Audio & Video Design

Audio & Video Design Module 6: Telling a Story I

Intro:

Over the course of these two weeks, I will be filming a mini-documentary as the final project for my Audio & Video course. The subject of my piece will focus on the eventual return to office work from pandemic work from home and will center around several interviews.

Reading:

Chapter 7 of The Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Audio discusses lighting a scene. As this is the BARE BONES course, the book discusses the basic set up to properly light a scene both outside and inside.

To light outside, the best sunlight is morning and afternoon when the sun is at a 45 degree angle or below from your subject. This will cast a nice light at the side of the face that can then be filled by a reflector or a fill light on the opposite side. Filming outdoors at midday when the sun is directly over head will cause extra shadows on the face that will need to be lit with additional lighting. This should be avoided when possible.

To light outside, you will need to use 2, 3, or 4 point lighting, depending on your surroundings. Two-point lighting uses a hard key light on one side of the subject and a softer fill light on the opposite side. Three-point lighting adds a backlight behind the subject to separate them from the background and add depth to the shot. Four-point lighting is directed at the background behind the subject to add extra depth to the shot.

Chapter nine focuses on putting together everything we’ve learned so far and getting the actual shots. This is a brief chapter that includes a few helpful tips. One especially helpful tip is knowing before you get there what shots you want to get and then being ok with shooting your scenes out of order. If you know beforehand that you want some scenes shot from a wide angle, and some from a close-up, you can shoot all of your wide shots at the same time and then move on to your close up shots. Doing this will necessitate only one change of camera angle, lighting, microphone placement, etc. Having a detailed log and slating these scenes will help you put them all back in order when editing.

The other very important piece of advice from chapter nine is to communicate clearly with everyone you’ll be working with. If everyone is on the same page about what is going to happen before-hand, it will lead to a more smooth and enjoyable filming experience. If the entire crew is in agreement with your plan before you set out, you will have an easier time leading the shoot and getting the shots you want.

Research:

This mini-documentary combined beautiful b-roll, interviews with the film-makers, gorgeous nature footage, and narration into a lovely package talking about an animal that I didn’t know existed – the coastal wolf. This film is unique because it is told from the point-of-view of the film-makers instead of being only about the animal they are filming. They talk about what it’s like to be a natural photographer while also educating the viewer about the area and the wildlife they’re recording. A healthy dose of conservationist messaging is mixed in for good measure without being preachy.

I liked this mini-doc about street artist Keith Haring. Since Haring passed away in the late ’80s, this documentary was fully b-roll and narration. The editor opted to use very jumpy edits throughout, but it fit the NYC in the ’70s and ’80s artistic feel of the content and made the still photos feel more dynamic.

This documentary will serve as my pretty great but not quite. The b-roll footage is interesting with beautiful colors in the setting sun. The music is also peaceful and neutral and at good levels for the audio. My biggest frustration comes at about mintute 2.5 in some jumpy cuts during head-on interview clips. I found them to be very jarring and, given that so much of the video is audio over b-roll, I don’t understand why they didn’t just use a cutaway or a L/J cut. The blip in action was very noticeable to me, and it happened a few more times during that sequence. I also found the content to go on a bit too long. I lost interest at about minute 5.5.

Create

Below you can find my pre-planning document for my mini-documentary with the working title of “Going Back: A Return to the Office Post-Pandemic”

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