Documentary- Limited Head Space

Why and What?

We chose Limited Head Space for our documentary idea is due to their unique situation and talent. All three members of the band have dropped out of high school to play and perform music full time. Additionally their former singer has left them and they are trying to rebuild themselves up again, by going on an Australia wide tour to promote and perform their style of music. We wanted to base the documentary on their music and their style, however with the time restrictions of the documentary we could not implement any of their individual solos or interviews. Instead we based the documentary on how their band was form and their relationships with each other.

Difficulties and future improvements

We faced many different problems and challenge throughout the production. The first problem we came upon was our documentary idea, our original documentary idea was based on the natural environment of Australia. However we could not find a suitable site or interviewee to proceed with the production. Hence we came across a band with an interesting background and we thought it was suitable and straightforward to film and edit.

As soon as we started shooting we faced our first filming problem, which was the lighting on the set. Natural lighting or the lights on the set was not enough to light up the characters’ faces or setting. We tried utilizing the reflector kit to reflect some of the natural light to the characters’ profile. However the source of natural light was too far away from the filming frame, none of the light is seen reflected on camera. We tampered with the color levels in After Effects to tackle the lighting problem. The second problem while filming came from our camera; Nikon D90 can only be in manual focus while filming. Many of the footage was out of focus, however we had enough clear and focused footage to complete the production. Our final filming problem was the time period we had to film the music jamming sessions, due to the complains from the neighbors about the volume level. We solved this problem by splitting  all our musical shots into two mornings, so we would not cause any troubles to the neighbors.

It was not a surprise that more problems would resurface and appear during post production. Personally I thought that the time restrictions of the production was the most significant problem. We had more than two hours of footage, however the final production could only be five minutes long. All the solo interviews and performances were neglected due to this factor. Moreover the sound editing was very challenging, most of our footage did not start with a clapper board making it very hard to sync the sound from the zoom recorder to the D90 film. Additionally the final sound clip had to be faded out quickly due to the time restrains, creating a very unnatural ending to the documentary. Overall I believe that our documentary can be improved in many aspects,  in addition I can learn from the challenges and problems that occur in this production leading to improvements on the final assignment of the course.

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Exegesis Week 2 – 4

Week 2 (8 shots) Exegesis

This week we were challenged by our tutors to film a short story without any post production editing. Additionally the short film can only consist of 8 different types of shot, hence this tutorial task was testing our knowledge in cinematic features while testing our abilities on time management and pre-production planning.

 

I took the roles of actor, cinematographer and a bit of directing, as a group we all agreed that the storyline had to be simple and could be understood without dialogue. The plot followed a male student taking interest in a female student, however he is too afraid to approach the girl. The story continued with a short stalking of the female student, this led to her realization of the timid boy causing him to run away. Finally the girl is seen running after him and finishes with her sitting next to him. The main genre of the film was romance, we believe that the genre romance was easily relatable and viewer friendly. On the other hand, we planned the different shots from start to end as there were no post production. We established the story with a long shot of the male lead, slowly adapting it into over the shoulder and POV shots from the male lead. Extreme long shots, medium shots and extreme close ups were added in to provide the story with more atmosphere and feeling. We finished the production with a close up of both character’s shoes getting closer together.

 

Time management and pre-production planning were the key abilities display in this production. As each group was to provide 2 and a half hours to finish and screen the film by the end of tutorial. We agreed that pre-production planning will not consume more than half an hour of our time. This created a very brief outline of filming with a  simple storyboard with 8 shots alongside the different types of shots and what they were. Many of the locations and camera angles were decided while filming, this would lead to our first production problem. We did not take account of the amount of students entering and exiting the main walkway of the university. The first few shots had barely anyone in them, however as the film progress towards the end the amount of people who is not aware or responsible for the film significantly increased ruining the atmosphere of our final shots. Another challenge we came across throughout the production was that we were too used to post production edit, we had to redo many of our shots as we had to cut the shots with the camera. For example the actor or actress might go out of character too early before the camera ends filming, with the rule of no post production editing we could not cut errors out of the film instead a retake of the shot was the only way to correct it.

