Tag Archives: ryerson

In Search of Production Equipment

For my MRP, I’ve been scavenging around looking for equipment. The distance from home to school has me worried about renting equipment from Ryerson. Those late charges could sure add up if the 401 Eastbound is shut down again any morning I try to bring the equipment back.

I have purchased Adobe Premiere Pro, After Effects and and Photoshop software. I have a good working knowledge of the editing program and am a beginner at the other two. For a camera, I bought the Canon Vixia HV40. I tested it out this weekend and it is quite good quality. I shot in HDV and tried to import a 45 second clip into my Apple MacBook Pro. After several attempts to import I finally figure out that the camera setting for playback must be on “DV Locked”, and the setting on Premier Pro must be on Canon Alternate 2. When I did capture the clip, the program froze and the swirling pizza ball of hell would not vacate my screen. After shutting down and re-starting, i found the clip in my movie file (I imported it as an .mov). I tried to import it into the project but the swirling pizza ball of hell came back. I decided to check the file size. It was almost half a gig for 45 seconds! That’s about 10 megabytes per second. I am going to do some more tests before shooting at the ECOO conference this week. Maybe Standard def in widescreen is the way to go.

I also purchased a little side light which fills in the shadows on faces. it tested pretty well. The Audio Technica mic US1Photo sent doesn’t work and will have to be sent back. I did an online purchase for one through B and H Photo and sped up the delivery time. That was Friday and I have to shoot Thursday. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!(received an email later in the day saying they shipped it out today…still keeping my fingers crossed).

Also today, I tested out audio for field use. Mike Murphy gave us a good overview of the different types of mics and some tips for use. It was interesting to learn how the cardiod shotgun condenser mic works. The phasing that happens with the ridges on the sides of the mic to cancel out delayed sound is highly useful for shooting at a conference when you don’t want extraneous noise. I took the mic outside and it picked up the helicopter going by above me quite well and when I pointed it down 45 degrees the volume was noticeably lower. Even the ambient noise changed with the position of the mic. This mic required phantom power even though it was battery powered, unless I was using it wrong. I couldn’t get a level without the phantom power on.

I then tried out my Shure SM11 lavalier mic. It needed phantom power as well. The levels were quite a bit lower than the shotgun mic. I tested out the sound in the RCC lobby and talked in a regular voice while a girl beside me spoke in a loud voice. It picked her up as well. I can see how important it will be to have that shotgun mic at the conference and I really hope it arrives before my shoot on Thursday. Ryerson won’t let me take out the shotgun mic, nor the portable audio mixer because the first and second years are using them this week. I’m starting to see how important it really is to have your own equipment. However, there are other good reasons for this. I know that starting a project with one camera and mic and switching to other equipment can cause differences in audio and video footage in various a/v levels that can leave you with hours of colour correction and matching audio levels and warmth. I’m hoping to save myself some time this way.

I tried out the Marantz USB recorder. I think I’ll use this to record my audio separately at the conference and then sync it up afterwards. I recorded .wav at 48kH. About 4 minutes of audio took 46 megabytes. For my MRP I’m expecting about 6 hours of native audio files. 5 seconds takes up 1 mb. That’s do-able. I’m looking at recording 6 hours. That’s just over 4 gigs.

I did try to plug both the shotgun mic and the lavalier into the Marantz but the levels were so different and there is only one level knob. The Marantz in no way should be used as a mixer! The ease of transfer from the Marantz via USB is a terrific time saver. This may be the next item on my list of things to buy.

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?

Ponderings in front of a blank screen

The Blank Static Screen
Sitting in front of the blank television screen this morning, I noticed the reflection of myself in the glass. I wondered what would come to me; ideas for a TV documentary, a recount of “Two and a Half Men” that was airing when I came home from school last night? None of this came to me. Instead, I started looking at my computer sitting on the coffee table and getting the itch to read up on the latest news. What was on the 570News webpage this morning? My curiosity was piquing. Ever since I left my Saturday morning anchor job at the station back in March, I’ve not wanted to fall out of the loop with local news. I regularly enjoy my cup of coffee while surfing until I feel “in the know” again.

I resisted picking up my laptop and turned back to the blank screen. I absorbed and enjoyed the silence momentarily. With three children still sleeping in their beds, I could think without a series of interruptions. Soon my mind was drifting around the classes I had at Ryerson this week. Would I be able to get my head back into scholarly work since graduating from RTA in ’93? I assured myself that I would, as I have been taking courses in the Educational field quite regularly. It’s the content that would change.

