Friday, 29 April 2011

Face Down Full Edit

Finished Ancillary Tasks

These are our finished Ancillary tasks. After finishing our film, we were able to finalize the magazine review by placing suitable freeze frames from our final product to add to the realism of the review and the consistency between film and ancillary task.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Evaluation 4 - How did you use media technologies in the construction, research, planning and evaluation stages?

Create your own video slideshow at

Adobe Premier Pro - Once the pre-production and filming stages of our project were completed, Adobe Premier Pro was our primary resource in creating our film. The majority of our film was edited and exported using Premier Pro, and by experimenting with the various effects available we discovered the ‘Luma Key’. We found this helpfull to provide a darker and gloomier hue to our footage, to further enhance the gritty atmosphere we were aiming for. We also used premier pro during the evaluation stage of our production to edit the footage for both the audience feedback section and ancillary task evaluation.  

Garage Band - We had a clear idea during the planning stages of the music and ambience that we wanted to create for our film.  We used Garage Band to produce an original and suitable piece of music, a blend of jazz like rhythm and rock, similarly found in films such as Ocean’s eleven. We also wanted to create a more gloomy and dramatic section of music for the ending of our film, effectively helping to darken the tone and atmosphere. Whilst it was relatively easy to construct a soundtrack, we had to use the pre-detirmined tracks provided by Garage Band, as creating our own melodies from scratch proved to be quite difficult. However, by combining several different tracks we were able to compose suitable music whilst avoiding any difficulties posed by using any copyrighted music. 

Facebook - We utilised Facebook to obtain a wider range of audience feedback post-production. By posting our finished film onto Facebook we were able to recieve a lot of helpful feedback, which has helped us to critically evaluate how successful our product is and the ways in which we could have improved it.

Microsoft Publisher -Microsoft Publisher was used to create both our Teaser poster and our magazine review. We firstly created the poster, utilising a black backround and a minimalist approach to our poster to connote the ambiguity of our film, inspired by the poster for the film 'Buried'. We also used Publisher to create the magazin review, which we were inspired to create by prestigious magazines such as Empire and Total film. By using Publisher we were able to easily emulate a similar style, using font stylings and text boxes to our colour specifications. We found Publisher fairly easy to use, providing a simple way to produce what we wanted. However, there were complications when trying to produce a hard copy as the text and borders tended to merge together due to the size of the printer paper. Whilst Publisher was very useful in creating our ancillary tasks online, it posed problems when trying to produce hard copies.

Adobe After-Effects - So that we could include a suitably ‘explosive’ Afghanistan scene, our group used Adobe After-Effects to add In extra sound, motion blur, bullet effects and the explosion. By getting footage of our main character running through an area that could (with some FX tweaking) be passed off as Afghanistan, the lighting was altered to create the effect of bright sunlight and heat. After-Effects was very useful in adding to the realism of our Afghanistan scene, and helped us to break the boundaries of what would we would normally be able to produce, and challenged us to break the limitations that we would otherwise have had when trying to create a believable war scene. By watching several online tutorials we were able to grasp the techniques to create the explosion. - We frequently used during our production stages to obtain appropriate sound effects. To create a realistic explosion for our afghanistan scene we found a suitable explosion sound effect and the 'ringing in the ears' noise that we decided to use after the explosion for shock value. was extremely useful for obtaining any non-copyrighted sound for us to use in our film, specifically any musical tracks and sound effects.

Youtube - We also utilised Youtube as a quick and convenient way to upload our evaluations, finished film and pre-production tasks to our blogs. This was similarly helpful in uploading our production to Facebook, allowing us to gain useful feedback both from the social networking site and from any Youtube comments. We also found Youtube useful during the planning stages of our film to research any similar films to ours. By having access to trailers to films such as Rock n Rolla, 23 and Casino Royale we were able to gain inspiration for our own project.

To create a more diverse presentation for our evaluation tasks, we have used several different professional slideshow creators and other technologies to respond to each question.
For example, we used the presentation maker 'Prezi' to create a much more interesting and diverse appearance to our answer. Prezi also allowed us to include photos, videos both ours and from youtube and text to go into detail regarding our finished product. Whilst Prezi was useful for creating a quick and easy to use presentation, the tools to manipulate font size proved unwieldly, making it difficult to include all the text needed on a single slide, however we were able to combat this by breaking up the text with images and videos.

We also used 'Animoto' as a way to quickly and efficiently show the different technologies used in a short image led powerpoint set to music. Whilst Animoto allowed us to create an interesting and fast paced slideshow, the absence of any text function meant that we had to provide seperate analysis of our various technologies. Furthermore, the fact that we had to use a free trial version meant that we were limited to a 30 second slot.