 

In conclusion, the production was demanding and require us as filmmakers to manage our time correctly and adapt the correct techniques to our film. Furthermore the task refresh our memories on cinematic knowledge and offer us a challenge towards directing and pre-production planning.

 

 

Week 3 (Interviews) Exegesis

Week 3’s tutorial exercise was based around filming interviews and preparing us for our documentary assignment. We were given 3 hours for the whole production, based on the topic “student interests”. In addition three interviews must be filmed in different location, preferably one interview outdoors and one interview indoors. We were also required to record sounds from the interviews with an external sound recorder; a H4n recorder, a NTG-2 Microphones and a boom pole. The aim of this task was for us to improve our techniques and knowledge on sound equipment and scouting a suitable location for interviews.

 

Each group divided roles amongst each other, as for this production I was the sound recordist and editor. We agreed upon the topic of “campus stores for students”, the interview consisted of three simple questions:

 

  • What would they like to see on campus at UNSW?
  • What wouldn’t they like to see on campus at UNSW?
  • What do they think is the best store on campus at UNSW?

 

The topic was chosen because of the recent openings of different stores around the UNSW Terrance village. Our locations were based on areas with high student flow such as the QWAD cafeteria and the main university walkway. Not only is the topic easy and relatable to all students, but also with high student flows in the area it gave us more opportunities to capture more footage.  

 

The challenges and difficulties I faced as a sound recordist and editor were minor however it should be taken notice for future film productions. The first and most obvious problem is obtaining the best sound quality with a boom microphone. As it was not too windy that day, the sound was clear and crisp if the microphone was placed above the target interviewee. However in post production editing, we realized that  we did not obtain a clapper board prior to the shooting. Hence the synchronization between sound and film was difficult and time consuming. Finally some of the interviews were not framed properly, we should have notified the target interviewee prior to shooting about their line of sight and posture.

 

In conclusion, the interview tutorial task gave us an opportunity to work with others within a time constrict and improving on the roles we wish to partake in future production. It allowed us to learn from our mistakes in this production and apply our improvements in the documentary assignment.  

 

 

Week 4 (Lighting) Exegesis

Week 4 was a workshop focusing on lighting and the effects of three point lighting. Three point lighting consist of three different lights; Key Light, Fill Light and Back Light. The Key Light is placed directly in front and to the side of the target, its purpose is to directly shine and illuminate the target. The Fill Light acts as the secondary light while balancing the shadows produced by the Key Light, it is usually placed on the right side of the Key Light. The Back Light shines at the target from behind, eliminating minor shadows and highlighting the target while separating it from the background. We were instructed to film in different location consisting of different background lights, i.e. natural light, indoor lights or a mix of both. As a group we decided to film a production on a politically incorrect character expressing his opinions through film. This allowed the viewers to connect to the footage through the genre of comedy as well as well utilizing the recent Australian elections as a point of interest. I was once again given the role of sound recordist and aided in some of the directing.

 

We chose three different locations, the first one was a mix of natural lighting and indoor lighting. We utilized the natural lighting as our backlight, while setting up a Key Light and a Fill Light to highlight our target. However we noticed that the shadow caused by the natural light was too obvious, while the Fill Light was not strong enough to balance it. Hence forth we set up the next shot indoors, so we would be able to manipulate the lights better. The indoor light was not sufficient to fully illuminate our target, we set up all three lights. We were able to shade and light up the target perfectly, although the red light emitting from the heater was too strong and unavoidable. More so this made us curious about how to use the red light from to heater to our advantage, this led to the decision for our next shot. We decided to film a scene with the stage ladder near the heater, we lighted the bottom of the stairway with a three point lighting while allowing the red light to illuminate the top of the stairs. The red light provide the shot with a sense of fear and mystery matching perfect for a chasing scene. The final shot was taken outdoors and fully utilizing natural lighting and a reflector kit. The reflector kit was place of the top right of the frame allowing the light of the sun to be reflected on our character eliminating some shadow cause by the natural lighting.

 

In conclusion, we revisited the theory and practices of three point lighting. Moreover understanding the use of natural light on a set and how to manipulate them to create certain effects and atmosphere. Finally reinforcing the safety measures of lighting equipment and the proper usage of three point lighting in different situations.   

