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.

Color Grade

Colour Grade is the process of altering and enhancing the colour of a motion picture, video image and it is always my favourite part of editing a video. We use colour to describe objects, express emotion, and evoke a response. It is descriptive beyond what we see. Therefore, colour grade in post production is essential. Different colour grade will generate different themes and styles of the video.

originalThis is the screenshot of my project “The One”. We filmed the scene in a “not too sunny” day in Carlton Garden. However, this footage is a little bit too much exposure.


colorgrade-1

For the 1st grade, I reduced the brightness to -20 and contrast by -0.4. The Three-Way Colour Corrector was used to change the “mood” for the video. The Shadows, Midtones and Highlights were adjust by the following image. The Master Saturation was also changed to 45 to fade the video. Now I have a red artistic look to create a vintage theme.

colorgrade11


colorgrade2For the 2nd grade, I kept using the Three-Way Colour Correction. I want to have a bold, dark and mystery look, therefore I decreased the brightness to -12, contrast by 3. I like how this function had the colour wheel for the Shadows, Midtones and Highlights. This one so far is my ideal tool in Colour Grading.


colorgrade-3

With the final grade, I decided to bring a “hope” for my character by using bright,
colourfultheme. The RGB curve is quite easy to use. When I used the red and blue together, it made the clip more liveable. I feel I needed to get a better idea of what I wanted to do with this footage, but I enjoyed giving a try on RGB curve. screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-4-37-23-am


Colour is a fundamental element of design and visual storytelling, and Colour Grade is an indispensable element in post-production. This is a creative process where decisions are made to further enhance or establish a new visual tone to the project.

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.

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-8-31-47-pm

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.

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-8-45-03-pm

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.

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-8-53-41-pm

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”.

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-9-48-33-pmscreen-shot-2016-10-28-at-9-50-50-pm

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?”.

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-9-47-01-pm

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.