I'm Laura Byrne, a 4th year student in Creative Digital media at ITB. As I go through my Final year of college I begin the journey of creating my Final Year project and prepare to face the many obstacles that are going to be thrown at me in which I hope to get through and create the best project I can possibly imagine. Here I will record all of the thoughts and ideas that will be running through my head, good and bad, and hopefully make sense of them all, creating my final idea.
As seen in my previous post, not everything went to plan but hey-ho, the show must go on! And so, I conducted the interview and I felt like this one went so much better than the previous two interviews I had done. I had asked Lisa if she would be okay with me going more in-depth into the story behind her dad’s death and how she was feeling during that difficult time in her life. There were moments where she got upset and needed to take a moment but it was at that point I knew I should probably step back a little and move on to a different part of the story as it was never my intention to cause upset or discomfort but in a way it was nice to see such raw emotion.
Even though I only had the one camera I wanted to get some cut-away shots of Lisa as she was talking my through her story and so I got some of her hand gestures as she spoke and also some shots as she was reading the letter her Dad wrote to her a short period of time before he passed.
I had an interview set up for Friday afternoon with Lisa to re-shoot her interview and go more in-dept into her story. I had borrowed a second camera from college because I wanted a two camera set up with a close shot and a wide shot. I arrived to Lisa’s house and set up both cameras and had the mic hooked up, everything was going well until I went to focus my own camera and the lens would not move. I took the camera off the tripod to have a look only to find that the whole plastic part on the inside of the lens was broken and the camera was not usable.
The disappointment was on another level as I really wanted to go that bit further with the two different angles but I just could not have made it happen and so I had to go for the one camera set-up once again and hope that it would suffice.
As shown in my prototype, I want to incorporate old footage into the documentary. All of this old footage is on vhs taps which meant I had to figure out a way to get that footage into a digital format which I could then import into Premiere Pro! I looked into getting them professionally converted from vhs to dvd but it was working out too costly and the video tapes are not my property so I didn’t want to take the risk of something happening to them during conversion. And so, I decided to use the Telecine method. Telecine is the process of placing a camera in front of a projector or screen and recording the footage with a camera or other form of recording device. I set up my camera in front of my television screen and began to record the footage I thought would be useful within the documentary.
There was one major factor I had to be careful of and that was the different frame rates. If my camera and my television had a major difference in frame rates I would have had a problem with lines going down the screen on playback. Thankfully I didn’t come across this problem and I managed to get some really good footage which will add to the emotion of the documentary.
During this semester we also have a module called Post Production Techniques. In this module we are learning different techniques using After Effects, a software I knew very little about before now! In last weeks lab we learned how to bring photographs to life using 2.5D animation. This was a technique I had always seen used in various news broadcasts and docs but never knew how they did it – Now I do!
This lab got me thinking about my own project and how I could possibly incorporate this technique within my documentary instead of stills in frames using a simple ken-burns effect (an effect we have seen done over and over again). I am already using some old footage for each interview but there are some events in life where maybe a video recorder wasn’t used but simply a camera. Why not bring these moments in life alive through the 2.5D animation?
I spoke to my supervisor Ian about this possibility and he showed me a really cool video called Four Tet: Looking Back, Moving Forward. This video was made up entirely of an audio only interview and still shots which the editor brought to life through 2.5D animation.
Now I don’t know if I would be able to pull it off as well as the editors in this video have but I want to keep it as an option if I feel like my After Effects skills strengthen over the next few weeks!
I thought I was all “inspired out” at this stage but turns out, I’m not! I am getting more and more enjoyment out of documentaries now more than ever because I’m not only intrigued by the story within the doc but also the filming and story-telling techniques each documentary uses.
A few weeks ago I came across a documentary on RTE called ‘After the Crash’. This documentary focused on the hundreds of lives lost on Irish roads in 2016 alone. I was naturally interested in the stories behind each crash and the heartbreak left behind within the victims families but I was mainly focusing on was the way in which the interviews were conducted and the style of interviewing they used. It was evident that the words of the family members and friends were the most important part to this doc and that cut-aways weren’t used as band-aids throughout the 50 minute long piece. It was a simple 2-3 camera set-up in the homes of the victims where the families felt comfortable to talk about the devastating tragedies.
I started to think about my documentary and see if I had any similarities to this one. The answer is yes. Throughout this whole process my main aim to to make the audience feels something when watching my doc. I felt something when watching “After the Crash’ because it focused on a story and got rid of anything distracting which would take your mind off the main point of the doc, the story behind the deaths or these people.
I took inspiration from the simplicity of the interview set-up and seeing that you don’t necessarily need fancy shots to keep your audience involved, all you need is a good story that makes them feel something!
After my presentation in January I received positive feedback on my prototype and the use of old footage within the documentary. This led me to asking the other people I plan on interviewing if they too have some old videos I could go through to get some shots of people that sadly, are no longer with us.
Today I went through Aaron’s videos to see if I could find some useful footage of him and his sister, Leslie Anne. There must have been 20 tapes. Some with labels, some without. And so, I went through each one trying my best to get some nice footage hat will hopefully add to Aaron’s interview and allow the viewer to picture Leslie Anne as Aaron knew her.
To say getting back into the swing of things this semester is tough would be a complete understatement! The fact that I know I only have a short amount of time to pull this off is some sort of motivation for me but it is also terrifying!
The first steps I have made so far this semester is getting in touch with the people I will be interviewing and trying to figure out when they will be free to conduct the interviews and other footage so as I can make a rough project plan and know what needs to be done. As the three people I am working with all have full time jobs this is proving quiet difficult to say the least as none of them were free last week for filming.
For this week I want to try and at least go through Aaron’s old footage and have that filmed and ready for post production. Then I want to head out and get some cut away shots etc so I won’t have all of that filming left to do on top of the interviews.