Introduction to Documentary

Introduction to Documentary

There are a number of different ways that you can choose to film a documentary. Nichols believes that they can be broken down into 6 different modes of documentary. The modes are Expository, Poetic, Observational, Participatory, Reflexive, and Performative. As I read through these various methods one really intrigued and interested me as a method I would like to experiment with in the future.

The Observational method of documentary film making can better be know as the “fly on the wall”. Differing from the other methods, in this one the film maker is taken completely out of the process.

“Social actors engage with one another, ignoring the filmmakers.” (p174)

“Almost all contemporary filmmakers who rely on interviews meet and talk to their subjects first, often pre-rehearsing what will be said on-camera to ensure, at the very least, that it is terse and coherent”. (p177)

This is one of the reasons that this method of documentary film making is so interesting to me. It allows to viewer to form their own opinions about the topic of the film. There is no narrator or outside person telling the viewer about the topic or what they want them to hear. It is more subjective and can have different effects of the different viewers who watch it.

In the editing of the process for this type of documentary there is some control for the director to guide the viewer in a direction. This may affect the perception of the viewer. The hardest part when editing is that is that it’s totally unrehearsed and you are never sure what the outcome will be. Depending on the content and context, some of what is discussed may be misinterpreted by the viewer.

There are some downfalls to this method as well. If the topic is controversial the subjects of the documentary may be painted in a bad light whether they mean to or not. The film maker is to be a bystander and not intervene but sometimes it may be necessary as you would not want anyone to be compromised or in danger though this does not always happen. Sometimes the improv of this type ends up being even more successful than you may have planned.

That is part of the reason why I think this form of documentary would be exciting. It is unpredictable in its nature and the idea that the crew may have had going into it can be changed every step of the way. The fact that a project can change and take on a mind of it own, although it may be stressful, is also really exciting. It has the potential to turn into something really great, giving the viewer the power to decide how to interpret it which can make it a more powerful piece.

-Bec

Nichols, B. (n.d.). Introduction to documentary. 1st ed. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, pp.174-177.

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Reflection

Reflection

Throughout the course of the semester I have become more confident in my decisions with each project we have done. Though I still feel that I have only just begun to scratch the surface of the things I can do, this course has helped show me the basics of shot construction, editing, camera operation, analyzing scenes, color grading and a glimpse into directing.

Each project allowed me to explore a new aspect of the film making process. Now that the course is coming to an end, I can look back and see how each project helped cover the basics.

In the interviews and vox pops I learned a lot about not only the construction but also editing. Although it was probably the most frustrating to edit, I also found that once I got something put together it was some of the most rewarding in terms of refining my skillset. Once I got into a rhythm and started to experiment with different ways of presenting the information it became fun.

Overall I have become a lot more confident in my abilities and decision making for future projects. I do wish that there would have been some more emphasis on some of the projects nearing the end of the semester as they felt a bit rushed. Looking back though, the time spent in the first half of the semester gave me the knowledge and ability to do these final projects in a shorter amount of time, while still having then be successful.

I am still a firm believer in being as well rounded as possible across roles. This course does a good job on touching the basics and setting a foundation that I can continue to build on as I continue throughout the program.

– Bec

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Forbidden Lies

Forbidden Lies

There are many different ways to build depth of sound into a film. Not all of the sounds you hear when watching a film come from the actions you see. In the case of the documentary Forbidden Lies, when you really listen you can tell various sounds that have been added along with the vocals and music tracks to the film.

In this clip, I picked up on so many different generic sounds that have been built up in post. Some of the examples include: Birds, chimes, cars, a register, a camera shutter, a rattle, rustling paper, coins, and that is just in the short three min clip. A lot of these sounds are really quite generic and could have been sourced from a website or sound bank of effects that have been collected over time.

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Some of the sounds that have added to the scene make a lot of sense with the image that you are seeing. For instance the birds chirping outside when they are having a picnic. There is also instances where you see typing or money and in those cases you hear the sound of a keyboard (0:57) or coins clinging together (3:00). These sounds are indicative of the imagery you see.

Other sounds, that did not necessarily go with what you were seeing, did however symbolically go with what was being said. At (2:04) the woman is talking about an indicator that something is wrong. At the same time you also hear a rattlesnakes tail which typically is used to signal that there is danger near or that something is wrong. It doesn’t seem odd or out of place when you see and hear that combination because you associate that sound with an indicator. Sounds do not always have to be used to imitate the image that you see as long as there is a reason for using it.

Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 9.52.27 PM

Not all sounds are good and indicative of the sights or words that are being said.  At (0:20) the girl throws her scarf up in the air and it flows to the ground and lands behind the car. What is normally very light having little to no sound, in the film has a very heavy thud sound. I listened to it to try and figure out what it was and even tested it in my kitchen to see what it might have been. The closest thing I found to the sound was dropping a bag of rice which is definitely not at all what scarf would sound like. In this instance I think it would have been smarter to go with a different sound to use for the scarf.

If you are unable to capture sounds during the filming you can always create them in post. Just like with what I did with the bag of rice you can recreate and record sounds that will later be layered into the film. Each one of the sounds that I mentioned earlier could have been captured after the filming. The most important part when adding the sounds is post is to not make then seem out of place or cause distraction from the film itself.

– Bec

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No Direction Home

No Direction Home

After watching the opening scene of Martin Scorsese’s ‘No Direction Home’ a few times it really drives home and alludes to what this story is going to be about. It starts off with Bob Dylan in his element on stage singing his song no direction home, but quickly switches to a very dull grey image with a voice talking about the feeling of time standing still. This was my first clue to what the film was going to be about. When they paired this imagery with the narration it instantly sets a tone talking about his past.

The narrator then begins to go into the early life of Bob Dylan and his childhood home. In the house his father bought he found a guitar and an old record player that he said took him to a new place and gave him the feeling that he was born into the wrong family. You know at that point that music is going to have a huge impact on his life. It takes him out of this desolate place and that feeling of being stuck in time.

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At the age of 10 before he even knew how to play music it affected him in such a way that it made him feel as though he was someone else. Immediately it then goes into talk about the town losing its livelihood and beginning to decay. It talks about the people in the town, the ruralness of it, and that no one ever really rebels or breaks away from that routine.

I feel that it is pretty obvious in foreshadowing what the rest of the film is going to be about. You have a young boy in a town and time where no one questions or rebels; who has just come across the escape of music that takes him to another place and gives him new life. He will start to break that mold and break away from the place stuck in time to find himself through the music.

This opening scene was really creatively done and does a great job of setting up a tone for how the rest of the film will turn out. It alludes to what the story is going to be about without coming out and telling you out right. At the same time, it gives you insight to how the story of Bob Dylan all started at such a young age.

– Bec

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Interview styles

Interview styles

When doing the filming of the vox pops my group really looked for a visually interesting room with good lighting to shoot our interviews in. We ended up shooting in the rocking chair room and our footage turned out really well. They were well lit, well framed, and we were even able to blur the background slightly keeping the focus on the interviewee.

When going to cut the footage I realized that we should have tried to vary the areas a bit more to add more interest to the final video by not seeing the same room in the background the whole time. Because of that and the fact that we were only able to get a handful of interviews, I went through and chose another groups footage that has similar lighting and framing to us but in new locations.

I found that with the question prompts as well as the extra footage from the other group it was really quite fun to put together. Each person adds personality to the video so finding a good fun song really helped with the playfulness and quality of the end product.

This video has a lot going on visually having all of the different people as well as overlays and an opening tracking shot. Because of this I have chosen to keep the titling very simple to not distract or over stimulate the viewer. Even the names I chose to just do on a black background rather than overlaying it on the image. The people are not on the screen for long enough and they are constantly changing throughout which would have changed the consistency.

I actually found this part of the assessment really quite difficult. I found myself wanting to cut to a shot of listening but then there was not enough footage or the person listening would then begin to talk messing up the audio and visual. When there was a good shot with someone listening it never lasted long enough and the camera wound switch to another shot. I tried to cut it in a way that there was still some kind of story without being to jumpy or cutting someone off.

It was challenging but I suppose that was the point to learn from the process. Going through the footage again the motion from shot to shot was still very fluid. Had they been a bit quicker, it may have allowed for better footage to cut to rather than having to see the adjustments and movement.

We were working with such a large group so not everyone was really able to have a chance at getting to be a part of the process. I was the boom operator for the interview segment that I used for the clip but was not able to get behind the camera for this exercise. I realized in post that it is important to be very quick with the movements so that when you get to the editing phase you have more options.

