown to be walking away from the camera. For this part of the scene we focused on the positions and managed to fit them fairly well. We placed the camera on a tripod behind us in the driveway. We then walked into the distance as a group like in the film.

Editing

The editing aspect to the task is the part that took me the longest. It was also our last chance to get our footage to match the footage from the film as accurately as possible. To edit we used the software, Final Cut Pro X. We have used this before and so I was comfortable with using the software once again and rediscovered aspects, such as the marker,  from when we edited our music videos for GCSE.

Firstly I had to download the footage, I then opened this footage in Final Cut Pro X. I then found the original part of the film that we were re creating. I needed this to use as a guideline as I wanted to get my version as accurate as possible. With help from Bryony Grant I opened up the original opening titles alongside my version on the viewing screen in Final Cut Pro X. This was really useful as it meant that I could fit the two versions as exactly as I could. Next, I began to find the correct footage and crop it down to fit. To get the exact footage was hard as ours was of varying length and accuracy to the film. I found it hard to find the correct pace of slow motion and whenever I changed my mind and changed the speed this of course altered the rest of my footage and where it is placed. I also had to flip a couple of pieces of footage as the positioning was not correct. Although this somewhat distorts the geography and location of the shot, so far no one has noticed! I then had to add in the transition of darkness from the canteen scene to the walking scene. I also had to add a black screen for the credits. Once I had matched all of the footage up, I muted all of my footage so that it would not effect the soundtrack from the original. The music helped edit as the different shots often changed with the beat of the song and so it ended out more accurate.

The trickiest part of editing for me was when we had to add the text for the credits, titles and names of actors. In order to get this as accurate as possible I researched the font which is… Garamond and Palatino. I then had to find the perfect colour. To do so, I used the tool that allows you to use the colour of a selected piece. I used the original footage to select and so the colour is as similar as possible. I then had to use shadows and text outlines in order to get it the same as the original one. I also found it difficult to get the end titles to rise to the correct positions.

Finally, I had to select the correct options so that ,when playing, my footage would be shown but the original soundtrack would play. Here is my final artifact…

We encountered various problems with this task. Firstly, we were working in one large group and so there was a huge mix of opinion which led to disagreements. This also caused chaos and a lack of organisation. Another problem was that we did not film the shots for long enough, if we had then we would have had more freedom with the editing. When filming in the driveway, cars kept on driving in and out of the school; this meant that we were constantly moving all of the equipment. When filming the close ups, it is obvious that we are walking on the spot, if we were to do this again we could put the camera onto the dolly and move with the characters to improve this. If we were to film this again, we would also have tho focus on the continuity of our filming… In this version our characters are shown to be walking one way in the opening scene yet walking the other way at the end! Although there are many negatives to our remake, I am happy with my version and had a lot of fun making it!

 

 

 

Preliminary Task – Take 2/Getting It Right

Now we know much more about rules to do with continuity editing such as the 180° rule, match on action and shot reverse shot. Because of this, we have been given the task to redo our previous task but incorporating these features in hope that our final product will be better and more professional than our previous one.

We were given the same task, to film and edit a character opening a door, crossing a room and sitting down in a chair opposite another character, with whom s/he then exchanges a few lines of dialogue. This time around we were placed into new groups. I was placed in a group with Emily Jackson, Sean Stubbs and Kieran Cross. Due to there being more of us, we could have one person per piece of equipment.

Planning

For this task our focus was getting it right. Because of this, we were given two lessons to complete the task rather than one like before. We had lesson 3 and lesson 5 to finish filming our short film. Firstly, I went to the office in order to book out a room for these two lessons so that it was ours to use. However, this is where we encountered our first problem. There were no rooms available for the two of the sessions and so we were given the Irrational Room for lesson 3 and Room 11 for lesson 5. This was a huge problem as the rooms are vey different and using two different locations would ruin our film. The only solution to this problem was to make sure we had everything planned so that we could get our filming finished in one lesson. Next, we decided to brainstorm our ideas. We all had different viewpoints and opinions about what would be best but the two most popular ideas were a first date and a dramatic twist of someone getting hit by a car. Both sides wanted to do their film and so we decided to merge the two together to keep everyone in the group happy. Our next task was to create the script. We did so and planned out a simple storyboard sequence. Our next challenge that we had to face was to find three actors. Our actors, Georgia, Oliver and Harrison volunteered to help.

