Production Tips

Intermediate EFP

Hands-on part of module:

Dana showed me some great shooting tips to help me prepare for shooting at a convention in 3 weeks. It’s less cumbersome to take the boom mic off the pole and kneel down under the shot, directing it toward the subject. It’s also easier in this position to direction the boom mic with your wrist in the position of the person talking.

The camera is best off a tripod. I will need to practice this.

I learned how to shoot multiple people by keeping a wide shot and walking in towards the subject for a closer shot and moving out when another person joins into the conversation to a 2-shot. With three people interacting, it’s best to keep the shot pulled out on all three.

Dana also taught me the duck walk he used at City TV to follow alongside a moving subject and moving forward and back with a subject. (Dana cautioned that it’s best to have someone guide you by the shoulder when walking backwards)

More tips:

-Zebra stripes should be set at 80 for Caucasian skin.

-if you have to use a boom mic on top, do so. The camera mic is too directional and will pick up too much noise

-use a light on top of the camera for fill, rather than key

-close your eyes and listen to ambient noise in the room like fans or other noise makers that will wreck your audio track

-look for backgrounds with a “z” access for visual stimulation

-shoot plenty of B-roll and listen to your subject for good B roll clues.

-practice following people shots for B-roll

-Do establishing shots at the convention location…wide shot, find focal point and pull out, could do tilts, etc. Look for interesting shots like architecture lines and flowers to amp up the aesthetic factor.

 

Paperwork:

Dana went over the paperwork for doc work with me. A plot synopsis is not needed, but a treatment is important for figuring out what technical elements are planned and given consideration, such as camera shots, music, and lighting. If there are more than two people working on a production during the course of a day, a call sheet is necessary just to keep track of the schedule and the people involved. Dana says there’s no excuse not to include a map as well. Google Maps is easy to use. A breakdown sheet is used more for dramas than docs so I don’t need to do them. Release forms are important for people talking on camera. Background people are to be treated much the way the news treats them. No special release form is needed. Audio plans are helpful for finding extraneous and disruptive source of noise such as fans and buzzing lights. An audio plan is not necessary at a convention as I won’t know in advance where I will be shooting, but I will make a point of checking the audio location before I roll tape. No blocked master scene script is needed for docs. EFP storyboards are not necessary, but it is important to do a shot list in case there is some storytelling opportunity through visuals in B-roll. There will not be a set-up and lighting plan for shooting at a convention, again, this is because it isn’t know in advance where the shooting will take place. I will scout the location for outdoor light streaming in and move locations if the light affects the colour temperature of my shot too much. I will also attempt to use a camera light for a fill light instead of a key light. Shoot sheets will be used to organize footage by subject and content, but I will not be individualizing each shot. I may do an EDL but most likely I will use the shoot sheet as I will be editing my own material.

 

After Effects

I joined the After Effects group after working with Dana. We used the vanishing point tool in Adobe Photoshop to create 5 .png walls that a camera and lights could be mounted and moved around within. I kept having difficulty with the Create Plane tool and found that when you cross the points over and over on themselves, the create plane blue line tool will finally disappear! So much for CTRL Z!

We found that the Edit Plane tool needs to be very close to the wall lines to work well in defining the 3D walls.

To create a second panel angle, we held down Command and watched for the white arrow with a tiny grid to pop up before pulling the point out with a cursor. To zoom in and out of the Photoshop project, we pressed Command and plus and to zoom out, we pressed Command and minus.

Next, we exported from vanishing Point Filter as a .vpe file. “Export for After Effects” under the drop down menu in the top left corner. We opened After Effects and went to File, then Import, then Vanishing Point VPE. We were able to add a layer and add lights (the camera automatically loaded as we used the vanishing point feature.

