This film seems to echo some of the things i’ve been leaning towards when if comes to a video practice informed by a still-image aesthetic. Surprise, it’s shot by a photographer, and on a stills camera – 5d.
Portraiture, long, static shots, direct to camera interviews.
Ok, so after messing around with the second map embed test, i think i’m going to go the max video – map – max video – map – max video approach. As mentioned, it allows both interaction and a somewhat guided narrative. I thought about the max video – map – max video approach (that’s less one map and max video for those playing at home) but upon reviewing the footage again, i think i’ve got too much good footage of the fruit shop and max doing the deliveries to be crammed into 2 videos. So spacing it out between three might suit better. It might also be nice to return to max after we get a taste for the kind of places he visits throughout the day.
Which brings me to my next conundrum. how to divide up the videos of max? There is some distinction between the material covered, so perhaps they could be grouped according to theme – eg one about the job, one about the restaurants, one about the community. or something like that. But, i feel that the community theme in particular is present across a number of different parts of the film, and not just those with max. so maybe it won’t work to try to put it all into one, at least explicitly.
The other option i was considering, was to take a bit of documentary liberty and arrange the videos in a morning – afternoon – evening fashion, so making it appear as if it were all shot in one day – a day in the life of a fruit and veg delivery driver, for example. this could also be a nice way to frame the project as a whole. Plus, it would allow me to use the morning preparation and evening pack down sequences to their full effect.
Plus people might just believe that i somehow managed to organize and shoot 7 different short films in a single day. not too unbelievable?
I’ve shot quite a lot on HDSLRs. I loves ‘em. They are cheap, highly flexible, and generally produce a phenomenal image quality.
However, as many people will hasten to point out, they have a a number of drawbacks. Chiefly – they’re not really meant to shoot video, and hence they don’t have some of the things that videographers take for granted (at least in a grade of camera that produces a similar image quality – not in a grade at a similar price). One of the main hurdles is recording proper, useable audio.
They do have built in microphones, but these are tiny, tinny, and omni directional. They will probably pick up the sound of the operator as much as the sound of the subject, and will definitely capture the sound of the actual camera operation (focus/zoom movements, handling noises, stabilisation motors etc). So, if you’re wanting to record sync audio, it’s best to get an external set up. The very least that’s required is an external microphone. On the Canon 5D MkII, the standard for HDSLR video, this mic can plug straight into the camera. However, there is no headphones output, so you will not be able to monitor the recording, and as there’s little option for manual audio control (some firmware updates and third party plugins can facilitate this) recording audio onto the camera is somewhat a leap of faith.
So, below you can see my solution. It involves using a Sennheiser directional microphone plugged into a Zoom H2 portable recording device. I can monitor the audio directly from the Zoom, and have the inbuilt sound as a guide for syncing later (pluraleyes is a handy tool for this) and in case i need backup ambient tracks. I’ve built a little bracket to make life easy, and it works both on a tripod and hand held. It’s by no means the most complex 5D rig out there, but it does the job. Here ’tis:
First with tripod:
Then my hand-held version:
And the bracket that i made to make it all possible:
So, as i say, pretty simple. But it did the job.
I shot the first session with the tripod mounted on the camera, and carried them both around when i did moving shots. The tripod actually helped to stabilize the camera a little, but after a while i found it pretty tiring, and a little cumbersome. Using the hand held set up was much easier, and allowed me to dart around a little more easily. People also seemed slightly less distracted by the camera in that set-up too. Maybe they’d just gotten used to me by then.
Anyways, so was happy overall. Have been looking for an solution to the audio in/on camera thing for a while, and this setup seems to work quite nicely.
have whipped up a small sketch of how my doco layout might look, just using pre-existing videos i had.
Well, i seem to have struck the age old problem of interactive narrative media. If the viewer is in control of what they watch, and it what order they watch it, how can you tell a story? Despite the pitfalls and limitations of linear narratives, they do have one thing going for them. They can be crafted to tell a story exactly how the creator wants them to (very modernist of me, but you know what i mean).