Panasonic NV GS230 - For the majority of our filming we used a Panasonic NV GS230 to capture our footage. It proved to be very easy to use, and efficient for our purposes, and the only criticism would be over the short battery life, which on several occasions interrupted our filming process, costing us valuable filming time. However, on the whole it was very useful, as it was portable, reliable and produced good quality footage.

Evaluation 3 - What have you learned from your audience feedback?

 Whilst creating our film 'Face Down' we have sought audience feedback and learnt a great deal from it. Indeed at various stages of planning on our film and ancillary tasks we asked a variety of audiences to offer their opinions, thus helping us establish our demographic and improving our product.

The audience feedback led us to the poker film idea after comments that our initial football music video idea seeking to emulate Skinner and Baddiel's 'Three Lions' music video would be difficult to produce. Taking this on board we changed to the poker film idea and received more positive comments surrounding this idea.

This is the shortlist of film posters we created on our ancillary task, that we showed to audiences and asked which one they thought was best. The unanimous favourite was the middle poster, and we ultimately used this one heavily influenced by the audience's feedback. Furthermore, we asked general comments about the poster with one media student, Sophie Sinclair citing it 'wasn't something they would go to see' and was 'too mysterious' however a completely different perspective emerged from Oli Kent who thought it 'looked great' and liked the use of dark. From this and other research we established our demographic to be males aged between 17-40 where they can understand the complexities of poker and IVF whilst still enjoying the gangster narrative.

Using social networking sites we could accumulate honest and constructive criticism from a wide range of audiences, when posting our film we received a lot of feedback and took this on board. As well as feedback provoking changes it also reinforces something you weren't sure on. For example we were doubtful about the freeze-frames with text however after asking audiences we received really positive feedback, Dennis King saying it was 'very professional' and younger audiences enjoying the reference to Guy Ritchie films. One shot that came into question following our production was one of our characters leaving the room that was said to break the 'flow' however we felt this was necessary for the continuity, however we agreed that it could have been framed better.

We were always aware that our film could be stilted and boring and this is something that in early edits people found, however after audience feedback saying it was 'slow paced' and 'could be more exciting' we added an explosion and split screens. For this we were told it was the best part of the film, certainly it added pace and entertainment in a stylistic fashion. Another aspect of our film that was influenced by audience feedback was the very end as it was argued there wasn't sufficient 'closure'. Following this advice we added a scene in which we see Sean dead on the poker table, giving a definitive end and suiting the task.  

In conclusion we have learnt a great deal from audience feedback and their comments have shaped the product we have now. Our demographic was established by feedback, shots and ancillary tasks changed and aspects reinforced. We are thankful for all the help that a wide-range of people have provided through social networking sites, emails and surveys.

Evaluation 2 - How effective is the combination of your main product and ancillary texts?

Our short film and ancillary texts compliment each other well, as they both epitomise the enigma of our product. The ambiguous teaser poster and mystery depicted in our film concerning Sean's past, reinforce each other - and whilst the film review gives some information away it avoids ruining the twist. We wanted to maintain a consistent colour scheme throughout our 3 media products with black, white and red being prominent colours - which are seen in our poster and film review but more implicitly in some shots of our film such as Eddie in a black suit behind the red backdrop.

The pictures of our central characters in the magazine film review displays there characters, with the archetypal villain Eddie staring menacingly down the camera, unsettling the viewer whilst the nervous Sean is shown in desperation looking away from the camera drinking alcohol to calm his nerves. Clearly you can see the difference the character profiles make at the centre of our review opposed to the poster in earlier designs. In addition the mock interview, influenced by 'Empire' gives the director's perspective - informing the viewer of his intention, and humanising the characters.

Our teaser poster utilises the creative dark space, that was used by the film 'Buried' this enhances the enigma and suggests the dark themes within our film. The poker table surrounded by a faint glow symbolises the light at the end of the tunnel for Sean but it is a treacherous path with a host of unseemly characters standing in his way of obtaining the IVF money.

The cropped picture of our poster showing the table shares many similarities with the screen-shot from the beginning of our film as the high angle shots show the cards, chips and green base. Indeed we strove to achieve a good mise-en-scene that would resemble the poker table in our poster, however the former of the two pictures above solves the riddle posed in the teaser poster. Sean's fate is shown in the last shot of our film which neatly fuses together the ancillary texts and main product to form a narrative of their own.

Evaluation 1 - In what way does you Media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of real media products?

