Semiotic Artefact Reflection

Last week, we were assigned the task of creating a one minute artefact based around semiotics. During the initial meeting, we took the brief quite literally, glancing up above and noticing the fire exit sign could easily be misinterpreted as a man running into a wall. Knowing from past experience the extent of time constraints and the like on this project, we decided to get this one done sharp-ish.

The following evening was when we filmed. No great deal of research was given to the artefact, as the meaning of the sign was entirely dependent on how the audience interpreted the sign. We were advised by our lecturer to refer to the sign frequently, in order to try and convey our meaning to our audience. Aside from being a one minute piece, this also needed three distinct shots: simple, complex and developing. In order to try some new shots, we swayed away from the jib, and decided to use tracks instead. Equipment hired out, we got to work around the Ellen Terry building where the fire exit sign was first spotted.

We got the tracking shots first, setting up the tracks in a corridor. Several staff members walked past during the time of filming, all saying the same two words: ‘Risk Assessment’. We hadn’t completed a form, so we were, in a sense, breaking some rules. The tracks were dangerous, and so in future (even with the jib), I feel it best if I have a completed risk assessment form, so I have some ground to stand on in case of accidents.

After we got the tracking shot, we suddenly had an idea, originally suggested by a fellow course member, of running into walls and through them, rather than just hitting the wall (which would make for a rather short film indeed). One of our team mates said that he could use editing trickery to fade between one shot and another identical shot to create the effect of running through walls. We incorporated this idea on spare of the moment, and got the relative shots we needed. We also used a sweeping panning shot around a corner, although this effect was lost during the final cut.

It is lucky we did get those shots, as the original cut clocked in at only 30 seconds. Thus, we incorporated the shots of the running in and out the walls in order to make up time. We followed a route through Ellen Terry using the signs, with the purpose of our artefact only to push ourselves technically with the equipment on site. Due to timetable difficulties, the editing was left entirely to the one team member, who managed to edit the entire piece to quite a high standard. It would have perhaps turned out differently if we had edited as a group, as we would have been able to give feedback to the project, and get a final cut we were all happy with, but as is so often the case with these one-week tasks, the final product just didn’t gel.

We screened our artefact earlier today. When placed up against others, it seems our literal interpretation of using the fire exit sign was misplaced – we saw other artefacts being adverts, or short films. Some films used well over ten shots (our own being one of them I believe). The favourite video from our group clocked in at almost two minutes. It seems that people feel the same way as I do about these one week projects, and are starting to branch away from the rules and guidelines given to them, in favour of making something more suitable for a showreel. I don’t blame them – next time, the rules will be bent.


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