For this assignment, I was tasked with creating a Documentary. No specific amount of people had to be featured, unlike the other films, however, it had to be exactly 6 minutes in length. I was placed in a group of 5 including myself with a week to have the filming and editing complete. The group decision was to create a documentary about the impact smartphones has in everyday life.
I created a Google folder which was shared with the rest of the group. In this, music was shared, data collected and a questionnaire was created. This organised the production, making the process faster and easier. Due to this task relying more on facts the research was essential in order to create an accurate documentation upon our chosen topic. I felt that the group was more organised with the drive and we could see each other’s work and who was working on particular areas. I felt that this genre was going to b a lot harder than the rest as a lot of research had to be conducted. I also thought it would be more difficult to record footage that would relate to the topic and e interesting to view. I knew the group had to put more effort into the production, especially in the planning stages. This made me nervous as in the previous production the film were rushed a day before the deadline with minimal planning involved. This is why I pushed on the shared folder to view what research was being done.
The pitch had to be presented the following day, however, the general idea was found to be too broad, therefore we narrowed the idea down to document the effect of smartphones instead of the group’s initial idea of mobile technology as a whole. Before the pitch, I was nervous as not much research had to be conducted and the idea we had was still basic. I knew the lecturer wanted detailed pitched which I was uncertain if ours would be. I also felt unsettles that no specific rules were given out for the pitch. The pitch was improvised with anyone speaking when they felt they could add or had an idea of what area to talk about.
After the pitch was given myself and the rest of the group stood in front of everyone for the longest amount of time compared to the previous pitches. This was because the lecturer provided more critical criticism, which I found helpful but also uncomforting. He wanted to know what type of questions we were going to ask and what final aim was for the documentary. However, the issue was this was not finalised which made resulted in improvised answers which were not detailed and finalised as he would have wanted. I feel that I did not say much and could have tried to add to any answers given by the group to his issues with our idea. Even though standing up in front of the class for a pitch became more of a routine and less unsettling I still went quiet. I could not think of anything to say, which I now understand I need to work on, on the spot questions. I need to develop my quick thinking and problem-solving skills to overcome this issue.
I found that the filming process began successful, with interviews with students being conducted. The questions were read and the student’s answers were recorded, with everyone in the group rotating their roles. I did not feel confident asking questions but as I had to conduct the first interviewer I pushed through the challenge, which I thought went better than expected. I worried that I would read the questions wrong and did not want to show nervousness. I found that reading the questions before I started helped but think if I had practised before the day so that I had the questions memories would have been beneficial and made me come across more confident.
An additional piece of equipment was added for the filming process. Along with the camera and standard lens, the group was able to use an external mic to improve sound quality. This was interesting to use as the diegetic sound did not have much thought go into it and using the mic with the visual footage was a new experience. Whilst one person operated the camera, another was in control of the mic and the other interviewed the public. I found that the importance of the clip to sync the audio and visual in editing was easily forgotten. This led to clap’s before the camera started recording so that it was missed or the hands not being shown in the frame, making the clap only an audio noise instead of visual in the camera.
I think this could have been improved by practicing recording with both camera and mic and then editing so everyone in the group had a better understanding of how it will work and what the importances were to better management and workflow.
An important factor that was forgotten during the process of filming was the way in which the interviews were framed. I think more research should have gone into the way documentaries frame people as this was an unfamiliar style of filming. A criticism when reviewing the finished documentary was that the people interviewed should have been facing the camera more. In particular, an interview that I recorded has this problem the most.
During the time of filming It felt rushed as we were running out of time. I did not plan the positioning well and should have slowed down to think of the technical qualities. I enjoy filming but find it has a lot of pressure as the group counts on me when It is my turn to film. I feel nervous and am worried that it will not turn out to everyone’s expectations.
I think to overcome this I should practice filming more and plan the situation out before hand. I also need to take my time and think of all the important details, such as the way in which it should be framed.
Other problems also included focusing issues. Some of the footage was not in focus which had accidentally gone unnoticed when reviewing the footage, resulting in this becoming realised when editing the clips. By this time the deadline was approaching fast and it was difficult to redo interviews. Therefore blurred footage was used which dramatically lowered the quality of the documentary. I felt that I rushed some interviews because I was conscious of the little time left and wanted to get as much done as fast as possible. Better time management would improve this and in-depth planning beforehand.
