Reflection on Sound and Image

‘The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.’

Malcolm X


I started studying Master of Media at RMIT University three months ago. I have to say this is the most exciting experience ever. Three different courses at the first semester have left me not only valuable knowledge, but also one step closer to my career pathway. One of them is Sound and Image course, which turns me from a person who had no idea about filmmaking, to a student who now knows every basic step of being a filmmaker.

During the first days at school, I had so many difficulties from pre-production to post-production. Knowing how to operate professional camera was hard, using software to edit the footage was even harder. I used to be the one who could only come up with an idea in imagination, now I can work with those heavy filmmaking equipments from camera, sound recorder to lightning system. The course structure was designed so well. I learned from the basic knowledge of how many camera shots are there, how to perfectly focus on an object with camera lens circles, and how to organize a faultless frame with ‘the rule of thirds’.

I was so thankful that we had opportunities to advance our skills with our intensive days. We had various topics, from producing a movie scene to a documentary. It was hard but interesting. We learned to set up a plan for pre-production, get our hands on drawing storyboard, worked in team to decide which camera shots and angles most suited the scripts. We now figure out what it is like to manage the production and how to work in a team. Different roles in a film crew have different responsibilities. Lower self-esteem and support each other will always bring good results.

We now also know what Vox Pop is. We were struggling with our confidence when asking strangers to do the interview in front of camera. But it is no longer a problem. A refusal can never bring us down. This is not only an experience in producing documentary, but also a lesson for every person. Be patient and never stop trying.

However, the most compelling skill I learned from the course is editing. It was really hard and it took so much time to know every function of the editing software, especially Pro Premiere. Each tool has its own function. And when there were too many ‘terms’ to learn, I started being panic. I overcame by dropping at the suite when I had no class. Practicing is the only option to develop editing skills. Now I know a lot of short keys in Pro Premiere to save time, as well as how to polish my product with different video and audio effect tools.


Sound and Image course is almost ended. After three months I now acknowledge every step of filmmaking from pre to post production. I wish we could have more class for this course so we can advance our skills. Advancing editing skills is essential and I would never stop practicing to achieve my goal.

Peer Feedbacks

image002

 

“Who is Annie?” is a short Docu-drama video made by Priyankar Ray, Annette Omondi and Nick Chan.

The story raises a really common problem that needs to be solved thoroughly. Domestic violence, which is also known as intimate partner violence, is a form of violence that can occur within any relationship. Their video particularly focuses on a couple. The image of an abusive husband is pretty ordinary in not only a particular country but also every where in this world.

The idea of the character “Annie” is really engaging, especially when they mentioned Annie could be your friend, your mother, sister or your neighbour. Annette plays as Annie, who suffers those painful slaps from his husband, David (played by Nick).

One moment you find yourself the happiest person coming home and enjoying a glass of wine with your husband. Nothing could be more touched when he brings you breakfast. But I guess nothing can last forever. It changes too fast that you have not realised whether what is real. Starting with arguments, then followed by domestic violence.

A one minute feature-length is perfect for a short docu-drama video, especially when they intended to promote “Who is Annie?” on social network sites. Nowadays, plenty of videos can be found on internet and the audience may “jump” into another one if the duration is not short enough.

The acting of Annette and Nick were naturally and convincing. But somehow it remains a little bit of awkward feelings. They perhaps did it intentionally. I find it interesting and less intense when tracking a really serious problem. However, if they could follow one specific style, by style I mean a profound concept or to make it a real “parody”, then the video would engage audience exactly the way they wanted.

The post production was designed to match their purpose. The beginning is edited with bright colours then switches to fade tone when they gradually reduced its saturation until it is black & white. This intention which is attached with background music emphasises the moment when the domestic violence starts.

In conclusion, their video is well organised and definitely will engage target audience. I would love to follow their products if they come up with more series of “Who is Annie?”.


 

pokemon-go-edit_zpsecfjikmf

 

“Along came Pokemon Go” is produced by Truc Lam, Ming Yang and Xiao Tao Bian. This trendy video will make you laugh at first second when focusing on what troubles this “taking-over-the-world” game can cause you.

