1. Media Evaluation for planning A2 film: Commentary scriptIn what ways does your media product use, develop or challenge forms and conventions of realmedia products?Creating a horror film, we knew that research into this specific genre would be important forconveying our film in a professional and effective manner. Although we had a plot and characteroutline, we did not necessarily know how to put this together with other aspects such as sound,script, camera angles and shots to create tension. To understand the conventions of a horror, we setabout analysing some well-known horror films such as ‘Triangle’ and ‘Scream I’.Scream I specifically, is a film which uses its plot to play upon horror conventions in an obvious wayto both viewer and character. From this we were able to see what horror film conventions werepopular as they would be stressed in this film to parody conventions yet surprisingly creating a scaryfilm.From studying many horror’s we found these to be the top factors of focus.-The sound- The sound in a horror film always starts at its quietest with music throughout building up whencertain horrific or defining moments are about to occur in order to create tension until a climaticscare. We have made sure our final piece has a buzz track which continues from beginning to endwith only a few silence breaks in scenes to add tension. Our use of a background accompaniment isof great importance as we have little dialogue and with sound being a key element maybe even themost important, we needed an aspect which would consistently convey the horror genre. Werecorded our own diegetic-Situations:-From our research characters have a certain naivety about them in horror films often very unawareto the potential danger which is always so close to them. We did this by making our main characterfollow the usual speech in horror films asking ‘hello, who is it?’ when a knock at the door starts. Healso does not notice when a figure appears at the front door as a long shot reveals him walking awayfrom the door. The sense that danger being so close creates high tension as we are aware of thingswhich someone who is closer to the danger is not.The concept of Isolation: Horror films are generally set in isolated locations. This creates high tension as we get the sense thatthe character or characters are more vulnerable while they are alone and cut off from the outsideworld indicating a barrier between their isolation and safety. The theme of isolation is played uponhugely in our short film as the protagonist is the only character throughout apart from one otherbrief character appearance outside the door and at the end when he is grabbed from behind. Extrasare used for the surprise party with no specific person drawn upon. This centralisation of our maincharacter although there are others involved in the film further emphasizes how he is alone facingany danger which occurs.Characters:
2. - In most horror film, the central character is a relatively young attractive female stereotypingnaivety and vulnerability. We used a male to contradict the common conventions and tried to createa greater fear among the audience as even though our male protagonist represents a strong andworthy opponent against danger, he himself is also scared in his own home. This is shown by thebuild-up of his panic until his release at the surprise party. It is also important to consider thatalthough we have used many horror conventions lulling the audience into believing our completetheme is horror, yet our plot is based on the fact that someone is in his house still setting up for thesurprise party. The character is never in any real danger, we are only led to believe this by theprotagonist point of view filmed piece. Therefore the use of a male as the main focus shows howsigns of normality were present from the start and challenging the usual form of a horror.SettingThe setting of a conventional horror varies on the intended plot however it is usually always setpartially at night to use darkness playing on fear of the unknown. As ours is a short film, we have setthe whole piece in a dark setting as the character returns home from work in the evening.From looking at the combination of horror conventions and creating the film ourselves, we foundthe sound to be the main element which could enhance or demeanour the piece. Therefore wespent a large amount of our time in editing stages, focussing on timings of sound entrances andtransitions, as well as perfecting the clarity of voice overs. We knew by looking at the main elementneeded for producing a horror genre film, we could build our piece up to a professional standard.How effective is the combination of your main products and ancillary texts?Throughout our main products and ancillary texts, we have tried to keep a consistency usingidentical sound motifs for both our radio trailer and our main film, also known as the ‘house style’.Much like we have done for research of the film itself, we researched into audio clips for our radiotrailer and looked at film trailers when creating our own poster. This allowed us to see what weneeded to do to convey our theme in an interesting and enticing form yet keeping it directly linkedto the film itself.We found that in many audio trailers, that much like in the film, sound builds in a crescendo frombeginning to end creating a tense moment when the silent climax is reached as its contrast is sodrastic. We executed this method for both audio trailer and short film alike however the audiotrailer was at a faster pace having to explore all elements of the film itself yet keeping to a time limitof around 30 seconds. A longer time limit of five minutes is available for the film therefore sound canremain quieter for longer to express and even larger change of dynamic when the loud and tenseend is occurring.When looking into producing a visual advertisement for our film, we researched similar professionalpieces in the horror genre. We used main elements which were found in the vast majority of posterswe looked at such as dark colours, relevant information such as the title, age rating and credits aswell as a fitting image to display part of the plot. Our original poster had a black backgroundrepresenting the darkness of our film’s setting and also creating an element of mystery linkingdirectly to the unawareness of the protagonist in the plot. It also played on typical horrorconventions with black being a symbol of evil and negativity. However this poster was found to be
