Evaluation Question 6: What have you learnt about technologies from the process of constructing the product?
We have used technology in many ways to research, plan, create, post produce and receive audience feedback on our work.
When conducting research we used technologies such as the internet to learn about our chosen genre of thriller, and also learn more about directors such as Christopher Nolan who directed the Dark knight. As we were both already familiar with using the internet, we used the search engine Google due to its fast capabilities and managed to find the information we needed quickly however we did learn that the internet is home to a vast expanse of information which we needed to pick out carefully, using particular words to type in, in order to get a particular result. We used websites such as IMDB to help us find accurate information about certain actors or films that we wanted to research further. As the internet is so vast, it was important that we could find reliable websites such as IMDB to source our information form. We tried to avoid using Wikipedia for our research due to the fact it is an unreliable website and could contain some untruthful facts.
We initially used the DVD technology to research through a range of films in order to decide on a category of film in which we would explore further. Watching DVD’s such as Paranormal Activity, Titanic, Dirty Harry and Mr& Mrs Smith, all of which helped us define our chosen genre of drama thriller. Watching DVD’s did not only give us an idea of the genre itself, but also introduced us to certain camera angles such as over the shoulder shots which we noticed was vital in displaying a characters power over another one. We also gained some vital influences such as the costume and characterisation for the victims and the antagonist.
YouTube was a large technology we used in our research, planning and production processes. We used it to search for audio tracks in later research and planning, to help us decide on a sound track for our opening sequence. YouTube was very efficient in allowing us to access the sound tracks we wanted, such as ‘Reptile- Nine inch Nails’, as YouTube does supply us with a vast supply of clips to choose from. These computer technologies taught us that we needed to be patient, especially when downloading the soundtracks from YouTube, as it took time. After research we used the internet to search for another website which would allow us to simply copy the URL of a YouTube video and convert it to MP3 for us to download and incorporate into our opening sequence. This was a very useful technology as we could download tracks for free from the internet, and I have learnt that YouTube is a reliable website if I want to find specific audio tracks.
We also used YouTube to upload research videos such as our interviews with our target audience initial research as an accurate way of displaying our findings. To record our videos we used the technology of our mobile phones which proved convenient as we always had them with us, and they were easy to use and transfer the video files onto the PC computer too (but not the Mac Book because the files were not compatible).
We used YouTube and Vimeo to upload and display our own opening sequence, and videos of editing throughout the course. This enabled us to digitally share our work, thus enabling us to gain a wider audience feedback due to the fact we could share this link digitally via social networking sites like Facebook. Vimeo was better for uploading longer files due to the fact that YouTube limited us to 10 minutes.
In our planning stages, I and my group communicated via the use of the social network of Facebook. This allowed us to instantly communicate online via instant messaging. Here we discussed about our narrative ideology and we also arranged filming and editing dates. This was vital in our planning due to the fact it enabled us to keep up to date with each other and transfer ideas. We also let each other know if we had uploaded a new media video to YouTube by sharing the link over Facebook.
Also as part of our planning we researched some locations and took pictures of them using a digital camera technology, and also experimented using a simple digital camera to see how the lighting showed up. We experimented different angles to explore the effect lighting had on the characters and took images of them so that it was easier to analyse later. We noticed how simple it was to compare locations when we could easily see an image of each one. After deliberation through weighing out the pros and cons, we decided on three locations – in which the technology of a digital camera helped us do.
The initial camera we were given was a Panasonic, which after experimentation we realised had a faulty battery and was not of high quality and therefore we had to exchange it for my Samsung WB600. Whist filming we used a tripod to enable us to film a still image. This was a good technology that was also very simple to use and set up after some preparation. We saved the footage onto the cameras 8GB SD card which was a very good amount of space for us, as we only used a small section of that; however it was very good that we had a lot of space to work with so we were able to film multiple shots. We used our 5mp mobile phone camera to film some of the flashback footage, partly because we wanted a distorted look but also because our Samsung camera ran out of battery on one occasion. We found that cameras are versatile to work with and it is important to always be fully prepared. We recognised that it was vital we should have a fully charged camera battery on every filming occasion, however on one instant we accepted it was not possible to charge our HD camera and therefore had to improvise by using our mobile camera.
We learnt that technologies especially mobile cameras tend to have some difficult properties and compatibility issues, especially due to the fact that the file type of our footage after we had filmed was not recognised with our computer and therefore we had to get it converted which also stunted our development. We also found that the fact there are multiple file types caused a problem for us, as certain file types only work with certain software’s which can prove a problem in some cases, especially post production. As we were able to easily convert our footage using ‘any video converter’ allowing us to convert our files from the mobile’s 3GGP into MPEG-4, suitable for work with Final Cut Pro, we could move on with our post production process. After we had successfully converted our footage, we were able to view it and later realised that the quality of our mobile camera was very bad as it had pixelated some areas. We have learnt that although technology can be unreliable at times, there is always another type of technology that we can use to combat the negatives. For example, to fix the bad quality of the camera footage we used the ‘Gaussian Blur’ effect that we found through Final Cut Pro in the production process. This was a major help to us as it dramatically improved the quality and managed to conceal the pixelated affect, while adding a distorted surreal effect to enhance the memory like approach of the narrative.
We chose Final Cut Pro as our main editing software as is it renowned for its professionalism. Neither I nor Leanne knew how to work with Final Cut Pro before, so we had to teach ourselves everything. We used the internet and websites such as Apple and YouTube to help us with tutorials. After a few attempts we got used to using the software and we began exploring the different types of transitions – in which we discovered a few very handy techniques such as turning the brightness and contrast down to make the atmosphere look gloomy, and also using a ‘feather and crop’ effect to help also add to the tone and conform to our thriller genre. We found the ‘Intro flashes’ effects which conformed to our ideology enhancing the dramatic aspect further. We also edited the music by using Final Cut Pro to crop and merge the soundtracks into one another and added sound effects which we enhanced using the Final Cut affects such as ‘monster’ and ‘alien’. These worked to our success as they made the sounds create a more surreal atmosphere.
Adding titles was one of the final steps we took. We had previously filmed the initials of the people who were involved using fake blood, and then we imported them into Final Cut Pro. We found these shots did not meet our standard and therefore we added titles and transitions into the piece by overlaying them and adding a ‘dissolve’ transition in final cut pro. We recognised that this type of font is far more professional and therefore works to create a successful approach. We learnt that Final Cut Pro is a simple but effective software to use for editing film and we would like to use it again in the future.
To gain audience feedback we used software such as Microsoft Word to produce questionnaires and hand them out to people. Microsoft Word was a very simple and easy software to use to produce a range of questionnaires and it helped further due to the fact we were already familiar with using it. To analyse feedback we used Microsoft Excel in order to create pie charts and bar graphs to put in the data from the questionnaires, and interpret it into useful information for us. Microsoft Excel was simple to use and enabled us to present our findings in a professional manner.
Overall I believe we used a range of technology in the processes of research, planning, production and feedback. I have learn multiple skills such as how to work with this new editing software of Final Cut Pro and a range of its capabilities, of which is a far more advanced software than Windows Movie Maker that we used in our preliminary task.