For those who are addicted to Pokemon Go, you will find the video content really familiar. They generated the story with a young couple. Bruce, an ideal boy to love, has ruined his relationship by spending too much time playing game and totally ignored his girlfriend. I guess “karma” is always right, what goes around, comes around. By the end, she got into Pokemon Go and paid no attention to him no matter how hard he tried to get her back.

The storyline is easy to follow. The speed of the video was increased to create a fast-forward effect. This technique definitely brings humours to the audience. The one minute and a half video has no specific dialogue accept for some sound effects and funny background music. It reminds me of successful silent movies with subtile by Charlie Chaplin.

The aim of this video is to raise awareness among young game players about its addiction negative effects and and why they should keep a balance between gaming and their real life. “Along came Pokemon Go” will ensure to interest young people and adults as well. However, this kind of trendy issued product should be launched at the right time to avoid “out of dated” matter due to its temporary tendency.

A Scene

“Violence is one of the most fun things to watch.”

Quentin Tarantino


It was Autumn 2003 when I was reading a teenager magazine. There was a column written by a fashion blogger. It was attachedGogo.jpg with a picture of a Japanese student wearing her uniform,  and “Gogo Yubari, Kill Bill” was in the caption.

I was so amazed, the girl was holding a large meteor hammer connected with a chain. I decided to watch this movie right away. Unfortunately, later I learnt that “Kill Bill” was banned in Vietnamese cinemas because of its violence. I had waited for several months and finally I got a DVD from a local shop. I was thirteen then, a little bit sneaky. Otherwise, I would not be allowed to watch this bloody violent movie if my parents found out.

Honestly, Kill Bill was far more than I expected. It was crazy! I mean everything, the story plot, the Japanese animated scene, the black&white colour changing, everything. I jumped from intense to excited. The Bride has made so much effort to do her revenge. Every villain has their own characteristics.  The Samurai fighting scene is beautiful. Quentin Tarantino, the writer and director of Kill Bill, has made a really brilliant masterpiece.

One of the most impressive scene, I have to say, is when Ella Driver, as known as California Mountain Snake, tries to assassinate the Bride with poison when she is in coma. 

It begins with a blonde long hair lady wearing a white coat and she is holding her red umbrella. Ella Driver whistles the melody of the song named Twisted Nerve by Bernard Herrmann when she is walking from outside into the hospital down the hall. Ella turns into the room on her left while the camera keeps following its track to the room on the right side, where we can see the Bride is lying on her bed.


The screen starts to split. 

Left Side

Right Side

CU The Bride in her coma. EX CU of Ella taking her gloves off.

INSERT: of her leg stepping into a sheer, white stocking.

INSERT: of her buttoning upward on a white nurse’s uniform.

CU The Bride’s finger in pulse oximeter. CU of Ella’s sheer stocking feet stepping into white nurse’s shoes.

INSERT: of a syringe needle stuck in a vial. The red liquid is drawn up into the syringe.

INSERT: of Ella doing a test with the syringe.

INSERT: the syringe is placed on a nurse’s tray.

EX CU The Bride’s closing left eye. CU of Ella placing a white nurse’s cap on top of her head.
CU The Bride’s face. A medium tracking shot of the door is opened, Ella in a white nurse’s uniform, with a matching white eye patch over her right eye, carries the nurse’s tray with the red-liquid syringe on it, stepping out.

She walks down the corridor towards the sleeping Bride’s room.

The split screens are merged when Ella looks at the Bride through the window.

The scene then followed by an MC of Ella holding the tray, with subtile:

ELLA DRIVER 

member

DEADLY VIPER ASSASSINATION SQUAD

codename: 

CALIFORNIA MOUNTAIN SNAKE


The Bride is about to be injected with that deadly poison then such relieved, Ella has a phone call by Bill.