I started to wonder what was Marusya’s purpose in asking us to stare at a blank screen? Surely, we would all be thinking about different things. The writers would be visualizing their next project on screen, the techies would be visualizing aesthetic shots or transitions of some day-dreamed screenplay,and the cerebral would be thinking about the psychological, developmental, societal, and cultural effects of a world without TV. And then there’s the intrapersonal types like myself who at some point will start to reflect inward.

My thoughts were interrupted by the smell of coffee and I realized my husband was in the room. He brought me a cup of “Pluto’s diet drink” (a reference made by an anonymous coffee house “watcher” found in the article, “A parcel of muddling muckworms’ we studied in Audiences and the Public) While I was taking my third sip, my five year old daughter came into the room, walked past me and turned on Spongebob Squarepants. I wasn’t going to ruin her Saturday morning routine so I moved to the next room before my 20 minutes of blank TV staring was up.

I started to think about what I needed for Monday’s class. We are discussing the Effects of Media in our night time lectures of Media Production. Drawing parallels between staring at a blank screen and the effects of media, I decided to dig out my David Buckingham book and read the chapter on “New Media Childhoods” I thought it would be good practice for gathering scholarly research and give me some information to prepare me for the discourse that would take place over the effects of media on children.

Of interest was Buckingham’s take on Neil Postman’s book, “The Disappearance of Childhood” (1983) in which he claims that the media are destroying childhood primarily with the increased access to information. Postman believes the modern conception of childhood was created by the print media,and that new media such as television destroys childhood as we don’t have to learn to read or interpret television, whereas acquiring print literacy took a long period of apprenticeship. He believes Television is a “total disclosure medium” through which children learn “secrets” about adult life -sex, drugs, violence….this information was previously hidden in the specialized code of print. As a result children are increasingly coming to behave like adults, and to demand access to adult privileges. (p 19, David Buckingham Media Education:Learning and Contemporary Culture, 2006, Polity Press).

Buckingham calls him a “technological determinist”, in which “technology is seen to produce social (and indeed psychological) change, irrespective of how it is used, or the representations it makes available” (p19)..Buckingham says Postman, “wants to return to an imaginary Golden Age of traditional moral values – and thereby to reinforce adult authority and control”. Postman is also directly opposed to the use of television in education; “for him, the school is the last bastion in the defence of print culture” (p19).

I agree with Buckingham that Postman is a “technological determinist”. Technology is essentially a tool and it is the intent and purpose in its use that actually determines the affect on an audience. As for Postman’s idea that the destruction of childhood through increased access to information by the use of Television to let children in on adult secrets, if Postman were writing this today wouldn’t he say that the destruction of childhood is exponentially higher because of the access to information through the Internet? Firewalls and parental controls only go so far and some computers are sitting in children’s bedrooms where parents can’t monitor their children’s Internet activity and content exposure.

If childhood has been destroyed exponentially from an increase in access to “adult secrets”, it certainly doesn’t jive with recent statistics on the delayed maturation of today’s young adults. If anything, the increase of access may have contributed to a lengthened maturation rate of young adults. I wonder if the exposure to adult secrets through traditional and new media has sufficiently frightened young adults into a holding pattern where they are in no hurry to leave the home, begin a career, and have a family. Of course, this is notwithstanding the progressive impact that the economic landscape and other aspects of culture have had on this age group. It would be narrow-minded to think of media impact as the sole factor.

Sufficiently filling myself with research for Media Production class, a loud sound from the other room confirming that I am needed elsewhere. Jelly fish have descended en masse inside Sponge Bob’s home and are stinging him. My daughter, Abbey is asking if he is going to die. Time for some “parental sit-down and explain time” as we watch the TV show together.

Endnotes:
“A parcel of muddling muckworms’: revisiting Habermas and the English coffee-houses” Social & Cultural Geography, Vol. 8, No. 2, April2007, Routledge). I cross-referenced the term on the Internet and found it in a book by Henry C. Shelley called “Inns and Tavern of Old London”, published in 2004 on the Project Gutenberg site. Further searches reveal the book was first published in 1909

“Media Education: Literacy, Learning and Contemporary Culture, “New Media Childhoods”, chapter 2, Polity, 2003
The phenomenon of a delayed maturation in young adults has become common knowledge, though it is worth researching where the statistics were first published. This would not be neglected in a scholarly article, but is being neglected here as this piece has fulfilled its purpose as a diary journal. Reviewing the MLA Style Guide will be reserved for another day.
Purdue OWL. “MLA Formatting and Style Guide.” The Purdue OWL. Purdue U Writing Lab, 10 May 2008. Web. 15 Nov. 2008.