Filming 

Due to problems with booking out rooms we had 50 minutes to film our short video. Firstly, Emily collected the equipment whilst we found our actors. Bearing in mind feedback that we received before, our next mission was to move all of the tables and chairs because you should not film against a wall as this eliminates depth to the shot. This time around everything went well with setting up the camera and sound recorder. Our next problem was to do with the actors. Our actors did not take the task at hand too seriously and so many of our shots include smiling and giggling. We did not think this to be too much of a problem as on a first date if you’re nervous then maybe you laugh in a nervous manner. However, when watching the shots later on this looked unprofessional. Although we only had the 50 minute time slot and giggly actors, we managed to film all of the critical points in order to succeed in the task. Redoing the task also allowed us to have extra practise with using the equipment. Our main problem when filming was our lack of communication throughout the team. Some teammates had a laugh with the actors and everyone was unsure of what their role was. Everyone’s perception of what the 180° rule is was different and so shots were taken from the wrong side which broke the rule. Due to the fact that this was the main purpose of redoing the task I knew that this attempt would not be as good as we had hoped…

Editing

To edit our take 2 of the task we used the same software, Final Cut Pro X. Firstly we had to download all of the footage and recordings and place them into a file ready to be downloaded onto Final Cut Pro X. Next, I began to view the footage and begin to order the scenes. From here I began to edit the video together. Many of our shots were not focussed correctly and were taken on an angle. However, to resolve this we managed to cut down the clips. Although this reduced the dodgy filming, it made our video much shorter than intended. When editing and trimming the various pieces of footage together I noticed that we had broken the 180° rule in one of our most important scenes. We had not filmed this scene from any angles that stuck to the rule. It was then that I knew I would have to redo the task. Pieces of dialogue had to be cut down drastically in order to cut out the laughter and make the video seem convincing. Our second shot of getting it right had gone so so wrong…

Artifact

Here is the final video from our take 2…

Conclusion

From watching my final video I have decided to redo the task. This time I will try my best to incorporate all of the rules we have just learnt. I have decided to work with Emelia Rodgers. Due to the fact that there is just the two of us we may find it difficult to use the equipment. Also, this is the first time that the both of us will be using the two pieces of equipment due to other team members wanting to do that in our past tasks. Due to there only being the two of us, we will need actors. Also, because we can no longer work on this task in lesson time due to the fact that we need to move onto some textual analysis work, Emelia and I will borrow the equipment from school and work on our video this weekend. We will need to keep it simple as we want to solely display our new understanding of new rules in media. We shall consider pieces of feedback from our previous tasks. Carrying out this task one last time with Emelia will allow the both of us to learn how to use the equipment before having to use it in our final piece. Hopefully this time we can get it right…!

Getting it Right… Take 3…

Due to the mistakes made in our take 2 I decided to re film our preliminary task. This time I worked with Emelia Rodgers and we borrowed equipment from school to film over the weekend at home. To do so, we had to ask 2 people to be in our film as we needed one of us for the camerawork, Emelia, and one for the sound recording, myself. Although we did not break any of the rules that we recently learnt, for example the 180 degree rule, this was the first time that we used the equipment firsthand and so were unsure on how to focus the camera. Because of this our re film is much more blurred than previously. Here is our take 3 preliminary task…

Shot Reverse Shot

Shot Reverse Shot is another commonly used technique in film used for continuity editing. It is mainly used when characters are having a conversation, sharing various expressed facial reactions or looking at objects. In order to use shot reverse shot correctly, directors must tie in the 180° rule. This is because shot reverse shot focuses on placement and conversation and so for this to be used correctly and effectively, the characters must remain in their set positions otherwise the audience’s sense of location of the characters is lost and the scene will not flow.

An example of using shot reverse shot could be when character 1 is looking at either a person or object, the audience may view this through an over the shoulder shot. This shot would then be followed by character 2 looking back at character 1. This is shot reverse shot as the original shot has literally been reversed so that the audience can see the two sides of the conversation. Doing so allows the viewers to feel more involved and to be able to follow the action or dialogue easily and continuously.