The whole shot construction makes the story more intense. It is incredibly creepy but artistic. Especially, the split screen has created a significant effect. One side is the silence of the sleeping Bride, the other side is a sequence of Ella’s transformation into a freaking nurse. One side is unawareness, the other side is intentional homicide.

However, the ‘coma scene’ would be nothing without Ella’s whistle, or I say, the melody of Twist Nerve. Both cheerful and haunting, this bouncing whistle tune quickly turns into a tormenting barrage of dread. It is said to be one of the most greatest moment of Kill Bill Vol.1, a hesitant but terrified melody is played along with the most suspense scene.

There are a lot of remake versions on the Internet. People try to set up the scene, actress attempts to act “cool”. But no remake version can defeat its original. A citation to praise Quentin Tarantino for his shooting script, his direction and his post-production team including editors and sound designers.


Kill Bill and Quentin Tarantino’s other movies may not be enjoyed by everybody. His work is characterised by nonlinear and storylines, forward and backward; disorder segments;  a synthesis of violence and gore, multi-culture and of course, not normal. However, with some one is willing to experience new sensation, let your mind free and enjoy his uncommon craziness.

It might be a surprise.

Lenny – Reflection On

During the first semester of Master of Media – RMIT, I enrolled in Sound and Image course. We had an incentive day to produce a one-page script and more than two hours to shoot three scenes. I was assigned to direct the shooting with other four students, a First Assistant Director (First AD) to manage the whole production, a Cameraman,  a Boom Operator, and a Camera Assistant.


Pre-production

It took us nearly three hours to finish the storyboard for just only 1 page script. To be honest, it was the first time I was the director. I discussed with Miro, the cameraman and another group member to do the drawing. We analysed the script, determining what to shoot and where to shoot. The storyboard was drawn by a student who has a back-ground of Bachelor degree in Games Design, she took our ideas about the duration of the shooting, camera shot types and the transition to transform into drawing. There were 18 drawings in total, filled with details. When we were about to finish the storyboard, we found out we had miss-understood about the genders of the characters due to the sample we had worked with previously, so the drawings were fixed all over again.


Production

It was on a Sunday morning, we went to school to get the equipments. We asked another group to be the actors for the film. While other members were setting up the camera, I asked our actors to read the script and did some practices. The trouble was that they were not real actors and also it was the first time I directed. We were all students, my actors did not get paid for their jobs, so I had many difficulties of trying not to be bossy. Although I was not satisfied enough, I was so respectful for their help.

We spent a lot of time finding the exact locations we wanted to shoot. I was my fault, I had not checked the location properly before producing. Furthermore, the constructions nearby caused too much noise, we were interrupted whenever a truck passed by.

Finally, when we were ready to shoot, there were some technical problems that Miro could not adjust the focus on the camera properly. I was “freak-out”. It was always about the time-management. On a real production, every thing needs to be on time. Otherwise it will cause money-related trouble when the budget is limited. However, we decided to keep shooting.

The whole process of film-making did not only have problems, we had fun as well. None of the group member remembered how to call in a video shot procedure, except me. I got only “Action!” and “Cut”. First AD had so many lines, she had to hold the instruction to read her lines and even she needed to remind every member.

Fortunately, we finished on time. I now know that being a director is really troublesome. I was struggling in transforming what was drawn on the storyboard into reality. I had to keep my eyes on every detail, every movement of the actors. I had to watch the time, decided whether to move forward or to retake the shot. I had to maintain the positive atmosphere because none of them getting paid. I needed to balance between my high requirement and satisfaction of what I had.

Nevertheless, we have learnt how to do our roles and how to work in a group. We helped and encouraged each other. We all tried to focus and maintained positive attitudes. No matter how imperfect our product is, we all had a chance to know what it is like in a film-production process.


Post-production

It was only when I started doing the post-production, I realised how bad I was a director. The shots did not have strong connections to each other. Some scenes were too long, some were too shot so there were not many choices of editing. And even our reflection was showed up on the window, you can see it at 1:15 on the Version 1.