TV is still a part of the texture of everyday life

 

 

 

 

 

Recycling Old TV by Jiri Hodan
A great deal of research went into my paper for Research Methods class. I visited the Ryerson Library after encountering some frustration with the on-line resources available. A number of books looked like they might have material on the topic but I was only able to take the Robert Kolker book out called “Media Studies: An Introduction”. The books I really wanted, “Television Studies After TV” by Graeme Turner and “Television and American Culture” by Jason Mittel were already signed out (I was able to get this last one eventually and found it an excellent resource). I took out the third edition of “Media Scapes” for two hours to photocopy and I found three good essays in it. I didn’t end up using any of them for this assignment. Frustrated with my lack of resources, I went to Brock University in St. Catharines. I found a couple of great books. Henry Jenkins’ “Convergence Culture”, Amanda Lotz’s “The Television Will Be Revolutionized”, John Sinclair’s “Contemporary World Television” and Editor, Lynn Spigel’s “Television After TV.” I couldn’t believe my luck. The Brock students must have been doing mid-term exams instead of essays. Every book I wanted was available. I even found an article by a theorist whose work I have been interested in. David Morley has an article published about the Politics of Location called, “At Home With Television.” It appeared in Lynn Spigel’s book, “Television After TV”. It had a global and historical perspective that I felt was too broad for my essay about everyday life.

I took copies of the parts I needed and got out my highlighter to get a good idea of all the main points.

I knew I wanted to write about media convergence and how that may have changed television for the viewer. I was surprised to find some authors talking about television as an interactive medium in creating on-line communities from TV shows. That got me thinking about the day Damion Nurse showed us what Global was doing online with the show, “Da kink in my hair”. It struck me that the Joycam was familiar in the way that many of us create our own vlogs to post online. The show was making a connection with viewers by playing an everyday role. I also started to think about how clever MTV is for getting viewers back into co-viewing by airing an audience participatory show that airs live right after the show, “The Hills”.

During my reading I encountered a real sense of snobbery from the British media theorists who really put down commercial broadcasters by describing North American viewers as customers of service. A pompous tone of “social responsibility” was entwined in any talk of the use of British public television. It made me realize it was necessary to look more to the American theorists for my material as their perspective would be heavily geared towards the more prevalent private broadcasters than public in North America. (John Sinclair take an air of superiority)

I enjoyed Anna McCarthy’s article about the television in public space with its installation in waiting rooms. It reminded me of a trip I had to my own doctor’s office in which TV sets were visible in public spaces. I never felt they were intrusive and was happy for the distraction while waiting. I felt that talking about how television has squeezed into new public space was important to show how its use has changed in every day life and in this way, it is more pervasive.

I also found some work from William Uricchio about “Flow” that I enjoyed. The transference of direct control of flow from programmers to the audience actively selecting content with its own “flow”.

I found it difficult to write this essay. I knew what points I wanted to make just by what struck me most in the readings. Stylistically, it was different than the essays I am accustomed to. Although there was greater freedom in the flow from point to point, I tried to go back and check that I had included proof, and comment for each Point and where possible, draw from my own observations of the mediums. As well, although I wanted to focus on the audience, I knew I had to include the industry’s involvement and statistics in order to put the focus in the proper context.

Sifting Through Scholarly Articles

stack

My frustration over finding appropriate writings to help me with my Media Research Methods mid-term paper mounts with on-line databases asking for 40 dollars to gain a peek at an article. I have had some success with Google Scholar and a little success with RULA on Ryerson’s on-line site. I have a pile of articles in a folder to go through and a list of books to search for in the library.

While trying to place a hold on a book from on-line an hour and a half away from Toronto, I discovered that the system would not let me in. I emailed for some help and got a very quick response. My card won’t work until I go into the library and physically have it activated. I’m hoping there won’t be any additional time added on in waiting for activation of my card. It’s been over a month and I’m still waiting for my OneCard to help me unlock the TV production doors on the main floor of Ryerson so that I can used the Grad lounge.

Contemplating the third thesis question, I am wondering what issues to cover and how narrow a focus I should have. The thesis question is: Many Media theorists are discussing changes in the way television is being delivered and received. Is television still part of the texture of everyday life?

