How did you use mediatechnologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluation stages? Nathalie Osada
Research: During our research and planning stage, we used Google a lot; Google is a search engine which allows anyone to search the World Wide Web for whichever topic they wish to research at any given time. We could use Google in synergy with any other website we chose to use which enabled us to continue our research further. Google is owned by Google Inc and is the biggest, most used and most well known search engine available on the internet – receiving an average of more than 200 million search enquires per day. To start our research on our chosen genre we typed ‘Period Drama’ into the Google search bar, this came up with over 49,800,000 results. This search came up with pages containing information about different Period Drama films, television programs and various different blogs written by Period Drama enthusiasts. The first website the came up on the search was ‘Costume Drama’ (another name for Period Drama) this was a page which had been published by Wikipedia, Wikipedia can be useful for certain things, however you cannot always be guaranteed that the information featured is one hundred percent factual as the information can be altered by anyone that makes a Wikipedia account, so therefore we decided not to use Wikipedia and look for a more reliable source, to make sure the we could trust the information we would be reading. However the website did give us a general idea of the type of information we should be looking to find out. We found one website which we relied on heavily was http://www.perioddramas.com/ which is one of the blogs that we had found earlier on in the search, we felt this was a more trustworthy source compared to Wikipedia. The main feature we found the most useful was the timeline that was included on the blog, it listed most, if not all of the Period Drama films ever made, dating all the way back to the film Rome, It listed the films in the order of the time in which they were set so for example Rome was set in 52BC so this is the earliest film featured on the timeline. The blog also included the top 25 Period Drama’s which included films and television series, such as North & South, Downton Abbey, Sense and Sensibility and many many more. The blog also incorporated some articles about Period Drama’s, which we found interesting to read and helped us to understand the genre a little more – it gave information about books from the genre, some of which had been turned into screenplays. But the most importantly it gave an incite into some of the locations that have been used in Period Drama’s and the types of costumes that are used – this was perfect for us as part of the research we had to do was to source our own location and costumes, so this information gave us a good idea surrounding the types of mise-en-scene we could use in our trailer.
Research: In order to do more in depth research we used IMDB (The Internet Movie Database) which is an internet ran database, it holds lots of information about every major film, television program and video game. It includes information about the actors that feature in the films and television programs, as well as information about the production crew, personnel, details about how much it made at the box office, the company credits and the technical specs, such as the running time and the aspect ratio. It is the most well known online entertainment information finder, with over 100 million people accessing its information per day. It holds around 2,262,638 titles and 4,745,392 personalities. Therefore we thought this would be a very good website to discover lots of information about Period Drama’s. It included some really useful features, such as information into certification – this was essential in making sure we gave our trailer the appropriate certificate. We found out that most Period Drama’s are rated U or PG this is due to the lack of sexual content, profanity and violence. Therefore we had to make sure that we met the criteria which made sure we could rate our trailer either a U or PG. We were able to look at many different Period Drama ratings on IMDB by clicking on the ‘See all certifications’ and ‘view content history’, this way we were able to see what each Period Drama film was rated and why. It also clearly displays the film company which made the specific film, for example we found out that Sense and Sensibility was made by Columbia Pictures and had a budget of around $16,500,000. We were also able to view the plot synopsis, the writers, directors and cast members. Another feature which we used and found really useful was ‘People who also liked this liked’ this contained many similar films to the film that you are looking up at the time – we found lots of Period Drama films that we would not have discovered had we not been able to utilize this feature, this also saved us quite a lot of time as we were not just having to do a general search and go through a lot of information that might not have been any good. Something else we found very helpful were the quotes and some of the script which would come up, this was especially useful when planning and writing our script, as it gave us plenty of inspiration and ideas and helped us to gain an understanding of how the right kind of dialogue is important and used correctly in Period Drama films.