Lenny Version 1:

The content of the film generates a little bit of suspense, so I decided to edit the film with green and blue tone. I used the Fast Colour Correction in Video Effects to balance the white in different shots. The colour was adjusted with Temperature: -10 and Tint: -15. Some footage was adjusted with exposure of -10 and contrast: 10; highlight: -10 and shadow: -16. To avoid the “suddenly appear and disappear”, I used Video Transitions with Fade in and Fade out, beginning with Cross Dissolve and ending with Dip to black.

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-4-42-35-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-23-at-4-42-50-pm

The background music was a little bit creepy to increase the thrill and suspense. Due to the noisy background, I used some filter in Audio Mixer to lower the unnecessary noise.

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-4-41-30-pm-copy

After reviewing several times of the first rough cut, I noticed that the same scene when the two actors had their conversation did not match the tone of colour, I adjusted some more Temperature and Tint to make them look-alike, also to cover our reflection on the window as much as possible.

Lenny Version 2:


 

I have learnt a lot from doing the Lenny Incentive exercise, including the three stages of production. Although I have experience of working in Media, I have never had my hands on the whole film-production, from Pre-production to Post-production. That was a really valuable experience not only for me but also for all of Media students.

untitled-1

Prompt – Readings Pt.2

The relationships between Actor and Director

 

The connection of Actor and Director is so essential that it is almost the greatest element determining the success of the performance. By performance I mean the whole visual product.

A few years ago, I took part in acting in some several TV Dramas and even my own Music Videos. To be honest, it was so much more complicating than I could have imagined. I had never been to an Acting class. I struggled to build up my confidence in front of the cameras. I had difficulties in understanding my lines and was too demented of how to use my body language.

There was once when I shot my music video, it was the part I had to walk in a really crowded coffee shop. The whole teamhands had to retake up to 10 times, the way I sat down in front of the piano to start my performance was too awkward. It was the first scene of the video and definitely a really bad beginning. I started to be panic, I was afraid I had wasted so much time and we could not have finished filming by the end of that day. The director came up with a solution. He showed me how to sit down and put hands on the piano. It was so funny that I realised I was good at copying. I acted exactly the same way as his gesture. However, the director said I had no feelings, I was like on duty, not willing to give performance to the people in the coffee shop.

He told me to think of the moment when I started playing piano as usual, think of the emotion I want to express through a song. He inspired me with his gentle guide. We took five minutes to talk and I have to say, it worked.


 

Therefore, a part  of “On film-making: an introduction to the craft of the director” written by Mackendrick has reminded me how the Director and me – an Actress, communicated with each other.

“Just as the most careful tracing of any drawing will always seem inexpressive compared with the original, so an actor’s copy of somebody else’s performance is liable to be unconvincing and false.” It was true in my case.

An actor can exactly copy someone else’s body language, even how to speak out his line, but no way he can imitate the feelings. Instead of showing actor “you need do this, you need do that”, the director should motivate and let the actor reveal his true feelings. Let him control his own act through your inspiration. You will have your actor perform like the way you want, with his pure imagination and real emotion.

Mackendrick also indicated on his book, “Never ignore the actors.” The director may be “freak out” when everything is on wrong direction. There is no need to put your anger on the actors. This not only improves the situation but also makes it worst. When the actor has to make too many retakes, talk to him. Be sympathetic and figure out what can make his performance better. And when he does his work well, admire him. A compliment might be the best component, it is a motive for the actor to maintain his good effort continuously.


I found Mackendrick’s work really helpful. It causes me to remember when I was an actress for my own video. Whether there is a chance to take part in acting or directing in the future, I now know what it is like from both sides of Actor and Director. A close positive relationship needs to be built up and the output result, of course, will turn to be successful.

Reference:

Mackendrick, A. On film-making: an introduction to the craft of the director, (p. 179 – 194). London: Faber and Faber, 2004.

Music in Movies

“Perhaps no other form of human communication is as effective as music in providing atmosphere, feeling, or mood.”

Alten, S. Audio in media, (p. 276).

