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.

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.


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.