So, as I had envisaged my project to consist of a number of films scattered around an interactive map, i face the problem such problems. Admittedly, it wouldn’t be such an issue if the story wasn’t revolving around my brother as he goes about his deliveries. If it just consisted of the various restaurant clips/interviews, then no, it wouldn’t really matter how they were viewed. But i’ve got all this great footage of max setting up the shop in the morning, readying the orders, scooting around all day, then closing up the shop, so it would make sense to present that at least in some kind of order.
I’d contemplated actually creating a path on google maps following max’s journey throughout the day, with each delivery marked off as point along this path. While this would would definitely bring some order and sequence back into the narrative, it’s almost too much. A line going across a map would perhaps dictate too mcuh, an discourage people from viewing it how they like.
So, i think the option that i’ll look further into is perhaps dictating some kind of direction through the order that the elements are arranged on the page. Now i don’t just mean within the map here, as that order is obviously determined geographically – what i was thinking was having a video of max, then as you scroll along, a map embed with a number of videos (that can be selected at will) then maybe another video of max. The order of viewing would therefore be suggested in the layout, and our familiarization with left to right, or top to bottom scrolling. The videos of max will kind of book-end the map area, and introduce a clear beginning, middle, end sort of structure.
Perhaps there could even be a line or something going through to guide the viewer from one element (ie stand-alone video or map) to the next. This would allow free user exploration within the maps, but keep a general order going throughout the project as a whole. I guess i could even split it into two maps, each with different videos, and add a third, ‘middle’ section shape it a bit more…
Ok, have put together a quick test to see how this google-map-video-embed-thing works. Creating customized maps is pretty straight forward, as you can just drag and drop markers onto any point, then add a description and choose a marker icon from the list. Luckily, there’s one that looks like a movie camera. Should come in handy.
When it comes to the video embed, things got a little more complicated. I have been messing round lately with some HTML5 programming for my honours project. The main reason i’m digging HTML is that it allows videos to be directly embedded into a website, without having to host it on an external server (eg youtube, vimeo et al.) Just like using an <img src=” “> tag to place an image, HTML5 allows you to add a video using <video src=” “>. Or something like that. Anyhoo, i’d hoped to be able to use the available HTML editor that’s enabled in the map marker description window to just run a video straight from my own server space. But alack, google being google, they don’t seem to like things that they don’t make/control. So every time i paste the video source code into the window, it disappears when switched to preview. As it turns out, the only video embed that google allow within their maps are videos directly from youtube. As they own youtube. As you know.
But, i must admit, the only reason i was really looking at HTML5 in this case was due to my vanity – i don’t like the look of the control window in youtube, and find their compression a bit nasty at best. Anyways, as youtube is probably a bit more friendly when it comes to the whole social media side of things, perhaps its best. this way, people can easily find the videos that i create on youtube and share them willy nilly. Very social.
Also, another issue that surfaced was the practicality of having videos within a map. After a few iterations, it turns out that it’s necessary to have the size of the embedded map significantly larger than the size of the embedded video. This is due to the fact that google automatically adds a sizable border in their map marker dialogue box, and space is required beyond that so the user can find space to click and drag the map to realign the video as they see fit. and close it when they’re done. So, my first trials were embedded into my blog, which restricted the map size to about 600px wide. this meant that i really couldn’t go above about 320px for the video width. Any bigger and things become a little less user friendly. As i’m thinking of embedding these on my page of my own making, hopefully we can get things to a little more aesthetically pleasing size. I generally find 640×360 is a passable 16:9 viewing size.
Might to a trial on a blank page to see how things go with that.
Here’s a test attempting to put video into a map, into a website/blog. It seems to only work on Firefox and not on Google Chrome. Which is strange considering Google also do google maps and youtube.
The vid is of my dad in his studio. It points to said studio.
Not sure if i missed something, but the concept of “identity” in this whole socially-networked-community-documentary seems to be something a little from left field. Not that it’s not relevant or interesting – on the contrary i wish we’d broached the topic sooner – but it’s just that i’m not sure how much of i’ve really been able to explore the topic in my filming to date.