 

Music is one of the most powerful factor which contributes to the successful of getting audience’s emotions. Whether it is a horror, action or a romantic comedy film, music can imitate  a deeper message and feeling.

As mentioned in Alten’s book, “Since 1971, when Oscars were first awarded to individual sound mixers, film credits for sound production have expanded to include recordists; sound effects, music”. Music has become an indispensable feature.

When I first watched The Holiday (2006), Hans Zimmer, a German composer and record producer, soon became my favourite music composer.

 It is the opening scene when Kate Winslet (Iris) talks about the different kinds of love. The music is so amazing that I have always been thrilled with emotion in my nearly 10 times watching this movie, over and over again.

Alten has stated in his book, “Style is a fixed, identifiable, musical quality uniquely expressed, executed, or performed.”

The Holiday completed soundtrack includes 20 songs with various musical instruments, but has a same tone colour of melody and rhythm. It is likely a brand-identity. For everyone has seen ‘The Holiday’, I ensure that whenever you listen to these masterpieces by accident, you will be reminded of the lissom combination between the background music and other sounds, including the actors’ dialogue.

Alten described “Depicting Identity” as “A dark, brooding theme can characterise the “bad guy”. Tender music can indicate a gentle, sympathetic personality. Strong, evenly rhythmic music can suggest the relentless character who will destroy the character who is depicted by thin-sounding, syncopated music.”

There is no doubt to agree. However, a really soft, tender music tone which is inserted in a bloody violent scene might be new exciting experience. 

 Angel of the Morning, performed by Juice Newton, is played along with a frozen messy killing scene in the beginning of Dead-pool (2016). It has created a really unique impression for the audience, including me.

Contrast with the fight scene on the high way is an 80s music theme, which has a slow tempo, bright colour and a chorus line “Just call me angel of the morning, angel”, is a big surprise when the screen is shown with Dead-pool wearing a red tight body suit with his mask, is in the middle of the air killing other guys.

I have to say, the music editor has done a really good job. I was astonished and laughing at the same time. The interaction is hilarious, and yes, the movie is successful in creating its first impression of its protagonist, a not-too serious character, and the movie as well.


Alten’s work is so much in detailed. It not only includes his vision and perspective of sound design in film and electronic media, but also rich audio technical knowledge. As a ten-year music student, I appreciate and admire his understanding, as well as his book. “Audio in Media” is really high recommended for every sound student and designer in media industry.

Reference:

Alten, S. Audio in Media, (p. 5-12, p.266-286). Belmont: Wadsworth, 1994.

The Expertise Edit

Camera Shot

camera shot is the amount of space that is seen in one shot or frame. Camera shots are used to demonstrate different aspects of a film’s setting, characters and themes.

There are different kinds of camera shot:

  • Extreme Wide Shot (EWS)
  • Wide Shot (WS)
  • Mid Shot (MS)
  • Medium Close Up (MC)
  • Close Up (CU)
  • Extreme Close Up (ECU)
  • Cutaway

We formed a group of four, exercised three different camera shots with one action. Matthew, a member of our group, decided to clap his hand. He had to stay still so we could capture his clapping in his same position. We took three camera shots, a Wide Shot, a Medium Close up, and a Close up.

Although the sound was recorded well, there was not enough light in the room. The tone colour is not right and too yellow. The quality of MC and CU are bad when we zoomed in at Matthew. However, this task helps us to specify what kind of camera shot most suits the action to shape the meaning in a film.

Editing

The basic task of post-production in film-making is to cut and edit footage.

I had three raw footage to make a sequence. The audio was recorded three times due to the three different shots. I chose the first one. The MC and CU shots were then cut and joined with the WS to make a continuous action. This technique of film editing is to link the footage together without awkward pauses.

Expertise #1


The two videos below were filmed from other groups.

Hannah was sitting on the table and flipping her note-book. They also had a WS, a MCU and an ECU as well.

Expertise #2

Miro was in other group, walked to the elevator and pressed the button. She was filmed with a WS, a CS and a ECU.