Week 6, Script

 

The Hunt is On

By

Alejo Rodriguez Lo
    (z3329250)

2013 +61430566500 07rodriguezloa@gmail.com

                              Unit 30, Starpoint
                              Apartment,458 Anzac Parade,
                              Kingsford 2032, NSW, Australia

 

SCENE 1: INT. WOODEN SHACK.
Closeup on fireplace, a vivid fire dancing in violent manner
on the white hot firewood. The fireplace is glowing with
colors of orange and red, the brick panels are covered with
white hot ash. A piece of the firewood is thrown into fire,
the camera slowly zooms out. A young boy no more than 11
years old is seen sitting in front of the fireplace gazing
into the fire. An old man is stirring the fire with a iron
rod. A piece of firewood is flipped over, the fire quickly
swallows the other side of the firewood. The silence of the
shack, allows the boy to hear and feel the raw power of the
nature. The warmth from the crackling flame, the windows
tremor from the chilling wind. The camera changes to an
extreme closeup of the boy’s right eye. His dark brown pupil
expands, the reflection of the fireplace is seen in his eye.
The old man walks into the boy’s line of sight.
                    BENJAMIN
               (Assertive)
          J.J its time for bed, you have a
          big day ahead of you.
The camera tracks the boy’s movement and action. J.J nods
while standing up, he places his sleeping bag directly in
front of the fireplace. His sleeping bag and face is lighted
up with the colors of the fire. He slowly falls asleep
beside the cozy fire. Fade to black.
SCENE 2: EXT. A LARGE GREEN PLAIN IN BRITISH COLUMBIA. DAY
Extreme long shot on a large green plain, Benjamin and J.J
is walking slowly towards a forest. The camera zooms into
them walking along a trail leading into a dark and dense
forest. Both of them are in full camouflage gear, Benjamin
is seen carrying a large rucksack with a Winchester rifle
strapped to the back of it. J.J is carrying a much smaller
rucksack,however it seems that he has trouble carrying the
rucksack and is lingering behind. The straps of his rucksack
digs into his shoulders, sweat slowly dripping down on his
face onto his dark brown leather boots. The camera changes
into a POV shot (J.J’s perspective). The Winchester rifle is
framed center right of the shot, pots and pans are also seen
attached to the bag. Most importantly there were hand sewed
badges on top of the rucksack, barely visible to J.J due to
his height. One badge stood out from the rest, it glimmered
under the radiant sun with the words "Rifle Marksman" on it.
                    J.J
               (Thinks to himself)
          Grandpa must have been awarded with
          this badge during his service in
          the Vietnam war.

(CONTINUED)

 

CONTINUED: 2.

However something changes J.J’s attention from the corner of
his eyes. The POV Shots tilts upwards to the left, it was a
Cooper’s hawk soaring in the blue skies of British Columbia.
The camera then tilts down to the grass field, the grass is
dancing along with the waves of wind. Lens flare on the
right of the shot catches J.J’s eye. It was the sunlight
reflecting off the Winchester rifle, J.J stared at the rifle
imaging it in his hands, as if he was making his first kill.
Camera cuts to a quick pace black and white montage of J.J
hunting a deer, accompany with heavy bass beats mimicking
J.J’s breath and heartbeat. The montage will consist of
quick medium shots of J.J running through a thick forest
focusing on his legs and parts of the deer’s body. Montage
ends with a medium shot of the thick and dense forest, a gun
shot is heard and color comes back to the frame. Fade to
black.
SCENE 3: EXT. CAMPSITE IN THE FOREST. NIGHT
Over the shoulder shot (J.J’s shoulders), J.J is laying in
his sleeping bag next to campfire. The campfire is the only
light source in the dense and dark forest. Benjamin is
sitting across the campfire with his Winchester rifle. J.J
is fascinated by his grandfather’s rifle, the long sliver
barrel of the rifle connected to the dark walnut stock.
Benjamin is cleaning the fouling of the gun and testing the
optics on the top of his rifle. Benjamin notices J.J’s
undivided attention on his rifle, he smiles and puts down
the rifle. Medium shot of Benjamin. He grabs a bag of
tobacco from his rucksack, he places a filter gently on a
piece of paper and starts rolling the tobacco into a
cigarette. He pulls out a sliver Zippo lighter with a
engraving of "1973" on it from his camouflage jacket.
Extreme closeup of the Zippo lighter, sparks burst out from
the flit of the lighter igniting the gas from the lighter’s
gas chamber. A cigarette slowly approaches the flame the
tobacco catches on fire followed by puffs of smoke emitting
from Benjamin’s lips. Camera returns to a medium shot of
Benjamin smoking his cigarette beside the camp fire.
                    BENJAMIN
               (Looks at the zippo lighter)
          J.J, do you know why I brought you
          here?... Legacy. A world you’ll
          learn once you’ve felt fear... felt
          fear and conquered it.
                    J.J
               (Remains Silent)
The fire flickers under the moonlight, J.J remains silent as
if he understood what his grandfather has just said.