Research: To further our written research that we found on the internet we used YouTube a lot. YouTube is a website which allows users to view and upload vides and clips and share them worldwide. Anyone can view videos uploaded to YouTube, however in order to publish videos to on YouTube a YouTube account will have to be made, although we did not have to do this at this stage as we only wanted to view pre existing content. YouTube on average gets over 4 billion hits a day. YouTube features video blogging, product demonstration and education videos. However we only used it for watching numerous Period Drama trailers. We found it so useful that we were able to watch so many different trailers within such a short period of time, this way we were able to get a clear understanding of the codes and conventions of Period Drama’s very quickly. We found that YouTube was the most thorough website to search and watch trailers as it had the most variety, as we had previously looked up specific trailer websites designed for people who purely want to sample film trailers – one of these website was called www.traileraddict.com. We could see how this could be useful for searching general trailers, such as new releases and more non specific genres, but as we needed to specifically search for Period Drama’s we felt that this website did not have the quantity of Period Drama trailers that YouTube did. We also found that as YouTube is the biggest video sharing website around that it had the most up to date trailer and the most easy to use system. The YouTube video system features a timeline at the bottom which you are able to click on according to which part of the trailer you want to watch the time, it also features a play and pause button, which provided very useful and was used many a time when we wanted to pause the trailer in order to take notes and then resume back to play from the point we had paused.
Editing: We found editing this year a new and different experience, compared to last year – this is due to the fact that we had new equipment, which included new i-Macs, video cameras and memory cards – being able to use a memory card rather than a mini dv was not only more practical, but gave us peace of mind as the footage that had been filmed was on the memory card was not able to be taped over, like it was on the old mini dv, it was also more time efficient as the footage did not download in real time like the mini dv did, giving us more time to edit, rather than waiting for the footage to download. Having a new i-Mac meant learning how to use the new up to date editing suit, however it was relatively straightforward and similar to the older version. To enable us to edit our trailer we used iMovie, this is a type of editing software, owned by Apple, for the Mac and iOs (iPhone, iPad, iPad mini and iPod touch). iMovie is very popular and widely used, it uses many useful features which helped us to create the final result that we wanted. The feature that we used the most throughout the editing process was the cut function; this allowed us to trim a shot to the length we wanted. The cut function is very precise and proved very useful when we needed to cut a short clip out, one of which showed one of our characters looking directly at the camera, this function allowed us to cut as little as one second out, enabling us to use the scene, but remove one particular section of the clip. It was crucial that we were able to use titilings appropriately in our trailer – as titles are so significant in trailers, as they help the story to flow. We also knew we needed the titles to look authentic and fit in with the genre. Luckily one of the features that is included on iMovie is a title section, we eventually decided on a title which used scroll like font – which followed the same convention as our poster and magazine front cover. After watching many Period Drama trailers we found that the titles are not up on the screen for a long time period, but they are not so quick that the audience cannot read them either, we found that we were able to adjust the length that the title would be shown on screen for and decided that the right length would be around 2.5 seconds – we felt this would give long enough for the titles to be read before the next scene was shown. Although we were able to use a lot of new equipment, one thing that was unfortunate about the new Panasonic video cameras was that there was not a fitting for an external microphone like there was with the cameras we used last year. This meant that when we were filming outside the microphone picked up the background noise, such as aeroplanes flying over, wind, traffic and children playing, this in turn meant that our dialogue was quieter and difficult to hear. In order to try and make our dialogue louder and clearer we used the audio functions, such as ‘reducing background noise’ and making the audio louder,
Editing: Similarly to PowerPoint iMovie features transitions, we used many transitions throughout our trailer, the main transition we used the most was ‘fade to black’, we used this transition after before and after a new scene, as we felt it fitted in well with the genre of our trailer, as it helped the trailer to look more natural and it was not as abrupt as some of the other transitions, such as the ‘ripple’ transition which was short, sharp and fast, this would not have fitted in with genre of our trailer or matched the conventions we had previously researched. Like the titling we were also able to edit the length of the transitions, which helped us to create a slower paced transition. We were also able to add music over the top of our shots, we researched royalty free music (music which has not been copyrighted) we found that the best website for this was ‘Incompetech’, we downloaded it and saved it into iTunes, we were then able to import it from iTunes into iMovie. This was a simple and easy process. iMovie features settings with allows you mute to the track, fade the music in and fade the music out. We used these functions countless times throughout the trailer. We mainly used the mute function during the montage, towards the end of our trailer, this was useful as there was a lot of background noise and wind during these scenes, but we were able to get rid of the noise and insert the music over the top. We also used the fade and fade out functions at the beginning and end of each track, this helped to make it softer and not as abrupt when changing the music, this also helped to make it less obvious and the two songs blended into one another, as there was not a pause while the next track started. Another useful feature which we used when changing the tracks was ‘overlap tracks’ this allowed us to fade and overlap tracks over each other to help to make the transition even more subtle. An extra feature we used when editing the trailer was editing the speed of the shot, for example some of the shots within the montage in the trailer where too short and therefore ineffective, we overcame this problem by slowing them down by 50%, we used the slow motion function to achieve this, this helped to make the shot dramatic and also gave a romantic atmosphere. For the institutional context we used a still shot of a picture of flowers that we took using a digital camera and overlaid titles over the top. We felt this was an effective Institutional context, which fitted in well with the genre as the flowers were natural, neutral colours, it looked simple and aesthetically pleasing.