Between the two different types of documentary/interview filming techniques I definitely enjoyed the vox pops a lot more in all aspects. That is not to say though that the other cant be fun as well. In the Vox pops having the stationary camera and the question prompts for the people it allowed for a much smoother looking end video. I think the interviews were more about the process and gaining the confidence to make those quick movements and cuts to create and interesting story.

I am happy with the outcome of both of the projects and I look forward to continuing working with these different styles and methods of filming interviews. It is always a learning process and by experimenting and taking risks I will learn what works best for me and my aesthetic that I can carry forward into future projects.

– Bec

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Color Grading

Color Grading

Color Grading is an important part taking any cinematic piece to the next level. Color can soften, harden, or intensify a feeling that you want to evoke throughout a scene. For this assessment I have chosen a few scenes from my Lenny to practice color grade.

I have chosen to take the original photo and add a cool grade, a warm grade, and then one where I focused on a different color. I did this to try and add some variation to the scene and push myself to try new things. The references I used were from the movies O Brother Where Art Thou, The Revenant, and The Matrix. All of these movies have different grades for different scenes but the overall films carry a similar scheme throughout.

images (1)O Brother Where Art Thou
images (2)The Revenant
images (3)The Matrix

I found that the best outcome for practicing the color grading was the scene in Lenny where we were able to get the best lighting on the actor from a window as well as the room light. Without having any extra lighting I found that some of the other scenes fell a bit flat. Lenny was the most complete project to work with that had a variety of shots.

The first Image is where Sharron comes in to meet Lenny. In this shot we had really good lighting making it easier to push the boundaries of the color grading. Like I said I tried to do both a warm and cool version as well as a more intense dramatic colorization. I think all of these color grades really work with this scene and give a new feel to it. Any one of these could be used to help enhance the look of the short Lenny based what look I want it to have in the end.

original.pngOriginal

I repeated this process with two other scenes from Lenny. In my opinion they were not as successful as this first scene. Due to the setting and lack of extra lighting, the color grading didn’t seem to have as much of an effect. That also could have been due to the fact that this is my first time color grading on videos in this program. The colors of the setting itself had an affect on the outcome of the look. We were in a place with a lot of grays and orange tones so it became more of a challenge to push the intensity with color grading.

Original in the top left*

I am looking forward to continue working to push the boundaries with color grading in future projects. It is important to start with good footage but that alone will not boost your film to another level. You can enhance the mood and feeling you want to convey to your audience helping to get your message across.

– Bec

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Transmedia

Transmedia

In today’s world of storytelling, being innovative and going beyond just a singular storyline will really help to build a fan base and franchise.

“Transmedia, briefly, is the telling of a story across multiple media channels where each individual narrative has the ability to stand-alone and yet, makes a worthy contribution to the grand narrative.” (Menard. D)

When it comes to transmedia one of the really successful campaigns that comes to mind is the Marvel universe. It is an example of how you can take one story and branch off into many different forms of media. These stories all started off as individual comics and through movies have become more involved and intertwined with one another.

Marvel has created a huge transmedia universe that is sure to have very particular guidelines to keep consistency throughout. These different stories and worlds can be enjoyed on their own but are also a cohesive narrative and entire universe.

Pokemon is another really good use of transmedia. They have just recently introduced a new aspect to an already hugely successful franchise. The Pokemon Go app has taken a brand that was sort of put on the back burner and not been talked about as much outside of its niche audience. Now with this app has sparked a whole new level of interest and went viral worldwide. It has revitalized the franchise and opened new possibilities.

There are hundreds of different Pokemon all with different evolutions. There is not really a singular text that tells the fans about each one but rather the fans themselves find out and discover about these different creatures through the different forms of media. Because of this each player or fan may find out different information which then encourages conversations between them. Not only do they build the story through the forms of media but also through fan interactions.

When done right the use of different media platforms to expand upon a story or world can really boost your product to the next level.

– Bec

Scolari, C.A., 2009. Transmedia storytelling: Implicit consumers, narrative worlds, and branding in contemporary media production.

Hadas, L., 2014. Authorship and Authenticity in the Transmedia Brand: The Case of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. Networking Knowledge: Journal of the MeCCSA Postgraduate Network7(1).

Menard, D., 2015. Entertainment assembled: The Marvel Cinematic Universe, a case study in transmedia.

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