This series of screenshots from the first episode of ‘Stranger Things’ displays this feature…

The 180° Rule

The 180° rule is a guideline used in film making. The rule considers the spatial relationship between characters and objects in a scene. The practise uses an imaginary line called an axis or line of action. The axis is a straight line that is between a person and the item or person they are interacting with or simply a line to mark a path that a person is moving along. It is a guideline within itself as it defines where the camera can film from. The camera is on one side of the axis and remains on that side otherwise the characters switch places on the screen. By keeping the camera on a particular 180° section, semi-circle, the first character is always frame right of the second character and vice versa. If the camera switches onto the other half then the direction faced by the characters will be different along with their sight lines or will show a character carrying out an action, for example walking, in the wrong direction. The 180° rule is important as it allows the scene to become more realistic and makes it easier for the viewer to watch as the scene flows much more easily. It also allows the footage to be more interesting with varying shots without breaking the continuity.

Preliminary Exercise: Evaluation

Although I am happy with the end product from our task, there are various things that I would do differently if doing the task again.

Filming 

We were given one lesson to film our short video. This is a 50 minute slot and so we had to be efficient with our filming. Firstly, Emelia and I collected the equipment whilst Adam went to find our actors. We then met in our room for the video, the irrational room. Although it is a small room, it was bright and large enough for our idea.

The first problem that we came across was to do with setting up the equipment. With this being the first time any of us had used this equipment this was bound to happen. Our first problem was the camera as we could not get it to film. To resolve this we had to speak to one of our teachers, Mr Grant. It turned out that we were on the wrong setting. Our next problem was to do with the sound recorder and the boom pole as we could not hear the noise through our headphones. At first, we believed this was because the headphones that we were using were broken but when we used a different pair we came across the same problem. When checking over the various settings, I spotted that we had our wires in the wrong input and outputs. Our microphone was plugged into the headphone jack and vice versa. Once we swapped these over the recording was working as expected.

Our next major problem that we came across was to do with our script. Due to the fact that our script only consisted of a couple of lines we decided to be creative and write it in Spanish. However, our time to film conflicted with the Spanish lesson and our actors were not up for speaking Spanish and so we had to cut that part out and do it in English. Although this took away our original idea, we could still stick to the actual content of our script.

Once we had overcome our various problems, there was not a lot of time left to film and so we had to be as efficient as possible. In order to succeed in our task we decided to film the most important scenes first such as the speaking scenes and left the shots such as the different angles of opening the door and reaching for the handle to last as these were not critical for succeeding the given task. This proved to be a success as once we had filmed all of the pivotal scenes we could focus on using different angles and movements in order to make our video much more varied and interesting. Although we did not manage to film as much as we had originally hoped, we were happy with the result considering the problems we faced.

Editing

To edit our video we used an app called Final Cut Pro X. This is the same software that we used for our coursework at GCSE when we made music videos. Although this is good because I had an idea of how to use it, it had been a long time since. Also, this task was very different as I had to match up video footage with the correct recording and at the specific time. I had never done this before. Originally we were given one lesson, 50 minutes, to edit our videos. However, not many people finished in this time slot and so we had one more lesson to complete it.

Firstly we had to download all of our footage and recordings onto the Macs. Once this was done, I created a folder that contained everything that I would need for editing the video. Firstly I downloaded it all into Final Cut Pro X and began to view the footage. Then I began to edit my footage. I decided to cut and fit together the video footage first. This was not too difficult as I remembered various similar features from using the same software in GCSE. I found that I was cutting down various clips into much shorter clips so that the video would display different angles and shots. This caused more problems when matching the sound but I felt was a necessity. Once I had put together all of the trimmed clips it was time to match the sound recording. This proved to be the most difficult part of the process. When filming we used a clapperboard in attempt to make this easier and more accurate, however, we did not think to say which take the clip was on each one and so it proved to be difficult matching the correct recording with the correct footage. Arguably, this was one of the main reasons as to why editing took much longer than expected. However, by the second lesson I had finished my editing.

Conclusion

Once I had finished editing my video, I showed it to my classmates. We watched one another’s videos and gave critical feedback. I got various points of feedback that I could work on if I were to complete the task again…

  • Be careful when matching up footage so that the action does not appear to occur more than once. For example when putting together the various shots for the opening of the door, make sure that each shot flows correctly.
  • To always film from eye level unless using a bird’s eye view on purpose.
  • To say out loud which shot we are filming when using the clapperboard so that when matching up footage and recordings we know which is which.
  • To focus the camera properly before filming the scene.

If I were to carry out this task again, I would consider each of these pieces of feedback. Although I will not be carrying out this task again, all of the feedback and practice of using the equipment and software will help me with my final production. The problems that I have faced, I now know the solutions and so can apply this new knowledge in the future on important projects.