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Ghostly Gloucestershire - Paranormal Documentary

The final outcome of all the hard work we put in to create our third year Screen Production project as part of my Film Studies BA.

Screen Production! 05/05/2014!

Today we finished off the rest of the editing.

I emailed Ruska the music that I found the previous day - when we eventually added them to our piece, they fit well. Some parts of the song were in sync with the way the visuals moved, and the music helped to create the creepy, supernatural mood of the film.

Again, Dani and I helped to assist Ruska with the editing decisions. Some decisions I particularly helped to make included: helping to ensure that there wasn’t long pauses of the interviewees staring at the camera after they had finished speaking (so Ruska cut them out), I suggested that we use the window shot for a cut away.

Issues that we had today included: having to not use the ghost walk as there was in fact the ticking noise that we hoped would not be in it. We reckon this may be because when filming the volume was too loud on the camera. Unfortunately, we did not have the time to res-hoot it. Luckily, we had plenty if other footage to use instead. Even though, I know very little about sound and the technical things with film, I take full responsibility for this as sound was the main thing I was in charge of for this project, I should have found out sooner, or tried even more at the time to work out and sort out the issue.

We really struggled to find suitable cutaways shots to use as we didn’t have enough, and those we did have spare to use were blurry. We made do with what we had, but it still meant that some parts of the interviews were spent too long on the interviewee, which could get boring to the eye of the viewer.

The other main issue we had was exporting the file; the first time it missed out the UoG copyright at the start, so we exported again, and it did include it, however, mysteriously, the music disappeared, although the rest of the sound worked fine. We did eventually manage to fix the problem and export it properly.

Screen Production 3! 02/05/2014

Today was the first day of editing.

Rushka was the head editor, and Dani and I helped her with making the decisions (Sami was unfortunately on work placement).

I had all of the USB sticks with all of our shots and interviews on, so had to make sure that I brought them all in, and to make sure beforehand that all of our footage was on it, as previously I transferred some to my computer so we would have room for footage we were going to film, so I had to reload it to one of the USB sticks. This was a big responsibility to remember and check we had all of the footage, and I managed to do so successfully, as I made sure I packed the memory sticks the day before, so I would not forget on the day; I thought it was better to prepare early.

I also brought in my paperwork e.g. my cover sheet, the call sheets, notes from meetings, to put together with Dani’s paperwork. We looked through our file and discussed what else needed to be added, such as one of the storyboards, which I offered to do. This enables us to be organised, and aware that we are meeting the assignment’s criteria.

While editing, I also searched online for uncopyrighted music, suitable for our piece. I found some music on MobyGratis which is a database of music created by Moby for independent and student filmmakers to use on non-profit films - part of the process of them allowing us to use their music, involves filling in an application and requesting to use them; in the application I add to state what our project was called, whether we were students, what the project was about, where, within the piece the music was likely to go, and confirm things such as understanding and acknowledging that the music is for non-profit projects only, read the terms and conditions and so on. I got an email the following day, that both the songs I requested got approved. This meant that I successfully filled in and understood application and its terms.I also looked on various other non-copyrighted music databases such as FreeSFX, where, so long as i read, understood and abide by the terms, such as crediting the creator of the piece of music, I could download their music. I got a couple of different options for music, so that we can compare and see what will fit best with the TV slot we will have created -  the music will be added on Monday after we have finished editing all of the footage we filmed together.

In terms with helping with the editing, I helped by voicing my opinion on some of the editing choices. For instance, when we eventually decided to cut out Rushka asking the questions in one of the interviews, and replacing it with a written caption, we originally decided to put the caption below the shots of the interviewee. I felt it did not work as it cut too sudden between each of the interviewee’s answers - it didn’t seem smooth and needed breaking up, and so I suggested that the questions be put in front of a black background to separate each of the questions more. Once Rushka adjusted it to this, we all agreed that it looked a lot better.

