Question 6 - What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?
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Transcript of Question 6 - What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?
Question 6: What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing this product?
What would films even be without technology? That’s a question I don’t even want to begin to answer, but what I will do in this presentation is talk about how technology has advanced and the affects this has had on films and also what I have learnt about the specific technology my group used in the making of our 2 minute thriller opening.
But what do we mean by ‘new media technology’? This term simply refers to any device that allows users to digitally transfer and edit information. So this could be anything from CD-ROMS to a piece of computer editing software. However things that are considered ‘old media’ such as televisions, films or paper-based products, are not part of ‘new media technology’.
Why is technology so important in filmmaking?Technology is the key element to any film, even those from the days when films were silent. Technology is the whole reason to why we are actually even able to have films. Think about it like this, if video cameras had not been invented then no footage would be able to be captured, ergo (I like that word), no film! So right from the very early days of cinema to present day, technology has been the most important ingredient to film making and it will be forever.
With the constant evolution of technology, filmmaking will keep on progressing as well, whether this is a good or bad thing it is hard to tell…
How has technology advanced?Technology is constantly developing, and is a major part of everyone's world. The technology that helps create films has developed at a ridiculously fast rate. It was not so long ago when films were shot in black and white and were silent. Now we have the capability of being able to film using cameras that capture an actors performance and then is able to translate this onto a 3D computer generated character. This allows the actos performances and expressions to come through on the computer generated version of themselves. This is seen as a major step forward in filming. In the picture below Sigourney Weaver is being filmed using a special 3D camera on the set of Avatar.
However the basic principles of filming are still the there, the camera angles, camera movements and the editing, but technology has evolved and let filmmakers do a lot of new things digitally and on computers, like making 3D Avatars of the actors in their film.
Click this link to see an evolution of filmmaking technology at Lucasfilm: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQilS9ag-wM
Click this link to see how technology has evolved over the past few years: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ILQrUrEWe8
How has technology changed the ways films are produced?Technology has totally changed the way in which films are produced and Avatar is a good example. In the end Avatar was 60% computer-generated elements and 40% live action - so my question is ‘was this a good thing or is computer generated effects taking over the art of filming?’ This is actually a question that I have some very strong views about.
Now Bilal, one of my group members is obsessed by using special effects in film making and can sit for hours experimenting with effects on his favourite piece of software Adobe After Effects. If it was totally up to him then I'm sure our whole opening would have been jam-packed with special effects. I myself like to create as much as I can physically when filming and be creative with the camera – if a film is shot really well then it could look 20 times better than a film loaded with special effects. So what are special effects doing to films that is so negative? Well it's letting filmmakers become lazy. Back when the film Jaws was being filmed Steven Spielberg re-popularised the 'dolly zoom' effect within the film, this I have previously mentioned on my blog. This was a very clever effect that was purely made just during the filming process, nothing more was added in post-production, this meaning that the film crew had to experiment and be clever to try and capture the camera effect. So nowadays filmmakers have become lazy because they have the option of just adding the effects in post-production and when filming just film the bear minimum, without being creative or inventive. So in other words without special effects filmmakers would have the encouragement to be more creative with the camera but due to the ease of adding effects in post-production they have become lazy.
Click this link to see the ‘dolly zoom’ effect used in Jaws: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rW23RsUTb2Y
Click this link to see a behind the scenes video about the making of Avatar using ‘performance capture’ technology: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2_vB7zx_SQ
How has technology changed the ways films are produced?Technology has also allowed virtually anyone to actually make a film. Due to the fact that there are really cheap ways to record digital film, this means more people can do so. People can record videos on phones and other media products and then quickly and easily edit them together on computer software. So in general making films can be done by anyone. Cross media convergence is the technical term that describes how single media platforms have been merged together to create media devices that are capable of several outputs. Even though most of these home-made films may not be up to scratch with a professionally made film, if amateur filmmakers use the technology and editing software they have carefully then they can make a really high quality piece.
This is exactly what my group did – make a low budget film using equipment and software we utilised to make our final product look professional.
How has technology changed the ways films are distributed?When it comes to distribution the developments in technology have allowed films to be advertised at specific audiences and in new ways that capture a massive audience. Distributors are always concerned with the promotion and marketing of their films. This is due to the fact that their are so many films being bought out that new methods need to be devised so that films reach and attract as bigger audience as possible. Due to technology, adverts and other marketing tools can be watched on media devices, allowing films to reach out to far more people than the more traditional ways of advertising ever could.