3. unsuccessful in conveying professionalism and the theme when we received feedback. We alteredthe poster to show a close up of the protagonists face much like on most poster’s with a handcovering his face to imply an attack. The slight distorted style of the image and the colour contrastchange creates an element of mystery. Most of the poster is filled with a close up image of theprotagonist, to introduce him to the viewer and to signify that he will be centralised throughout thefilm.The colour scheme we have used throughout all ancillary texts is important to consider as this is anaspect which reflects our high attention to house style. Black, white and red are the main colours wehave used for two reasons, firstly to keep a professional look about all media products helping theaudience to link all three pieces together (our radio trailer, short film and film poster), but to alsoplay on colour symbolism. We have used black to represent darkness and the unknown, red for itsrelation to danger and white as a contrasting colour to the black background metaphoricallyrepresenting our heroic protagonist surrounded by the dark surroundings; white central title withina black background.The combination of all is highly successful as both film and audio use similar buzz tracks making theaudience instantly create a link between the two from the recognisable tense music motifs. Theposter although a visual and not dependent at all upon audio, relates to the short film itself with animage of the protagonist being grabbed from behind with a hand covering his mouth and actionwhich takes place near the end of the film.What have you learned from your audience feedback?We received audience feedback from all who viewed our film pitch and were able to use suggestionson what went well and what could be improved to help us develop an even stronger final piece.From our audience feedback we were commended for our research into the conventions of ourspecified genre. We had hoped that this would be reflected in the screening as this was an area wehad paid particular attention to forming strong in depth judgements on other films of the horrorgenre and using the points which were included in most such as tension building music and using anunsuspecting protagonist.Much of our feedback focussed around the concept of lighting and how this could be improved. Ouroriginal shooting was too light therefore to create the darkness we needed to edit the saturationlevels which in turn made the video grainy and too dark to clearly see the image on screen.Suggestions were made on how we could avoid this by shooting with natural darkness possiblyfilming later in the day, a point which we then used for the final filming of our piece and allowed usto successfully tackle this issue.We recently held a feedback session with another paired production team and received critique onour first film draft, audio trailer and poster.The Set UpPosterJack’s feedback
4. - The poster highlights the fact that it’s a horror and good camera angles have been usedthroughout. Although it follows the usual conventions of the horror genre the bottom quarter isempty, space which then is wasted where relevant film information could be inserted.Ben’s feedback- The poster looks professional with good use of lighting and contrast of colours. The emotions couldbe taken further specifically focussing on the fear of the protagonist andalthough it has purposelybeen kept simplistic it may be too simple. There is a good use of signifiers.The Set UpRadio trailerJack’s feedback- It follows the typical conventions of a horror well with strong signifiers which all can relate to.However it could be improved by making the sound on the ‘surprise’ clearer and having a morepanicky performance and general speech from the male protagonist. Ben’s feedbackBen’s feedback- There is a good range of sounds used throughout and the story is told well without reaching theclimax before the intended point. I agree that the ‘surprise’ could be made clearer yet other thanthis the buzz track is superb.The Set Up Short FilmBen’s feedback- There is a good used of camera shots which build tension well with a good used of sound andclever twist with the surprise party element. The film could be improved by having better fluiditywith its transitions and the sound track builds too early in the film making it more difficult to build anintense climax.Jack’s feedback- Tension builds well with the music although it does build up very wuickly something which couldtake more time to pace the film correctly with the action taking place. Certain parts drag on slightlybefore the surprise particularly in the bathroom scene which drags on unnecessarily.A Facebook group was also created in order to establish a wider public view of our film fromimpartial sources. A large group of around 200 people were invited to the event in order to receivethe biggest scale of results possible. The event wall included a small comment about our media filmand how our production team would appreciate feedback, with a link on the page to vimeo.comwhere our short film could be viewed. The comments received were complimentary, with somecritique. One viewer commented, mentioning that that the film needed work on transitions betweenshots with others liking this comment to show their agreement with this point.