(CONTINUED)

 

CONTINUED: 3.

Benjamin sees that his grandson is clueless and smiles in
return. The camera tracks Benjamin’s movement, He slowly
walks over to J.J and kneels down next to him holding out
his Zippo lighter. Closeup on his Zippo lighter.
                    BENJAMIN
               (Showing J.J the engraving on
               his lighter)
          This belonged to a very dear friend
          of mine, a friend that is not here
          anymore, a friend to your beloved
          mother. My friend was fearless but
          stubborn like an ox. He would get
          into trouble like no other man and
          expected me to clean it up. I
          witness his childhood and
          manhood...
               (Emotional)
          I wanted to help him but I was too
          late...
                    J.J
          Who is he, grandpa?
                    BENJAMIN
               (Rubbing J.J’s head and
               smiles)
          That is for another time, go to
          sleep now before the forest comes
          alive and eats you up.
POV shot (J.J’s perspective). Benjamin walks back to the
other side of the campfire, J.J notices how hard his grandpa
is controlling his emotions gripping tightly the zippo
lighter in the palm of his hands. Benjamin crawls into his
sleeping bag with the lighter still in his hands. Camera
tilt upwards towards the dark silky sky. Stars lighted up
the sky like small beacons of fire. The sound of the forest
penetrates the silence of the camp. Owls hooting, the wind
brushing the trees and bushes, insects chirping in the
background. Fade to Black.
SCENE 4: EXT. CAMP SITE IN THE FOREST. DAY
POV shot (J.J’s perspective). J.J wakes up to a loud
growling noise in the forest. He notices that his
grandfather has disappeared, J.J panics and runs over to his
grandfather’s rucksack. The noise gets closer and closer,
J.J picks up the Winchester rifle. He didn’t realize how
heavy the rifle actually was, he could barely pick it up and
place the wooden stock upon his shoulders. He points the gun
at the origin of the sound, looking down at the cross hair

(CONTINUED)

 

CONTINUED: 4.

aiming at the bushes. His arms and hand trembling, sweat
pouring down his face, his back and stomach tenses up. He
imagines the worst case scenario, a wild grizzly bear with
his dark brown fur coat weighting over 800 pounds. The hump
of muscle and fat on the bears front shoulder, claws the
size of his head. One strike could be lethal to even a adult
hunter. J.J starts to urinate in his pant due to his
imagination of a grizzly bear attack, the barrel of the
Winchester rifle aimed at the bushes. A shadow appears from
the bushes, J.J pulls the trigger. The rifle was on safety,
J.J squeezes the trigger harder thinking that its because it
didn’t fire due to his weak fingers. The shadow reveals
himself, it was his grandfather Benjamin. J.J drops the
rifle and onto his knees with a sigh of relief. Camera
changes to Benjamin’s POV. Benjamin notices J.J’s urinated
pants and walks over to pick up the rifle. J.J still
trembling with fear still kneeling on the ground.
                    BENJAMIN
               (Picks J.J up by his armpits)
          Now that you had a tasted of fear,
          it is time to conquer it.
  Fade to black.
SCENE 5: EXT. DENSE FOREST. DAY
Long shot of J.J and Benjamin are seen trekking in the
forest, the sun penetrate through the trees lighting up
certain patches of grass in the forest. J.J is following
tightly behind Benjamin. Benjamin is holding his rifle at a
ready position to protect them from any attacks from wild
animals. The forest emanates noise of different animals,
only adding fear to the already scared J.J. Benjamin stops
and kneels down to examine some tracks. He puts his hand on
J.J’s head and forces him down to the forest ground with
him. Benjamin sets up the rifle to a firing position on the
ground.
                    BENJAMIN
               (Quietly and clam)
          J.J, we have to be patient and
          wait. I hear something approaching
          us from the far right.
Camera changes to POV shot (J.J’s perspective). Benjamin
takes a bullet from his right pants pocket and loads the
gun. He signal J.J to come over and helps him get into
position for a shot. He places his hand over J.J’s hand and
lays on his left side.

