Documentary in a Day

Producing a documentary is not easy as I expected. We formed a group of 6, switching our roles frequently to produce our own documentary of “Home” theme.


Production

Each of us took different responsibilities. We had a cameraman, 1st AD, a recordist, a key grip, an interviewer and an interviewee.

We used MCU to do the interview. The interviewer sat to the right of the screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-8-00-56-pmcamera so that the interviewee did not look straight into the camera. This made the audience feel more comfortable with what was being said by the interviewee than they would if the interviewee was staring straight at them. For best results, we placed the interviewer and the interviewee level with the camera, to avoid making the interviewee appear to be looking up or down.

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Because of rule #1, we complimented the interview’s eye line, by observing the Rule of Thirds. We considered our camera shot as cut into thirds and place the interviewee in the opposite third to the direction that they are looking. This gave our shot a sense of balance and removed any empty “dead space” behind them.

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When framing up our shot, we also considered the interviewee’s surroundings. A tree was placed in the background to reduce the emptiness of the blank white wall. Because we filmed with a single camera, as I mentioned above, we framed our interviewee with a medium close-up. This will allow the audience to see the interviewee’s facial expressions.

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Three lights were set up. We used a square panel light as the key light. The key light was the most important light because it was the brightest light in the frame. In this case, we had a lot of shadow off to the camera left side and below interviewees’ heads because the key light was placed to the right and high. We used the fill light. It was not as powerful as the key light, but what it did was to adjust light to the exact part of the frame that was in the shadow. The last light was in the back. This light created a shadow of the tree which made the background more interesting.

The interview was really interesting. Each of us switched our roles as an interviewee. Because the theme was “Home”, we asked each other with questions comparing our hometown to Australia, where we are studying abroad. We are classmates, it explains why the atmosphere was really comfortable. Everybody was doing great, both asking and answering. Our different personalities and confidence contributed to a pleasant and laughable documentary.

We are quite happy with our interview, however, the camera was not placed properly when we interviewed Evelyn (at 0:18). She was a little bit in the centre of the frame. Also, the gem should have been adjusted to create soft light. More details of lightning should have been considered to make our interviewees’ skin smoother. And also if we have a chance to do another interview with people whom we do not know well, we will have to warm up the atmosphere before filming in order to produce the interview exactly how we want.


Post Production

The documentary was edited individually. We had two types of footage separated in different folders, one was the interview and one was “B-roll”. We went out to film extra landscapes for the “B-roll” after interviewing but I did not put it in my documentary because the duration of the interview is enough.

I begin my documentary with a short introduction. The graphic world map was adjusted to the background then followed by a number of houses popping over it to illustrate the theme “Home”.

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Editing the documentary is really tricky, especially when I had to cut the footage. We did not have a list of questions and we switched our role as interview, therefore it took me time to find and cut footage in groups. However, we had common questions for the interview, every group of answers began with a question which was showed in text. There are 5 questions. Opening with greetings, then followed by “What’s your name?”, “Anything special about your name?”, “Where are you from?”, “How long have you been in Australia?”, and “How different is your home from Australia?”.

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The answer of each interviewee was cut just right. I used cross dissolve in every beginning and ending of each group. The part of asking names were attached with text in order to clarify the audience with each interviewees’ names. The video also was colour corrected and I reduced the saturation to lower the yellowish. The documentary was ended by some footage of behind the scene.

Our interview was recorded right, the interviewees talked clear and loud enough, there was no noise in the background. However, I put some chill music in the background to avoid the awkward silence.