5. How did you use media technologies in the construction and research, planning and evaluationstages?Throughout the development stages we needed to use many different types of technology to createour final short film. Using most of these was a new experience to our production team andcomplications were found along the way. However we used our initiative and help from others morequalified in the field to resolve these issues.We knew how to use You Tube a key factor allowing us to conduct most of our research as weneeded to look into movie trailers and sound effects for our own piece. When trying to build ourown soundtrack first for our film and secondly for our radio trailer, we visited You Tube and typed inthe search engine the relevant information such as ‘copyright free sound effects’. This came up witha selection of sound effects which we could explore before choosing the best accompaniment forour specified genre. We then used google to search for a You Tube to Mp3 converter to be able todownload the copyright free music we had found. After copying the URL from You Tube anddownloading the clip, this was then saved in iTunes where we could refer back to it when necessary,with later use of final cut express and garage band. We also found sound effects on independentsound effects based websites which we were able to download free of charge. We checked that allof these websites distributed copyrighted material before downloading.When planning to film our short piece, we came up with a schedule in order to organise the actorsand production team. In our first meeting we reviewed the work which would need to take placeover the following weeks. The production team and actors used mobile phones and facebook as ameans of communication when arranging to meet for shooting.In the review meeting we shot a sample scene using a small digital compact camera testing shots,angles and lighting. However the camera could not process the dark lighting we needed to create atense atmosphere and show the correct setting for our film. Therefore the final result for our samplescene was too dark and pixellated, creating an amateur looking piece. We decided to instead use a
6. handheld video camera where we could produce more sophisticated and detailed shots. We alsoused a tripod to ensure that all shots were steady.The production crew from previous planning discussions, had decided that a whole day of filmingwould allow us the time to shoot our film and re shoot any clips which had issues still standing. Wemet at 10 in the morning planning to film until around 6 in the evening, however when we arrivedwe realised that the natural lighting in the day time was hindering the effective and conventionaldarkness needed to convey our horror theme. Instead of shooting our main piece, we used the dayto become more comfortable with the camera and working out the ways in which we could shoot onour rescheduled date.After filming footage and playing this back, we realised that the microphone had not picked up thesound. Initially, we did not know what had caused this so set about changing the input of themicrophone, which we had connected to the handheld and also checked basic faults such aswhether the microphone was plugged in correctly to the camera. After this did not solve the issue,we used a method of trial and error as well as asking a more experienced camera operator for theiradvice. We eventually realised there was an issue with the volume control as it was on a low levelbut now knowing the sound was being picked up, we could edit the volume of sound once we haduploaded our shots into final cut express.Considering angles and shots, the testing day proved to be an unexpected necessity as many shotswe had proposed in our previous planning did not fit with conveying the theme or professionalism.For transition of our protagonist moving round the house from the bedroom to the kitchen, we setshots which we would later edit using cuts. First with the character leaving his room with a frontview, then from behind leading up to the stairs before a high angled birds eye view shot was usedinto a shot of him from the front running down the stairs and turning to the kitchen These four shotsplayed back on the camera one after the other, made the shots look very disjointed and the amountof shots in one scene proved to be unnecessary. We changed this, filming half the shots, firstly withour protagonist shot from the front as he leaves the bedroom and secondly shot from below as heruns down the stairs turning into the kitchen. The obvious nature of where he is heading made extrashots at this point irrelevant. This is one specific example where we had planned many shots to buildon conventions, yet we found when editing