(CONTINUED)

 

CONTINUED:

5.

                    BENJAMIN
               (whispers)
          Remember you only have one shot,
          clear your head, take your time and
          squeeze the trigger when you are
          ready to fire. It is time to
          conquer your fear. Don’t worry, I
          am here by your side to help you.
The rustling of the bushes reminded J.J of the incidence in
the camp, his fear soon took over him. A grizzly bear
charging at them ripping them both into pieces. He was too
afraid the sounds of the forest only threw him off more.
Benjamin gripped tightly on J.J’s hand as if reassuring him
that he is by his side to help him in any situation.
                    BENJAMIN
               (whispers)
          Take a deep breath, fire when you
          exhale your breath. Anything that I
          tell you now should not affect your
          shot if you have a clear mind.
As Benjamin reassures J.J, he slowly takes out his lighter
making least noise as possible. An animal like paw appear
from the bushes, J.J is calm and thinks he is ready for his
shot. A caribou appears from the bushes as J.J takes his
shot, his grandfather whisper one last thing in his ears.
                    BENJAMIN
               (whisper emotionally)
          This lighter belonged to your
          father, J.J
Shot fired, Fade to black.

 

Week 4, Lighting

Video

Politically Incorrect Geoff

Week 4 was a workshop focusing on lighting and the effects of three point lighting. Three point lighting consist of three different lights; Key Light, Fill Light and Back Light. The Key Light is placed directly in front and to the side of the target, its purpose is to directly shine and illuminate the target. The Fill Light acts as the secondary light while balancing the shadows produced by the Key Light, it is usually placed on the right side of the Key Light. The Back Light shines at the target from behind, eliminating minor shadows and highlighting the target while separating it from the background. We were instructed to film in different location consisting of different background lights, i.e. natural light, indoor lights or a mix of both. As a group we decided to film a production on a politically incorrect character expressing his opinions through film. This allowed the viewers to connect to the footage through the genre of comedy as well as well utilizing the recent Australian elections as a point of interest. I was once again given the role of sound recordist and aided in some of the directing.

 

We chose three different locations, the first one was a mix of natural lighting and indoor lighting. We utilized the natural lighting as our backlight, while setting up a Key Light and a Fill Light to highlight our target. However we noticed that the shadow caused by the natural light was too obvious, while the Fill Light was not strong enough to balance it. Hence forth we set up the next shot indoors, so we would be able to manipulate the lights better. The indoor light was not sufficient to fully illuminate our target, we set up all three lights. We were able to shade and light up the target perfectly, although the red light emitting from the heater was too strong and unavoidable. More so this made us curious about how to use the red light from to heater to our advantage, this led to the decision for our next shot. We decided to film a scene with the stage ladder near the heater, we lighted the bottom of the stairway with a three point lighting while allowing the red light to illuminate the top of the stairs. The red light provide the shot with a sense of fear and mystery matching perfect for a chasing scene. The final shot was taken outdoors and fully utilizing natural lighting and a reflector kit. The reflector kit was place of the top right of the frame allowing the light of the sun to be reflected on our character eliminating some shadow cause by the natural lighting.

