Reflect and Write
Reflection was something that I was encouraged to do from an early age. Reflect upon my work, nature, life, beliefs, feelings and most importantly, upon myself as a whole. I have often expressed those things through drawings, videos or music. But writing it down and expressing it is something I have never tried.
Reading this article, ‘writing reflectively’, however gave me a rather interesting insight to that practice. One of the points that was new to me was pertaining to questioning and challenging familiar situations. When any situation is new for us, we challenge it more since we do not have any prior background on how to react to the same. We question that situation with an open mind. But that is not the case with familiar situations as we generate default reactions for the same. The idea of thinking and framing of the situation in present tense makes it easier to depict and question it since you tend to imagine the same situation again but with a different mindset. Also, narrating the situation to a third person while getting their view on the same, which may be in the form of questions, remarks or comments would really help in getting a different perspective.
Another thing I found interesting was the concept of not getting stuck to small things but taking the wider view in picture. Though I have heard of this concept before, putting it in action always poses to be a problem since I end up getting stuck on the minute details. With the bigger picture in mind, we can see the flow of an event. Defining a period for a particular event would help in a macro level magnification.
Goals and Desires
When I applied for the Masters program at RMIT, Sound and Image was one of the courses I was really looking forward to. That was because it is about the things I am most passionate about when it comes to filmmaking: Cameras, Videos, Sound and Editing. Not having any formal training in the field before, I was very excited to get started with this course.
The goal is simple and has been the same since the start; be the best version of myself and produce the best work possible. What this course allows me to do, is take one step closer towards it.
Through this course I am hoping to brush up my editing skills so that I can use that skill professionally. Even though I have worked on several short films, there are always doubts and questions which pop up that can’t be answered through the web. Getting through those questions and doubts and polishing my style of editing by learning new tricks and methods is something I want to achieve.
Shooting is another thing that I enjoy doing. But it has always been restricted to a DSLR. Expanding my knowledge to deal with and use new cameras has always been on my agenda. And what better way to do it than this. I already enjoy working with the Sony X200. It’s challenging and very different from how a DSLR works. This challenge and difficulty helps in the growth process.
Sound was something I had rarely worked with. During this course, even though we have just started, a lot of doubts have been cleared regarding this matter. But there is a lot more to learn, and sound being one of the most integral part of the process, I want to learn as much as I can about it through this course.
There are always a huge number of people working together to make a film. One thing is for certain; every individual’s job is important and the whole thing depends on team work. I have worked with a team on several short films before and the number of team members required is always significantly lesser as compared to that of a feature film.
After reading the article on Crew Roles and Developing a Crew, I came across a lot of new things. The crew members under Set Operations was something I found rather interesting. The reason I say this is because it’s not something I have come across before. They are the people who usually get overlooked but are extremely important. While working on short films, we never had a Set Operation crew; and as a result, I realise how many things got overlooked which resulted in issues and disruptions during the shoot.
Another position I really liked was that of the Documentary Videographer. It is something I would enjoy doing. Filming set operations with the crew to show what goes on behind the scenes is something not everyone gets to see but is extremely valuable. If given the chance, I would love to carry out the responsibilities of a Documentary Videographer.
Having said that, the role of the Cinematographer is what I am the most interested in. Portraying the vision of the writer and director on film is something that I always found fascinating. Working as the director and editor is also something that majorly excites me. The reason for that is, I believe that the entire movie comes together finally because of the calls made by the director, and how the editor edits the film.
Keyboard shortcuts in Premiere Pro are things that make life a lot easier for anybody using the software. I have been using the software for more than a year now and yet there is no end to things you can discover to help you get through your work quicker.
The usual shortcuts I am familiar with are: Cut, copy, paste, render, export, changing of the pointer, etc. One new thing which I learnt was how to use the Window space in the software. For example, (Shift+5) is used to access Effects Control for the clip; (Shift+7) is used to access the different types of effects that can be used; (Shift+6) is used to access Audio Track Mixer. I had used these functions before, but being able to use the shortcuts makes things easier and faster. Another very useful shortcut I learnt was (Cntrl+~) which helps us gain fullscreen access to the footage we edit in the software if there isn’t a second screen.
There is no end to the number of shortcuts for this software, and I am hoping I get to learn as many of them as I can to help me with my work.
Screenshot from Taxi Driver (Travis)
Looking at the scene from “Taxi Driver”, it has been done in a very clean and subtle manner. Travis (Robert DeNiro) walks upto the campaign worker Betsy (Cybill Shepherd) and asks her out for “coffee and pie”.
The cuts are simple and easy, following the continuity of the series of actions from the taxi till Betsy’s desk. The camera angles taken during the conversation are very well used. It looks seamless; but they have used a lot of different angles and camera movements in that short span of time (from Close ups to Long Shots coupled with tracking). The cuts between the two characters during the conversation are very fluid and jells well with the tone of the conversation. Whenever there is a moment of doubt, the shots go on for longer duration adding to the slight suspense of what the response would be like; and when Travis is being assertive and confident, the cuts are comparatively quicker. There are some shots where the continuity of action don’t match, but they can be overlooked.
Screenshot from Taxi Driver
The performances are no doubt fabulous. It doesn’t feel like they are acting at any point. The dialogues are written and delivered in such a fashion that they seem very real and in the moment. For example, Travis speaks very fluently and confidently the moment he enters and puts forth his point. But where there are moments of uncertainty, he stammers slightly and repeats a few things here and there. It feels very natural and real. In this clip, you can also see that Betsy is the person in control of the situation as she is the one who gets to make the call whether they will go out for coffee or not. And the moment Travis comes up with a smart answer, the balance shifts.
The sound is done really well too. There is no music throughout the conversation, and it fits well with the dialogues and just the foley around it. The moment the conversation is done, and Travis is waiting outside, the music kicks in, which I think was very apt for the situation. The production design was spot on. It looked like a campaign office and everything seemed to be in the right place. Nothing looked out of order and it wasn’t over done or underdone. The actions of the people in the background added to the authenticity.
Screenshot from Taxi Driver (Betsy)
Even from a short scene like this, there is a lot that can be learnt from it and used in things we work on to make it look more professional.