CONSTRUCTION OF A MAGAZINE REVIEW

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As part of my research into similar media products concerning magazine film reviews, I thoroughly analysed the medium which can be seen in this blog here however, this was very much an individual exercise to expand my knowledge. In order for Jannath, my teammate, and I to learn more about film reviews, we found a vast range of examples to look at together. You can see us doing this above.

After understanding the conventional composition of the reviews, we put together a draft featuring two photos and a layout that drew inspiration from the products we studied. The video below illustrates parts of my construction process of Adobe’s PhotoShop and shows a number of problems I had to overcome to get the high quality review I wanted. You’ll see how I tackled getting the right font and how I correctly arranged the different elements in the piece.

After many attempts towards this layout, I found that it wasn’t what I wanted. It didn’t quite capture the mood or tone of my film, Screen Three, which film reviews tend to do. I thoroughly experimented and continued to contact Jannath through Facebook to discuss the successes and failures of the piece. Facebook works as an effective and accessible way to send images and receive response and you can see below. During the editing processes when I wasn’t with Jannath I could easily update her with what I had in mind and we could evaluate together to get the best result possible.

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Below is a video showing the composition of our film review. The clip reveals every element that we pieced together to create our review such as the images, the different layers of text and the shapes involved.

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TIME MANAGEMENT

Managing time is vital in filmmaking. Setting yourself and your team an appropriate time scale to do things is something to take much care in. In making Screen Three, I kept this mind and continued to organised my time strategically and so the production process would go with any problems. peter emailLets begin with our first scene. Emailing was key in communicating between myself and Red Lion Theatre which was the location for our shoot. I first contacted Peter Glanfield, an actor at the theatre, who gave me plenty of advice about when to propose a day to shoot. This worked to my advantage in that I could more easily organise with the Chairman, Shirley Moffat. shirley email2 After a series of emails with her I was able to secure not only a date and time, but also an allotted time for when our people could be in the theatre. Because I was weary of problems for the shoot, I asked for an hour more than what I thought I might need to ensure we’d get the film done and the quality of our work wasn’t reduced because of any pressures concerning time. Also, I knew it would take a while to clear up the popcorn and pack away all the equipment (cameras, tripods, lights, projectors etc) and so having this spare time really helped. actors date Whilst all this was being organised, I simultaneously organised with my actors to ensure everyone could make it. I contacted all my actors in a group chat using Facebook to make for a more efficient process. scene 2 scene 2 2 With the second scene which we intended to be shot in our school’s car park, I contacted the Deputy Head Master and after a series of emails, we managed to come to a date that worked for everyone and didn’t interfere with any of the events going on at school. I also arranged this with the school’s caretaker who allowed me to have power whilst on the shoot. Time really wasn’t an issue for our film after it was organised. Taking care in carefully managing time in pre-production can really boost the quality of a piece since it isn’t undermined by time issues. It’s something easy to organise and if you want your film to be successful, time must be addressed right.

ANALYSING MAGAZINE FILM REVIEWS: PRESENTATION

The purpose of a film review in a magazine is to objectively analyse the subject matter and give readers a fair judgement and assessment for them to learn from however, these reviews can be presented in a number of ways.

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Above is one I analysed of Bruce Hunt’s “The Cave”. It’s a double page spread, which is what our review is intended to be, and has a variety of elements that define it as a magazine’s review which are highlighted above. Along with the critical body of the review, many things are added in to visually aid the viewer and to catch their attention such as the large image on the right and the star rating system.

a-serious-man-annotatedIf you look at this analysis, many of the things highlighted in the review of “The Cave” are also featured in this review of “A Serious Man”. There’s a formula to these texts that needs to be added into my own work.

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Above you’ll find two magazine reviews from the same magazine. The differences are the film and the time of publication. Whilst the “Pirates of the Caribbean” text was published in 2007, the Spidey-flick appeared three years earlier in 2004. Total Film has definitely changed its style and appearance but my point is, the content of the reviews haven’t differed significantly. The red lines illustrate the similarities between the two pieces despite their contrasting appearances. This goes to show the formula involved in film reviews.

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Twilight layout 2It might be interesting to note from these reviews featuring pieces from the “Twilight” saga that the reviewing magazine has a lot of control over the appearance of the film. The two films being discussed are visually similar in style however, they are presented very differently by Empire Magazine and First Magazine. You can see this contrast above. While the review must emulate the style of the film this goes to show it can be manipulative.

“WAS ALL THIS LEGAL?!”

In order to create the cinema scene, Jannath and I had the right location, props such as popcorn and popcorn boxes, and the right lighting thanks to a projector. But there’s something missing from this that would sell the scene – sound. A film is supposed to be shown right in front of Peter’s eyes. Recording the audio from the movie on set along with the dialogue would just be impractical, lack quality and undoubtedly ruin continuity. In the editing process it would be a nightmare.

Film poster for Night of the Living Dead.

Film poster for Night of the Living Dead.

However, I realised the best way to execute shooting the scene would be adding the film soundtrack later on Final Cut Pro. I could have used a soundtrack from my past films or possibly shot an entirely new audio track to place over but in my research I found an opening I could not refuse. George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead served to create the old-fashioned atmosphere I wanted for the cinema which would be violently interrupted by and contrast with the youths.