In some ways, identity could almost be framed in contrast to notions of community. Explorations of ‘identity’ – although admittedly not synonymous with ‘individuality’ – do however evoke ideas about the personal self, self awareness, and the self as represented to the external. ‘Community’ seems more to deal with concepts of the interaction and practices within a related social group, perhaps to the point where the identity of the individual becomes secondary. Yet, perhaps a community can have a sense of ‘identity’ too – particularly in relation to other possible similar communities that may have specific and enforced distinctions. It is probable that these strong notions of identity within a group act to further define the said group as a community, distinct from others.
So, a few interested topics thrown around today’s class about what ‘identity’ is. Can we lose it? Change it? Is it anchored in any one key attribute or ideal, or can we have many attributes that we associate with ourselves, and can’t live without?
The influence of the internet upon the formation of identity was one thing that was brought up, particularly in reference to the article about web based christian movements. One thing i noted about this was that we are perhaps misguided when we assume that the online world provides us any possibility of transient and/or multiple identities. Especially with the rise of applications such as second life, and the rash of popular anonymous blogs, there’s a commonly held idea that an online identity is far more flexible than our ‘real world’ selves’. And, practically at least, this is true. Anyone can create a fake or exaggerated facebook profile or nom-de-plume, or eschew our earthly form/identity altogether in the online role playing universe. Such phenomena are common enough. Our age, gender, appearence, and history are all malleable at the click of a mouse.
But, it would seem to me that these practices would be far removed from our daily practices, and cannot in themselves constitute a separate or distinct ‘identity’ in themselves. Rather, i’d would argue that when it comes to form and defining an identity online, most people go to great lengths to create the most authentic, genuine, and ‘truthful’ representation of ourselves as we can. Just look at the myriad of unofficial guidelines for facebook use – lest someone misinterpret your exchanges and get a false sense of your ‘identity’ – of you. Personally, i know i’m very aware of what i post on facebook, and how i present myself through that medium – lest it give away a false or inaccurate impression of me. I’d say most people spend more time grooming the truest representation of their online identity than they do creating false or separate ones.
Perhaps this is because - with facebook especially - in some ways, our online identities are scrutinized to a far greater degree than our ‘real-life’ identities. I can say or do anything i like when i’m home alone, with little consequence, but any status update, posting, or tweet will be viewed by many who are expecting my behaviour to be in line with my behaviour on previous occasions. Far from governing our online identities for the sole purpose of not offending, say, any future employers, we are constantly maintaing and shaping our online identities so as not to draw undue scrutiny or criticism from our most feared critics – our friends, families ( and followers etc).
The durability of these online identities is another blow against the idea of the net providing any ‘identity’-free sanctuary. Whereas we’ve always enjoyed the idea of losing or changing our identity when we’re removed from our everyday context – in travel, a new job etc – are online identities inevitably leave traces of previous incarnations. A tweet can be searched no matter what country you’re passing through, a facebook photo viewed regardless of whether you’re with your workmates or your grandmother. Our online identities, arguably more than the ever changing identity formed by our behaviour in the present, are (relatively) static, long lasting, and ever present. They are beyond our control once we’ve hit the enter key. We are perhaps held more accountable by them than we are by our actions from moment to moment.
Not sure how all this fits into my doco, but found it all interesting nonetheless.
A component of our assessment the publication of our documentaries in a “social software environment”. initially, i had panned to meet this criteria via the publication of my project through tumblr.com.
Yet, as i’ve detailed in earlier blog posts, the content of that initial project plan did not come to fruition, and as a consequence i began to move away from tumblr.com as a publication medium. And to be honest, even though publishing my project through tumblr – or even facebook, blogger, wordpress or any other broad social media interface – did somehow seem to me to be a little arbitrary. Potentially at least. I mean, what’s the point of chopping up a series of videos and placing them on a tumblr, when editing them together in one linear sequence would be an easier means for an audience to engage with the story – and potentially even to tell the story in a more engaging way. While i’m well aware of the significance the rise of such platforms has upon the general media landscape, i don’t necessarily see how employing them can automatically aid a narrative or the presentation of information.
But, of course, that’s not to say we shouldn’t be using them. It’s just that i believe they should be used in a way that will augment a piece, rather than just give it the currently-fashionable ‘new media’, ‘trans-meda’, ‘multi-platform’ tag. All of the aforementioned platforms have their own unique attributes, and all have the ability to be used in a way that augments a story.
