Digital technology has become such a significant part of film-making in recent years due to its advancements making the process, faster, easier and more accessible. Studying Media Studies at A-Level combined with my own productions within the art form have developed my skills concerning digital technology to give me a better understanding over my creative and practical decisions.
Developing my skills with the Canon 600D DSLR camera is something that had a huge creative impact upon my work over time. Equipped with the right SD card, my camera could hold hours of footage and in comparison to the Panasonic camcorder I previously had worked with, my Canon 600D was far better in the process of film-making. This digital technology gave me the opportunity to record so much more with a similarly sized device, which was extremely beneficial. This uncompromised size still allowed me move around with ease whilst shooting to get moving shots such as the exterior wide crab shot of the garage, whilst giving me the freedom to shoot a multitude of footage. This ability meant I could shoot without the worry of running out of digital space as well as being able to bring a lot of footage into the editing program to play with. In Apple’s Final Cut Pro, I could make a lot more creative and practical choices in regards to what I put together on screen since I had more to play with; video and audio wise.
As well as shooting at a higher quality, DSLR cameras offer a lot more control over what they record that other cameras. I had just got my Canon 600D as I began AS Media and so I had little knowledge of how to use it other than the basics. In order to familiarise myself with this new equipment our group organised to shoot a test film and, upon retrospect, this was a great idea and really worked to advance my skills. The short film allowed me to experiment with lenses and to test out different effects for our final AS film that was to come. The production helped me identify how particular lenses looked and when certain lenses should be used however, I wish I had done more research prior to the shoot so I had more ideas of what to play with when filming the test film. For example, using a wide lens, I learned, isn’t suited to shoot a close-up since it deforms the subject’s face in a way that may not be desirable. In a close up for The Promise, our actor’s face needed to appear naturally for the audience and so we used Canon’s 50mm lens. Having this knowledge has increased my creativity since while we’re shooting I know in my head what lens to go for rather than experimenting during the shoot. This saves a lot of time and gives us more time to shoot footage and at a higher quality.
Our group had planned a scene at night for our film opening and so I took the time out to research how to set up my camera for these lighting conditions. This had a huge impact on my work as a film-maker and also a photographer. I wanted to make sure my footage was easily to see and to a style that looked appealing, despite the low lighting conditions and I tackled this through my own experimentation and research through the internet and various books. I quickly learned elements such as ISO, aperture and shutter speed. During the night scene I discussed I set the camera’s aperture so it was as wide as it goes in order to get the most light into the camera as possible; creating brighter, better footage. Similarly I set the ISO to around 800-1600 in order to further add light to what the camera captures. Not only had I learned what works and what doesn’t, I had learned why I get certain effect if I set the camera a certain way. In this way, my developed skills helped me creatively and did this by allowing me to capture a scene’s light in the way I desired. I had much more control over the look of what I filmed. Although it took time to get to grips with camera manipulation it certainly aided me for my A2 project, Screen Three.
Editing is something I’ve enjoyed doing for years and is a skilled area which I feel I’ve developed in. I usually edited on the Sony Vegas editing program however, A-Level introduced me to Apple’s Final Cut Express. I was comfortable with cutting but sound design was often a poor area of my work. By taking my time to learn how to correctly and effectively work on the soundtrack on a film through my teachers, the internet and my own experimentation I feel as though I got a result that is remarkably better than a product I would have made without my studies into editing. For Screen Three I learned how to apply effects to sound and how to manipulate them to how I wanted. For example, in order to suggest the voices are going on in my protagonist’s head, I added a significant echo to their audio which I think really sold the effect. I also learned how to keyframe the audio’s volume which meant I had full control over how loud a certain sound was and when. For example, the film is set in a cinema where a movie is playing during the scene. In order to hear the dialogue of the characters on screen, I had to turn down the volume of the film so audiences can hear what they’re saying. I also increased the volume of the cinema’s movie when the climax unravels in order to increase the sense of chaos at hand. Reading “In The Blink of An Eye” by Walter Murch truly made me see editing in a different way. Murch’s explanation of the “Rule Of Six” and his ideas highlighted the various thought processes that need to occur into a single cut and so I feel as though this developed my skills. Upon reflection, I wished I had applied Murch’s advice during the planning and filming stages of Screen Three however, my editing improved vastly as a result of my research.
When critiquing my own work, I often pick up on sound being a downfall of my films. Thanks to the school arming me with the right equipment at A2 I was capable to improve this area and get good quality sound throughout a production. However, I haven’t said I was able to do so. The guidance of my teachers and tutorials online allowed me to use the Zoom H1 Portable Digital Recorder effectively and with the use of a boom pole and additional microphone. I had learned how to tackle sound perspective, noise, wind however, during filming on Screen Three we had forgotten about headphones which led to the audio being distorted in places. Despite this disaster, it worked to teach me how to prepare sound recording in the future. When I recorded the sound of a car engine roaring for the last scene of our film, I made sure to bring headphones that would tell me what I’m hearing and play back anything I had recorded so I could check it was clean and correct. Thanks to these experiences I feel fully prepared to get high quality sound for my films; something I didn’t feel when i began Media Studies.