But was this legal? In a short answer: yes. The 1968 film, and its soundtrack, has entered the public domain due to an “error by the distributor”. When the film was released, US copyright law required copyright ownership to be displayed on the actual print of a film (e.g. in the credits). Early prints of Night of the Living Dead had the title Night of the Flesh Eaters, under which was the copyright information. When the title was changed for theatrical release, the distributors apparently failed to include the copyright information – leaving the film uncopyrighted and in the public domain. So it was that the distributors received all the profit from the film, and Romero never made a penny from it. This also explains why there are so many different VHS and DVD recordings (mostly of poor quality) available today. Anyone is allowed to make and distribute a copy.

This all means I am free to use the film as I please and even add it into my own movie, which is exactly what I’ve done in Screen Three. Anyone interested in watching the film, click the link below – it’s legal!

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EDITING

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Editing was a process Jannath and I collaborated on. Above you’ll see the finished edit consisting of a number of video files cut together, audio files and text.

In order to get a further understanding of the editing process, I read Walter Murch’s “In The Blink Of An Eye” which is truly a goldmine for editors. It explains the reasoning behind every cut which you should consider and offers a in-depth analysis of the editing process.

In The Blink Of An Eye

Below is the basic composition of what my timeline appeared like throughout post-production. The blue file is my footage; the visual file recorded by my Canon 600D which I’ve imported. Below that you’ll find a piece of media that is green. This is audio, and in this case, this is audio that was recorded externally using a RODE microphone and a Zoom H1 digital recorder. What’s left is the other audio that plays over the entire first scene; The Night of the Living Dead soundtrack. This is present in the timeline in order to tell the audience a movie is being played and adds digetic sounds into the scene.

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Due to the hand-held look I was going for in this moment of despair for Peter, I managed to feature one of our film-making lights into the frame which completely ruins the magic of the piece by revealing this equipment. Someone might assume this footage is unusable but that someone would be wrong! By keyframing the video files movement in relation to canvas we have to work with in Final Cut Pro, I could successfully zoomed in the footage and move it up over time which carefully and successfully hid the light. With the help of the letterboxing this was also accomplished.

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Making cuts is easy with Final Cut Pro. One can either change from the arrow manually to the Blade tool or simply press “B” to begin cutting. All that needs to be done once this tool is selected is to find the right point and click!

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In order to make audio appear smoothly and naturally, often I used a fade for my audio files so either the sound begins silent and becomes louder, or it is loud and gradually becomes silent. You can see my using it below.

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PUTTING A FIRST EDIT TOGETHER

In order to begin our film poster, Jannath and I needed a clear understanding on the purpose of the media and how it was constructed. We did this by looking at a range of film posters from all sorts of pieces, but especially from those belonging to the drama genre.

Whilst both being dramas, He Got Game (Spike Lee, 1998) and The Sixth Sense (M. Night Shyamalan, 1999) are two very different films and their posters illustrate this.

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We had the photo we wanted to use so our next move was to open it within PhotoShop and begin editing. By studying the content and composition of various posters of films, particularly those from the drama genre, I had the knowledge of how to put together this poster and PhotoShop allowed me to put it together. Using the website, Facebook, Jannath and I could easily share our feelings towards elements of our poster at different stages. We were able to discuss what worked and what didn’t work, and you can see this below.

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I sent her screenshots of the two images below. This provided her with a visual presentation of what I had been working on and together we could come to a conclusion on an issue. In this case, we were discussing where the time should go; above or below the central image.

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22 layersAbove is the image I manipulated as the main element of my poster. By adding adjustments such as “Contrast” and “Levels” and masking on PhotoShop, I was able to make a much more stylistic image that was true to the tone of the film. It also made a more appealing photo that more easily fitted into the poster’s black background. To the left here is the alternative layers that worked together to create the final piece. Images in PhotoShop are composed from a series of layers such as smaller images, shapes and text and layers. If a layer is above another layer in the layers window, such as “Layer 14” is to “Layer 13”, it will appear above it in the workspace. Many layers were pieced together to make the final piece below.

The majority of the layers in my poster were text which consisted of different fonts set out differently; having alternative spacing and sizes. Manipulating the settings of the text was vital in getting the right look, rather than sticking to the default settings.

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COMBINING POSTERS AND ILLUSTRATIONS


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In order to experiment with poster ideas, I used Jannath’s artistic talents to replicate the work we researched together concerning illustrate film poster. Above is an early draft Jannath put together using a still from our film.

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Above and to the left are examples of illustrated film posters from the Star Wars series. These have remained some of the finest and most famous examples of this technique of construction. The painted faces create an appealing look that Jannath and I wanted to replicate. In the video below, you can see the process I undertook in PhotoShop in order to enhance the image and match it to the style of Screen Three.

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Despite the success of the image above, Jannath wanted something more detailed and so she independently pursued a painting that would be used for the poster piece. This technique of creating images is far better than the pencil drawing since it offers a much nicer, authentic look.

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I made a number of alternations on PhotoShop to the high quality image I captured with my Canon 600D camera. Examples of these stage can be seen above such as adding darkness to areas of the photo, and adding text to create the poster. Our final piece can be seen below.poster 2 edit