Some of the issues that came up during our session of editing included the fact that we didn’t have enough cut away shots to use. When filming I did stress to the other members of the group that we might not have enough, or that it would be worthwhile to shoot some more just in case. However, I listened to my team members who assured me that it should be enough. Perhaps, looking back, I should have forced my opinion more, or filmed the extra footage myself even though I was not the camera operator/director/head editor, and was mainly in charge of sound on the shoot. Unfortunately, once we realized during editing that we did not have enough shots, it was too late to book the equipment out, and plus the only other day we are free to do anything towards the assignment is Monday, which unluckily, is a bank holiday, and therefore again we are unable to get the filming equipment out, so we will have to adapt with what we already have. We needed more cut away shots for the introduction, such as a shots of the theatre and a piano. We also needed more shots of the interior and exterior of The Plough Inn, in line with what the landlady was talking about, such as the table a customer was sat at when she experienced the paranormal, plus footage of other things she mentioned such as the equipment that the mediums used when visiting. Adding more cut away shots make the interview less long and uninteresting as the viewer’s attention may start to wonder after looking at a single image for a long time.

Another issue is that some of the shots we could use are blurred occasionally within the shot; however that is down to the camera operator who should have ensured this did not happen. To help decrease this issue, I suggested to Rushka that she sharpen the images, which helped a fair bit, and meant that we were able to use some of the blurred footage as the sharpening made it look less so, and therefore more professional, as after all, one of the main aims of the assignment was to create a piece fit for television.

We managed to have filmed plenty of footage in terms of the interview with the landlady of The Plough Inn and also the ghost walk, however, it has bad connotations as we have too much of this footage, and have had to cut a lot of the really good and insightful pieces to fit within the 8-10 minute assignment brief. I wish we could have been able to make a longer piece, such as 20 minutes. So far we have only been editing through the interview with the landlady, and even after much cutting, it equates to 60% of the film so far, and we have yet to put in the ghost walk, other two small interviews and conclusion and credits. This means that on Monday I reckon that we will have to minimize that interview even more, to fit everything else in. I think that we will have to only have one or two of the many interesting ghosts stories and information that the landlady kindly provided us with. On Monday, the group as a whole will have to deliberate and decide which pieces of the information are the most important, and most exciting to include.

Even though I think our film will be fairly good, I think it will have turned out a lot better had we all been able to meet up more, and if we didn’t have to commit to all our other assignments, which are just as important and time-consuming as it is our third and final year. I think we would have put a lot more time and energy into it, and made sure we made even better, and more professional-looking.

I think the three of us worked well as a team as we listened to each other’s ideas, and discussed calmly and rationally which ideas worked best. It will be even better on Monday when Sami comes in, as it will mean we will have new ideas and opinions that might make out film even better. 

Screen Production 3! 02/04/2014

For this shoot I contributed to the project by making the call sheet for the day - usually this helps organise the day by letting everyone involved know all of the important details, essential for the shoot e.g. the names of all of the members of the crew and interviewees and their contact details (for in case of emergency or any other issues). It is also includes details of the locations, equipment used and transport, and so on.

I was the one to book out the equipment this time; I booked out the Sony V30 camera which comes with the tripod, boom microphone, and headphones; I also booked out some LED lights for the interviews - to bring more clarity and brightness to the image. I had to ensure that I picked the equipment up in the requested time, and bring it back before the deadline I submitted. I had originally booked the equipment out for 12pm on the Wednesdasy, to return for Thursday at 11am - just in case we did not get back in time on the friday to return the equipment to the room before 5 pm, however, we managed to get everything filmed and were back about fourish.

Unfortunately, today Sami was unable to come to filming today as she will ill.

Today we were shooting interviews with Jamie and Sadie, two of Rushka’s friends/coursemates who have experienced the paranormal. For this, I set up most of the lighting as I was the one who remembered most clearly how to set it up from our tutorial, and again, I was in charge of sound. I helped set up and back away other equipment. Unfortunately, on the lighting stands, I was not quite strong enough to make them tight enough, so Jamie, our interviewee had to help us a little bit. We filmed the interviews in an empty lecture room at the university - as Sadie and Jamie could no longer meet us at either mine or Rushka’s house, as planned on the call sheet, due to lack of time. The room was good to use though as there was lots of space, and plain, white wall which let the light bounce off them. If I was to improve, I would have set up before Sadie and Jamie came and met us, as unfortunately they had to wait five minutes while we sorted everything, although we did use this time to also clarify what we wanted them to do.