I like this question and would far prefer to go off giving my own opinions about it. It would likely end up taking a technological determinist tone as I observe what’s going on around me and know that I am not immune to the changes in my own use of television (see earlier post). Most television for me has become background noise. There are just a handful of shows that I will even watch anymore. I feel ripped off by the media content producers who use ordinary people who are wanna-be TV stars as cheap talent for their shows. Edgy humour and movie-like storylines and high technical quality appeal to me now. (HBO lives!)

I have also become a multi-tasker. I will have the TV on while working on the computer and even listening to music at the same time. My attention will float back and forth between what I find interesting in the moment. TV is everyday background noise that has a lot to compete with in capturing my attention.

Since my essay is to be a scholarly article with 4 scholarly sources cited and 2 library databases, I know I’ll have to quote someone else’s opinions on the subject. I could look at media convergence in technology, vertical integration in media business models, and even branding while examining the change in delivery and reception of television. I could look up quantitative number crunching results on the number of people watching TV, how many TVs are in the average home, and how much time are people of various age groups spending in front of the tube a week. This may give me some statistical analysis of trends in television usage to help support my thesis. Now my question becomes, how focused on an area do I need to be? Will there be enough room in a 1500 word essay to explore subtopics in my thesis?

Culture IS Ordinary!

TV SET

While pulling my information together on Raymond Williams, I soon discovered how important it would be to explain his whole background, for this is central to Williams’ socialist outlook on culture. In order to best describe his background and ideas, I played with words and images in PowerPoint to help me organize the information and stick to the most important points of Williams’ contributions to the study of media. I went on the Rolands Collection website and downloaded a video of Michael Ignatieff interviewing Raymond Williams back in the 80s on an interview show in Britain. The file had DMR rights to it so I couldn’t play the video itself, but I was able to record a short audio clip of Williams speaking about mobilized privatization.

Raymond Williams was born to a working class family in Wales; the son of a railway signalman. He went to grammar school and later attended Cambridge on a scholarship. After being called away as a wireless operator and a tank operator during World War II, Williams returned to finish his schooling in modern languages, history and the classics. He became a tutor in Adult Education where he discovered that people who wouldn’t normally be from the same social circles (think of a factory worker and a doctor), could come together for social discourse. As well, because of his own ordinary upbringing and background, he discovered through experience that culture is not for the elite, it is for everyone. In this, he differed from Marxist viewpoints in approaching culture through class conflict. He felt the teachings misunderstand what culture really was, and disagreed that “since culture and production are related, the advocacy of a different system of production is in some way a cultural directive–to serve the ideology”. He felt that socialism wasn’t the only model.

Williams felt culture could not be separated from other factors when studying effects models on an audience. He felt that the interpretation of culture must be done so in relation to its underlying system of production such as its political and economic conditions. Culture is a whole way of life and the arts are part of the social organization.

In looking at Williams’ writing in the article, I focused on three areas and asked three questions in relation to these areas:

1. Q: Williams criticized Lasswell’s sociology of mass communications’ effects model that looked at, “who says what, how, to whom, and with what effect because it excluded the question, “to what purpose or for what intention,” Although Williams believes it’s worth looking at “intention” at least from the point of view that there are interests and agencies of communication involved, the problem with the social model itself he says is that it, “abstracts social and cultural processes to concepts like socialization, social function, or interaction,” which basically amounts to filtering the results until you get what you want from them. The problem with this Williams says, is that you can’t isolate certain influential factors in socialization (such as school, work, home, television, and the press) because they are interwoven in social and cultural process. Can you think of another example involving a communications medium in which these socialization factors are intertwined?