Evaluation: To display our work on our blogs we used a host of different programs, which made our blogs more interesting and interactive. As Blogger is owned by the same company which owns Google it made the process of uploading the different presentations easy as they were compatible. One of the first programs which we used to display our work on blogger was Prezi. Prezi is a web based presentation and is also used a storytelling tool that uses a single canvas, instead of traditional slides, like PowerPoint. In order for us to be able to able to start to use Prezi and make presentations we had to make an account, Prezi offers two different types of accounts, one which is free and one which you have to pay for – the account which you have to pay for allows the user to have access to more storage and more features. However we went for the free account as we were not going to require masses of extra storage. After we had made the account the actual making of the Prezi presentation was pretty straightforward, we were able to self teach ourselves and soon were able to include images and YouTube links into our presentation, this made our Prezi’s more interactive as for example we were able to write about a trailer we had viewed on YouTube and then insert the clip onto the presentation, this made the presentation more interesting and interactive. For two of our Blog posts we decided to use PhotoBucket, Photobucket is a photo sharing website, in which Photobucket users can create slideshows of their images and videos. We decided to use Photobucket for our storyboard post as we felt it would show our pictures in an interesting way, rather than inserting three pictures on a plain post. We also used Photobucket towards the end of our blog to show some of the pictures we had taken whilst filming our trailer, as we wanted to show quite a few photographs we felt that Photobucket would be the appropriate program to use as the pictures move automatically we thought it would be interesting to look at and also show a lot of photographs without taking up a lot of space on our actual blog, which it would have done if we would have inserted lots of photos just onto a plain post without using an internet program. Again like all the other internet programs we used on our Blogs we had to create an account to be able to use Photobucket, once we made an account we were then able to start to create our own album, in which we could select the individual photographs we wanted to feature in this post. Once we had chosen the specific photos we had to copy the embed code and paste it into the ‘HTML’ in blogger, like we had had to with the previous two programs.
Evaluation: We also used an internet program called Popplet, Popplet is described at letting; ‘creative professionals and their teams think visually’ we used Popplet to display our information about certification for Period Drama’s, we found it’s appearance similar to that of Prezi, as it lets the user scroll around to read the information and is interactive. We were able to insert pictures onto the presentation and it gave us another varied blog post. One of the last programs we used to display our work was Bubbl.us, this is an online mind map maker, which allows the user to easily create colourful mind maps to print or share with others. We found this useful as we were able to link text boxes to others and make a virtual mind map. The only downside we found when it came to uploading it onto our blogs was that it didn’t always look clear when the post was opened, however we found that if you click on the presentation it does enlarge it, therefore making it more readable. Another program we used a few times to display our work was PowerPoint, as we have used PowerPoint in the past for many different presentations we knew how to use it and it was very straightforward to use, we were able to insert our information onto the presentation and include pictures and YouTube links, again making it interactive. In order to insert our powerpoint onto Blogger we had to publish the PowerPoint using an online program called SlideShare, to use Slideshare we had to make an account, after making the account we were then able to upload our PowerPoint, onto SlideShare. Once the powerpoint presentation had been downloaded onto SlideShare we had to copy the unique embed code and paste it into the HTML box on blogger, we then had to press the ‘compose’ button which then turned the code into our presentation, which would then be able to be viewed on our blogs when we published the post – we had to follow this exact process for all the other internet programs we used in order for them to be shown on our blogs.