FINAL THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS ON ICM508DE
Final Thoughts and Reflections on the Course
This course has ruined me for life! I am thinking about seeking legal counsel. Everything I see now is filtered through some prism where I am measuring rule of thirds. I see invisible lines. I can’t walk through the city without holding my thumbs up and framing a shot. I just ordered 10 black berets from Amazon and a bull horn. When I eat dinner with my family, they look up at me because I am in a tall canvas back chair with the word “director” stenciled on the back. All corniness aside, the course was challenging in terms of tight deadlines, but very rewarding and although I will probably not be moving to Hollywood, it has opened a whole new dimension of communications and media to explore further.
Tom Schroeppel drops some pearls of wisdom in his last chapter. He provides advice that is not just applicable to film and video but to any of our creative and career endeavors. Stay open to feedback. “Every criticism, no matter how ridiculous it may seem, can tell you something about your work” or at least how it is being received. The audience is a large part of the process, without it… creating videos is not storytelling, not a service, not communication….it is just an extension of ego. Try to maintain a state of continuous improvement. Analyze your work and understand its strengths and weaknesses. “Professionalism is based on the ability to repeat your successes and avoid repeating failures.”
Here are some questions that my professor Kent Golden at Quinnipiac University asked in order to verify that I was truly damaged after the last few weeks of shock AV treatments:
Where did your skill set start and where are you now?
When I started this course, I had created a few motion graphics and animations for projects. These were usually used on displays and websites and were just for graphic effect. I had little audio experience. Now I am telling full stories. I am developing the plan, writing scripts, working on production, lighting, recording, setting up shots, choosing cuts, editing and posting a completed stand alone project. In addition, the readings and theory portion of the course provided a foundation to perform critical analysis of film and video. Now, I can’t watch any entertainment without noticing DOF, the use of sync sound or voice overs, the choices the director made to present the story or idea. When it is done right, I truly appreciate it, because I am aware of the difficulty of making great films.
What was the most useful thing that you learned?
The pre-planning process may not be the most exciting part of a project, but it is the most critical if you are short on time and resources. I realized that I had more resources that I thought, and more support and friends among my coworkers and peers than I imagined. It was amazing to see so many people just step up and help on short notice just by asking and sharing a plan. How they got into it and excited when the first glimpses of the assignments emerged. Film is extremely collaborative and creating good work requires good people skills, a little luck, a little hustle, a little manipulation, trust, a lot of patience, discipline and a dash of creativity and you might actually get something done. Working on these assignments has done something I don’t usually get in IT, the actual feeling that I started to like people more. Sometimes the exercises just faded into the background and the moments with people became more important: Learning about a man’s life for a podcast, laughing with an engineer about a ghost story, choosing a song with my kids for a PBJ sandwich, then eating it with them!
What was the most difficult aspect?
Time. If I have learned anything in the AV and animation courses at QU is that you would be surprised at what can be accomplished in a week if you put your mind to it. Learning the ropes in terms of software, hardware and technique in short intense periods can be stressful and frustrating when the results are not what I envisioned. Working remotely without the resources and support network of a campus can have its own set of challenges as well. Sometimes things fail miserably despite your best effort, other times, unexpected magic happens on b roll footage or in an interview and it feels like fate.
Is there anything you’d like to learn more about?
For the assignments, I captured mostly on a consumer level camcorder, iphone and OSMO handheld mobile device camera. These offered limited options in terms of aperture/exposure, speed and depth of field. Now that I know the basics, I would like to work with a higher end camera and see if I can improve the quality of my captures. I want to work with a camera that has optical zoom instead of just a digital option. Knowing what your camera can do is half the battle. I would also like to experiment with drones and get some aerial footage. Sound is another area I want to improve, including using boom mics more to record live action when lav mics will not work. Getting familiar and understanding the strengths and limitations of your tools allow for creativity.
How might you use what you learned in the future?
Film, broadcast are powerful mediums. If you want to communicate complex ideas or information in a short and effective way, mastering these skill sets are key. Especially now, that smart devices, broadband internet, universal AV file formats and advances in compression have fueled the rise of streaming, online audiences and video display advertising. I have to admit, that whenever I need to learn anything my usual first stop is You Tube. My own children prefer to spend hours watching “shorts” than one long form film (heavens forbid actually reading something) and even games have “cut scenes” with increasing Hollywood like sophistication.
At this time, I aspire to become a Digital Communications Director or similar, in that role I will most likely use this knowledge to infuse video storytelling into campaigns, plan projects and oversee contractors and vendors who would be providing film and video services. I may even be able to develop an in house film program. In my current position, I am already using my new skill set to restore video introductions and highlight interesting stories from within the organization. Like many other technical facets of media production, it may take a month to learn, but a lifetime to master, and I really enjoy creating short films and will continue this journey in improving my craftsmanship.
So there you have it. I am a total wreck now and I will never be the same again. Thanks, I appreciate it.
J cuts & L Cuts – Sound Transitions
My last few examples, I will post for this class deal with the use of sound. J cuts and L cuts are basically preceding and trailing sounds from cuts. The first example explains this technique in depth. For a full break down of the creative uses of sounds in your transitions, storytelling and editing sequences, check out this video by SFX secrets:
SFX Secrets: The J Cut & The L Cut.
Fandor. (2018, February 08). SFX Secrets: The J Cut & The L Cut.
The L Cut – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Roll call
On the Roll call, the teachers voice is still heard calling “Bueller’s” name as we see the establishing shot of the next scene. It creates a sense of distance and feeling of droning as we realize Ferris is missing and has taken the day off.
The J Cut – Fight Club “You Must Fight…”
Movieclips. (2015, June 22). Fight Club (2/5) Movie CLIP – The First Rule of Fight Club (1999) HD. Youtube. Retrieved from
Tyler Derden breaks down the rules of fight club. As he does so, there are four layers of audio in the scene: 1. Ed Norton’s narration. 2. Brad Pitt’s voice in scene, 3. Foley Sounds (Gum popping etc.). When Tyler says, “If this is your first night at fight club, the sounds of the crowd jeering and brawling commences before the visual.
The J Cut and others – Stranger Things, Eleven flash back
Raging Cinema. (2016, September 23). 28 Creative Cuts From Stranger Things.
Number 23: The audio from the next scene starts as a memory in the current. I love the Stranger Things series and this just reminds me how well it is crafted. All these transitions are great.
Shawn is an Information Technology manager in Washington D.C. and a graduate student at Quinnipiac University pursuing his masters in Interactive Media and Communications.
References and Resources for Further Exploration
Schroeppel, T., & DeLaney, C. (2015). The Bare Bones Camera Course for Film and Video. Allworth. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/Bare-Bones-Camera-Course-Video/dp/1621535266
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