For our final in my film class, we had to make a VoiceThread talking about the three projects I am most proud of from this year of film. Coming into film this year I had no knowledge of film language, film techniques or how to even make a film. I had a lot of fun going through the process and learning something completely new. The three projects I highlighted in my VoiceThread are the Citizen Kane Analysis video, The Hit film, and Mr. Le Duc’s Filmmaking Film of Filmmaking. I chose these three because I felt that those were the projects that came out the cleanest and I had the most fun making them. I also mention that I am really proud of my blog posts because I feel like they reflect me as a student really well.
This is my VoiceThread I created all about my year in film. Check it out!
Our goal for the film was to make a film that moved between suspense and comedy. We wanted to have half of the comedy to be the juxtaposition between very suspenseful moments and comedic moments, as well as Jasper and Matthew seeming to not focus on their mission. My part in this project was editor but I also acted in the film (a little).
21st Century Skills
I learned a lot during this project. Having not worked with Aaron before, I was excited to absorb everything he did and said during the entire process. I learned by watching him on set with the cameras and equipment as well as having him directly share things to help me with the editing process. For instance, the OSMO is amazing. I never knew something like that existed. The biggest thing Aaron helped me with was doing the muzzle flash on Final Cut, I learned so much in those 10 minutes.
At the moments in the cafe when the music is playing and we weren’t using any of the audio from the camera, the background was completely silent as compared to the static noise in the other sequences. We did record foley but it was for footsteps or moving newspapers so I couldn’t use them as background foley. I tried to use them at first by looping parts where there wasn’t any noise other than the background but those moments were under a second so it didn’t give enough audio to make the looped clip smooth. I thought I was screwed, for lack of a better term. Thankfully, Final Cut Pro has an entire section of foley and there are four different room tones to choose from. The room tone on Final Cut Pro wasn’t the exact same as the room tone in the cafe but because it was being played under music, it really didn’t matter, it was just being used as white noise not essential audio.
Reactions to the Final Version
I had my mom look at the film to give me critique. She said she really enjoyed it, mostly because she saw how much time & effort we put into the film & seeing the final product reflect that made her proud of all of us. One thing she thought I did well was the use of music to portray the comedic aspects of the film. Something she felt could have been better was the transition from my house to the cafe scene, which I agree the transition was abrupt. Overall, my mom felt we got our point across well by using the music and that the cinematography was great (thanks to Aaron).
Evaluation of Final Version
I think our film embodied the unexpected principle of the SUCCESs Model because of the way the film starts out & how we go between comedy and serious aspects. The way I get killed is also unexpected.
I also think our film appropriately displays the emotional principle of the SUCCESs Model. The emotional aspect is again the comedy, humor and laughter is an emotional response which will make people remember our film.
Finally, our film has the story principle of the SUCCESs Model. Yes, obviously the entire film is a story, but it also has a story within it. Though it is only mentioned in the first part of the film, Jaspers wife not liking his hair is a story within the film which can make it more memorable.
What I Learned & Problems I Solved
I learned a lot. Not only from the filming process but also from Aaron. Getting to work with someone who has so much knowledge about film was a really amazing experience. Aaron taught me how to make a muzzle flash, make edits easier & color correct. I learned how important it is to compromise on these kinds of projects; our cinematographer, Matthew, wanted to take a lot of shots on our last day of filming but we had to compromise because the film was already over the five minute time constraint. The number one problem I solved was being flexible with my time. We had a huge issue with people being busy so we couldn’t shoot & to make it easier on the team I tried to be as flexible as possible with when I could film. I also made an effort to let the team know a week in advance when I was going to be gone.
I thought it was funny because I know Sparks and have been in his class. The movie would be difficult to understand if you haven’t experienced Sparks first hand.
Purpose / Aim / Message Of Film As I See It
In my opinion it’s a commentary on older generations and their views on technology. The message of the film would be that the content of someones work isn’t of lesser quality because technology was used to do it and that technology evolving and becoming stronger parts of our life is inevitable.
This Film Achieved It’s Purpose Through
Narration (story, dramatic appeal, motivation, closure, point of view)
The dramatic way the story is told through time stamps and location stamps makes it feel like they’re telling a story that is really old. It also fits in with the way Sparks would talk about it, in a very dramatic way. Overall making the film over dramatic makes the message come off better.
Again, the narrator adds a dramatic element to the story which is needed to make the story come off as comedic rather than completely serious. The dialogue is what gets across the actual story of Sparks not liking computers and him being extremely old.
The sets are appropriate for the film since it deals with a teacher and students. It doesn’t feel out of place as it can when our projects are filmed in school. It’s also obviously appropriate because Sparks is a teacher.
The film didn’t waste time with useless detail, I felt it was to the point and got the message across. I think the narration between each scene helps the viewer get a good sense of time without adding on a lot of time to the film itself.