When then went into town to film the introduction and conclusion. I was in charge of checking that the sound was alright, by wearing the headphones and holding the boom microphone close enough to Rushka, the presenter, while still being out of shot. I had to ensure we re-shot if there were any intereferences such as cars going past loudly or pedestrians talking loudly as they passed near the camera, to stop it distrupting and affecting us hearing what Rushka was saying. I also helped to encourage Rushka as she was a bit nervous, and worried about messing up, and helped cite some of her lines to her. That way there we were able to get the filming done quickly, so the we did not disrupt the public so much. To improve, I would have filmed in front of the Everyman Theatre when it was a bit quieter, as there were a lot of cars going past that disrupted the filming, or maybe I would have helped Dani more with persuading the Everyman Theatre to actually let us film inside, perhaps near where the actual paranormal experience we mention, actually happens.

Additionally, we filmed some cutaway shots. Dani and Rushka were the camera operators for this, my contribution included suggesting locations and objects to shoot such as a charity shop near where I live which had lots of creepy ornaments to shoot such as clowns and china dolls. I had wrote down ideas of shots we could shoot such as a wide shot of Cheltenham High Street and then a close up of people’s feet/legs walking past (like what you see on the news or other documentaries), as Cheltenham is one of the key towns within Gloucestershire, the county in which we are focusing our paranormal documentary on. I also suggested shooting at Pittville Park, however we did not have enough time to get to that location, plus we thought that we already had enough cutaway shots for our piece, and that shots of the park would be the least relevant to the topic.

We all helped carry the various pieces of equipment to each of the locations.

As the footage gets put on my USB sticks, I had to make sure I brought them all to put the footage we filmed on at the end of the day at Park Campus, and I am responsible for backing up the footage onto my laptop at home, and for not losing any of the footage that we need to use ready in time for editing after Easter. If I ever need to filming again in a similar situation, I would ensure I would have my own SD card to put the footage on, and a harddrive that was actually compatable with the Macs and the footage (as both mine and Dani’s big harddrive’s are not).

This shoot should be the last, as I feel that we have more than enough footage with all the interviews, cutaways and introduction and conclusion. Of course, it may be necessary once we start editing, that we may have to shoot one or two extra things, or perhaps have to even re-shoot something - but as they say, we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Overall, considering we were a member down, the shoot went well - as we got everything filmed in more than enough time, and filmed some really good cutaway shots.

Screen Production 3! 24/03/2014

GROUP MEETING WITH JEREMY:

The group meeting with Jeremy went well today as we clarified any questions we had such as what exactly it is that we put in the production file, e.g. call sheets, release forms, risk assessments and so on. We also informed him on how our project is going which he liked as he felt it fit well with the brief of an 8-10 minute piece that you would find on prime-time television, suitable for a family audience. 

He did advise us to use a rifle microphone for the interview as it would be mobile, however, we did not have enough time for him to find us one in time, but I will definitely make sure we book one out next time we have a mobile interview/tour.

GHOST WALK/TOUR IN PRESTBURY:

From Park Campus where we had the meeting, Dani and I booked a taxi to take us to Prestbury as we would have not got to there in time for the meeting with the tour leader/interviewee, Anne,  had we walked or got the bus. 

I was in charge of sound again on this shoot. For this I have to connect the microphone and the headphones to the camera, and make sure I can here the person on screen properly; I have to move closer to the person if the sound is not loud enough, while making sure the microphone is not in shot.

For some reason I could hear a beeping noise through the headphone, whenever she pressed record on the camera; I tried re-putting the wires into the camera, and changing one of the sockets, however it still made the noise, so I am hoping that during in editing we will not here this noise, and that it was just a fault with the headphones. If we do have the beeping we may have to reshoot with the woman if we have time, or dub over the recording.

We returned to Park Campus to upload the footage onto a memory stick, however, just like the last few times we has some issues: my two original memory sticks were full, and so was the new one that Dani and I bought from last time, with footage from our other shoots. Luckily I realised I had another memory stick in my bag that we were able to put the footage on. It is still a mystery as to why the footage will not transfer over to Dani or my’s harddrive - perhaps this has something to do with the Macs at the University. Plus, at home, on my own laptop, for some reason the footage filmed today was unable to play - but hopefully it will still work at Park on the Macs when we come to editing.