However there is a down side to all this. It's fine for those Hollywood blockbuster films that have loads of money to spend on advertising their film and getting it out there, but independent films which have a low budget find it hard to attract a large audience and can't compete with the larger film advertising campaigns. However Richard Ayoade's film Submarine, which was released in 2010, used technology and social media networking sites like Facebook to make their film known - this happened by the quick spreading of the film around the social website, almost like a 'trend'. This allowing them to get their film out there on a very low budget. So the developments in distribution caused by technology has it ups and downs, due to the fact that it allows blockbuster films to reach a huge target audience, but as a result leaves some films in the dark if they have a smaller budget and have to be really creative to think of new and unique ways to cheaply promote their film.
How has technology changed the ways films are exhibited?Technology has also added whole new levels to the exhibition of films. Films have become much more accessible to consumers. Consumers can now watch films on almost any media device. For example films can be downloaded to phones, iPad's, tablets and also be streamed or downloaded via online websites like Netflix and LoveFilm to a computer or television hard drive - this meaning that films are getting a larger audience and also making more money due to online downloads. Cross media convergence is the technical term that describes how multiple pieces of technology have come together to create single media platforms that have multiple outputs, for example a smart phone. However there is a downside to all this. Can you guess what it is? Well being able to simply download a film straight to your mobile phone totally takes away the fun of actually going to the cinema and watching the film in the atmosphere and surroundings that is the cinema. Well that’s my opinion anyway.
I could never just download a film and watch it on a computer or media device like a phone, it totally ruins it. For films like James Bond there’s no option, that’s a film franchise made for the cinema. When people said to me they watched Skyfall – the latest Bond film – online, I was like ‘what!!!’, that’s not the way to do it, you had to go to the cinema and see it – it was not just any old film, but an event!
How have you used digital technology in your production?In our final production my group used two major pieces of digital technology. One being a digital video camera which we used to film the shots and then save them to a SD card, and then being able to load them onto the iMac’s in school afterwards. This making the whole filming process much more quicker and easier than the traditional ways of filming.
The other piece of technology we used was Final Cut Pro X. A piece of video editing software. This piece of software helped us to first of all order our footage, then create our timeline of shots and add effects to our product. Below are two very contrasting pictures. On the left a piece of film negative is actually being cut with scissors, this being an old method to ‘crop’ and piece to together a scene in a film. Whereas the screengrab on the right, taken from when my group was editing together our film opening, clearly shows the bespoke piece of computer software that we used. Allowing us to easily ‘crop’ down footage and add it to our ‘timeline’. Also Final Cut Pro X allowed us to add special effects to our footage, something that would have proved a lot trickier and time consuming using more traditional methods.
What new technology have you now become familiar with?Well ever since I was really young I’ve always had an interest in film making. However when I was younger I didn’t have any thing as professional as the equipment and software I used recently with my group to create our film opening. I used to have a very bulky digital camera which I was able to film short sequences on. The memory card was very small and the quality of the shots were very poor. I used to record any pieces of music I wanted to add in with an mp3 player and then add all the elements together on Windows Movie Maker. Adding in the odd transition or effect here and there.
As time went on I started to acquire slightly better equipment. I had got a HD digital camera which I was able to film long sequences on and the quality was excellent. So within the space of a few years I had gone from bulky low pixel digital camera to slim HD digital camera. Plus the added bonus that the microphone on the new camera was high quality so it picked up sound really well. During ICT lessons I had got used to learning new film editing software, for example Adobe Fireworks. Outside of school I was still using Windows Movie Maker and to this day I still do, purely because it is really simple to use and gets the job done – but the question is, how does all of that fare against the new technology I used during the making of my group’s film opening.
What new technology have you now become familiar with?Well in some respects the new technology my group used to make our film opening blew my equipment and software out of the water, but in some ways it was just a bit of a posher version.
First I will talk about the equipment itself. To film my group’s opening we used a HD video camera. Now I rarely in the past had used a video camera like this before, purely because I was always happy with my digital camera. I found that the video camera was quite touch sensitive, one wrong button pressed and somehow something had been switched on or off. I don’t know if it was just the design of the video camera itself or me not being used to it but I felt as though I couldn’t really hold the camera in different ways because something would happen, like it would stop recording or be turned off. With my digital camera there are a minimum of about six buttons altogether, all on one side of the camera or situated on the top and to activate them you would need to press down with the force of actually wanting to press it whereas with the HD video camera buttons, especially the wheel shaped ones that you turn, one accidental nudge and the whole thing gets messed up.
However the one major thing that was very positive about the HD video camera was the digital LCD screen which could be twisted around. This allowing the video camera to be placed on the floor to achieve a really low angled shot and the cameraman being able to twist the screen and watch the shot from a kneeling position. This was something which I actually did while filming Iffat as the pizza delivery guy picking up the pizza order he had just dropped. Whereas if I was trying to achieve this shot with my digital camera then I would have to crouch down right to the floor to be able to look at the display screen which is built into the back of the camera.