Film Related To It’s Historical Place & Time
The film is relevant because it almost feels like Sparks legacy because it’s rumored he’s going to retire soon. It also feels historical because of the time stamps and the way the film portrays time through the narrator.
Values Expressed In This Film
The film is a social commentary, in my opinion. I think the value expressed in the film is that technology is something everyone should embrace, especially older generations that often question it. This is shown through the scene where Tiffany (Sparks’ wife) writes a nice paper and he’s shocked she could do something of high quality in the 21st century. Sparks is an extreme example of this which is what makes it comical, along with using him as a character.
Film “Makes It’s Case” Or Persuaded Me Of It’s Message
The way the film compelled me of it’s message was simply by using Sparks as a character. I got the message before even hearing it, it does help that I had Sparks as a teacher. Anyone that knows or has had Sparks as a teacher knows what his views are on technology. But, if you don’t know Sparks well the dialogue got the point across really well without being too lengthy.
During the post-production process, I edited down the film little by little (we still had to film some things during this time) and tried to piece it together in an order that made sense. I talked a lot with Matthew, our director, he had a very specific idea of what the film should look like. I also got a lot of help from Aaron, our cinematographer because he knows a lot about Final Cut Pro and how to make the film look better.
Discussions with Director
The time limit was a serious issue for us, Matthew wanted to cut out a lot of the dialogue to keep some of the cooler shots in the film but I felt like they were essential to the funny parts of the film. We ended up compromising and cutting a little of both and I ended up actually loving the way the dialogue in the car scene came out, it was much more snappy which made it feel more like a conversation.
We also discussed what order the first few sequences would go in; if we would continue to build tension by putting the clip of me after the clip of the car or if we would immediately cut to the shot of Jasper in the car to bring in the comedy element.
These two screenshots show the difference between having my clip after the car shot and having Jasper’s shot right after the car. The issue was if we thought it was better to build the tension and hit the comedy part hard or if continuing to build tension for longer would make the comedy better. We ended up deciding that continuing to build the tension would be better. Aaron also helped me by adding a riser over the music (not shown), which added even more tension making the shot of Jasper even better.
This was another issue we had, cutting down the dialogue in the car. I didn’t want to cut so much that the audience didn’t get the comedy or the context of what Jasper and Matthew were talking about, but again it just made the pace of the conversation faster so it felt more natural. I overlapped the audio on the clips so you see Jasper/Matthew after they’ve already started talking, making the camera movement feel more organic. I had to test out cutting the footage at different places so you got enough context, and the audio had to sync up perfectly with the picture.
The shots in the cafe were tricky because of the background noise, any shots where we didn’t need to use the audio from the actual shots just felt weird and empty because there wasn’t any noise going on behind it. We also couldn’t use the audio we didn’t need to because Aaron was instructing me or there were other noises from people in the area.
I ended up using the room tone on Final Cut Pro to fill in the blank noise. At first, I was questioning whether or not it needed the room tone, but even though the room tone wasn’t the same as the background noise in the cafe having the noise helped make it feel smooth. I also played with using some of the foley we took during shooting and tried to loop it but it just didn’t feel smooth, there were loud blips in the audio that made it hard to piece together.
Jasper has a hilarious line that he came up with on the spot, unfortunately we were using the OSMO which doesn’t have great audio. It took a lot to get the audio loud enough to be able to understand what he’s saying. I ended up having to use a voice corrector and play with the different audio levels to get it loud enough, but it was worth it cause the line is one of the best of the entire film and it was complete improvisation.
Contributions with the Director
We decided to cut down the dialogue in the car at first for time constraint reasons but again it ended up feeling very natural. Before we ran into conflicts with everyone’s schedules, we wanted to film a “suiting up” scene to go in the beginning of the film; for some background and to build tension, but because we could only film on two days, we had to decide not to. We didn’t want to make us feel pressured or rushed to finish filming or to get certain things done. Because of time constraints on the video, we also had to cut out a montage of the BMW rolling up to my house, it wasn’t essential, but it was cool. The order of the clips was thoroughly discussed amongst the entire team; where the shot of Jasper & Matt following me in town was going to go in relation to the cafe scene and how the final sequence was going to end. We decided that it would make most sense to have the cafe scene before everything in the city because you can somewhat tell it’s not downtown. The ending made more sense with Jasper & Matt walking away, then Matt running back & that was what we decided on.
Editing Software Screenshots
First, Aaron taught me how to adjust the shadow and highlight levels. He said that the highlights should be at about 100 and the shadows at 0. A lot of our shots were too bright so this really helped to even all of it out.
Aaron and I also made a filter that would give the entire film the look we wanted. After we made the one filter, I could drag it onto each clip. After dragging the filter onto the clips some of them were too dark so I had to color correct and change the levels again.
We didn’t use many visual transitions, the comedy of going between very serious and completely goofy were essential to the film. This was an unplanned visual transition; it’s just at the end of the cafe scene where Matt & Jasper walk away and the screen kind of goes dark because of their dark suits and then we go straight into the downtown scenes.