 

In conclusion, we revisited the theory and practices of three point lighting. Moreover understanding the use of natural light on a set and how to manipulate them to create certain effects and atmosphere. Finally reinforcing the safety measures of lighting equipment and the proper usage of three point lighting in different situations.

Week 3, Interviews

Video

Interviews

Week 3’s tutorial exercise was based around filming interviews and preparing us for our documentary assignment. We were given 3 hours for the whole production, based on the topic “student interests”. In addition three interviews must be filmed in different location, preferably one interview outdoors and one interview indoors. We were also required to record sounds from the interviews with an external sound recorder; a H4n recorder, a NTG-2 Microphones and a boom pole. The aim of this task was for us to improve our techniques and knowledge on sound equipment and scouting a suitable location for interviews.

 

Each group divided roles amongst each other, as for this production I was the sound recordist and editor. We agreed upon the topic of “campus stores for students”, the interview consisted of three simple questions:

 

  • What would they like to see on campus at UNSW?
  • What wouldn’t they like to see on campus at UNSW?
  • What do they think is the best store on campus at UNSW?

 

The topic was chosen because of the recent openings of different stores around the UNSW Terrance village. Our locations were based on areas with high student flow such as the QWAD cafeteria and the main university walkway. Not only is the topic easy and relatable to all students, but also with high student flows in the area it gave us more opportunities to capture more footage.

 

The challenges and difficulties I faced as a sound recordist and editor were minor however it should be taken notice for future film productions. The first and most obvious problem is obtaining the best sound quality with a boom microphone. As it was not too windy that day, the sound was clear and crisp if the microphone was placed above the target interviewee. However in post production editing, we realized that  we did not obtain a clapper board prior to the shooting. Hence the synchronization between sound and film was difficult and time consuming. Finally some of the interviews were not framed properly, we should have notified the target interviewee prior to shooting about their line of sight and posture.

 

In conclusion, the interview tutorial task gave us an opportunity to work with others within a time constrict and improving on the roles we wish to partake in future production. It allowed us to learn from our mistakes in this production and apply our improvements in the documentary assignment.

Week 2, 8 shots

Video

No post production, 8 shots

This week we were challenged by our tutors to film a short story without any post production editing. Additionally the short film can only consist of 8 different types of shot, hence this tutorial task was testing our knowledge in cinematic features while testing our abilities on time management and pre-production planning.

I took the roles of actor, cinematographer and a bit of directing, as a group we all agreed that the storyline had to be simple and could be understood without dialogue. The plot followed a male student taking interest in a female student, however he is too afraid to approach the girl. The story continued with a short stalking of the female student, this led to her realization of the timid boy causing him to run away. Finally the girl is seen running after him and finishes with her sitting next to him. The main genre of the film was romance, we believe that the genre romance was easily relatable and viewer friendly. On the other hand, we planned the different shots from start to end as there were no post production. We established the story with a long shot of the male lead, slowly adapting it into over the shoulder and POV shots from the male lead. Extreme long shots, medium shots and extreme close ups were added in to provide the story with more atmosphere and feeling. We finished the production with a close up of both character’s shoes getting closer together.

Time management and pre-production planning were the key abilities display in this production. As each group was to provide 2 and a half hours to finish and screen the film by the end of tutorial. We agreed that pre-production planning will not consume more than half an hour of our time. This created a very brief outline of filming with a  simple storyboard with 8 shots alongside the different types of shots and what they were. Many of the locations and camera angles were decided while filming, this would lead to our first production problem. We did not take account of the amount of students entering and exiting the main walkway of the university. The first few shots had barely anyone in them, however as the film progress towards the end the amount of people who is not aware or responsible for the film significantly increased ruining the atmosphere of our final shots. Another challenge we came across throughout the production was that we were too used to post production edit, we had to redo many of our shots as we had to cut the shots with the camera. For example the actor or actress might go out of character too early before the camera ends filming, with the rule of no post production editing we could not cut errors out of the film instead a retake of the shot was the only way to correct it.

In conclusion, the production was demanding and require us as filmmakers to manage our time correctly and adapt the correct techniques to our film. Furthermore the task refresh our memories on cinematic knowledge and offer us a challenge towards directing and pre-production planning.