Friday, 25 March 2011

Editing -

During the editing stages of our film, we have been heavily influenced by Guy Ritchie's film 'Rock n Rolla'. We have attempted to emulate this in our edit, using similar music and stylistic cuts and split screens to combat the dullness that originally hampered our film. We have similarly used freeze frames with titles to introduce our main characters. By using split screens and freeze frames we were able to speed up the card game whilst creating a busy atmosphere and progressing our film without it becoming boring.
We also wanted to add to the verisimilitude of our film by creating a realistic Afghanistan scene. To achieve this we used Adobe After-Effects to add an explosion and gun shots to the scene.

Recording Sean's voice-over

We originally ran into complication when recording the voice over for our main character Sean, as the actor who plays him was unavailable to record. However, we decided to record the whole voice over dialogue using one of our own group, so that we could edit the footage accordingly. However, after much feedback from our audiences, we decided that the voice over we had recorded was far too dull, and to correct this we subsequently used a different person for the voice over, and our feedback allowed us to create a much more interesting and versatile recording. We then synced the dialogue with our footage, and due to the lack of any dialogue from the main character in the footage, we were able to incorporate the voice over relatively easily.

Sound work - Creating soundtrack

We have used 'Garaged Band' to create suitable music to use with our footage. We took inspiration from films such as 'Ocean's Eleven', using a fairly similar jazzy rock theme to compliment the split screens and stylistic approach we have opted for. We also used Garage Band to create the more moodier and atmospheric tracks for our film, adding to the tense atmosphere created by a gangster themed film. We have also synchronised our music to match with our footage, changing our split screens in accordance with the bass rhythm of the music, overall creating a much more stylish and dramatic effect.

Afghanistan Scene Filming

Due to our main character's involvement in the Afgan conflict, we decided that it would be beneficial to the story to involve a flashback scene. To do this, we found a suitable sandy location in Verwood, and we aim to edit the lighting in after effects to create the sense of intense sunlight. Obviously noise was a concern whilst filming outdoors, however the rushing of wind and other noises lends to the realism of the scene as it is only a few seconds of our main character running.

Filming Day 2 - Continuity Problems

We encountered difficulties during the second day of filming, as the continuity of both of our filming days proved hard. We had to take great care to continue the Mise en Scene of our footage, making sure that the poker chips, glasses and costumes of our characters matched with the footage that we already had. We also encountered problems with the appearance of some of our characters, as the amount of stubble on our main character differs significantly, however we have been able to successfully mask this through the darkening of our footage using a 'Luma Key'. Also, the black tie that our main character wore in the original footage was misplaced, however we were luckily able to find a very similar one, and the difference is very subtle. The set similarly had to be recreated to the same standard as our original footage, but we luckily managed this. Whilst we unfortunately encoutered continuity problems, the majority of our second filming day was a success, and scheduling and planning before hand allowed us to get all of the shots that we needed to a good standard.

Sean Voice-over Script

Sean- voice over

I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly lucky guy
Poker’s a game where luck can come in pretty handy. Take a look (shows his hand of two Aces). But believe it or not this isn’t the type of place I tend to visit often or at all for that matter. First of all, take a look at my fine co-players
That’s Eddy, he’s the ‘Boss’ around here, nothing happens without his say so...He’s quite the poker Player.
This Guy’s Tommy, he’s the muscle for Eddy’s operation, an expert at making people’s life a misery.
As for the others at the table, they’re relatively small fish, most of them junkies and gamblers in debt to the big man, especially the woman; she’s a piece of work.
 In fact, I’ve never met any of these people in my life before, thankfully. They’re not your average upstanding citizen.

You see, I come from a pretty normal background, at school I wasn’t exactly a genius, but I wasn’t thick either. I wasn’t the coolest kid around but I wasn’t a loser either. I was normal. But there was one thing in life that I loved. The army, it was my life. I was a rifleman in Afghanistan, and served 2 tours of duty. And I was good (Trails off)
But I was wounded in the shoulder during operations in the Helmand province; perhaps you’d like to see it

But I guess all good things come to an end. After that the army gave me a leaving present of a disability payment and an inability to work,

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Shooting Script - Shooting day 2 (Re-Shoot)

After importing the initial footage we decided that further filming was needed due to issues with continuity and several absent scenes. Obviously we will need to consider the continuity between the two shoots and we intend to re-shoot the main poker game again using the following shots;

Panning shot right to left of players

Wide shot of dealer handing out cards

Mid shot of every player looking at their cards then putting the blind in

Close up of player's cards

Reaction shot of cards (smirk, etc)

Close up of flop

Mid shot of every player checking

Close up of Turn

Remind audience of everyones cards in relation to the flop

Mid shot of Shaun drinking to connote nerves

Over the shoulder shot of Eddy putting chips all in

Mid shot of Eddy going all in

Close up of Eddy pushing chips in (repeat same shots for every player)