Expertise #3

Their footage was easier for me to edit, the actions took enough time and had a space before and after their actions. The exercise has helped me to acknowledge the various types of camera shot and the practice of cutting and editing footage to an ongoing sequence.

 

 

What makes Silent Film interesting?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Watch this video on Youtube: Important Package


 

By Silent, I mean No-dialogue.

In the film industry, cinematographic works which have no dialogue but only background music and sound effects, had a period of prosperity in the late 19th and early 20th century. However, with the growth of “talking pictures”, the artistic quality of silent film decreased in later years, and eventually was replaced by the new “talkies” in the late 1930s. Therefore, what techniques of silent film production should we consider to make it come back and engage its audience?

I came to this question when I joined a group with other three students. We had a four-photo and a short film project called “Melbourne Noir” and each of them needed to shoot in one hour. There were not too many difficulties to say about taking pictures, except for filming, since the only film equipment we had was our mobile-phone, not a professional camera or sound recorder. Then we had to make a decision, silent film. By silent, I mean no-dialogue.

Things started to be uncertain. We were struggling to determine what to film, where to film, and what was the most important factor to make silent film interesting. It may depend on the content, the actor/actress’s performances, post production, including background music and sound effect. Eventually, we reached our conclusion with a mystery but still coherent no-dialogue film. The film not only had to be penetrating, logical, and understandable, but also artistic and attractive. This was a demanding task.

I found that Karlanna Lewis’ (2015) research, ‘Story can make or break any film, but this is especially true with silent movies. With silent films, no room exists for dull expositions.’ This is particularly true. Silent film reaches audience by its visual elements. Hence, an engaging story can not lack of movement and unpredictable ending.

When we shot the first scene of Melbourne Noir film, a decision about one minute footage had been made. Lewis indicated that, ‘Be daring with different editing techniques. Experiment with reversal, slow or fast motion, cuts, collage and layering.’ And a fresh and mystery feeling was created when I added a fast motion on the first seconds of the film, in contrast to the following slow motion footage.

Furthermore, sound and music is also one of the most significant components contributing to the success. ‘In fact, silent movies were once the greatest employer of instrumental musicians’, Lewis said. The emotion of the film has a lot to do with the music, especially when there is no one talking during the whole film, sound must be integrated at the right time, right place and music must have ups and downs to bring dramatics.

However, in my point of view, what makes a most accomplished silent film is the actor. Ray Milland, ‘who had delivered a master class in how to deliver emotion without the need for words’, as Allan Fields (Nuclear physicist/spy for the Soviet Union) in The Thief, a 1952 silent American noir film. I get to know the character and the story through the fear in his eyes and the way he became a thief. With a silent film actor, every gesture, movement, every facial expression must be very subtle and  detailed to make the audience emotional and empathetic, as if they were the characters in that film.

In term, I realize that, to make a successful and interesting silent film, it is required the contribution of many film production departments. A lot of elements need to be in harmony to create a total unity. And to accomplish these factors, students in general and myself in particular need to practice micro and macro research skills, in order to have my product stood in a certain place of the media industry standards.

‘How can the serious screen student resist watching the baby steps, the vitality of childhood, the awkwardness of adolescence, when it is all there, waiting for his attention. How can you love cinema without loving silent film?’

Peter Reiher

 

References:

Karlanna Lewis. 2014. 8 TIPS FOR MAKING SILENT MOVIES. <http://www.raindance.org/making-silent-films-today-8-tips/.

Keyleigh. 2012. SILENT MOVIES AND THEIR TECHNIQUES. <https://representationsofantiquity.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/silent-movies-and-their-techniques/.

Peter Reiher. 1994. SILENT FILMS – ARE THEY WORTH THE WATCHING?. <http://lasr.cs.ucla.edu/reiher/film_miscellany/silent.movies.html.

Tony D’Ambra. 2013. THE THIEF: SILENCE IS GOLDEN. <http://filmsnoir.net/film_noir/the-thief-1952-silence-is-golden.html/.