that the amount of shots slowed the intended quickpace.The use of mobile phones and facebook for the production team keeping in contact with the castwas of vital importance. We initially sent group text messages to eligible members of the cast andafter we had confirmations, these people were sent constant reminder text messages about thedate of filming. This means of communication was of high significance as the venue for the surpriseparty scene was not finalised until late on in the filming stages meaning that all cast needed to be upto date and aware of the change of venue to make sure they all attended. As well as this, a groupwas created on facebook specifically for the surprise party stating the time and date of the event.Facebook groups give the invitee the choice to accept or decline an invite therefore we were able tokeep track of who would and wouldn’t be attending the filming session. It also works with a systemwhereby posts can be uploaded by anyone on the invite which allowed full communication betweenproduction and cast as actors could write on the invite wall and we could answer any queries theymay have about the day.
7. In the editing stages of our film, we used final cut express, software which allowed us to edit videoclips and their audio as independent pieces, before we put them into a sequence. The productionteam having some experience with audio editing software such as audacity found it easy to adapt tothis type of technology. Knowing the order in which we would place scenes had previously been setyet we had only planned the transition between each mainly based on cuts much like in most horrorfilms. We felt this would create a quick pace about our short film in contrast with our ending wherewe knew we wanted to use a fade transition into credits. Our exploration of sound placement andtransitions lay mainly with trial and error as we tried many different transitions all between thesame shots in order to be certain that the transitions we had used were exemplary. To edit the sound levels we used a tool which showed us the sound waves of the audio clips andused the select tool to select points in the audio. These points could then be manipulated up anddown changing the frequency to make the sound louder and quieter. When considering transitions,we found difficulty with the cross fade effect allowing cross fading between shots. The quick settingof the effect made its addition to the video irrelevant. Therefore we had to select cross fade optionsusing a previewing screen which showed both clips and the cross fade between in a zoomed state.We were then able to trial and error changing the length of the fading process by creating a largertime span writing 3 seconds in the relevant box, changing from its previous 0.5 seconds.Our radio trailer relying solely on audio meant that overlapping interventions of music needed tooccur therefore we needed to use separate layers building them gradually. When we wanted tolisten to one section of music and not another yet both were meant to be playing simultaneously,we were able to mute a layer of audio temporarily. This was of great importance as when sounddifficulties occurred with minor in corrections, we could mute each layer built on top of one anotherand gradually unmute them in a trial and error process to find the problem.Although we had a structured plan for both our short film and audio trailer which we kept to as abasis for each, our main method for perfecting our pieces was trial and error which allowed us toexplore all ideas posed by the production team before deciding on the best possible outcome.Considering technology we had never used before, our complete A2 coursework was posted as ablog using Blogger.com. A blog allows you to share information on the internet ready for viewingwith an option to comment on each post. It also allows you to embed information such as links andHTML. When uploading posts such as Microsoft word documents, we used Slideshare.net to presenteach post on a more professional looking level using the HTML option. Slideshare permits you toupload files from your desktop, and creates a sophisticated form keeping each post concise unlikeposting text straight into the text box on your blog and filling a whole screen on a web page with justone post. The blog itself allows you to upload many posts in a chronological order with an easyformat for anyone to navigate through with ease and is an aesthetically pleasing way to explain theplanning process.We also used Vimeo a website which allowed us to upload our short film and put it on our blog atvarious stages of the production; this will be beneficial to us at the evaluation stages of our projectas we can view how much progress we have made.