So, where does that leave me? well, i know i want to make a series of videos. But does placing these on vimeo, youtube, flickr, or facebook in itself aid a story? i’d so no. When looking at (at least what i hope) my finished products will look like, i’ve decided to try using a platform that will both tick the ‘social software’ box, and add to the experience of the narrative. I think the best way to do this is through google maps.
sure, it may not spring to mind as the most obvious choice of social media software. most of us probably just use it to plan our road trips. but, the more i’ve explored it, the greater the list of functions i’ve found. not only can users create their own customized maps, but they can embed into these maps their own text, audio, video, and still image content. HTML can be embedded, so various supported code can be implemented, and these finished maps themselves can be embedded with HTML embed codes into other applications. all this can be used to produce and distribute a wide and flexible selection of user generated content. This allows for the maps that i create to be shared among other platforms, and the locations to be added to by other people who wish to contribute.
And, perhaps only secondary to facebook, i believe google maps can be seen as the social software environment that can most embody the other point in our project’s triangle – community. I believe that by uploading my separate videos to youtube, then embedding these into google maps through markers linked to the actual location of the filmed subjects, i can make visible another dimension to the community that i’m exploring. Not only can we see how the community is related through the interviews with its members, we can also physically see how they related within the town.
For the viewer, it will also be possible to explore the different establishments in the way that replicates how they might if visiting the actual community of castlemaine- by exploring the map and then “visiting” the place that interests them, to see the video profile of the establishment. It will therefore enable viewers to set their own pace and direction as they explore the virtual community. It also means that they can choose to watch all the videos as the explore the maps, or they can choose just to watch one or two. As opposed to a linear style documentary that plays out in front of the viewer same time every time, this will allow a more active engagement by the viewer when experiencing and exploring the “community”.
I’ve been trying to work out what to do with the sheer volume of raw video content that i have ended up with. As i think i’ve mentioned, i ended up with over 80gb of footage, which comes close upon 5 hours of raw material.
having done both documentary and fiction/drama films before, i’ve come to realize that 5 hours of doco footage is a lot more intimidating than 5 hours of narrative. with fiction film, if something is wrong in a take, it’s generally a write off, and you can simply move unto the next shot during the edit. However, with doco, where the camera is rarely out to film a specific, predetermined event, but rather continually floating round hoping to catch a significant moment, no shot can be written off without watching the entire clip for any potentially usable material. this means watching absolutely everything that’s been captured, and trying to isolate any potentially useful snippet.
I’ve developed a bit of workflow to get this done (which i’ve also used on previous doco projects). Basically, all the footage is imported into final cut, but not brought into a sequence. then, i go through that footage using the Viewer window, and set I and O points for any snippet that is useable, and add this to a ‘compilation’ sequence. This is by no means editing. All i’m doing here is reducing the pool of material to include only footage that could potentially find a place in the doco. At this stage i’m not mindful of pacing or continuity, so i make no effort to trim shots. if all 6 minutes of a single shot is potentially useable, then it all goes into my compilation sequence. The main things that get excluded here are the inbetween moments- times when the camera is violently moving, or is trying to find focus. I also may cut out material or shots that i’m certain are already irrelevant or inappropriate to the final edit.
this process probably reduces the footage by about half, but is by no means taking an edited form. So far, i’ve managed to organise the footage into a number of useable compilations. They include one for each of the restaurants i visited, plus one for footage taken within the fruit shop, and one compilation of interviews with max driving. usually i would also divide the compilations between interviews and coverage, but as most of the restaurant footage is relatively short, i’ve just placed the coverage and the interview divided into the same sequences.
Still, some are still a bit intimidating. The compiled shop footage still runs at nearly 2 hours, so there is yet work to be done. The next step is to then use these compilations as the main source for the first rough cut, rather than having to keep going back to the original source files.
So, that’s where i’m at so far. still a lot of work to do, but i have managed to sift through all my footage and compile it into the best bits. the whole source footage > compilation in sequence > rough cut work flow is one i’d wholeheartedly recommend. Don’t know if its really ‘standard’ ractice, but it works for me.