A: For a modern day example, Pricewaterhouse Coopers did research which Don Tapscott was permitted to use in his book, “Growing Up Digital”, a study of the effects of and on the net generation, he admits in his Introduction when writing about interviewing 10-thousand people, holding dozens of private executive briefings on program results and recommendations”, that, “ The reports are proprietary to the research sponsors, but some of the high-level findings and main conclusions can now be shared publicly.” (xi Grown Up Digital, Mc-Graw-Hill, New |York, 2009) He thanks the sponsors on the next page, there are 25 of them including Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Sony, and Ogilvy One. (1. market research 2. technology company, 3. advertising agency. The companies holding the big bucks are directing the research here. What interests might Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Sony, or Ogilvy One have in a book that uses its research to show that Tapscott has discovered not a bunch of spoiled “screenagers” with short attention spans and zero social skills, but a “remarkably bright community which has developed revolutionary new ways of thinking, interacting, working, and socializing”?
(front flap, Grown Up Digital, Mc-Graw-Hill, New |York, 2009)

Furthermore, Williams said conflicting ideology also makes it difficult to focus on a particular aspect of socialization. In the article, Williams points out a preferred or dominant reading that violence is a contributing factor in aggressive behaviour, and an oppositional reading could be that violence is cathartic. (Stuart Hall ) Halloran called this ability to have differing perspectives in a society, ‘the plural values of society’ enabling them to ‘conform, accommodate, challenge or reject’.

Williams facetiously made an argument that if there is much more violence on TV than what is taking place in society, one might think agencies and producers are the ones living outside of the norm. (R. Williams: “Effects of the Technology and its uses”, 1975)

2. Q: Williams mentions that the technological landscape has led to a much broader access to television news, yet he notes the co-relation between voter turnout rates lowering and the numbers of people involved in social protests and demonstrations rising. What is he saying about the effects of television viewing here?

A: “It could be argued that increased exposure to competitive assessment in these terms has weakened adherence to occasional election as a political mode, or even that (given other kinds of political stimulation by television – the reporting of demonstrations, the dramatisation of certain issues) it has had some strengthening influence on alternative modes. (p 4)
Williams questions the preferred reading that the increased exposure to politicians provided by TV has strengthened the public’s engagement with politics. He’s suggesting an oppositional way of looking at this in that maybe watching TV news turns off voters and leads them to act publicly instead in the form of demonstrations and protests.

3. Q: The last question is in relation to Lazersfeld’s two-step flow model in that information is disseminated to the opinion leaders in society with the most access to media and the greatest understanding of content…who then pass on the information through their own politically-altered filters. Keeping this in mind, how would Williams view the use of the Internet for the dissemination of information?

A: I think he would look at the Internet as a broadly based tool in western society for getting both preferred readings and oppositional readings out into the public. (He might also note the somewhat limited use in some more remote areas due to either geographic availability of the service or economic affordability of the technology). The benefit of the medium in its heavy use of interactive, user-generated material, is that people who are willing to get their information from a variety of sources, may be better equipped to enter an educated arena of discourse with people from all different classes. The downside, he would say is the amount of disinformation dispersed on the Internet as a result of members of the public having difficulty determining some of the sources as reliable. This could make it difficult for the public to become genuinely educated on issues. As for the pop-up ads and side-bars, he alluded to a future of controlling agencies with commercial interests in his writing, Television – Technology and Cultural Form. Although he was talking about television as a great tool for helping generate, “an educated and participatory democracy”, Williams cautioned that, “a few para-national corporations, with their attendant states and agencies, could further reach into our lives, at every level from news to psycho-drama, until individual and collective response to many different kinds of experience and problem became almost limited to choice between their programmed possibilities”.

An informal list of sources (not in MLA style)
http://www.newstatesman.com/society/2008/02/work-life-williams-english
http://www.raymondwilliams.co.uk/
http://www.infed.org/thinkers/raymond_williams.htm
http://www.ucalgary.ca/~rseiler/williams.htm
http://www.mediaknowall.com/alevkeyconcepts/audience.html)
http://www.rolandcollection.com/

(R. Williams, Television – Technology and Cultural Form. Quotes republished by Jim McGuigan /Loughborough University, UK on October 22nd, 2004 in Flow TV, http://flowtv.or/?p=685

Stuart Hall http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/marxism/marxism11.html

Cole, Josh (2008) ‘Raymond Williams and education – a slow reach again for control’, the encyclopaedia of informal education.