When I felt rushed I also forgot to review footage filmed by others, which would stop the chances of blurred clips. I think to improve this as a group we all should have checked each other’s work during and after the process, This would have reduced mistakes that affect the overall quality of the production.
Another negative was making the documentary last 5 minutes. It was thought that too much footage would probably be taken but instead too little had been captured. This lead to the recording of anything relating to smartphones in order to put visuals over narrations and rushed interviews at the last minute. With better organisation and preparation this could have been avoided and the overall quality of the documentary improved.
I think another negative with the production is the lack of shot variety during interviews the camera is static, facing the same angle through the whole interview. Moving the camera would mean pausing the interview to change the angle, which would disrupt the person being interviewed. It would be more achievable with a multi-camera setup, however, this is not permitted therefore the angle is changed only for long interviews. The questions could have been divided into two section with a pause between them which then the camera could be changed to a different position.
Some footage is unstable, showing clear signs of camera shake. When handheld some shake can be dismissed but during some interviews, it appears too shaky which will distract the viewers and make the production appear unprofessional. A tripod would have ensured the camera was stable, although we were only able to use a single camera and mic for the equipment. Leaning elbows on the desk with two hands holding the camera would reduce the chance of shake and practice with holding the camera for long periods of time would have enabled the camera operator to improve the stability.
The narration was used in order to explain facts and research about the topic of the documentary. I think the documentary would have been harder to understand and less interesting without a narrative. The narrators were filmed encase there were not enough visuals to overlay the narration. This became the result as we had not recorded enough footage to cover the length of the video, meaning that some of the narration parts were shown visually. I think it would have been more effective to have footage relating to smartphones and research shown on screen over the narration but I don’t think this had a large impact on the overall video.
I started editing before the documentary was finished. I added the new footage as it was recorded to ensure that enough time was given to edit and make the process less overwhelming. I enjoy editing and learning new techniques but I found that I took on too much work, taking the main editing role. I had not lip synced before but found it manageable, although I had to listen to the audio of both clips to cue in the visuals and in most clips the hands clapping was not in the frame. This made the process longer and I had to view the sound waves to sync the audio exactly.
I found editing interesting and a positive challenge but as the days went on I become more tired and found it took on too much strain on my eyes. This could have been improved by sharing editing with the group. People could edit certain sections and then when each area if finished it could then be applied together. This would have made me feel less pressured and stressed and improved the quality of the edit.
I edited the audio in Audition to take away some noise in the recording. I discovered a tin-like noise was created after removing the noise. I sought help from a lecturer who had much experience with audio, in which they outlined that I was taking too much noise away. From this information, I then altered the amount of noise being taken which improved the sound quality. I enjoy researching into audio and how to edit it. I rushed this process however and could have done a better edit. I think more research and time should go into editing audio in my own time. This will make me feel more comfortable and make my work process faster.
Due to filming still taking place on the day of the deadline it began stressful to finish the film, which leads to not all the audio being editing which was noticeable. I was not satisfied with the way I edited the footage and believe it could have been significantly improved. I had to wait for extra clips to be uploaded to Google Drive so that I could download it and insert it into the film. However, it got increasingly close to the deadline, therefore I felt it was too much of a risk to wait. I use a black background with text for areas that had no footage. This was an area of criticism when the documentary got reviewed. I agreed that it did not look appealing or professional. I felt stressed and felt that I had too much workload. I feel that I let the group down and could have done a much better edit. With shared work, this could have been a more enjoyable and easier process.
To conclude the documentary did not go as well as hoped. I felt that it was rushed and the overall quality was not as high as it could have been. There have been many lessons to learn from during this production. Time management is one of the main focuses that groups and myself need to focus on. The work needs to be equally distributed and completed with detailed plans made before shooting. Each area needs a detailed analysis of what will happen and the process, such as camera angles, narrative, and audio.
Thoroughly thought through each aspect when filming will improve the results. For example, the footage needs to be checked during and after filming, similar with the audio. Critical analysis should be undertaken to check for faults or areas for improvements. As a group and individual, we must be more critical about eh work and ensure that we put our full attention and effort into it.
The editing process should be seen as important as the filming itself. Enough time should be arranged to edit, instead of one day. A plan of the editing itself would make the process faster and easier. This will then allow time for cleaning up edits and adding any effects that will improve the film.
I think even though I do not feel satisfied with this task and felt that I could have performed much better than I did, there are many areas that I now know to improve upon. I can now focus on my weaknesses and ensure that I show improvements in the future.