There were a lot of audio transitions in the film because we went between the intense music and the goofy music. This is an example of me cutting the music when Jasper has his funny line so you could hear it clearly. I just faded the audio in and out around it.
We used risers during the parts where we wanted to emphasize the intense parts which were usually followed by goofy moments which drove the comedy home. This is the beginning shots before we see Jasper & Matt in the car; the riser drops right before Jasper talks about his hair.
How I Could Have Improved The Film
With more time I would have really refined the audio, but unfortunately most of the audio wasn’t essential to the film. Some clips had some wind in the background, we filmed in bad conditions, which would have taken some time to clean up. Another fix on the audio front, I would have spent more time finding music for the film. We used a song Aaron already had on his computer for the intense moments but we didn’t think anything fit quite right. I searched through the creative commons music and settled on what we had, but with more time I could’ve found something better.
What I Learned & Problems I Solved
I learned that projects like this take a lot of teamwork. We spoke to each other about every decision made for the film, which was great and I learned a lot about compromise through that. I was, again, a realist on the team. We wanted to do some other shots on our final days of filming but by that point we were already over the time limit and I would have to cut down a lot. We didn’t get to do those shots, they weren’t essential to the film and I would have to cut out things that were more essential to the plot line.
During production I worked a lot with Aaron. We planned out what I was going to do during editing and how Aaron would help me with cleaning the film up. I was also an actor in the film.
Collating Rushes from the Filming
Aaron loaded all of the footage from the shoot onto my computer and put it into one folder on my desktop. We filmed on two different cameras and because I was there during the shoot and Aaron is a great teacher, I know which shots we did with which cameras making it easy to find footage. Aaron also deleted all of the shots that he knew weren’t ones we could use so I don’t have to sort through excess clips. Being at the shoot also really helped because I know in what order we filmed everything so even though it’s out of order, I know where the footage is.
Contribution to the Shooting
Time was our biggest issue during the shooting. There were some parts that we filmed slightly different to the script and just had to roll with it because we just didn’t have the time to re-film it. The changes weren’t huge thankfully.
Challenges Faced During Shooting
Weather was a huge issue, it was very rainy the day we were filming and making sure we all didn’t freeze or get all of the equipment wet was an issue. I provided umbrellas for the everyone so we could stay out of the rain and in turn hopefully be warmer.
Assistance Given to the Production Team
First, to help the production team I went with Jasper, our screenwriter, and Matthew, our cinematographer to look for places to shoot.
During the shoot I helped Aaron with all of his equipment. When he needed things moved or set up I tried to be there to make the shoot go faster.
What I Learned
I learned that shooting outside is much more difficult than I anticipated. Dealing with the weather conditions was hard but we got through it as a team. One problem we faced other than the weather was everyones schedules not fitting together. To help with this I made my schedule as flexible as possible so that we could get everyone together as soon as possible.
In our group, we talked about possibly having a montage to show the beginning part to build suspense. Mise-en-scene is obviously going to be a part in our film, we are going to have a lot of time in the film where the camera is moving and we need to have the scenes blocked out so all of the elements stay in frame. Intercutting will also be used in our film because there will be shots back and forth between me and Jasper & Matthew stalking me; each of us will have action going on being cut together. We also want to try split screens, which will be more tricky than I expected, but with Aaron’s help I think they will come out well. The split screens should add suspense and comedy to our film.
For test editing, I wanted to try doing a montage because I know that’s something we’re going to try incorporating into our film. I did this montage of the funniest out takes from our last project. I chose to do funny ones because I know we want the montage to be kind of serious then have comedy breaks, enjoy!
Planning with Cinematographer
This is Aaron & I working on the storyboard. We talked about where we thought the cuts would fit and where we wanted them.
Influences from Films
The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Aaron showed us a split screen sequence from this film when we were first discussing the ideas for our action scenes
This could be a difficult kind of sequence to complete in the post production, we would have to get a plug-in for it but it would add to the juxtaposition of our film
Kill Bill Vol. 1
Sally Menke was an editing genius
She used freeze frames to emphasize the relationship between The Brine (Uma Thurman) and Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox)
Menke also utilized split screens, something I really want to try, which adds to the comic effect of the movie
Using freeze frames or slowing down sequences to emphasize the events is something I want to try in this project
She also utilizes the freeze frame editing technique
Schoonmaker also speeds sequences up to make the action more intense, something I want to try in this project as well
This source has every single question you could ever have about Final Cut Pro. It even has a section that compares the iMovie program to Final Cut Pro. Aaron is also going to be helping me with the program because he knows a lot about it as is and learning hands on really helps me.
What I Learned & Problems I Solved
I learned that it is much harder to come up with ideas for screenplays than I thought, thankfully our group is very creative so it only took two-ish days of brainstorming. My role in the group during brainstorming was to be the realistic one, we had some really funny ideas as we were going and someone had to tell the crazy boys the good from the bad.