Wide shot of all players going all in - one after another

Extreme close up of every players eyes alternatively

Close up of River (last card on flop)

Reaction Shot Eddy happy - 'read em and weep'

Mid shot of Eddy revealing cards

Reaction shot of Thug annoyed

Mid shot of thug throwing cards on table

Reaction shot of Shaun - initially looks worried

Mid shot of Shaun revealing he is winner

Close up of Shaun smiling

Wide shot of dealer giving Shaun chips

Over the shoulder shot of Shaun - Eddy says 'just take your shit and go'

Mid shot of Eddy saying the above

Shot of 5 of the same cards on table

Reaction shot Eddy looks surprised then angry

Over the Shoulder shot Eddy picks up cards

Mid Shot Eddy smacks the table 'that son of a bitch cheated!'

How did your research into audience contribute to your production work?

During the planning stages of our film, we made sure to consult a wide demographic, so to ascertain as much constructive feedback as possibly throughout our planning stages. Our use of a small focus group within our class gave us several key ideas to bring forward to our product.

We originally used audience feedback whilst working on our ancillary tasks. When producing our poster, we showed it to a variety of people, receiving both positive feedback and constructive criticism. Many like the deliberately obscure nature of the poster, saying that it complemented our film idea well, whilst others believed it to be too ambiguous and wasn't easily understandable. This also helped us to identify our key demographic, as more positive feedback came from our male audience rather than females, citing that it was more of a 'guys' theme.

By using sites such as Facebook, we were able to garner even more feedback for our product, allowing us to further improve our film towards our demographic. It was recommended to us by a viewer that the film was a bit too boring; the poker scene moving too slowly. This led us to take inspiration from such Guy Ritchie films as 'Rock n Rolla', using split screens, stylish music and freeze frames to create a more original and captivating film. We also gained feedback that the ending to our film was too obscure and more closure was needed. This led us to include evidence of the main character's demise rather than to leave the audience guessing.

How did your research into institutions responsible for the production and regulation of the media influence your production work?

We made sure to research into similar genres to ours, as a way of judging the type of distributors that would be interested. For example the gambling film '21' used Columbia Pictures to distribute their film, whilst '13 Tzameti' (a far lesser-known film) was distributed by Palm Pictures, a company that is aimed primarily at alternative media. Our film is fairly dissimilar to the typical blockbusters so would more likely be suited for distribution by a small production company. Our film is rather alternat, using video effects, stop-time shots and the 'breaking' of the fourth wall. Consequently our film does not conform to conventions hence a smaller alternate distributor or independent production company would be more appropriate.

How did your research into genre contribute to your production work?

Considering the fact that our film is based mainly on a poker game, it is hard to define a specific genre, however, we hope to emulate the conventions of several different genres, most notably Gangster and Genre. We studied similar movies to ours, such as 'Casino Royale' and '21' to research how these portrayed genre and to provide us with inspiration.

Whilst researching similar poker films (especially the film 13 Tzameti), we noticed that to create the intensity of the game, extreme close-ups of the player's eyes were frequently used combined with fast cuts between the players and their cards. We intend to attempt 'breaking' the fourth-wall, a technique popularised by such Directors as Quentin Tarantino, and by understanding the conventions of the gambling genre, we will be enabled to sufficiently break them, creating a unique idea.

During our research into the 'Gangster' genre, we found that they predominantly include an archetypal 'villian' with whom the audience can identify the contrasts between the protagonist and antagonist. Similarly, the dingy and foreboding atmosphere was something that we too wanted to recreate with our set. To create empathy with our main character, we want to take elements from the 'Drama' genre. For example, we decided to include information of the character's motives, so included his background, creating a situation to evoke sympathy. We also researched into live poker games, mainly on 'Sky Sports' to get an idea of what shots they use to create a coherent game.

Filming Day 1

During the course of our first day's filming, we encountered several problems involving our set, as the small room in which we filmed constricted our ability to film several shots, notably a 360 degree shot of the poker table. However, we were able to film the majority of our shots to a good standard, and the shoot was overall fairly successful. We had to keep in mind not to break the 180% rule, maintain the shot to shot continuity and make sure that the shots were all to a suitable standard.

We found the lighting of the room to be and issue during the shoot, as it was a bright day. This meant that the light behind the curtains affected the quality of the shots, however we managed to counter this by attatching a lamp behind the camera to make the picture clearer. 

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Ancillary Task - Film Review

This is our Magazine film review in the later stages of completion. We intend to find several appropriate screenshots after our film is completed and insert them where the poster is currently placed. Our main influences during creation were prestigious film magazines such as 'Empire' and 'Total Film', which we wanted to emulate with a 'mock' interview and similar font, headings and rating system.