What new technology have you now become familiar with?Now to edit our film opening we were required to use iMac’s which are computers that I have seldom used. The only time really having used them is in school. However I do ICT and I love computers so it was pretty easy to pickup all the keyboard shortcuts and helpful tips of using an iMac more effectively and quicker. The thing that actually stopped me the most from being able to use the iMac was the damn username that I could never remember until much later on in the project, luckily Gina was always was on hand to shed some light on the cryptic username.
Anyway, moving on. So the software. I had used Final Cut Pro before, a few years previously, but now Adobe had re-released Final Cut Pro as Final Cut Pro X, which was very different to its predecessor. As I had not used the software in quite a while and the layout had changed I had to get used to it, this I did fairly quickly. In fact the preliminary task really helped to solidify my familiarity with the software. As well as the fact that in our Classical Civilisation lesson we were asked to reenact a scene from a play and film and then edit it. In my group of five students I was the only one who knew how to use Final Cut Pro X – this was again another good bit of practice I got before actually editing together my groups final product.
So what was Final Cut Pro X like compared to Windows Movie Maker? Well in terms of cropping and sticking the pieces of film on a timeline it was virtually the same as Windows Move Maker, it just had the typical neat look of an Apple piece of software. The element of Final Cut Pro X that was majorly better than Windows Movie Maker was the effects, filters, sounds. There are very minimal transitions and effects on Windows Movie Maker all of which look really cheesy when attempted to be put into a real film, however the ones available on Final Cut Pro X are of a much higher quality and users can alter them more, for example, choose specific things about lets say the effect they are adding to a shot. For example when I added in an effect which made some of the footage in my group’s title sequence jolty, I was able to pick out exactly what angle and direction the jolt would come from and how long it would last, something which on Windows Movie Maker would just look cheap, cheesy and tacky because of the fact that it was already set and customised.
What have you learnt about new technologies?I’ve learnt a lot about new technologies over the past few months of making my groups thriller film opening. Although I have to admit I find it more appropriate to say that I became familiar with new technologies that I had seldom used before, as I already knew about the new technologies in general being used in films. So for me it was more about becoming familiar with these new things. I already knew that technology was of vast importance to film making (well actually more than vast – it is the key ingredient, as I’ve already mentioned).
Over the past few months I certainly feel as though I have become very familiar with these pieces of technology I was introduced to. Looking back now I think that Final Cut Pro X is certainly a really excellent piece of software to use in terms of editing shots and adding professional (but simple effects to our footage). Bilal, one other student in my group, is fascinated by Adobe After Effects, at times he seemed somewhat addicted to it and still does. During an interview we did as a group where we talked about the processes we went through in post-production Bilal made my head explode using After Effects – watch the video and you will see the exploding head scene – but the point I’m trying to make is that Final Cut Pro X may not be good for specific special effects, like those that are able to created on After Effects but is good for simple and quick editing and out of all honesty most of the time when we wanted to do something like add in an specific effect, we could utilise the ones that were already there, and for example change their shape or direction. So yes over the past few months I have definitely learnt a lot about using more professional software and how it can make editing so easy, seamless and to be honest (and because I love ICT) fun!
Would you go on to use the skills you have learnt about in the future?To be honest I’ve just added that question into this presentation for the pure entertainment and fun of me answering it. Now that I’ve spent a whole school year studying media and making my own film opening I feel that I know so much more about the behind-the-scenes-work that goes into films, so I am thankful for that, because for me it’s all really interesting. As I’ve already mentioned I have always had an interest in making films so now that I have a whole other level of experience with more professional software of course I am going to use and put into practice what I have learnt again. Ideas are already running through my mind of what I can do next. Maybe another short film opening over the summer holidays, who knows? But yes, I am really keen to make more films and become more advanced, professional and that famous word my art teachers always use ‘refined’.
I think for the time being I would stick with using my digital camera but use a much more advanced editing software than Windows Movie Maker and now that I have knowledge of all the different camera angles, techniques and well lets be honest a hell of a lot of stuff about general film making I can go on to make short films that are going to be something new and different. (Well let’s hope that’s what happens anyway!)
So to roundup, absolutely I will be wanting to film something, sometime soon using the new skills I have learnt and incorporating my new found knowledge in Final Cut Pro X and general film making processes. However one big difference that any future project I do myself will have is that there will be no limit on the time that the video is allowed to run for, if you remember correctly the groups in my class were only allowed to have a 2 minute opening, I think next time I’ll aim for something more longer and see if I can keep an audiences attention for more than five minutes, I think I’ll go from there and see how I do…