Unfortunately, due to us filming outside, there were lots of disturbances such as cars going past and lawn mowers, so in future I would try and get us to do more scenes inside where it is quieter, or as Jeremy suggested, use a Rifle microphone, to get a crisper, clearer sound of a focus - our interviewee’s discussion.

We did intend on filming the ghost walk at night, as it is more atmospheric, however due to the University not having the right equipment to film at night, we felt the quality would have been lost using the equipment we could have, so we filmed during the day. 

We got lots of footage filmed, so should take up a good chunk of the documentary time, along with cutaways shots. Plus the things that Anne spoke about was rather interesting. 

Screen Production 3! Day Two of Filming! 06/03/2014

In terms of my contribution for the day, I was the one who decided where the four of us should initially meet; I chose the town centre as it was a central location for all to get to. Also, it meant that it was fairly near the bus stop we could get to Prestbury (the village we shot in), or good place for a taxi to pick us up, where it would not cost us too much. As a group we decided to get a taxi as it would save more time, than getting the bus, as we wanted to make use of the light and filming time. 

When in Prestbury I helped hold and look after some of the equipment - this involves making sure we have it all with us, at all times (basically making sure we do not lose any of it), and also assuring that none of it gets damaged while I am looking after it. 

When we shot the interview in The Plough Inn, with Cathy, the Landlady, I was in charge of sound - something I had not properly been in charge of before, so fingers crossed I did okay; I could hear the interviewee well, so it must have been fine. However, there was a slight echo, but that may be part of how it works when listening to the sound through the headphone. I did accidentally, at one point, tap the tripod with my foot when moving to a better position; this made a noise on the microphone, but hopefully that can be cut out during editing, without affecting the interview too much. Also, we only used the microphone which was on the camera, as we are still getting used to the new cameras, and together could not figure out how the other microphones worked. Plus the Boom microphone did not have any batteries - I am unsure whether we were supposed to be provided with them, or whether we were supposed to bring our own batteries. We were supposed to book out portable LED lights, but Dani didn’t as she could not carry all the equipment by herself - perhaps if she let us know when she was going to pick it all up, one of the rest of us could have gone with her to collect it, including the LED lights. Saying that, the lighting for the interview, I think was good, as there was a spotlight, and other lighting which made the scene look really good and warm - which is how you want a pub to feel, and because we shot her next to the fireplace which is featured in one of the ghost stories she told us about.

Sami shots various pieces around Prestbury that Dani and I had previously scouted. Rushka took the main role as presenter and interviewee, which included deciding what questions to ask the Landlady of The Plough Inn. Dani did various things such as initially booking and collecting the equipment for the day, she booked the appointment with the Landlady at the pub, and also helped carry equipment. Even though Sami was the camera operator, we all added ideas of what exactly she could shoot. 

The day after the filming, Dani went to the library with the equipment, plus my USB sticks to upload the footage onto and to return the equipment. However, she ran into some technical difficulties as there was not enough room on my USB sticks for all the footage - the last time we did shooting the footage wouldn’t save on Dani’s harddrive, so this time when I met up with her in the library, I brought mine, but that didn’t work either, so instead, together, we had to buy another USB stick (with more memory than my two combined). Unfortunately, I had to scoot off to work, and she had to find the technician to sort out the rest of the issues, and to hand in the equipment. 

In reflection, I would improve by making sure we had enough people available, so we could book out all of the equipment needed, I would have a refresher session on how to use the camera and sound, I would also make sure we had more time to shoot as there were other destinations in the area we could have shot at, but did not have the time, plus there was the threat of rain. I would have also maybe told Dani to lengthen the time she booked the equipment out for - just in case we wanted to do extra filming, and so it would give us more time to cope with technical issues, like the ones we had. I would also make sure to bring my own batteries with me for the Boom microphone, and to perhaps invest in my own SD card instead of relying on the University’s - meaning we do not have to panic of making sure we get all the footage off in time to give back to the Uni. 

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